Writer Shilpee Prasad’s Review Of Dance To My Tunes

Book Title : Dance to my tunes: A collection of short stories
Author : Anthology by Tanvi Sinha
Price : ₹ 150
Note: The cover is as beautiful like the stories dancing in 105 pages inside.

The categories of story is close to my heart, woman centric ones. During my teens, I was like, “writers are Agatha Christie, Emily Dickinson, Subhadra Kumari Chauhan and the league”.

As I grew up my prospective changed. And the list outlined. Tanvi you helped to revamp my interests and love for books.

Full Review on the link below:

Dance to my Tunes

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan: Would You Let Your Kids Watch It?

Yesterday, my cousin told me that she wanted to watch this movie. She was not sure if she should take her eight- year-old daughter. She told me that mothers on one of the groups  were judging how some people got kids for the movie which was not ‘appropriate’.

I think I have been living under a rock. I had no idea about this movie until yesterday. But more than the movie, I was curious to find an answer for her.

Can she take her kid to watch it?

My take on the movie

First of all, I would like to say that the movie was not that great. It was very entertaining in parts. And of course, we have to appreciate that Bollywood has dared to be so bold.  I felt that Ayushmann Khurana’s Karthik Singh was too filmy to be believable.  He was a let down. I know they had deliberately kept the movie light so that it does not get preachy. But even still, I think the overall package did not conclude well.  For example, ‘Badhai ho’ was the right amount of drama, emotion and comedy.  But this movie was made in a rush I feel.

Aman Tripathi who played Jitendra Kumar did a restrained and expressive performance.  His family consisting of Neena Gupta and Gajraj Rao, the couple from Badhai ho, and extended family of Sunita Rajwar and Manu Rishi did a brilliant job. Special mention for Maanvi Gaagroo who played the woman who could not find a groom.  The family dynamics was far more entertaining than the actual plot of the two men being in love and trying to convince their family.  In fact, by the end of the movie, I felt more for the poor Goggle than the lead pair!

Acting by everyone (except Ayushman) is awesome.. This was certainly not Ayushman’s best.  Neena Gupta is getting prettier day by day.

But nonetheless, this was an important film and just because I did not like it so much, does not mean it does not get credit for the message it wished to convey: Homophobia.

Can’t they just change?

When I was 11, my family had moved to New York City. Prior to that, I was studying in an all-girls convent in Patna.  It was a big change for me.  In the next few years, I would hear new terms such as ‘gay’ ‘lesbian’ ‘homo’. At that age, kids even in a developed country like the United States would use these words to insult their classmates.  I was dumb when it came to sexuality even by Indian small town standards. There was no way I could compare to the exposure these kids had.  I had a friend who was born and brought up there. Intelligent, sensible and empathetic, she used to be my ‘go to’ person for all the questions.  I have blogged about her before.

Me: Why do they have to have such strong feelings. Why can’t they at least try.

Sarah: Try what?

Me: Like assuming a girl is a lesbian. But she is still a girl. Why does she have to like a girl only!  Can’t she at least try to like a boy!

Sarah: Can you like a girl, no matter how much you try?

In my defense, I was just 13-14. But I was lucky to have someone at that tender age with whom I could expose my ignorance, and not be judged.

The movie has done an excellent job explaining what I had asked my friend about 20 years ago.

  • Can kids watch this movie?

The movie has a U/A certificate which means parental guidance advised below the age of 12 years.

My cousin’s daughter is 8. What should I advise her?

 What Bollywood offers in abundance:

Kissing

There are two kissing scenes between the lead pair. But do we not have kissing scenes between the hero and heroine? Do we not take kids for those movies?

Item numbers

We expose  children to songs like ‘Main to tandoori murgi ho yaar, gatka le saiyya alcohol se.’ It is so normalized that we do not even give it a second thought.

Crass humour

Bollywood is full of movies that makes fun of fat people. Dark people. Slapping women was common until now, thanks to Taapsee’s upcoming movie. All Bollywood heroines are so beautiful.  Romance movies which is what Bollywood produces the most are about pretty people falling in love. We expose kids to fat shaming,  skin-color shaming, and the idea that it is important to look good to find love.

When so much of wrong is okay, what is wrong in a love story of two men with a good message?

If I take all this into consideration, I do not see anything wrong in letting kids watch this movie. At least this movie conveys the right message. I hope this is just a start.  There should be so many more.

A plus point for the movie was the way it started.  The lead pair was a couple in love living in Delhi.  There was no explanation. No justification. They were who they were. Without making a point.   I hope there are many more movies that normalize homosexual relationships and not just ‘coming out’ and acceptance.

