Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Our objections and judgements based on our prejudices....
We South Asians (Indians and her neighbours) seem to have a problem with everything we come across. We have pretty much the same characteristics in nature. But since we belong to India, lets speak of situations we see across us. Is there anything happening around us we do not have an objection to? We act pretty much like judges passing judgements on news, views and even people. And our judgements do affect lives. Remember the fellow in MIB who can think of innumerable possible reactions to every action one takes,? Just like that, every judgement we make, has a chain reaction. This could lead to stereotypes, prejudices and the like. Or it could affect a life.
Let's begin with some latest in news. The most watched - 'Comedy Nights with Kapil' as we know is a comedy show which is not to be taken seriously. Every character in it is only a character to make you laugh. Every comment or joke is just to be taken as a joke. And people enjoy watching it. Of course, some comments go over the top at times, but Indian comedy has always been a little unsophisticated. And Indians have always liked it like that. So who could expect that a show like that which makes you laugh, can be reported as disrespectful and anti-women? Who would imagine that a comment like 'the puddles on mumbai streets can ease a poor pregnant woman's life by popping out the baby for her' be a case of serious offence?! Yes, for those who don't know an NGO activist has filed a complaint on this comment. Moreover, the characters 'Dadi', 'Palak' etc have been objected to by some as wrong representation of Indian women!!! Who takes these characters seriously anyways?! And we laugh because we see them as they're not supposed to be. A drunken chaalu Indian daadi (grandma), a jazzily dressed choti (braid) flaunting Palak and Gutti behaving strangely are just meant to amuse you! That's what entertains us. If they acted as they 're supposed to, it would become a saas-bahu saga serial. And surprisingly, these saas-bahu so called sanskari serials scare me most. I avoid them. Because you never know who will leave whom and re-marry and whose sister-in-law will be pataoing whose brother-in-law, who might catch whose fancy! And all these characterless things happen in traditionally clad clothes under the banner of 'Sanskar'! The word has definitely been redefined. Yet these serials are most watched and never objected to!
Another media and public favourite is Salman Khan. Whatever he does attracts attention, criticism or applause. If he says something or anything, whether on a show he's hosting or being interviewed, whether he hits or does charity, whether he dances at a show or shows off his chest, everything is a point of discussion! Even his charity, his anger, his single-dom is widely discussed. When I look at him, I think of the story of the man and the donkey. Whether he carries the donkey, rides on it or whether simply walks with it, every thing is objectionable! Sometimes, we too fall in such traps.
These were some of the latest in-news events which I've high-lighted. But we object to or have prejudices based on movies too. How can we take movies and serials seriously and ignore reality? If you want to really believe movies, watch the realistic cinema. The masses would not even enjoy it as they might appear boring to them. Because that's what reality is all about. But we do not want to believe it. Strange. I was watching this song from 'Yaariyan' which goes 'A se aao re aao, B se bhau na khao, C se chillatey jao, D se daaru pitey jao.....' It has hoardes of college goers dressed in sexy pyjamas having a 'pajama party'! I don't know if the crowd is Mumbaiite or Delhiite in the movie. Over the years, in movies, it has mostly been Mumbai based. So what signal it sends down to the rest of India? Entire mumbai youth is having a pajama party somewhere with friends. Or like other college songs show, in Mumbai colleges mostly the college goers sing and dance and romance. That's what the rest of India thinks. But who stay in Mumbai but have not come across this, what do they think? What do the majorly conservative Mumbai crowd, which in reality comprises of traditional marathis and many people from other states settled here, who are like the rest of Indians, think? They think that south Mumbai colleges or some top colleges are like that. And the crowd from those colleges are like that. Basically everyone is thinking that the other is bad. Some, very conservative parents who do not step out much or not too connected with the world, think colleges are bad for their daughters and end up not educating them further. Some choose a women's college. All these actions, reactions and thought processes affect lives!
College is just one aspect. Then there are other things in movies which are so unrealistic. Every Mumbai girl nowadays is shown as mini clad, tight jeans toting and vying for a man's attention and dancing in night clubs. Earlier the 'vamp' did it, now the heroines do all the item numbers, do all the bad things themselves. So what does the rest of Indian think? Every Mumbai girl is 'chalu' (available). A few interactions I tried to have with the outside world, people end up thinking that because you are a Mumbai girl, you must be bindaas!!! So I decided not to be on social media or anywhere. My real friends are connected to me anyways. So it doesn't matter. But it has affected marriage proposals from across states. So it mattered in a way. Mumbai parents and society is moderate and they know reality and since we live in mix culture of states and in contrasts of modern and conservative simultaneously with highly rich to destitute-ly poor, we are more accepting of others and other cultures. But again every Mumbai-ite might not think like me or my family.
What movies depict is a section of society, which co-exists with the other. They might form 10-15% of the crowd. But do not represent the rest of the crowd. Same way for rest of India. The so-called conservative cultures of Kerala or Gujarat or North-East or Jammu Kashmir, are they as they are projected? These are random examples and could apply to any part of India. Lets take North-East. Is everyone there backward, not connected to India, doesn't know to speak Hindi, doesn't know ABC of fashion as we'd like to believe? If you have not been there and experienced the culture, you would believe all the above assumptions. We would generalise them and pass judgements on them. Some judgement/s might even affect some people there. It might affect a North East student studying in some other part of India. But what most do not know is that North East is very much Indian like you and me. My Daddy, who spent 2 years of his posting in Guwahati and on official trips to most part of North East has seen the people closely. When I went there, even I was surprised to see people in Meghalaya-Shillong speak good Hindi. And just like you and me. In fact I found the Shillong crowd more well dressed than many city people too. As majority crowd in Shillong is Christian, English too is officially spoken. I saw modern thoughts among people in Assam too.
Now lets take one more example, Kashmir. It is projected as Islamic, troubled and fight-prone. And pitiable. But how much I've known it, I've seen non-Islamic, Indian cultures too within the broader culture practised by muslims there. Some people fighting amongst themselves. There are modern thoughts and some wanting change. While some confused. Some are forced to be negative or kill their dreams. Some hate. Some love. Some love to hate. Some you feel sorry for. Some can make you sorry. Basically they too are like the rest of us. They too live in prejudices like us. We have some for them, they have some (or many?) for us. I've seen modern South Indians and highly educated Biharis. I've seen non thuggie (wink) Delhiites, generous marwaris and well behaved Bhayyas! So much so for prejudices.
These prejudices lead us to objections. Person from Delhi. Cannot be trusted. Person from Kashmir. Could have a terror links. Or outdated. Or must be oppressed or terrorised by Indians (what a non Indian will think). Person from North East? Good for nothing. Person from UP/ Bihar? Unsophisticated. Or uneducated. And so on. The broader prejudices are religious too. Muslims? Violent. Based on these assumptions formed due to media or books or even others' opinions or movies, we take our decisions on them. But every person out there is an individual. And different from the other. And our objections to their presence in our lives / surroundings / companies based on our general prejudices affects lives individually. And some lives can be altered forever........