Waiting at the airport mostly becomes a terribly painful affair especially if you are travelling alone. You either look for an enjoyable company with whom you can converse to pass your time, a readable piece of text or try to sleep as much as possible. Luckily, I was travelling with a colleague from Vizag to Mumbai. Both of us were bored of meetings held during last two days, discussing Galle test and politics. Suddenly we spotted a young girl with an army man, not to mention young. With their body language, they looked like meeting for the first time. As soon as we heard the guy asking the girl for her cell number, it was sure that the meeting was first. After all if you know a good looking girl, you would either have to be married or gay in case you do not have her phone number. Like ladies in the house, we started gossiping about the “could be couple” and different possibilities like how they would have met, if they are chat friend and this is/was a blind date, if this is a pre-matrimonial process etc.
4 hours and 2000 kilometres later, they were getting down from the flight with hand in hand. Not to mention their censored show in the flight which must have given pains to lot of necks and backs. This is new age romance. If, with so called economic development in the country, the middle class/upper middle class is moving at a fast pace thanks to “once a low cost” airlines, so is his love.
Going down the memory lane, my first realization of existence of the term romanticism was in early 90s. If I remember correctly, the song “Apni bhi chhahat ka ikrar karti, kaash koi ladki mujhe pyar karti” from the movie “Hum hain raahi pyar ke” was one of my favourites. When I went to a cassette shop with my father to get it recorded (to save cost you could get recorded your favourite songs in a single cassette as no apniisp.com or coolgoose.com those days), he gave me a glaring look. Perhaps it was the first time he must have realized that his little son has grown up somewhere and hit that age – 16. I liked the song because it carried a wish - a wish to be the heartthrob of someone, a wish to be a hero like Aamir Khan in the song who roamed around the trees, looked larger than life even at less than 5 and a half foot height and looked to be bestowed with all the happiness in life. 13 years later, the wish did get fulfilled. Just that it was through marriage, the Aamir Khan gets kicked everyday in Mumbai Locals, misses’ heartbeats if he doesn’t see his salary getting credited on 1st of every month and goes into depression once he sees the amount that is credited. Anyways, that is another story.
Love affairs used to be slow-paced, clandestine and mostly once in a life time sagas those days. You identify you crush, take 3 months to find out her name, arrange some accidental meetings if you are lucky and gritty. By that time 6 months were over. By the time you get her land line number (as cell phones were still almost a decade away from common man’s reach) and start talking, your birthday cake was richer by at least one candle. Once phone-chat started, it was a party time for PCOs as phone-romancing from home was extremely dangerous – you either got caught red handed or when the phone bill came. Both of you would have casted your vote a few times (especially in UP where government changed every 6 months) times before going for first date, in case it happened. Holding hand wouldn’t happen before another Olympic and by the time you are due for your first kiss, the marriage was fixed. Either you got married to each other or she got married to some other guy. Next few months would go in erasing the memories after which you too get married – tired and hurt by the solo affair you ever had. In case you got married to each other, please leave a comment on this post before you again start regretting the successful end of your affair – marriage.
This was the story of fewest of few lucky guys who were really hated by me when the affair was on full song and loved by me when they broke up – sadism has always been my favourite word. There was another class of Romeos – they fought for gold. If they came to know that you eve-teased their crush, they broke your hands. If they came come to know you talked to their crush, they broke your hands. If they come to know that you even stared at their crush, they broke your hands. They spared your hands in if they came to know that you followed their crush, legs were broken in such cases. It often led to the genesis of many a gangs and gang wars. They were bold love-warriors as there was nothing clandestine about their love life. Everyone knew about it but the girl who they fancied. I have seen so many scenes in my school where a girl would pass through completely unknown to the fact that how much few doctors and policemen would be thankful to her – a gang war always ends either in a hospital or a police station.
Things started changing. I remember the Mahesh Bhatt’s so called society changing TV serial “Swabhiman”. This was during the days when cable TV was yet to make deep inroads in Indian bedrooms. People could not relate to it much but yet watched it because there was very little source of entertainment thanks to dependence on DD which was nothing but a dictator bearing the torch of boredom. This, probably, was the first TV serial which was about super high class life style and was targeted towards the middle class. The serial, however, tried to convey a message of sleeping around and justified it.
Bollywood, after ages of vulgarity and mindlessness in its movies, started producing family movies in “Hum Aapke Kaun Hain” and sweet love stories like DDLJ. The trend continued but ways to display romance on screen were changing and so were the norms. SRK was always snatching/ encouraging snatching someone else’s girl friend/wife/fiancée and it was not some psychological disorder like in “Darr” but pure charisma and style. So were others, well sometimes. Like Madhvan in “Rahna hai tere dil mein”. Message was clear; you may not always work on a green field project for your business. Make a unit look sick, acquire it and start doing, well business I mean.
Then came Murder and Jism, two thriller love stories. Intelligent publicity and sizzling promos made it a hit although there was not much wrong with the movies. Sex was the central theme. Once again, Mahesh Bhatt was the man. In his own words
I must plead guilty for bringing in what I call soft porn into the mainstream of Indian cinema. 'Jism' was undoubtedly a quality film because for the 1st time on the Indian screen you saw the Indian heroine unapologetically say that she uses her body to get what she wants.
If Jism was about a female using her sexuality to get things done, Murder was all about extra marital affair.
Several other movies were made on the same themes although not all of them clicked. But pre marital sex/ adultery as a topic was being not only accepted by the audience but also enjoyed. Few decades back, Silsila was a flop with the similar theme, pre marital sex/extra marital affair although that was a much better movie. Arth was also only critically acclaimed. If Shakti Samant had to picture a song to justify premarital sex for his movie, which brings a twist in the story, such scenarios were no longer required now. “Main kisi ko muh dikhane layak nahi rahi” (I am not worthy of showing my face to anyone) or “Nahi, yeh paap hai” (No, this is wrong) or “Humse bhool ho gayi” (We made a mistake) and such dialogues were history by far. “Neel n Nikky” was another trendsetter defying all such compulsory-after-bed-scene dialogues.
Not only celebrities of Bollywood were contributing, unknown names were also working day and night to change the face of the society. Remember DPS dhamaka? Two school kids led the way by showing the youth of the country that not only such once-a-nefarious-acts could be enjoyed in adolescent age but it also has a commercial side. Soon after the DPS dhamaka, there was a boom in home made MMS market. I remember getting a plethora of new MMS everyday. A shrewd businessman sees an opportunity when others cannot – a famous portal was launched which is the biggest library of such home made (L)Ijjat Papads of old days.
People no longer believed in just being in the audience, they wanted the centre stage. New community sites were launched everyday which were perfect date-searching engines. These were more reliable than the old warhorse yahoo/msn messenger because there, more often then not, if you think you have cracked a date, it would be some sadist sole like me on the other side. If one community site became full of fraud profiles, people shifted to the other one. Some relied on matrimonial sites. And realizing this, some matrimonial sites launched dating sites – pay, be a member and get a date. Things were easier and faster there as both the parties could trust each other of their gender, knew dating is the sole motto else you wouldn’t be there and were honest about the real motive. Love was becoming fast and faster was the making of it. Even the mentality was changing and I saw a live proof today.
Just that with such stupendous social change, especially in the cities I have seen, it makes me feel older than I am as if there is a huge generation gape between me and someone who hasn’t seen Sachin Tendulkar making his debut in test cricket. I come from a generation where before I could realize that I need a female in my life, I was of marriageable age. These days, before people realize their age, they have had a partner.