So would you take your kid?

The only thing that one should consider is if your kid is at an impressionable age, would this be the right medium to expose them to homosexuality? Would you first see the movie yourself then decide? Would you give your child a little background first? Would you let them watch first and answer the questions that get triggered? Or would you do what Indian parents do the best – Forbid them from watching such movies, and convince yourself that they will never get to know about it anyway!

I have also heard  people say that talking about something to children means ‘encouraging them’ so they would rather ignore the topic altogether. Also, I am sure some people feel that kids may get some ‘ideas’ that would end up shaping them so better not take a risk.

I loved a dialogue from the movie.  “Hum na gande log hain na acche log hain. Hum bus log hain.”

I would like answers in the comments. I don’t have any answers because I don’t have children and have no idea how to deal with such situations!

But I do have to give an answer to my cousin…

 

 

How To Survive Valentine’s Day!

Statistics suggest that so many break-ups happen around Valentine’s Day. This day is not just torturous for single people, but also for people who are in relationships. Expectations, unnecessary comparisons and social media declarations of ‘Aww!’ ‘I am so lucky’ ‘I have the best husband/boyfriend’ can make people feel quite miserable about themselves. The only people who actually benefit from this day are businesses that sell teddy bears,  cards , roses, chocolates and other gifts.

If you are feeling low before Valentine’s day, please read the following. Hope it makes you feel better. 🙂

  1. It is just another day

I don’t remember the story behind Valentine’s day. My earliest memories of Valentine’s Day are from my college days when I was teased that my birthday (14th November) comes nine months after Valentine’s day! I also remember a teacher accepting that he could not possibly teach on this day because it is like a “tyohar” for us!  I think the first time I heard about Valentine’ day was when I was a teenager.  This day should be celebrated if it makes you happy. But if it is an add on in any way,  then please choose to ignore it.  It is not at all important and probably people in the generation before us lived happily before knowing about it!

2. Don’t expect much from your partner

Anniversaries are important. Birthdays are important. But if he/she does not give you a gift or  forgets about Valentine’s Day, do not make an issue out of it.  There are bigger things to fight about!

3. Being Single

If you are single, and you feel bad looking at couples on this day, just remember you have something that these people don’t have. You have hope. You have hope of meeting someone.  You have hope of finding love.  Enjoy that thought!

4. Don’t be harsh on yourself / your partner

No matter who you are, whether you are in a good relationship or a bad relationship, you are about to dump someone, you are newly single or single for a long time, just remember that another human being, even someone you love or is supposed to love you is just another human being. Human beings have limitations. They will hurt you, they will not understand you, and they will do things that you don’t understand.

5. Love yourself

Valentine’s day is about love and we start analyzing our love life more on this day than required. Please don’t take drastic decisions on this day! And if you are worrying too much about how to spend the day when the whole world seems to be screaming about celebrating it, and you have nothing special planned just do something nice for yourself. Like a spa!

Most importantly , don’t feel bad.  No matter who you are and what situation you are in. Relationships are tough. Always.  Don’t let this day make it worse for you.

For all those who have plans for this day, wish you the best! Have fun!

Image source

Mashroof Zamana Mere Liye Kyun Waqt Apna Barbaad Kare!!

Kal koi mujhko yaad kare, kyun koi mujhko yaad kare,

Mashroof zamana mere life kyun waqt apna barbaad kare

Story of every artist. People say a piece of art is like having your baby. Your creation.  You love your baby so much that you don’t want to believe it has any flaws.  It is so precious to you. Everybody should find it cute. You know how hard you have worked on it!

A writer is no different from any other artist. But the current  writing industry currently makes you doubt your baby.  Doubt yourself. There are high chances of you believing your work is the least wanted. So why go through it?

What makes authors take the plunge?

Past few months I had been working on “my book”. The same book I thought I must publish in 2019.

These are real files on my computer:

  1. Fiction book
  2. Non-fiction book
  3. Final 2019
  4. Indian woman healing book
  5. This time I will do it pakka
  6. 2020 Final autobiography
  7. Short stories final draft version 8

Other than the above weird collection of short stories and blogs, I was also working on two novels – one full fledged fiction thriller. Another one was a children’s book. My mind was a mess. So was my writing folder. Finally, I decided to focus and publish the fictional short stories first. Then work on the rest.

I have done so much of research recently, that I can write a blog on how to publish a book!

But that would come later.

First I want to write about the things that keep somebody from publishing a book:

  1. It is very difficult to complete a book

Most of us manage to write good things in parts. But to make it flow right with a good beginning, good middle and good end is hard to achieve. Also, should you know the ending before you write? I have always gone with the flow. Short stories is therefore a popular choice for new author.

