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Does this happen to you too?

We went watching “Jaane tu ya Jaane na”… the new movie released a few weeks back. Some thirty minutes after the movie began, I turned to look at Hemant’s face — it had grown pale and distant. “What happened? Not feeling well? Don’t like this movie? Let’s go back” — I bombarded him with questions concernedly. He nodded and said; “no I am well! completely well! I am just thinking” …”Thinking what?” I bombarded back…”No I am thinking that we are growing old…The movie shows that it’s no more my time. I want Madhuri Dixit dancing, Shahrukh Khan or Govinda or Amirkhan, not finding any one whom I know, …this is not our time”. He looked really-really sad and lost. Not that we didn’t enjoy the movie…we loved that. But, it made us increasingly uneasy about our existence in the scheme of nature’s ageing factor and the new social fad of one generation gap no more in ten or twelve years, rather in 4-5 years.

There were certain things in the movie that made us uncomfortable a little bit: (a) each young boy has to have a young girl as “girl-friend”/ “girlfriend” ; (b) everyone has to have a mobile phone in the group (funny? but true) and (c) how handsome/beautiful your companion is (the character rotlu is no match for the beautiful heroine Aditi even though he is the sweetest)? and so on …

Back in my hostel room, one whole night we sat gossiping about the life of film stars — as if we were just their family members. Pragyan suddenly said — “seeing Amir Khan now makes me nostalgic — I crave for our times– I saw him in Akele Hum Akele Tum or in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar or in Rang de Basanti and it made me feel so connected and so very part of the movie”… for her not only Amir was growing ol’ but also reminded her of the little fantasies she had for the characters on the screen…she couldn’t explain more than that… there was no need for explaining more, since I too felt the same…not our times! We were quiet for a few moments before the next piece of gossip began.

But why? Why don’t we feel connected to the things shown in silver screen now? We ARE NOT THAT OLD πŸ™‚ … I mean seriously, not trying to hide my age πŸ˜‰ , but then why is there this gap between the visual experience and personal experience for some of us? Was hardly seven or eight years when QSQT was released, was in my 10th when DDLJ was released, but why do we identify more with those movies than with a movie of 2000s when we actually grew up to adulthood and understood the meaning of relationships? QSQT or Maine Pyar Kiya for that matter still flairs my imagination and fills me with nostalgia.

I mean it’s not about movies only…art also reflects human life and thinking to a certain extent. Have been thinking about it for sometime now…There is something strange and new about this generation — kids are completely independent (they have to own their personal mobile phones, bikes, gizmos) , parents are no more than silent witnesses to the drama of their children’s’ lives, complex inter-personal relationships in friend circles and many-many more new “occurrences” which are hard to be explained in words.

Last January I was in Bhubaneshwar, stayed there for a longer duration than usually do. What I saw in the city was appalling — the so called new generation comprised school kids who carry high-end mobile phones, wear “interesting new designer pieces” (caught this phrase in a discussion between two teenagers) and spend their time window shopping in the new mushrooming malls. What was a little upsetting was the time that these kids spent sitting in the malls — one day I observed a group of five sitting outside the Big Bazar complex, in the lobby area for more than six hours! We had come shopping for a wedding and had found this group sitting there from around 2′ o clock in the afternoon and they were still there when we left at 8′.15 in the evening. None of the group members as I could make out was beyond 15-17years and each of them had bikes which they sometimes took out to get the female members of the group to their adda (that’s what they were referring to the place). I was shocked to see the amount of time that they wasted admiring the neon-lit corners of these malls and the amount of money that must have gone into the dressing up of each of these kids.

But not just kids, I recently heard that an acquaintance who is around 38 years of age was getting married to a nineteen year female, daughter of a very rich shop owner. Why? Because he has friends who own large cars and land cruisers. This group went out lady-hunting in these cars; impressed younger rich-only-daughters spoilt by parents; took them out to discotheques, Icecream parlours, long drives — and finally short bedroom drives. Some of these lead to marriages and some don’t — but who cares! It reminded me of the movie Jane tu… where the group of friends use the same tactics to meet “new interesting people”. “Life is there to enjoy”, was told by that acquaintance himself…. I still am not clear about the new-emerging definitions of enjoyment.

So what was “Our times” ? I mean how do we define our times? Am sure each of us has a separate definition of “our times” — but to me our times meant the times when we didn’t have the conception of a necessity to have at least one “BF” or “GF” (short for Boyfriend/ Girlfriend) — and when the group meant “friends” and only “friends” irrespective of their sexual or financial status. It also referred to a time when relationships were a strictly private affair — the story revolved around “ONE” girl and “ONE” boy or at best a “LOVE TRIANGLE”. But what one gets to see both in movies and in reality these days are not just one or two or three people, but a “LOVE HEXAGON/LOVE PENTAGON/ LOVE QUADRANGLE/OPEN RELATIONSHIPS” and so on.

The younger generation is a mobile phone addicted generation — they just can’t live without their phones. And not just any phone, their choices are highly competitive while the companies are always ready to cater to the changing demands. For us, there was not only a fear of parents but a fear of teachers, relatives and neighbors too. I remember when we used to go out to the nearest market in Bhubaneshwar to shop in my MPhil days, the news used to reach my parents, staying 180 kms away in no time. We were slightly deviant from our generation by choosing to study and remain single, whereas most of my friends got married just after their graduation or engineering — either to boys of their own choice or to people whom their parents chose. For us, watching the silver screen with Madhuri Dixit dancing, or Amir/Shahrukh/Salman romancing, was a kind of “wish-fulfillment” for things which we could imagine. But now the movies show things which people would say : “arre yaar bilkul apne life ki carbon copy hai! They have stolen from our lives to make this movie”.

Well, I am not blaming the past, the present or the future! We are also to be blamed for not being able to cope-up with the changes which are so rapid that it takes a wink to register one epochal movement. We are slow and therefore feel uneasy in the heat of movement. The “Great Indian Middle Class” is in the midst of these whirlpool of transitions and that which we had earlier thought as the priviledge of the upper classes has slowly penetrated the middle class lives. Some of it is good no doubt, but maybe some of the changes are so overpowering that the balance is topsy-turveyed.

You can see these generation gaps blatantly in IITs between B.Techs, M.Techs and PhDs. Recently something funny happened with a female friend doing PhD who went to a party dominated mostly by B.Techs. One of the B.Tech guys who was a little tipsy came up to her and told her on her face: “aunty you are really very nice. Friends! aunty acchi hain…I like you maam.” πŸ™‚ Poor girl she was completely embarassed and rushed out of the party with tears. That’s how it is sometimes…

There are many-many such instances where one sees mind boggling gaps in thinking. It’s not always funny and neither always grim. There must be a new crop of researchers/psychologists who should be documenting this fast track change in our society.

But for the time being keep your fingers crossed for “more” … all that can be said is “not our times”… It’s 2 am and I listen to Bob Dylan’s fantastic number “The Times They Are Changing'” where he prophesized in 1960’s the changing times :

…Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’…

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.