The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Tag: female

Actors and Projection

(Derived somewhat from an old post dated October 2012)

“Kaun Banega Crorepati,” India’s version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” was/is a popular show. The host Amitabh Bachchan would ask contestants what they’d do with the prize money they earned. Many men would respond quick, Go on a date with Aishwarya Rai. These were the days before Ms Rai became Mrs. Rai Bachchan. Anyway, Amitabh Bachchan would laugh lightly, then move on to other questions. The Aishwarya Rai answer was so darned common, it almost felt de rigueur. I never gave it a second thought. Everyone was joking, of course.

One day, my father (after hearing another contestant give the same answer) remarked, “Is Aishwarya Rai a prostitute that she’d go with anyone who is rich?”

He said it without any anger or annoyance, perhaps a trace of irony. It was a simple question, a rhetorical one. It made me stop and think. It hadn’t even occurred to me to think this way. With my complicity in this stupid joke about a game show winner going on a date with Ms. World, I had, like many others, bought into the “commodification” of Aishwarya Rai.

And then there is this.

One of my favorite films, a scene that is tough and unpleasant to watch for me.

Actors know all about projection. After all, they are constantly being projected upon. That is their job. The most talented actors function as blank slates, all the better for a director to project their vision on to.

And of course, projection is the way of this world. We are constantly foisting our dreams, expectations, fears, etc. on people around us. Actors aren’t exempt from this even though we don’t share physical space with them on a daily basis. They are projected upon, both on screen and off-screen.

And that’s how you land up with arrogant men who think that a female actor is a prostitute, AND the others who stand in deep awe of the personality, wanting to own her.

Monthlies

Relax

I have always been fairly lucky, menses-wise.

I hardly recall experiencing the dreaded cramps, or crippling abdominal pain, or any kind of dizzy spells, or mood swings. In fact, I had a rather cavalier attitude towards my chums; I took that time of the month for granted, always assuming that I would be perfectly okay. I wasn’t going to change any scheduled plans simply because I was going to be bleeding. Ahh, my robust body afforded me to be this way, so nonchalant and careless.

One time, I accompanied a friend to old Mumbai for an errand. We spent all day at Mumbai University. Couldn’t resist a walk along the lovely Marine Drive promenade, gazing at the birds and lovers. Got thoroughly soaked in the waves and surf, then returned home to Andheri in the local train, squashed and mashed with a million other sweaty female bodies. And I was on my period that day.

But it felt perfectly okay and manageable to me.

However, things are a little different now. Not all that much but just a little. How do I describe it?

A day or so to the period, I start feeling a sense of heaviness in my limbs. But it is not the kind of heavy exhaustion that drains your energy reserves. In fact, my body seems to welcome this heaviness that gently pushes me downward, towards the earth… like an older friend, more experienced and knowing, encouraging me to relax, breathe deeply, sit a while. It actually feels like something tender and loving.

Can you imagine a state of tiredness that is also grounding? That’s what Day 1 feels like.

Thoughts on Enchanted Snow White

This weekend, we attended a performance by Third Eye Dancers titled “Enchanted Snow White.” It was a dance production and an adaptation of the popular fairy tale. In this version, Snow White gives away her good qualities to her evil stepmother and then embarks on a journey to regain them. She passes through various trials, gains the Stone of Tears, nearly gets killed, and finally gets back all her good qualities.

Enchanted Snow White

Enchanted Snow White (Picture courtesy Venkat Kuttua)

During the performance, a thought flashed through my mind. “Girls are so different from boys.”

Of late I have been very careful about not stepping into the middle of a male-female debate. I do consider myself a feminist but then the term itself has been distorted terribly. So I’d need to go into an explanation about feminism, kinds of feminism and then ultimately explain why I consider myself one. I believe that the line between ‘male’ and ‘female’ is not a thick one at all. It isn’t a binary, instead it is a range. At times, I feel more male than female myself (whatever my definition of “male” is and that, I agree, is totally defined by society). I don’t really like indulging in these conversations about “Men are THIS way” or “Women are SO ___,” etc.

Yet, this Saturday, as I watched the girls dance their way through Snow White’s story, I found myself thinking – lively, graceful, radiant, beautiful. That’s a girl.

Much has been written about Shiva and Shakti and the dichotomous relationship between these two forces. What do they represent? Some of the explanations seem so vague, so arbitrary to me. One day, it came to me what these two stood for.

It is simple. Shiva is the potential energy in the universe. That which is silent and unseen, resides below/beneath all that is visible, and represents the sheer potential present in this cosmos. Shakti? She is the kinetic energy that pervades this universe. She is mobile, she is quick, she is all that we see around us in this glorious creation.

See how a simple explanation from a Physics textbook explains these concepts so easily?