where trouble was needed

January 18, 2016


Filed under: Provocations,We Shall Overcome — Aravinda @ 1:52 pm
Tags: ,


On this day of solidarity
Named for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
Re-ignited by a thousand fires burning
Let us forget the formalities
And rage where rage is due


You can go to class but you cannot protest the death penalty.

Rohith Vemula:
You did not forget to write the formalities
But we refuse to accept them.

“Students oppose attack on screening of Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hain”
You can go to class but not screen documentary films.

You were rushing to understand
love, pain, life, death
that take a lifetime to learn

You can go to class but not stand in elections.

There will be time, there will be time.
If only you had time
To turn back and descend the stair
If only the world listened in time.

Dear Vice Chancellor, you wrote:
“Donald Trump will be lilliput in front of you”
How much more we had to hear from you.

“There was no urgency,” you wrote.
Why were you rushing?
To be among the stars
To be one with nature

You can go to class but you will sleep in the open.

Who received these notices?

Who will forgive this world
That fails to make sense?
This humanity that fails

Not the last time.
Jai Bhim.



March 15, 2015

A life-changing cup – The Hindu

Filed under: Provocations — Aravinda @ 9:37 am

A life-changing cup – The Hindu.

November 22, 2013

The Penance of Tarun Tejpal

Filed under: Provocations — Aravinda @ 6:46 am

As if we weren’t already disillusioned by the declining standards of Tehelka from its eminent days of exposing arms dealers and communal rioters, and barely able to give benefit of the doubt when it comes to the corporate sponsorship of conferences like THINK that pretend to be venues of socially and politically conscious discourse, with the aim of working for a just society,

… and the pain still raw from the death of Tarun Sehrawat, courageous young journalist who worked for Tehelka and, while on assignment in Chattsigarh, succumbed to malaria at the age of 23,

… now we find not only has THINK turned out to be far more than the venue for the media to get in bed with corrupt industrialists but for the editor-in-chief of what the world hailed as one of the last bastions of independent, investigative journalism, Tehelka, Mr. Tarun Tejpal, to engage in sexual assault of a staffer, behind the closed elevator doors of a luxury hotel.

AND that the best excuse he could offer for his behavior was that it was “drunken banter.”

Pardon my ignorance, but some of us are shocked that the THINK conference hosts “drunken banter.”

But I’m afraid it is way too late for that.

In his own words, Tarun Tejpal’s crime – “misreading” a situation, an “untoward incident, “a bad lapse of judgement,” and, as a last resort, “drunken banter.”

The most unkindest cut of all, though is his “penance,” which he calls “the penance with lacerates me.”

No word for what he has done to her: it is all so vague – it is a situation, an, incident, a banter … the closest we get to a verb here is “misreading.” But for himself, the verb is sharp and clear: “lacerate.”

The more I read of Tejpal’s letter, the more I wanted him to STOP.  For a journalist he seems astonishingly oblivious to the fact that the more he says the sleazier he sounds.

This case reminds me of a recent sequence of events involving sexual harassment in the media profession – the case of Bora Zivkovic, a leading light in the science blogging community, who had helped many science writers, both men and women, and yet harassed and molested several women along the way.  Stories of his behavior were almost as revolting as Tejpal’s but at least when the women finally spoke out in public, he apologized without making any excuse:

I decided to check Tejpal’s twitter feed but found zero tweets.

Tarun Tejpal Twitter

In any case all we have to go on is the self-declared penance (a word associated with rishis doing tapas) and his series of euphemisms for his crime. The “drunken banter” excuse makes me grimace most of all.

After reading the letter that the concerned journalist wrote to Shoma Choudary, this has gone beyond disgusting.  NOTE:  I leaned that this letter was illegally leaked without the consent of the journalist.  Read the Statement of Journalists on this matter.

Creating a hostile environment (as “drunken banter” might) is bad enough but according to her letter what he has done is criminal by any standard.  Merely resigning from Teheka will not be enough. I expect him to go to jail for this. He is unlikely to get a job in journalism, or anywhere, again.

And he has succeeded in getting the BJP and AIDWA to agree on something, namely where he can go to do his penance. 

