The ex-files – Soch lo

(Submission for the Soch lo contest on indiblogger)

What if your partner’s ex wants them back? Well, shoot the ex, as in who cares what the ex wants? I would be more concerned about what my partner wants. I would ask my partner what do they have to say about the Return of the Big EX. If there is any amount of hesitation in deciding who they want to be with, I would just say dude, I am leaving, good times to you and ex. If your partner cannot for whatever reason decide, that is not your problem, its his (using the male pronoun as I am a female). Just like taking a decision is a choice, sitting on the fence is also a choice and every choice has its consequences. You are not obliged to sit on the fence wall with Humpty Dumpty just because he is scared to climb down or hates or is confused about the ground on either side. You are entitled to your walk in the garden without a bumpy ride.

That said it also depends on how the ex and your partner broke up. In most cases, there never is a justification to return. If say your partner had been the bad person, maybe the ex needs to get their head examined as to why they want to return. If the ex was a bad person, then your partner of course, has no reason to return. But if the ex was the bad person and your partner seems to waver at the offer, you really need to rethink your relationship. Why is your partner behaving this way, are they alright?

A lot of times people use exes like some back up plan, even unconsciously, running to them for consolation when something else fails in life, if not for a new relationship but atleast to get some support for old times’ sake. There are very few exes who can be good friends, lets say 1% of the population. The rest of the 99% keeps in touch because of unfinished business and by this I refer to the numerous couples who do not have kids together. If you have kids, it’s a totally different story.

Someone wants the ex to one day finally realise that they made a mistake in leaving. Some others keep in touch because they don’t want to face the fact that they had been the jerk or jerkette. Some genuinely believe that they are trying to be friends and are really not aware of the fact that they are actually trying to avoid being seen as the bad or uncool person who wont talk. Its an evasion of either guilt or the reality of the end of the relationship. Some others are keeping in touch waiting for that one moment or moments of vindication, when they can tell the ex what you sow, so shall you reap. The cycle of emotional manipulation that the two started during the relationship continues much after it ends. What’s amazing is that for practical purposes, these two people have moved on, they now have new partners, but even then they keep in touch for some ego validation, forgetting that in the process they are disrespecting their current partner.

In very rare circumstances, both the parties have matured to such an extent that they can put the past aside and start afresh, but most people still have trust issues after getting back. So it is very important for both parties to actually know their own real motive in getting back. Is it to get validation, vindication, make the past alright or to actually have a better future together? Are they trying to numb out the past rejection by trying to get back?

And if you are the new partner caught in the ex drama, all I have to say is, if your partner hesitates, then they have dug their own grave. You are fully justified in leaving them to their fate. If they go back to their ex and find that they want you after all, then that is their problem. You surely deserve someone who wants you all the time and not as an afterthought. So if they waver, please walk out. Don’t be party to a drama that two people want to create. You deserve a drama free life, especially when the drama is not of your own creation at all. But if your partner comes to you and says that the ex wants to come back but they don’t want to go, hold on to dear life. You have a keeper on hand.

Crazy love explained in Mahesh Bhatt movies – 2

Part 1 of this post can be found here

Another thing Voh Lamhe explores is the period when Bhatt and Babi had been ardent Osho followers. Though this part has only been touched upon. But Bhatt’s interviews to publications over the years, confirmed a belief that I had held for long. Following a cult is another form of escapism. When you don’t know who you are or what you want, that is the perfect time when a Narcissistic Godman can enter your life. I for one believe that God is not so insecure that he has to declare to the world he is almighty, whereas most Godmen do declare that time and again don’t they? In all religious texts if you read closely, it is said that your God and peace reside in you, but in our dysfunctional relationships with ourselves and the world, we tend to seek God in others and become fresh meat for cult Gods.

A similar escapist way of dealing with the chaos in life is shown very briefly in one of Bhatt’s most brilliant movies – Zakhm. Pooja Bhatt’s character is shown to shut the door to her room and excommunicate herself from her sons whenever she is in great mental distress. It is later revealed in the movie that at such times she would fervently say her prayers to get over her distress. Another passive and escapist way of dealing with the issue of the illegitimate relationship. The less spiritually inclined might go for the numbing addiction provides. No wonder Marx equated religion with addictions.

Movies tend to make us believe that love just happens, that no one can control it. Actually it’s the animal instinct of attraction that is uncontrollable. Love is a set of choices you make everyday. Love they say is an action, and no amount of praying/drinking is going to change anything unless you make the decision to act. And being in an illicit relationship is a choice, one that I have seen some people walk away from, once they realise how crazy it is to be in those shoes. Granted you don’t always know what are the consequences of your actions, but once you know, you can always make the effort to change, rather than chanting “I cant”. Cannot I believe is an unnecessary word in English, there is no cannot, there is only wont, because each of us makes our own choices.

