Bollywood’s unopened diary of love: When closure won over happily-ever-after
Kisi daraaz ke kone mein
Teri tasveer mili hai…
Phir wohi kaanton ka safar
Wahi phoolon ki gali…
Love, a beautiful feeling that defies all the restrictions of society and world. Something which only belongs to the one in love and his or her heart, irrespective of whether or not it is reciprocated. It remains there, like a flame, warming you up. This year, a love story came on the celluloid. A simple one it was; guy meets girl when they are kids, guy falls for the girl hopelessly, but the girl has an affair with him and goes on to marry someone else. What was it that was different here? The movie was ‘Meri Pyaari Bindu‘, and starred Ayushmann Khurrana as the haplessly-in-love guy who is a novelist, and Parineeti Chopra as the muse of his dreams, the flirtatious and in-love-with-life Bindu. The movie ended beautifully on a note of them crooning and dancing, as life and love come a full circle for Abhimanyu, who smiles as he sees Bindu walk away with her husband and daughter, the same girl who haunted his dreams and words, day and night. He smiles, and though there is a slight pain, experiences closure. The chapter of Bindu and Abhimanyu’s unrequited and unflinching love for her, closes, calmly, like a whiff of flowers that passed by, in a moment.
Unfortunately, the idea did not appeal to the audience, and why should it? Since time immemorial, we have been used to only two types of endings; one where protagonists meet for a happily ever after, and the other where they die to meet in the eternal ever after. Seldom has the audience been able to digest the fact that there is an ending, a happy one, beyond these scenarios, the one in closure.
Cut back few months, and we had a man-child in the form of Ayan (Ranbir Kapoor) in ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’, the one who could not take a no for an answer, when Alizeh (Anushka Sharma), his best friend, did not reciprocate his romantic feelings. But, towards the end, he did understand, and no matter that tears did shed as Alizeh left for another world, they were happy, Ayan was happy. His heart finally found closure in the warmth of Alizeh’s friendship and memories.
When Kangana Ranaut entered our lives as Rani of ‘Queen‘ (2014), as a heartbroken and jilted bride, we felt for her. As she embarked on her honeymoon Alone, stayed alone in the room which was meant to be a romantic abode for her married self, and watched the Eiffel Tower mock her from every corner of Paris, the meek Rani in her grew, and came out bolder, as a Queen. As she returned the ring to her now-interested ex-fiance, she walked out emboldened, and found closure in her independence.
But what takes the cake is a certain Sunil who came into our lives, some 23-odd years back, before Shah Rukh Khan was the romance icon who fluttered our hearts. He was the awkward guy-next-door who relentlessly worked for the love and attention of Anna (Suchitra Krishnamurthy). The one who did everything to make her smile, but at the end, did realise that even if she walked down the aisle with him, she won’t be his for she is in love with someone else. And with that realisation, came a closure for Sunil, who existed long before all the Rajs and Rahuls came in our lives turning the magic on with those charming dimples, playing the mandolins and their arms spread wide.
Sunil, Rani, Ayan, Abhimanyu; they did not fail in love, neither did they have a tragic end to their once unflinching affection. They found themselves, in the quest to find happiness in romantic idea of love. They grew up and understood that love is not just pining and shedding tears, it is holding your head high and walking through the rejection, balming your heart with the realisation that the one you loved was a shadow of the real person he or she is. More importantly, they started believing that in the course of life, they will meet that special someone, but probably not the one they fell for, so hard, so fast.
Closure, an alternative happy ending; a bitter-sweet feeling encompassed in the far corner of heart, which is beyond pain. It just stays there, like a faded rose found inside the diary, with a dwindling scent.
In the words of the song ‘Maana Ke Hum Yaar Nahin’ from ‘Meri Pyaari Bindu’,
Raaste mein jo milo toh,
Haath milaane ruk jaana…
Saath mein koi ho tumhare
Door se hi tum muskaana…
Kapoor & Sons: Caught the plight of homosexuals tenderly and yet made 'coming out' look doable
Kapoor & Sons – Since 1921. The house proudly flaunted that to the world, nestled in the greens of Coonoor. No one knew the darkness that was inside, the demons that were individually dealt with. But then, isn’t every family like that?
Two years have passed by since this Shakun Batra-directorial, story of a dysfunctional family had come to our lives. However, amongst the various themes that tore apart the family and eventually brought it together, one that truly had the power to transform, was that of homosexuality.
Not many know, that the role played by Fawad Khan, that of family’s elder son, a successful author, was actually offered to many A-listers, who turned it down, eventually leading him to step into the shoes of Rahul. And it was, indeed, a very big step on his part. He was venturing out of his territory, a man who has such a huge female-fan following, and comes from a country with religion as its main running philosophy. He did the role and brought such conviction to it that we were forced to stand up and applaud, his courage, and the beauty with which his character was carved.