Jail is best place for Tejpal’s atonement: Brinda Brinda Karat  (AIDWA) November 22, 2013
Let him atone in jail, Meenakshi Lekhi (BJP), November 21 2013.

September 5, 2013

Grammar, Jeff Bezos, Grammar Please!

Filed under: Provocations — Aravinda @ 12:58 pm

Dear Jeff – I was pleased to read in your letter to Amazon customers this morning that you are "passionate about books." Indeed, so am I. As an avid reader, I tend to expect good grammar. One thing that worries readers about the changing scene of book publishing, it is sloppy copy editing.

So I was disappointed to read this line in your letter:
"Kindle is the best-selling e-reader in the world for six years running. "

How do we parse this? Are you saying this is a good product for six-year-olds who run? Obviously not. You mean to say that for six years, up to and including the present, Kindle has been the best-selling blah blah blah.

I understand that you may not like the phrase "has been" next to the name of your precious Kindle, but were that you primary concern, you could easily have written :

"Kindle is the best-selling e-reader in the world, and has been for six years running."

As I recalled also that you have taken over the Washington Post, I felt all the more urgently the need to bring this to your attention. Please ensure clarity concerning past, present and present perfect and all other points of grammar.

Far more than your best-seller rankings depend on it.

April 16, 2013

Race … spoiling the fun again

Filed under: Provocations — Aravinda @ 8:00 pm
Tags: ,

After hearing about an episode of this show called “Wife Swap” from several people I did the unimaginable and actually went to ABC website, found the episode online and watched it. In this episode, Dayna Martin from Madison, New Hampshire, trades places with Cindy Avery-Lamb from San Diego, California. Each woman will live with the other woman’s family for a week. In the beginning, they go along with the ways of the hosting family, and later the visiting woman will get to call the shots.

How anyone thought of such a concept for a show and why anyone would participate – let’s not try to fathom right now. The television producers know how to entertain and never once bring up the subject of race. How ungraceful would that be? I laughed along and cheered for Dayna who was so obviously cooler than Cindy.

You know, it’s so annoying when there’s a TV show or an advertisement designed to make us feel good and someone comes along and ruins the celebration. Like that Dove ad telling us – meaning women – to recognize our beauty. And then along comes some upstart named Jazz (really?) who says the ad makes her uncomfortable and angry. Why? Or take a show like this that celebrates us – us meaning people with alternative lifestyles generally regarded as weird.

I believe the exchange was to last longer but gets cut short because Cindy is appalled by Dayna’s family. The feeling seems to be mutual. Dayna on the other hand seems to have had a rather pleasant time with Cindy’s family and hugs the kids goodbye.

This was not merely a contest of “strict disciplinarian vs mom with no rules” as it was advertised. There was also a bit of country mouse and city mouse – that we see as each woman makes a mildly disparaging remark about the others’ house (really? even before walking in?). And most of all but least remarked and most happily overlooked, a contrast between white privilege and minority striving.

We’ve all heard about how immigrants navigate American society by expecting their children to work twice as hard, take responsibility and make no excuses for anything less than outstanding accomplishment. Bashing the Tiger Mother became a popular sport a couple of years ago. No one could win, of course.   You can only go so far finding fault with a family for being too achieving.

Now welcome our next target, an African American family, Cindy and Andrade, raising their son and daughter with strict discipline.  ABC couldn’t have picked a more  contrasting family, though almost any mainstream mother would sharply contrast with Dayna Martin, who takes “extreme” as a compliment. Let me be honest here and say that I don’t think she makes a particularly good advocate for unschooling, much less for radical unschooling – this has nothing to do with what her kids have or haven’t learned but entirely with her presentation of the philosophy. Still, I admired the way she suggested small things that they could do that would make the family she was visiting happy.

Cindy Avery-Lamb did not suggest small things. Huge things stared her in the face, such as 11 year old girl’s inability to read, and dog hair everywhere including the fridge.

While Cindy’s husband Andrade was willing to take a leaf from Dayna’s book, Dayna’s husband Joe appeared to be going along (to the extent that they did go along) for the sake of the show. Finally it was Joe who loudly ordered Cindy to leave his house.

