Romantic Comedies in Hollywood and Bollywood

Assumption: The median age for marriage in urban India is much lower than the median age of marriage in urban United States of America

Hence, romantic comedies in hollywood, usually end up having characters who are older than corresponding comedies made by Bollywood. Thus, Hollywood romantic comedies can be made to be more mature than corresponding Bollywood romantic comedies.

Data point: Serendipity was remade as “Milenge Milenge”. I was watching the latter movie a few days back (couldn’t sit through more than five minutes of it, as I kept comparing each scene to the corresponding scene in the original). In Serendipity the protagonists are around 35, and thus show a maturity that corresponds to that age. You can see that in the way they behave, go about things, etc. And here, in Milenge Milenge you have Shahid Kapur and Kareena Kapoor singing and prancing around like Jackasses. You can’t watch too much of that, can you?

Tailpiece: My all time favourite romantic comedy (across languages) remains Ganeshana Maduve, starring Anant Nag and Vinaya Prasad. I’ll talk about the virtues of the movie in another post but I can’t think of any other movie that even comes close to this one. Meanwhile, if you haven’t watched this movie, get hold of a subtitled copy of it and watch it. Now.

On Hating Talisker

I must thank Mohits Senior and Junior for introducing me to the wonderful world of Single Malts in general, and to Talisker in particular. If I remember right, this was at a meeting of a certain secret society in Senior’s house, where Junior had procured the said substance. I remember being floored by it, and thinking I’d never thought liquor could taste so good. And till yesterday I used to think no one can ever hate this drink.

The first time I got down to buying a bottle of it (though I’d had it by the glass a couple of times outside) was in a duty free shop on my way back from my honeymoon last winter. The wife, as I’d expected, took a huge liking for it. In fact, it seemed like she liked it much more than I did. I must also mention here that for a very long time, that bottle of Talisker was the only liquor available at home.

So whenever we would fight (in our early days of marriage it was quite often, I must admit) the wife would want to distract herself and cool off by “lightening” herself. And would gulp down some Talisker straight from the bottle, as I stood aside, aghast. The subject matter of the fight would be  quickly forgotten, with my foremost thought being “what a waste of such fine booze”, and she being distracted by the contents of the said booze.

That first bottle of Talisker didn’t last too long.

So on our way back from Italy and Greece this summer, I bought another bottle of Talisker. And even before I got it billed, I told the wife that it wasn’t for gulping down, and especially not she was angry. I’ll keep a bottle of cheap whisky at home, I said, for her to drink when angry, and the Talisker should be accessed only when we’re looking to savour our drink.

So last night, on the occasion of her birthday, we decided we want to savour some drink, and down came the bottle of Talisker. She had hardly taken a couple of sips, when she handed the glass back to me. “I can’t take this any more”, she said. “Now, every time I drink Talisker, I get reminded of those times when I was angry and we would be fighting. I don’t want this any more’. So finally there exists a person who hates Talisker, for whatever reason!

For the record, I finished the rest of her drink last night.

On Walking out of a play

Last night the wife and I went to watch what we thought was going to be a play at KH Kala Soudha in Hanumanthanagar. It was supposed to be “directed” by RJ Vinayak Joshi and “starring” among others TN Seetharam, Master Hiriyannaiah and others. It turned out to be more like a talk show, where Joshi attempted to ‘interview’ these worthies, and they came up on stage and sat on a bench and put senti. And talked on, and on, and on.

I’m not saying it was a total ripoff. The band that was playing at the side was pretty good, with the singers having quite distinctive voices and the music also being quite nice. There was this little standup piece by this guy called Nagaraj Kote, which was probably the only part of the evening that lived up to the announced title ‘Simple is difficult’. Then, there was this frequent dialogue between Joshi, playing “naanalla” (not me) and this other guy playing “gottilla” (i don’t know). And they invited this really old couple to talk about their 50-year-old marriage, and they turned out to be quite funny!

Actually, despite some 15-20 mins of senti by Seetharam sometime in the middle, everything seemed to be going quite well. It was 9 o’clock and time for the “play” to be over. And then Master Hiriyannaiah came up on stage. And started talking. And talking. And talking. He was supposed to be taking a dig at politicians, and he ended up talking just like one of them. Rambling on and on and on. And on and on and on. The band had by then gone off stage, else they could’ve played LedZep’s Ramble On and salvaged the evening.

So there was this debate between the wife and I about whether it was ethical to walk out. A few minutes after Hiriyannaiah started rambling, I thought the theatrepeople had broken their part of the contract – as long as they were within the time that they advertised, they were good. And we were obliged to hold up our end of the contract. But once they overshot, I felt no need to hold up my end of the contract, and having given them the gate money, and my promised 90 minutes, I was now free to walk out.

Of course, I wasn’t going to do something outrageous – like shouting or screaming or talking on my mobile or anything else that might cause disrespect to the performers. All I wanted to do was to walk out.

