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Indians can't handle taboo themes

As many as 800 surfers worldwide have responded to our survey on the influence of movies like KANK.

india Updated: Aug 26, 2006 18:04 IST

India may have progressed in leaps and bounds post Independence, but it’s been stagnant as far as outlook and attitudes go.Maybe this is why a movie like KANK, despite the fact that it comes from the Karan Johar stable, has not been well received in India.

At least, this is what our surfers seemed to think, from the way they responded to the Vox populi survey this week.

As many as 800 people from India and abroad sent in their views. And they were all unanimous that movies like KANK do influence the Indian psyche.

A surfer named Deepak from Dubai wrote in to say: “KANK is a movie which not only undermines, but also insults Indian culture and values.”

Echoing him was Zainab from London. “I know people will do what they want, but in India there are lots of people who are poor and uneducated. They watch this film and think it’s ok too have extra marital affairs. So I don’t approve of this film. In any case, the film was too long and dragged on to eternity.”

Interestingly, the responses varied with age. Those aged 35 and above were sure such movies undermined the Indian ethos. Youngsters between 15 and 25 on the other hand, said KANK only reflected the trends in Indian society today.

For instance 20-year-old Sana who wrote in from Delhi said: “I think youngsters today are a lot more empowered than people of their parents’ generation. While our parents still clung onto a broken marriage for the sake of the kids, we don’t hesitate to walk out if things are not working out. So movies like KANK are only depicting what is real.”

On the other hand, 55-year-old Bisham Singh who wrote in from Ludhiana said: “In my youth, there were no movies like KANK for us to watch and enjoy. As a result, our minds were a lot more pure and naïve. So our first instinct if our marriage went wrong was to save it. Today on the other hand, youngsters, after watching movies like KANK feel emboldened to walk out even if there is a minor incompatibility. So my strong view is that such movies should not be encouraged.”

Irfan from Bangalore was vocal about the effect of movies like KANK. He said: “ Such films should be banned...stars like SRK should have a moral responsibility before doing any such type of films...SRK is now an established star with a huge fan following. So he should be mature enough not to do these type of roles and mess up peoples lives...I hate people having extra marital affairs and these type of films glorify these sinful acts...I hate hate, hate KANK and loathe to even think about such movies. “

27-year-old Sangita, who wrote in from Arlington, Virginia, provided another interesting angle to this issue. She said: “This is a very complex issue. In the US for instance, women are a lot more empowered. They think of themselves as individuals and so don’t hesitate to leave a marriage where there is no love or commitment. In India however, women don’t think of themselves as an identity different from their husbands. So they suffer all marital discords and continue to be slaves to their negligent and uncaring husbands.”

Amit Sharma, a 23-year-old who wrote in from Delhi said: “ I don’t think Indians are capable of handling adult themes, at least not just yet. My mother’s first reaction after seeing the promos of KANK was that it is not movie meant for decent people to see. So I’m not exaggerating when I say that we Indians are still immature as far as frankness about a taboo topic goes. This is the reason why KANK didn’t do well at the BO.”

Syedeen Nazirali who wrote in from San Luis Obispo said: “I think people in India would accept KANK if it is made 10 years from now. Our thoughts and attitudes are not still matured enough to accept a movie like KANK in this decade. But I am pretty sure it will be accepted in future. The best analogy I can give is the movie Arth, which created waves when it was released in the 80's. But today, it wouldn’t work, since the subject has become very clichéd.”

28-year-old Amin from Ahmedabad agreed. He wrote: “Our attitude sucks when it comes to handling adult themes. I mean, how many of our parents would be willing to discuss topics like sex or live-in relationships with us today? So until and unless this attitude is changed first, movies like KANK will only flop.’’

30-year-old Sabrina from Panaji sent us a very telling comment. She said: “I don’t care for movies like KANK, especially if they come from a director like Karan Johar. But I can say this for sure: I would not hestitate for a second to walk out if my marriage is not working out. I am an individual with a life to lead, why should I waste it on a loveless relationship?”

But then, the majority of our surfers (436 of them), irrespective of age, said they would not care to love a married person. If at all they did so by accident, they would immediately terminate the affair.

Only 131 of them said they would still continue the affair, since marriage is hardly a criterion for falling in love. As many as 85 surfers were non-committal.

A great many of our respondents were of the opinion that if there are kids in a marriage, they would try their best to stick to it, even if things went wrong. 197 people said they would walk out in such a case, and 103 of them were unsure what they would do.

As many as 352 surfers said love outside marriage was taboo, while 220 of them said they’d keep their options option on the subject. 80 people on the other hand, said marriage could get boring after a while, so they wouldn’t mind straying a bit.

We wanted to know if post-marital affairs were possible in the Indian context. And most of our surfers (290) said yes maybe, but then it was easier to have such affairs in the West. 205 said it definitely was possible, considering we had only one life to live. Only 158 said women couldn’t afford to do it in India.

We then wanted to know if movies like KANK inspired people to have clandestine affairs. A whopping 277 people said such movies do have a bad effect on the Indian psyche. Close behind were 268 people who said movies don’t really influence the way people think. 108 of them were unsure.

The last question asked surfers if KANK didn’t do well because Indians were not mature enough to handle adult themes.

The majority (317) replied in the affirmative. They said that such movies left Indians feeling disturbed and confused. 198 were unsure, but felt this could be the reason for the lukewarm response to the film. Only 138 replied in the negative, saying Indians had grown up and that KANK would pickup eventually.

So that’s it from our side. The issue still remains debatable and we’ve not managed to reach a conclusion. But we’re sure of one thing: Karan Johar had better stick to his trademark candy-floss movies, if he wants them to click. Else….

Vox populi would like to thank all our surfers for their responses. Do keep up the enthusiasm. We’ll be back with another issue next week. Happy surfing!

First Published: Aug 26, 2006 18:04 IST