Imagine

Parul Wadhwa is a documentarian currently working in New York, can be reached at parul[at]parwad.in.

Parul Wadhwa

Parul Wadhwa

It was the supposed doomsday and on the eve of 21/12/2012, thousands gathered on Times Square in New York City to sing John Lennon’s “Imagine”. It was magical. Breathtaking. It was a feeling that could explode one’s heart to believe that anything and everything in the world was possible. Amidst sub- zero temperatures, the voices didn’t quiver at all and the unison made it even more powerful and historic in its own way. From one of world’s most powerful democracies to the world’s largest democracies, my heart and mind was switching between New York and New Delhi constantly.

ak1It just took me back miles away in memory, time and space. My heart was bleeding as I was singing along thousands of people who didn’t know what I carried in my heart. It was even surprising to me to be that emotional for someone I do not even know, never met her but every ion of my energy oozed a prayer for Peace back home for her.

It is the City of Sperms, in question, as Manu Joseph rightly calls Delhi.

A few miles away, the city of Mumbai where the bubblegum industry of Bollywood is busy minting money at the box-office simply by its ability to portray women as sex-objects is still mourning the Tiger’s loss. The music and the film industry over the years has doled out art which is objectionably hilarious and yet at the same time, due to access and feasibility reaches millions of Indian men who now know that enjoying a crass dose of these item-numbers is masturbation guaranteed.

Its the Munni, Sheila and Gulabi which after a patiala peg by a paunchy Punjabi uncle in a big-fat Delhi wedding is equivalent to hitting on his 15yr old niece barely out of puberty. So, the Chamak-challo is lusted after the scanty one-pleat piece of sari on her bosom and no objection is raised by any policeman in the city of Delhi. At the same time, it boasts an economy of skin- care and plastic surgeries where plenty of wannabe actresses, mostly from lower-middle class backgrounds and small town girls are unwittingly forced into lying about their age to get the golden opportunity to move up in the casting-couch to jive next to the superstar and become the next-item girl. And the process continues into rape and honor killings.

The popular culture we are feeding our men on is the scary part. And here its not even that general. The cultural-economy these mega-blockbusters create with crass sex-comedies and item-numbers in small towns is as impact-full as in the cities. In one way, it brings us together, cutting across the classes and in another way, it rips us apart with its idea of joyous entertainment purely out of a woman’s flesh. Talking of popular culture of films, this debate has reached a very interesting conclave in India. Division. Between Bollywood and not-so- bollywood. Between Entertainment and Documentary and therefore, you either like to be happy and entertained or become angry and activist. Simply choose your stance.

Hoping for that girl to live, I chose to honor her by closing my weekend with a brave film about sexual assault and a consequential honor killing, based on a true incident. US based filmmaker Danielle Luries’s IN THE MORNING (click on the title to watch it) has won major international film festivals, and also screened before members of the U.S. Congress and the UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women). A powerful piece indeed.

Entertainment or Documentary? I care less. More I care about is what kind of art is getting produced on this earth and reaching our fathers, brothers and sons. I am as scared for them as they are for me today.

Imagine, as John Lennon said.

The writer would like to express her special thanks to Danielle Lurie and Yoko Ono Official for the film and photo courtesy respectively.

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