Category Archives: Feminism

Movie Review: Shuddh Desi Romance: A Crackling Storyline

Shuddh Desi Romance

By Ankush Kumar

Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Parineeti Chopra, Vaani Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor.

Introduction: ‘Kamine hai re’ This desi romance is no way shuddh but is a crackling film all the way.

Plot: Raghu (Sushant) is a guide, about to get married when he develops cold feet. Enter Gayatri (Parineeti) and they fall in love. Fall out of it, fall in it again. Vaani is the damsel in distress who loses out eventually. Set in Jaipur this movie catches the essence of youth and their confused minds.

Tech Spec: The pink city has turned blue for this one, yet is captured very well. The minutest detailing by Jaideep Sahni is very intriguing in the screenplay. The music has a feel good factor to it and enhances the plot in totality.

Acting: Vaani makes an impressive debut and essays her role with ease, Sushant Singh portrays the role of a rustic guide with elan, but its Parineeti that steals the show. She is vivacious and will leave the audience spellbound with her performance. Rishi Kapoor: Do we say more?

Citizen Kane moments: Many of them but the stand out ones are a jalebi vendor scratching his back with a spoon, or the scene where Sushant cheats neighbors two be the cousin of Parineeti or the scene when they fall in love.

Kela moments: The final clash between Vani & Parineeti is a huge let down.

Brownie points 4 out of 5.

Yashraj stable has reversed the trend. Watch it for the new order that has been established.

Before Marriage Till Marriage!

indian marriage

By Malathy Madathilezham

Man is a social being. This is something, which we have all studied at some point of time. Thus one of the most cruel and effective forms of punishment/ torture meted out to criminals, terrorists, etc. is solitary confinement. The need to communicate and interact is something of the utmost importance to human beings in order to retain their human nature. Self-expression, exchange of ideas and organization are something’s, which we are experts at utilizing for our benefits. Thus we have groups beginning from the family to nations. We have created complex social structures, which compete and cooperate with each other. On the basis of social interactions among human beings spread over time and continents, we have established a wide variety values, norms and rituals that are the foundations of the human society.

The society keeps changing, earlier this change was at a much slower pace. Something’s, which were unacceptable, unpardonable and frowned upon, are now part and parcel of our society and nobody gives a second thought to him or her. Similarly, some accepted aspects of society are now considered a blight on society. Thus change is also an important aspect of human civilization.

This change has also affected the dynamics of men and women. May be some people have enjoyed or suffered these changes more than the other! There are of course extreme situations of women still living in the same age old conditions and bound in tradition or poverty, but in this particular discussion I would not elaborate on that. Feminism, Liberalism, Capitalism and many other ‘isms’ have contributed in parts to this change. So a woman doesn’t look at a good marriage/alliance or domestic life as the only criterion, which makes her life a success. It is definitely still one of the most important things to majority of women but education, career, self dependence, financial independence, an interesting social life are also being counted somewhere on the list.

A fairly well educated woman in her twenties wants almost everything from a good job, a handsome and loving husband, friends, a fun social life, decent salary etc. etc. She doesn’t want to have the life of her mother; she wants it to be better and bigger! Any mention that her gender makes her vulnerable is almost blasphemous. Her semi-liberalism and semi-feminism along with her ego would be a force to reckon with. She is assertive, confident and has her own opinion on everything ranging from fashion to politics. At work she may be ruthless. Efficient, competitive and aggressive she want that corner office to be hers. She looks for true love and romance but at the same time is practical when it comes to decision making…She is becoming more and more demanding it seems… ah and confused too. What is the most important? What is the priority?

Until few years ago, the man was the sole breadwinner of the family. He took on the burden of providing a good life and a better future for his children, at least in financial aspect. A well settled (government) job, a ‘good’ wife along with a sizable dowry would probably make him seem more successful back then. Now look at a twenty or thirty something man, he is equally confused. The father was feared and revered. His appreciation and love, one could only see the glimpses of. He sees his mother, always loving, most probably a housewife. She was the stable rock of his family when his father was busy working or on tours. She is the quintessence of womanhood and selflessness for him. The women his age confuse him. They are his classmates, friends, and colleagues/superiors. Equally aggressive and competitive as men, and given undue advantage at times due to they’re gender. And yet they crib about inequality! Life is becoming tough for him. A simple joke and they get offended!

