God, the matchmaker
Sometimes, when I catch a glimpse of my wife, as she is doing something in all seriousness as part of her daily routine, there is this feeling, that is a mixture of elation, pride, thankfulness followed by a flutter that is heartfelt.
There is no valid explanation for why we ended up together, or what makes us tick as a couple or why this woman is my world. That is what makes it all the more interesting. We also have reason to believe that our match was made by the matchmaking Guru himself!
Why does one bring up ones appreciation for his wife or marriage or the matchmaker right now?
The one thing that has kept me deeply distracted from my fathers hospitalization and all the phone calls to India is the visuals and the soundtrack from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, the latest movie starring one of my all time favorite heroes, ShahRukh Khan.
The story of a boring average man, marrying a vivacious young girl due to fate and chance, trying to win her love by living a double life that is partly his usual boring self and partly his wifes flamboyant wannabe dance partner.
If you read the reviews for this movie, the first thing you will hear is, how lame the heroine must be for not being able to distinguish between her boring husband and her flirty dance partner, essentially the same guy with only a different hairstyle and a pencil thin moustache to disguise him.
You will also read about the stupidity of the hero in trying to test his wife to see if she will chose the boring guy over the dancer because her husband loves her deeply and it is for her to see that love and realize that.
Then the reviews will go on to praise SRK for his acting, the soundtrack, the confidence with which first time heroine Anushka Sharma has acted and danced, the comedy of Phatak, etc.
What is most interesting in this movie is the realism. Okay, realism in an SRK bollywood movie is mostly seen as an oxymoron by most. So, I will have to explain, that too with a personal perspective.
Once upon a time, a young lad who came to the USA about sixteen odd years ago was a hopeless romantic. He did not even know that he was the hopeless romantic type because he had no time for girls or women till then.
One fine day, he started writing poems and started dreaming with his eyes open. As a girl put it, he hit puberty at 22 and went from 16 to 22 in two weeks and still had to learn the difference between love and infatuation. That is when another girl read his poem and quoted a russian saying "good love breeds babies, bad love breeds poems". That just confused him a lot more. He started saying cliches like "Women!"
Being a Ph.D. student, any methodical attempts to systematically understand women, what they want, why they want, how they want, etc. ended up consistantly with singularities, infinite loops, moebius strips and more cliches.
At the same time another profound piece of advice from an elder cousin, "If a girl says she is interested in you, kisses you, even sleeps with you, it still doesn't mean she loves you. It just means she wanted to kiss you or sleep with you!". Hmm, with advice like that, the Ph.D. in love had its graduation date moved indefinitely.
The quest for love or at least a simpler understanding of what consituted love continued. Then came dancing! Ballroom dancing is complicated. The music and the motions are easy, it is the emotions that are difficult minefields.
Once a famous dance instructor, taught a group of dancers a very simple lesson, when we were in the UK for a dance competition. (Yes, you could get paid trips to the UK to compete in dance competitions). He asked all the men and women to line up on opposite sides of the floor. Then the women got to pick a random partner. The men held the women with a single hand hold and the women were asked to move around the men, while still in that hand hold.
He would ask the women to move close in normal hold (1 foot away), then get close within inches of each others face, make the woman move away and turn her back (3 feet away), walk behind the man and around him, etc. etc. He asked the women to describe the emotion they saw on the mens faces, that too after we switched partners a few times.
The statistic was overwhelming. The men smiled when the women drew close and showed sadness when the women went away. They were so transparent! What was really surprising was that the women also smiled when they came closer to the men and stopped smiling when they moved away.
That whole statistic might be skewed by the fact that everyone in that room was a ballroom dancer. It is like looking at a fishbowl and explaining how all fishes like the water, so take it for what it is worth.
Based on that above experiment, one should realize that irrespective of chemistry there is some emotion that comes through in dancing with a partner. To top things off, if that girl happens to be gorgeous, skimpily clad or both, you have to focus on the dancing and tone down on the emoting! That part is easy if you respect the woman. There is no "Rakhi" required!
Is there a higher probability of dance partners falling in love? Maybe, maybe not. Dancing with a person doesn't make you fall in love. Falling in love with a person might make you want to dance! That part comes from the heart. Will swear by it!
After surviving years of dancing with women, with only a few scars in my heart, I did find the one destined for me, far away from a dance floor. To this day, the Mrs. and me have not danced together, although she was my best critic.
When someone goes through an arranged marriage with another person they know very little about, barring a few simple things like
a. a smile that lights you up
b. a voice that sounds soothing
d. a dress sense that appeals to you
f. come to think of it, really gorgeous
h. c., e., and f., all over again...
It takes some time to build that relationship, till you realize one fine day that you are indeed head over heels in love, and it is usually for none of the reasons cited above! One can only give the male perspective here, as the female perspective cannot be found, put in words or explained in any language known to man.
Somewhere in the process of building that relationship as a married man, a "family man", even a hopeless romantic gets so caught up with the daily grind that he can become the boring average person, who simply goes about doing his job, making ends meet, getting into a routine, smug in his knowledge of 1001 things you can do on a silicon wafer or 101 ways to change a diaper.
The romantic streak is still alive, but much like a candle wick sucking on that last drop of molten wax, with the flame barely visible. A flame that barely threatens your fingers and tempts you to extinguish it with a simple squeeze. It is a flame nevertheless and given some more wax it can recreate the magic of what it once was.
There is also something to be said about the tacit understanding that passes for love when two people spend a decade together. There is love in mundane things that are said or done, without being specified explicitly. There maybe some love, even in boredom and monotony.
Rab De, presented all this with an amazing realism. The thing that touched a cord was the difference between explicitly expressed love, the type where a guy gets a chance to sweep a woman off her feet, something that is unique because it is not a daily event, something on a grand scale that can make memories, lasting ones, in sharp contrast to implicit tacit love, that is unsaid, given without any expectations.
Unconditional love that is as true in its abstract grandeur even though it has no voilins playing in the backdrop or firecrackers lighting up the sky. A bond that two people can share in silence, a truth that is self consistant within two souls, without the requirement for any reinforcement from anyone else.
Take heart, for there is hope for boring men, who screamed romance openly a few years ago, but have now been delegated to dishwashing duties and diaper changing and somehow don't say "I love you!" enough times in a 24 hour day, but still have that small romantic spark alive in them.
All it takes is some hair gel, sunglasses, tight fitting clothes, take a chance on your dancing and you too can be Jodi No. 1, as long as the Missus co-operates. If she likes to wear spandex, even better!
Loved this movie, and that was easy being an SRK fan. He consistanly manages to make me teary eyed when it comes to sentimental love stories and his goofiness and dancing are a treat to watch. The music is amazing. Your feet just start moving automatically. In the fourteen times I have heard "Tujh mein rab dikhta hai", got goosebumps all 14 times.
Go see it. Just take the moustache/sunglass part in the same spirit as Lois Lane takes Clark Kent/Superman! and you might come out with a smile on your face, and that flame might flicker and grow slightly bigger.