The wife, on the other hand, felt it would be insensitive on our part to walk out, and that it too would amount to disrespect, and we ought to stay till the end of the show. Her thinking reminded me of what happens in an interest rate swap when one party goes bankrupt – the counterparty is obliged to continue paying it’s share of the swap, and hold up its end of the contract.

I think there’s merit in both sides of the argument, and I kept debating that as I waited until the end of Hiriyannaiah’s rambles when I really couldn’t take it any more and I walked out. So what do you think of this? Do you think it’s ok for performers to expect perfect behaviour from the audience even after they’ve not held up their end of the contract? Do you think it’s ethical for people to quietly walk out of a play that they’re not enjoying at all, as a means of protest? Don’t you think it helps having this part of the feedback loop?

Comments, please.

Introducing Pinky

So given that the new missus has moved into my life, and my home (and to add some cheese “and my hort”), I think it is quite appropriate that she moves into this blog also. You might have already seen her first post, which she wrote this afternoon. You can expect her to be more prolific in the days going forward. Till then, you can read her old writings here.

This might be a good opportunity to tell the world about how we met. It all started out with this post on my blog (I seriously miss those good old pre-twitter days, when I could peacefully write blog posts that were one line long; keeping with the tradition, the missus refuses to get onto twitter). And then she happened to like this one. Orkut.. GTalk.. Tharkari.. Gandhi Bazaar.. … ………………… Marriage.

Coming back, both of us will be writing here, on the same page. The same feed that you are currently subscribing to will enable you to subscribe to both our writings. The first line of the feed has the name of the author, and in any case I think our writing styles are so different that you should be able to figure out who has written what.

Where do all the smart girls go?

This question had initially popped up in my head about a year back when I was in the arranged scissors market and was getting frustrated about not meeting any smart girls. This was around the time when I had to indicate to some shady “marriage exchange” about my preferences in terms of the girl’s education and I gave some serious thought to it, but for some reason ended up not blogging about it.

I don’t want to get into debates regarding “better” colleges here so let’s just simplify that discussion and rank colleges by demand for admission for undergraduate courses. Again it is not going to be a precise ordering since different colleges have different admission processes but I’m sure that with some approximation and adjustment such an ordering is possible. Yeah this is also not a precise ordering butI supose this is the best we can get. As Prof Ramnath Narayanswamy says, “reality doesn’t matter. Perception does”.

Now make a table with three columns. In the first column write down the above prepared list in order, with the number one college on top. In the second column, write down the average number of boys each college typically admits per year, and in the third column the average number of girls admitted by the college.

Next, add two more columns to the table. In the fourth, make a “cumulative total” of the second column and in the fifth a “cumulative total” of the third column. So if I look at the nth row of the 4th column, I know the average number of boys admitted in a typical year by colleges ranked 1 to n. Similarly for girls and the fifth column.

My hypothesis is that at least for the first 100 rows, the number in the 4th column is at least twice as much as the number in the 5th column. Actually, I would go a step further and say that the above is true for the first 500 rows. If you look at the papers the day after CBSE announces its board exam results, you will see that girls would’ve done as well on average, if not better, than boys. So where do all the smart girls go?

One thing might be that there might be certain courses which girls show a marked preference for but most boys avoid because of which demand goes down because of which they go down in the rankings. Another could be that girls in general have preferences so niche that the best colleges in these niches don’t show that kind of admission demand. On the other hand, boys seem more homogeneous (everyone wants to do engineering) because of which demand for the best engineering colleges is really high.

There is a school of thought that a large number of girls are interested in the humanities which few boys show a liking for so a lot of smart girls are to be found in the better humanities colleges. But then, what happens in cities such as Bangalore or Madras which simply don’t have the same kind of humanities colleges as do cities such as Delhi and Bombay? Do girls who want to do humanities in these cities still go to the not-so-great humanities colleges rather than choosing better (in general) colleges in other disciplines?

Another explanation is girls only colleges where naturally demand is low since half the population can’t apply. But then I would expect the better of these to have enough demand that they rank fairly high. I’m again not satisfied by this explanation.

So the question remains. Where do all the smart girls go? Don’t tell me some of them actually choose not to go to college or something!

The Benjarong Conference

According to the Hindu calendar, today is the first anniversary of the Benjarong Conference. The said conference took place at Benjarong, an awesome Thai place on Ulsoor Road in Bangalore on the second day (dwitiya) of shukla paksha of Chaitra maasa of whatever samvatsara finished two days ago. The main topic discussed at the conference was arranged scissors and considering how things are now, I must say that the conference was indeed a success.

The occasion was a long weekend that also included Ugadi. Monkee and I (I lived in Gurgaon then) were both down in Bangalore for a weekend of bridehunting, and both of us hadn’t been having much luck in the market. Giving us gyaan on how to go about the arranged scissors process was K, who had just gotten arranged married, and Mukka who had just gotten love married. Also present with (as usual) lots of general fundaes in life were Kodhi and Harithekid.

