“Was ist los, meine schatz? Is something wrong?” I enquired as my girlfriend clutched my hand, snuggled up to me and placed her head gently on my shoulders. I swear I heard a sob somewhere and immediately knew it was her as the tears trickled down her cheek and seeped in through the fabric of my Ich liebe Deutschland T-shirt
On screen, Shahrukh Khan immersed the ashes of his dead grandfather in the ocean, while Deepika Padukone looked on with her empathy-filled, kohl-rimmed eyes. Standing against the setting sun radiating yellowish hue, he emptied from the pot, what remained of his dadaji, into the undulating waves and watched the grey matter getting one with water. He shed tears, bit his lips, and gave his famous face-eyebrow-twitch to the camera. All his emotions reminded me of a time when I suffered from a particularly bad case of constipation.
“Kuch Kuch hota hai Rahul, tum nahi samjhoge” she whispered, trying her best to replicate the emotions of this hindi movie dialogue in her German heavy accent. It seemed rather eerie to me that a German girl would enunciate those line so effortlessly but completely rob them of their ingenuity.
I sniggered and cuddled up to her, “Baby, I love you and all, but one question: WHO the fuck is Rahul?”
“Ooops… My BAD!! I guess I am too much into the movie. Kuch Kuch hota hai Shuby, tum nahi samjhoge!” she corrected herself, this time with an extra emphasis on tum nahi samjhoge which made her German accent thicker. A naughty smile spread across her face.
I liked it when she called me Shuby. She had this habit of giving weird nicknames to people depending upon her relationship with that individual. Shuby sounded the most sane in her long list of nicknames for me like koalabaer and kaninchen to name a few. At least, it was but only a minor aberration of my first name.
She sat up, wiped off her tears and got back to watching the movie as Shahrukh and Deepika Padukone jived to the tunes of Kashmir main tu Kanyakumari in the endlessly fascinating verdant meadows and tea estates of Munnar Hill.
“But why were you crying? Is everything all right?” I pressed her hand, to show my best expression of concern.
“Oh.. that scene made me so emotional. The sunset, the waves, SRK and his love for his grandfather. It was all so intense!!” She replied, still holding on to the wet tissue.
“Are you serious?” I shot back, my eyes growing to twice its size in disbelief. “You were crying for that stupid shit!! SRK looked as if he needed to fart really bad. Deepika looked like she smelled that ‘so-hot-it-burns-nose-hairs’ fart.
Plus, this movie is called Chennai Express. The only thing the director seemed serious about while making the movie was to make several hundred lungi clad, non-madrasi speaking, gold chain wearing madrasis look cool.”
“Oh shut up! You are so insensitive. You know that I love Bollywood, and that SRK is the ‘other’ love of my life.. I cried my eyes out when I saw him die in Kal Ho Na Ho”, she snapped back as I could see tears welling up her eyes again.
“I could never understand that either. You and your love for Bollywood. You are so GERMAN in everything else. How can you like Bollywood and its crazy histrionics” I blurted out and immediately knew I was in serious trouble. I should have never initiated that debate.
“Entschuldigung….Would you care to explain that Herr Sinha? Being so GERMAN?” She was staring directly into my eyes now, with a look so confrontational that it would put to shame the battle scenes between He-who-must-not-be-named and the little kid with a lightening bolt scar on his forehead.
“From Shuby to Herr Sinha” I thought to myself, “She is mad at me. REALLY MAD”. One look at her and I understood that she expected a logical answer to my German wisecrack. That we were in a movie theatre where people are not supposed to have debates on culture and values was an issue sitting on a back burner right now.
“Well…..”, I started with measured conscientiousness. I knew that any statement having even a wee bit of a racial undertones about Germany would mean a
broken head long-ish sermon from her about racism, sexism, humanism, feminism, terrorism, alcoholism, allomorphism after our session of making love later that night. Not that I completely hate such sermons, but let’s just say that I would rather enjoy a cigarette in the aftermath of that calorie-burning workout.
