I saw a new Indian movie this weekend, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, CRAZY. Here’s the synopsis on IMDB:

Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna centers on the budding romance between Dev and Maya, who are both married to different people. Settled into a life of domestic ritual, and convinced that they are happy in their respective relationships, the protagonists still yearn for something deeper and more meaningful, which is precisely what they find in each other. From a relationship starting off in pleasant barbs, the two begin to develop and acknowledge the feelings they have beneath the surface. When their feelings come to the forefront, what results is a collision of lives and emotions, affecting everyone involved and changing them forever.

CRAZY. I’m about to spoil it, so if you can care to see it, stop reading. But the movie had a few points that I had never seen in Bollywood cinema:

  • The married characters that were in love with each other allowed themselves to explore their feelings for each other, emotionally as well as physically even if it would have meant betraying the sanctity of their marriages. In most other movies that explore similar topics (most of which don’t allow any physical-outside-of-marriage relationships to exist), the protagonists return to their marriages because that’s “the right thing to do,” or they die. Huh.
  • Dev was a famous hot-shot soccer player who lost his hops, and a $5 million contract, after getting hit by a car. Thus becoming a bitter, angry man who took his shit out on his wife and his kid. His wife, Rhea, was the head editor for the #2 soon-to-become #1 fashion magazine in the US, so she was doing pretty good for themselves. In one scene where they’re confronting each other about their relationship, Shah Rukh Khan reiterates his feelings that she’s never there for their son cause she’s too busy working. She sharply responds that when a man isn’t around for their kid cause he’s always working, no one ever questions him, why should he question her just cause she’s a woman? Oh SNAP!
  • Rishi and Maya don’t have a very physically intimate relationship at all. And this is explored through scenes where they’re in bed together, and Maya is off in another world. In scenes where they’re confronting each other about the unhappiness in their relationship, Rishi talks about how the physical aspect is an important, legitimate part of a loving relationship, a topic that’s that I haven’t seen discussed in Indian movies at all.
  • In the end, the characters got a divorce, and still lived somewhat normal lives! Rhea was still head of the fashion magazine, Rishi met someone else and remarried three years later (although she was white. Would a “good Indian girl” not marry a divorced man?) has there ever been an Indian movie where the characters got a divorce and still lived normal lives without being out-casted from society?

So the movie talked about a lot of “progressive” ideas for Indian movies. But, the movie took place in New York, focusing on NRI American characters where it might be more acceptable by resident Indians for such relationship dynamics to exist, perhaps with a ‘not in our house’ attitude. I’m not gonna hate, cause at least the movies out there, being watched, and possibly stirring discussions. But it shouldn’t be ignored that the characters were somewhat removed from the norms that South Asian societies exist in. Would uncles and aunties watching the movie in India allow themselves to believe that such relationships may exists in their own communities? Would the storywriter have written the same story if the movie had taken place in Mumbai? Or Karachi? Would they have gotten divorces? Would they have had extra-marital affairs? Would the film have been banned by the local governments if it were to take place in South Asia? Maybe, maybe not, but interesting things to think about.

Check this out, too, this is pretty cool, Mos Def showed up outside Radio City Music Hall during the MTV Video Music Awards in a flat bed truck outfitted with speakers and amps, and started doing an impromptu freestyle performance. That would have been sweet to see! But his set was cut short cause he was arrested for disorderly conduct. Huh?! Apparently, being the conscious rapper he is, most of the content of his raps were criticising the Bush administration for the slow response to Hurricane Katrina, and talking about the the fact that even after a year, the people of New Orleans still need a lot of help. What happened to the right to public gatherings? Check out the article here, where you can also listen to a part of his performance.