Growing up in Poona, while in school and college, most of us did not have phones at home. A neighbor on our floor had a phone, they were rich. My best friend had a phone, her father had an important job. Another friend had a phone in her family’s shop, we often went there to make calls and stopped to talk to her uncle and cousin and father.
Come evening, we would walk over to a friend’s home, and take our chances with meeting them. When we had something important to say, or when one or the other of us went away, we wrote letters to each other. Sometimes a boyfriend would call at my neighbour’s house, and we would conduct our love chatter under inquisitive eyes. But mostly, we rarely ever called each other, and of course, we did not have the internet.
Yet, I don’t think I have lost a single friend or lover in all these years, because I did not know where they were. People usually fell out of our lives, because we lost interest in them, or we drifted apart mentally, or we could not handle each other’s demands on our emotions. Sometimes we stayed away because that was the only right thing to do.
And then along came the internet and cellphones and Face Book, and here we are surrounded by people, some of whom we are desperate to lose.
How then can one conceive of a romance that thrives on two lovers losing each other because they do not have the sense to find each other? In the criss-crossing of Harry and Ayat’s paths over 10 years, there seems to be a deliberate desire to lose the other, or how else could one misplace the other’s geographical location?
Beneath the wrappings of romance, there is a fatalistic desire for failure, perhaps. The wrapping are all there, mustard fields, noisy Punjabi wedding, the rain, ball room dancing (oh my God!), love letters, but these remain cliches, as detached from the film as is the background of terror, ranging from Kashmir, to Mumbai, to America, to Ahmedabad.
In the early days of video, backgrounds were chroma-ed onto blank green screens, but unless the characters in the foreground were lit up properly, the background and foreground remained forever separated, sometimes etched with lines, to complete the alienation.
In Pankaj Kapur’s ‘Mausam’, there is the same feeling of alienation. He wants to tell us a love story, but does not want us to be involved in it.
And how does one get involved with the romance between two characters who are so monochromatic, so silent?
Shahid Kapur and Sonam Kapoor seem locked up in separate rooms, both with multiple mirrors. In these they see only themselves, and it seems impossible that they can know love. This self-reverie is evident in Shahid Kapur’s strut, in Sonam Kapoor’s simpering. When they look at each other, all you can see in the poses they hold and in their eyes is, ‘look how beautiful, look how handsome I am, don’t you love me?’
Coming out of the theatre, the steps are crowded with couples, huddled close to each other. A few people who are alone, are cooing over the phone, oblivious of the noise levels in the mall. I say, “You could pick out any couple from here, and they would have a more interesting love story to tell.” My young friend, Nam says, “You could pick out the most arranged marriage in the world, and they would have a beautiful love story to tell.”
Like Nam says, “I mean seriously, like, I mean literally.”