2. Who should read and give you feedback?

Once you have finally completed a book, the next thing you do is you ask your friends to give feedback. Now, everybody has a different opinion. Whose opinion should you consider? Just when you thought that you have finally completed the book, you will get more confused with different views and may end up chucking half of it!

3. New draft. New editing

Now you have a book that looks very different from your first draft. Edit it. Grammar. Spelling. Punctuation.  Then you get some more ideas and change the plot. Kill a couple of characters. Edit again.  Add a romantic angle. Edit again. You edit till the last minute!

4. Fear of failing

I think this is the single most thing that deters people from publishing. We are so full of ourselves. We want to be liked. Praised. Nobody likes to be criticized.  Nobody likes to get judged. Nobody likes to not be good.

We get judged everyday.  By people we know. People we don’t know. People we work with. People we are related to.

Why add an additional, totally avoidable reason for someone to tell you – Hey! I don’t like what you did!!

 What if my book does not sell!

What if people don’t like it!

What if people laugh at me!!

What if people think I am dumb!

What if I fail miserably!

This is the number one fear to overcome. Technical problems, laziness, lack of time, financials constraints have a way of working themselves out.

It feels good to have overcome that fear.

So, cheers for all of us who dare to follow our passion. I request everyone to do what they like. The outcome does not matter. Just start somewhere!! Your passion is important for you. And you matter:

With that thought, formally introducing my book on my blog for the first time! Sharing the link:

Please do read. Please do read. Eagerly looking forward to your feedback! 😊. Share your views. You could reach out to me directly. Tell me what worked for you. Tell me what did not work for you.

Now do me a favour. And do that one thing you had to for yourself that you have been pushing for a long time.

 

Good Newzz: Indeed Good News For Bollywood. Ghost Stories Is Disgusting

Good Newzz

Without wasting any time, Good Newzz gets straight to the point. Kareena and Akshay play Mr. and Mrs. Batra, an urban working couple who has just started trying for a baby after giving necessary time to their careers and marriage.

In India, good news is synonymous with pregnancy. Everybody wants to hear the good news the moment a couple gets married. Is this term used so generously for pregnancy in other countries also? I don’t think so.  The title therefore is apt.

As with most couples today, once they start trying they realize that it is not easy.  As you would have seen from the trailers, a mix up happens during the IVF procedure, and the sophisticated Batra couple are introduced to the loud Batra couple, played by Kiara Advani and Diljit Dosanjh. The premise is fresh and gives enough scope for comedy and drama. Here is what worked for me:

  1. Real couples

Akshay and Kareena’s characters are constantly bickering. I hate mushy mushy romance movies that Bollywood does not seem to grow out of. Here we have a real couple with real problems. The relatives hovering on Kareena during a family wedding, giving unsolicited advice on visiting doctors and babas, Akshay Kumar wondering if they really want to have a baby or just want it for society because it is the right thing to do, it is all very realistic.

2. Natural reactions

All four characters seem justified in the way they react to what has happened. Nobody is good or evil. All are just regular people trying to deal with an unexpected problem.

3. Superb performances

Akshay Kumar is very spontaneous. I wonder why he has to do movies like Housefull when he can do good comedies like this. Kareena is effective. I liked her speech on pregnancy. Kiara looks very pretty. The last time I saw her was in Kabir Singh where I found her annoying. She seems at ease with a comic role. I saw Diljit in a movie for the first time. He is a gifted actor . Very expressive. Adil Hussain and Tisca Chopra are entertaining as the doctor couple. I liked the fact that Akshay Kumar has a crush on Tisca Chopra, his doctor! It was a welcome relief that the a Bollywood actor liked someone close to his age, unlike the stupid movies which show 45 year old men lusting after 20-something girls.  Tisca looks beautiful as usual.

Overall, it was an entertaining, light movie with songs, and the emotional drama was just the right about. It never went over the top. It was better than most recent movies.

Ghost stories – Netflix

  1. Zoya Akhtar’s story

This is the best story in the movie. In fact, it would be a good idea to stop watching after this story. Jahanvi Kapoor has done well. Surekha Sikri is a brilliant actress, so no surprises there. The story has some meaning I guess.  The two women are waiting for someone who may never come and wasting time . Time which is precious because youth and life, once lost never come back.

