Tanu Weds Manu Returns and a Newspaper Column

Last Friday night I watched the much applauded Bollywood movie ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’. The motivation was this column by Mint Lounge editor Priya Ramani. The column written from a modern day feminist point of view extols the actions of Kangana Ranaut’s character ‘Tanu’, which reminded me of the movie Queen, a brilliant film by the way, and I thought this one would be such a movie as well, but boy was I wrong. Let’s dissect the movie based on the points raised in the column point by point.

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So the movie is about Tanu, a small town Kanpur girl, who is married to a doctor from Delhi and lives in London. It is shown that she’s fed up of her husband as there is little ‘excitement’ in her married life. Her husband, called a ‘sturdy slug’ and a ‘bore’ in the column, who provides for the family and gives her a stable and comfortable life, appears to have done everything on his part to keep her happy; from moving from Southall to countryside on her insistence to opening a creche for her as she claimed to be bored of doing nothing at home all day. In return he gets to see her entitled-self complaining about her life, flirting with random men in pubs, body-shaming him in front of others, and getting him a complementary admission to a mental asylum.
But then, that’s what ‘sturdy slugs’ deserve as per the column, including infidelity.

So next, Tanu goes back to India after leaving her husband to fend for himself in a British mental asylum, and with the symbolism of open, flowing hair, goes around engaging with her exes (note that the couple are not separated yet). But the poor ‘sturdy slug’ is still not over her (despite all he had to face from an ungrateful Tanu) and bumps into her lookalike in the form of a Haryanvi athlete called ‘Datto’ on the grounds of Delhi University. Credit where it is due, the character is very well enacted by Ranaut and in the movie. Datto appears to be a genuinely nice and understanding woman, unlike Tanu, but the tone with which the article is written, it barely mentions the character once and keeps on praising the virtues of a self-centered Tanu. Anyway, the two get emotionally involved and decide to get married. Knowing this suddenly Tanu has the longing to go back to her husband and make things right. She goes around looking for him and in one scene she is shown to have knocked the doors of his parents’ house. There she threatens them that if she wants she can send them to jail, of course, without their fault as the biased matrimony laws such as Section 498A, Domestic Violence Act among others have had a rampant history of misuse against innocent families, and Tanu seems to be aware of this. Dangerous woman.

Finally Tanu gets to meet Datto, and guess what? The kind of person she is, she ridicules her and points and laughs at her for being a rustic village woman. She calls her a ‘joker’, a ‘ganwar‘ and tells her husband that ‘She’ deserved better than Datto as it would ruin her reputation that her husband left her for an evidently unsophisticated woman.
Then Datto responds to her pointing out her hypocrisy by reminding her that she has nothing in her to flaunt about, that before the wedding she lived on the financial support of her parents, and post it on her husband’s, that she has bought nothing ever with her own money, and that she travels the world, boozes etc. on her husband’s credit card. She goes on to compare herself with Tanu that she has secured admission in DU through her own efforts via the athlete quota and that she’s a state level athlete. She further reminds her that unlike her she can fend for herself. Tanu is visibly startled and later blames her husband for not standing up to her. Well, why would any human at such condescending behavior?
Not surprisingly, the column fails to mention this part. By the way, it is to be noted that the creche her husband had opened for Tanu was closed as apparently as she made the children drink alcohol. Another example of her godforsaken attitude is when in an earlier scene post coming to India she ridicules a guest at her home working in an IT firm. Wonder what she had achieved to behave with so much of entitlement.

In the end, as it is a standard Bollywood movie, Tanu and her husband get together and the column exclaims as to why? How could Tanu get back together with her ‘slug’ husband, she should have in turn been with her ex and married him as she deserved better than her husband. Well, here I partly agree, even I wonder why they got back together. Despite such attitude and behavior of Tanu, why on earth did her husband decide to get back with her? (Well, one theory I can think of is he harbored the fear of being slapped with false cases; just kidding, not really, but think about it!)

So, in a gist, Tanu has achieved nothing whatsoever in her life, lives a comfortable life in London where she has everything she can ask for and that she could never afford on her own, she contributes little to her marriage and is unhappy because her husband is a ‘bore’, is ungrateful to the extent that she’s complaining all the time notwithstanding of admitting her husband in a mental asylum. She has a serious attitude problem, is condescending towards almost everyone, and is immoral to the extent that she threatens to falsely accuse people under the laws that are in her favor.
The column ignores all of the above and keeps on praising the spirit of Tanu.

