IN AN era when mobile phone and internet were a far cry, the VCR was king. And possessing one made you an emperor, lording over souls seeking deliverance from the sarkari TV channel.
I got to watch the first English movie – Crocodile Dundee – a week after our VCR arrived. As Paul Hogan appeared on the monitor, father in the adjoining room increased the volume of Radio Ceylon. Mukesh wailed: ‘Aansu bhari hai yeh jeevan ki raahein…’
The Bollywood aansu was an imposition on the Aussie magarmachh but it told me what crocodile tears meant. It also let me know the song from Parvarish on Raj Kapoor’s lips referred to life and not Jeevan the baddie.
Life tends to be a villain in the gap between comedy and tragedy. And it tastes like hunger, as Faustus’ creator Johann Wolfgang von Goethe probably meant by saying: “If you’ve never eaten while crying you don’t know what life tastes like.”
Goethe’s line could have been inspired by a German equivalent of Nirupa Roy, our celluloid ‘queen of miseries’. You might recall the numerous kitchen scenes in which she portrayed the tragic mother upending empty metal containers that presumably had some flour or grain in better times.
Mothers cry at the best of times and at the worst of times, often for their children. This is true for most mothers of varying toughness from the first lady – Michelle Obama, for instance – to the last and all those in between such as Sushma and Maneka.
Whether in joy or sorrow, some mothers cry their hearts out for the world to see. Some cry indoors for the world to hear, because their children have been cried up to raise the battle cry if not to cry for the moon.
But like Lord Shiva, someone has to drink the poison for the Great Churning to yield the nectar of longevity. And to ensure the manthan does not leave behind the muck for the lotus to bloom, for a mother’s tears would then be like petty droplets on the leaves of this aquatic flowering plant.
Poison, mythologies indicate, is blue. The irony struck me the other day when I was watching Neelkamal, the VCR having given way to the DVD player. As the story unfolded, son in the adjoining room increased the volume of his digital music system.
Rajkumar’s dramatics were drowned by a song that screeched: “…I’m shocked at what I find, Sonja cries, Sonja cries, Sonja cries…” The song, surfing revealed, was by an American indie rock band named Stellastarr.
I ejected Neelkamal, inserted another movie and fast-forwarded to a popular scene. Rajesh Khanna told Sharmila Tagore: ‘Aansu pochh daalo, Pushpa. I hate tears…’
Or was that Pushma?