How ‘Baahubali’ Weakens Its Iron Lady


Caution: This post is a rant about the humiliating portrayal of women in Indian cinema.

‘Caution’ because you probably let a horrible interpretation of ‘love’ go in the much-hyped ‘Baahubali’.
Yes. It’s a spectacular movie. But this one scene where Shiva (Prabhas) demonstrates his love for Avantika (Tamannah) is so twisted. It had me fuming.
So Avantika is an accomplished archer, among the most capable of her warrior tribe. She wears sensible war clothes, has her hair tied, no accessories, no make up. She’s brave, intelligent, and everything else a warrior should be. Shiva is strong to the extent that you will consider him super human. He’s the perfect combination of brawns and brains. Ah! Now we have the perfect warrior couple! Or so it seemed, until he decides to make her aware of his presence. She has no clue this dude exists. He paints her wrist when she’s asleep, and almost makes her lose her chance at fighting for her tribe in doing so. He paints her arm next, and she’s so enraged she tracks him down and confronts him. What’s wrong? What’s wrong is what comes next.
She’s so furious she wants to kill him. Okay… But isn’t our hero super strong? He could have taken the sword from her and defended himself. But no. He decides to sweet-talk. He asks her what she is at heart. He goes on to explain that she’s a ‘woman’. Like saying, a woman doesn’t get to be brave, and fight for what she believes in. I expected Avantika, busy woman that she is, to snap at the moment he delivers the “you’re a woman” line, and if not slit his throat, at least walk away. But this is our typical Indian movie. Our hero realises he can’t talk her into it and decides to show his strength finally. But how? He loosens her hair, strips her, turns her attire into a skirt (you see, its ‘feminine’), crushes berries to paint her eyelids and lips. To put it in a nutshell, he was forcing his notion of femininity on her. “This is what a woman should look/dress/act like”, the act screams. Now, any girl would fight hard to escape such a beast. If this isn’t molestation, what is? And how did the makers even think of calling this romance?
To her credit, Avantika puts up a fight. But after the barbarian is done abusing her, she catches her reflection in a water body, is mesmerized by the transformation, and turns bashful. He snatches the moment and professes his love for her, and she doesn’t pause to think before lapsing into a romantic duet with him.

Some of you might think I’m making a big deal out of a trivial thing. That the movie is so amazing and that I should let go of this bit. But, just think. India is a movie-crazy country. It is also a country where most of the men feel a sense of entitlement towards their womenfolk. And we have a loooottt of impressionable minds. Young things that mindlessly imitate their on-screen heroes. Shouldn’t our film makers be more responsible? The message that scene was sending across as it unfolded, according to me, is that women enjoy being harassed. That when a woman says ‘no’, it means ‘yes’. Or, molesting her wins you brownie points. In short, the scene says, if the girl doesn’t see what a badass alpha male you are, force yourself on her and make her submit. No, no, no, no, no!!!

It’s high time we educate our boys that when a girl says no, it’s a no. That she has her own mind and can think for herself, just like him. And movies are a good place to start.

EDIT (5th Sept, 2015):

A lot of men who read this are upset. One even went so far as to call me a misandrist. My, my, my…

“You underestimate Indian males’ intelligence!” one angry (I had no clue that people apart from the ones who know it exists, actually read this blog. Score? :P) soul commented.

For the record, I do NOT underestimate “Indian males’ intelligence”. Am all for equality. If Tamannah and Prabhas were to switch roles in that “romantic” scene, I’d still find it voyeuristic. I’d still be enraged.

And for those of you who think my view about the maturity of Indian film goers is baseless, take a moment to read this article that appeared in The Hindu.

The Tall and Short of It

“You’re too tall!”, she told me in a rather indignant tone. Like my height offended her or something.

