no romeos please, we are indians

 

It is not that only celebrity authors like Chetan Bhagat mutiliated beautiful words like girlfriend to make it half girlfriend. India has a glorious tradition of debasing beautiful legends.

Romeo was a great lover and a faithful one. The love between Romeo and Juliet was mutual. It is tragic yet, legendary. In the east too, we have such legends like Majnu and Laila,  Sohni Mahiwal,  Sirin and Farhad and many others.

Laila oh laila, aisi hun laila, har koi chahen mujhse milna akela – there goes a popular Bollywood number downgrading the legend associated with Laila to the lowest level possible. Of course, we have made the legend of Romeo to meet with the same fate.

Indian BloggersShakespear’s Romeo does not have the least bit resemblance to the roadside side badchalan laundas of India who are the inspiration behind our anti Romeo squads. Thank God, neither did Romeo live, nor did he leave any progeny behind to see this day. Had he been a little less tragic like the hero of De Caprio Titanic, his descendants would have commuted mass suicide after coming to know the down-gradation of his legend to such base levels.

These badchalan laundas stand at street corners passing lewd comments and teasing each member of the opposite sex, who dares to pass by. Sometimes things take uglier turn when they try to gain physical proximity and they create nightmare for girls who are not escorted by any male member.  Wholeheartedly, do I support the action of the so called Anti Romeo squads who are out to make public places safer for women.

Then, there are these true followers of the glorious tradition of Romeo and Juliet. I mean the romantic part not the tragic part. I do not have any objection to two consenting adults coming together in response to certain emotional and biological stimuli provided, they are as faithful to each other like the legends whose footsteps they follow. Neither is it unlawful.

Of course, there is thi minor irritant what in technical jargon is called – PDA, which is Public Display of Affection in its expanded from. Quite often, such Romeos could be spotted with their Juliets in public places like Parks and Cinema Halls, busy in PDA activities as if being oblivious of the people around.

To counter these PDA activities, some self styled preservers of public moralities in India have come up with anti-Romeo vigilante groups, in line with the cow vigilant groups. While I condemn the activities of such vigilante groups who have no right to take up their own romantic failures on such romantic achievers, I appeal that even the official Anti Romeo quads should not take any action against them.

Rather, we should come up with innovative ideas to save and encourage such couples who are the preservers of the beautiful traditions set by the legendary Majnus and Lailas.

My suggestion is that we should enact a central law to make it mandatory for parents with children afflicted with Romeo Juliet Syndrome  to give their children enough pocket money so that they can afford Private Display of Affection.

Alternately, we should have Romeo Lounges in every public place in India in line with the Smoker’s lounges at airports and elsewhere, so that the public is not the least bit affected by the cultural pollution spread by these Shakepearean Romeos and Juliets.

😀 😀 😀

(In response to Indispire Edition #166 at Indiblogger )

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Image source: Newtimes

What is in a Name?

Shakespeare was not born in India. If he were, he would not have said, “What is in a name? That which call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet”.

Here in India Name is everything, not only in a spiritual context as emphasized by Guru Nanak Dev, but also in a social, materialistic, patriotic and pragmatic context as glorified by the common man, celebrity, the politician and the military leader. If I meet Shakespeare I would point out “Sir, even if calling rose by any other name does not affect its smell, it does not sound the same or spell the same and these differences have different connotations for different people”. Of course he may counter argue, “But it is your Gods who justify my point. In your country every God of some reckoning has a thousand names. But aren’t they same in essence as you claim”. He may also lament the fact that in the western part of the world few Gods can afford to have more than one name.

Indian BloggersFor the common man his reputation and social standing revolves around his name. Being well known is like having a big name (naam bada), being disgraced is to get a bad name (badnaam), and tarnishing somebody’s reputation is as good as reducing his name to dust (mera naam mitti mein mila diya). In a society that puts a premium on honour and reputation people would rather reduce themselves to ashes than see their name being reduced to dust.

The celebrity is actually more obsessed with the composition of her name than what her name smells or sounds. “Success ke liye kuchh bhi karega’ is her mantra as she runs to astrologers, palmists, numerologists, tarot readers and parrot readers to work out what alphabet to insert or delete from her name so that the next project is a run away hit. My page three specialist friend himself being a star vedic astrologer  argues, “It only shows the impeccable professional attitude of our celebrities. In this age of professionalism, as we have specialist choreographers to take care of dancing and experts of hair, skin, teeth, eyes, ears, hands, nails etc to take care of respective body parts, so we have professional soothsayers to take care of the names”.

When we evaluate our post independent progress, along with population growth and advancements made in different areas of human activity we must give due weightage to the number of times we have changed the names of squares, villages, streets, cities, districts and states. In case a foreigner, who has not been keeping himself updated about Indian current affairs for the last twenty years, comes across an updated India map now, may assume that cities like Bombay, Calcutta and Madras have been gobbled up by the sea due to global warming.

Our swadeshi leaders would like us to believe that a more Indianised name is the first step towards becoming more Indian. However, as globalised Indians we cannot sever our ties with all things English. While the Indian name of our country is Bharat,  we have English abbreviations for all lengthy Indian names. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited becomes BSNL and not bhasanili, BJP rather than bhajapa is the more popular abbreviation and who would understand what you are saying when you refer the Biju Janata Dal as bijada instead of BJD?

