Monday, May 30, 2016

Just a list of don'ts

Don’t move away from home. 
Don’t answer calls. 
Don’t make decisions. 
Don’t listen to other people. 
Don’t cry. 
Don’t laugh. 
Don’t get angry. 
Don’t have opinions. 
Don’t talk back. 
Don’t talk. 
Don’t get offended. 
Don’t be selfish. 
Don’t be selfless. 
Don’t fall in love. 
Don’t fall out of love. 
Don’t marry. 
Don’t divorce. 
Don’t have children. 
Don’t let your children be. 
Don’t take the train. 
Don’t push people. 
Don’t have friends. 
Don’t drink. 
Don’t smoke. 
Don’t dope. 
Don’t have sex. 
Don’t be gay. 
Don’t be straight. 
Don’t tell people what you want. 
Don’t ask for help. 
Don’t offer help. 
Don’t be rude. 
Don’t be nice. 
Don’t have a career. 
Don’t stay at home. 
Don’t earn money. 
Don’t spend it on things. 
Don’t wear makeup. 
Don’t wax, shave or tweet. 
Don’t dress up. 
Don’t dress down. 
Don’t be intelligent. 
Don’t be dumb. 
Don’t be beautiful. 
Don’t be ugly. 
Don’t be healthy. 
Don’t be sick. 
Don’t write. 
Don’t read. 
Don’t see. 
Don’t observe. 
Don’t feel. 
Don’t touch. 
Don’t hear. 
Don’t sleep. 
Don’t wake up. 
Don’t walk. 
Don’t run. 
Don’t hop, skip or jump. 
Don’t play. 
Don’t be serious. 
Don’t be casual. 
Don’t loiter. 
Don’t cook. 
Don’t eat. 
Don’t fight. 
Don’t argue. 
Don’t sing. 
Don’t dance. 
Don’t paint. 
Don’t be old. 
Don’t be young. 
Don't be good.
Don't be bad
Don’t breathe. 
Don’t be seen. 
Don’t exist. 

Don’t be a woman. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Takeways from I (the movie)

For the first time, I've actually seen a movie on the day of it's release. And it'd be a shame if I didn't blog about it. Instead of a long, running story that I usually write, I'm going to break it up into points.

1. Revenge is a dish that's best served cold. Or hot. Electric, hairy, stingy and sneaky as I demonstrated. +100
2. Shankar is known for his extravagant budgets, sets, costumes, going by that he must probably be the inventor of "go home or go big" (not really). But with all that money, he could've given Amy Jackson some clothes. I can sense your counter that she's a model so she requires skimpy clothes but I'm just going to say no. The poor thing must be freezing even in Chennai. -50
3. Speaking of Amy Jackson, I guess there are different ways in which you can depict a woman's boobs to make them look attractive because just parading them in a bikini isn't enough. -89
4. While Rajinikanth was the first (rather doubtful) to depict his heroine as an object he handled (Meena as a veena he plays in Muthu, the rhyme is unintentional), Shankar shows Vikram riding Amy as a bike, squeezing her as a fish and so on. I really have nothing else to say for this. Just old-fashioned horror and disgust. -105
5. Suresh Gopi as the quiet, scheming villain earns full marks from me but his character as the lustful paedophile under wraps made me squirm in my seat. At one point, I just yelled out in the theatre when he was trying to cop a feel. And she didn't recoil. undecided
6. Amy Jackson's boobs (again, I know. But they deserve another mention.). When she's sporting a bikini, they're her true size and then in some clothes the padding is way too much that they're in her face and ours. -36
7. Dubbing for some people is utter fail. Especially the fellow who agrees to marry Amy is mouthing his dialogue in Hindi (and so is Amy's mum, I suspect), while the words are Tamil. He could've at least chewed gum like Kamal in PKS. -28
8. Santhanam. NO. Glasses suit him, although. meh 
9. Loved the music. Picturisation kinda ruined it for me. Not pookale. +42
10. Not a fan of how Amy used Vikram and then the love following soon after (very predictable). But big fan of how she didn't want to leave him orphaned. (Also, what happened to Vikram's parents and Amy's mum?) +15
11. Could've portrayed the transgender community in better light and not break into the usual making-fun-song-and-dance. They deserve so much better. -56
12. How did Vikram lose his 'galeej' accent all of a sudden and speak polished Tamil and English? -12
13. Upen Patel's face is a minus, but body is a plus. +9
14. Vikram looks hot after makeup (everyone has sung paeans about his acting; I fully agree so not repeating it here) thus proving that men look better with makeup and decent styling. It's only because society doesn't expect them to wear it. (yes I went there) +67
15. Also, no matter how muscular or toned guys are, one doesn't want to see them in thongs at a Mr. Tamil Nadu contest. Neither do we want to see Ramkumar Ganesan (Prabhu's brother) in boxers, topless. I might be partially blind. -53
16. Today, while applying a moisturizing lotion I was slightly, only slightly scared. Sincerely hoping no one's seeking revenge against me. Thank you Shankar, for making the process of applying lotions and creams, frightening. -5 (this point is for me alone)
17. 30 minutes too long and Ennodu nee irundhal could've been axed. -18 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A feminist rant

