Saturday, October 01, 2005

The bandh that chloroformed the city and held it hostage for twenty-four hours gave me the chance to watch television after aeons. Flicking through channels I came across a *gem* of a Hindi movie. Unfortunately I couldn't bring myself to watch all of it, but the little I did see was rather interesting

ITEM : Female in a red figure-hugging dress (to be precise well-developed-posterior-end hugging, low cut dress).

The audience knowledgably nods its head : Ah! This must be the femme fatale.

ITEM : Cigarette dangling from her fingertips while the smoke is blown (rather inexpertly) in her father's face.

It is a moment of mass realization : Ah ha!! This is not merely luscious seductress who may prove to be victim of circumstances but is clearly vamp who is up to no good.

ITEM : Language of preference, English (albeit with an accent hardly likely to be approved by the Queen).

The unfortunate audience collapses into a paroxysm of shock : Good grief!!! What debauchery.

And then she attempts to seduce the hero.
By this time the audience has decided this girl is beyond all help (it being an added black mark that she's rather proficient in the use of profanities) and the advent of a fully clothed heroine is viewed with a sigh of deep relief.

By this time of course I was more than ready to throw the remote or preferably something bigger and bulkier at the television set.

The audience and its varied reactions are products of my imagination in the case of this specific movie which happened to be Maine Pyar Kiya. This movie was, if I remember correctly, a phenomenal success. I am not trying to discuss / deny / acknowledge its cinematic merits, the point of my description remains the obvious stereotypes that the movie encouraged. If anyone should think that my description of the probable audience reaction is over-exaggerated, I must beg to differ. Average audiences would have reacted in exactly this manner when the movie was first released. If anyone should doubt it they have only to look around them at the average reaction on the streets to the so-called Westernized women.

This is not to be misinterpreted as a rant against Indian-ness. It's more of a rant against *#^%$ gender discrimination.

When I light a cigarette on the streets of Calcutta, I seem to shock the moral sensibilities of almost everyone around me. Men who are producing credible imitations of factory chimneys themselves, turn to stare and frequently to glare at me. Mothers towing school children hurry their kiddies away from my bad influence although they find nothing unacceptable in the smoking habits of the male population.
I am willing to accept all admonitions to the effect that cigarette smoking is injurious to health but I fail to understand why the world and its neighbour should be so concerned specifically only about the health of women, or indeed how diseases caused by nicotine inhalation manage to be gender discriminatory.

P.S : Actually, me thinks I would have quit smoking ages back if it hadn't been for my decidedly unselfish thought that by doing so I would deny countless strangers the pleasure of sitting in moral judgement over my evident depravity.

29 Comments:

Blogger Teleute said...

a gem of a post!

and i luuuuurve the postscript :D

9:47 AM  
Blogger Unjustified Insanity~~ said...

"Mothers towing school children hurry their kiddies away from my bad influence"
LOL!
hehe this is India girl!
enjoy~~

3:05 PM  
Blogger Soumik said...

yes. if you can sacrifice your lungs for shocking the people on the streets (which be a heroic/heroinieic actif you ask me and morenecessary than anything else in this lovely bloody city), then go ahead by all means. we are with you.

and i guess many still do react the same way to such movies still.

6:50 PM  
Blogger Sayan Chakraborti said...

Amader ekta club achhe. Club mane shudhu ami ar Tatha, dujoei biri fnukina, onek bochhor holo veg khai .... Tatha ekhono mobile er kufole lok taratari more kina, tai nie bothered hoe... Amader ek shomoy onek din bnachar plan chhilo!

Amra dujon mile ekdin gie tomake dhumpaner kufol bishoye gyan die ashbo.

1:55 AM  
Blogger Pip Squeak said...

Bravo! the next time, you waltz across the street for a jocund stroll with a fag between your feminine fingers, and see, by fortuitous chance, an old lady(hag) walking across the street like any harmless pedestrian you've seen, go and give her a doze of passive smoking- blow the smoke in her face, and ask her if she liked it. If she acquiesces, you have her support, Bravo! This, it seems is the only way to deal with gender discrimination.

And, if you weren't commenting on Indianness, what exactly were you commenting on?No one cares about the health of women, i suggest you consult a sociology textbook for the details. Anyways, the average Indian throng reacts exactly the same way you said, but the ones who don't give two hoots about tradition, and rightfully so, merely yawn at such stereotypism. The other day, we had a panel discussion at CIS about cultural alienation, which discussed this in detail. A funny Irish bloke by the name of Brendan Mccarthiagh seemed to be raising his voice against cultural alientaion very heartily, which left us snickering openly among the audience much to the annoyance of teachers. But if it's feminism you're talking about, then the issue is a completely different matter. But by all means, go strutting through the streets with a cigarette in your hand as many times as possible. Not as a statement, but merely to remind those 'traditional' geeks that we are no longer stuck in the Victorian age. If that doesn't work, oh well, that's the way of life, pass the chicken please.

