Watching Queen last night, I couldn’t help thinking how predictable the average Indian male is! Queen, for those not in the know is a Bollywood movie currently playing in the theaters, that tells the story of a young woman gets dumped on the eve of her wedding, but decides to travel to Europe on her honeymoon, alone.
It wasn’t the pain of the dumping that hit the protagonist Rani (played by Kangana Ranaut) as much as the realization that her fiance is, essentially, a lout. And that she had been brought up to think his loutish behavior was ok, not just ok but fine!
I wish many many young Indian girls watch this movie and learn from it. And here’s what she must realize she has been conditioned into.
That atrocious patriarchal behavior by men must be interpreted as protective, sensitive, loving…
The fiance, played by the talented Rajkummar Rao, is shown in the movie chasing the young college going Rani on a bike with his friend in tow, calling her names, heckling her while she is in class, passing judgements on what she wears, who she talks to and assuring her that she doesn’t need to work because he can take care of work. Essentially, he is insecure and his strategy is to undermine her self-confidence and keep her in check, so she lives her life forever in his shadow. Paradoxically, because he is this confused soul, he dumps her because she isn’t as classy and suave as the wife he now wants, now that he lived in London! Crazy!
That not having a man in your life is not an option…
The scene in which the heroine pleads her fiance to not leave her is poignant. Her desperation. Her inability to comprehend this rejection, to understand how to view herself in the light of his decision.
That what society thinks is your biggest hugest problem…That being a good girl is your only option…
In that scene, her paranoia about her family’s reaction, that really hits your hard.
Through the film, she realizes how useless her goody two shoes tag is in the light of the realities she has to face. How her parent’s well-intentioned protectiveness and upbringing has actually turned her into a wimp, unprepared for risk, unprepared for loneliness and independence. And her frustration about being that ‘good girl’ conflicts endearingly with her conviction that being good is the only way to be!
Think about the Rani in you!
I know many friends who are like Rani. I see many shades of Rani in me. I felt her irritation at her fiance’s irrational possessiveness because I once, long ago, dated someone like that, someone who wanted to control me but I thought it was endearing at the time.
We go through that phase, don’t we? All us girls? Of jumping right into the ‘love’ phase with any male who pays us attention, pampers us a bit? We see everything as signs of love and we are resigned to changing ourselves for our partner. We engage in mushy dreams about marriage and children, we imagine our lives as daughters-in-law and wives. Deep inside, do we fear we will ‘miss the boat’ and end up unmarried and unloved? Or is it a natural phase for young women to want the security of a normal life cycle, the one we have seen repeated hundreds times over in society around us?
I’m not saying any of this is wrong, though much of it is. It’s important to go through that phase, but for some of us who got lucky, we passed through that test unhurt, or hardly hurt. We grew up, we married or didn’t marry. We chose partners who had been through their own ring of fire, or we grew thick skins and learnt to explore the world on our own without support. Others have not been so lucky though and they suffer, sometimes without knowing they do, many a time in the know, but also in the trap!
Get out, get moving, get free
All I know is that role models are important. And talking about all of this is important. For young girls (And boys of course!), in and just out of their teens, exposure is important, letting go of fear is important, being lonely and dealing with that loneliness is important too. I salute the brave parents who made all this possible for me and many of my peers, and I hope more films like this spread the message that toeing the line of convention isn’t always a good thing, that a man (or anyone other than yourself, in fact) should never be the beginning or end of your life, that shit happens to everyone and the best we can do is learn to deal with it!