sakshidayal

Life is not a holiday.

Keh Diya, Bas Keh Diya

Meet always-teary-eyed Nandini.

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The only mother whose mamta can give serious competition to Mamta’s mamta.

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Nandini has two sons.

Rahul, the older, is adopted.

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They found him in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and decided to adopt him, along with half the cast of that movie.

And Rohan, the younger, is pretty much unwanted, but he doesn’t care.

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Nandini’s husband, meanwhile, is Yashwardhan Raichand, who is also married to parampara.

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                                            You funny!

The Raichands are a rich, happy, sanskari family because as Babuji once said, “the family that prays together stays together.”

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But things go drastically wrong when the Raichands realize a couple of things have changed since Rahul’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai Days.

The first, thankfully, is his dressing sense.

Before: Does my look need a bit more colour?

                             Before: Does my look need a bit more colour?

After: Totes cool.

                                            After: Totes cool

The second is his taste.

Before: Tina> Anjali

                                     Before: Tina > Anjali

After: Anjali.Tina disguised asNaina

                          After: Anjali > Tina disguised as Naina

Rahul fell in love with Anjali when he saw her doing what all girls do all the time in Chandni Chowk, or in Karan Johar’s Chandni Chowk anyway, Bhangra.

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His father, however, refuses to accept Anjali, claiming she will never be able to understand their parampara.

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Sidenote: Parampara is the Rebecca of this movie – she is always referred to, she constantly messes up everyone’s lives, but you never actually see her.

But Rahul marries Anjali anyway, leaving them with no choice but to run away

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They run all the way to London, taking with them Anjali’s little sister Pooja and Rahul’s mother from his Kuch Kuch Hota Hai days, who also happen to be Rohan’s best friend and his Nanny respectively.

Because, as mentioned, no one really cares about Rohan.

This isolation makes Rohan sad and he drowns his sorrows in kilos, losing a tremendous amount of weight and turning into this

So thin yet so sad

                                              So thin yet so sad

When he finishes college, Rohan sets off to find his brother and bring him back.

So he takes a flight to London, with a stopover at patriotism.

Remember how once upon a time the British ruled over India? Well Karan Johar avenges all those years of suppression in just one song.

First, the Indian Flag is all over London, everywhere, literally.

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Second, street dance is Bharatnatyam.

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Third, they took our freedom, we take their ice cream,

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And their soother.

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Once he’s done with vengeance, Rohan gets in touch with Pooja, played by Kareena Kapoor on a Yaadein hangover

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Dancing in bed-check

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Satin nightclothes-check

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Longest beauty regime in the world-check

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Totally worth the effort- check

Rohan and Pooja exchange sad stories

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And then Rohan enters his brother’s house as a sushil and sanskari paying guest

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He then keeps poking his flaring nostrils into the family’s business until Anjali and his ex nanny figure out who he is

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Rohan then decides it’s time to put the cherry on his tricoloured cake of patriotism as well

So he makes a whole class of British children sing the Indian national anthem

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And the national anthem unites the two brothers (Awwww).

Rahul finds out who his paying guest really is, leading to this

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And then this

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And once enough tears have been shed to solve all of India’s drought problems, this

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Because really Rohan, no one wants you.

Mr. Bhagat and Biharis

I made the terrible mistake of reading ‘One Night at a Call Centre’ back in school. Chetan Bhagat had just taken the nation’s youth by storm at the time, and I read the book to see what all the fuss was about. The hype was, I soon realised, undeserved. Even if you overlook the fact that his story ends with a phone call from God (modern day enlightenment?), the truth is there is nothing exceptional about the book, nothing to warrant all the applause and accolades that it received by the public. A lot of people would argue vehemently over this with me, and Chetan Bhagat would undoubtedly be leading that group. But that is one of the things that really puts me off-Chetan Bhagat. I detest smug people, and he is their king-what else would you call a man who himself goes around  saying ‘(look!) I made a nation that doesn’t read, read’?

Then I saw him on television one day, expressing his opinion on a panel debate about the FYUP program in Delhi University, and I just felt sorry for him. What else do you feel for a man who goes around on national television harping about how it is time all Indians stopped sending their children to public schools and universities and turned instead to private ones? What else do you feel for a man who claims and actually believes that Indians have the money for that sort of a thing and declares that instead of using their wealth to send their children abroad should send them to private universities in India? What else do you feel for a man who has to actually be told what I, at the age of eighteen, already knew- that only a very small section of the Indian population has the kind of money needed to give children a private education or to send them abroad?