2. Anurag Kashyap’s and Dipankar Banerjee’s story

I don’t have words to describe how disgusting I found these two stories. I had my eyes closed during Dipankar Banerjee’s story. It was supposed to be some kind of a metaphor I guess for how rich, powerful people destroy the poor. Whatever, doesn’t matter. The visuals were vomit inducing. I love watching Netflix because it is not censored the way movies in theatre or television are. But for Anurag Kashyap’s movie I wish they had cut out Sobhita’s bathroom scene. It is embarrassing that such weird content is there on Netflix and people from other countries can also watch this non-sense and judge us. They could have done so much better with all the creative liberty possible and this is what they come up with!!

3. Karan Johar’s story

Silly as always. No matter what the genre is, Karan Johar manages to maintain the silliness. There is a marriage, a big family, and a song!  I guess it is all about loving your grandparents!

A horrible movie to start new year’s with! Don’t watch if you haven’t already!

 

Why ‘The Sky Is Pink’ Will Make You Cry

It is based on a true story

Aisha Chaudhary was a real person, born to Aditi Chaudhary and Niren Chaudhary, and sister of Ishaan Chaudhary. Google her name and you will find images and videos of this cute and strong girl, and her loving family.

There is no limit to tragedy

We like to believe that we are not those unlucky people to whom bad things would happen for no reason. If something does happen, one at least hopes it is the only bad thing that would ever happen.

But is it true?

There is a scene in the movie when Aditi holds baby Aisha. Well-meaning and wise elders comfort her .

“He is God. He will not give the same pain again”.

They are wrong.  Aditi and Niren lost their first born, a daughter at eight months to the same illness to which they would lose their third child, Aisha at eighteen.

We hear about people. We know that lady who lost her husband. And then her son the very next year. The man who got divorced. And then killed himself because he was too depressed when his second marriage did not work out.

Life is beautiful. But it can also be very cruel.

Being positive does not cure, but it helps

The movie will remind you that being optimistic helps in dealing with things better. It helps you make the most of the days. But whatever is meant to happen will still happen.  A sweet girl like Aisha would not survive as much as everyone would pray for her.

However, some experiences in life truly makes you feel alive and happy.  For example, when Aisha goes sea diving even if it was for a minute.  Maybe we cannot control what happens. But we can try to increase such moments of joys.

Umaraan main sariya jee leeyaan

The song at the end

I was already crying a lot by the end of the movie. When they started showing real pictures of the family, it was just too sad. The song played in the background was composed by Aisha’s brother. I am sharing a link which has the lyrics.  It is a beautiful song with great music and uplifting lyrics.

Other things

In the movie, Aisha refers to her parents as Moose and Panda. I found it annoying. She also keeps mentioning their ‘sex life’ which I found annoying. That’s it. No other negative points.

Everybody has acted very well. Priyanka Chopra is more expressive.  Farhan Akhtar is restrained. Together they make a great couple. The movie follows their life from the time they are in their 20s till their 50s. But other than the hairstyle, they both look the same. Maybe that was still better than coloring their hair grey and giving them glasses like most other movies. I don’t know.

There are no unnecessary songs. The movie shows the struggles of the family in a very genuine way. It looks very real. The impact is effective. It will stay with you. Long after the movie finishes.

Aisha’s Ted Talks

Do watch it when you get a chance. I especially loved a line where she says,

When you fail at everything in life, get a pet’.

I watched some videos of the Chaudhary family. Hard working, loving, brave parents who gave the best possible to their daughter.

Aisha’s legacy continues. With her book, ‘My Little Ephinanies’ .  With the movie, ‘The Sky Is Pink’. With her Ted Talks. With her parents. With her brother.

With everyone who is thinking about her.

 

What Do You Believe This Christmas

Christmas is my favourite time of the year.  I think it is because I was educated in a convent school in my childhood. And we celebrated Christmas more than any other festival.

27 years ago: A typical Christmas:

Socks would be hanging in the balcony.  I would wake up to find lots of presents. Little things.  A double decker pencil box.  A hair clip with a butterfly on it.  The eraser in the shape of a cat.  The giant pen. The sharpener that looked like a house.

I would go to school.  The Chapel would be decorated. Sisters would be singing carols. Santa would come in his red clothes and white beard and big belly.  He would shake hands with all of us. And give us toffees.

We would sing:

Oh what fun it is to ride on a one-horse open sleigh

One time, one girl told me that Santa was not Santa.  It was one of the Sisters who dressed up as Santa.

How can a lady Sister be Santa!!! I laughed at that girl. She told me that the Sister puts on a red suit and a fake beard.  I did not believe her. I told her Santa comes to my house also.  How would Sister know my house? She told me that it is not Santa who leaves the presents but my parents.  Her parents do the same for her.

Now, this made me a little suspicious. How was it that Santa knew that I wanted the same things that I used to tell my mother? Could she be right? I thought for a moment.    And then solved the mystery.

