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January 23, 1997


Farzana Versey

Dominic Xavier's illustration

Love in the time of cinema

Steven Seagal, the Hollywood hunk, gets invited to the inauguration of an action-packed film in Bombay and ends up talking about spiritualism.

Richard Gere talks about Buddhism and love.

And, while our film festivals try to portray the grim Indian reality, mainstream cinema follows its own peculiar version of love.

After all those analyses about the spurt of films on love, the obvious question to ask is - do the youth today behave in the same fashion? Does they identify with what's happening on the screen? Will they rebel against the family and take on the world only because of that undefined thing called love?

Let's see, I remember doing a few crazy things! But burning the spool of a cassette and drinking it with coffee? Or using pigeons to pass on messages? If it reached the wrong hands, I'd have disowned both the pigeon and the guy, depending on who flew away first.

The theme of most of these films may be the same. However, it is the ingredients that give us a clue as to whether it's real or fake.

Rich boy, poor girl

This is classic Mills and Boon. Greek tycoon, red-haired governess. And the vamp is so wealthy, she has diamonds for eyes. But the crucial part, of course, is that one of the lovers is poor.

What's so unreal about it? Nothing, except that, in life, there is a fast-forward and we realise that such marriages are honeymoon-bound. I know of one such couple. After the jolly good moments of throwing snowballs and licking icecreams, they are now spending as much time away from each other as possible.

She suffered from the poor girl syndrome and went haywire with money on superficials while stinginess ruled on essentials. He thought she did not fit his social settings. If anything kept them going, it was the fact that they had to prove their decision was not wrong.

Romancing the air

In the films, every ingredient is honed to a fine mix. Showering flower petals from a helicopter is, I must admit, very romantic but, as a young friend asked, "How many guys know how to fly?"

The guys have their own complaints. Lest you think they are all so cynical and don't care for romance, it is a mistake. They find ingenious ways with little cinematic potential. Chewed-up gum in wrappers, letters written in lipstick, mathematical equations that lead to an overwhelming question: 'Do you, don't you?'

The "I do" comes casually while roller-skating and may, or may not, last more than the term. No one's complaining, for angels too kiss in spring. No one asks about winter and autumn.

Eloping to nowhere

Recently, a relative who was all of 12 years said that he would either remain a bachelor or run away and 'settle down' outdoors. Eloping was the only way out - destination unknown. It seems like the most logical decision given the fact that emotions run high. It happens all the while.

A very dear friend of mine had eloped as a minor, got a pundit from somewhere and is still married to the same man after 12 years. Yet, she confesses, it wasn't easy. "I was making so many mistakes early on that I thought it would not last at all. I used to feel depressed and I made every little thing into an issue."

They died

Why do some of these films end on a defeatist note? "Is love wrong?" asks a young boy who is facing the same problem - the world is against him. While one of the reasons young people end their lives is frustration, they are also proving something.

"They are telling society that their love is greater than all the rules they have been asked to follow," says a psychologist. Usually they work on a suicide pact, or one of the partners will kill the other in a rather gruesome manner.

And they lived happily ever after

The birds chirp. Raindrops fall. It gladdens everyone's heart. And, as they say at the end of such films, "It's only the beginning."

Illustration: Dominic Xavier