December 21, 2006


What's with the Indian police and young love? First it was Meerut, then Nagpur, and now, Chennai. All the world loves the lovers, but not these fellows!

It's not about a few crazy Bajrang Dal bigots, taking law into their own hands to protect the Seethas from the Rahmans. It's about the law enforcement officials of a secular democracy, taking morals into their own hands to keep the Radhas away from the Krishnas. This Chennai suburb, that I am currently visiting, does not have any decent haunt for its youth to have some quality time with their friends. There is no sprawling mall, no drive-in restaurant, and not even a decent park, for the young girls and boys to meet and do what young girls and boys normally do. Naturally, they seek what may barely be called the privacy of the dusk for a few moments of extrospection. That is, until the state moral police decided to intervene.

After a few evenings of mutely watching the cops patrol the streets, and berate the hapless boys and girls chatting in the street corners, I couldn't take it anymore. My cousin and neighbor, a progressive fellow with a sixteen year old of his own, and I, decided to confront the cops. What gave them the right to poke their noses into the private lives of these Romeo and Juliet wannabes? Didn't they have anything better to do? Has the crime rate in the state plunged to such a low level that their jobs are now in jeopardy? No sir, we were merely acting on the complaints from the concerned parents, sir. Do you know, sir, that there have been a few cases of runaways and suicides in the neighborhood? You will disappear after your cheap talk, sir, but we are the ones who will have stay and face the music. Yada, yada, yada!

What these poor kids could do to alarm anyone is beyond me. Granted, they may be saying a few sweet nothings to each other, and may be, may be, hold hands. Under the circumstances, I seriously doubt if any of them would ever dare getting off the home plate for a shot at the first base. What are their parents worried about? Do they really think that the cops, who are always looking to get their hands on a few bucks on the side — and a few does, too, if they could frighten them enough — will do anything more than harass their children? I am not about to lecture the parents on what values that they ought to inculcate in their children. All I am saying is that it is their business, and their business alone — well, their kids' too. They'd be well advised to be wary of the slippery state, which, given half a chance, will be all too glad to meddle in their private lives.

What makes all this so incredible is that it's happening in a region that spews out candy-floss romances through every medium imaginable. An example is the 2004 blockbuster movie, Kaadhal (Love), a story of the elopement of a rich high school girl with... who else... a poor car mechanic, of course. It won the Filmfare award for the best Tamil film for the year. If this were barely tolerable, one could only imagine how the rest of the fare would be. Not that I want them to, but what is the state doing about the "pernicious" influence of the cinema on its impressionable young minds, may I ask?

In this tinsel state, there is little more than a revolving door to separate the fantasy world of cinema from the fantasy world of politics. It boasts an octogenarian scriptwriter turned chief minister, who would seize every opportunity to rob the exchequer to give sops to his alma-doesn't-mater. And then there is this television channel of Amma, by Amma, and for Amma — an erstwhile actor turned chief minister. It never tires of the old reruns of her racy song and dance sequences with yet another actor turned chief minister, who has temples built for him in the state. Why blame the kids for their inability to control their already raging hormones, when they are fueled by the insults to intelligence, dished out as cinema by Kollywood or Tollywood or whatever?

I recall reading somewhere that the former philosopher President of India, Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, once called his a nation of schizophrenics. How very true! Whatever happened to the civilization that sculpted the Kamasutra in Khajuraho?

The title is a wordplay on schizophrenic and Guernica.
  1. I completely agree with you. But, things are not as bad as it seems to you. Youngsters still find thier way out. :)

    I visited a tribal village in South India where the boy can kindnap a girl and keep her home for 6 months. After which a village meeting is held and the boy n the girl are allowed to agree upon a marriage. There has been cases where the girl has been kidnapped thrice and still rejected the marriage proposal.

    Now, who's more progressive?

  2. It's not Chennai alone. This was exactly the case where I live, about a year ago. However, since then, the Police Commissioner has changed, and so have the practices. It has gone to show me just how much difference one single person can make, even in as part of the government machinery, where the system has so much corruption and apathy. The local police force has definitely improved in quite a few aspects, but the hitch is that they have so much more to work on, that what they've already done, while laudable, is hardly very significant.

  3. Yes, what are they doing about all the so called "kaaviya kaadal" they portray in films between adoloscents?
    That is a very hypocritical culture out there.
    On the one hand the films portray love as the only worthwhile pursuit and on the other hand there is society which is paranoid about boys and girls getting to know each other - Too much is made about a natural attraction which they will outgrow if handled with maturity.
    And the police, they feel very strong, flexing their muscles and scaring these children but can do nothing with actual criminals and threats to society who are more armed and more powerful or can buy them with money.

  4. Tamil people never ceases to amaze me. Many films and especially the lyrics of many film songs are among the most obscene I have ever heard( some of my good tamil friends translated them for me). I watched those song and dance numbers on TV. So, I suppose sometimes people watch them in their home too.

    On the other hand rarely you could see more stringent moral policing ( yes everywhere in India moral policing is rampant but TN is outstanding). I remember the anti-jeans dictum for girls by the Anna University. From many of my tamil friends I came to know even someone wears jeans her top should be a long one!!! GAWD!!!! in which country we are living??

  5. arent you stereotyping too much ? i mean seriously whats the difference between you and the police. they assume every lover who is meeting out there is having sex and u have gone on to stereo type tamil movies as bad, all politicians as ex-cine actors.

    do you look around yourself and every other state in India and see the quality of movies or its politicians.

    i dont get into arguments with trivial posts like these - but this post seems extremely immature. the standards of desi pundit have come down

  6. Even in stereotyping, you have selected the wrong example. "Kadhal" is not a candy floss love story - its climax completely reverses the implication of whatever was presented earlier.

  7. In India, by and large, we don't have system which enables teenagers can hang out. Imposing western moral attituedes on Indian teenagers won't work. And comparing dumb movies to real lives won't work either.

    When it comes to matter of effection and love (and the difference between them), young Indian adults don't have teachers - not parents, not movies, not other institutions - none of them help.

    The police is the last one you should be blaming for this state.


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