Sunday, 15 December 2013

How Kantaben Swooned, Got Marooned And Did Not Get A Life--All By An Anti-Homosexuality Verdict!

Choti Mata’s Note: Homosexuality has been recriminalized in India. A huge majority of the country has gone insane with outrage. 377 is on its way to beat ‘selfie’ as the word of the year. But Choti Mata is all about finding a silver lining everywhere—even in idiotic murk that is the latest Supreme Court verdict.  And here, she talks the silver lining. Or rather, the silver Kantaben!

Choti Mata is a lawyer. Which is old news. Which is also a fact that is definitely not going to reflect in the rest of this post. If you are looking for intelligent legal critique of the Naz judgment, you can stop right here. There are plenty of absolutely awesome pieces out there that have ripped the judgment apart for the absolutely untenable bullshit it is—on grounds both legal and otherwise. But, this is not one of them.

This piece is about something which may be not as intelligent or analytical—but has a huge psycho-social symbolism that has surprisingly been grossly overlooked.

This post is about Kantaben.

Kal Ho Na Ho will be remembered as the movie where SRK went the Anand way, albeit via Love Guru path. Kal Ho Na Ho will also be remembered as a movie that had two uber metrosexual men bonding over wooing an uber nerdy turned uber hot woman in most uber metrosexual (read: impossible and strictly imaginary) ways possible. Kal Ho Na Ho will be remembered as a movie where Preity Zinta qualified as uber hot.

Kal Ho Na Ho will be remembered as a movie where Saif Ali Khan was still (thankfully) urban—miles away from tamancha if not disco.

But above everything else, Kal Ho Na Ho will be remembered as a movie that talked gay way before John Abraham became the poster-boy of talking gay and made it the hottest thing around.

Kal Ho Na Ho will be remembered as a movie that introduced Kantaben.

Kantaben—the stout, wide eyed woman that swooned every time she saw SRK in vicinity of Saif Ali Khan. Normally, we wouldn’t have blamed her—not at that point of time, considering that at least then both the men in question were indisputably hot. But Kantaben did not faint due to sudden rise in temperatures. She fainted because she suspected…nay…believed something 'sinister' was going on.

Kantaben was funny in ways only Kantaben could be—without doing absolutely anything except make eyes as wide as a football ground and fall. Now, that is talent.

But Kantaben was much more than a comic plot device and an excuse for Karan Johar to talk gay. She was actually the most unintentionally deep and symbolic character ever created in the history of Indian cinema. Pity nobody noticed it.

Kantaben was us—us as in the society back when the movie was released. Kantaben was us in so much as refusing to even believe that something like homosexuality existed and promptly resorting to a reaction pretty much similar to her swooning every time the knowledge of its existence was thrust upon us.  Which is actually a pretty mild and censored way of putting it—the real range of reactions were pretty diverse ranging from minor indignation to major ostracism to full blown violence.

Cut to 2013. Talking about homosexuality has been largely cool. Has been for a long period of time.  This is not a majority—not by a long shot. We are still talking urban, educated, mostly young populace. But still, they are significant enough to count. And that is saying something in a society where honor killings are carried on with impunity and love marriages—the heterosexual ones—are still a big deal for a large section.

And this is where the Supreme Court’s Naz judgement has done the greatest good. In messing up with the basic rights of equality, freedom, privacy and life in general—the court has actually generated an outrage that had pushed detractors to a figurative back-foot. In a  strangely reverse psychological sort of a way, that I am sure was totally unintended, the judgment has achieved exactly what it had not set out to do—grant legitimacy (however forced) to the existence of homosexuality, in terms of perception if not hard law.

Homosexuality was never exactly a dinner table discussion issue. But this judgment, together with the outpour of outrage from all corners (including surprisingly the political ones) has pushed this issue out in open like never before (God bless Arnab Goswami and his creed). Even more than the time when Delhi HC came out with its historically progressive stance. Then with all the liberalism in air, culture, as it is perceived in the narrow minded sense, was wronged. This time the issue of homosexuality is. And history is witness to the fact that nothing unites and strengthens public opinion than a well timed outrage in support of the wronged.

People are talking—loud and clear. People are listening. They don’t really have a choice. If they don’t like it, a stoic, indignant silence is all they can afford—or be ripped apart by the pro-homosexuality wave. Being an intolerant douchebag is not cool…and I know several out there would not want to run that risk. Being tolerant is in…and considering how important public opinion is for human self esteem in general—this is something that is bound to make a difference, however minuscule.

For the first time, the casual detractors are thinking twice. And self appointed moral police is thinking once…well, trying to think as much as possible with their one and a half brain cells.  BJP and its clan, meanwhile, are trying to figure what thinking actually implies.

Kantabens still exist. But have been pushed into the closets previously occupied by the LGBT community. They can’t swoon, not anymore. Again, does not apply to all of them. Not even majority of them. But still in numbers large enough to warrant attention.

Homosexuals in India are small but distinct section of population with…gasp…rights! And now everyone and their grandmothers are forced to purse their lips and listen to this fact being reiterated a couple of billion times on national television…and well every other media space they have inadvertent access to.  You may not like it. You may not agree with it…which means you are an absolute douchebag and should not be here lest you contaminate Choti Mata’s space. But, you have to live with it. It is a fact that is now out and is not going anywhere, not soon, not ever. Legal and judicial battles are merely a part of a larger narrative that has already been set in motion. This is a point of no return.

Now, Kantaben, you can go get a lifetime supply of smelling salts.

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