What do bollywood movies from the black and white era have in common with movies from the, lets say, 60's all through to today, the 21st century?
All of them have parents of the hero and/or heroine mouthing that one standard dialogue - "times have changed. These days girls and boys find their partners on their own. As parents we only want their happiness, nothing more".
And then they say art imitates life. Lies. That dialogue is as fictional as the power Dr. Singh has sitting there in Delhi.
Even today, everyday, you hear stories about how parents are objecting to their son/daughter marrying a person of their choice. And while i can't generalise this to all the different communities existing in India, i know for a fact it happens more often than is healthy in that group known for it's dal-baati and chartered accountants.
I went through parental objection myself and am the rare case that actually got what she wanted. But not all girls (or boys) are as stubborn (or rebellious) as i am. Especially when faced with the entire family and the associated guilt-tripping. But the question here is not how firm the girl/boy is in their decision to marry someone of their choice. What needs to be addressed is why should they have to deal with parental/familial objections and refusals in the first place. Why, as a community, have we developed this reputation (not entirely untrue of course) of being anti-"love" marriage (or as i like to call it, self-choice marriage)? Why do our parents, their friends, the entire village all look at choosing your own partner as something that needs to be pointed at and probably burnt at stake with people throwing stones at it?
And this, when the chosen partner is not of the same *community*. It doesn't matter what the qualifications, personality or family background maybe. They may be better than what the parents would probably have managed through the arranged route. Just because he/she belongs to a different community (i hate the word but can't seem to think of an appropriate substitute right now), the relationship has to be objected to.
Imagine what hell is raised if the person follows a different religion.
Now, if you've still not understood the level of pigheadedness and ridiculousness parents are able to get to, just think of the young couple, who face extreme parental opposition towards their relationship and the dream of a life together, not because they dont belong to the same sub-sub-community or (shudder) caste, not because they believe in different gods. No. The reason for objecting to the relationship is money. Yes. Look shocked. Not because it happened. That too. But because it's not uncommon. It happens more than you'd like it to, and in more families than one.
I get that if the parents are looking for a match for their son/daughter, they look for someone in the same financial level as theirs, often disregarding several other factors such as education and class (i've seen it happen). But when a choice has already been made, shouldnt it be more important to know that he/she makes your child happy and that how much money they come from is not really essential?
How does it matter at the end of the day unless you're a money-minded pig who only wants to know that the wedding will result in grossly over-priced and gawdy gifts for you (this is specifically for the boy's family, who, unfortunately, in our primarily patriarchal society, still have some kind of superiority complex). But apparently it does. It seems to make perfect sense to everyone not of my generation (and to some of those who belong to it too). They've all rationalised this behaviour and thinking down to the last argument and have given it that glossy and irrefutable (in their minds) label called *culture*. Yeah right.
To someone who hasn't grown up in and with such a close-minded and oh-my-god-what-will-people-say-mindset, this whole attitude is mind boggling. Medieval even.
I did, and i still don't get it.