God always listens to us.  So when I would tell my Mom what I wanted, God listened and told Santa.  That is how Santa delivered the presents.

I was five. I believed what I wanted to believe. Nothing could change it.

Past few days

November 30th was the first time I read about a girl who got gang-raped and burnt.  I could not think about anything else for a long time. Every day I would post about her.  There is no such thing as justice when a young life is snatched away so brutally.  Even if the murderers would be raped and burnt alive, she would not have come back. But still, we screamed justice. So that it would not happen to anyone else.

A week later, the “accused” were killed in an encounter. I was very happy.  Again, there was a divide. People said:

It is the job of judiciary to decide who is guilty and who should be the punished.

What about human rights.

What if innocent people get framed like this and die.

What if the rapist had been rich and powerful?

We got into online debates.   Real debates over coffee at office.

I hoped that this was not the end. A great beginning but not the end. That the law would change..

But soon after, another law was passed.  One that became very controversial.  There was a clear divide. The supporters. The protestors. There was violence. There was destruction.  People like you and me may not have indulged in physical violence. But the words exchanged were harsh.  The people who were “silent” were not left alone either.  They were shamed for “not speaking up” and called spineless.  As if we owe everybody views on social media!! There was madness around as people got into spats and unfriended each other for difference in political views.  I sometimes feel that during such times, people get a reason to be obnoxious to someone they are jealous of, by taking a morally high ground of “beliefs”. It is just an excuse to tell people what you always wanted to tell them.

But one thing is consistent.

Both sides feel the other side is too dumb to understand anything, and there is no point offering them any logic. They are blind!!

We all believe what we want to believe.

But with all this negativity, anger and sadness, the holiday season is here.  Tomorrow is Christmas. Christmas has always meant everything nice. Everything beautiful. Everything magical.

I know most of us have been very unhappy lately.  Everything has been unpleasant. Even hopeless.

On this Christmas, I wish you hope. Spend time with your loved ones.  Be with your family. They are the ones who matter.  I also hope that things cool down in our country and peace is restored.   Till then, I would like to believe,

The six year old girl who believed in Santa no matter what anyone said.

 

Hold On To Your Anger! Never Forget!

Two days ago, I read that a woman, Priyanka Reddy was gang-raped and burnt alive. I am scared of fire to the extent that I do not use a match-stick.  I thought I could not read more about it. It was too horrific.  I avoided thinking about it.  I had no words. We don’t like to think that something like this could happen to someone. It is too inhumane and too barbaric. We like to also believe that nothing can happen to us.

Finally, once I mustered up the courage to start reading about what happened to her in detail, I was so, so furious.  As I read more, I am full of anger and hatred.  From having no words, I now have a lot of words.  My words will not stop.  My rage will not stop.

What fails us again and again.

Rape law

“To make sure something like the Nirbhaya case never happened again, the government wanted to amend the existing laws to cover ALL crimes against women and make punishments as harsh as possible. This led to the 2013 Criminal Law Amendment. Under this change, new offences such as stalking, acid attacks, and voyeurism were added into the definition of rape. Even the threat of rape is now a crime. The minimum sentence was changed from seven years to 10 years. In cases that led to the death of the victim or the victim being in a vegetative state, the minimum sentence was increased to 20 years. This was the first time the vegetative state was included since the landmark Aruna Shanbaug case.”

Source: https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2018/08/indias-anti-rape-laws-the-evolution/

Long story short:

Minimum sentence for rape – 10 years.

If rape leads to death – minimum sentence 20 years.

Is it good enough?

NO!!!

Rape = Hang the rapist.

Gang rape = Hang the rapist.

Tried to kill her = Hang the rapist.

Whether she died or not = Does not matter. Hang! Hang! Hang!

Actually, hanging seems too merciful. The punishment should be same as the crime. Insert a rod in their private part. Burn them alive.  In fact, no punishment is enough for such crimes.  Any punishment possible under the sun seems less.

Violence against women – Acceptable!

I am sharing the link to the verdict of Pallavi Purukayastha’s murder. Her security guard had deliberately disconnected electricity of her apartment at night. When he came inside the house he took the keys without her knowledge.  He then broke into the house later at night with the intention of raping her.  She resisted.  He killed her.  The judge, let me reiterate, female judge held that “16 times stabbing is cruelty but not extreme cruelty…” (to merit death penalty)!

I have just one question for the respected people who are entrusted the responsibility of making decisions of life and death – How much cruelty is extreme had it been your daughter?

