Facebook has enormous advantages. A friend who I have never met in person but who hails from my hometown, the coal capital and who comes across on facebook as a leftist, (pseudo)secular, cynical, forgetful blogger; when she decided to recommend the movie, Kapoor and sons, I took the plunge. For the first time, I went and watched a movie in the theatre all alone.
Since then I haven't stopped praising the film and have watched it again on two occasions in an attempt to make some of my family watch it.
So when somebody suggested I watch some of the Pakistani TV dramas that Fawad Khan had starred in, I bit the bait and spent many hours watching episode after episode till 5 am one morning and many hours while on call on another day. They are a pleasant watch with subtle expressions, developing relationships, designer sets and beautiful people. Even the saas bahu saga was played out to a different level of smiling deceit unlike our loud Ekta Kapoor brand of quarrelling, slapping, manipulating daily soaps.
Finally having thoroughly enjoyed these two TV shows which had the ever so handsome Fawad Khan being nice and romantic with his beautiful heroines while mouthing dialogues in the distinguished, soft and poetic language, Urdu (I now cringe when I say I speak Urdu to patients in the hospital)...I decided tentatively to start watching another of these TV dramas recommended by a dear friend.
I got bored quickly as there was no Fawad Khan but also what struck me was that all the Pakistani TV serials have plots which feature a rich good looking young man who gets in and out of swanky cars, plush houses and clubs; while the woman comes from a lower middle class hardworking background. Most of these serials also favour stereotypes like rich working women with "liberal" lifestyles don't make good wives and mothers while the conservative and religious women are a blessing to the family.
However, the very western Mills and Boons romances which we were brought up on, in school and college too invariably had a rich successful guy who falls head over heels with the working class girl who manages to look beautiful in dresses which she buys in sales. I am sure there were umpteen stereotypes being reinforced in those Duke- Governess, Comte- companion type romances, we read. Infact there used to be a series of Doctor Nurse romances- I wonder if there were any women physicians falling in love with male nurses, practitioners and the like.
Indian Bollywood masala films on the other hand often featured a rich spoilt daughter of a business tycoon falling for the roadside romeo.
The pairings are dependant on the audience, The Mills and Boon romances as well as the TV dramas have many more women readers and viewers while Bollywood films are more likely to be watched again and again in theatre by the young male population. At least that seems to me to be the reason for these typical story lines.
Women when they become successful apparently stop being feminine. Women in senior management, want to look feminine and hence less bossy. Therefore in a disproportionate trend, these women prefer to be blonde, according to a study I recently read. It seems to me everybody loves a Trumping successful man but not a go getter ambitious brunette, either in the office or at home. But gradually the world and thus India too is changing, as the Olympic champions from the state with the worst male female ratios have shown us.
Bollywood thankfully has a lot of directors of different ages and genders, who have successfully shown the masala hero heroine villain and tree brand of filmmaking, the door. They will hopefully make more movies which challenge stereotypes and which feature more successful women who don't know how to cook and can't be bothered to clean yet who have hearts which unfortunately do not follow any rules about who to start beating faster for.
Looking forward to more from Zoya, Shakun, Nitya and the like...