Err…. Was I supposed to apologise? She was probably an inch shorter than me. And that seemed to make all the difference! Ha ha ha! I had no idea what to do. I simply didn’t get it. 1.68 m ain’t such a bad thing! I had joined work only then, and this was one of the many comments my height had started drawing from a bunch of colleagues in my former workplace. Here are some more, for your amusement:
“You shouldn’t wear heels… You’ll look taller!”
“Why are you buying heels? (offended tone again. And I was just admiring this rather beautiful pair of black stilettos.) You are tall already!”
“You shouldn’t wear capris… They don’t look good on tall people.”
“Your parents are going to have a tough time finding a groom for you.” 
“Your height is the ideal height for a guy and not for a girl.” (I got that from a guy).
“You probably look thin because of your height. If you were my height, you’ll be obese.” 
I learnt that, as is the expectation in any other respect, the Indian female cannot afford to be above average, even height-wise!
Some people who are not your height will keep commenting on it. They obsess about it! What you take for granted, will be something they want to talk about every time they bump into you. It’s like the missing tile they never knew existed until they met you. And somehow telling you that your height is your undoing seems to make them feel better about themselves. I had never given my height a thought until these people started talking about it. Funny, ain’t it?
Coming to think of it, I am not ashamed of my height. It’s what I am! If you’re tall, great! You get to experiment with your wardrobe, and you can never go wrong 99.9% of the time (unless Bappi Lahiri is your fashion icon). You can go to concerts and not lose sight of the stage. People look up to you (pun intended).  Heck, you intimidate men!
In conclusion, if you are labelled “too tall”, don’t you break your head about it!
Take heart in the fact that you won’t get lost in the folds of flowy dresses!
GIFs flicked from The Gif Hunter.
And no, I am not equating myself with Deepika Padukone. I used her GIFs because she was probably told at some point of time that she’s slender only because of her height and that she’d be obese if she were short. 😛

A Bangalore Autowala’s Invoice

I moved to Bangalore in 2011, and was pleasantly surprised when I saw that wherever I took a rick to in the city, I had to pay only metre fare. For someone who hails from Chennai, this was Paradise!! Little did I know that that was exactly why I had to pay metre fare: I was travelling in the city. After a while I moved into my aunt’s home in Whitefield. And autowalas there seldom used the metre. Outskirts, you see. I had to rely on these opportunists-by-birth more than I was ready to, as my workplace is a good 16 kms away from there and I had to switch three buses to get there.  When I later moved to Koramangala, I discovered to my dismay that you had to pay one and a half times the metre fare if you wanted to take an auto rickshaw to anywhere, after 9 PM (until then I had been paying for my rides through my nose anyway, so I didn’t care). And if you happen to be in what is “city” as per the auto fellow’s map of the Garden City, and the time on your watch is far away from 9 PM, there are these other extra charges the auto guy would like you to pay for his esteemed service:

“Ippathu/Hathu rupai extra kodi.”
Translation: “Pay an extra twenty/ten bucks.”
When is this line used? Mornings, when he thinks you are in a hurry to get to wherever you are heading to. You pay an extra 20 bucks just to reach somewhere on time. Or maybe because you don’t speak Kannada, and he is hoping you will mistake “ippathu” which means “twenty” for “hathu” which means “ten” (happens to a friend of mine on a regular basis). Or maybe he’s having a case of severe acidity and the misfortune of not robbing an IT employee of those golden 10 bucks will aggravate his suffering.

“Metre double aagathe… Vaapas kaali barbeku”
Translation: “You will have to pay double the fare.. I won’t get a ride on the way back.”
He essentially means that he won’t get a “savaari” after he has dropped you at your destination. So you get to pay him for the ride he (supposedly) would never get. You pay him double the actual fare (sob, sob) and end up feeling like a saint… Or… A pauper. Oh, and he will get a bakra on the way back. You should just let the guy go. There’s always another auto guy waiting to rob you, and they all have different slab rates. And temperaments. Trust your negotiation skills!

“1000 Rupees kodi… “
That doesn’t require a translation. I swear these people do that. This happens in the wee hours of the morning. And for shorter distances, the minimum fare is 100 rupees. Not convinced? Try this:

  1. Get down at Madiwala from an early morning Chennai-Bangalore bus
  2. Talk to them in Hindi/Tamil/anything that is not Kannada
  3. Tell them you want to go to Race Course Road
  4. Voila! They will ask you to pay 1000 bucks. Or more!!