Since times immemorial, all our memories of gay characters on screen have been that of carelessly effeminate and unimportant roles, which are just there to add a comic element. The stereotype has been high to an extent that often the champions of the same channelise it and promote it, for it is wrapped in the shiny paper of presentation. The biggest example of this was ‘Dostana’, which was an amazing story of friendship, still used homosexuality as humour, as its backdrop. Ironically, it came from the same production house, though nearly eight years before that.
But ‘Kapoor & Sons’ begged to differ here. The character here was real, someone who was hiding himself, for the society, his family. There was surreality to the theme of homosexuality here, which had the power to jar us inside out; and that, it did.
Two scenes from the movie specifically hit me. First one is when Sunita (Ratna Patak Shah) finds out that her ideal elder son, whom she adores and is proud of, is not straight. The aftereffects of the same jolt you, because the reaction is just what an Indian mother gives, in any situation that is beyond her control; uncontrollable anger at the offspring, and then uncontrollable guilt, of blaming herself and her upbringing. The scene is filmed so beautifully, that your eyes sting. The way Fawad’s facade falls and his fear is marked across his face, which is then replaced by the anger of hiding himself for all those years, and mother’s dilemma and hurt, it all comes out in a naked and real manner.
Another sequence is when Rahul (Fawad Khan) comes back home after the showdown with his mother and the death of his father totally uproots whatever sanity his family possessed. He sits with his mother, with whom his last encounter was one of his coming out, and she asks, hesitatingly, about his partner. A subtle way of expressing acceptance, the way they hold hands, without saying anything, it stays with you.
It may not be one masterpiece, but ‘Kapoor & Sons’ will forever remain a favourite for finally breaking the mainstream stereotype of a gay man, in Bollywood. And for that, no matter how many bans, I will forever be waiting for Fawad Khan to come back, and give us more performances; with dare and conviction.
An ode to Sridevi, the queen who inspired the queers long before it became mainstream
“I am a kid from the 90s but still can’t forget those days when, me-myself was not out and proud about my preferences. And inside my own sweet world would dance in front of the mirror on many songs, but majorly on ‘Hawa Hawai’ and ‘Main Teri Dushman, Dushman Tu Mera’. These songs were just not tunes for me, it made me feel exactly what I was; a QUEERby birth”.
The news of the legendary diva Sridevi being no more with us is still hard to believe, as she was part of my and every queer’s childhood memories. While in the late 90s my bunch of friends would idolise a star from the West as their gay icon, me being a full-fledged Bollywood fanatic was in love with Sridevi and she was a diva I used to worship (and will forever). Her golden costume and perfectly done makeup in ‘Hawa Hawai’ made me feel, “Yes! There is someone like me out there who loves bling and all things loud.” Her feather headgear in one of the songs from ‘Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja’, touched my drag Queen‘s soul. One of the lines from her song ‘Hawa Hawai’ which is ‘Soorat Hi Maine Aisi Paayi’ transported me into a world where I thought that there is someone narcissist just like me. Sridevi’s charm was on my mind and the feminine side in me just wanted to be a replica of her.
The gone actress has not only given a lot to the Indian cinema, but her sass and talent of naturally moulding herself into any character gave her an upper hand in whatever she used to do. When many gay men were struggling and were confused about their sexual orientation they found a connection to their on-going pain in Sridevi’s roles. Whether it was Sridevi as a meek Anju and ferocious Manju fighting for everything wrong in ‘ChaalBaaz’ (1989), Pooja’s mutiny against the everlasting societal conditions in ‘Lamhe’ (1991), Seema’s confidence-filled and fearless dance in the ‘Mr. India’ (1987) song ‘Hawa Hawaai’ or her role of a naagin (snake) coming out to the world about her dual identity in ‘Nagina’ (1986), Sri’s roles had a deep connection and were etched in every GAY man’s mind.
And how can one miss ‘Kate Nahin Kat Te’ song of Sridevi from ‘Mr. India’, where she owned the song and made every gay guy’s dream to dance on it once with his man. This particular song was wild, seductive and equal parts bold. Sridevi draped in a sky-blue coloured saree with a matching bindi and of course adding fuel to the fire was her dancing moves. Even at the end of the song, a fully wet in rainwater, Sridevi stretching herself on a pile of hay – ‘Tumne jo li angdayi hai’ – where the diva nibbles on straws with a drenched fire in her eyes, leaving Mr. Kapoor to chivalrously lie on a distant haystack.
While mostly when the film fraternity was in a zone where feminine men were used as a tool to add fun elements on the silver screen, Sridevi was a ray of hope for the LGBTQ community. She was like a powerful symbol for the QUEERS. Her role resonated each and every gays struggle, and also echoed their dysphoria into her characters. And with her, all the queer children surpassed the narrow-minded stereotypes which they were labelled with. Lastly, she might be gone, but the colourful rainbow universe she opened for all the fellow LGBTQ people remains there intact..
Hail the QUEEN! RIP Sridevi.