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.