“150 kodi… “
 If you look shocked at the cruelty…
“U-turn thago baeku…” (the humble, trying-to-reason-with-you tone)
Because taking a U-turn causes physical and psychological stress to the autowala. He actually goes in for a week of therapy with the psychiatrist specifically appointed for such cases by the auto guys’ association. The U-turn charge is always 50 bucks over and above the metre fare.

“Sakkath jam aagidhe… 20 rupees extra kodi…” 
Translation: “Too much traffic jam. Pay me an extra 20 bucks.”
Usually brought up mid-journey and obviously when stuck in traffic, this one’s the easiest to shoot down. You need to puff up like an angry owl and glare at him while reproaching him for asking you to pay extra after you got in. Somehow it hits a nerve and almost always they decide to drop the negotiation and stick to the originally agreed-upon fare, albeit looking like a kid whose candy has been snatched away.

“Whitefield ah? :O”
If you get asked this question, know that you are going to pay all the aforesaid charges. Anywhere outside the auto guy’s “city” limits is a nightmare for him. “Ashtu dhoora hogbeku madam” (We have to go so far); please check your wallet and make sure you don’t have to look for an ATM once you get off the auto!

(Image flicked from here.)

Life Lessons from People on Paws

“No! Snoopy! Come back!”, I heard my aunt’s exasperated-cum-panicky voice in the darkness.
Snoopy, our Australian Silky Terrier, had managed to wriggle his way out of the very-slightly opened door and was now running as fast as his tiny paws would let him, towards me. I had opened the gate to let myself in by then, and it was left to my non-existent agility to close it on time, and Snoopy-distraction skills to make him forget he was not on a leash and that his Great Escape was only a few bounds away.

“Snoopy! Don’t you want a treat?”, Vidya, his caretaker, tried to trick him into stopping. He slowed down to a trot, ears flopping, but spared not more than a glance in her direction before quickly speeding up and covering the distance between us. Meanwhile, I had managed to step on to the driveway and close the gate.
“You took ages to close that gate.”, my aunt commented reprovingly. “What if he had run outside? And it’s so dark! We wouldn’t have been able to find him!”
I narrowed my eyes at her and was about to give a scathing comeback, when Snoopy gave a single woof to call for attention. I paused to look at him, and the moment of irritation vanished. For there he was sitting, eagerness and excitement barely contained. For me, Snoopy is irreplaceable. I have learnt so many invaluable life lessons from him. Here are a few:

1. When it comes to loving someone, you give without expecting to receive
He’s happy to see you, would wait for you at the door everyday, at least for an hour until   you get back from work. So what if you are not in a mood to play with him? He can always sit on the porch and watch butterflies! He loves you, after all.

2. Do not hold grudges against someone for more than a day
He would sulk if he saw you playing with the neighbour’s dog or feeding that stray cat who always throws him contemptuous looks, but he will also come around in no time.

3. Ask and you shall receive
He loves everything that he eats to bits, it has made me wonder many a time how anyone can find so much pleasure in eating. We feed him carrots, a meat stick, and a bowl of tea every morning. If we forget one of these menu items, he would bark at you, make sure you stop what you are doing, and feed him before you get back to business.

4. Sometimes, people just need you to be there for them
He can gauge people’s moods well. He will sit next to you when you’re sad, and stare into space while you are contemplating life. And if you’re very sad, he’d curl up on your lap or nuzzle you. And just like a hug from a best friend, it instantly makes you feel better.

5. Priorities
When he’s in his attention-seeking mode, he would grab something off the racks, and shred it. Or he would get on to the dining table and try to lick that yummy dessert off a guest’s plate. But when I say “Bye, Snoopy!” in a cheerful tone start walking to the door, he abandons his tantrums and rushes to me. And when he realises I was just bluffing, he’d lick my face. Sometimes it feels like it’s his way of saying, “You want attention? I give attention!”

6. Punctuality
Snoopy has learnt that when my alarm clock rings, I wake up. So every morning, if the alarm has stopped ringing and I still haven’t gotten out of bed, he’ll get on to the cot and lick my nose to wake me up. And on weekdays, if I haven’t gotten myself out of the house by 8.15 AM, he’ll start barking at me, as if to say, “You’re running late! You’ll miss the bus!”

