Wednesday, February 25, 2009

cats on a hot tin roof

The other day, Dhanno was watching 'Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na' all over again on TV. Of course, I was watching along.

Though the film seemed to be even blander than it did the last time, "a nothingness", as Sur says, I didn't have much of a problem with Aditi or Jai, or their friends, even though they didn't have anything other than relationships on their mind. Even if they seemed silly, immature and shallow, well, we've all been there, done that.

But what had me fuming were the supposedly "coolest parents in the world", Aditi's parents - Pamelo and Pamela/ Potato and Pumpkins/ Peachpie and Parrot/ Popcorn and what have you/ whatever, whatever.

Scene 1 in which they appear -  Cool parents dancing at their grown up kids party. Eww!

Scene 2 - Cool parents discussing in garden - Our daughter is 20. She graduated today. Let us talk to Jai and fix up their marriage. Before people talk. High time they settled down. Or we'll have to deal with the relatives and various proposals. (Unsaid - She wants to be a film maker? Let her get married first. Then, we'll see).

Scene 3 - Cool parents talking to Jai - So when do you get married? (Unsaid - Oh, you don't have a job, you've only graduated yesterday, but that's all right). Misunderstanding ensues. Jai and Aditi convince them they are only friends.

Scene 4 - Cool parents - If you are only friends, and are together all the time, how will you find partners? And your partner won't like your mate. (Unsaid - And you must find your partner, the sooner the better).

Soon enough, Aditi has an arranged meeting with a family friend's son, and gets engaged on the same day.

Scene 5 in which parents appear - Cool parents play scrabble while their daughter has got engaged to the first man they introduced her to. He is a friend's son so they haven't done any background check on him. The only indication that things may not be what they seem is the word father makes on the board 'Discomfort'.

Scene 6 - Cool parents wary that their reclusive son will embarrass them in front of their prospective son-in-law. Cool parents thrilled that their son seems to like their prospective son-in-law. Cool parents clueless about their son's thought processes or facial expressions.

Scene 7. Cool parents bid Aditi goodbye at airport.

A day earlier Aditi has come back with a huge bruise on her cheek. We never see or hear of them noticing it, talking to her about it, questioning her about why she has broken off her engagement or confronting their friend or his son about it.

Aditi sitting alone on Band Stand seems to reconfirm the fact that she cannot depend on her parents for emotional support. That she is alone. It is left to Jai to notice her bruise and avenge her.

So these are supposedly educated, super rich parents, who have lived all over the world. What happens to girls in middle class families with not-so-cool parents?

Somehow, brings to mind the crazy mother Kiron Kher plays in 'Fanaa' who packs off her college going blind daughter to a strange city for the first time with the prayer that she finds her Prince Charming there. The daughter willingly obliges, and falls in love with the first man who comes her way. The mother, hearing this news on the phone, and that her daughter is going to get married to someone they have never met is ecstatic.

We grew up with the thought of marriage dinned into our heads. My parents wanted me to 'see' a boy at the age of 15, and get engaged. My sister, friends and cousins all had the same pressure, give or take a few years. Some of us rebelled and found our own partners. Some had secret flings before they married partners of their parents' choice. Some did as they were told. The 'cool parents' were those who made no fuss about their children choosing their own partner.

But I can safely say, that in 90 cases out of 100, girls and their parents spent no time or just about 1/10th of time to career options or a need for a career as they did to finding the right partner for their child. And I've seen so many brilliant minds underutilized. So many wrong choices made because of the haste. So many lives forced to live out marriage for the sake of marriage.

So has nothing changed in 25 years?

Around us, children as young as 11 and 12 are playing the dating game. I can understand that they are hormonally charged up to do so. I can understand Dhanno and her crushes, and the enormous peer pressure to date. What Teja and I cannot bring our minds around to, is her dating or being sexually active, until an appropriate age, to our minds 18 and after.

