Dear Mira Rajput, I was brought up by a working mom and I’m proud of it!
Dear Mira Rajput (oops, Kapoor now),
Yesterday was a busy day. Half-drained, I reached office in the afternoon; and you were being discussed.
You’re too often in news these days. You keep making it to headlines for your pictures with Shahid, for all the times you’re spotted with daughter Misha, and sometimes for the appearances that you make. But yesterday, it was different.
You, a happily married young woman and a proud mother, were interviewed by a leading publication on the occasion of Women’s Day. But obvious, your life as a star-wife was discussed. And I believe far-fetched subjects like women’s empowerment and social rights earned a little place too. I’m quite sure you’re content with your life, and I am glad. So when you proudly declared how happy a mother you were, I smiled. I thought you were about to break a stereotype. After all, who takes dependent house wives seriously these days? But what you said next, came across like a punch on my senses, conscience, and sensibility. You said you’d not leave your daughter and go to work, because she wasn’t a puppy and deserved every bit of her mother’s time.
My mother was married at 21, while still at college. She continued with her education; thankfully, someone as broad-minded and loving like my father had held her hand. She was undergoing her B.ed examination when she was pregnant with me. She became a mother at 27.
When I was as little as 2 years, my mother had the nerves to shift to a small town in West Bengal with me. She had cracked through the Public Service Commission examination and iy was her first job. How could she let it go?
I remember being taken care of by aayahs, some of whom stole my portion of food and kept me starving. Very faintly, but I remember my mother running around, looking for a better house to stay at. I remember staying at a house that had cows and pigs coming in. I remember playing with children of our maids, and sometimes standing in the balcony, waiting for mom to come back. And you know? She once discovered me in my underwear and horribly dirty legs, asking for some samosa’s aaloo from the sweet shop outside one of the places we lived in. Till the age of five, my father to me was only a man who dropped in every Saturday morning and left by Sunday night. I would accompany my mother to see him off at the railway station. He would give me one rupee to buy some groundnuts. You know why we survived those days? Because my mother was a strong woman who prioritised her life as per her own preferences. She made a choice of being a working woman and still raising her daughter well. She made a choice of helping my father; financially, emotionally. I’m sure it broke her heart every time I she came home from work and I ran to her. I’m sure it tore her apart every time she desperately wanted to shower me with presents but couldn’t. I remember asking for a large sized teddy bear as a child. She could only get me a small, white puppy made of cotton. That was my favourite toy for years. You know, why all this? Because she didn’t have the luxury to leave her work and still live a beautiful life.
She raised me well. I’m proud not just because I myself am an independent woman, but because I was born to a fierce woman who gave me the courage to fight situations. She taught me to embrace life no matter what, and she taught me to fill the toughest moments with love. And privileged women like you can never sense why a mother at all has to leave her newborn at house and go to work.
I hope you take your words back. You just looked down upon those millions of working mothers who sweat out to ensure a good living for their children.
Well-raised daughter of a working woman
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.