Now I don’t care two hoots about mass Bollywood movies to devote a blog piece about them, but watching the movie after reading the said column made me ponder about the hypocrisy of the modern day feminist movement. Imagine if it were the man in the relationship doing the same because he felt the woman was a ‘bore’? Well, that movie is called Queen (again, a brilliant movie) and we have seen how similar behavior by the man was looked upon as. Even Ms. Ramani is all praises about it (rightfully) in the same column. But when it’s the other way around, the man is still the culprit. The man is always the culprit.

Think.

Excerpt from the diary…

What is the purpose of human beings in life? Nothing. Why do humans think of themselves as special? Of course we’re biologically evolved and technologically advanced but in the entire scheme of things, how different are we from, say, dogs? Just like them we’re born, we consume resources for our survival and we perish to become worm food. No reason we should think of ourselves differently, not even on an individual level.
There are more than 7 billion of us on this planet. The rate at which we’re multiplying, the reasons for us being special are declining rapidly. There have been a million species on this planet before us, there will be million even after we’re extinct. In the entire timeline of this planet, we have occupied a minuscule amount of space. That’s it. We’re just another species for this planet. If only every human realized it, we’d have a better, more emotionally evolved and mature race. Surprisingly all of it is not hard to grasp. Just look at the night sky. The light we see from the stars is not the present. For all we know the star might have become a supernova and we’ll know only after hundreds of years when the light reaches us. That’s how insignificant we are.

Now coming to an individual human being. If he realizes this, he’ll picture himself differently in his situation. He’s here for a short span of time. No matter how insignificant his life might be, why shouldn’t he live it the way he wants to? That’s individualism; and in the society that has evolved till date, it is an accepted concept in many parts of the planet. Just that I was born in the wrong one.

Turning 23…

And today, it’s the last day when I can call myself a 22 year old. 23… feels old, rather, no more young. Though I’ve felt like this since I turned 20 but deep inside I knew I was still  young, I still had time to reach the edge of the ledge, down from where was real life and independence. But now, I’ve taken the plunge, made the free fall and I’m well within this phase, comfortably settled in, and I haven’t been happier in my life than I am today.

Turning 20 was thought provoking for it was the big 2-0 and I was no longer a teenager; 21, bit exciting for I was then allowed legally to drink (but couldn’t for I was then in dry Gujjuland, Ahmedabad), and 22 was like the second anniversary of turning 21, but that was a great year for me. For the first time I started living for myself; I graduated from college and transitioned to a corporate employee and moved out of my parents’ house (something I couldn’t wait to do) to the cosmopolitan city of Bombay where I made quite a few friends, then again made a second move just two weeks back to fun and young Bangalore from where I’m currently writing this (I realize that I’ve lived in 3 cities in last one year); I gained social and financial independence, started paying my own bills and rent with my own earned money; I got drunk numerous times in Bombay, experienced the vibrant nightlife of the city and had lot of fun; but most importantly, I grew personally, by living on my own in the metropolis of Bombay, gaining confidence in my independence, meeting new people, learning about new cultures and discovering various aspects of life which only Bombay shows you.

But 23, it’s much different. I’m at that stage of life where my choices are running out fast, though today I get to choose what I want to do in coming few years of my life, about my career, about my personal life, but 10 years from now I won’t have the liberty to choose. But still, next couple of years are going to be exciting. All major decisions of my life will be taken in this time period, and I am clear about them. I’m sure that at 40 when I look back at my 20s, I won’t be regretting the choices I made in my life, just as I have no regrets as of now.

So cheers to my completion of the 23rd rotation around the sun. It’s pretty exciting, this stage of my life. I’m excited, by the city of Bangalore, about what’s to come, so bring it on life, I’m all ready. Meanwhile I’m off for the weekend in this vibrant city.

Nostalgia: College Days

Today I drove down to my university campus after almost a year. The green pathways, the laboratories, the hallways, the classrooms, the canteen block, the benches by the lake, meeting the professors… it was overwhelming and brought back so many memories! Memories of jumping out of the window to bunk a lecture, memories of final year placements, memories of those college festivals and staying back till late hours, memories of having lunch in the classroom with Suchak, Samarth and the gang, memories of the final year project with Riddhi and Modi in the D block project lab, memories of Professor Velala’s early morning marketing lecture, memories of Shanghai and I staying up all night to prepare for the business plan competition the next day, memories of copying assignments at the last moment, memories of the convocation day when all of us friends met for the last time, and what not.

