A major fallout of the quarantine has been 'the return of the couch potato'! While I have never been a TV addict, I enjoy watching movies, sometimes even 2-3 at a go! These days I have been watching at least one movie a day, sometimes old classics and sometimes new releases. I somehow prefer watching movies in the comfort of my home, curled up on my bed with my daughters and hubby, with a big bowl of popcorn to share! While my girls enjoyed watching cringey but funny 90s Bollywood blockbusters like Hero no 1, Andaaz Apna Apna etc with us, we also updated our watchlist with new movies like English Medium, Good News, Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhan,etc. Mission Mangal was the only recent movie which impressed me enough to write a blog on immediately after watching it! Another thought provoking movie I just watched is Ujda Chaman. The protagonist is a well educated, smart and good looking young man , teaching in a government college, whose wedding prospects continuously suffer because of his premature baldness.
The movie brings out the deep rooted prejudices and beauty standards which demean a person just because he/she doesn't conform to the 'norms'. The typical matrimonial requirements being 'a fair , slim, beautiful , convented ( convent educated, they mean)girl' and 'a tall, handsome boy earning in 6 figures'. So, if a girl is not slim or fair or pretty, the prospects are really not promising! Similar for the boy isn't tall or good looking enough or not in a stable job! Ever since I was old enough to read newspapers, I would always feel this resentment towards these matrimonial ads! So unrealistic! Are we living in some fairytale? Not everyone has the looks and figure of models! Not that I have anything against good looking people with enviable figures. What makes me lose it is the unrealistic beauty standards laid down and imposed on people from the moment of birth! Honestly, I'm so happy and proud to have parents who always inspired us to be be good human beings rather than just pretty faces! They brought us up with good values and we inherited their strength of character alongwith pleasant personalities. I never saw my mother with make up or fancy hairstyles but she was the most dignified and strong woman I have known.... I always wanted to be like her! The obsession for fair skin, sharp features, model like figures has been the reason for so many young girls and boys to feel inferior about themselves. As if their looks alone define them! I have personally experienced such humiliation many times and I do feel Indians are as judgemental and prejudiced about looks as others around the world! A person is much more than just a pretty face or a hot body or a beautiful head of hair! A person is more than just than just a weight, height or skin colour. A person is a human being with feelings and intelligence. A person is more than just skin deep beauty. Coming back to Ujda Chaman, the young man has a chance meeting with a girl and ends up treating her badly because she was not slim enough. The girl, however, had fallen in love with him despite her initial negative feelings regarding his being bald. While watching the movie I remembered my handsome and smart Dad. He was bald ever since I was born or maybe even before that! Totally a self made man, daddy was loved and admired by everyone for his knowledge,sense of humour and classy dressing style. We would always tease him because he was always the last person to get ready for a party/ outing, despite being the only male in the house!
Daddy was more than just a handsome bald man! He was a person of high integrity, hardworking, disciplined, caring, loving, well read and mild mannered, humorous.... He was constantly cracking jokes about his bald head and never took offence if someone else teased him about it! Till the day he passed away, he was an optimist and his positivity was contagious. I like it that I have inherited his positive attitude and optimistic attitude towards life! The bald person you just made fun of could be suffering from cancer or alopecia or any other medical condition that leads to hair loss. Most men do start going bald at a certain age. Or the person might have gone bald because he/she wants to! Who are we to sit and judge his/ her choice or looks? And how does it matter to us anyway? Ujda Chaman gave us the subtle message of loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. To try and become better versions of ourselves without judging or being harsh with our own selves. Just like BTS taught me to love myself for being me and to respect myself and be kind to myself.
To be able to love others and accept them without being judgemental or prejudiced, we have to learn to love our own selves first. We have to value and respect ourselves , understand and acknowledge our worth. Promise that you will love yourself no matter what! Promise yourself to accept your imperfections and to be kind to yourself.... Promise yourself that you will never judge yourself by standards set by others.... It's not just about the hair! It's about judging, body shaming, humiliating a person and causing that person to believe only looks are important. Guess what? Looks are the least important in life! What matters is a good, kind heart big enough to love,embrace and accept people the way they are.