7. Being a good friend
He would be your silent companion when you’re taking that lazy stroll on a cold night, and sometimes you will have to be his hyperactive playmate during walks meant for him. He even plays hide-and-seek with the caretaker: he turns his back to her and waits until she hides herself and says, “Snoopy, find me!”
He would then scamper around the house, rushing from room to room, and sometimes check people’s laps and under chairs, frantically looking for her…

“Woof!” Snoopy’s bark broke my train of thoughts. He was still waiting for me to greet him.  
“Hey Snoopy!”, I said in a sing-song voice.
He lifted his forelegs in reply. He is so adorable! Everyone should have a Snoopy in their life.



You can get in touch with Snoopy here.

Maybe you’re born with it!


Source: Google | MakeOver Photo Editor


So we had this Fashion Week at the office recently. Each day you had to dress up for work based on a particular theme. Denim Monday, Retro Tuesday, “Back-to-school” Wednesday, Tapori Thursday, and Party Friday. I have never done this before, and I do not believe I will get to do it again, so I grabbed the opportunity. Impulsive, yes I am.

I do admit it was fun…. except for the makeup bit. Applying and removing the makeup each day was such a Herculean task, I wonder how women do it every day! 
And yes, I wondered that out loud to my gal pals the week after, without knowing I was saying something bordering on politically incorrect. That comment of mine triggered a series of reactions from them:
“Are you even a girl?”
“What sort of a girl doesn’t like dressing up?”
“You don’t like makeup? Seriously?”
“Manufacturing defect!” *smirk*
This reaction takes the cake:
“You should have been born a guy!”
These people didn’t even give it a thought before uttering those words. The sad part is, this is not considered as insensitivity. I don’t blame them. They are a part of the vast majority that holds tons of presumptions and notions of what a woman should think and act like. And the majority is not always right. At least not in this case. India can be a funny society. Or maybe it’s not just India. It’s the world. A world that teaches its inhabitants that shallowness is cool. A world that judges a woman right from her birth, purely on the basis of her looks. A world that has its media endorsing ways to hide your flaws rather than embrace them. A world that teaches you to be insecure about your looks, and seeks reassurance in chemical concoctions: BB creams for even skin tone, mascara and eyeliner and kohl and eyeshadow and eyelash curlers (phew!) for captivating eyes, bronzer for that glow…. 
Women are being made to believe that all you need to do to accomplish anything, is to look good.
So a “woman” is equated with that creature who spends time, energy, and money on coating her face with makeup and styling her hair; a “woman” can never be that person who always wears a smile and lets the wind play with her hair. 

Why I don’t bother using makeup

 It does feel good to look good. I totally agree. It’s just that I’m wired differently. To prefer feeling comfortable over having to spend hours in front of a mirror.

All those remarks you read earlier… I’ve been hearing them all my life. Luckily, I grew more determined to stay this way with each such remark. And I do not regret this decision. I never have, I never will. And this is why:
1. Why would I waste time applying makeup before my day begins, when not doing it allows me extra sleep time? And just imagine how early you can go to bed when you don’t have clumps of mascara to remove? I’ll never sacrifice sleep for something as silly as makeup!
2. I am happy with my messy hair, though I do admit I have had difficulties managing it. But I will never, ever turn it into something that it wasn’t by nature. I’ve had my weak moments when a bunch of people have convinced me to get a different style, and after each such episode, I realised how much more I love my natural tresses rather than the ironed, blow-dried tortured version.
3. I’m perfectly okay with looking unsophisticated if sophistication means wearing ridiculously high heels. I’d rather have happy feet, than sore ones.
4. I love jeans and a t-shirt. Yes. To me, this is the most comfortable clothing a woman can ever wear. Try it. Sarees, salwar kameez, dresses, skirts…. Nope, for me, they can never provide that comfort factor. And I sure don’t get worried about wardrobe malfunction when I wear them.
5. Doing the jazzing up only occasionally, helps you appreciate how much you don’t have to do each day!
If you still have doubts about what a “woman” is, I’ll proceed to enlighten you on what makes you a female: it’s a pair of chromosomes: XX. Yes, See? It’s simple. Not MAC, but XX. I got those, so I’m female. If you got those, you’re female too!