Each mother is critical of the other.  Dayna calls it cruel for Cindy to wake her children up with an alarm, disrespectful to hold them to high standards of cleanliness, and calls her strict routine with limited free time a “tight leash.”  She does so in a sweet voice and is heard with a quiet smile. When Cindy questions whether Dayna’s parenting, Dayna’s son Devin leaps to her defense, “How dare you?”

Neither woman is impressed with the other family, and says so clearly to the father in the home she is visiting.  Though one woman is sitting on the floor of the girl’s room admiring her artwork, and the other is standing at the kitchen table screaming and cursing, the message is the same – you have not fulfilled your role as a dad and as a man. In fact, Dayna says as much, “I think your wife is emasculating you.” In other words, you (black man) should not listen to her (black woman); you should listen to me (white woman) and do the following:

– frame the kids’ art
– give daily hugs
– improve communication
– invite their friends over for a party

Such fun suggestions! Contrast Cindy’s recommendations, far less gently delivered – clean the house, unplug the electronics, and go to school. These are things taken for granted in her home, just as hugs, expression and free time anytime are taken for granted in Dayna’s home. While Cindy’s family is able to try Dayna’s ideas, at least while she is there, Dayna’s family cannot follow Cindy’s rules even for one day. The reason we are given is that her rules are extreme, especially in contrast to the no-rule motto they have grown up with.  True.  Could the rejection of rules be a presumption of superiority that lies deeper than simply believing that “the rules don’t apply to us.” While they think their rejection of rules stems from their own personal choice to embrace freedom and what they call “radical unschooling,” they don’t tell us why they think othes aren’t as free as they are.

Not only is the Martin family white, but they live in a county where there are only 50 people / square mile, and 98% of those people are white.  Their state, New Hampshire, is 95% white with only 1% black population.  Most of the 5% nonwhite population would be in Manchester, far from rural Madison where the Martin children freely go out at all hours, as they proudly state. Try doing that while black.

If we are looking at learning, I have to say the Avery-Lamb family demonstrated greater ability and willingness to learn. Each member tries out something they have picked up from the Martin family. Cindy even tells Joe, “I am learning something new, I like this.”

What did Dayna’s family learn from Cindy’s? Only that they woudn’t change a thing?

July 10, 2012

Do not go gently

Filed under: Provocations — Aravinda @ 8:00 pm
Tags: , ,

Utterly heartbreaking, is all I could say after reading Martin Bayne’s article in the Washington Post, A man depicts the often grim atmosphere in assisted living facilities. This is the first time I have heard first-hand about the experience – WHY? Would AARP magazine have considered publishing such an article? What magazine would? It is perhaps rare for those in assisted living to be able to write an article, and after getting assistance with eating, taking medicine and going to the bathroom, probably it is too much for them to ask the staff for assistance putting their thoughts onto paper.

I see comments from people saying that their parents are happy in Assisted Living, why should I disbelieve them? But there aren’t any positive comments from the people living there. No comments at all – don’t the assisted living centers provide online access to the Washington Post?

As Arundhati Roy once asked Bhaiji Bhai,

Bhaiji Bhai, when will you get angry? When will you stop waiting? When will you say “That’s enough!” and reach for your weapons whatever they may be?

But indeed, what weapons do those in assisted living have?

In India people get very bent out of shape and shocked at the idea that people in America have no family values and put their elderly in nursing homes. But I have seen the elderly suffer in India too. True, the expectation is that the children look after their parents in their old age, but what happens if they don’t? Those who can afford to hire help at home do, but what about those who can’t? And what if the hired help doesn’t really care about them either – or worse, takes advantage of them? Newspapers regularly crimes against the elderly.

I have seen it first-hand in the villages – when surveying the poorest of the poor it was abundantly clear that the elderly were worst off.    Harsh Mander has written about it in In the age of neglect (The Hindu, May 19, 2012)

In one village, Kotipalli I had a chance to see a group of elderly  started a collective lunch program – the transformation in their lives was dramatic – the same women who earlier looked blank were now in command, no longer waiting for things to happen. The only outside help was a room rented by AID-India and food grains collected from the villagers. They cooked, served and cleaned up themselves.