Today when I was at my alma mater, it seemed all different, something was missing, yes, my college life and student days were missing. My classroom had all new faces, I couldn’t spot Shanghai and Dhroo on the desks, I couldn’t find Riddhi and Modi at our usual lunch spot, the anxiety before the VIVAs in the PG building was missing, the commotion during the placement days in the III Cell was missing, it had all changed, naturally, except for the memories.
All of my college friends have moved on to different cities; some are in the States, some are in Bangalore, some in Hyderabad, some in Poona while some are in Bombay along with me. That’s expected as there are no job opportunities for IT professionals like us in Ahmedabad or Gujarat. And frankly speaking, I’m glad it’s like this, or else I might have been stuck in Ahmedabad even post my graduation.

Daughtry has rightly said, Years go by and time just seems to fly, but the memories remain…

I Love Bombay!

Yes I do, I’m bound to, it’s Bombay after all!

It’s been about three and a half months since I moved to Bombay, and this visit to the city marked the start of a new phase of my life. This time I came here to ‘live’, yes, for long term and on my own; i.e. it’s my first job after college which has brought me to this city and which also brought me my social and financial independence. And I love it here; it’s such a relief from laid back and orthodox Ahmedabad which I left behind. Working in a huge American Corporate with top class work culture and with workplace located in one of the posh locations of the city, living on my own, paying my bills with my earned money, working hard on weekdays, partying harder, hitting the beach, watching theater, attending stand up comedies, exploring the city, and getting wasted on weekends. What more do I want! Smile

Indeed, ‘Work Hard, Party Harder’; life seems to be making me live this motto in Bombay. When on weekdays if you spend around 12 hours at work almost every day, making sure you fully utilize your weekends is the only way to retain that ‘feel good’ factor in your life. And that’s what I’ve implemented in my life. Come Saturday morning and I have to hit the beach and experience the pleasure of travelling in local trains, for if I don’t do so at least once a week, I feel suffocated. Weekend nights are usually spent attending theater (this is what I like about Bombay, we have quality plays in this city unlike in Ahmedbad with dead theater scene and rare plays that too in Gujju) or stand up comedies and being wasted. Then I find joie de vivre in picking a different spot or location to explore within Bombay; in this way, in three months itself, I’ve seen almost everything ranging from upscale Colaba to the slums of Dharavi; and I tell you, this city indeed has some really contrasting and mesmerizing visual treats to offer.
Oh, and did I mention about the gastronomic delights Bombay treats you with? Ranging from beef at Leopold’s to real (with pork sausages) Hot Dogs at Mondegar’s to Hummus at Maroosh to local street side Wada Paus, everything I’ve tasted here is finger licking good unlike those Dhoklas and Theplas in Ahmedabad. And you get every damn type of cuisine available on this planet in this city, again, unlike Ahmedabad. For Lebanese food, you have Lebanese Point, for Chinese, you have Mainland China, for street side Non Veg food, you have the famous Mohammed Ali Road; and man you get some scrumptious sea food in here. I also got to satisfy my long time craving for Pork Chops and Beef, which one obviously doesn’t get in Ahmedabad. In my first few days here, it was hard for me to believe that I’m finally in Bombay, for the hotel’s breakfast buffet served Omelette and the ease with which you can get Chicken Biryani home delivered was something which is unimaginable in Ahmedabad.
Oh, and did I mention the free flowing Alcohol?

Also now that I’ve got a bank account with a balance of my own, life’s so different from those pocket money days; booking air tickets for my travel doesn’t pinch my pockets anymore, spending almost a mini fortune for an occasional weekend night out seems all affordable. This city has a certain buzz to it which inspires you to work hard, earn more and spend more. And the best part, it provides you options to spend your disposable income by doing things other than mere watching movies and eating out (again, unlike Ahmedabad).

