I send you my whole bodies worth of gratitude for sticking by me and continuing to check up on me and my posts! I am not the best person when it comes to being consistent with writing, I am however still here putting my print on the world. If you read my last post you will know that I wasn’t in the greatest of place. I am happy to let you know however that I have passed the worst of it, and I am counting every day as a blessing.
I am back with another post for you! This one is about my all time favourite kind of films;
I am the ultimate Bollywood fan and I pride myself on knowing all the dialogues from Khabi Kushi Khabi Gham, I pride myself for crying every time I watch Kal Ho Na Ho, I pride myself, I pride myself for dancing shamelessly in my bedroom to every item song . I can go on and on and on…
My love for Bollywood movies stemmed from being taken to see every Yash Chopra or Karan Johar film ever to be made by my mum – also a Bollywood lover!
Yes, it is genetic!
It grew after I started to watch Bollywood movies from the golden era – the 60’s that starred the likes of Meena Kumari, Madhubala and Waheeda Rahman. Meena Kumari, however, was a class apart then, a class apart today and will remain a class apart forever; her seductive voice, profound screen presence and enchanting beauty captured my heart.
Beneath the over play of song and dance spectacles, sweeping emotions and sweeping music, there is something about a huge, popular art form that dramatises society’s deepest tensions that I find moving.
Once upon a time, this kind of heavy lifting was preserved in Dickens’s novels where Westerners soaked up the words of timeless dilemmas of love versus duty. While audiences in India, the Middle East, Russia and Central Asia still believe in motherhood, patriotism, and true love; Hollywood and the West have moved on.
It irks me when people mock Bollywood movies for being unrealistic and over the top. I would help these people understand that movies are not documentaries but are in fact a void for us to jump through to escape reality. The greatest appeal for me in fiction, both on film and in literature is not just a suspension of disbelief but also a suspension of cynicism.
I aim to draw out lessons from everything I read or watch. So here are some lessons Bollywood has taught me.
Imagine waking up every day with no recollection of yesterday. With no recollection of where you are or who you are. As you walk through a flat you don’t recognise as being yours you notice small notes and reminders scattered throughout different rooms. Reminding you of one thing – to kill.
This is the life of Sanjay, once the CEO of a multimillion company, now just a man suffering from short term memory loss. He relives just one memory, that being of Ghajini the cities biggest gangster smash his lovers skull by striking it multi times in the head with a metal bar. With no real memory of what is right or wrong, Sanjay embarks on a daily mission to kill Ghajini. With no real direction of where to go; the reminders Sanjay sets for himself every night are done so in a state of anger. When he wakes up, the reminders fuel him further.
Without our memory we have no real sense of morality. We hold no responsibility for our actions. We’re vulnerable to manipulation and can easily be lead astray by conspirators. Even if we did commit a crime, we would feel no remorse for it later as we’d have no memory of it.
Our memories are linked to our identity. Within a memory, other memories are contained. Within a memory future aspirations may be contained. Our memories define us almost totally.
Besides our physical features, our memories which interlink with the way we experience life in our own distinctive way is a fundamental feature that makes me different from you, and you different from everyone else.
Sanjay is stuck in an angry cycle dictated by his past , one he is unable to free himself of as his memory loss keeps him a prisoner of revenge.
Although we’re not suffering from short-term memory loss, some of choose to relive the bitter stages of anger by holding onto painful memories. Our current feelings, our personality traits, the way we behave today is shaped by past events. If we hold the more bitter events you can only expect our lives to be bitter.
I’m not saying don’t dwell on the past – I do it all the time! What I am saying is, by holding onto the more painful memories, you hinder your own happiness.
You past issues are not real today. You’ve fought them battles and have the scars to show for it. You are allowed to take the lessons of wisdom from your past without holding onto the suffering from the emotional pain.
Your mind has been built to create false reasons to justify the pain, struggle and suffering. It is up to you and the strengths of your will to differentiate between life today and the hurdles you have already leapt through.