But of course, we have a few 'cool' parents around us, too. A mother consents to her 12 year old going steady with a boy 5 years her senior, because the girl says, "I cannot live without him." The boy is in college, in another town. The girl's studies and sports performances which were brilliant earlier, have suffered.

A few other 'cool' parents have promised their girls they can start dating once they finish their Xth Std exams, when they'll be 15+.

Another 'cool' parent met Dhanno for the first time, when she was 13 and asked her to pirouette, and said, "Good, you are sexy." One could pass it off as a casual remark, if her own daughter was not obsessing about her looks all the time.

Now, while I love watching Dhanno dress up, make up and preen before the mirror, there's no way I am going to encourage her to think of her looks beyond a point. Not that she needs any encouragement from me, as is evident from when she was 5.

Dhanno, 5, oil pastel drawing by Banno with a few flourishes from Dhanno , 1998

However, I would think it criminal to even suggest that she absolutely needs to find the right partner and marry if she wants to live a fulfilled life.

Teja is clear that even if Dhanno has a few hang-ups about relationships because we are strict, she will grow out of them. But he certainly does not want any boyfriend-shoyfriend business right now. He is willing to be the villain of the story, if need be.

As for me, I feel confused. What about our own wild days as young people? Our rebellions, our fights for our personal freedom? I know that a dear friend, Fi will read this and mail me saying - "Ba, sau choohe khaake billi Hajj ko chali" i.e. the cat goes to Hajj after eating a hundred rats.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

hips never lie

So, the other day, I had a hip into a man's face. Then, a hand up a man's thigh. A couple of hand brushings. A pat on a man's head. I'm like a terrified bird in crowded public spaces. Arms and legs flapping, and going god-knows-where. Any wonder then that I prefer to stay at home?

Later, in the train, a gentle lady next to me explained patiently to all contenders coveting the 4th seat, "We all have hips". Since the 4th lady too usually had hips herself, she didn't grumble, or try to squeeze in nevertheless, as a younger girl with no hips may have.

B, 1993, Charcoal drawing by Teja
For more adventures in the local train, read 'the grasshopper in a local train' on my blog at Upperstall.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

at home on Valentine's Day

Dhanno came back home and said, "I am very impressed with my friend Ish."

I said, "Why?"

She said, "Her friend Hit is gay. But Ish said he's her best friend."

I said, "So?"

Dhanno said, "But it's just that Ish is not even bothered by it. She takes it so normally."

I said, "Why shouldn't she?"

Dhanno said, "No reason. I don't mean to say being gay is wrong. But just that ... I mean, I've never known anyone who is gay."

I said, "Well, as you grow up, you will know more and more people who are gay."

Dhanno said, "Yes, but isn't it abnormal? I mean .."

I said, "No, it's not."

Dhanno said, "Yes, mom, even biology says that you have sexual organs to attract the opposite sex to be able to reproduce."

I said, "Whatever. But when a large proportion of people are homosexual, then how can that be abnormal?"

She said, "Hmm."

Then, she said, "I'm just so impressed with Ish. I mean she takes it so normally."

I said, "You are so fazed by this, because of all the gay characters you usually see on TV or film."

She said, "Come on, it's not that. I know they are not bad people."

I said, "No, it's not about good or bad. It's just that you see gay people on screen wearing strange clothes, walking and talking in strange ways. So, that's what you think they will be. But gay people look just like you and me."

She said, "That's true."

I said, "For instance, Rock Hudson. He was gay."

She said, "No...o...o.."

I said, "So what? Does that make him any less good-looking, charming, less of a star? Does it make you like him less?"

She said, "Why did you tell me? I like him so much. Now please don't tell me Leonardo Di Caprio is gay."

I said, "Why not?"

She said, "Because I like him."

I said, " So will you like him less if he is gay?"

She said, "Mama, I like him. As in like him. As in, when I am 21 and he is say, 45, and we meet, I could marry him."

I say, "Oh!"

She said, "Why did you tell me Rock Hudson is gay? I like him. I wanted to meet him."

I said, "But he is dead."