9:46 AM  
Blogger Rimi said...

er, who's pip sqeak, babel? cute name, isn't it? :D

i adored the audience reaction bit. brilliant! and oh, don't even get me started on the moralistic attitude towards women smoking, wearing skirts (the long, voluminious, ankle length variety), talking to a guy, sitting next to a boy in a bus(have you noticed how some women fold into themselves to keep from even accidentally touching the man next to her?)

who's pip sqeak anyway? :D

10:43 AM  
Blogger Sphinx said...

oi babelfish- me have tagged you.

(visit the great blog for further details)

11:46 AM  
Anonymous vague said...

yugh. I hate people who think like that.
off with them i say!

11:54 AM  
Anonymous vague said...

ok. birthday stories please?

11:58 AM  
Blogger babelfish said...

teleute : thank oo, bherry shweet of you to say so...but re the postscript, don't you feel exactly like that sometimes :D

unjustified insanity : it is funny sometimes...and I most certainly am enjoying meself :D

soumik : sarcasm dear? After all the rhetoric we study, why didn't you get the simple irony of the post script :)

sayan : plis plis bolo tumi yaarki korchho?!!!

sphinx : naheeeeeee!!!! This is the second time I've been tagged, damn! I suppose I shall have to write these stories :( But I'm terribly at cutting a long story short. Still, will do me best :)

2:46 PM  
Blogger babelfish said...

rimi : thou art an absolute gem, woman...muuaaah :D
And you shall write a post, in your inimitable style, on all the things I shouldn't get you started on...me will look forward to it...
But yes pip squeak is a rather cute name :)

vague : you be also sweetumms :) Off with them all!!
As for birthday stories, nothing much happened really, but I shall tell all eventually :)

5:06 PM  
Blogger babelfish said...

pip squeak : I don't know if they teach you rhetoric in schools nowadays but if you do want to become a writer might I suggest, that along with sarcasm, it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with a certain literary device called Irony. Otherwise I'm afraid you seem to have missed the entire point of my post.
Normally I would have tried to explain what I understand by feminism but it doesn't seem worth it since you obviously have a fairly immature understanding of the realities of life, and believe me dear, gender discrimination and stereotyping are realities we, who are not cocooned in fancy ivory towers, face all the time.
Also may I suggest that playing with words is an excellent way of passing time but I completely failed to understand the relevance of the old lady example.
Finally if the funny Irish bloke by the name of Brendan Mccarthiagh is the same gentleman I am thinking of, then I'm sorry I fail to find your actions remotely creditable or even amusing.
Dr.Brendan Maccarthiagh is far more educated and deserving of respect than a bunch of sniggering school kids. I suggest you achieve a fraction of the esteem and dignity he has before you indulge in juvenile comments which only serve to reveal your own inadequacy and extreme immaturity.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Krishanu said...

damn it! why does someone always come along to justify smoking. terrible habit (though i am guilty of the occasional indulgence). oh well...damn me then (hypocritic quack that i am)...

if ur interested one of my friends has a readymade excuse as to why he should smoke. he starts off with camus, saying that all brilliant thinkers (all men btw) are smokers. he then challenges me to name some non-smoking geniuses...

9:59 PM  
Blogger Soumik said...

hmm. wat made you think that i didnt get the irony? [raised eyebrows]

11:55 PM  
Blogger Sayan Chakraborti said...

Is this the Dr. Brendan Maccarthiagh, who pens a column in Voices? Who is Pip Squeak? Is this kid out of his mind, if he has one?

3:27 AM  
Blogger DD said...

dont smoke those specials anymore at least.

6:39 AM  
Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Try a pipe some time. Not a hookah, a pipe. Or maybe a beedi.
The reactions should be rich.

And please, evidently children read this blog too - do you have to discuss stuff like Maine Pyaar Kiya? *delicate shudder indicating offended sensibilities*

J.A.P.

8:31 AM  
Blogger Pip Squeak said...