The verdict has words like ‘not planned for days’ (only planned that night), ‘got excited seeing her in scanty clothes’. It is embarrassing. It is infuriating. The young age of the murderer was also taken into consideration.  The fact that so much analysis was done to find reasons to not award capital punishment to the man when the woman is dead. Brutally snatched away from her family.

This murderer got life imprisonment because the cruelty was not extreme enough in the eyes of the judge! He jumped parole and was rearrested. Why did he deserve parole in the first place? Why should our tax money be used to feed these beasts? How had Pallavi’s parents felt during the time he jumped parole? How do they feel everyday?  Even if this man would have got capital punishment their daughter would not come back. This is the LEAST that could be done.

Change the law!

Every country has its own problems. In the United States, it is their gun laws. Any crazy person owns a gun and goes on a rampage to kill people.  Maybe mental illness is an issue.

In India, such people get the right to rape and kill because they know nothing bad will happen to them. They probably know their friends who boast of getting drunk and beating their wives. They may even have friends who have raped and got away with it.

People are talking about how the mindset needs to change.  Just change the law and see. Castrate one rapist. Hang one rapist in public.  Mindset will change automatically.

Dear not all men brigade, this is not the time to worry about your fragile egos. This is not the time for you to worry about what will happen if the colleague you slept with and dumped decides to falsely accuse you. If you see, the rapists in Jyoti Singh’s case and Priyanka Reddy’s case were caught with evidence, and they confessed.  So, unless you are planning to be a rapist, you have nothing to worry about. Moreover, I would like to focus on things that have actually happened, and women who are dead. Not about your hypothetical, superficial concern about what could happen. So please do not make this about you.

Are these humans in the first place? Why do they have rights?

Dear Human Right Activists,

I know you care a lot about criminals. You cared about Kasab. You care about the not so minor ‘juvenile’ man who inserted a rod inside a girl’s vagina and pulled her intestines out. That girl died in pain you cannot imagine. Her parents and brother have to live with that memory every day. Did she have any rights?

If you care so much about rapists, and murderers please strike a deal with the government. Please keep them in your house and care for them. Work on them. Give them another chance.  Let your children play with them.  Please confine your sympathy to your house.  Please do not let these beasts into society so that you can feel good about yourself.

Sob stories of rapist’s mother

Mothers of rapists do not have my sympathy if they are trying to give excuses for their sons.  Even if they are suffering, they are suffering because of what their son did. They better not give interviews about how the monster son was the only bread earner!  Get a job! We don’t need such monsters to roam freely so that their mothers can get do waqt ki roti!  I think about Priyanka’s mother and their feelings are nowhere in my thoughts.  No family can survive this.  I do not wish strength to Priyanka’s family because no family should have such strength.

Yes. I am very angry. Anger is all we have got right now.  We tried in 2012.  The law did change but it was not good enough.  Hold on to your anger. Cling to it.  Please share link of any petitions, or protests you are aware of.  We will never forget. We will never give up.

Bala: Par Badalna Kyun Hai?

I had watched Udja Chaman couple of weeks back.  I was wondering why there are two movies with the same concept releasing around the same time. Of course, Ayushman Khurana being more popular, his movie was more awaited.

Both movies have a different story though based on the same theme.

There has been a trend in Bollywood where small town movies have become very likable.  The makers of the movie catch the small town feel perfectly with the language, clothes and the little nuances.  Bala is no exception.  There are three main characters:

Bala

A bald man who is otherwise good-looking, and was good-looking growing up but now has a complex about his receding hairline. He would do anything to get the hair back and tries all kinds of remedies. He is a salesman by profession and conducts seminars to sell fairness creams by making dark-skinned women realize how inadequate and undesirable they are.

‘Kanpur ki sari ladkiyon ko unki badsoorati ka ehsaas dilao!’

Yes ladies. This is what all beauty products, fashion magazines, cosmetic advertisements, beauty parlours do – Make us feel ugly, reinforce our “flaws” so they can earn money.

Latika

A dark-skinned woman who grew up playing the repulsive Kubja in school.  She has spent most of her life being called dark and ugly.  She has learnt to accept herself for who she is, and she rebels against the societal norms.

‘Who gets to decide what I should look like!’ She growls.

She is intelligent, confident and a practicing lawyer.

Pari

A fair skinned, beautiful girl who has become a Tik Tok sensation overnight. She has gained fame because of her beauty and she is aware that the only thing she has is her looks.

‘Looks mein no compromise!’ She believes.

‘Dikhawa hi meri zindagi hai’.

What makes this movie stand out for me, is the fact that it remained honest to its characters.

How important is looks?