But one thing that I dislike apart from the ridiculously high real estate prices (obviously) is when people call this city Mumbai. This wretched up term coined by Shiv Sena when it came to power in 1995 was an effort to raze down the British past of the city (Just like the BJP government under Cheap Minister, Mass Murderer Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad is trying to rename it to Amdavad to raze the Muslim past of the city; heck, the AMC has even started using the term Amdavad everywhere. As soon as you exit the airport, on the road you see a big sign which says Welcome to Amdavad)  and this has started an irreversible trend to transform this great cosmopolitan city to be like any other provincial Indian city . Not just that, Shiv Sena fools then went on a renaming spree, changing names from British to local ones, Victoria Terminus to Chhatra-whatever-the-hell-Shivaji Terminus, Colaba Causeway to Shaheed Bhagat Singh Road, Napean Sea road to Bhulabhai Desai Marg, Prince of Wales Museum to (again) Chhatra-whatever Vastu Sangrahalaya. I think I understand when Salman Rushdie refers to Bombay as the ruined metropolis which is vastly different from the city he grew up in. Bombay was cosmopolitan then, now it’s becoming more and more regional. Well, who’s to blame, history’s proof that this city has never stayed in one hands for long. first it was the Portuguese, then the British and now it’s them.
The logic these Shiv Sena loonies give for renaming the city is that the name derives from Goddess Mumba of the Koli fisher folk who were the original inhabitants of the city and that’s what the city was called until the Portuguese and the British occupied it. But the fact is that Bombay was nothing but a cluster of 7 islands which, in the Portuguese times  was called Bom Bahia, meaning Good Bay, thus came the term Bombay, later British took over the city and conjoined the 7 islands to create the landform which we (sadly) call in this day as Mumbai. It was never ever called Mumbai in it’s entire history.

Anyway, I’ll call it Bombay no matter what. I’ve been ‘staying’ in Ahmedabad for all this time, but now, I’m ‘living’ in Bombay!

Ending this post with this Pseudo Echo number, which goes like…

Gotta make a move to a town that’s right for me
Town to keep me movin’
Keep me groovin’ with some energy…
Well, I talk about it
Talk about it
Talk about it
Talk about it
Talk about, talk about
Talk about movin’
Gotta move on

Yes, I’ve moved on to that town and that town is Bombay!

Goodbye Ahmedabad, Welcome Real World!

Leaving this city tonight, I can’t believe this is finally happening, the feeling is so real, the exhilaration of being on my own at last, living in a new city, working in the corporate world and being the part of the rat race. It was supposed to happen few months ago but due to an unanticipated reason, it got postponed a bit from then to now, but nevertheless, the moment is here and I am overwhelmed.
The last four and a half years that I spent in Ahmedabad helped me a lot to mould myself into the person I am today. I have very fond memories associated with this city; the formative college years and the friends, the nourishing time spent with the NGO I worked for and the wonderful people I met there, the regular Saturday Night Purple Flower gigs at the outskirts, the late night motorbike riding in the serene Gandhinagar, going for movies at 11 PM alone with exams around the corner, the Wednesday meditation sessions, the French classes, discovering the old city on my own, savouring the non veg delights it had to offer and blogging about it, and foremost, the comfort of my parents’ home.
Despite these yearnings, will I ever want to come back to the city for work or living permanently? No, for I am sure, wherever my life takes me, it is not going to put me in this city permanently, and I am glad about it. Some things need closure, need to be moved on with; of course I will keep coming to this city occasionally for my family stays here but never permanently. And this is essential for I am moving towards a new phase of my life in a new city which will give me new experiences and in the long term, of course, new memories. So I am done with Ahmedabad, that phase of my life, both sweet, and sour at many times, is over and could I be more glad!

Now what I have ahead of me is the corporate world where I am away from the guided pathways of college and cocooned comforts of my parents’ home. I remember the day few weeks ago when probably for the last time us friends met for dinner, talked about variety of stuff, had a gala time and bid goodbye for everyone was moving to different cities, to start their tryst with the corporate world. It was an overwhelming moment for sure, we never know whether some of us would meet each other ever again or not. But that’s life, that’s how it makes us realize that it is special and such moments should be cherished, that’s how it should be and I’m glad it’s like this!

With my convocation held a month ago, my college days have faded into the background. The corporate world seems scary, yet inviting. Along with independence and money comes the fear of swimming in unchartered waters. A new way of life, different daily routine, new and more formal relationships, the necessity to perform politics. I’m sure this is going to be a new learning experience for me which is going to help me throughout  my time on this planet.
Now is the time to enter the real world, and as it was quoted in an episode of sitcom Friends, “Welcome to the real world. It sucks. You’re gonna love it!”; YES, I’M GOING TO LOVE IT!

Oh btw, the journal from now onwards will be published from Bombay! Smile