Well, this was FASCINATING!!! I’m watching them out of order, so I just finished the Jackie and Sid episode, which was a bit tricky because there isn’t much that the audience was interested in learning about them. In comparison with Shahid and Mira, where we want to know EVERYTHING.
First thing before I move on, camouflage lapels? Really Karan? Really?
Okay, Shahid and Mira come out holding hands, which sets the tone right there. Super handsy, super lovey-dovey the whole time. It’s kind of sweet, but also kind of gross. Control yourself! You’re on television!!!! Karan even kind of hints at it a little later, says “You know, there is nothing worse for people not in a relationship than to see this.” And when Shahid laughs it off and says something about “Just you wait until you are in love”, Karan says “Yeah, even then, I just don’t think I could be like this.” It’s said in a friendly way, but there is also a little bit of a message of “stop playing handsy! It’s gross and weird and makes us all uncomfortable!”
Right, moving on, Karan starts right off with detailed questions about what we all wanted to know, how they heck Shahid Kapoor ended up in an arranged marriage with a little college student from Delhi, 13 years younger than him.
Some of this story I had heard before in Shahid interviews, but it was interesting getting Mira’s perspective on it. And getting Karan’s pushing for what brought Shahid to this point, pushing by someone who would actually know if he was lying.
Shahid’s side of it was that he had dated a lot, and when you are young, you sort of make yourself over in the relationship, their friends are your friends and so on. But now he is older and he wanted something real, and he had been single for about 4 years and nothing was happening, and he wanted someone whose values matched his and so on.
That all sounds reasonable and nice and so on. But doesn’t it also have just the faintest hint of “I am tired of doing work in a relationship, I want a wife who will make herself over to match me”?
From Mira’s side, apparently this came completely out of nowhere? She was invited over to a friend’s house for lunch and her parents were there, which she wasn’t expecting, and so were his parents, and she realized it was a “first meeting”. And she originally thought it was with Shahid’s brother, because they were the same age, but now, it was Shahid! Oh, and this was all set up by the Guru of the group both their families follow, or as they referred to it, “path”.
Okay, if my parents invited me for lunch and I arrived to discover a bunch of strangers and a boy that had been picked out by our minister for me, I would FREAK THE HECK OUT!!!!
And I know this is kind of normal, and healthy, and voluntary. I was just talking about this in my post on Humsafar, that arranged marriages as they are today in the upper classes work like this, two people with things in common get to meet and know each other, and their families get to know each other, and eventually they have a wedding. But on the other hand, it’s Shahid Kapoor! A huge movie star! With a very very very very very very very very long romantic history!
(so cute together back in the day!)
To have him decide that he wants some sweet young outsider with no romantic history, selected by his religious leader and his parents, and that this whole idea is sprung on her with no notice while he got to decide he wanted it, GAH!!!!
Also, GAH, quotes like “After she got pregnant, we got very close.” “The process of falling love happens after marriage.” “In the beginning we were strangers.” “She conceived early.” “The first thing we really did together [was having a baby].”
Again, I guess this is normal and healthy and common. Two people decide they want to get married and make a reasoned decision that the best way to find a compatible partner is to look around their social circle and find people with shared values. They meet and spend time intensely getting to know each other (Shahid mentions 6-7 meetings, including flying her down to Bombay). And then they get married with a mutual understanding that children and a family life are the ultimate goal.
But it’s just so clinical! The way they are talking about it, that they had to get to know each other, that they didn’t really have any shared experiences until the baby, that “she conceived early”. I don’t know what I would have preferred, for them to sugar-coat it a little, to pretend that they were passionately in love at first sight? Or to say that the baby was a wonderful surprise, not a clinical goal?
You know what it is? I wanted a sense of fear, of doubt. I wanted them to admit “yeah, I was terrified those first few months when it wasn’t really working out.” I wanted them to say “it was spooky getting pregnant with someone I still didn’t feel that close to”.
(Mani Ratnam gets it! Why don’t they admit their marriage was just a little bit Mouna Ragam and not all Hum Aapke Hain Koun?)