She said, "Oh no. Mama, how could you do this to me on Valentine's Day? First, you tell me he is gay, then that he is dead. Did you need to do that?"

Teja and I then threw names at her at random, saying "Oh, this one is gay, and that one is gay. And that one too. And that one is bisexual."

She hit back by saying that we were the most boring couple she knew, since we had no plans for Valentine's Day, then ignored us, and thought it was time for dinner.

By the way, don't miss checking out

The Stags in The Steam Room

Preview here

PS: Dhanno says I have my biology all wrong. It's not our sexual organs, but our secondary sexual characteristics like color of skin and hair, body odour, and voice and their differentiations between male and female that are meant to attract the opposite sex. It's back to the classroom for me.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

some bubbles burst, some are still floating around

Corporate job, alcohol, table tennis, blogging, cricket, poetry, teaching, video rental store, general store, accu-pressure, yoga, drugs, sex, affairs, violence, drudgery, tantra, mantra, rings, numerology, boredom.

Mummy said when she saw 'Luck by Chance' - "It's about all of you, the struggle."

The word 'struggle' implies a fight for some noble cause. And while, 'the strugglers' are noble enough in their faith, their optimism, their belief that some day things will work out for them, what is the fight for?

To be rich enough to order food from Mainland China and buy a diamond ring for your wife?
To be successful enough to ride in an air conditioned car with tinted glasses?
To be able to reject one film and accept another?

Romy Rolly, the producer, after years of success, still struggles to make his next film.
Zafar Khan, the superstar, faced with a rival, suddenly begins to see the end of his reign.
Friends who are working, are unhappy with their work and those they work for.
Friends who are not working, are unhappy with those who are working.
Sona accepts that she is happy acting in television, she is happy once she accepts that she will never be a heroine.

But what will happen the next day, and the day after that? When she finds that even in television, the better roles go to the prettier girl, even if she is a bad actress? That the prettier girl gets paid at least 5 times more than her, that the prettier girl gets the better makeup room, the better hotel room, while she has to share a room with the hairdresser, that the prettier girl gets mineral water and food of her choice on set, and she is served tap water from who knows where. And yet, does Sona have a choice to be anything but happy?

A filmmaker friend recently said to Teja, "I'm going to make only commercial films now." Yes, you can make a choice to make commercial films, if you know the stars and the CEOs of the production houses. But if you don't, can you do anything but make a low-budget film without stars and probably, without release? Or worse, sit at home, wondering what you should do with yourself.

Corporate job, alcohol, table tennis, blogging, cricket, poetry, teaching, video rental store, general store, accu-pressure, yoga, drugs, sex, affairs, violence, drudgery, tantra, mantra, rings, numerology, boredom.

Meanwhile, Dhiraj, a bright little boy we shot with last year for the Canadian Broadcasting documentary program 'India on the Move', continues to do well at school. His mother who was a garment worker in Bangalore lost her job due to ill health caused by ulcers and now works as a housemaid.

And I wonder if the bubble boy I shot in 2002, is still around on Juhu beach, and how he is doing.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

if you have a horse, you can get by almost anywhere

Since it was agreed upon that the film in my last post was 'Azaad', Jo began to belt out 'Raju, chal Raju..' ignoring the flowers, the chandeliers and the glittering guests.

Speaking of horses, Cubbu said he saw a Dara Singh film where Dara Singh on a horse, called Chetak he thinks, races electricity. A girl on a hillock is connected to an electric wire from another hillock. As the villian switches on the current, Dara Singh and Chetak race against the electricity to reach the girl in time and cut the wire before she gets a shock. The failed electrical shock falls in a blue sparkly shower to the ground.

Sorry, I don't even know the right scientific terms for such phenomena.

Speaking of horses yet again, Cubbu said, Kantilal Shah who was famous for roping in big stars for major appearances in his B-grade films by promising them to finish their work in a day, got Dharmendra to appear in a film.