Perhaps they do not live long enough to get the kind of illnesses those in western Assisted Living Facilities have. I have seen elderly people who did require assistance, but only in urban homes, and they lived with their children or other family members. Most of these elderly would not consent to have hired help take them to the bathroom, etc but at least their children could hire help for other housework and thus absorb the workload of assisting the elders. One imagines that being at home, and with their children and grandchildren would have slowed their deterioration though I don’t know how one would do a controlled study on that.

Even in Lage Raho Munna Bhai when Atmaram, the newest entry into the Old Folks Home, describes the heartless manner in which his son came to leave him at the home, the rest of the inmates ask him how long he is going to dwell on this sob story and urge him to let it go. You could imagine them saying, just as the author does, “you are among friends now.”
art by Johanna Goodman/The Washington Post July 10 2012.

June 17, 2008

Can a Woman Say No?

Filed under: Provocations — Aravinda @ 8:00 pm
Tags: , , ,

నువ్వొస్తానంటే నేనొద్దంటానా?
Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana?
Telugu, 136 minutes, 2005.  Directed by Prabhu Deva.

నువ్వొస్తానంటే నేనొద్దంటానా? (Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana?)  means “If you want to come, would I say no?” or “If you want to come, would I refuse?”

This is the title of a popular 2005 Telugu movie that was remade in Tamil, Kannada, Oriya and Bengali.  Setting out to champion the dignity of labour, particularly agricultural work, its pits the rural farmer Srihari (Sivarama Krishna) against the NRI business magnate Prakash (Prakash Raj) and his son and heir Santosh (Siddharth).  At stake is Indian culture, rooted in the farm, and embodied by Siri (Trisha), the farmer Srihari’s sister.   When Siri and Santosh pair off, Santosh’s family trashes the idea of their possible marriage.  When Santosh persists, Srihari challenges him to farm an acre of land as a condition of his consent.

As Santosh sweats and toils through the farming season, Siri watches and prays for his success.

This is the plot.  As the story unfolds however, another message is hammered home, concerning a question implicitly dismissed by the title (“would I say no?”), taken as a rhetorical question.

While the dignity of physical work and the integrity of the (relatively) poor farming family are called into question and predictably settled firmly in favour of the farmer, the question of women’s agency is repeatedly settled in the negative.

What if a woman asked the question, నువ్వోస్తానన్న, నేనోద్దనచ్చునా? which means: “Though you want to come, can I say no?” or “can I refuse?”

The answer we get in this movie is: no.

 * * *

Siri, a young girl raised by her brother after both are orphaned as young children has just finished her exams and is quickly snatched up by a classmate, Lalitha (Veda Sastry), to come visit her before her wedding.

In the course of the movie, there are two boys who try to get Siri.  Santosh, initially rejected first by Siri and then by her father, manages to win over both of them.  The other one ___ is thus left in the cold.  He does not take rejection well.  He kidnaps Siri and the way out offered by the movie is for Santosh to kill him.   Siri’s father takes the blame and goes to jail for this murder committed by Santosh.

Thus neither the hero nor the villain shows the ability to understand that no means no.   The only difference between the two is that one manages to convert it to a yes, while the other dies trying.  If lesson one is that no does not necessarily mean no, lesson two is that when a woman says no, the matter is not closed – she must pay a price for her refusal.

She may say sorry and eventually comply with the man’s wishes, realizing the error of her ways.  Or she may suffer in any of several ways, such as being blackmailed, or seeing her father go to jail.  All are depicted in this movie.

Unwanted Advances

Can there even be an unwanted advance, from a man to a woman?  No.  In the case of the hero, even his unwanted advances apparently deserve to be accepted, since it would be wrong to hurt his feelings.

From a woman to a man, “unwanted advance” is redundant.  An advance from a woman, as we see in the case of the “other woman” who is after our hero, renders her ridiculous and unattractive.