He is in a reasonably good job and enjoys the weekend parties and stuff. Parents want him to marry, but is he ready for marriage? And demands from the parents of the prospective brides are also high. In addition, the question of whether or not to accept dowry. His ex gf thought he was an MCP with double standards. Yes, it is imperative for him to earn more than his wife, what will his friends and family say otherwise! He wants a workingwoman, but not a career woman. He wants to definitely have a better life than his father, who he thinks had it all easy. The option of changing jobs is open, but with the recession and all, the growth in salary is not worth it. At the same time staying in a company for more than three years may mean stagnation. May be he should go for further studies? Or is it better to get married and ‘settled’ now?

And it is in between all this confusion that suddenly a their families find a good match in each other’s families, backgrounds, etc. Its in a daze that meet each other, ask each other some questions, forgetting the important ones, which  they always wanted to.

‘Do you like her/him?’

‘Yeah she/he is okay. I would like to spend more time though.’

‘Oh sure! You will have all the time after the engagement. We need to fix a date for that though.’

After that its’ a whirlwind… Time passes so quickly .. then engagement, the thousands of calls and SMS’s, each of them trying to impress the other, share as much as possible about themselves, the apprehensions and doubts,etc etc. Then the wedding shopping, planning…

And Voila! The D-day is here. The usual confusion and mayhem prevails during the wedding also… and soon its all over or should I say its all beginning of everything!

Let me not say more now… Just

Wishing them a happy and blissful married life!

🙂

Single Woman In A Village

malathy in a village

By Malathy Madathilezham 

This is the first time I am living on my own in a remote little place in Maharashtra (actually not as remote as some of the other places my travels have taken me.. but yet). This is my first job after graduating from Tata Institute of Social Sciences this March.

All my life I have been travelling. “I have studied in 14 different schools!” is something you will hear me say as part of my introduction. Yeah I know its a bit corny but yet. But all the traveling and living has been in a sheltered and protected manner and largely very comfortable. The culture and way of living mostly urban. I have never experienced rural life until very recently during the course of my two year study and the training that I received in my organisation. I have read enough and more but experiencing it shows how different life in ‘Bharat’ is from that in ‘India’. Even more so being a woman…

No, I am not going on a tirade against gender discrimination here… don’t worry. Just a few points on what I constantly find myself thinking about.

I am really privileged. Yes, I am. My birth has guaranteed me certain success in life even if I am mediocre in my performance. Unless off course I am really stupid or have real bad luck!! I cannot imagine being born a woman in one of these villages. Off course then I would simply be blissful in my ignorance and thankful about whatever I have.

(Lack of) Information is power. This is the game people play here. It is not that there are not enough government schemes, or opportunities to help people. But there is no smooth flow of the information regarding these to those who need it. Illiteracy is not the only reason here. A few people have the monopoly over the access to this information and they try their best to keep that monopoly.

The slow pace of life. Its really slow. In addition, the more you make someone wait, the more important you are. This is the culture here. Getting used to it takes time.

A single woman living (so far) away from her parents and native is a shock for many. “ Even boys will not be so daring!” was a quip by a Gram Sevika when I told her that I am from Kerala. Everyone is curious to know what I am doing here. To add to that curiosity is the fact that I have really short hair right now. So then dealing with the number of questions that a random shopkeeper, autowala or tai on the road can sometimes be simply frustrating! There are days that I don’t feel like going out to avoid this!

I love to cook!! I never thought I would say this but it is true! Yeah am not so organised or planned as my mother but yet I realise that I actually look forward to cooking something different and tasty everyday .

Well that is it for now… Looking forward to more learning and understanding the rural reality…

Ms. Rose Chasm: The Cross Who Double Crossed Us

the cross that double crossed us

Continuing her crusade in India’s defence, Shwetha Kalyanasundaram, brings to you more evidence of why she thinks this entire Ms. Chasm story is a campaign to malign India. A must read. 

A chance comment posted under my article on CNN iReport titled “My India: The Mistaken Story – An Indian Woman’s Perspective” (first published on Mission Sharing Knowledge) caught my attention.

