A Suitable Girl

I watched Maari 2 yesterday.

I have no excuse as to why I did it.

I generally do not bother with these kinds of movies nowadays. Not because I am above them, or because they corrupt society, or depict women badly. Sure, I have those gripes, but it’s just that I am bored with these movies.

I watched the first 10 minutes and decided to skip Tovino Thomas screen time. I appreciated his screen absence more than his screen presence.

I had already decided I would skip the songs and fights. I used to like the build-up towards the song and dance routines and the fights. But nowadays, the songs just happen without preamble. The fight scenes still have some effort to build up heroism, but damn, does it get draggy after around the 1000th similar such film you see in your life.

The fight sequences are like soccer set pieces. For a sport that has been around for close to a century in the modern era, you’d have thought people would have realized there are only so many ways the free-kicks-close-to-a-goalpost can play out. I like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s treatment of this scenario in “The Final Problem” in 1893. The exchange between Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty goes like this when they first meet.

“‘You evidently don’t know me,’ said he.

“‘On the contrary,’ I answered, ‘I think it is fairly evident that I do. Pray, take a chair. I can spare you five minutes if you have anything to say.’

“‘All that I have to say has already crossed your mind,’ said he.

“‘Then possibly my answer has crossed yours,’ I replied.

“‘You stand fast?’

“‘Absolutely.’

Anyway, coming back to Maari, I ended up watching the movie in 20 minutes. As I mentioned, I skipped Tovino build up/mass scenes, wheelchair-bound Sai Pallavi sentiment scenes, songs, fights, MILF collector scenes (tempted as I was), annoying kid scenes, random thaatha paaati scenes, non-cooling-glass-wearing Dhanush scenes (except for the build-up to a fight scene) etc.

Incidentally, I realized how marksmanship in Tamil movies only target the chest area, upper middle back, temples, and foreheads of the victims. So much so that, when Sai Pallavi took a bullet almost near her kundi, I thought, weird… then thought “duh..wheelchair, but no way with Sai Pallavi” and it turned out that was exactly the director’s plan. It made it even easier to skip all the following songs.

Why would a director sign up a dancer like Sai Pallavi and incapacitate her in the movie?

In short, I couldn’t give two fucks about the movie and was feeling pretty shitty by the time the end credits started rolling.

Then I thought, I’ll watch a documentary and redeem myself into erudition.

“A Suitable Girl”

Soon I realized how many fewer fucks I can actually give about a feature.

A suitable girl was just two British birds from film school creeping on three ugly Indian Shielas. The three Indian girls would not pass the Hardik Pandya test. The test being, if Hardik Pandya saw the girl in a club, would he want to bang her? That being the eligibility criteria. The pass criteria being, can he overcome their sanskariness in a single night if he did take a liking.

A harsh uncompromising test.

One of the girls.. wait! She looked 40 and acted 15. She was 30 I think. Why am I referring to her as a girl? Woman. Anyway, one of the candidates, a primary teacher, even tries her luck at a speed-dating Brahmin Samaj thing. She gets rejected and the head bureaucrat of this endomagous mating service puts it down to her weight.

I felt the saddest for her and was the happiest for her at the end. She meets the only guy with life and agency in the whole documentary. Once they start talking, he moves like a man with a mission, hits her with a “darling” on facebook chat, comes to see her with his mind made up to marry her and gets things done in a single setting.

Watching the second girl’s storyline, a Delhi-ite, resurfaced all my phobias and bigotry and reminded me how easily I  return to being an ignorant asshole.

The minute I heard her speak and detected a western accent I knew it was a setup for me.

It was the classic bait and I took it.

“Fucking Delhi-ites. Vasant Kunj Victorians.” I heard myself muttering.

Soon I was yelling things like “what party sharty… you are just a bunch of wannabes sitting in a sad restaurant after probably another sad night out with Punjabi and Jat bois” at the screen at 2 in the morning.

I think she was the one who said, she liked to party and read and freak out. Or it must be the next one, the one with the broken nose and squished face from Mumbai, walking into an E and Y office.

I am not sure.

Either way, this Delhi person gets married and gets Marwari-ed. Which is, she disappears under a sari and specializes in making Just-in-Time rotis.

What surprised me most was that I realized how much I am still afraid of the sight of a throng of Marwari speaking men wearing white kurta and a pink turban under a shamiana and a flex cutout. There are similar idiots wearing veshti and speaking Tamil in the south, but them I can handle. They are fellow brethren. I can understand what they are yelling, even if I disagree with them, as they chase me down. But there just is something about Rajasthani hate crimes that creep me beyond my skins.

The Mumbai girl meanwhile has married someone generic and goes offscreen.

I didn’t understand the whole point of the documentary. What was it? The Indian version of the new Netflix series Dating Around? A freak show under the guise of a documentary?

That the whole societal setup in India (at least within the overwhelming majority of the population), including the marital system, is barbarically backward is not new. I mean that practically is the business model that runs BBC International and CBS and Mira Nair. What is the point then of two British women elbowing into an already suffocating space, mentally and physically, with a camera and pointing it at the people?

I tried watching the directors explain their project, and I might as well have muted the screen.

Hardik, help me out here.

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