They did that a little, with the age issue. They both talked about how they were unwilling to get serious because the age freaked them out. And how now it is something they can joke about, that she always crushes on younger men and Shahid laughs about her “keeping him young.” If they had talked about all the other arranged marriage part of it in the same way, admitted that it was a problem and they worked through it individually and together and now they can joke about it, that would be one thing. But to have them sit there holding hands and laughing about how great it was that she got pregnant right away so they would have something in common, GAH!
And maybe their marriage really is great and perfect and will last for ever. In fact, I kind of believe that it is. But I also think they were covering up some things in this interview, either consciously or unconsciously. Maybe they are in such a happy honeymoon phase right now that they don’t even remember the rough spots. Or maybe they decided to not discuss it as part of this interview since this is their very first public appearance. For me, though, that was a mistake. Just made it seem like falling in love and being happy is inevitable post-marriage, even with nothing in common and a 13 year age gap and getting pregnant almost immediately.
Let’s see, anything else to mention? Oh! One of Karan’s rapid fire questions was “Would you rather have sex, be in love, or get famous?” And Shahid’s response was “I would rather have sex with someone I love and get famous for it.” Which is a clever response, but also inevitably made me think “wait, isn’t that kind of what he did with Kareena?”
(and the reason he first got invited onto Koffee!)
And the running theme that I found really really fascinating was how this whooooooole episode was about marriage and family and so on, and Shahid’s mother apparently didn’t exist?
Right at the beginning, Mira said about going to this lunch and Shahid’s parents were there, and Karan interrupted her to clarify “Pankaj and Supriya?” “Yes.”
That’s it, that’s all he needed, and for the rest of the episode Karan made sure that Neelima Azam did not exist. Mira’s in-laws were Pankaj and Supriya, Shahid’s parents are Pankaj and Supriya, Shahid’s little brother is Ruhaan, they are a nice traditional family with good values.
It was SO WEIRD!!!! What happened to Shahid’s other mother, you know, the one who gave birth to him and raised him? Or his other half-brother or his two stepfathers or any of that? Isn’t Karan rumored to be launching his half-brother on his mother’s side? Wouldn’t he want to bring that up?
(See, photographic proof! She exists, and Mira has met her)
I know Neelima was at the wedding, and it’s never been a secret that Shahid’s parents got divorced and his father and mother both remarried. I’ve also never really heard that Shahid has any issues with her, or that there was some big drama between his parents. So where did this come from?
Is it just because this was the “happy families” episode? They didn’t want to talk about divorce or marriages failing because we were supposed to be happy happy, marriage and babies fix everything?
I have many thoughts on this. First, I think it is fair that they painted a rosy picture. Their lives are scrutinized enough. If I, a regular person, (for some crazy reason) was on a talk show, I would discuss the most positive aspects of my marriage. One barely wants to tell a best friend about marital problems (that aren’t catastrophic). So, I’m okay with that. At one point he made a comment, “This isn’t Vivah.” I don’t know if you’ve seen that film, but actually it is Vivah. 1) Meeting with both families arranged by family friend 2) quick agreement to marry with not that much discussion but a lot of chemistry and happiness 3) unevenness of stature of boy (rich) and girl (middle class) 4) Falling in love while engaged 5) Really in love and really married after hospital stint and scare. I thought that was really interesting. I was pleasantly surprised by how smart and articulate Mira is. She seems to be a match for him. She can hold her own, I think. Also, Shahid made a passing reference to talking to Karan about his (Shahid’s) love woes in the past. They must know each other well and therefore Karan pushed them as far as he knew he could/should. I am less freaked out about the age difference. Levels of maturity are really really different in different people.
I was interested in the Vivah comment too. To me it felt like a bit of a rejection of a class/modernity attitude towards arranged marriage. Like “we aren’t the old-fashioned backward village type of arranged marriage couple like in Vivah.” Although the family in Vivah was supposed to be all rich and urban, the film was aimed squarely at the local audience (as are all Rajshri films), and so the various signifiers were super old-fashioned and village-y kind of, instead of the upper upper upper super super wealthy class that Shahid and Mira belong to.
