Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Now That Harry Has Met Sally- Why Wait?

I have had one of the strangest conversations of my life today. And that is the reason for this hopelessly sentimental post. (What the hell- like you were missing my sarcasm!)

Two friends of mine (both girls- obviously) today had a long discussion with me about the need and the rationale of marriage. Perhaps I need to be more specific. Both their parents had approached the topic with them, and both of them are trying everyday to desperately avoid it. They see no reason for the urgency. They are both unanimous in their verdict- marriage, all things considered, should only happen once one is mentally ready. And, of course, the usage of that phrase every time in history has implicitly assumed that one is not.

I suppose then, in hindsight, that it was perhaps not the ideal moment to inform them that I had been proposing marriage to my girlfriend on a daily basis for the past five years.

Their verdict was once again unanimous- I am mentally unstable. (I can see you nodding your head in agreement. Stop it.)

After listing the numerous obstacles one would face after marriage- financial issues, responsibilities, compatibility, adjustments, compromises, and even horrendously hungry babies- they turned the spotlight on me and asked a stupefying question: Why was I so eager to get married?

Now, while that question itself is perfectly harmless, and a logical derivation of the above discussion, it had me dumb-founded. You see, I have spent all my energy and all my time so doggedly chasing the idea of marriage, revelling in my unshakable conviction of its merits, that I had, momentarily, forgotten my motive.

However, as I write this, wading in my reminiscence of today, the answer becomes startlingly clear; it is, after all, the simplest, and the most obvious thing I can think of.

Why was I so desperate to get married? Well, dear friends, why not?

Being mentally ready is like being in love- it is not a state you find yourself in, one fine day. It is also not a function of your age or financial stability (given, however, that maturity and a bank balance are always desirable). One doesn't simply stumble into it, strolling along the narrow, twisted pathways of life. You don't just wake up one day, saying, "Oh, I am now 28, and therefore mentally ready!"

It is a decision. One day, you look deep within yourself and decide that you are mentally prepared. Or that you are in love. And once you do that, the rest of your life simply falls in line. Mine did.

I understand all your arguments, friends, and I also admit that they are indeed valid.

I, however, know only one thing. Around five years ago, I discovered someone, and decided that that is the face I wanted to wake up to every morning of my life. I see no reason why I should wait. Or any way I possibly can.

That's it.

"...when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."
~Nora Ephron, "When Harry Met Sally"

Sunday, September 27, 2009

THINGS I FAIL TO UNDERSTAND (amongst others...)

I am a confused man.

This declaration should hardly come as a surprise to those who know me. I spend half of my time desperately trying to comprehend the goings-on of this world, and the rest of it simply marvelling at the levels of sheer absurdity prevalent around me. The world is a ridiculous, funny, absurd, mad place, and it is therefore no wonder that I love it so much.

In my "search for sanity" in this utterly insane universe, I come across things on a daily basis which make so little sense that they fit in perfectly with our world. However, at the end of day, there are certain things which deservedly get mention in the "Insanity Hall of Fame": things which simply do not make sense, no matter how hard I try, even by the shockingly low standards of sanity around us.

Following, then, is a list of certain things that do not make sense to me in the least. Those who know me well will vouch for one thing- this list is by no means comprehensive.

1. People who need to read the menu before deciding what to order at McDonald’s.

I just don't get these people. I'm sorry, many of you are very close friends, but come on! McDonald's is a wonderful institution which seems to have decided to stand as a pillar of strength and stability in this ever-changing world: not one thing has changed since its arrival here in India- the menu, the service, the decor, the prices, and usually even the clientele remain steadfastly the same. Yes, there are minor changes in the menu every 4-5 years (so we now have chicken nuggets! Woo-
hoo!) and the prices (the McGrill went from 20 to 25 to 30!) but more or less, I don't walk into that restaurant expecting any surprises.

And yet there are people who are simply unable to choose what they want to order until they see the menu! A menu which, just like laughter in Sidhu's throat, has remain fixed for the past ten years! Haven't you memorised it by now? Are you still in the dark about what are the burgers McDonald's serves?

