Young couples eloping against their parents wishes used to be a standard storyline in Hindi films. Rich boy, poor girl/ Hindu-Muslim/ naukar-maalik wee some of the disparities which led parents to screech: "Nahin, yeh rishta hamein manzoor nahin hai."
Then came DDLJ, where Shahrukh Khan refused to elope with Kajol. No sir, I will get married only with papaji's blessings. And so began a new era where parents and kids turned over a new leaf. The kids decided it was better to 'win over' the oldies while the parents eventually realised, 'Agar hamare bachche khush hain, hum khush hain'.
Give and take became possible - and a happily ever after full family photo as well. The Ek Duuje ke Liye / QSQT genre of scripts died to make way for Saathiya where the young couple does elope but without any great fuss or drama following it. The prents are displeased but life goes on and the movie is more about how life isn't a bed of roses even after you marry the person of your dreams.
And then there was Pyaar ke Side Effects where there are some parental doubts and murmurs but the bigger villain is the groom himself who is afraid of making a commitment.
A tongue in cheek take is captured in a recent ad for Maruti Zen Estilo where a young couple elopes and is stopped by the girl's father (an army type). But he is so taken in by the car's features, he lets them go. It's kind of silly but at a deeper level rings true because hey, if the guy looks decent, drives this kind of car and makes my daughter happy, who am I to play spoilsport?
So all this sounds like wonderfully progressive stuff but at ground level, things aren't that cool and easy. The drama around Chiranjeevi's daughter eloping with her boyfriend last week is a case in point. TOI report:
On a day of dramatic developments, megastar Chiranjeevi's younger daughter 'went out for a walk' from their home in Jubilee Hills on Wednesday morning, but surfaced little later at an Arya Samaj mandir in Secunderabad and married her lover of four years.
The drama unfolded at around 10 am when Srija, dressed casually in jeans, went out of the house for a walk and on the way wanted to meet her aunt. She left in a frend's vehicle. An hour and half later, Srija surfaced at Arya Samaj mandir, New Bowenpally. Her lover Shirish Bharadwaj (21) was already there. The couple, both majors, exchanged garlands and took marriage vows as per Arya Samaj tradition at around 11.30 am in the presence of friends.
Soon after the marriage, the couple asked for help from police and the media as they feared for their lives. Speaking to the media, Srija alleged her family members forced her to discontinue the relationship from the time they came to know of it...
The couple said, she was in a state of 'house arrest' after she turned 18 on November 9 last. In a interview to a news channel recently, Bharadwaj reportedly alleged that Chiranjeevi and his fans were threatening him.
Sources said, Srija probably feared her love story would meet the same fate as her sister Sushmita's. Srija's elder sister was engaged to upcoming hero Uday Kiran, but a few months later the wedding was called off citing "incompatibilty" between the couple. However, the real reason was Uday Kiran was forced out of the relationship, they added.
Phew. Now there are two issues:
a) Chiranjeevi may feel 'my daughter is too young' to be able to decide who her life partner should be. Fair enough The solution would be to let the couple go out - have a relationship - and maybe it would end on its own. How many such affairs last more than a few weeks or months anyways?
But nahin, this is not the Indian way. We do not 'date'. We do not make out before we marry. And if we do, our parents certainly have no inkling...
b) Forget age, even if Srija was not 18 but 28, Chiranjeevi would not want her to find her own life partner. After all, that is the job of a parent. In fact, the most enjoyable and exciting job of an Indian parent. By making their own choices, kids are depriving their parents of their shining moment in the sun. Their 15 minutes of fame. The raison d'etre of their very existence.
Exaggeration, you think? Often enough, I think not. And more so with the rich and/or famous. As Sunil Sethi pondered in Business Standard : "Do the new-rich shed their liberal spots first and revert to neo-conservatism?"
To which I would say, who said they shed those spots in the first place?
The irony of the Chiranjeevi case is that his recent film 'Shankardada Zindabad' is a remake of 'Lage raho Munnabhai' which promotes Gandhigiri, inter caste marriage et al.. Magar apne ghar mein scene ekdum opposite hai.
Equations have changed, of course. 'Inter caste marriage' is the issue but Srija is from a lower caste than the boy (who is a Brahmin).
Even that might be seen as progress... In 'OBC reservation' India.
Update: It seems that Chiranjeevi has finally forgiven and blessed the couple. Certainly a better ending than the Priyanka Todi - Rizwanur Rehman love story, or this gruesome case of a mother killing her daughter for marrying against her wishes.
Spy vs Spy; Parent vs Child
And oh, this is really... funny. But a new trend, for sure.
DNA reports: As Hyderabad woke up to the news of Srija’s wedding, movie tycoons as well as real estate and corporate groups virtually clamped the shutters on the freedom of their kith and kin.
Parents are apparently hiring private detectives to keep a 24 X 7 watch on their kids, look into the background of their friends and provide surveillance of eating and watering holes. Armed escorts to teens and even house arrests are being talked of!
While in Ahmedabad: Parents in Gujarat are hiring private detectives to spy on their teenage children during Navratri when late-night dance celebrations attract tens of thousands of youngsters.
"It is strange to pay someone to keep a night watch on my daughters but it is better than regretting later," said S. Doshi, a 42-year-old mother of two girls, aged 17 and 19.
Ah, brave new worlds for spies to conquer... James Bond on an exciting new assignment: "I'll have a sandwich dhokla and mango lassi - shaken, not stirred!"
Also read my earlier take on the subject: Pyaar ke asli dushman