Quoting the person under the pseudonym ‘moonboat’ – “Michela Cross posted a number of videos on YouTube during her trip, including one that gives quite a different account of the Ganesha festival incident she related. In the video, she gushes on about how she loved all the attention and photos being taken of her. In the current circumstances, where her story is being taken as gospel and this story has gone viral, I find the videos are appalling. She also shows herself to be ignorant and disrespectful of Indian culture.”

And this had a bunch of us looking at the videos posted by Ms. Cross on her channel in YouTube. Boy! Weren’t they interesting! And we realized that some of her statements were in total contradiction to her article “India: The Story You Never Wanted to Hear”.

Here’s how…

Her video published on September 29, 2012, where she talks about her experiences at the Ganesha festival

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPu2GmF4Y44

Quoting Ms. Cross from the video

  • “We were grabbed by a bunch of GIRLS who started dancing with us, flashing paint on our faces, which was COOL”
  • “Taking loads of photos of us, I felt like a CELEBRITY. If you wanna feel like a celebrity, be a WHITE person and GO TO INDIA”
  • “We danced for 12 more hours to Bollywood music and we were given lots of food. It was super cool. I felt like I was in a movie”
  • “Fun facts – The Ganesha festival which ended today is…ummm…Ganesha is the God who is prayed to for the start of journeys and travels. I consider it GOOD LUCK”

Wow Ms.Cross! This is so contradictory to what you had put up in your story about the Ganesha festival!!!

Quoting from her article “I was prepared to follow the University of Chicago’s advice to women, to dress conservatively, to not smile in the streets.” However, your video titled “Whipping Boy” published on October 2, 2012 has you saying that your roommate and her friend embarked on an adventure and smiled at the people on the streets!

Didn’t you just break the rules?!? And you say you weren’t prepared for all the stares/glares that sliced away bits of you piece by piece! You brought it on upon yourself – you purposefully drew the locals’ attention on you! And you blame us?!? Preposterous is the word (that would just be an understatement actually!).

There are 6 videos that have been put up by Ms. Cross on YouTube with reference to her India trip – especially her three months of stay in Pune. Surprisingly, none of her videos show signs of struggle or trauma. And you are struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) now?!? I’m no psychiatrist Ms. Cross – but all I can say is you are suffering from a serious bout of “Attention Deficit Disorder”.

Ms. Cross, now I’m really starting to wonder if your whole article “India:  The Story You Never Wanted to Hear” was a sham to tarnish the image of my beautiful country. You’ve taken the entire nation for a highly emotional ride. Your article drew in a lot of support from my fellow compatriots and this pretence of an article is like a slap on their faces. Deplorable act I must say!!

P.S: @Moonboat – whoever you are, thanks a lot for bringing this to our notice. We owe this article to you!

Whats Life: A Play

for malathy's life poem

By Malathy Madathilezham

Life is but a play!

The world’s an arena on display
Everyone’s for the limelight, the glitter
We scheme, we cheat, we act!
Masks Masks everywhere
Lies lies everywhere,
Different types of lies!!!
What is real, what is true… unknown
What is favourable, we deem it the truth
Everyone’s truth is different and flexible
We scheme, we cheat, we act!
Masks Masks everywhere
Lies lies everywhere
Different types of lies!!!
Painted faces, dazzling dresses,and oh what fashion!
Cover up, cover up the ugliness within,
And make us the envy of others!!
We scheme, we cheat, we act!
Masks masks everywhere
Lies lies everywhere
Different types of lies!!!
One wrong act! One true step!
And off you go, the stage is no longer for you!
Only the careful and cunning succeed
We scheme, we cheat, we act!
Masks masks everywhere
Lies lies everywhere
Different types of lies!!!
To survive, join the game quick,
Learn the tricks and the bricks of the trade
Learn to dodge and to play!!
We scheme, we cheat, we act!
Masks masks everywhere
Lies lies everywhere
Different types of lies!!!
  • Mask! (angelfacefoundation.wordpress.com)

Chronicles Of A Mom – To – Be!! Woo Ho!! Part 6

pregnancy

By Shwetha Kalyanasundaram

Phew! I’ve finally touched the halfway mark. And another 20 weeks to go. Time does fly!! The serious rounding of my tummy finally makes the pregnancy feel more like a reality.