There seems to be an interesting theory that is often thrown in my face whenever I start my rants about this. Some say that seeing the images of the burgers, or any visual aid, helps the decision-making progress. While I understand that there may be some merit to this theory, it is irrelevant here because, just like McDonald's offerings, people's choices too remain the same! The McChicken lover will always order that, the Maharaja Mac fan will sick to his love, and the Veg Surprise devotee will continue to enjoy that only! The McDonald's connoisseurs are steadfast loyalists- and yet, these people need to look at menu, almost as if in a desperate bid to re-affirm their own convictions!

You are a strange, inexplicably insane bunch- I love you all.

2. “One-Time-Watch”.

This is an amazing phrase, one that I am convinced does not exist anywhere else on this planet. I suppose it is fitting in a way that the origin of this soon-to-take-over-the-world phrase is the nation which produces the highest number of films in the world.

All over the world, people judge films as being good, bad or simply 'okay', describing the mediocre. We, however, are a nation that is both full of obsessive film lovers, as well as inundated with mediocrity all around us. Most films, good, bad, or hideous, we will watch anyway; and most films, from the afore-mentioned spectrum of the good, bad or hideous, will fall in the cateogry of "okay". We know the latter is a fact; we have understood it over years and years of being confronted with mediocrity, and millions and millions of fridays of battling disappointment. And yet, with the unmatchable Indian optimism, we will watch every film that comes out.

Considering the sheer number of films that fall in the "okay" category every year, all Indian cinegoers soon realised that the term "okay" was simply inadequate both as a judgement as well as a catogory- there was an urgent need for further classification, lest we (God forbid!) misguide our friends and families, who would watch the film irrespective of what we told them.

Thus, the term "okay" was sub-divided into three major categories:
  • "Dekh le, par bakwaas hai"
  • "Ok-Ok only"
  • and the magical "One-time watch toh hai"
This phrase, "One-Time Watch", once upon a time used to be grammatically correct: people would say "ek baar toh dekh sakte ho", or "you can watch it once". Soon, people realised that these words were beginning to encompass an entire- and rapidly growing- category, and, just like with every other oft-repeated phrase, they shortened it, to a name they gave such films- "One-Time Watch".

One must finally understand that this glorious phrase points to two essential characteristics of us Indians, which perhaps justify it too to a certain extent: one, we often watch a film two- or more- times in a theatre if it is good enough; and two, we are so starved for entertainment, and so much in love with cinema (and perhaps possess such low standards), that a film being a "One-Time Watch" is a good thing.

I, for one, have never understood this phrase. As far as I am concerned, a "One-Time Watch" is a Titan with dead batteries.

3. Salman Khan’s Stardom

Forget, for a second, "WANTED".

Salman Khan is one of the veterans and the stalwarts of the film industry. He has always been considered one of the superstars of India Cinema, and is an integral part of Bollywood's ruling clan. And yet, what is amazing, is that I cannot remember the last good movie he came up with.

While he has been considered a superstar for the past twenty years, ever since the days of "MAINE PYAAR KIYA", this is is a man who has not had a single A-league film in recent memory. I mean, what was his last major release? "YUVVRAJ"?

According his filmography at IMDB, in the past 25 films he has done, right upto 2002, that is almost eight years, he has had four hits. Yes, FOUR- and those too are films like "PARTNER", "NO ENTRY", "TERE NAAM" and "MUJHSE SHAADI KAROGI". Two David Dhawan films, an Anees Bazmee and a Satish Kaushik- hardly A-Listers!

On what basis do we call him a superstar?

However, in the past twenty years, I defy you to find one person who can deny that this man is not a superstar. This is is a man whose last decent film was perhaps 1999's "HUM DIL DE CHUKE SANAM"- and yet there is no need for him to provide any evidence for his stardom. If any were needed, there is the opening collections of "WANTED".

Not one A-league film in over 25 releases, not one landmark movie, not one A-league production house- but Salman Khan's stardom is indisputable. This is a man who has gone beyond the Box Office, and needs neither hits nor awards to prove his stardom.

Salman Khan's stardom is a walking, talking example of the madness of country we live in. And a fabulous one at that.


While I end my post here, my confusion at this world obviously will not. Therefore, in all likelihood, I threaten to come back with a sequel.