Tag Archive: young men older women

Sayandeb Chowdhury



Film: 7 Khoon Maaf
Director: Vishal Bhradwaj
Cast: Priyanka Chopra, John Abraham, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Naseruddin Shah, Irrfan Khan, Anu Kapoor, Usha Uthup, Aleksandr Dyachenko, Ruskin Bond, Vivaan Shah and Konkona
Rating: Excellent

Vishal Bhardwaj made Maqbool. And that was it. A new school of cinema was born in Bombay. Cinema that was tough, unrelenting, atmospheric, harsh and full of power. In case of Maqbool, and its successor Omkara, the author was none other than William Shakespeare (Macbeth, Othello). By the time he reached Kaminey, Bhardwaj had already acquired a kind of an unsparing vision of a life and its assorted idiosyncrasies that he had harnessed to remarkable effect. Kaminey, the gangster movie about Mumbai underworld and the horse racing mafia was but cool. In 7 Khoon Maaf, Bhardwaj manages to pull his aces together to create what is perhaps most Shakespearean of his films. In what is a virtuoso adaptation of Ruskin Bond short story Susanna’s Seven Husbands, Bhardwaj shows how he has internalised the Shakespearean eye for the imminent and the immanent, to what beauty he can build an atmosphere of genuine suspense even in the everyday, how premonition and clairvoyance resides in ordinary acts of human kindness and insight. And most importantly how behind chilling acts of crime are often the most tragic and lonely of human beings who are otherwise pilgrims of love.
Priyanka Chopra in what is an author backed role plays Susanna to almost perfect effect, falling for love every time when actually there was none. She lives and breathes her role as a love-seeking, vulnerable woman, who gets accosted by and seduced by six brazen men, who turn out to be different from who they were supposed to be. Her vulnerability is however her biggest weapon in her troubled life and as she grows old, she learns to use them more effectively than ever before. And like any woman who has passed not once but six times, alone, through the territory of impertinent men, she learns to use the craft of her sexuality too, even as her bones and skin turn thicker and thicker under her beauteous, if wrinkled skin. 
The story moves fast and uncontrollably towards its denouement, which is nothing short of revelatory. On the way, Priyanka changes her religion twice, visits Kashmir and Pondicherry, get’s married to a Russian attaché and a Bengali doctor apart from a Rajput rockstar, a Goanese General with one leg and a UP police inspector. Her milieu changes from the brazenly feudal world of the landed military, to that of an Urdu poet with special affection for sadomasochism, from the heroin-induced world of skirted rock singers of early eighties Goa to that of naturopathy of a bankrupt doctor. Her only witness and confidante is the narrator, Arun, who remains the distant young lover and the only normative influence in her mad life, perhaps the only one who could have survived her audacious search for love in a battered human landscape that includes her husband and her band of murdering minsters.
The film’s premise and period moves from the swinging ‘70s to 26/11 and beyond and the details are brought out with total attention and care. Ranjan Palit’s superlative, atmospheric photography is the highpoint of the film, apart from, of course, Bhardwaj’s superb ear for music which includes a rock ballad, a sufi lovenote and of course the Russian folk inspired Darrling, which remains the film’s chartbusting number. 
7 Khoon Maaf is vintage Vishal Bhardwaj, sensible, sensitive, powerful and sparsely illuminating of the darkness that we all carry inside.


Fast and the Furious


Supreeta Singh

There was a time when the word ‘romance’ evoked a sense of adventure and thrill. It felt like the slow unveiling of a fantastic treasure that only you were privy to. Love was a private affair, an emotion to be cherished, built upon and guarded with jealous pride. The journey from being strangers to lovers and finally being a married couple used to be a step-by-step discovery. It was both arduous and intoxicating. Even a few decades ago, men and women had a certain charm about them – men were expected to be chivalrous while women were painstakingly coy. Many rue that today the spirit of ‘true romance’ is fading away, only to be replaced by a relationship which is more ‘convenient’. There is nothing emotional about it. While it is true that times were different then, life was simpler… yet even now whenever there is a reference of ‘love’ it can still tug at the heartstrings. Ayan Chatterjee, CEO of Futuresoft says that it makes him sad to see how the whole dynamics of courtship, communication and commitment have changed over the years. “This is the age of flings. Men and women neither have the patience nor perseverance to search for something deeper in their relationships. Much of it is on the surface with conditions applied.” Earlier, rules were stringent and young couples were kept under the scanner of the watchful eyes of parents. The young man had to muster enough courage to approach his dream girl whose best friend became the channel for communication. Debika Mukherjee, a housewife and mother of two remembers how she had to devise elaborate plans to fix a date with her then boyfriend and now husband. “I am talking about the early 70s. My husband and his parents were our tenants. I was in college. Since I knew my parents would oppose the match, we would meet at a friend’s place. We would write each other letters and fix up a time and place. My friend would deliver the message to him. When he left the city for his job, we would write long love letters. I would look at his photograph and cry copious tears!” Today, a date begins with an SMS that says, ‘Let’s have a cup of coffee’. In an age of urbanisation and liberalisation, few men and women are willing to walk the extra mile for each other. Thanks to digital revolution that has fostered online communities like Facebook or virtual communication like Skype, the world has come closer. Issues of commitment do not bother anyone. The concept of ‘one-woman man’ or ‘one-man woman’ is also under considerable pressure. Ayan observes, “With so much sharing of personal information on public platforms, the depth has gone out of people and relationships. The wait for the perfect girl or boy is no longer that intense. If you don’t like someone, you just move on to another person. I see young girls come to nightclubs with different guys every week. These women use moneyed men as their arm-candies and the men in turn enjoy other favours.” Samadrita Bhattacharya, an IT professional believes that men and women are ready to compromise with their values and are motivated by their mind and not their heart when choosing partners. “I see a lot of women around me who are not spontaneous anymore. First they think about the man’s social standing, money and future prospects before they even begin to date. If you let your mind decide for you, then what about your emotions? Relationships are therefore more cut and dry than they used to be.” The fairy tale romance is now obsolete. Or Is it?