So I grew up, and I realized it wasn’t entirely his fault. He wrote books of questionable quality, but he only continued doing it, and taking pride in it, because people appreciated him for it. His first book was a bestseller, so he wrote another, and that became a bestseller too, so he wrote another, and so on.
I don’t like the plots of his novels, or the way they’re written, but I can still understand why some people would enjoy them- it’s a difference in taste and opinion.

But what I really dislike about Chetan Bhagat’s writing, and find unacceptable, is the incessant stereotyping that is repeatedly portrayed in the guise of profound statements.
For example, here the writer, in a newspaper column, gives women advice on how to avoid stress:
“…do not ever feel stressed about having a dual responsibility of family and work….It is okay if you don’t make four dishes for lunch, one can fill their stomach with one.”
Followed by:
“don’t get competitive with other women…your neighbor may make a six-dabba tiffin for her husband, you don’t – big deal.”
While Chetan Bhagat’s intentions here may be noble, his statements are not and, more than anything else, they only reinforce patriarchal stereotypes.

After all that, I woke up to this on Tuesday morning.

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Chetan Bhagat, I believe, only used half his brain when he thought up the plot to ‘Half Girlfriend’. He only used the part of his brain that gives in to, and goes along with, public opinion. So he came up with the idea of a ‘Bihari’ boy who doesn’t speak English. Originality obviously isn’t a word in his dictionary. I’d love to say that the fact that the boy is Bihari and doesn’t speak English is purely coincidental, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t.
It’s not coincidental, it’s a stereotype, and it’s a stereotype that Mr. Bhagat has absolutely no problem propagating because, let’s face it, the most appreciated works of art in this country are those that conform to stereotypes- like Chennai Express- where people can, for just a few hours, feel superior to the fictional characters whose lives they are reading about or watching on screen. These ‘artistic’ stereotypes really add to the pockets of those who came up with them, but they also add to the already rampant ignorance of their audience.

I’m not surprised to come across yet another stereotype about Biharis. I’ve dealt with them for years now. My first introduction to this mindset was back in school when a teacher declared before the whole class that “these Bihari people come and corrupt everything. They’ve taken all the government jobs and now they’re practically hereditary.” Needless to say, someone never managed to crack the UPSC.
I remember being horrified, but as time passed, it just became a part of life, something I deal with regularly, in real life and on social media.

Social media is, really, one of the best places to see how ignorant people can be. It’s a place where every second day I come across a post where people write things like “I was travelling in the Bombay local and these Bihari type men started bothering me.” If you ask these people to define ‘Bihari type’, they probably wouldn’t have an answer to give, or not a sensible one anyway.

The Biharis I’ve met, and I’ve met quite a few, being one myself, defy most stereotypes associated with them. We don’t all chew paan, or have hair sticking out of our ears and, contrary to popular opinion, we work hard to get where we are-whether it’s a government post or a corporate one. Bihari girls are treated well and given as much importance as their male counterparts- they’re progressive, educated, ambitious women who look to be independent rather than wait around for men to come and sweep them off their feet, or marry them anyway. What I’ve come to learn is that the world places far too much emphasis on physicals, and that’s something I believe  most Biharis know better than to value. So while the ‘uncool’ tag is pasted on people from Bihar because of the little effort that is made in the physical and superficial factors and departments, when it comes to the mind, which is what really matters, we’re as good as anyone else.

I think its time to realise that there’s a lot more to people from other states, and nations, than we give them credit for. If you’re going to take Lalu Yadav as the archetypical Bihari, or Raj Thackarey as the typical Maharashtrian, your outlook of the world is going to be so bleak you’ll end up killing yourself. It’s important for people to realize that not all Biharis are the same, not all Maharashtrians are the same, heck not all people are the same!

So every person who’s an immigrant isn’t a criminal, every immigrant who’s a criminal isn’t a Bihari, and every Bihari isn’t incapable of speaking English.

The fact that Chetan Bhagat’s protagonist is a Bihari may, it can be argued, have nothing to do with the fact that he doesn’t speak English well, and I would be delighted if that’s proved right at some point. But it’s mentioned in the first line of the first promotional venture of the novel itself, which indicates the opposite.
Freudian slip maybe?