Sigh! Seem to have achieved exactly what I had hoped with my barbed comments, however immature they may seem. Love pissing off people. And the sarcasm bit, no, it's impossible to miss something as obvious as irony, even if I'm not a literature student. But that's the whole point. babelfish seems to have missed the humorous factor entirely. Not much appreciaton of facetious-cum-annoying comments anyway.

By the way, I was absent on that fateful day when DR. Mccarty(whats-it?) was giving everyone a lecture on cultural alienation, but managed to get the general reaction nonetheless. HA HA HA! Can guess that my reaction would have been no different, as am a regular reader of Mccarthiagh's SERVE coloumn in Voices, the Statesman. Knocks me straight out of the chair sometimes.

And really, I take Sayan Chakrabarty's comment where he calls me insane as a compliment. And who the hall is this prufrock bloke? Does he wear frocks? Sounds like a sissy- girl. P.S, I take that back. who am I talk like that with a name like Pip Squeak?

The best part about babelfish's comment, during which she was practically flaring at the nostrils, as I had predicted, was the long soporific lecture about maturity. Her reactions were so darn predictable. Case in point, 22 is not too far from school either. I know blokes in La Marts(not my school in case you were planning to launch a probe) who are 20. And a bloke in my school is 26! You'd better believe it.

And thanks a lot Rimi for calling me cute! Wish you had known me for real.

10:49 AM  
Blogger samit said...

And who the hall is this prufrock bloke? Does he wear frocks? Sounds like a sissy- girl

i cant figure out what my favourite part of that line is. i think its 'who the hall' but theres just so much more in there...

11:06 AM  
Blogger Teleute said...

pip squeak - so impressive you are.

8:27 PM  
Blogger cass said...

anyone remember the old adage,"children should be seen and not heard"?

9:19 PM  
Blogger cass said...

anyway,i suggest we leave pips kweek alone. kids shouldnt be bullied.not even the attention seeking ones.

ps-you write for VOICES??explains a lot.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Unjustified Insanity~~ said...

so has everyone bloked there last bloke or is there still some bloky bloking left to do by another bloke,who wants to bloke a bloke,who wants to bloke a bloke,who wants to bloke a bloke,..............
(My god!Even if this sentence continues forever it still makes sense) LOL!
btw
sup bacchas?

10:59 PM  
Blogger babelfish said...

krishanu : way cool excuse :D thanks for dropping by btw :)

soumik : isn't it ironic, that you should think that I think you didn't get the irony :D
oh what a tangled web we weave when first we learn to...err...be sarcastic

sayan : if it is the afore-mentioned good doctor I have a great deal of respect for him and hence none for juvenile prattlers, chill :)

dd : hem hem, plis to note I only is smoking da navy cuts nowadays!!!
Soon I shall upgrade to classics and thence to marlborough and then I shall quit smoking cos I won't be able to afford more pricey things...or maybe I'll smoke one cigar a year :D

12:45 AM  
Blogger babelfish said...

j.a.p : wannabagofsweetieswannaswetieswannawanna...
Don't I sound like the Venrable Abbot in his whatever number reincarnation?!! tee hee This be from Thief of Time, and if you haven't read it but continue to leave such sweetiepie comments I shall get da book for you :D
And this child shall keep in mind your remarks about children :)

Samit : Thou hast a point. There is a profound depth of expression which defies the understanding of lesser mortals (that's me I'm talking about, not the rest of ye).
And thanks for dropping by :D

teleute : tsk tsk, must you be so harsh on the poor child. He seeks to impress and he has done a good job of it. Presumably. He may for example have impressed on some of us that while ignorance is temporary, stupidity is alas permanent.

cass : You love might have been a pleasure to view as a child but...well...we can't all be eye-candy :D

1:02 AM  
Blogger babelfish said...

unjustified insanity : Oye bachha, you realize that these brilliant never-ending-yet-logical sentences leave my head reeling!!! Still the best example of a never-ending stream of logical repetition I have come across is from Beckett :

A dog came in the kitchen
And stole a crust of bread.
Then cook up with a ladle
And beat him till he was dead.

Then all the dogs came running
And dug the dog a tomb -
And wrote upon the tombstone
For the eyes of dogs to come:

A dog came in the kitchen
And stole a crust of bread.
Then cook up with a ladle
And beat him till he was dead.

Then all the dogs came running
And dug the dog a tomb -


brilliant, no ;D

1:09 AM  
Blogger babelfish said...

pip squeak : Oh grow up.

1:11 AM  
Blogger Unjustified Insanity~~ said...

LOL!!
brilliant !!!

4:55 PM  
Blogger babelfish said...

unjustified : glad you liked it :D

7:57 PM  

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