The EX – Factor

Is it possible to stay friends with a former lover? Read on to find the answer


Supreeta Singh

This person knows all your secrets. You are comfortable together. You have shared almost everything. Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out as you expected. Once, you two were lovers. Now, your relationship is a matter of the past. But does that mean everything is over? Just because you are not lovers anymore, is the friendship that existed between you no longer important? Whether you had a tough breakup or a mutual separation, an ex-lover can become a great buddy once the initial discomfort settles down. Or perhaps not?

Priyanka Chakrabarti
| student: YES If you had a nasty break up, it becomes difficult to be friends with your ex. But as both move-on in life, I think it is possible that your ex might become your best friend because both of you know each other well. I have seen that a lot of times the best advice comes from your ex. So, try being a little more forgiving towards each other and forget all your differences. It will work wonders!

Soumya Rao | student: YES I believe that one can be friends with one’s ex, but the process is not an easy one, and will take a great deal of time and maturity on the part of both of them to settle the matter. First and foremost, you need time to be able to let go of the relationship and truly get over the person. You also have to be willing to realise that as friends, you will not have the same degree of influence or insight into the other person’s life. Most of all, if as a girlfriend /boyfriend you were used to a great deal of importance in the person’s life, you will have to have the maturity to accept that you will no longer have the same and should also be able to see your ex move on.

Riya Gupta | student: NO I don’t think it’s a good idea being friends with your ex. They are like those dark experiences that we wish to forget and if we want to move on in life, we have to erase them completely from our memory. Friendship with them will only invite a troubled state of mind. So I believe it’s not a great idea to be friends with one’s ex.

Debapriya Goswami | marketing professional: NO It’s not at all possible to be friends with your ex. This is not a real friendship. This kind of “friendship” isn’t good and will just make everyone feel awkward and uncomfortable. The worst possible situation to be in when you are friends after a break up is to still hold a grudge against each other but to be passive and aggressive about it. 

Sarvesha Karnani | public
relations professional: YES You can be friends if you give it a gap of a few years after your break up and then see each other again. It gives you adequate time to move on with your life. But immediately after the break up? I think it’s too soon to swap an intense relationship for a mere friendship. You need a transitional phase especially when deep emotions are involved!!
Souradeep Raul Dutta
| singer/songwriter: YES Cconsidering you were in a relationship you would probably know this person really well and vice versa. So I think it’s possible to take your ex as your friend. Moreover, I would consider it a precious relationship since nowadays everyone can be anonymous, thanks to social networking sites. As far as residual emotions are concerned, that depends on the realtionship and the people concerned. There can’t be a general answer to that.

Anupam More | businessman:
YES I think it is possible to be friends with your former girlfriend. Every relationship has both good and bad moments. If for any reason it doesn’t work out between two people, there’s no reason to be bitter about it. One should be realistic about life and try to accept it in a more graceful manner rather than ending it in a fight. Life is too short to bear grudges. One should remember the good times and move on with life.

Indroneel Mukherjee | fashion designer and stylist: NO To get over an ex-lover, the first step is to completely cut off all ties or else you can really never get over. There is too much familiarity between the two people and you end up making up again and again. So if it’s over, make sure it’s really over! I tell my friends all the time, to get over a man get under another man! And that can’t happen if your ex, even as a friend is around.

