First things first. I am SO GLAD I didn’t waste a good 500 rupees on a movie so formulaic that it’s smug director doesn’t even bother to look back once and realise how impasse his ‘stories’ have become. And why should he, when the formula sells?
On second thoughts, the 120 odd bucks I spent to purchase it on cable TV too could have been better spent. Well, what is done is done. Moving on, why am I devoting time to something that to me was a waste of time and money?
For starters, it ensured I skipped my quintessential afternoon siesta – bhaat ghum as we Bongs say – on a cold January Sunday. In case you don’t know, bhaat ghum happens to be a major culprit when it comes to those inches around the middle. And if I can’t lose any, I certainly don’t intend to add any either.
Now onto matters that really matter. What makes utter tripe like Ae Dil Hai Mushkil or even Dear Zindagi (which I didn’t have the good sense to NOT spend money on) click with the privileged, urban, educated crowd? Supposedly, their portrayal of characters and relationships, that are ‘relatable’.
I am not going into glossy lifestyles, the inexhaustible wardrobe and financials of it all. Those are obviously add-ons that we must overlook, as a precondition. So, what exactly is relatable in that case? Seemingly ‘complex’ emotions, characters, and relations. I call it ‘first world problems’ when there actually is none.
Take ADHM for instance. The most ‘deep and insightful’ dialogue from this extremely average flick reads: “Pyaar me junoon hai, dosti me sukoon hai’. Really? Does that even make sense?
It’s just a reminder of the fact that we love to complicate things for the heck of it. You deliberately create a vortex of ‘complex emotions’ so you can jump in it and revel in your misery. Alizeh prefers being emotionally abused than be with a guy (Ayan) she’s clearly compatible with. Rewind to one of the relatively ‘uncomplicated’ movies Johar directed/produced some 10-12 years back: Kal Ho Na Ho. Naina’s love for Rohit is clearly platonic and yet she does realize that having him as a life partner is not improbable. In fact, it is probably the best thing she did.
Johar is a weak a story-teller Johar for he resorts to bumping off characters to tie up loose ends. Aman dies to make way for Naina and Rohit to be together. I would have liked to see Naina making a decision between the two men in her life instead of being compelled to choose one owing to circumstances. The obvious choice would be Aman. But what if he had character deficiencies she didn’t know of? What if Rohit’s earnestness pulled through in the end, voluntarily? What if she missed Rohit’s goofiness after spending more time with Aman. Isn’t it a rule with us, to fancy people/things we don’t quite know well?
Similarly, if Alizeh lived, would she have eventually gotten romantically involved with Ayan or would she go in search of romantic love in someone else? Why would she if she already knows her best friend could be her life partner too? Why is she refraining from turning things sexual? Is it simply because she thinks that she’ll lose her friend or can she indeed not get over the scars left by an undeserving jerk? Instead of answering these questions, Johar takes the tried and tested route: Bump her off!
In contrast, Shakun Batra’s underrated Ek Mai Hu Aur Ek Tu leaves room for Rahul and Riana getting together, as a possibility. In a sequence, the movie even addresses an important issue between opposite genders ‘friendships’: ‘How much is too much?’
Riana hugs, drops kisses, and sits beside Rahul as snugly as possible. During one such instance, Rahul asks (not verbatim) with a deadpan expression:
Aise chipak ke baithti ho, hug karti ho, aur fir bolti ho dost hai, bas…
So what is the deal with ‘complicated relationships’? An irresistible urge to add masala to life because there isn’t any otherwise! What a pity considering the time and energy you spend in ‘sorting relations out’ can definitely be used in something better. Origami isn’t a bad idea to start with. Me thinks.
The next in this genre – Dear Zindagi – is about a ‘complex character’. What the heck man? It is NOT cool to compare life partners with chairs in a store! It is NOT cool (or complex) to glorify cheating on one’s partner for no nothing. It is NOT cool to empathize with a selfish, self-centred woman just because she seemingly is a ‘splitting image’ of the young urban milieu. A traumatic childhood is NOT an excuse for a person to hurt others and then justify it. And it is certainly NOT a feminist film just because it has a female protagonist grovelling for attention!
Everybody lives through their own demons. That doesn’t give any of us the right to fuck with others. Oh no, I can’t take a ‘liberal’ attitude towards this. In plain and simple terms, it’s drivel to make movies about millennials glorifying all that is woefully wrong with them!
Moralistic. Preachy. Well, someone needs to be!
The long and short of the matter is this: Complications are an excuse to be weaklings, indecisive, and justify one’s repetitive idiocies. I have seen and tolerated at least a couple of shallow and vain jerks and/or spineless cretins to know how taxing and toxic such so-called complications are. Trust me, the average ‘friend-zoned’ guy isn’t half as nice, understanding, or ego-less as KJo and Co. would like us to believe. He is there only till the time his ego is being nursed. The moment he realizes ‘it’s not about him, never was’, it’s just a matter of taking an U-turn, as and when it suits him.
And in any case, if you look at it practically, it is only normal to bolt off when your feelings clearly aren’t being reciprocated or you are left dangling in the middle. No one likes being Na Ghar Ka Na Ghat Ka, irrespective of gender! Besides, why aren’t there any depictions of a friend-zoned girl? No one talks about that! Why? Because it’s not ‘mainstream’!
I would much rather settle down with a Nora Ephron classic or tales of ‘uncomplicated’ love rather than waste my time watching and then fuming over such populist, formulaic, nonsense they pass off as rom-coms/feel good these days. Duh!