Once upon a time, a boy was born. With his entry he earned several labels- Brahmin, Hindu, Mumbaiker, Maharashtrian, Indian, Asian, wealthy, and oh yes, his fate too was decided, “hamara beta Raj bada hoke Engineer banega!” [our son Raj will grow up to be an engineer]
A few days later a girl was born. Her identity too was carved in stone- Shia, Muslim, Karchiwali, Pakistani, Asian, poor, and of course her family ensured that they crafted her destiny as well, as if they were God, “ Munni badi hoke, apne shoher aur bachon ka khyal karengi!” [our daughter will grow up and take care of her husband and children]
And considering this is a Bollywood film, you know there must be some “conflict”. This word is very crucial in mass communication, because without it there is no thrill. So we as a society elevate the term, as if indicating that it is inseparable from human nature. And to many it is reality, and for the many who grow up with Bollywood films, it is the only truth we know.
So getting back to our Raj and Munni story we know that for there to be a story, our protagonists must meet and become lovers. Despite this redundant script, the film will sell because it is based on the India- Pakistan connection or rather disconnection! And let us not forget the other most common cause of conflict in Hindi movies-the gap between the rich and poor. As a big fan of Bollywood, this on-screen conflict is the only type of conflict I enjoy. It is only when we begin to adopt this into our lives, that our minds get fogged by hate.
If our hero and heroine were to get married without any hurdles, it wouldn’t be fun, now would it? But, Bollywood is known for it’s happy endings. Our reality is so far from this. We have more complex conflicts and solving them is not just about reaching out to your opponent and breaking into a dance in the sudden rain or a dance around the trees! If it only was, I would take this super-hit Bollywood model to Palestine, to Israel, to Zimbabwe, to Sudan, to Pakistan, to Afghanistan, to Iran, and bring it here to the US!