I guess this question in answered differently by those who have it and those who don’t. Of course, everybody has their own definition of what they find attractive but there are some universally acceptable standards of beauty.  Being short, fat, dark-skinned, bald may not be considered attractive. There is the pain of dealing with your own insecurities and complex. Very few people in the world are flawless.  Most people will have something to cry about – a fat nose,  acne,  weight, height, skin colour. Something that was told to them from their very childhood. Something that held them back from being good-looking. Bala obsessed about growing his hair back. He covers his mirror in a way that he cannot see the baldness. He wears a cap. He does not hate everything about himself. If only he could change that one thing…

I remember a friend from my school, who was conscious of her big nose. She used to tell me that as a kid she was afraid her nose would get so big it would cover her entire face. Every time she saw her photos all she could see was her nose. We all have that one thing we wish we could change…

You have such a sweet face, if only you could lose the body weight..

She has such nice features, but rang se maat kha jati hai…

He is so cute..Poor guy.. If only he had some height..

Face is pretty! But the pimples..

Click my side profile, from the front my face is too chubby.

But does anybody get to design their face and body on Paint Brush that it would be perfect?

We struggle with with our own complexes with our appearance.  To add to that, we have to find a partner who we have to look at every day, sleep with, make babies with, and grow old with.  How important is that person’s looks?

The arranged marriage

Few years ago, a bunch of my friends in late 20s were discussing the rishtas we were getting.

A friend of mine rejected a guy who she didn’t find good-looking. The guy had a good job, good family, everything else was a plus.

“Aap  khud kya Aishwarya Rai hain?”. Her father demanded.

The generation that met on the day of the marriage, accepted the spouse as Bhagwan ki marzi and shadi to nibhana hai may not understand.

Wise cousins of her the girl who were married to not so good-looking but good, caring, men were trying to tell her that looks is secondary.   The girl said asked how could she marry someone who she doesn’t even like to look at. How will she ever feel attracted to him? Won’t that cause problems in the marriage? What if she does not fall in love with his good qualities after marriage? Or worse… He does not even have any, and he is not even someone she liked in the first place!!

Another guy said he has rejected girls he didn’t find attractive because otherwise the marriage would not work.  It would not be fair to him. It would not be fair to the girl.

A short girl wants a tall husband because she has been told with her height she would not get one, and she wants to prove people wrong…

A dark-skinned man wants a fair-skinned girl because he has carried the shame all his life. He wants his wife to redeem himself..

Is it wrong to reject someone based on looks? Is it right to marry someone you don’t find attractive?  Doesn’t everybody deserve to be with someone they find at least decent looking? Are we even comfortable with our own looks before we get to decide how acceptable somebody else looks?

What works in the movie

Spoiler alert

The pretty girl will not see the hero’s heart. She will see his bald head.

Yami Gautam is brilliant as the small-town girl whose life revolves around looking pretty and getting likes on social media.  Whatever she has achieved in life is because of her looks. She does not change. Call her shallow if you want. But this is what happens in real life.

The not so pretty girl refuses to be a second choice

Latika is no Anjali from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai who will remember her barso purana pyaar and reject a man who loves her in the present for some idiot who she loved and got rejected by in the past.   When I saw Bhumi’s black, painted face I was annoyed. She looked so unnatural. I was angry that they could not find one dark-skinned woman in India for this role. But when she acts,  she has so much spunk that it is always a joy to watch her, despite the painted face.

The hero will learn to love himself

Mard ko dard hota hai. Men get rejected. Men are also treated badly for the way they look. The love of Bala’s life says Eww to him and leaves him. How will he live with himself knowing that?

He will.  For you cannot make someone love you forcibly. You cannot make a Pari like you.  But a Latika may be able to appreciate you. But irrespective of the Paris, and the Latikas, you need to learn to love yourself first.

And once you do, you automatically become attractive to others.

 

Kabir Singh! Why I found The Women In The Movie More Problematic

I had decided not to watch this movie.  In fact, my husband wanted to watch it but I told him I will not be able to show my face to the feminist community! So we did not watch in theatre. I sometimes watch a movie just to make fun of it (read this!) but I did not have the energy to do it for this one.

Even before watching it I shared all reviews that accused the movie of being problematic, misogynist and glorifying toxic masculinity. I was sure I would hate it.

But I decided to watch it once it was available on Netflix. Finished it in two parts because it was too long for me to sit through.

While everybody has written everything that is wrong with Kabir Singh,  I wonder why nobody wrote what was wrong with Priti Sikka, and the other women in the movie.  Spoiler alert.