Back during the conference, I had been entrusted with the job of noting down minutes of the meeting and blogging them; however I didn’t have net access back then in Bangalore and by the time I got back to the Gaon I got busy in other things and so here I am a full year late trying to share with the world things discussed at this great conference.

So here we were, two twenty six year old (maybe Monkee was still twenty five then) guys who had never had girlfriends wondering where and how people would fall in love, and where we could find interesting and single girls (yeah we did talk about the Goalkeeper Theory also). We chatted about various kinds of girls, where each type would find boys, the odds of each type being currently available for marriage, what parameters for search to put in matrimonial websites to maximize our odds of finding good girls, and the like.

One specific kind of girl that we spent a lot of time discussing was what K called as “township girl” – girls who grow up in PSU townships. He proposed that girls who grow up in PSU townships are more likely to be smart and liberal compared to girls of comparable family background and intelligence who don’t grow up in townships. This theory was largely seconded by a lot of others at the conference and I passed on it since I didn’t have a clue.

As alternatives to this, I had proposed the non-home-state theory claiming that girls who grow up otuside their home states are smarter and more liberal. The others supported this claiming that girls who have less contact with relatives and family-social engagements are likely to be more “outgoing”.

Then there was this puzzle about boys-majority colleges which a number of us had independently wondered about. If you notice, a large number of the more preferred colleges in India have an overwhelming boys majority (yeah this applies especially to engineering but considering that engineering is one of the most preferred undergraduate disciplines I suppose this assumption isn’t too wrong) and so any girl who goes to any of these colleges is extremely unlikely to land up in the arranged scissors market.

And then, if you would notice, in high school (10th board exams), distribution of marks of boys and girls is roughly equal. So the question is about where the smart girls go! Especially in cities like Bangalore and Madras which lack quality arts (a course which is usually dominated by girls) colleges. We had probably closed the conference promising to investigate this mystery – of where all the smart girls go.

I don’t remember too much about the food at Benjarong that day but I remember we had an extremely overbearing captain who kept coming to us every minute asking us how the food was. We followed our dinner at Benjarong with ice-cream at Corner house – excellent as usual. That is probably the last time I ate a full cake fudge.

A lot of questions raised at that conference are now probably moot, considering that both Monkee and I are on the roads to our respective marriages (he in May, me in November). However, I do need to apologize for taking one whole year to make and publicize these notes. My apologies to the general public for holding back such awesome thoughts from them for one whole year. And my thanks to Harithekid, Kodhi, Mukka, K and Monkee for making the Benjarong Conference possible.

Update

Another issue that was raised at the conference was about the fate of this blog after I find a long-term gene-propagating partner. The other attendees were all of the opinion that I will need to stop blogging after I find someone, or at least not blog on relationship-related topics.

A couple of weeks back,  Pinky shouted at me for NOT blogging enough about her.

Relationships and IIT

So the basic premise of this post is that being in a romantic relationship is like studying at IIT.

Everyone wants to get into IIT. They do thipparlaaga to try and get in. They join expensive coaching classes. Some of them even move cities. They wait for several years giving multiple attempts. People work extremely hard. Still, success is not guaranteed. There is that luck factor. There is the day’s performance that matters. Some days are important than others. Cracking the JEE is a “discrete” job.

While preparing for JEE, everyone thinks that if they clear the exam, their life is made. They come under the impression that after JEE, life will become smooth. That they won’t need to put any fight for the rest of their lives. That all that matters for their future is their cracking the JEE. And so forth.

It’s only after people come to IIT that they realize that life is not the cakewalk they assumed it to be. It is only after they get there that they realize that life after JEE is quite hard. That it is necessary to work hard. That if they don’t work hard, they will do very badly, and might flunk. It is only when they get to IIT that it hits them. Some learn quickly but others get disillusioned and give up in life. Several people do badly. Some even drop out.

So it’s similar with a romantic relationship. Everyone wants to get into a romantic relationship. Everyone looks only about the “entrance examination”. Everyone believes (before they get in) that life ban jaayegi after they get into a relationship. And getting into a relationship is a “discrete” job. It’s about how you “perform” during those blading sessions. It takes that bit of luck. It takes those set of fateful events to happen together in that precise coincidence.

And it is only when you get into a relationship that you realize how hard it is (provided you haven’t been there before). It is like being in IIT all over again. You know that you will need to work really hard to keep it going (applies to both parties). It is a continuous job, and you need to continuously “perform”. The randomness is much smaller than it is during the “relationship acquisition” phase.  However, you necessarily need to work hard. There is no “stud way out”. Some people give up when they find this out and break up (drop out). Others understand and put in the requisite effort and sustain the relationship. And continue to work hard.

The thing with arranged marriages is that you are typically forced to commit as soon as you’re done with “evaluating” the other person. You don’t get to test the counterparty on their ability to work hard and keep things going. It is like offering someone a job as soon as he has cleared the JEE.

And I wonder if one can draw an analogy between marriage and (academic) tenure.