La La Land tells Indians the thing they’ve been waiting to hear since forever | hollywood | Hindustan Times
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La La Land tells Indians the thing they’ve been waiting to hear since forever

La La Land deconstructs the traditions of romantic movies - especially in India.

oscars 2017 Updated: Mar 30, 2017 18:26 IST
Sneha Bengani
La La Land scored a record-tying 14 nods at the Oscars.
La La Land scored a record-tying 14 nods at the Oscars.

With 14 Oscar nominations, La La Land is most likely to emerge as the biggest winner at Oscars 2017. Despite being applauded across the world for the cinematic masterpiece that it is, the success of this Damien Chazelle film lies in achieving milestones it did not really set out to.

Through its unlikely love story set in the scenic locales of Los Angeles, this movie has hit the psyche of the Indian youth like a speeding truck. It has deftly stirred a deep-seated notion, making them revisit an emotion they thought they’d figured out long ago.

A tale of two dreamers, La La Land is a love story at its heart. The movie belongs to a genre that goes very well with Indians. We understand love like no one else can. We have grown up watching our men and women sacrifice it all for love. If Shakespeare had Romeo and Juliet as his eternal lovers, we have countless indigenous versions doing the same. We thrive on the idea that love conquers all.

So, we find it difficult to understand when the lovers in La La Land make an unlikely choice — of not being together. Why not, when they could so easily have? We frown. The montage building up to the climax — which shows the reality vis-à-vis what we want it to be — makes it only worse. Do they not understand that what they have is special, that they’d not find it again anywhere or with anyone else? How can they give up something this magical so easily? Do they not care enough? Are they foolish?

This is the genius of Damien Chazelle. He makes you question love in a way you have not in a long time, maybe never.

La La Land is a love story, sure. But it is no tribute to the love shared by a man and a woman, the kind we understand so well. It, instead, celebrates the love that some of us have for our dreams — the kind of love that transcends gender, nationality, even rationality. And this is where it challenges the linear, archaic idea of romance that we have so carefully nurtured all our lives.

In a country where education is expected to translate into a career and then money, and friendship into love and then marriage, where is the room for dreams? Only in the back of a few notebooks, if you think about it. So we do not understand when Seb and Mia choose their dreams over each other. They do not love each other any less, it’s just that they love their dreams more.

Mia and Seb were dreamers before they became lovers, and they continued to be dreamers even later. Their love didn’t change that about them. In fact, they contribute significantly to each other’s journey ahead, something we Indians find extremely difficult to understand. Because that’s definitely not how we do it here.

La La Land’s release in India at a time when the country is struggling to accommodate an increasing number of people who refuse to fit in only consolidates a notion that has long eluded us. That it’s okay to have impossible dreams, to chase them with a fierceness others do not understand, and to make difficult choices along the way. That it’s okay to fall for an idea harder than you could ever fall for a man or a woman. And the fact that there can be more than just one happy ending.

Deep in our hearts, we have known this all along. We just wanted someone to whisper it to us once to confirm that we are not wrong. We’ve been waiting a long time. But no one ever did. Until La La Land.

The author tweets @sneha_bengani
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