The ‘identity’ in an Indian Movie

“What’s your identity?” He asked

“Everything you own is given by your parents.

You live a carefree life, feeding of the goods not just of your parents and siblings, but also your friends.

You have no shame, no respect, and no aims or goals in life. You are an irresponsible guy who just wants to get through the day and be a useless junk in the society.”

If you have watched a lot of Indian movies, then these questions are not new. I was so tired of watching many films with these repeat dialogues having a few changes. The theme however always remained the same – Your identity!

The ‘Identity’ in movies mostly is either a conversation between a father and son or a father and his daughter’s boyfriend. Sometimes the roles reverse. It’s the girl who gets questioned especially if she is from a poor background. Lets delve. How much of these stories depicted and the words communicated in a scene actually come from a household away from the glitz and glamour of the big screen? I can easily relate to a few instances but I am going to cite only two examples.

At one point in my life, I wanted to become a singer. I learned a bit of piano while growing up and I thought I could also be a Madonna or have my own group like Boney M. I never understood their lyrics as a toddler and would bounce on my feet every time my mom played Rasputin or her songs. During high school, I came close to quitting education to join the list of people in search of a break in the music industry. I cried, I fought, and I cribbed because I thought it’s easy to become a singer. On hearing this, my mother went berserk. The first thing she said in a sarcastic yet controlled tone was:

‘What did you just say…. You want to be a Singer?

Have you gone mad?

Who is teaching you all this?

What will happen to your studies?

Do you know how much pain and sufferings I have endured all these years to give you the best education?’

Now when I look back, I can see the matches. I wonder if she had discussed about me with a scriptwriter or it’s just that there have been and are many ‘ME’s. The ‘What’s that day still resonate in my brown ears. The bottom line is, I was given the taste of reality. I had to make an Identity for myself, which meant gaining knowledge by finishing school, graduating from college and then may be pursuing a master’s degree or getting a job. I just did all of it.

Now lets read the following lines and see if it rings a bell:

“They will never understand our love.

My parents are the worst. I thought they loved me but they care only about their status.

Take me away from them and lets get married.”

It was my second semester. My college principal was in charge of conducting Hindi classes for all the 2nd year students. One day she walked in with a mixed look of anger and disappointment, and narrated the reason behind it. A female student had gone missing for ten days. She was finally found – alive, healthy and married. She had eloped from home to be with her boyfriend of few months. In the days prior to her run, she informed her friends that her family was aware of this newfound relationship. Being the typical Indian parents, they were against it. They argued about how unsuitable he was, and that he seemed like a liar interested in gaining some financial aid from her family. When they questioned her about his background, she was left speechless. She only knew three things:

  • He couldn’t live without her.
  • He was unconditionally in love with her.
  • He was a wealthy guy who would often come to pick her from college in different cars. This meant that he was self-sufficient.

Running away seemed the only option to live peacefully with the love of her life. I started replaying a similar scene from an old movie and thought may be the writers had interviewed her folks but this was recent. In this girl’s case, she fell for a mechanic working at a garage who would drive a new vehicle every day. Blinded in love, she trashed her memories and trust of her parents to start a new life only to be cheated later. Questioning her actions now sounds easy but I felt what would have happened if she had completed her studies and then talked about marriage. She would have secured herself not just in terms of acquiring knowledge or a degree, but a better understanding of people and relationships.

My take after scrolling through a number of such instances on a common dialogue (between lovers, friends or family) or a part (like someone eloping, or giving up on life, or chasing their dreams and so on) has evolved. In my opinion, much of these are inspired from our very lives. It could have been motivated by someone’s past or present, and perhaps it is a way to inform and prepare people of such scenarios the easiest way.