The desi sense of humor is an expat.
Let me vent on a topic that hits close to home: the sense of humor as employed by Bollywood; rather the lack of sophistication in it. And as it is I blame the lack of maturity of us as a people for this as I think that is what our movies reflect.
You see, I sincerely believe that you can learn a lot about a person, a nation and a culture by what they feel is worthy of their smiles. And let’s face it – nobody likes to be laughed at. We all love to be laughed with. So considering that I squarely belong in a few groups that are taught in our culture that they should be getting used to being made fun of, it is no surprise that this is a sticking point for me.
I am totally open to the idea that as an expat of about a decade, maybe I am out of touch with the India of today; the India of now. But considering that I felt the same way about this issue in my younger, intensely patriotic days, I hardly think my distance from the homeland is at work here.
I recently picked ‘Dil to Bachcha hai ji’ to watch on hulu+. Considering that Ajay Devgan is an actor I can respect and that I’ve usually liked most of his movies in the last 10 years, I figured I was safe in this choice.
So so many holes in the humor for a purportedly comedy movie.
But instead of listing it all out, let me focus on two things that were right up there.
Impossible to ignore is the gay guy that has lately become indispensible in desi movies. There is something very coy about desis talking about sexual orientations. Not been able to say ‘gay’ without a smirk, a blush and a giggle. Quite adolescent really. And of course it is all about the gay guy. Lesbians are non-existent. Or they are simply categorized as the butch woman who is not a true woman because she does not simper and sway or drop pallus and hence deserves no male attention. Maybe that is why we haven’t been able to figure out this simple fact about ‘the gays’: they might like people of their own sex but by no means are they less discerning about who will receive their attentions than anyone else. A gay guys is no more likely to hit on every single guy he sees on the streets than the average straight guy is likely to hit on every single woman on the streets.
Now moving onto the point that hits home. Squarely so. Overweight women. Obviously objects of ridicule (and they might as well resign themselves to their fate) and a blight on the face of female humanity, they have been persistently used as props in desi cinema. Thankfully, we have moved on from the days of the lovely Guddi Maruti. Really, she was quite lovely and had an awesome presence. But all for naught for her weight obviously overshadowed everything else.
Nowadays it’s more subtle. But it is there all right. The sneaking shadow of a smirk that can only come when seeing an overweight woman. Somehow overweight men don’t inspire the same amount of mirth but they, too, have had their share of the limelight.
Coming back to our movie of the day – DTBHJ. The mature, older man is getting divorced. Having successfully navigated his way out of the clutches of the predatory woman lawyer, he finds himself drawn to the young, nubile new thing in the office. At the end of the day, he sits in his car, wondering if he should offer a ride to young thing standing outside the work place. Before the guy can work up the gumption to do so, Casanova swoops in on his bike and carries away the damsel. As our guy watches them ride away, enters the slightly overweight unimportant girl from the office simpering as she asks her ‘sir’ for a ride. He absentmindedly, and rather irritably I might say, nods and she gets into the car.
And that is where we decided we could stop the movie. Granted there were no obvious jokes about this. But I really wanted to slap the next person that waxed eloquent on how our culture is so deep and the western cultures are so superficial and shallow. Really? Let’s be serious and take a good long look in the mirror. When it comes to choosing mates we Indians are amongst the shallowest, most superficial and most cruel people on earth. Nobody wants to see if the slightly shorter, stockier or less fair of the girls is actually a lovely person who will bring smiles and love into the house. Nope. She has to be tall slim and fair and ‘homely’ (that’s another post another day).
Please – young India. I have begun to notice that people are no longer choosing mates based on their looks and biodatas. Lets keep this up and find the right person and not just the right face.