Sitting at home during the weekend with pretty much nothing to do means that you spend all your time catching up on TV. Now, this was one of the rare instances when I didn’t feel like picking up a book to read. Switching channels, I found Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, that cult movie of the 90’s. Even as a teen, I never really understood the brouhaha about the whole thing, but as a nearing-30 adult, the movie makes me cringe.
This sickeningly sweet story about college love involves two best friends, one of which is a tomboyish girl. This Karan Johar movie (along with several others over the next decade) basically try to brainwash their viewers into believing that for a man to love a woman, she needs to act either like a cultured Indian woman, or like a brainless bimbo.
I am probably not supposed to read so much meaning into the whole thing, but I couldn’t help asking some questions as I was watching it. Our hero is ok with flirting with everything in skirts, but will only take a sanskari bharatiya ladki to mom as potential bride. His “best friend” in shorts, girl masquerading as boy, only exists to save his ass from random people? Sounds hypocritical, doesn’t it? And, when our hero realizes that his latest crush is just back from London, he dismisses her as an Angrez until she sings “Om Jai Jagdeesh”? Jeez! Give me a break!
Several years later, when the crush-turned-girlfriend-turned-wife is dead, she leaves behind a letter to her daughter stating that our hero and his “best friend” must get married. The child, in an annoyingly know-it-all manner takes it upon herself to brig the two soulmates together. So far so good? Hold your breath! How can our hero fall for a tomboy? So, the tomboy now grows her hair and is draped in transparent saris to be rendered attractive to our hero, who comes to his senses and falls for her. Wait a second! Something wrong here? Is there a rule that men must only love women with long hair who generally act like bimbos? And whatever happened to our heroine? A perfectly sane and sensible woman suddenly goes all mushy and even challenges the hero to a game of basketball (in a sari), which she eventually loses to satiate the hero’s ego!
I know I am probably a decade (or more) too late with this critique. But, I simply couldn’t help myself. It grates on my nerves and the decision of not watching it for so many years was probably an incredibly sensible one! What message are we trying to convey here? That women who revel in their tomboyishness and like to wear their hair short will never find love?
I have said it before and I will say it again. We come in different hues and shades, just like men. Some of us like our kajal and make-up and will walk in stilettos and little black dresses. But some of us prefer our sweatshirts and sneakers and are comfortable with our hair cut short. Hard though it may be to believe, some of us are still tomboyish in our attitudes while continuing to love our nailpolish and our lipstick. Actually, it should not be that hard to believe. We are multifaceted, just like everyone else in this world.
Don’t put us in compartments that you have created and expect us to conform. Some of us are just non-conformist at birth! We will not fit into any of the compartments you have created for us, simply because we are different. We are women, and proud to be.