Youngsters and Spirituality

Supreeta Singh

When Akshay Kumar sings Hare Ram Hare Ram, Hare Krishna Hare Ram sporting a saffron bandana and branded glasses, the whole nation chants along. A jilted Justin Timberlake croons What Goes Around, Comes Right Back Around about karma. Amish Tripathi’s debut novel The Immortals of Meluha portrays an upright man deified as Shiva.
Clearly, fate and destiny are no more the concern of only the elderly or unemployed – and god-men. Kismet, or divine will, now fascinates and enthrals the youth too. Are terrorism, degradation of the environment and racial-religious fault lines plunging humanity into pre-ordained violence? And what’s the purpose of life? Do human beings really have a soul? Is soul timeless? Does it survive death?
Teenagers, besides young men and women in their 20s, are grappling with these questions as never before  – and want answers. 
Amish Tripathi is floored by the response to his book. “Readers as young as 12 are writing to me. A few of them said they were afraid of God but now they see God in a new light. Others have described my book as a wild ride, while many have changed their Facebook profile picture to the book cover.”
Moreover, the character of Shiva impressed a reader so much that he got the book cover tattoed on his arm. A 16-year-old called Shiva a cool dude. “What I find most gratifying is that the response not just from Hindus but Christians, Muslims, Parsees, Jews and foreigners who know very little about India”, adds Tripathi.
Youth is breaking free of the shackles of religion it seems. It sees God as a supreme power. Period. Riddhima Toshniwal, who has a post-graduate diploma in journalism and mass communications, says: “I am spiritual rather than religious.
True, I’m a Hindu by birth and read the Hanuman Chalisa every night. But I also visit churches often and have also been to gurudwaras. I really don’t have a name for the God I pray to. In that sense, my birth certificate doesn’t tell the full story”, says Riddhi. 
In an age of strife, God clearly is a source of strength. The distinction between good and evil is inevitably highlighted when one has to choose between right and wrong. But many don’t see it from a religious or spiritual perspective. Debak Das, a student of International Relations at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University remarked that good and evil cannot be defined in absolute terms. “I am neither religious nor spiritual. Incidents like murders, for example are circumstantial. Caste conflict stems from socio-political
reasons. So I try to be as objective as possible. You could call it a scientific approach. We can shape our own destiny with hard work and time management.”
There are many who do not believe in God at all. They want to experience what they call the “truth” sans religion. According to them, religious belief is rooted in fear which leads to superstitions. Student Amoha Das says, “Beliefs distract people from the beauty, grandeur, splendour and divinity of existence. Priests across religions inspire people into believing in God, heaven, virtue
and sin. But spirituality is more individualistic: it’s all about communicating directly with a supreme power.”
“While religions have everything to do with the past and the future, spirituality is about the present moment.”
Abhishek Basu, an MBA student, says: “What you do today will have a bearing on your future. I cannot control everything that happens to me but I can definitely control I how react to them. To remain truthful is my mode of worship. I am not
concerned with spirituality per se. But I believe in giving my best and living as honestly as possible.”
A thoughtful Riddhima says: “There is a purpose behind whatever happens. And while you may not get what you want, you get what’s good for you at that point of time. I have seen this happen in my own life. So I see God as a protective force prodding me in the right direction.”

Fair and ghastly!


