I belong to a generation that has failed fantastically at love. It’s not that we don’t meet people; it’s not that we don’t fall in love; it’s not even that we don’t finally settle down with someone. Our failure lies in the journey towards that person who makes us not want to kill ourselves for ever contemplating a future with him or her.
We do the stupidest things. We panic over the stupidest things. We behave like teenagers when we are in our twenties.
After a recent conversation over coffee – which, like most conversations over coffee, dealt mainly with relationships, I had an epiphany. The reason our perception of love is so messed up is… Bollywood.
[quote]Once he starts harassing her, she falls for him[/quote]
Here are ten things Bollywood taught us about love:
1. The key to compatibility is a difference in station, or khaandaani dushmani zindabad!
Of course the world is in denial about the fact that Romeo and Juliet were prize idiots. If they had cut out the drama, and eloped quietly, they would have been making babies till they got tired of each other, and Romeo would eventually have been consigned to the medieval version of the sofa.
But Bollywood refuses to recognise this story as a tragedy. For decades, our filmi heroes and heroines died gladly for each other – and as they were required not to offend our cultural sensibilities, they usually did this before consummating their relationship. (True love!)
2. The solution to unrequited love is persistence, or everyone loves a stalker!
You know how the heroine always hates the hero to start with? She’s repulsed by his clothes, his bawdiness, his gang of chamchas, his love of song-and-dance. She turns away when he approaches; she gathers her gang of chamchis and bursts into retaliatory dancing to scare him away; she occasionally calls the cops on him. But once he starts sexually harassing her – by having her car tyres punctured, offering her a ride on a bike so he can do the stop-short move, or sniffing around her at a bus stop, or generally following her and trying to grab her butt – she falls for him. (Hassi tau phassi!)
3. Every parent dreams that his or her daughter will marry the most evil man alive
Have you, like, met a family that is organising an arranged marriage in real life? Everyone from the istriwallah to the local MP is recruited to spy on the groom, and alert someone from the bride’s family when the ‘boy’ is observed to have a ‘bad habit’. This habit could be smoking, looking at posters of busty women, drinking, or waving to a girl he knows. The alliance will be immediately rejected, and the hounds will be supplied with fresh blood.
But this does not hold in Bollywood. The chief qualification for a man to merit the post of parent-picked groom is that he be cruel to animals and humans. This guy will snatch a sandwich from your fat little cousin; he will shoot pigeons; he will leer at your aunties. And your parents want you to make babies with him, till your raggedy lover washes up at your doorstep and allows your fat cousin to score a six in five-a-side cricket.
4. Without opposition, lovers will lose the motivation to stay in touch with each other
This was the lesson that the painful Mausam tried to teach us. Hindu boy loves Muslim girl, or the other way around; the parents are happy. The couple is happy. But, someone shifts house, and that’s it. Your love is doomed, unless you happen to travel halfway across the world and meet at a traffic signal.
5. Singing sad songs in the rain makes more sense than having an honest conversation
Those three-and-a-half-hour movies would last forty-five minutes if someone had the brains to pretend to get drunk and blurt out “I love you”. Bollywood has never heard of the world’s most asinine but acceptable excuse: “I’m sorry. It was the alcohol talking.”
6. If you fall in love with your best friend, you can hope his wife will die
He won’t notice you, because he can’t hear the mournful aalaaps that play out in the background every time he snubs you and you well up. He can’t see your tears because he’s checking out the rack on the new chick in class. But never mind. He will marry and reproduce, and once his wife is out of the way, his progeny will seek you out for his second innings.
[quote]Whether you’re jumping by the seaside, or hurtling towards your death on the Swiss alps, you look best doing it in a chiffon sari[/quote]
7. The way to a man’s heart is a chiffon sari
Bollywood’s favourite all-weather garment is the chiffon sari. Whether you’re jumping by the seaside, or hurtling towards your death on the Swiss alps, you look best doing it in a chiffon sari. This outfit is especially useful when it rains…
8. There is no scope for love outside college – unless you join the armed forces
If you haven’t chanced upon anything worth your attention along the college corridors, make sure you flunk your final exams. Repeat the process until you get desperate enough to stalk someone into submission. Happy life. Failing this, if you’re a man, your only option is to enlist. Hopefully, you’ll meet a reporter, or a spy who will make for a good bahu. If you’re a woman, go marry the evil pigeon-shooter.
9. If you have no dress sense, latch on to the certified hot chick
Some mechanic, or the son of some mechanic, will eventually woo her and introduce her to his blind, widowed, or deluded mother. He will usually have a best friend to supply the comedy track to his life. If you play your cards right, the friend will marry you.
10. It is important to choose a man with a lookalike
Now, what do you do if your lover dies? Cry? Mourn? All right. Let’s say he has a doppelganger halfway across the world. Problem solved, no? Just make sure he’s not your lover’s father or son, because, you know, Bollywood mothers tend to lose their kids in fairs and suchlike – and the shock of realising what’s happened makes them lose their memories too.