I hope I haven’t burst your bubble.
I’ll conclude with this beautiful quote:

Consider the fact that maybe…just maybe…beauty and worth aren’t found in a makeup bottle, or a salon-fresh hairstyle, or a fabulous outfit. Maybe our sparkle comes from somewhere deeper inside, somewhere so pure and authentic and REAL, it doesn’t need gloss or polish or glitter to shine.” 

― Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…

You have been roaming around in the sun, haven’t you?
You were so fair as a kid… Whatever did you do to get this dark?!
It’s okay…. You may not be fair, you still look pretty!
Wait… Take an umbrella… You don’t want a tan, do you?

Sounds familiar, eh? You are probably on the receiving end of such comments, or people around you are. Any place with huge human gatherings will have this crowd. I call them the “Fairness Metres”. They are mostly old-aged/middle-aged and, it pains me to say this, women. The moment they spot a girl whose parents/grandparents/aunt/uncle/great grandfather they know, they immediately start analysing her looks, with an emphasis on her skin tone. These Fairness Metres love doling out tips to make your skin lighter. They are also, I suspect, the masterminds behind the concept of “Bride-with-wheatish-complexion”. “Wheatish”? Seriously?! To the uninitiated, a bride with “wheatish complexion” will probably mean a bride who has slathered her skin with wheat flour. Initially I was startled, wondering why it is such a wrong thing to not be fair-skinned. But then, you kinda get used to it.

I have always wondered why Indians are obsessed with fairness. Is it because during the British Raj, when we were slaves to the whites (colour again!), people somehow started relating affluence, authority, and superiority with a light skin tone? Is it because worldwide, white has been used as a symbol of purity and goodness, while black has been used to depict evil (even the Indian movies of the ’50s and ’60s would depict the hero’s evil twin as dark-skinned)?

Oh wait…. I think it started with Snow White’s step mum. She had to attempt to murder her step kid because she was a few tones fairer than herself! If only Ponds had come up with their White Beauty back then, Snow White would probably have a step mum who hallucinated that a sickeningly sweet-smelling, pink cream was making her skin lighter with every application.

What I find most amusing is that many of my fair-skinned friends use fairness creams. They smother their faces with these creams as much as my dark-skinned friends. It probably stems from the need to fit in with the peer group. Indians are very complex people, aren’t we? 🙂

We are the only people on Earth who have a problem being comfortable in their own skin. Literally. I mean, look at the money these fairness cream guys are making! Apparently Indians spent more money on fairness creams than on Coca Cola last year!

I have a few questions to all of you out there who use skin products for lighter skin:

  • Do these creams really have an effect on the skin? I have seen women using Fair & Lovely for ages with no effect whatsoever
  • How difficult is it to comprehend that your skin tone is decided by the melanocytes inside your skin, and not by creams that you apply on the outside?
  • Fairness cream ads will tell you you’ll get to marry a guy who rejects you because you are dark-skinned. They will tell you that you need to use their creams to land that dream job, your qualifications and skills be damned. You are probably buying the creams to look fairer, but in effect you are validating the kind of ads they make: Why would you let someone make business out of something they want you to believe is your insecurity? 
  • Fair & Handsome? Really?! You should take a look at the Mills & Boon heroes. The heroes are invariably tall, dark, and handsome. Dark. Copy that?
  • In the ads, Virat Kohli, SRK, and Surya looked better before they used the fairness creams, didn’t they?

All you dark-skinned people out there, if you’re using these fairness products, throw ’em out. Dark is beautiful, too. Imagine how the world would look if these fairness creams actually worked! Your skin, like everything else about you, is a gift of Mother Nature. Revel in it. Go out in the sun. Forget the umbrellas and stoles. Let the sunlight kiss you. If you don’t think that’s a benefit, think about the amount of time it saves when you’re getting ready for work/college, if not anything else 🙂

And hey! Always wear that smile! Happy is the new beautiful/handsome!