(MONOJIT LAHIRI reflects on Valentine's Day the troubled state of ishq, pyar, mohabbat and bhalobashi in these consumer-driven times)
Globalisation! Consumerism! Woman empowerment! Male menopause! Metrosexual! Amidst the mind boggling clutter of new signposts and indices - symbolising the alpha and omega of new-age life and living - has that one single emotion that (ostensibly) rules our lives - romance, love, emotion - been shoved to the back-burner, given short-shift, put aside in a box labeled LATER, and generally forgotten until its amazing, miraculous and life-transforming attributes gently makes its appearance and shows us what celebrated jackasses we've been, all along?! In the hurly burly of living life king-size, have we forgotten that money can't buy us love? That status, position, power and prestige can open the gateways to a world of luxury BUT romance … ? Naah! Because romance comes from the heart - not the wallet, dumbo! Because arrogance, conceit and superciliousness born out of material wealth, [unfortunately] works as a lethal smokescreen in viewing real-life joys powered by primal human values which, in comparison, make the filthy, rich look like "bhikaris" - alienated, isolated, living in a false world peopled by fakes, phonies, opportunist and hawkeyed on-the-make sycophants always ready to jump ship the moment turbulent- times arrive!
The local wit, irrepressible in both wisdom and black comedy pipes in. "In today's world, boss, love is more of a time-pass and transaction than emotional connect. Consumerism is constantly hammering out its messages of a one-dimensional, homogenous world where uniformity is all - where Ash Sush, John, Hrithik Salman are the iconic role-models of looking good and feeling hot! Where Botox, facelifts, transplants and other devices to freeze-frame time age and be the eternal youthful man/woman are the ruling diktats of the aspirational gang (scarily and ominously) comprising the gigantic middle class and spread across the length and breadth of the land. Where's the time or need for love, yaar?"
While it's a frightening indictment of the state of love, luckily not all agree. "I think it's a way-out, cynical and over-the-top take on love and I beg to differ" says a passionate young executive Shruti Tandon, working in a multinational. She believes that like life, its about "props that you may or may not be influenced by, depending on your sensitivity quotient." There will always be people who are rooted, realistic pragmatic and who will [for example] view a full moon more as a future travel destination than that orbed maiden with fire laden whom mortals call the moon … you can't fight human mindset and responses, right ? So it really depends …for every dumb, boring and unromantic nerd, there is always the passionate and madly romantic type, trust me!"
Has the new consumerism and globalisation bimari contributed to de-valuing romance… Has Rakhi Sawant and Mallika Sherawat [gasp! pant!] replaced the Nutans, Madhubalas, Waheedas … even Madhuris as top-of-the-mind romantic hotties? Guffaws a noted film critic - "You mean wet dreams, huh?!" She gets serious. "Never! Nutan Sunil Dutt in SUJATA, Raj Nargis in AWARA, Dilip Madhubala in MUGHAL-E-AZAM, Dev Waheeda in GUIDE … even Rajesh Sharmila in AMAR PREM, Amitabh Rekha in SILSILA, Sharukh Madhuri in DIL TO PAGAL HAI, SRK Kajol in DDLJ … no, romance can never die - and these films are living, breathing examples. Images, perceptions and symbols may change but - even in the age of IPOD BOTOX - nothing on planet earth can be as cataclysmic as love! Its simple. As long as we have a heart to feel and a mind to think … love will find a way to engage, enlighten, enrich and empower.
"So there's hope for the [endangered species?] four letter word, guys!