The Window

The attic and the basement had always been her only options, and she always, inevitably, chose the attic.

The house was much bigger than most, but so was the family, and there was no room where she felt alone, undisturbed. She could close doors as much as she wanted, but the household concerns always seeped in and, sometimes, so did the members.

It didn’t matter that all she wanted was some time with her thoughts, or her books, she couldn’t have it, not even if her family wanted to give it to her, because there were always things that reminded her of reality, of tasks left undone, of conversations still pending. There was no getting away.

Then she decided to face her fears. She had always been terrified of the basement, of the darkness and dampness that threatened to engulf her and pull her into the unknown.

The attic scared her too.

But she had to pick one.

Somehow the prospect of going up seemed more promising than that of going down. Of course, the path downwards was easier- just a few staircases and there it would be, ready for her, the basement. Getting to the attic, meanwhile, meant using a sort of trapdoor. It meant pulling a rope, and pulling it hard enough for the staircase to come tumbling down, after which came the climb.

But somehow climbing up felt better than going down.

She wondered if it had anything to do with the notions of hell and heaven. Was it possible that these ideas had a stronger impact on her subconscious than she realized? The attic was just as dark, just as scary, just as unfamiliar, and yet she picked it. Was it only because it was above and not below the earth?

Or maybe it was the window- the one window, in the attic, that allowed her to feel alone without really feeling abandoned or afraid. The one window that constantly reminded her, with the view of the magnificent lake outside and the trees surrounding it, of how much beauty there was in the world, and of how small a part she and her problems played in the greater scheme of things.

She loved the window, for the humbling effect it had on her, and for the noises that it allowed to seep in- the laughter of children in the morning, and the chirping of crickets at night-reminding her that, although she was on her own now, there was a world outside, waiting for her to return to it, when she was ready.

The Daily Post: The Ray Bradbury Noun Twist List

It’s Sunny!

I woke up one hot summer morning and thought, “Wow,it’s sunny!”

What I didn’t know was that the rest of the country was thinking the same thing, except while I stared at the scenery outside my window when I thought it, the rest of the country was staring at their television sets and thinking it.

Because really, it was Sunny.

Sunny Leone.

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While most children’s lives are made up of dolls when they are babies, the children who grew up in Summer 2014 will remember this as the year of, not babies and dolls, but Baby Doll.

Suddenly television wasn’t the same anymore.

No matter what channel you put on, Sunny Leone’s voluptuous figure, in all its glory, would inevitably assault your television screen and give new life to the long dead imaginations of innumerable men in several parts of the nation.

It didn’t matter what you were doing.

You could be eating, or sleeping, or drinking, or driving, or walking, Sunny couldn’t care less. Her cleavage would dance on the television screen while people everywhere wondered how they ever thought the mangoes they bought that morning were juicy.
Her bright pink lips would mouth lyrics a lot of people couldn’t pick up, except for some words like “Husun de Kone” and “Jhandu Balm” which combined made it sound like an advertisement for the latter.
All the conservative members of the society, meanwhile, frantically searched their rooms for the remote that, in no house, seems to be where it should be, all the while hoping no male member of the household would walk in.

While the world danced with Sunny and her B&B (Bosom and Bottom), entranced by her suggestive moves, some of us realised that no matter how hard we tried, there was no remote, and probably never would be, that could shut out songs like Baby-Doll from our world.

 

Daily Prompt: Musical Marker

When Did We Change?

I think about what we were before, and what we are now.

Earlier we looked at poverty, and despair,
And starvation, and thirst.
We looked at helplessness, and desperation.
But that’s all we did-
Looked.

Today, we see.
We see poverty, and despair,
And starvation, and thirst.
We see helplessness, and desperation.
Today, we see.

When did we change?
When did we stop accepting and start demanding?
When did we realize we deserved more, that we were owed what was our due?
When did we understand that we could do better, be better?
When did we begin questioning-one voice in unison?

Was it when an old man went on a fast?
Or when a young one failed to live up to expectations?
Was it when one among us was murdered-raped and mutilated?
Or when a coughing outsider decided to fix things from within?
Was it when homosexuality became a sin?
Or when one man’s silence became a burden?

When did we change?
And for how long?

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