Believing in Magic

A few days ago, the Banker asked the members of the Garoupas (our group name as christened by my father, long story) if we would pay tribute to the world’s biggest superstar (1 billion fans and counting) Shah Rukh Khan in what happened to be the wonderful Yash Chopra’s swan song – Jab Tak Hai Jaan.

Unsurprisingly, despite the Garoupas fantastic ability to stomach terrible movies (we watched one that got only a 4% rating on Rotten Tomatoes – in my defense, I was overruled and I had used my veto too frequently) this was somewhat a controversial decision. The Gomen Servant said no, very politely. It was just not her cup of tea.

The Gomen Servant is always too polite. When she says it was not her cup of tea, what she actually means that she would rather have her nails pulled off one by one with a pair of tweezers.

Considering that I am the only member of the Garoupas with the best taste in movies (disclaimer: self-proclaimed, no member of the Garoupas were actually consulted) due to my so-called artistic and writerly capabilities – one would expect that I would find Bollywood movies ridiculous and tedious.

Of course, if you’ve been reading this blog and know how much I bang on about India, you would have said, ‘Nonsense! This Adlina you’re talking about, whose one of her many lifelong dreams include having a small role in a Bollywood movie!’

For reals, I’d be happy being an extra, standing in the lift with a Bollywood star, pulling out all my acting stops to seem as aloof and disinterested in this lift. I am not just an extra, I am an actor, and I am on this lift. I have a destination and a purpose, and my purpose, as an actor on this lift, is to go down the lift and exit through the lobby.

It’s tough being an actor. All this method acting.

But as I sat down and watched the opening sequence of the movie which involves a very handsome Shah Rukh Khan disarming a bomb sans any protection – a very, very awful thought crossed my mind. The thought was, ‘This is ridiculous. Is the whole movie going to be like this?’

I noticed that the past year has made me somewhat cynical. If anything, that little skip in my step when I walk has disappeared and very little gives me joy these days. I’m bored easily in movies and very rarely moved when people share life stories.

I was worried I was not going to enjoy the movie anymore. You can’t just watch Bollywood as-is, with Western realist eyes. You gotta suspend every damn belief you have, including physics, if physics can even be considered a belief. And then you will be rewarded with something. That something was magic. That magic is a lot like falling in love, like seeing the world in a new light where everything was brand new and exciting again.

The movie crawled on (I’m being unfair, it being a Yash Chopra movie was very well-paced) for ten minutes and I was starting to wonder, where is that magic that made me fall in love with India, with life in the first place? Or have I fallen out of love with magic – that reality has made me a bitter woman, who only finds joy in replacing empty but tasty calories from white flour to wholewheat and only picking cream crackers with high fibre at the grocery store?

Yum. Tastes like cardboard.

And then, suddenly, Katrina Kaif ran to a church, dressed in a beautiful lehenga, her luscious locks cascading down her back as snow fell and I suddenly had this ridiculous, big grin on my face. It was the most ridiculous scene possible – an impossibly beautiful Indian woman, in a lehenga in gorgeous snowy London running towards a Gothic Church.

I get why people love stories, or fall in love with a fictional character. Reality, to be honest, can be quite a disappointment. It can be mundane and the problem is, well, as hard as you may try – the only way you can really escape the bills and taxes and responsibility (aside from playing dead and assuming a new identity – well, there’s not escape there, either. You probably still have to pay bills with your new identity) is escape to fairytales, to fantastic stories of heroes and villains.

I hate people who say things like stories and fairytales are just nonsense that it is better if we get ‘reality’. To paraphrase my English teacher, Mrs. Bach, stories are the truth. It is far more ‘real’ than any of the ‘facts’ presented to us.  As far as I’m concerned, every fairytale, every drama out there – there is an element of truth that we can learn from, be enriched and be inspired by. I personally believe that the inspiration for stories come from reality – and that if magic can exist in a story, it can exist in the real world.

I don’t want to keep banging on about the hard year I had, but it is always there, hanging over like a dark cloud. Sometimes it threatens to rain and sometimes it does pour. Sometimes I tend to forget that this dark cloud will lift, and imagine that the world will always be, a little bit darker than I what I had hoped to be. And then I watch something ridiculous like Katrina Kaif running to the church, and my heart swells. If the magic exists in the movies, it exists in real life.

Just gotta find it.

P/S: In case you’re wondering if the movie is worth watching, the answer is YES! It’s a fun Yash Chopra movie, a little disjointed towards the end, unfortunately and nowhere as tight as my favourite Yash Chopra movie, Rab Ne Bana De Jodi. It has action, it has romance and it has SRK. Need I say more?

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