Arth, the first in the Bhatt-Babi trilogy was a story more suited to the moralistic landscape of the time. The characters were black and white, good Shabana and Raj, weak/bad Kulbhushan and Smita Patil. Even Aashiqui which was semi biographical, had the evil hostel warden and good orphan. It was in the later movies that Bhatt experimented with the world and its craziness as it was, without offering justifications for why his characters did whatever they did. They were weak/twisted/evil and though he did give the psychological background of the troubled childhood, he stopped justifying why they were who they were. And Zakhm is perhaps the best example of this. Ajay Devgan’s character doesn’t judge his parents or blame them for his problems, its an acceptance that only age and maturity can give you.

Jism and Murder on the other hand explore the fragility of purely hormonal love as opposed to love based on genuine understanding. Bhatt’s characters in these movies show the darker side of the passion in illicit relationships – the basic uncertainty of them. Mujhko dil se yahi shikayat hai, jo usko mil nahin sakta kyun uski chahat hai goes the song in Jism. Nothing is more draining for the human soul than getting attached to something that rests on a shaky ground. Again separation and starting life afresh requires a lot of courage too, something depicted very well in Arth, but many extra marital affairs are escapism, and if that is what it is, both the parties tend to stay stuck with their partners while playing victims constantly crying if only things were different. Of course since it’s a movie, there is murder, mayhem and lots of drama. Paap on the other hand depicts the flip side of morality and impulse control. A day to day example of this could be how children from extremely conservative families tend to turn out to be the most experimental when it comes to relationships and addictions, the moment they start living in a different city because of work or studies. This movie also explores parental influence in our life choices and also expresses that needless denial of impulses to gain salvation in an after/future life is just pointless.

According to my own understanding most of us make only two mistakes that create all the madness in life. One is refusing to take responsibility for our own actions and the other is denial of reality. Bhatt’s semi autobiographical movies frequently have such characters and Bhatt also reiterates the fundamental truth that no one is good or bad, it’s the choices people make that make them good or bad. Though a lot of the reality gets watered down because of the over dramatisation, characteristic of Bollywood movies, Bhatt still manages to get in some honesty and anyone who has gone through the pangs of growing up to a reasonable level of maturity can see the patterns of thinking that guide his confused/weak/crazy characters.

Many of his central characters have a victim mentality and keep rolling in the muck of self created disasters, something Bhatt depicts taking a leaf out of his own mistakes. On the screen its all a rosy picture, but for Bhatt and the people he touched, living it might not have been easy. And though he probably took a long time to himself own up to the responsibility of his life, in the process, he learnt how to serve up the psychological struggles within his mind with a generous sprinkling of song and dance.

Any successful author would tell you that the best stories ever told are the ones that you lived and Bhatt used this formula film after film. It takes great courage to put up your life under scrutiny for the whole world to see. It may not be the whole truth, but the movies do talk of a life of making mistakes and learning, of being human and fallible.

Crazy love explained in Mahesh Bhatt movies – 1

Since I can remember, my favourite song of all time has been Tere dar par sanam from Phir Teri Kahaani Yaad Aayi. This was Mahesh Bhatt’s second cinematic exploration of his relationship with Parveen Babi. While the first movie Arth focussed on the dynamic of the other woman, Phir Teri was about Parveen’s mental illness and the push-pull of their relationship. As a teenager, Tere dar par seemed to me like the ultimate declaration of love. Its only recently have I realised what a self defeating song it actually is. Many songs of the 90’s had a pining away quality to them, but Tere dar par was probably one of the best/worst examples. Tu na aaya toh ham chale aaye it goes, perpetuating the myth that one doesn’t have any self respect when one is in love. The trouble was that for a lot of people like me who grew up then, this song did not mean a lack of self respect, but a sacrifice of pride, because after all there is no place for pride in love is there?

But if you look at the song in the actual context, you realise it is apt, Pooja Bhatt who plays Parveen’s character, in the movie, is mentally ill and for her Rahul Roy is her only confidante, she is shown as needing him. And Rahul Roy’s character keeps running around in circles with the relationship, knowing fully well that he cant ‘save’ her and yet trying to save her. It’s the classic dysfunctional relationship dynamic. The person who ‘saves’ the lost soul feels good about himself being noble and the person who needs ‘saving’ controls by being helpless and angry alternately. The psychological dynamic is called Karpman’s drama triangle and a lesser known phenomena called codependence.