Week 16 to week 20 has been interesting, yet again. The little orange (no more a peanut folks!) is growing nicely (touchwood) and is busy practicing its twists, rolls, kicks and punches. Definitely no WWE Dear Husband, if it’s a boy! I’ve had and still going to have enough action inside to last a lifetime. As the baby doll keeps itself busy performing acrobatics inside, there is no better proof that a brand new and remarkably spirited life is evolving within me.

It’s around this time the little one gets to taste whatever I eat. So out goes the green chili sauces (yea, I developed a taste for it over the course of my pregnancy) and in comes everything that’s sweet. Sugar, I’d definitely watch out for you!!!

And hurray, my little one has its own unique fingerprints. Biometrics, we’ll meet you soon!

There’s something about an obvious bulging mid-section that attracts gratuitous advice-givers and you can’t even turn a deaf ear to. I call ‘em old wives’ tales! As much as these tales do have a strong base in facts and some have been scientifically proved, how accurate they are in every child born is still unclear.

One such is providing the baby a head-start by conducting classes in the womb! You heard me right – providing an utero concert and reading great epics and/or classics is going to turn my child into Mozart and a soon-to-be Booker prize winner!!! My my aren’t we being pushy parents even before the baby comes out?!?

Nevertheless, I see no harm providing a uterine environment rich in music and literature; it helps me bond with the little one, much before its first momma cuddle! And it helps having an astounding singer in the family – my Dear Husband! His YouTube music videos do make up for his absence every day and my kid’s jus loving it (and me too, as the baby kicks to the tunes of its father!). And out comes the dusty classics (now dust-free) which I read away to my belly every day.

Boy! This is definitely turning out to be a lot of fun!

Will meet you all soon with updates on the 6th month chronicles.

Au revoir for the moment!!!

Disclaimer: As much as the above experiences are my own, I have definitely referred to my pregnancy bible “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” by Heidi Murkoff and other pregnancy blogs easily available on Google for certain details and reasoning.

Eve Teasing? Are You Kidding Me?

safe_image

By Malathy Madathilezham

Frankly,I take offence to this term eve teasing.. Wikipedia describes this term as a euphemism used in India and Pakistan for sexual harassment or molestation of women by men in public… According to me it just makes light of the inexcusable, immoral and lecherous actions of filthy cowardly men who do not leave an opportunity to humiliate women.

Personally, I myself have undergone and have seen such shameful instances and am proud to say that I have stood up against the insensitive and disrespectful perpetrator(s) of such actions. But more often than not, the woman/girl is ‘advised’ to keep her mouth shut and tolerate such disrespectful actions. What is that prevent women from raising voice against sexual harassment in public? Why are we silent witnesses to the lady standing beside us in a bus or walking on a busy market street getting violated?

Its rampant in India, this kind of public sexual harassment. And sadly, most of us feel that the woman is equally responsible.’ The lady in question is judged on her dress, her mannerisms etc if she dares to raise her voice against the pervert who pinches, fondles, or uses sexually flavored filthy language! The people nearby are more interested in seeing the ‘tamasha’ than intervene and put the perp to task. The sneers, the comments embarrass the lady to no end. Yes there are laws, but more than laws, the attitude of the society, men and women, towards such acts need to be changed.. the term eve teasing should be done away with…

Walking down a street, travelling on a bus, or even partying with friends, the one thought that is always there in the back… How do I prevent myself from being subjected to public sexual harassment? Thus special effort is taken to dodge the hands and legs, dress and act ‘properly’, etc etc but does it spoil the fun or not! So does being a an average woman mean that I need to behave a certain way to avoid being targeted… No!The fact is that, however you behave, dress and wherever you are, whatever time it is… you are at greater risk of being violated just because you happen to be born as a female.

Am I not a free citizen of this country? Why does being a woman make me less free? Why do I have to tolerate the nonsense of the perverted men who want to assert their non existent superiority or sexuality?

