Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Woo Kaun Thi?

Mad Momma has suggested that I do a post on the differences between wooing and stalking - as elucidated by the doyens of Bollywood. Now, this is a sure-shot recipe for disaster since Bollywood is not really known for classy wooing (Think "tu cheez badi hai mast mast...") and sophisticated examples are few and far between.
But one must look at Bollywood's message in its entirety.

Let me explain.
To start, I will take two scenes with identical dialogues from a universal favourite - Dil Chahta Hai.
In the first scene, Akash - an incorrigible flirt - accosts a simple girl (clearly not in familiar territory) and almost bulldozes her for a dance. And while doing so, he subtly mocks her with a faux-romantic dialogue.
In the second scene, Akash - now a better man - walks into Shalini's wedding and asks for her hand in marriage. He has been a bit of a lout all through the movie and didn't 'woo' her at any point of time. Walking into a lawn full of hostile people, getting down on his knees and proposing to her is - what I consider - very courageous wooing.
If you take Akash's behaviour for about three-fourths of the film, he is a jerk. But he reforms. And how.

Let me try again, with an even more difficult-to-defend example.
I just spoke about Phool Aur Kaante in my earlier post. The famous song which focuses almost entirely on the heroine's thighs and breasts while the hero gleefully stalks her, shames her and almost molests her. If the Anti-Rape bill had turned out as it should have, Ajay Devgn would have been jail for that song.
See this song, one more hour into the movie. The hero leaves his millionaire father's house to marry the aforementioned girl. He marries her. He doesn't force himself upon her during the suhaag raat. He appears suitably smitten and (in an exaggerated, filmy sort of way) takes care of her when she is pregnant. He even shares the child-rearing (in an antiseptic, problem free sort of way). This is also a sort of wooing (though not what I would call among the best of Bollywood).
Please don't nitpick by saying catching your falling wife is not really taking care of her. Or, swaying a baby isn't really rearing him. Remember, this is a movie which uses simple symbols to depict complicated things. 
Anyway, my point is that the movie doesn't stop at showing a molester/eve-teaser. They show the guy finally transforming into a sensitive husband. If the logic is people get 'inspired' by Bollywood and stalk girls, then they should also be inspired enough to become a dutiful husband. That, somehow, never catches people's attention.

Hell - before this degenerates into some kind of defending-Sanjay-Dutt kind of gig, let me quickly list out some of my favourite wooing scenes from Bollywood. I have tried to avoid songs, which is the staple mode of expressing love.
Here goes in chronological order...

A poet-cum-musician is suspected of throwing a woman down from the teesri manzil - by the woman's sister. He should keep as far away from this girl as possible but you know what they say about moths and flames, don't you? He says I know you will kill me but I will still be right behind you. And before they sang that wonderful song, he said a few wonderful words. Watch it.

The virginal prostitute of Amar Prem sang like an angel. Just when she had started a song - Raina beet jaye - a drunkard walked in. He didn't seem the type to frequent kothas. He underlined his difference from her other customers when he asked her to sing. Never in the history of cinema has a woman been wooed with just two words... Gaaiye na.

The romantic (probably Bengali) Anand Babu of Amar Prem transformed into a garrulous Dilli-wala in Anand, never shy of taking his Bengali friend's case. When his poetic friend tried a few lines about the ocean and sky merging on his girlfriend, he broke the mood by calling him a hypocrite for taking too long to woo her!! This scene stands as one of my favourites because the good doctor demonstrated his sensitive side beautifully while talking about Anand's impending death. He wasn't consciously wooing but the girl got wooed. Subtle, sensitive.

The good doctor gave up his reticence in the next few years. While trying to steal a diamond necklace, he bumped into a gorgeous woman. The woman stunned him by popping the diamond necklace into his pocket. He - then - did a double-barreled wooing. First, he proved his thieving mettle by stealing the necklace right out of the police dragnet. And then he broke his silence with a line that stole her heart.
(While we are in the AB zone, we might as well see what DOES NOT work.)

