“We are ‘cultured’, ’educated’ people.”
When a stern looking Tamilian says that, how can you not even feel like a struggling fly in her perfectly spicy sambhar? Especially if you are a loudmouthed Punjabi whose idea of culture is defined by chicken legs, beer and fancy gifts. Worse, how can you even hope to have the Utopian ‘Hum Aapke Hai Kaun’ wedding where families will smile forever and ever or till their teeth fall off?
If you have had the misfortune of falling in love with such an unsuitable boy or girl, you can either die the ‘Ek Duje Ke Liye’ glorified death or do what the protagonists of 2 States do: take on the challenge of making the enemies fall in love with you.
But that’s not what really sets this otherwise regular Indian love story apart. The very concept of ‘love marriage’ as opposed to ‘arranged marriage’ between a girl and a boy belonging to a different religion or a community or caste; is a widely acknowledged Indian cliché.
A typical first conversation consists of boasting of our sinfulIy fat laden food or our ‘convent’ educated, phoren returned relative (somehow there is always one such family hero) or how pure, pious and classical sangeet lovers our families are.
There are labels and there are labels. Each one better and bigger. So big that they are carefully wrapped around the hidden ugly truths that exist in every cobweb corner of the Indian household.
Like that grandmother who never allowed a woman into the kitchen during her periods. Tradition is culture, you see.
Like that father who constantly goes to the Ganges to wash his sins. Has anyone asked him about the sins? Holy cow, how can you belittle his faith in a river??
Like that mother who aborted every girl child but kept getting pregnant in the hope of having a son. Because sons carry the family name forward. After all, that is the traditional flag. To be held high in the name of the Singhs, the Iyers, the Shahs, the Roys, the Raos…the list is endless.
Like the parents who hate each other but will stay married for the sake of the marriage status thrust on them by society. Because divorce is a part of western culture. How can Indians even think of it??
Like that father who is an alcoholic and a wife beater who controls the television remote at home. How do you hide this insignificant part of your life? You simply turn a blind eye like the mother does. For the sake of her children. Because that’s what traditional Indian wives and mothers do. It is called ‘khandaani’ virtue.
Exactly like the boy’s parents live in Chetan Bhagat’s ‘2 states’.
In Chetan Bhagat’s world, Indian families can be dysfunctional too. Unlike the carefully constructed Eutopia that exists in long wedding videos of Sooraj Barjatiya’s ‘Hum Aapke Hai Kaun’.
It is a widely accepted and strangely ignored fact that most families have only absentee fathers. Either the father is posted in some place other than the hometown. Or the father is constantly travelling on work. Or he is a highly successful man with no time for his children. Or he is simply emotionally challenged.Or he is alcoholic and abusive like Ronit Roy’s character in 2 States.
That is what a real Indian family looks like. That’s the challenge that every great Indian wedding overcomes, not just that of inter caste marriage but that of accepting one’s own long, buried skeleton.
The reason why 2 States deserves to be read and seen, despite the clichés.
So that we admit, the dysfunctional is the great Indian family secret, which can only be hidden under one label. Culture.