For a long time now, I've had a bone to pick with the multitudinous beauty pageants in the world and not just because I'm a vegetarian. The thought of judging a person's physical beauty that includes obvious parameters like clothes, sharpness of nose, length and thickness of lips and the ability to come up with ridiculous answers like "I want to be the next Mother Teresa," is convulsing. The desire to become the next Mother Teresa isn’t what’s ludicrous here, it’s the setting that forms an uninviting backdrop — a competition that ranks people based on what they look like and how much restraint they show when a cheese plate is set before them. The presenter is more often than not a tuxedo-clad man who is paid to ask vapid questions that beget answers of the same kind.

Sure, these contests have talent rounds and personal interviews to continually reiterate the fact that they build an ‘all-round development’ of the women who participate, but in reality the ‘all-round development’ the contestants receive is how to be fair (or white, whichever you prefer), how to parade around in skimpy bikinis and how to stay stick thin to win. Think about it. How many plus-sized beauty contest winners actually exist? For that matter, plus-sized contestants even? It’s a little obvious that these contests are just another way to objectify women and hand out prize money depending on how symmetrical their faces are. The essence of this is best captured by Naomi Wolf in The Beauty Myth where she writes that, “A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.”

The reason this topic deserves a tirade is because this week, the Miss World beauty pageant decided to drop the bikini round after 63 years of its existence. Its organiser Julia Morley told Elle magazine that she didn’t need to see women just walking up and down in bikinis, that, “it doesn’t do anything for the woman, and it doesn’t do anything for any of us.” Fair enough. Bikini rounds do nothing for the woman. Then again, when have these contests done anything for women? Of course, it’s a launch-pad for those wanting to get into movies, modelling and other ‘glamorous’ professions, but what does it do for young, impressionable women who are on the precipice of achieving something big and are looking for role-models? It only expects these women to achieve to look a certain way and put pressure on their bodies to have a certain shape — it encourages unhealthy notions of attractiveness. Beauty isn’t a personal thing. Your beauty doesn’t belong to you; it, in fact, belongs to advertisers, fashion houses, diet-food manufacturers, pharma companies, cosmetic companies who all come together to make the confident woman second-guess herself. It’s a patriarchal industry that pageants help thrive. The ones that win pageants go on to become movie stars, models and in turn help endorse redundant products and ideas that susceptible, adolescent women pick up on — that women and their bodies are mere commodities.

Today, feminism is standing at the crossroads but that didn’t stop 2014 from being its year — whether it was Malala Yousafzai being the youngest recipient of the Nobel peace prize, Emma Watson’s gamechanging speech at the UN, a number of women coming forward to accuse Bill Cosby of sexual assaults, Amal Alamuddin going for a trophy husband, the Rohtak sisters who gave a sound thrashing to their harassers… it’s now more than ever that we need feminism — to help us understand that beauty pageants are superficial, have undertones of racial bases and do have an impact of self-image. Because what is feminism but a movement to achieve the equality and full humanity of women and men (Gloria Steinem) and how are we going to do that, if we’re busy judging other women on how they look?

An edited version appeared in The Hindu, MetroPlus.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

No longer valid

They ate more than they went on specific romantic dates.

Between plates of pita and hummus, cheddar cheese and sometimes chocolate chip waffles, glasses of peach iced tea, pavlova or crème brûlée, three cheese and olive wraps, chicken sandwiches and chocolate mousse cakes, they spoke. Of sitcoms, work, food, sex and writing. Of other people at work, of bosses who came and went and of people they both hated. Their days of dating came to an abrupt end like the time when they found a cockroach in a plate of French fries: unexpected and too disappointed to continue.

Just like the food they consumed, relationships too have an expiry date; a date beyond which conversation and companionship becomes stale and unpalatable. Have you had milk beyond it's date? It's sour and curdled. Or cheese, perhaps? It smells, doesn't it?

Relationships are no different, except, maybe the smells vary. If it's not the conversation you run out of, it's the attraction and attachment: one person gets too close for comfort and expresses a desire to take things forward while the other had viewed this as a stopgap all along. Or the other person is 'confused' at what this has become or will become in the near future, and is afraid to venture into the realms of endless possibilities the companionship may offer. In short, everything comes to an end, whether forced or not.

So what's the solution here? Is there a solution at all? Perhaps not. But as one enjoys the company, comfort and the fleeting love that food offers, relationships are quite similar in nature: ephemeral and warm.