“… What I meant with you Being so German was that you guys are so structured in your life. Everything here is so formal, so correct and at the same time, so weird. Courteousness seems like an essential requirement while apnapan is an alien concept. The cashier guy at the bistro, where I am a regular now, would unfailingly wish me a Guten Morgen every morning or a Gesundheit every time I sneeze, but I still cannot take udhaar from him, like I can back home. I might be very good friends with a lot of Germans, but I can never turn up at their homes unannounced. Spontaneity is frowned upon here, and elaborate planning is a skill everyone seems to be born with. Rules are rarely broken and jugaad can very well lead you to being disowned by the society, much like if you ask such silly questions as ‘What’s so special in a schwenker?’ Couples end their relationship over issues like why dry garbage was not separated from wet garbage.
With that kind of meticulous social fabric in place, I find it rather amusing that you guys LOVE Bollywood cinema, which essentially follows the dictum ‘Fuck Rules, Yeah!!’. Where a couple breaks into a song with 50000 other people who always know the right steps. Where people go orgasmic if the hero talks about undying love, imperishable friendships, marriages being made in heaven, karvachauth and Pehla pyar pehla pyar hota hai. Our movies are so full of out-of-sequence emotions, out-of-place dance routines, and out-of-plot storylines, but we still like that because in India, sab chalta hai. But not here in Germany. That’s why I never get why Germans like our movies. Tell me, what do you find appealing in a terminally ill Shahrukh lying on a hospital bed trying to convince his girl that she should choose another man for the sake of ‘love’, while his face tells me that he is undergoing colonoscopy right at that moment?”
I finished my rant and realised that I spoke too much and for too long, with severe racist overtones. There was a moment of awkward silence between us. I looked at the screen and saw Shahrukh getting beaten up by a bunch of lungi clad mobsters. I imagined my fate being similar to his, later that night when we would return home.
“Ok, first of all, thank you ruining that movie for me” she started in hushed tones as people around us were seemingly annoyed with our incessant chatter. “Secondly, I think people here love Bollywood because there is a feel-good factor associated with these movies. They look exotic, are colourful, have opulent sets and gorgeous women with their saris in place.
The stories are like fairy tales. They talk about love in a manner which we never knew. They have friendships that are unpretentious. Every scene is a celebration of sorts. These movies provide us with a sense of ‘Escapism’ if I were to use a word. In those three hours, people are temporarily transported to a land where everything seems possible. We forget about rules, discard language barriers and just enjoy the frolic on screen. It makes us HAPPY. Like you say, Opposites Attract….We love that the romances are of epic proportions, like that in Devdas or that revenge transcends generations like in Gangs of Wasseypur; and for all the cheeky, cheesy, whimsical romantic ideas, you have Shahrukh Khan, who is like an angel of love for all the ladies. If you had half his girl-wooing skills and his ability to romance, I would have been so much happier”
“Don’t even get me started on that SRK thing….” I tried to retaliate but my voice was lost in a boisterous uproar. Shahrukh had just emerged victorious in the last fight sequence of the movie and had succeeded in winning over the hearts of the girl’s family. He had blood trickling down his face, his body was covered in dirt, but he retained that eyebrow-mouth twitch that he is (in)famous for.
As Deepika ran towards our ‘Hero’ in slow motion, her dupatta swaying in the artificially-induced wind, the Germans inside the theatre went berserk. There was whistling, claps and woo-hoos all around. People seemed really HAPPY as Padmashree Honey Singh preached everyone ‘How to Lungi Dance’. A few people among the audience hummed along while my girlfriend broke into an impromptu jig. For the moment, it seemed she forgot about our discussion and was truly enjoying the victory dance of SRK as if it was her own.
As we walked out of the theatre, I saw smiles all around. People animatedly discussed several scenes from the movie, like they had just watched a Bayern Munchen football match. The euphoria was infectious. As the festivities continued, I was reminded of a dialogue from Vidya Balan in one of her hugely popular movie ‘Dirty Picture’ which goes ‘Filmein sirf 3 cheezon se chalti hai, Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment, aur main Entertainment hoon’. I guess Bollywood was that entertainment.
It was my turn to drive us back home. As I fiddled with the car’s keychain, I noticed it was a miniature Shahrukh, dressed as Don. I got inside the car, tried to revv up the engine, but the car would not budge. First attempt. Second attempt. Nothing.
“Bade Bade deshon mein aisi choti choti baatein hoti rehti hain Shuby” She giggled and made her ‘you deserve that’ face.
“Stop throwing hindi dialogues at me, will you? You have a huge SRK hangover!” I said, smiling.
“Haha.. I love him.. he is simply the best” She dreamily replied and kissed me. As always in Bollywood movies, it was a happy ending.
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