“The mills of the Gods grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine”
The film follows the story of full of life, rich girl ingénue Zaara Hayat Khan. She has been brought up by her father, a successful Pakistani politician like the son he never had. Meanwhile, salt of the Earth quadrant leader Veer Pratap Singh rescues lives for a living. Orphan Veer was brought up by his aunt and uncle who live in a village they built with their own hands in India. The key that connects two lives from opposite sides of one border was the death of Zaaras indian nanny whose last dying wish was for her ashes to be immersed in a river in India amongst her ancestors.
Veer Zaara hacks back to an era when emotions were hallmarks of human nature and although Veer Zaara tells a captivating love story, the film transcends beyond a romantic fable through ideas on female literacy and empowerment through Zaara’s adventure across Pakistan into India where she meets Veer and rookie lawyer Samiya who fights to remove Veer from a Pakistani jail where he’s been rotting for 22 years.
As a politician, Zaara’s father uses her as an accessory to progress in his career by forming an alliance between her and the som of another power politician. With no permission to voice her opinion or thoughts on her own marriage.
Her mother advises her to love her husband whole heartedly but not to expect the same back. As though being a daughter was a sin. She is reminded of her duties as a daughter and told of her duties as a wife and is put under strict instructions by her parents to keep her husband as happy as she can as the peace of two great politicians coming together is placed on Zaaras shoulders.
Arrange marriages are common in the South Asian community and it isn’t strange to hear about people whose marriage was decided for them by their parents when they were children. Marriage, however, is an immense responsibility and it can’t be carried by one person alone. Zaara was being asked to give up her perkiness, her spark, and her venturesome soul in order to enter into a marriage fully surrendering herself to a man who has no time or day for her.
Sometimes, in the war between love and duty, you have to make some decisions that will go against those who love you the most but is best for your own. You watch Zaara free herself from the chains of her childhood home and her parents to find solace across the border in the village Veer took her to, to show her his world. She broke away from the chains of normality of rules and followed her free spirit. That is where she found happiness.
A movie that has spurned film makers imaginations since its first silent version in 1928. Based on the novel Devdas published in 1917 and written by Bengali novelist Charat Chandra. The novel ad film both encompass an old classic feel and is yet modern enough to allow readers and watchers to relate to its character easily.
In true “Rome & Juliet” fashion childhood sweethearts , son of rich land owner Devdas Mukherjee and Parvathi Chakraborty daughter of a dancer. In the 20th century dancing was equated with the lower class and humiliation thus the lovers plans of marriage was thwarted by their parents due to class differences. Devdas vows to drink himself to oblivion as Paro’s mother arranges her marriages into a lavish and wealthy family in Calcutta.
In the 20th Century arranging your children’s marriages was almost an obligation for parents as suitors must be of the same stature and class. What’s scary is a century later even in this generation, some of us are still able to relate to that. Although the film turns to blaming Dev’s parents for his demolition, the novel explains his destruction as being a result of Dev’s own character flaws. He is ultimately the result of his own destruction.
Devdas’s character is too weak and indecisive to know what he wants until he no longer has it. In a state of anger, he leaves the village to drown his sorrows in alcohol. With no real attempt to reason with his parents or himself for that matter, his arrogance pushes him to drink himself to death. Like a child being told where to go or what he should do Devdas self-destructs.
Devdas as a character shows you how important it is to choose your battles and fight for what actually matters. This starts with self-awareness; without the existence of your position in society, amongst your friends and family who are we? Why do we behave the way that we do?
It is impossible to change and become self-accepting if you are unsure of who you are. Without the clarity of who Devdas really was he was, unable to empower himself into having enough confidence to make a change and do the right thing.
Don’t be the person to not have a mind of their own and the confidence to voice your thoughts and opinions.
Know what is right and wrong without having to be told.
Save yourself from sabotaging yourself, as the most power affect of not doing the right thing is you eventually self-destruct either deliberate of through unconscious’s thoughts.