Most dumb character. Female. Nominee 1

Preeti Sikka is a pretty, delicate little thing who opens her mouth more for kissing than speaking.  She does not resist when a man she barely knows  kisses her on her cheek. Why? Probably because he is handsome or maybe because she is enjoying the attention of being the love interest of this popular guy.  Now, I thought that Priti may be quiet but she is still an assertive person and does what she wants. She likes Kabir Singh enough to shift to his hostel and have sex with him regularly.  She even travels to another city where he is studying and forces him to kiss her publicly.  Well,  I guess birds of the same feather flock together!  Seems she does not care about what people think after all! So far so good. Enter the parents of the girl and the drama of caste and ‘honor’ begins. Kabir and her father have a fight.  Kabir gives her an ultimatum of six hours to convince her father that this is not a lust story but true love. She goes to meet him but he is drugged and unconscious and she is not able to meet him.  Now this woman who seems quite bold so far,  MARRIES another man the very NEXT day!  Why! Even if they had locked her up (I do not think so), why did she MARRY him? Adults can choose who they like, who they have sex with and who they marry. I do not think she had sought her parents’ approval before doing any of that. So why could she not take a stand now? She was angry with Kabir Singh for giving her an ultimatum for six hours and then not being available when she went to meet him. Fine. She could have just stayed home and not married anyone else! Kabir Singh is shocked that she is married and turns into a self-destruction mode in the second half.

In the end we find out that Priti Sikka is pregnant. But this being a purane zamane ka love story, it is revealed that our pregnant heroine is ganga ki tarah pawitra because the baby is of the good old college boyfriend and not of her husband who left her three days after the wedding! She did not let him touch her at all!  Why did she marry him and ruin his life?  Also the husband was aware of everything and still married her.  “Doesn’t he have any self-respect?” Kabir Singh asked. I would ask the same thing. He was just horny and was happy to marry a beautiful girl who he would not have access to otherwise, Kabir Singh thinks.  I don’t care. What good reason did she have for marrying him!

Most dumb character. Female. Nominee 2

Jia Sharma is an actress. A celebrity. Not a struggling actress. Rich. Famous. Beautiful.  She injures her leg and meets doctor Kabir Singh. She is already smiling mysteriously even in the very first scene when he is treating her. Does she find him very attractive? She asks for his number. Kabir Singh tells her about Preeti. He asks her if she could help him physically. Like no strings attached. He tells her she can think about it.  They keep meeting for the next few days.  I don’t even think it would be a month.  She irons his clothes. Kabir’s friend tell him she must love him because she is ironing his clothes.  I was thinking should I agree with him? Ironing is one of the worst chores and I never iron my clothes!! Moving on, Jia decides to make out with Kabir Singh in her car because her secretary / PA waiting outside will make sure nobody watches.  She is a 26 year old celebrity I would think she could have found a place but anyway….  Right before the makeout session, she tells him she loves him!! What! Why! When! How!

Most dumb character. Female. Nominee 3

This would be a joint nomination. There are two nurses who are forever protective and supportive of Kabir Singh. They look up to him because he is an excellent surgeon. It is almost like they worship him.

Kabir Singh

Now coming to our hero.   He has anger issues.  He is an alcoholic. He is entitled. ‘Yeh meri bandi hai!’. He says ‘Healthy chicks and good-looking chicks are a good combination’. He makes a woman undress by threatening her with a knife. He runs after a maid to hit her.

But…

I do not think Kabir Singh’s behavior is glorified in the movie.  In fact, his downfall is shown in the second half. Everybody tells him that he has anger issues, alcohol issues, lack of patience. Everybody except the women…

Our hero has a lot of issues. But he is also very handsome.  He is brilliant.  He is an excellent surgeon.   Bad boy. Good looks. Money. Intelligence. All the women in the movie are shown to find him irresistible! Preeti Sikka.  Jia Sharma.  His friend Shiva’s sister who is never shown but we hear that she likes him and would be happy to marry him, knowing everything about him! There is another woman who is again not shown but interested in him (she is referred through his friend’s clinic or something like that).

And so, my problem is not with the portrayal of Kabir Singh. It is about the portrayal of women in the movie. It is not his anger that is glorified. It is the impact he has on women that is romanticized. A lot of women loved the movie and wished that a guy would love them as much as Kabir Singh and would be willing to do anything for them.  If they feel so, so be it.  The boundaries in love are fluid.  Obsessiveness. Possessiveness. Control. How much of it is fair in love? How much is excessive? I don’t know.  But if Kabir Singh had women falling for him in the movie and in the theatres then the problem is not limited to toxic masculinity or rage or misogyny but also hopelessly romantic women falling in love with the potential for thrill (read disaster)!