As I was listening to this song last evening, I was suddenly struck by the number of Bhatt movies that have supposedly star struck lovers. Another movie the songs of which I liked a lot at that time was Gunaah. It had Bipasha Basu as a cop with a troubled past falling in love with, you guessed it, a criminal with a troubled past. Both have a lot of unresolved issues that they hope their love can resolve, an idea which is at best a delusion because like they say even God helps only those who help themselves. The song goes Hamne tumko dil ye de diya ye bhi na socha kaun ho tum. Typical hormonal reaction, jumping into a relationship – the hallmark of the beginning of any dysfunctional romantic relationship. And true enough, Bipasha who is sent to arrest him, is mesmerised by him because of a sudden hormonal reaction. Dino hardly speaks a word in the movie and yet you are led to believe that both of them have fallen in true, undying love.

In fact a lot of our ideas of love as teenagers are fed by these Mills Boonesque ideas (plead guilty of reading many of them) of how love is all you need to ‘save’ the other person. But what happens when the person you are trying to save, doesn’t want to be saved. A lot of people are more comfortable in identifying with the victim mentality, because when you are a victim, nothing you do is your fault, you are not responsible, its circumstances/destiny/God that made you like this. (Remember Bruce Almighty?) Its an easy way out, you don’t have to responsible or go through the actual pain of growing up and taking responsibility. But in real life, if your hurts decide your life, you push away the very people who are closest to you, a self fulfilling prophecy, where you end up exactly at the place you wanted to avoid.
Perhaps a more honest take on Bhatt’s relationship with Babi, was Voh Lamhe, though it still was highly romanticised. It has Bhatt almost admitting to the fact that he in some ways did ‘use’ Babi’s emotional turbulence to further his career (the financial aspect of this was dealt with in Arth) and in turn got entangled in a tangled, haunting relationship. Kangana is trying to run away from the cloud of darkness that her illness is casting on her thinking and anyone who offers her a little attention is instantly her soulmate, so Shiney Ahuja’s character just has to appear to be nice. Shiney on the other hand is trying to run away from his failure and Kangana provides him the reflected glory. Most emotionally disturbed relationships are an escapism, one or more of the person’s is actually running away from other realities in life and trying to find ‘solace’ in the ‘sanctuary’ of a relationship. Perfect recipe for disaster. The songs in this movie however did not have the intensity of relationship dynamics that Phir Teri had.
Continued in part 2 here

Over numerous cups of coffee

Well have had the following revelations about relationships over numerous cups of bad office coffee, some good barista coffee and well just coffee, because I am not the lets talk stuff over drinks person 🙂 Thought it might be interesting to share this debunking of myths with people out here 🙂 Its probably just a continuation to being in twenties post earlier but exclusively with respect to relationships.

The space myth : Oh we have all heard that we should give our partner space. Girls are told more often than boys that they should give their guys space. Yes it is necessary to give space. But what I have seen many people I know do is take getting space to mean being able to whatever they like without any consideration of what their partner wants or feels like. So if the partner says that such and such habit of theirs is not to their liking people accuse their partners of not giving them space. Space does not mean that you encroach on the self respects and rights of you partner. You do what you like within the limits of your partner’s personal space too. You give some you take some.

The commitment myth : ‘But I didn’t think of another guy/girl while I was with them, doesn’t that show I am committed?’ No it doesn’t. Did you discuss the future of your relationship with them and if yes did you ensure that you included them in your vision of your future? Are you still jittery about introducing them to all your friends or keep crying for time to introduce them to family? Does your family atleast know that such aperson exists in your life even if they think its a friend? Commitment is not just marriage or being monogamous. It means that you commit to share your lives and in that case you include your partner in all aspects of your life. You can’t say you are committed if a part of your life doesn’t even know about the existence of your partner. Then you are devaluing your partner’s importance in your life and it would also seem to them that you are not sure of the relationship and that is why you have an escape route ready by not acknowledging their existence. Don’t be surprised if they out of the blue dump you. They probably tried to talk but you might have given them the I need space and time talk everytime they asked. And one can ask only so many times. Also a person I spoke to told me that they could of course not be there for the other person always coz guys have other things too apart from their love life. So what is your love life, a time pass diversion to you? And if other things are so important why don’t you live with with just them other things? Why get into a relationship?

The relationships shouldn’t be hard work myth : Well here is the truth. Life is difficult, so nothing in it can be easy. It seems that people take it literally when they read all those relationship self help books. If you believe them nothing in life should be hard. It should all be blissful and perfect. Well kiddo doesn’t work so. You have to actively work at maintaining a relationship. If at the first conflict you abandon it saying it has to be easy then maybe you have commitment issues. Also people have the absurd expectation (probably comes from the media of which I am a guilty party) that partners have to absolutely understand them almost to the point of telepathy. And not just that partners should think exactly like them in everything. Again completely wrong. You are two different individuals and so you will think differently. You will not agree on everything, sometimes you may have to give up something, sometimes they might. Never expect the other person to do it always. Don’t give them the you should love me as I am speech. Relationships mean that there will be some changes you have to make. It should not change who you are but you can’t say that you won’t budge an inch. If you were so happy doing only what you want without considering anyone else then you better remain single.