It would be interesting to point what does work from Chashme Buddoor itself.
The cute Siddharth Parashar let a detergent salesgirl into his flat and suffered a full demo of Chamko. To put her at ease, he put on the radio, explained that he put Gandhi pics on walls (and not bikini ones) and finally confessed that he had given clean clothes for her to wash. The impression he made became apparent when the girl gave pretty intricate details about her whereabouts every evening. Sweet.
I will not link this scene. Go and watch it in the theatre when it re-releases on 5th April!

Yash Chopra knows a thing or two about wooing. Or not.
In Chandni, the hero hired a helicopter to shower petals on her. And promptly crashed to become paralysed. In Darr, the heroine was wooed with a brilliant song by an unseen admirer. Who turned into a crazed stalker immediately afterwards. In Lamhe, the hero took sweeping sorties over the lush English countryside (again to the accompaniment of a lovely song) with his heroine. But was fantasising about her mother all the while.
Not my idea of great romance.

The guys in uniform do it best. In Rang De Basanti, we had a Flight Lieutenant sweeping a girl off her feet with his sense of duty, his idealism, his cool shades and leather jackets. And when he chose to propose, it was not a hush-hush candlelit dinner setting. It was in bright sunlight, in a beautiful setting that you find only in India and in the presence of friends. When she was least expecting it. Tu bin bataaye mujhe lekar chal kahin...

Sometimes the girl wants you to woo her. She wants you to take her hand in yours. She wants you to get close to her and murmur sweet nothings. She wants you too look deeply in her eyes. Lekin parmisan toh lena chahiye, na?
The fearsome don of Wasseypur turned into jelly when she was meeting her lady love. And he taught us that wonderful lesson Indian men... Whatever you do, take permission.
Whether you want to hold her hand. Or whether you want to have sex.
And if she says no, back off. You may be a hunter but don't take out your gun. Just back off. (See from 2:00 onwards.)

The best gift with which you can woo a woman is attention. And who knows this better than a Frenchman?
When asked to name the favourite part of his class in English Vinglish, Laurent gave a totally charming one-minute speech (see from 4:20 onwards) about the woman he loved. In another language, for another woman, he may well have succeeded.
Come to think of it, who said he didn't? (see from 1:20 onwards)

Those were my favourites. Like? Dislike?


Abhishek Mukherjee said...

Ah, you forgot Rangeela, Aamir Khan, his attire, and the taxi.

Anonymous said...

Good.But movies are yet to set an example as far as cyberlove is concerned.
PS-i'm trying to woo a person whose initials are AM. And the person reads your blog :)

Diptakirti Chaudhuri said...

Anon - Wha...?
I have one Abhishek Mukherjee (AM) commenting just above you. Is he the one?

Anonymous said...

How about chhoti si baat? ....when amol palekar dangerously veers into stalker territory but then ultimately wins her over with his honesty. It's a perfect example that straightforwardness and not bossy masochism is what a woman looks for in a man.

Plaban Mohanty said...

I think Amol Palekar does the wooing thing really well.... think of the Baton Baton Mein train romance!!!! Not a single word exchanged and he manages to woo the future Mrs Ambani!!!

Arjun said...

Wooing can never be better than Raj Kumar leaving a note at the foot of Meena Kumari in Pakeezah praising her foot. Class apart! I really liked ur choice from Teesri Manzil.
There are cases of woman wooing her lover in Satyakam (Sharmila- Dharmendra) or waiting to be wooed as in Sangam.

Namrota said...

Wooing a woman is simple and stalking is definitely not the answer.
I personally don't like Hindi movie style of wooing...they can certainly take the guys to lock-up.
However, exceptions are always around. And you have captured those exceptions in your yet another interesting post.
Few of my favorite wooing scenes are that of "Amar Prem"..."Chhoti si baat"(which btw, the whole of the movie was a big wooing scene)..."Chashme Buddoor"..."English Vinglish"..."Swades" (which SRK wooing in installments).

P.S. I am a movie buff and your blog is a delight to read. :)

Amby said...

I'll nit-pick..that's what I do best, see!

"Raina Beet Jaaye" ~ Raine Beeti Jaaye

"Tu bin bataaye mujhe lekar chal kahin" ~ Tu bin bataaye mujhe le chal kahin