Monday, October 24, 2016

Romancing Bollywood style

It may surprise you to know that, in my youth (long gone, I know, you do not need to tell me), I was also inclined to these rosy dreams of romance. Explaining the way it was in those days will take too long and, to too many of the youth, will seem like fantasy. (Reactions like "Come on! Next thing you will be saying that you played Quidditch at school and waved wands around screaming things like 'Crucio'") I will confine myself to saying that compared to proposing to a girl, killing someone and dancing on the remains was considered less heinous, especially where I lived.

Yet, hormones will not be denied or, in other words, the inclination to stupidity in the teens far exceeds any commonsense a man may possess. The problem, though, was that there were no DIY books or manuals to help you do it. Asking someone for advice would probably get you the indigestion without the indulgence. In other words, what is the point in being pilloried without having even proposed?

Bollywood came to the rescue. Seeing that the boy invariably gets the girl (and a bad end more often than not but THAT did not weigh as heavily then on me), those ought to be the best moves to win a girl. There were multiple methods (Yeah! It surprised me no end, considering that I could not even think of one) proving that there is more than one way to skin the cat (Though why would someone even want to....leave it).

The method that seemed the most suitable to me was this looking soulfully at the girl from a distance and singing mournful songs about beauty and love. If she was not around, you looked at the horizon, as though someone has painted her portrait on the clouds, and did the same. True, in most of those cases, the chap ended up singing mournfully till the end, growing a beard if he could, and wetting his throat periodically - and with increasing frequency - from a bottle of liquor of his choice. The girl generally waltzed away with someone else but...and this is the important part...she did it with mournful looks at the soulful chap.

The major attraction of this option was that it gave me plausible deniability. After all, if someone accused me of mooning after the girl, I can always say I was only trying to remember my chemistry lessons. THAT would rather neatly account for the pained look on the face as well. Trying it though produced markedly different results. The lass of my dreams walked over and asked me,"Why are you making faces at me and bleating like a sheep?" So much for the soulful look and singing.

I summarily abandoned the 'Moony lover' option. It was time to take stronger steps. I need to take the 'Serenading Lover' option, along with letters, roses and the works. More risk, of course. It would really take a liar of genius to explain why he was recollecting his chemistry lessons under a girl's window every day, especially considering that he would also need to explain exactly how roses aided his memory. All that even if written evidence cannot be produced that the chemistry that he had in mind had nothing much to do with what was taught in school.

I decided to try it without much of the other evidence. The serenading, alone, could possibly be explained away. All you do is stand and sing under the girl's window - without the violin or the guitar, since I possessed neither. No-one could readily point fingers at me, at least on the first day. So, off I went, and did my thing.

"What is that howling out there?"
My lady love screamed back, "It is only Suresh practicing his animal imitations, dad."
"Ask him to do it somewhere else."

That, then, was that.

The other two schools of thought involved too much energy and conflict. The 'Macho' hero school involved saving the girl from goons. If you get tired lurking around waiting for goons to assault the girl so that you can rush in and save her, you could always hire the goons yourself. The latter option had the added attraction that you do not risk being beaten up by the goons and the girl dancing off with the macho option of the victorious goon. The problem, though, was this - I knew no goons and had not even heard of any that would do it just for the love of it. And someone who does not even have money for an ersatz get the picture.

The other school depended, like Hercule Poirot, on the 'psychology of the individual'. Given the assumption that women are contrary creatures and do exactly the opposite of what you want them to do, you went around trying to make yourself as obnoxious to her as possible. Ergo, since you appeared to want her to hate you, she would love you.

The idea is that you had to look at her, not soulfully but as though you are planning her murder. You had to tease her and it is especially effective if you can do it with a full song and dance routine with a huge crowd dancing along with you. My imagination got in the way of this 'Eve-teaser as lover' option. With difficulty, I could see MYSELF dancing, but that crowd...I'd probably gather the crowd but only to stand in a ring around me throwing stones. Besides, the issue of hating you or loving you only works if she first NOTICES you.

There was the last option - the 'You are my life' one. It worked on the lines of 'If you do not accept my love, I'll commit suicide'. The point is that it could involve standing on precarious heights making out as though you would fall off it - and, given my perfect sense of balance, I'd probably fall off even before she has time to answer. (You see, it is tough carrying around a rope and finding a convenient tree to hang a noose on, if you choose that variant of the 'committing suicide' option. As for poison, even the ones that have a huge 'Poison' written on them with nothing much else on the label, girls do know that bottles need not always represent the contents - unless you are after a truly STUPID girl in which case she may be stupid enough to accept you. THIS jumping from the heights IS the tried and tested method, though you would find it difficult if you came across the girl on a grassy plain.)

The other problem is that I had nightmares of the girl saying,"I was considering the option of accepting your love. But your proposal to commit suicide, if I do not, is an offer that I cannot refuse" and where would I be, then?

I do not know what modern Bollywood teaches the youth of today. From the little I have seen, all of these options still linger around but with the extra proviso that the men also wax their bodies, a la Chetan Bhagat, AND build six packs around their waists. The more popular ones seem to be the 'Tumble in Bed and talk of love later' option, which works based on pick-up lines; or the lesser option of 'Accidental embrace/kiss'. But what do I know, I am an old fogy now.

Anyway, I truly hope it offers more effective lessons than it did me!


  1. What a song and dance about romance you've created, rip-roaring! The serenade outside the window and the girl considering your suicide - 'an option too good to resist' had me in stitches! Sigh...once again I am sorry I cannot offer any words of consolation, I'll add though, 'yeh dil maange more'!!


  2. Bollywood does have a lot to offer! However, I am not sure I should be happy or delighted for you that your attempts at playing Majnu didn't actually pan out. Coming to the post, I had a hard time containing my chuckles when the animal imitations were being practised and also when the heroine said "I was considering the option of accepting your love. But your proposal to commit suicide, if I do not, is an offer that I cannot refuse." I had to wonder how ol' Brando would have reacted to that. Thanks, Suresh.

  3. You don't have to know the goons. Money talks. I mean money whacks. You should have tried na....what a waste of opportunity! Lol.....

  4. Haha making faces at me and bleating like a sheep-you do come out with excellent riposts.
    I wonder what the story writers of yore thought of while penning such situations.

    1. Thanks Indu! Depends on whether they were writing Lit Fic, Drama or humor :)

  5. This is actually a very thoughtful deconstruction of the tropes so commonly employed in Bollywood. While comic, there was, I felt, an undercurrent of criticism that makes this potentially controversial. After all you are questioning the underlying assumption of every Bollywood movie (or nearly) that women have no actual authority to consent. This essay posits that not only do they HAVE such authority but they are entitled to exercise it, and should be free to do so. Dangerous thoughts in some circles.

  6. Ha Ha. I have really gone and tried wooing girls with similar results. Real life being real life did not attempt any of the Bollywood tropes though. But as they say all is well that ends well - so fine as long as the results were achieved.

  7. Ha ha:) Those were the days!
    Although even now, 'Dil hai ki maanta nahin..'

    1. The other ways is this 'escorting the runaway girl' option and, of course, the 'acting husband/lover' one where the father/grandfather/will creates a need for one :) Those depend too much on external circumstances :)

  8. LOL. I was reminded of my junior college days! fresh out of girls only convent. Must admit that the occasional attention I got felt good ;) Nice writeup