Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Heat and Dust

Over the past week I watched two Hollywood flicks that were sautéed with pretty decent action and plots and both had extra marital sex and adultery thrown casually into the plots. One, the adaptation of Somerset Maugham’s “Painted Veil” and the other with a much young Robert de Nero and Al Pacino in the cast. In the genre of infatuation, "The Summer of 42” is still etched in memory though.

The subject matter is not the film but depiction of certain foibles that was shown as an attribute in man-woman relationship in western culture. In many literary fictions and Hollywood films-something that seems to be at odds with oriental thinking have been often seen. Even in the works (English) literature by Indian authors on the “Raj “and as well as the British writers of the early twentieth century, the western dame was shown as voluptuous and fast. Or did I read only such allegedly profane books that flourished on the banal theme? Nay, the lecherous eyes of the brown skin native clad in loin cloth roving with irresistible  lust when he serves tea to the fair skinned mem sahib and while she watches the gora sahibs play polo have been artfully mentioned in many works placed in the era of the Raj. And then the lonely soul she is in the strange and humid land, cast away from the cool climes of Victorian England seek the warmth and acrid smell of the brown skinned native. The hungry wolf!

In one of the film, the villain of the piece meets a young and sophisticated woman in a restaurant and though the conversation was begun rather rude they vibe well and spend the evening together and have sex.  The cliched exclamation that I would have uttered in my young age, would have been, “lucky bastard” (!).But in the present time, though I envied the fellow, I was quite amazed as to how a woman could agree to be in bed with a stranger – a man who she acquainted only for a few hours. It was something that a harlot would be inclined to.

Now, the Hollywood flicks are a plenty that pictures such instance. This in fact was titillating in the age of freewheeling youthfulness.  It may have crafted a distinct picture of the western woman, I’m certain not in me alone but among the ones of my generation. A ravenous breed, hungry for sex and willing to devour any man! This was also the theme of the most obsessing books I read when I was about fifteen or sixteen-“Venus in India” and “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”. Longed from then on to sail across to the West! “Heat & Dust”, the Booker prize winning work of Ruth  Jabwala which was later made into a acclaimed film by Merchant & Ivory was  at par. It only added to the allure and fantasy of a carefree life in the West.
An absolute chimera it turned out to be! And not one, even one of the Western women I have chanced to associate with, offer to reenact the plots. It is true as far as I could understand that they are tactile in association (man-woman), something we Indians see as to be distanced and frowned upon. And most of all the halo of virginity, a concept that may have been foisted on cultures by the male psyche is of no great reverence in the West.

I and C were discussing about a couple of films we saw that had adultery as the wicked. They were zestfully enacted and were appealing. Did it matter if the spouse has a fatuous fling? We wondered!    In a context yes it did, it does. I feel, foremost it is the possessiveness than the moral precepts that haunt or pester when such adventures come to light. And that is the matter in any society occidental or oriental. It is possessiveness and the good lord's commandment is only incidental.
As for the libertine ways of men and women, perhaps we have more hypocrisy and shallowness in relationships in our societies than in the West.


NRIGirl said...

I have long understood what we perceive from books and movies could be far from the reality.

For example I had this wrong idea that American families are all broken; but in reality I now know more Indian families that are.

Another misleading concept was that the West was a Christian domain; it is very secular as I can see.

Insignia said...

What I love about your writings are that your views come out unfiltered and pure. These match mine most times. But I still have to gather guts to spew out this way. Is it because I am a woman or I still need to attain that nirvana you have.

Anyway, coming back to this post, I have read Lady Chatterley's Lover and man! I must say it did seem normal to me. Well, some of these stories are stereotypical.

The brown skin longing for a while flesh, the white one longing for that ebony skin and it sells. doesnt it?

I liked your view on adultery. Its not about the Lord's commandment but the possessiveness. Just dig in the dirty closet; one would be shocked to see the reality around us and the relationships.

anilkurup said...

@ NRIGirl,
Stereotyping often leads to misconception. doesn't it?
It is the secular outlook of the west that brought about the rise of fanatic breed of faith now in Europe- France is a facing such threat now.

@ Insignia
Honestly Bindu, I'm not greatly comfortable in stating certain things.Many who claim to be epitome of reason, inclusiveness and walking examples of gentle-manliness( read it to include women also) are fake.And I have not seen nirvana as you think. I try to be candid as far as permissible and possible.I love the BLOGDOM and it gives me a means to express relieve. If someone wants to see offense in what I note, to hell with them,they are certainly free to repudiate on the BLog. If they hide it tells much.
Many do not like calling spade a spade. Neither do I, but I try to take it in my stride or argue in a civilised manner not fret, fume and hold a loftier ground and a holier than thou air.
There has always been and is a fascination for the pale skin . A left over of colonial servile mentality?

Yes who is not promiscuous in thought? The deed is restrained because of social factors .Given the right ground fornication is mans bed fellow.
And again, Im an ordinary imperfect not striving for perfection. So beware.

Shilpa Garg said...

I guess that is why they say that truth is stranger than fiction!