Devdas’s failure to piece his life back together after losing his love ties in perfectly with my next movie – Queen! Kangana Raunat as Rani won me over in Queen. She broke away from her usual psychotic, mentally disturbed roles and nailed the role of Rani who finds herself on a bittersweet journey of self-discovery.
Naive and simple Rani from Delhi was jilted at the altar by the man she dedicated her entire life to. She had planned her whole future with this man and without him it was impossible for her to function. Her fiancé domineered her world. She was a product of his decisions and she wouldn’t step a foot out of line with his consent; so when he left her, life came to a shattering standstill.
When you’re in a relationship with someone who suppresses your soul from shimmering from its own individuality you eventually lose sight of your own identity. When the person who crafted the person you, it pains only you when they leave. It leaves you with a constant ache in your heart and the turmoil feeling of being lost. You’re not sure where you belong because for the longest of time you’ve been defined by your relationship. When you get out of a relationship you’re not used to dealing with yourself especially without the constant affirmation of love and commitment you once had from your significant other.
Lucky for Rani, she didn’t turn into Miss Havisham; she took her honeymoon ticket and flew to Paris by herself to find the rawest version of herself. While she plunges into states of ugliness; the self-hate, the self-worth, the blaming herself, tears and even self-pity.
Once Rani hit rock bottom, however, there was nowhere else she could go! She started picking up the pieces of what’s left of her heart and she rebuilds herself completely. She rediscovers her inner peace by entirely immersing her consciousness into making the most out of the time she has now. She is complete present in everything she does. She breaks out of the cast she’s been moulded into her whole life and she bursts into fireworks!
“If it disturbs the peace of your heart; give it up”
Men are not the roots of your happiness – you are. You can’t expect someone else to love you whole heartedly when you haven’t learnt to love yourself. It’s not being narcissistic or a deluded way of never acknowledging when you’ve gone wrong. Loving yourself simply means to accept yourself for being a person of flaws, and despite your imperfections, you are the perfect and most truest version there ever can be of you. If you want to feel loved in a relationship you have to feel worthy of that love and the first step to that is loving yourself.
Jab we Met is undeniably a movie that will always remain relevant and loved by yours truly. Many of us will see ourselves in both the main characters and I know I’m not alone when I say I felt I could relate to them both.
It follows the story of two passengers on a Delhi-bound train. Young and wealthy Aditya who would rather be left to engulf in his own misery, when instead he meets Bindaas, carefree and strong willed Geet. She makes him miss his train but in turn teaches him a brand new way of living which he takes away with him in a suitcase when the two part. While miserable Aditya goes home with a new outlook on life; carefree Geet ends up getting her heart broken and in return runs away from the world to engulf in her own loneliness.
They say taking your own advice is the hardest pill to swallow. This is the case for Geet as she is happy to spread positivity and light wherever she goes but struggles to light herself a path out of darkness. You watch Geet burn photos of Aditya’s ex and force him into calling her so that he can release all his anger into that phone call. You watch Geet save Aditya from drowning in his sadness and as he comes up for air he decides for himself that he will live his life differently.
Now, my friends, well the friends I have left – tell me there’s magic in my words and my advice is above all. This is because my friends are valuable and I am friends with them because they hold worth greater than anything materialistic. When they are in pain or I know that they’re suffering, I try with my might to uplift their spirits with my advice. My only problem is, when I’m faced with the same hardship and suffering, I’m unable to look myself in the mirror and advice myself the same.
I’ve found the reason for this is because I have a tendency of looking away from myself. When I give advice, I externalise my wants, my needs and my expectations onto others. It’s easier for me like it was for Geet when she heard how Aditya was treated in his relationship, to look at others and determine what they should or could be doing. I’m happy to look at others as people who need more help than I do; I, however, run away from being accountable for whatever happens. The responsibility of going through with the advice and seeing what comes of it and that’s the toughest part because I give the grittiest advice.
