Readers Write In #80: Love in the Time of Woke-ness

Posted on June 27, 2019


(by Tauseef Shahidi)

Woke-ness, which was supposed to be an esoteric label, like other such labels, has not only been democratised but alsomischievously as well as maliciously co-opted by a set of people infected with self-righteousness. For these reasons, it is no longer seen as a progressive label. But just because something has been abused does not stop people from using it. Woke-ness is not an exception. Conscientious folks do express their woke-ness from time to time whenever there be a need. And imposters remain woke all the time, mostly when there is no need as such. Most recently, they outpoured rage and venom against a movie which was foolish and outdated insome parts but also endearing and relatable in others, Kabir Singh. These formulaic outbursts are disjointed from the immediate reality and driven by sterile morality. The film is set in the world as it largely is. Here mencall the shots on behalf of women and other men.

Being in love is probably a progressive idea only when and where it is prohibited. This happened to be the case in the said movie. And for the rest of the time, love, like other elusive ideas, namely truth and aesthetics, is paradoxical. It could be emancipating and stiflingat the same time. The female protagonist in the movie, who had always lived in the shadow of a proud patriarchal father with a parochial outlook,needed the crutch of love to attain amorous and sexual liberation; and she did within the fence of love she found. She also eventually found her voice to stand up for herself and her lovein a world which continues to incarcerateone half of the population but only to taste ephemeral betrayal at the hands of her betrothed. This so-called liberation by the way was not intended by the incorrigibly obsessedmale protagonist as he did not treat his love as a sociological project to unshackle this young womanto only cage her later in his imagination.

He unconsciously fell for her into the abyss with the destructive pull of passion which usurpedreason at its height. That is why he had to resort to silly rhetoric upon being asked the reason for his love for her. ‘I like you for the way you breathe.’

Love could look graceful or crass,tastesweet or bitter, seem profound or silly depending upon whether you are paying attention to its method or the intent. Every heartfelt love is same in its intent; it is classified as legitimate or illegitimate only based on its methods. Similar to how love outside the sanctimonious bond of marriage was never granted its due by the old guards, the new guardians of morality are equally militant and insular in their definition of love. What almost always looks infringement to woke spectators could come across as boldness to the one being pursued.Unlike the methods of love which are available for all to scrutinise and judge, the intent is most often covertly but fully gets transmitted only to the receiver. The submissive, but not puritan, character of Kiara Advani did notexpressher offense to the risk her suitor took of planting a peck on her cheek before the uninvited audience. Is it because she did not have any agency? Possible given the kind of household she seems to have been brought up in. It is also possible that she was charmed by the forthright move.It feels sort of wicked to think this waybut is not completely outrageous given the reality around us. There is a thin line, but a distinct one, between being a seducer and an assaulter. Was that line breached?

Love is supposed to be beautiful not unflawed. Beautiful things come with their scars. Flawed people pass on their flaws to their love. Passionate personalities are driven by unhindered and spontaneous passion in their love, whereas people lacking such temperament might never witness gush of such emotions and remain orderly even in their business oflove.

Kabir Singh is sick and addicted, first to his love and later to his misery. His disease is his cure.A lot of his misdeeds were indeed spurting of lovebut not all of them, as it was garbed in the movie. Love is a convenient label which could easily be plastered on other virtues as well as vices—jealousy, gratitude, domination, fidelity, possession. He is a frail man in his solitude. He becomesa maverick, almost a genius,in front of people. His virtual lack of astutenessand pragmatism is a double-edged sword. He risks the life of his patient but is not ready to accepthis absolution for the same bought from expensive bribe—hisunique sense of nobility. I expected him to evolve to accept his fate and move on in life just like DevDuntil the very last scene. But, he is terminally ill with love. The love he wants, and she wants. He is ready to penetrate a woman at knife-point. Does that deserve a moral outrage and reproach?That scene was shot in a jovial mood because the act never materialised.