Five minutes into the latest Bollywood blockbuster, the hero silences the heroine with a kiss. The heroine, a supposed man-hater, suffers the kiss in relative silence. She could have retaliated by biting him in return or kicking him where it hurts, but she doesn’t. What bothers me is the implication that women need to be and can be taught a lesson in this fashion. It bothers me even more that the packed auditorium breaks out in appreciative laughter when the hero does things like this, and like tossing women out of a moving vehicle, or sleeping with anything that walks around in bikinis. There are plenty of bare-all bikini babes and it bothers me that they will feature in the film’s USP. It is not that I cared particularly for the heroine who’s dumb enough to operate on the hero wearing a dangling watch bracelet that gets left behind his stomach. Nor did I care for her total lack of medical ethics and how she dimwittedly plots to seduce him so that she can get him back under the scalpel. In this supposed war of the sexes that is appallingly crass and sexist, as the hero and heroine finally ride away into the sunset, with her kissing him into silence, I could but agree that they deserve each other. Incidentally, this film is classified as UA, which means that our Censors consider it fit that children of all ages get exposed to a vulgar display of chauvinism and think it cool to address members of the opposite sex as dogs or bitches, as the case may be.
It had bothered me, when Ghajini released with a similar UA certification, that such an unabashed celebration of gore is meant fit for kiddy consumption. There were even television promos showing children coming out of halls saying how much they loved the film. Hello, what about a little moral responsibility from our big stars, especially the ones who claim to have a conscience beyond profit concerns? It is natural that children get seduced by promos of a Kareena, Akki or Aamir, it is natural that the producers want the kids seduced, which is why the Censors should show their zeal at the right places. No, that is saved for smaller producers, small films, even student films.
Films are not the only thing that bother me, on this wonderfully overcast morning. It bothers me that in the park where I take a morning walk every morning, there are two sign boards whose raison d’etre I never manage to comprehend. ‘This water is not meant for drinking purpose’, both the boards proclaim. I have time and again walked around the trees to which they are nailed, trying to find that hidden tap. It disturbs me that I still don’t know and possibly will never know, why these signs were put up where there is no water. It bothers me that the Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Road, on which I live, was made with crores of rupees but they did not think they needed to make pavements all through. I thought it is common knowledge that people also need to walk down roads, that it is dangerous to walk in the same space as speeding vehicles. It bothers me that even where pavements exist, they seem to be meant for shopkeepers to encroach upon, and nobody gives a damn.
Perhaps I need to loosen up, but it is tough when you are in your forties and you know that most things will not change for the better. So much in life is less fun now. Even walking in the rain, which I did during Mumbai’s last downpour. I walked through water that almost touched my knees, water mixed with the pee of all those who do it in public places with glee. Water which had washed away all the spit on the roads of Mumbai. Water where plastic floated, clung to my legs, even as I tried to negotiate the potholes and manholes. As the smell of bhajiyas floated in from a nearby roadside stall, there was a brief moment when life didn’t feel quite that bad. And then BEST splashed water all over that feeling. I got home drenched.