02 June 2006

The way young lovers do

We strolled through fields all wet with rain
And back along the lane again
There in the sunshine
In the sweet summertime
The way that young lovers do.

I kissed you on the lips once more
And we said goodbye just adoring the nighttime
Yeah, that's the right time
To feel the way that young lovers do.

Then we sat on our own star and dreamed of the way
that we were and the way that we were meant to be
Then we sat on our own star and dreamed of the way
that I was for you and you were for me
And then we danced the night away
And turned to each other, and say, 'I love you, I love you'
The way that young lovers do.

Do, do, do, do...

These words are one-half of a song, ‘The way young lovers do’, by Van Morrison from his 1968 ‘Astral Weeks’ album. Although the song is one of my favourites, somehow it doesn’t quite express the desires of love that the rains bring with them in India. Not, at least, from the Hindi film point of view. Or, so say over 10 million Indian cinema-goers everyday.

What I find fascinating about Hindi films is their formulaic treatment of sexuality – i.e. the love scenes – through song and dance. You will hardly ever find overt or clear depiction of sex or sexuality in Hindi films. The film censor board in India doesn’t approve of such nonsense and adopts a hard line against the inclusion of love scenes in Indian cinema. Even kissing is not allowed to be shown on screen. So, you can forget about any display of sex.

What does this say about us Indians? That we don’t indulge in kissing and/or sex. That, we don’t want to see kissing and/or sex in films. That, it’s okay for us not to express ourselves so openly on film, no matter what we do in real life. For, in real life, we do kiss and have sex. And, as human beings, we do have sexual desires, however unconscious or absent we pretend these desires to be.

That’s where the rain-song comes in: the dramatisation of sex in Hindi, and most Indian, films. It’s a simple formula for satisfying the sexual desires of Indians... at least on the screen. Whether you consider Zeenat Aman’s scantily-clad soaking-wet voluptuous scene in Satyam Shivam Sundaram, or Amitabh Bachchan’s masculine overtures in the ‘Rang Bar Se’ Holi scene in Silsila, or the Aamir Khan-Kajol 12-precious-hours-promise love scene in Fanaa, there is something tremendously sexual and dramatic about the rain-song in Hindi films. The rain-song is the ultimate fulfillment of on-screen sexual desire.

The lyrics, the music, the playback singing, the dance movements, the backdrops, the colours are all part of the seduction process. And, it’s not just the hero and/or the heroine who is being seduced here, but the entire viewing audience. But, nobody’s complaining. The films are box-office hits. The music CDs and cassettes carrying the film soundtracks (released just before the films are launched) are selling by the millions. And, the good news is, the film censor board approves of it.

What about Van Morrison and his beautiful song about young lovers? How does it matter to us Indians anyway? What does Van Morrison know about the ways of young Indian lovers!

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