Natasha Kesh and Ananya Majumdar
Actors are all over the small screen and hoardings endorsing everything from shampoos and creams to cement. From Shah Ruhk Khan and John Abraham to Kareena Kapoor everyone is endorsing one of the fastest moving commodities in the market — fairness creams. But Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, who is the brand ambassador of an international brand, declined to promote a fairness crèam of the same brand. Thankfully here is one person who is conscious of the fact that such advertisements are demeaning as they equate fairness with beauty.
Nevertheless, business enterprises are capitalising extensively on this fascination for fair skin and flooding the markets with fairness products. Every major brand has some kind of fairness product in its kitty. Name any Indian company that makes beauty products, and you have it. Foreign brands, which are banned from launching such products in their own land, are also making inroads with such products cashing in on the Indian obsession for fairness. They tempt consumers with promises of getting rid of the high melanin content responsible for darker skin within 15 days, 14 days, 7 days and some even claim results in only 5 days. Not only soaps and creams, a talcum powder is now playing on the psyche with a promise of ‘instant glow’ that is suggestive of fairer complexion.
No matter how tall their claims are, all these products have a market which only proves the craze to be fair. Do customers actually believe it’s possible to change skintone? Dr Shobha Sehgal, head of beauty, VLCC Health Care Limited said of the clients who come to VLCC for skin care treatments, almost 60 per cent want skin lightening treatments, which also includes tan removal, skin radiance treatments or the perfect skin whitening treatment. Those coming in for pre- bridal packages, almost 80 per cent want skin lightening treatments in the package. “It’s not just girls who want to become fair. There has been an increase in the number of men who come to the center demanding skin lightening treatments. We have to counsel our clients to focus on their holistic wellness so that they don’t just look good but also feel great,” said Shobha.
The figures show many put blind faith in such creams. Paromita Nandi, a TV presenter in Kolkata swears by such products.
“I am obsessed with fairness and prefer to use anything to give my skin a lighter tint. I did turn a few heads once I started using Fair and Lovely consistently and I am happy with the results. After my programmes I get as many emails from people saying they love my skin colour.”
She is not alone. Gargi Choudhary, a 25-year-old college student says, “I’d like to have a glowing skin and therefore keep trying various products in the market. Though I don’t like to discuss it with friends. I feel shy.”
Not everybody shares the prejudice as Ria Saha, an Economics student from Goenka College says, “I don’t have a hangover for fairness, but I know some people do. I’d rather have glowing skin to having a fairer skin.”
Do we still turn a blind eye to the harmful after-effects of creams packaged in glossy tubes? As Rituparna Gupta, a microbiologist exclaims, “It is our right as consumers to know what is going into these creams. It’s time they stopped touting these creams as having no side-effects.” Dr Subrata Majumdar, a scientist who has dealt extensively with skin-related issues said most fairness creams have a high percentage of hydroquinone, which blocks melanin secretion. Mercury and a new derivative of Vitamin C, Kogic Acid are used too, which even peel the skin. The harmful after-effects, opines Dr Majumdar, are skin cancer and kidney problems.
Over the past few decade feminists have scoffed at the propaganda of ‘fair is beautiful and successful.’ A feminist activist in Delhi, Sabeira Pereira is surprised to know how much of an impact a cream can have on the psyche of people. “Brands such as Fair and Lovely are running campaigns to say they fulfill a social need. They say 90 per cent of the women use creams to lighten their skin tone because it is aspirational in a way. A fairer skin is like an educational and social step up. I suppose everybody likes to believe that success is easy to get using this commodity.”
A dark-skinned pride movement has been growing in recent years. Women across the web have been writing about their heartfelt acceptance of their skin colour, just as it were, including Ruchira Sengupta, who has written a doctoral thesis on the topic. “My mornings used to involve at least an hour of skin routines, just to see if I could look a bit fairer. But now no more,” she says.
But it’s a long way to go before the fairness bubble is busted.


Supreeta Singh
There was a time when younger men dated older women openly only in the West. In India it was mostly unheard of or best kept under wraps. Even the ones that surfaced were quickly hushed up.
But at a time when shifting gender roles are laying down new rules in the game of love, the age difference is also put on the back-burner. Men are comfortable being with women who are years older than them and women too are reaching out to  them.
Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher redefined the dynamics of such relationships when they got married. You have seen similar instances in movies such as The Good Girl, Harold and Maude, Class, Notes On A Scandal, Prime, The Graduate and others.
It is often said that men never grow up. As they age, their need for emotional succour and dependence continues to escalate in equal proportion. Whether such relationships are successful or approved by society is no concern for them.
Amit Dhar (name changed on request), a successful professional is in his late 20s. Currently, he is living in with his girlfriend at her house in south Kolkata. She is in her early 40s and a senior marketing manager.
There are certain factors that determine the strength of a romantic and committed relationship between men and women. Emotional maturity and worldly experience are two such qualities that have always been important.  They influence the core factor of dependability of one partner on the other. This, in turn, makes the bond between them stronger and deeper.
Amit says, “We met at a party thrown by a common friend. Initially, we started out as friends. However, as time passed I realised that she was a mature and independent woman. Unlike girls of my age, who always look up to you for protection and care, here was someone who could take care of herself. This attracted me to her a lot.”
Amit’s partner is divorced. His family is yet to come to terms with the relationship. But he is hopeful and says that once they see that they are together for good, they will come to understand and accept both of them. “We want to get married and settle down. I know for many this situation is not comfortable, but I believe in our relationship,” says Amit.
 Some may reason that an attraction such as this comes when a guy has been brought up by a sensitive mother who is very close to him. Or perhaps an aunt or teacher who had made a strong impression at an early age.
Niladri Dutta pooh-poohs such notions. He says that when it is a matter of love, the heart has its own reasons. “My ex-girlfriend was almost seven years older to me. We had great chemistry but for some reason the relationship did not work out. In my case, I can say that age had got nothing to do either with my falling in love with her or our breaking up. I liked her personality and sense of values irrespective of her age. And when we decided to discontinue our relationship, it was not because of our age difference but some other personal reasons,” says Niladri.
From a psychological point of view, there is no hard and fast rule that marks such instances as ‘out of the normal’. Dr Srimanti Chowdhury says that there has been no research based data that can tell whether these relationships are successful or not.
“It’s a matter of personal choice. Age is just a social construct. If two people are happy being together, then let’s not add special dimensions and connotations to make it more complicated,” she says.

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