Monday, October 22, 2007

Bhaag ke shaadi

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


  1. i dnt know where the media is heading towards..!! home page news on chiranjeevi on todayz make me feel sick..!! are we not left with some genuine news rather than peeping into whats happenin into someone's personal life and his family and making their family problem a front page news to read on..!!

  2. It is really pathetic that in spite of the ads and the movies, the reality is actually very different.
    Being rich or educated(in most cases) does not in any way alter the social mores.When it comes to marriage most youngsters don't really have much of a say.

  3. Pyaar ke asli dushman: Congestion!

    Only in picchars can you have ppl running around trees and doing romanchakari, the reality of canoodling in India is much sadder, there's no room for it!

    Last time I was in Mumbai, I saw about a THOUSAND couples sitting on their 100 cc bikes, backs facing the road, with the romantic smells of septic marshlands on one side, and polluting smoke on another. They were literally jostling for elbow space!

    Like herd animals, these lovers turn their backs on society, retreating to sodden corners oblivious of piss stained corners caked with sunburnt feces reeking of DEATH, DISAPPOINTMENT AND FAILURE.

    And they have to deal with the humiliation of cops doing morality policing on top of that.

    Oh the shame!

    Where are these couples going to run? There is nowhere to go. This is India boss. A young couple can't move out, live on their own, not without the support of their clan.

    Unless they have strong educations and jobs that can help them stand on their own feet. Which puts the success rate at .5%.

  4. Rashmi,

    It is a sad state of affairs but you need to get your facts right in Chiranjeevi's case.

    The elder one liked Uday Kiran and it was in fact Chiranjeevi who arranged for the betrothal and announced it in the media.

    It was cancelled upon understanding that Uday Kiran was previously involved in relationships that he did not quite say goodbye to.

    Also, in the second one's case, the actor dad came to know about a criminal case registered on the prospective son-in-law in 2002 (confirmed by his very own parents) , which involved running away with a juvenile at the age of 17. Clearly, the boy is not your run-of-the-mill lover just trying to find some room in a crowded society.

    you have two daughters. Given this, would you, in your right mind, let the second one pursue an ex-convict knowing the first one had a bitter experience pursuing the man of her choice?

    Oh no! that would be too personal :)..j/k

    But I guess, you made some valid points about the sad state of affairs when it comes to dating - Desi communities in India or America irrespective.

  5. It is really sad that

    a) Indian youth does not have the liberty to choose their life partners.

    b) In the name of love and such, and also thanks to influence of films, they end up marrying at such young ages. Absence of maturity could result in children in 1-2 years time. this is bad for them and the country as well.

    DDLJ was a classic film. No doubt :)



  6. My friend who works for a NGO, has prepared a report on clandestine abortions post-navratri. The reports clearly mentions that the abortion rates shoot upto 90% post-navratri. Given the staggering figures, I am sure more and more parents are lining up to hire detectives to keep a eye on their daughters.

    On a lighter note, I am sure some shrewd marketing mangers of detective agencies would come up with "special navratri rates".

  7. I feel that nowadays Bhaagna... in strict sense is passing and sahll go off soon. What i have seen at my personal level (my friends, relatives and neighbors) that the couple generally arrange their love for marriage. It take time may be a year or two but it happens. You can always listen in the neighborhood talks that "unki toh love marriage hai" and the comments like " uski ladki to X ke saath bhaag gayi" are perishing.

    One more thing that i have observed that if the girl shows some strength, the couple is through.

  8. interesting to read all the comments, but the fact is, its really appalling to see the news on the front page of TOI...come guys give us a break..there are many issues in the society which needs some kinda attention/addressing...

    But anyways, as the post very correctly says, leave the couple alone, and if not now, but in some yrs or may be months down the line they will realise that the grass always looks greener on the other side.

  9. had the issue got so much importance had it been some common man and not THE chiru? the media really needs to highlight issues of broader appeal and not somebody's family problems.

  10. lovly post and equally good comments...but my concern is more towards the detective hiring part of the story.
    hiring a detective for ones own children just goes to show the degree of distrust n lack of communication between parents n children.
    i think that to a great extent, parents are to blame themselves for such situations in their life.had they been a little more communicative with their offsprings n respected their freedom;obviously with intelligently acknowledging them with the crooked ways of life,it would have been a lot more easier.
    but i do realize,that with such a fast pace of life as is ours,we dont have time even for our intimate kin.
    may be the solution lies somewhere in spending more time together with our families.

  11. Hey this was not at all a gossip column!!! Leave them to their lives. Why should everybody focus limelight onto their private lives.

  12. In the name of freedom and liberty younger generation is doing a crap. These folks don't know anything about love, but if some one gave genuine suggestion they'd say that people are moral policing. I personally believe that media is cultivating pseudo liberty thinking in the minds of younger generations which are always vulnerable.

  13. Rashmi,

    There are more important social issues which can be highlighted and discussed trough Blogs. U never know, this might bring peoples (not "people" because your blog read globally)to work for a common cause. This eloping thing is common everywhere in the world. Only difference is that in West its a common practise whereas in India, its a sin. So lets think beyond this and act accordingly rather than using the resources (read misss-using!!!) just for gossips and attract loads of comments and getting happier by the fact that number of hits of to your blog increasing day by day...!!

    Well, if you are really up to some social cause, than can get in touch with me anytime through email.


  14. well..i agree with you in the chiranjeevi case...
    though it was much of a hype.....
    but isn't she tooo young to decide her life partner...common at 18 and marriage!!!
    and now even all the parents would be a bit cautious...
    and yeah..what he does in movies its the opposite in his life....

    and it's a honor to meet u..
    i just simply love ur magazine...JAM rocks!!!

  15. Great blog..

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    Lets you contact any matrimonial/dating profile on any website for FREE

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