Safety Of Women And Self Defense

BE-SAFE

By Malathy Madathilezham 

We are all living in this illusion of safety. That a woman can be attacked and assaulted in the ladies compartment of a train is totally appalling. It shows us the lack of security and safety in our cities. Delhi, even though it is the capital of India, is somewhere I would not want to live in and neither would my parents encourage. Just the  incidents that actually get reported would discourage any woman to go live on her own in the city. But this is closer to home!On 28th January 2011, there was this report in the newspaper claiming that Kochi is safe for women. I sarcastically had retorted that this is because women here do not step out after 7 pm!

If anything this recent tragedy that cut short the life of Soumya only points to the glaring issues that need to be addressed regarding the safety and security of women. The fact that this happened in the Ladies compartment of a train, is ironic and makes us question the kind of security provided.  This struck me as my parents always asked me to avoid sitting in the ladies compartment unless there are a good number of co – passengers. According to them the ladies compartment in the most dangerous one!

Lot of hue and cry is being raised over this incident now. Citizens are agitated and indignant. The politicians are making statements and counter statements.A lot of promises are being made. The media is also giving a lot of hype. But what will change actually remains to be seen. Once this story becomes ‘stale’, will the issue of the freedom of a woman to travel, to even get out of the house at any time of the day remain an important issue? Will the women in Kerala stand up and raise their voice against any kind of exploitation or harassment  faced by them almost on a daily basis? Or will they accuse each other of being the instigating these attacks? I now remember the public signature campaign that our college students’ council against the harassment faced by women while travelling in buses and otherwise. It had generated a mass response from both the local media and the public and a lot of changes were definitely brought about. But even those were short lived and not consistent.

Who is to blame for these kind of attacks on the dignity and safety of women?

The lax attitude of the government?

The society in which such perverted characters are molded?

Ourselves?

How can such attacks be prevented? How can we make our cities safer for women? Multiple responsibilities fall on multiple people.

Let us first talk about ourselves before anyone else.

So how do we ensure our safety, security and keep our dignity? The easiest and most obvious is not to travel alone after a certain time.  But that would only encourage these hoodlums to attack the women who have no other choice but to travel by night. And what if you are attacked when at home or somewhere else?

I have written down some thoughts, which came to my mind

  • Learn some self-defense techniques! It will also boost your confidence.
  • Be alert and aware of people and your surroundings (this is applicable whether it is day or night)
  • Stay with the crowd. Especially at night do not move around deserted areas.
  • Avoid speaking on the mobile phone or do anything which can make u seem distracted.
  • Use a barrier or distance to make an attack difficult. Thus lock your doors!
  • Always carry something, which is easily and quickly accessible to use as a weapon. An umbrella (especially the kalan kuda)! A Pen, a safety pin and don’t hesitate to use it if required!
  • Do not hesitate to scream, shout in case you are being targeted whether overtly or covertly i.e attract attention.
  • If attacked, act quickly and decisively. How to escape or how to fight and incapacitate the attacker needs to be decided keeping in mind the surroundings and the situation.
  • Use your strongest weapons against the weakest targets of the attacker. The eyes, throat,  and groin are the primary targets while the abdomen and face are the secondary targets. Your strong weapons are the bottom of your feet, elbows, hammer fists and palm heels.
  • Stand up for any other woman being harassed or attacked. You also could be in a similar situation!
  • Please do approach the authorities. Do not hesitate to file a complaint. The perverted offenders should not be allowed to move around scot-free.
  • Share your experiences and tips on how to prevent such attacks with other women. Educate them.

These are not in any way an exhaustive list on how to prevent attacks and how to defend/protect yourself. But I hope it has given you some information and insight. If we act meek and submissive the chances of being targeted will only increase and at the same time reckless and reactive action is also not advised. Common sense, confidence and alertness are key to preventing attacks/ harassment and defending yourself.

What the government and railway authorities will or won’t do, we cannot be sure of. But that should not stop us from protecting our loved ones or ourselves.

Real Beauty: Perceptions Differ

beauty and perceptions

By Malathy Madathilezham

One of the definitions of the word Beauty (as given by Merriam- Webster) is the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit. Thus it is related to our senses, our mind and our spirit. This means that real beauty would be different for different people. This is quite obvious when we observe physical concepts of beauty differ in different cultures, races, countries etc. These concepts change with time. Another aspect of this definition of beauty is that these are qualities, which are not necessarily the visual qualities. So anything can be beautiful; music, fragrance, the inherent or developed qualities of a human being.

