Bollywood vs Reality: Trying to navigate what a normal relationship looks like.
We’ve all watched Tere Naam (2003), for those who haven’t I’ll summarise it. There is this shy, timid girl name Nirjara who is in her first year of university. On her way to school, she comes across this group of boys that don’t do much apart from hanging around campus and troubling other students. The “leader” of this group is Radhe Mohan a guy who finished university years ago but still decides to hang around.
He’s a “good guy” at heart even though he believes in violence and intimidation as a tactic to get what he wants. A dream sequence later he realizes he “loves” her. He constantly tries to pursue Nirjara and assumes she loves him as well, until one day she upright refuses to deal with the unwanted attention in front of a crowd thus hurting his ego. The next day he decides to kidnap her, taking her to an empty warehouse where he intimidates her asking her why she doesn’t love him. Through this aggressive
exchange Nirjara “falls in love” with him. Que dance sequence.
I won’t lie when I watched this movie as a child, I thought this was the type of love story I wanted to have, hopefully with a better ending. The idea of someone being crazy in love with me and pursuing me with passion made me giddy. I cringe when I reflect back on my innocence. Coming to the realisation that I defined a relationship, as an extreme rollercoaster, where abuse was normalised and intimidation was okay. Where being shy and timid was the ideal definition of what a “desirable” girl was. Leading me to question how many others were influenced in such a way?
Everybody waiting for their Bollywood romance like…
I can define every moment of my life with a Bollywood movie reference, which alone is problematic. It means that my actions and decisions mimic a character that is essentially flawed; but that’s what taught me what it meant to fall in love, what a relationship (apart from marriage) looked like because I had nowhere else to look. My reality showed me that love doesn’t exist, the adjustment does, and a “happy” marriage is rarely possible. So, where do I understand what a healthy relationship looks like? Does it
mean I have to be submissive, should I be more confident, do I have to lower my self-respect and please someone else, do I take charge? What do I do to make a relationship work?
As my first serious relationship ended a couple of years ago and I’m starting to date again these are questions that I ask myself more frequently. I would like to think that I’m not alone on this boat, that its more of a huge cruise ship of individuals who feel just as lost as I am at times. I took the liberty of asking people who were/had been in relationships, therapists as well as google to help me answer some of them.
This is what I learnt:
• Indian Cinema and movies that we grew up watching cannot be a benchmark neither can other people’s relationships be idolised as #relationshipgoals.
• It’s important to get to know yourself before entering a long-term relationship. Spend time knowing what makes you tick, what you really love doing and just showing yourself some #selflove first.
• Be honest with what you’re looking for, relationships aren’t for everybody and be comfortable making your own rules.
• Talk to the other person about things that may be uncomfortable (finances, family, priorities) especially if you are in a long-term relationship.
• Be respectful, show patience, trust and understanding towards each other.
• Communicate with each other when you don’t feel right about something. This may also mean seeking professional help through counselling to resolve concerns.
• If you find yourself in an abusive (emotional/mental/verbal/physical) relationship seek help (professional, family and friends) and leave. Your safety is worth more than that.
• Understand that your first relationship may not be your last and be okay with coming to terms with that, and moving forward.
In the end, a relationship requires work but it is also a personal journey between you and the individual you choose to build a relationship with. For now, I’ve decided to personally leave Indian movies for the theatres, and not idolise another person’s relationship. I rather choose to focus on my self-growth as I move through this exciting journey that is life and maybe on the way I’ll find somebody who wants
to share it with me.
Written by guest blogger Simran