Arranged marriage in general has this odd class overtone to it that is related to colonialism and westernization and all sorts of other things. Did you see Dil Dhadakne Do? My impression is that film was fairly accurate as to how “arranged” marriages work in the highest level of society. It’s more about throwing the young people together and strongly encouraging them to “fall in love”, rather than this up front attitude of “we are all hear to talk about you two being married”. What you hear a lot is about something like an “arranged love marriage”. Kajol and Ajay, for instance, I’ve heard interviews where they talked about it like that, like it was their parents who originally threw them together, but then over time they fell in love on their own. To say straight up “we weren’t in love when we got married but we had similar values and our parents approved” is kind of rare.
And it’s especially rare in the film industry! Where almost everybody has a love marriage, usually a love marriage that goes against the usual society structures (which is why they ended up in film, because no one cares who you are married to there). And, on the other hand, because of all the love marriages, most people end up married to other people in the industry. Because that’s who you meet and fall in love with. I was picturing that dinner party Mira mentioned being at, and how everyone must have been fascinated with this person who had married into the inner circle, and a married couple who hadn’t really known each other before marriage.
My impression was in terms of class and wealth that they were fairly well matched, with Mira perhaps out classing Shahid in some ways. Did you catch all the mentions of “farmhouse”? If you haven’t run across that particular Indian-English phrase before, that’s what you call the very biggest and richest vacation homes of the upper classes. I guess “Estate” might be a close match in American-English. If her family has a farmhouse, and all their friends have farmhouses, it means they are very very rich and high class. Not famous, but kind of classier because they aren’t famous, you know?
I had the same feeling of Karan knowing where to go and where not to go. He’s so close to Kareena, he must have known Shahid since back in the day when they were dating. And I think Dharma has produced or co-produced a fair number of Shahid vehicles over the years. Shaandaar was one of his, I think. And this is Mira’s first public interview. I’m sure it was chosen because they knew Karan would make it a comfortable space for her, and wouldn’t step out of bounds on his questions.
On Mon, Jan 9, 2017 at 11:35 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:
Yes, I caught that Farmhouse reference. When I first met people here with a second home and they said, “we’re going to the country this weekend.” I pictured a rustic house and picnics, not beach mansions! I think Vivah’s Shahid character is super wealthy. He travels to Japan on business and is working in his father’s very very big firm. Not that that matters. What I didn’t know is about Ajay and Kajol! I thought they had just met on their own. Listen, the older I get and the more wonderful 30 something young people I meet who are not meeting each other, the more I think this arranged marriage thing isn’t so dumb.
I love that way of explaining why arranged marriage makes sense! Yes, young people are helpless and kind of dumb about finding each other.
The Ajay and Kajol thing doesn’t come up much, and they were engaged and dating for over a year, so I think they prefer to tell the version of the story where they fell in love and dated for a long time and then she decided she was ready to get married. And just sort of glide by the part where their families were the ones who did the initial set up and introduction.
Was it you that I was talking with in the comments about how there are insiders and there are “insiders”? How Ranveer may not have been raised in the industry, but he went to all the right parties and knew all the right people just from growing up in Bandra? For a lot of these “love marriages” within and without the film industry, I kind of feel like it is related. So, say, Hrithik and Suzanne. They had a love marriage, but they’d also known each other for years because they were both industry brats and their families worked together and so on and so on. So it’s not exactly like they had to go out and fight for their love, or bring together two strange families or something. Same with Shweta Bachchan and What’s-his-face Nanda, it wasn’t arranged, but they would have been aware that they were of similar social status through where they saw each other and how they met. Anyway, it feels like with most of high class society, the parents can make sure you meet someone of “the right values” and “similar background” just by what social events you attend, instead of doing any sort of super formal meeting.
On Mon, Jan 9, 2017 at 1:18 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:
Pingback: Karan Versus Kangana on Koffee and Beyond – dontcallitbollywood
Will you please write an analysis of the KWK pilot with ShahRukh and Kajol? Or even the kajol-SRK-Rani Season Two opener? Or the Rajeev Masand interview of them please? (By far my favorite)
I love the KWK pilot, they are all so sweet and nervous. Although, after reading Karan’s memoir, I am now so heartbroken about him and Kajol I don’t know if I could take seeing them in happier days!