It takes a great deal of discipline to know what to do and do it. Alice from wonderland explains it perfectly;
“I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”
In the end, with the help of Aditya she finds her way back to the same old Geet we grow to love in the first part of the film. She found someone she could trust, someone she was able to speak to about why she was sop resistant in letting her ex go. With his help, she was then able to burn his photos and make an angry and abusive phone call releasing all her un kept emotions over the phone.
It is a Bollywood movie – there’s always a happy ending!
Tender and intensely chilling Fanaa follows the story of blind girl Zooni who is sent on a trip to Delhi as an attempt by her parents to help her cultivate a sense of independence. This is where she meets flirtatious tour guide Rehan and falls in love. Rehan is killed in a terrorist attack but resurfaces 7 years later at Zoonis door. It’s safe to say the film successfully conveys the internal conflict that wages in a man and woman ton between love and politics.
Zoonie is basically pitied for her lack of a husband, so it doesn’t come as a surprise for her to fall for smarmy and over accessorized Rehan. His cheap poetry, flirting and dance numbers win her over instantly. This shows how quick people are to fill the emptiness in their hearts by the first person willing to give them attention.
The risk of this is you never really know who you’re falling for when you’re in a rush to fall. Rehan easily made her believe he was genuine and earthy when in fact he was a terrorist.
There was a hole in Zooni’s heart. A hole which the people in her life helped dig deeper. A hole that needs to approval, one that needs the security of a man, a hole that longs for validation that proves she is enough. When a man she hardly knows starts filling the emptiness she doesn’t second guess whether she is getting involve with someone who may be destructive and unhealthy for her. As sleazy as Rehan is she gives herself to him completely and he leaves to carry out the mission he was assigned by Pakistans leading terrorist group.
Had she learned that a person can’t fill the holes in your heart; absolutely nobody can fill that void she wouldn’t have been in such a rush to fill it.
This void is a lack of love – not from someone else’s but your own. Inner emptiness is caused by self-abandonment by not loving yourself. When you lack a connection with your inner self you create that void and tell yourself another’s love will fill it.
Connect with yourself first. I see so many people starving for love when all they have to do is feed them self.
This brings me to my next Bollywood movie secretly everyone favourite purely for how intense, pure, selfless and heart wrenching the film really is.
It follows the tragic story of two singers, Rahul a rich dipsomaniac and falling singing sensation and Arohi, a poor and struggling musician who sings at bars to make money. Rahuls uncontrollable craving for Alcohol paired with deep self hate finds Arohi in a bar and spots the star of tomorrow in her. He soon grooms her by taking her under his wing to which she becomes a thriving and successful star.
In the midst of Arohi’s success, Rahul fails further down into the hole I spoke about in Fanaa. Arohi tries with all her might to help fill the hole Rahul created for himself but Rahul as the film goes on you watch her putting Rahul at the forefront of everything she does yet she is unable to pull him up from the depth of his darkness. Rahul was unable to change his actions. As much as Arohi was at his disposal she didn’t have the power to control his actions. The matter was ultimately in Rahuls hands.
” The worst thing is watching someone drown and not being able to convince them that they can save themselves by just standing up.”
There was a lot of darkness in Rahul and Arohi was cutting herself picking up the pieces of his broken life. What we eventually see is Arohi breaking too.
You can’t help someone who refuses the help given. They need to learn to fix themselves and you staying and allowing yourself to be broken will not help them, and does not serve you in any way. While you may feel responsible for saving them and being the person to rescue them from their misery, you’re not accountable for their actions. You are a resource for said person to help save them self and if they’re not willing to utilise you for the greatness you are then you have no reason to serve them.
We’re all fighting our own battles and a person has their own work to do. This is one of the greatest justices of the human condition. All of us, the wisest and most weakest, the smartest and most obtuse, we all have to go through the same stages in order to find our way out our sadness. We all confront our problems and make changes to mitigate, fix or to live with those problems. Nobody can change who and what you are – that only starts from accepting your flaws for what they are and making changes yourself to better yourself ultimately bettering your life.
“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”
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