He shot Dharamji astride a horse, then a close shot of Dharamji simulating being on a horse. He cut the close shot with a shot of a girl writhing on a bed. He showed the film in Punjab to full houses. Some relative or friend in Punjab informed Dharmendra after which Dharamji and Sunny stripped Mr Shah and had him parade naked in Juhu. "That's a legendary story," Cubbu said.

Speaking of parading naked, Punjab-da-puttar said our FTII senior Mithun-da used to walk around naked at the Institute from Boy's Hostel to Main Gate which is pretty much the entire campus. "He had a beautiful body, and perhaps that is why Mrinal Sen cast him in 'Mrigayaa'", P-d-p said.

Well, for a bunch of 'Ai, Institute', as Rolly the producer taunts the scriptwriter for suggesting something remotely arty in 'Luck by Chance', and as industry-wallas have been traditionally happy to dismiss institute-wallas, we were full of industry gossip that day.

We were there to celebrate my batchmate, Resul's Oscar nomination for sound on 'Slumdog Millionaire'. Most of us were happy to drink, eat, and meet up with old and new friends, but there weren't too many enthusiastic about the film. I haven't seen it yet.

Googling around, am wondering if the Kanti Shah film with Dharmendra was 'Loha'? If it is the same Kanti Shah as in the Cubbu story?
Mithun-da appears in 'Loha' too!

While you are here, please go read my post 'ladies make inappropriate mistakes' at
Upperstall Blogs.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Just because there are only so many rasgullas you can eat at one time

The other day, I watched Dharmendra in a chamber with a slanting floor opening into a pit with acid bubbling inside. As he tried to avoid falling in, he looked up. A fancy glass chandelier over the pit had a Gandhi cap stuck on it - it belonged to someone he had known. The cap fell into the pit, and the bubbles swallowed it up immediately.

Meanwhile, gas began to spew out of vents near the floor. Then, a big dog rushed in and attacked Dharmendra in a bid to loosen his grip on the floor and make him fall into the pit. The dog then turned into a stuffed toy with which Dharmendra wrestled making huge, grunting sounds. Then Dharmendra threw the dog into the pit, and the acid bubbles sizzled again satisfyingly.

Dharmendra used the door left open by the dog to move out of the chamber and into a corridor where immediately big saws started rotating towards him threateningly from both sides. Then, some huge drills started coming at him from the floor. He avoided all those and escaped through the blades of a huge exhaust fan onto a shabby terrace full of sad looking potted plants and discarded furniture. Shetty, the dark bald evil man was waiting for him there, and he made menacing sounds. They had a fist-fight.

Meanwhile, Ajit and Prem Chopra went down a corridor. A door opened automatically and closed when they had passed by. They opened a large oven. The skeleton of a dog was delivered to them covered in ashes. They wondered what had happened. They peeped through a window of the chamber and saw Dharmendra had escaped.

Dharmendra defeated Shetty eventually and looked down from the terrace. A saddled horse was waiting patiently near a tree. He whistled and the horse came obediently nearer. Dharmendra jumped from the terrace, landed on the horse two stories below, and galloped off.

Ajit and Prem Chopra came running out. Their house was in a forest. They asked their goons to chase Dharmendra. Everyone set off on their horses.

I switched off the TV. Too much pleasure can be a bad thing.

I wish I knew which film this was in. Teja who was in the same room as the TV, says he does remember seeing Dharmendra but none of the above since the TV was on only for a few minutes. Dhanno refuses to believe that I actually saw all this. She thinks I made it up. It seems just the kind of thing I would make up.

A few days ago, I also saw Dharmendra and Hema Malini on a ferry. They were having an argument, in the course of which he lifted her up, put her over his shoulders, smacked her on the bottom and then threw her into the water. Dhanno doesn't believe I saw this either.

I need some Youtube proof. And I need to stop surfing TV channels. And I need to watch entire films in one go, or at least until I figure out their names.

banno at wordpress

I'm moving to wordpress. I'll miss blogger, especially the fab blogroll feature. But my blog has been virtually impossible to open o...