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Hyder – To Rank or not to Rank

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If Shakespear’s Hamlet gave us the famous dialogue “to be or not to be- that’s the question”, the dialogue – “Ek alag nazaria bhi to ho sakta hai” from the movie  Haider haunts me time and again. True to this dialogue – ‘Ek alag nazaria bhi to ho sakta hai’, which has been used in the movie a number of times by various characters,  Vishal Bharadwaj has given a different perspective of the situation in Kasmir. Even though the movie is an adaptation of Shakespear’s drama Hamlet, there is nothing ‘English’ about. In other words, it was hard to find any trace of Hollywood in it.  Contrast the movie with many of the commercially successful Bollywood movies released during the last two years. Many of these movies borrowed heavily from Hollywood, even theme by theme and scene by scene. I expected Amir Khan starrer Dhoom 3 to be something different, but was disappointed. For major part, the movie reminded me of “The prestige”.

In addition to just the right casting, director Vishal Bharadwaj has brought out the best of not only the lead actors like Shahid Kapoor, Taboo, Kay Kay and Shradha Kapoor, but also the actors in smaller roles and cameos. The director himself declares the movie to be his best movie so far and a masterpiece. And a masterpiece it is, in terms of cinematic art.

Barring one  colourful sequence that provides a cheerful backdrop for the  meeting of mother and son, for most part of the movie, the white backdrop provided by the snow fall contrasts with the grim reminder of impending disasters. Murders, betrayals, compromises and the overall atmosphere of distrust overshadows the pristine scenic enchantments of the valley. The movie evokes this unfortunate confluence of contrasts. Gone are the days when, enchanted by the beauty of Kashmir, the  poet could declare, “If there is any heaven, it is here, it is here, it is here”. The poet in Haider could only discover the hell that the modern day Kashmir has turned out to be and wonder whether ‘to be or not to be’ in such a situation.

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Those who have lived in Kashmir would relate with the nuances of the movie better. The director and the actors have brought out in an in-offensive manner the typical way of English and Hindi pronunciation by the natives of Kashmir – school as shakool, chance as chaanas, bhai as bai and so on.

Contrary to the Shakespearean saying – “All is well that ends well’, the movie does not end in an optimistic note. But, it could not have been more befitting. Haider walking into uncertainty amidst gory pictures of violence, is an apt representation of  the current situation in Kashmir.

While the movie has been highly acclaimed by the critics and connoisseurs, another movie that was released on the same day crossed the 200 crore mark in record time. At a time when, with utter disregard to the artistic value, Bollywood movies are ranked  by the crores they have raked in, where would a movie like Haider fit in? Should it be ranked and compared with the contemporary releases? Or, may be, it would be better to put it in a class of its own.

(The article was originally written two days after the release of the movie )

The lunatic, the lover and the poet, are of imagination all compact

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“The lunatic, the lover and the poet, are of imagination all compact.”

The statement appears in Shakespear’s play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Somebody who does not confirm to our logical mind, we call him/her mad. Love is beyond logic. So is poetry. Love is so much beyond logic, some say love is blind. So one factor common among premi, paagal and kavi is that none can be understood or judged by our logical minds.

Take the example of the Bauls of Bengal – a group of wandering mystical singers. Baul has been derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Vaatul’ which means the mad person. They are some of the greatest lovers – lovers of life, lovers of human values and lovers of divinity in us, which are expressed through their enchanting songs.

One thing common in all three is their wild imagination. They may see things that do not exist and may create something out of nothing.

According to some versions of the stories about Laila and Majnu, Laila was so ugly people wondered what made Majnu maddeningly fall in love with Laila. May be, he saw things in her that others missed.

It seems these type of people do not care for the world. To the contrary, these are the people who make the world a beautiful place to live in. Take the example of the Bauls. They never accumulated wealth for themselves or their family. They incessantly travel from place to place to sing the song of humanity, urging people to rise above petty differences of religion, caste, creed and other man made divisions. So have been the great poets. In fact another name give for the ancient seers (rishis) of India is kavi – the poet. And what beautiful poetry they created in the form of Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas. In fact these are the people who laid the foundation of Indian Civilization.

Of course there are also mad people without any love or poetry in them. They are filled with hatred, fanaticism. The world has much to fear from these kind of mad people, who do not have any iota of love in their hearts. Or, their love for a particular imaginary cause has been distorted into hatred for those whom they consider not belonging to them.

These fringe elements are killing the poets and the lovers. The Sufis, who like Bauls can be said to be lunatics, lover and poets at the same time, continue to face prosecution and extinction in Pakistan and elsewhere by the radical elements. In recent times even the Bauls in India have been targets of fanatic Hindu and Muslim Groups in Indian and Bangladesh.

Now coming to the dialogue of Theseus from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V, scene I, here it is:

Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,

Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend

More than cool reason ever comprehends.

The lunatic, the lover and the poet

Are of imagination all compact:

One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,

That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,

Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt:

The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling,

Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;

And as imagination bodies forth

The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen

Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing

A local habitation and a name.