Let me restrict myself to human beings. In the present scenario, everyone wants to ‘look’ beautiful! A lot of importance is being given to superficial and external beauty. Scientists are coming out with the measurements/ratios of ‘perfect’ or ‘real’ beauty. Plastic surgeons are using these measurements to make people look beautiful. In addition we have the various creams, serums that are supposed to make us look beautiful and then the gyms and fitness clubs. The cosmetics and fashion industry is thriving on the aspirations of millions to match the concepts of beauty that is being ‘sold’ to them through various media. Thus a lot of economic activity is being driven by the ‘want’ to look beautiful. Mine and your want..

But what about ‘feeling’ beautiful? That feeling which does not necessarily come out of how we look. This sense of feeling beautiful depends on our emotional well being, our happiness and human qualities of kindness, empathy and the like. The kind of lifestyle we lead nowadays with all its tensions, pressures is not exactly helping us feel good about ourselves. We lament about the lack of everything but do nothing about improving our situation. We want to look good and beautiful to others, hide our real self beneath this veneer of ‘Beauty’. But how long would this last… thus we have rising problems of depression, burnouts etc. The pressure on us to match up to the ideals of beauty, success, happiness is too much to handle and makes us forget true happiness, our true beauty and ourselves. The external image that we present to others is but a distortion of what we truly are… In the glam and glitter of the world around us, we lose sense of real beauty… and join the rat race of looking beautiful rather than being beautiful.

For me real beauty is within each of us. To discover that beauty within us and within others is truly a gift. Of course, a good dress, or haircut, or a bright nail polish does make me happy but it can only do so much to add to my self-confidence and self-image. What I am, how beautiful I truly am depends on my actions, my thoughts that are again relative and need not be the same for you. Basically there is nothing real… it’s all an illusion… and my illusion differs from yours!! I believe everybody is beautiful in his or her own unique way. So why don’t you sit down and think about what does being beautiful mean to you?

Chronicles Of A Mom – To – Be!! Woo Ho!! Part 5

pregnancy

 

By Shwetha Kalyanasundaram

A new day dawns bright and it’s the first day of my second trimester. First thought – One down, two to go!!!

Over the course of the next 4 weeks, it’s amazing to watch your little peanut grow from the size of your clenched fist to the size of an orange to the length of your palm. Wow really?!? Great delights do come in small packages!

As the little one prepares for a great debut appearance (in a couple of months, that is) and life outside your womb, it’s always interesting to hear and read what the baby is doing inside you (a li’l too early to feel the baby jig as it wiggles its newly formed toes and fingers). Towards the end of this month, Mother Nature teaches the baby to suck its little fingers. Hold on baby orange – it’s mittens for your hands when you’re out!

And finally the BUMP appears. You can no longer pass it off as a stomach after a heavy lunch!

To add to this, the woes of my mother who can’t get her forty winks, thanks to the nocturnal nasal symphony (performed by me, of course! In simple English, it’s snoring). She says it reminds her of an induction motor running. Boy, that can be really disturbing.

Not that I’m a weight watcher; but to see the numbers creep up every time you stand on the scales can be depressing. Sigh, one has to pile up the pounds to support the baby inside you. In my case, according to my BMI, it’s close to 25 pounds. Goodness gracious me! But Vidya Balan – I love you! Thanks to you and definitely Dirty Picture, curvy is in! I’m definitely embracing my new-found curves!!! A high protein diet with the necessary carbs, and not to forget, the goodness from buckets of ice creams – yummy! What’s going on?!? Blame it on pregnancy cravings!

As your wardrobe makes way for new clothes (read: maternity clothes), it’s scary, at first to imagine your cupboard to be filled with ghastly tent-like muumuus to hide your expectant shape. The dread is replaced by excitement when you visit a maternity shop. Today, maternity clothes are very fashionable and practical to wear. I love it!

Though the little one is far from ready to make a personal appearance, it’s really nice to know for sure there’s actually someone in there.

Until next time, goodbye folks!

 

Disclaimer: As much as the above experiences are my own, I have definitely referred to my pregnancy bible “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” by Heidi Murkoff and other pregnancy blogs easily available on Google for certain details and reasoning.