Things that Bother Me

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 bothered me. It made me think about all the things I do that can be considered girly or feminine. Just yesterday I went to Greentoes North Tucson Nail Spa and got my nails done. I wanted to do it, I like feeling pretty. Did I start to associate doing my nails with feeling pretty, and it being something I wanted to do after seeing it in a movie like this one. I sure hope not, but I would have to dig pretty deep into my memories to say for sure.

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.

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  1. Hmm, feel a bit better after reading this, to know someone else gets bothered as much as I do. I’m constantly castigating myself for being uptight. But I honestly don’t find much fun in the dirty filth around, in the crassness of Bollywood block-busters, in the noise all around, and keep wondering if I’m getting crankier as I grow older.

  2. The Wise One: Don’t blame you….Sometimes (actually mostly) you wonder if it’s worth wasting precious time and space on our manistream films at all…

    Awww c’mon Banno! You ain’t cranky… You’re by far the coolest aunty I know! 🙂

  3. Always wondered how sensitive folks like you (and Third Man) regularly view garbage such as Kambakkht Ishq and write well-crafted and coherent reviews! Guess now I know the toll such activities take on your psyche… 🙂
    Fully empathize with your repulsion about wallowing in filthy rainwater … used to love playing with paper boats on the same filth as a kid

  4. @ Banno… I too am comforted to have company… maybe it is old age! I am also glad to see that our kids are growing up with the specific knowledge that littering is bad, as is peeing all over town. Bollywood crassness – alas, the daughter sometimes likes 🙂

  5. @ The Third Man, and it gets progressively worse sometimes – from New York to Kambakht Ishq to Short Kut…!

  6. @ Monish, was the water cleaner then, or we – like Banno says – just getting more squeamish with age!? Childhood paper boats are such a wonderful memory 🙂

  7. Precisely, The Wise One. Each week you think the Hindi film you’ve just seen is the worst one ever when along comes one the following week that is even worse! How do they manage it???

  8. @Wise One, I suppose the water was indeed a bit cleaner… at least less of plastics and filth tied in plastic carry bags! But can’t deny the squeamishness that creeps in along with the bifocals 🙂

  9. @ Monish, I once walked in the rains from College Street to Tiger – as transport had come to a virtual standstill – and watched ‘Khamosh’. Didn’t feel squeamish even once, or at least have no memories of it. As for my bifocals, I always forget to wear them, allowing the world to look a better place 🙂

  10. Yes, the list increases everyday. At every step common sense and civic behaviour is a casualty. We often have grievances and attitudes about the attitudes that Europeans or Whites have about us, but there are certain basic things that those societies have established as non-negotiable…and that is stage sadly we have not got to. In Poland, it is mandatory e.g. to drive with your headlights on between the months of October and April even during the day. It is absolutely observed by all. Even on a day when there was bright sunlight on the streets, people observe this rule. I have seen this myself. when the cars stop at a signal, there is a distance of about 5 feet between each of them. Out here I am sorry to say, there is no difference between the way bullock carts are driven on undefined dirt roads in villages are cars are driven especially immediately after office hours on Marine Drive. And believe me , the scenario is worse in other cities. well, we keep wondering about when will we become a civil society?

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