Apart from being, just like the rest of their family, concerned with luxury and status, Santhosh’s cousin, who wants to marry him, is depicted as a laughingstock.   So unfeminine is a woman who pursues a man that she cannot even find her way around the kitchen and uses salt instead of sugar when making halva in her effort to find the way to her man’s heart.

Clearly there is no role for such a woman other than comic relief.   Back to our hero.

Does no mean no?

In the movie we find that, to the hero’s advances, if the object of his affections says nothing, she is saying yes.  If she says no, she is saying yes.  And if she acts to prevent unwanted advances, then it is she who will be (and say) sorry.

Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 3.12.46 PM

Lalitha tells Santosh that Siri does not like his behaviour. He dismisses her, “that is all right.”

Santosh and Siri meet at a wedding.  The bride, Lalitha, is Siri’s friend and Santosh’s cousin.  Thinking Siri to be Lalitha, Santosh puts his arms around her and hugs her.  After being corrected, he proceeds to demonstrate to Lalitha how he (mistakenly) hugged Siri, thereby hugging her again.  Siri dislodges herself and Lalitha tells him firmly, “she does not like all that!”  To which Santosh replies, “that is all right,” meaning that her likes are irrelevant.  (23:25)

As he turns to leave the room, Santosh catches Siri making a snide remark about him.  To put her in her place, he marches back, corners her, and lectures her as follows:

Santosh corners Siri and warns her that being from London, he may behave "freely" with her.

Santosh corners Siri and warns her that being from London, he may behave “freely” with her.

“By the way …

I have come from London.
“You would have heard warnings about Indian men from abroad – accustomed to the free life there and coming and sweet-talking girls here and after enjoying x, y, z, leaving them to fly back.
Haven’t you?
Well you heard right.   I am like that only.  Be careful with me.”
Siri begs Santosh to return her horse, a gift from her brother. She refrains from fighting for it, lest the horse be harmed.

Siri begs Santosh to return her horse, a gift from her brother. She refrains from fighting for it, lest the horse be harmed.

Later at 28:48, after taking, dropping, catching and then returning her model horse, Santosh again barges in her face and says, “I have a small doubt.  I have been teasing you every day.  Another girl would have slapped me by now.  But since you haven’t done anything, I guess there is something – something.”  Thus he concludes that her failure to stop him is as good as welcoming him.

As he predicts, she soon starts liking him and the two spend time together.  At 1:02:30, he then sets out to make his next move, i.e. to kiss her.
“I feel like kissing you.” he says, moving closer.
Moving back, Siri says, “Not now, there is still time for that,” and gives him a slap on the cheek.
Grabbing the hand from his cheek, he persists, “Please …”
Firmly she says, “Santosh, let go!” and tries to dislodge herself from his hold.  He continues moving forward.  She repeats, “Please Santosh, let go!  Santosh, don’t touch … Santosh, please … “
Santosh glares at Siri after she hits/pushes him away.

Santosh glares at Siri after she hits/pushes him away.

He continues advancing until she hits and perhaps pushes him away to free herself.

The camera gives us a clear view of his reaction.  His lip jutting forward and eyes glaring with anger say, “how dare you?” though it is she who should be asking him this question.   Instead, completing the reversal of aggressor and injured party, it is Siri who apologizes, blames herself and justifies his action of advancing in spite of her refusal.    But first, he sulks and reassures himself that he is not guilty of any wrongdoing, by questioning two expert character witnesses.

At 1:03:13 Santosh asks his mother, “Amma, have you ever hit me?”  Then calls his father in London with the same question.  Both answer that obviously they have never hit him, why would they ever do that?  Could they even dream of it?  He sees that Siri hears their answers.

Armed with this certificate and rising indignation that Siri has dared to do what even his own mother and father have never done, he sulks, refuses to eat and leaves the dining table.  Siri follows him and says “Sorry” (1:04:14).  She continues, “I didn’t hit you on purpose, it happened accidentally.”  Looking down and at the point of tears, she adds, “If you want you can kiss me now… not only kiss, do whatever you want.”

Siri says sorry for hitting Santosh when he tried to kiss her though she said no.

Siri says sorry for hitting Santosh when he tried to kiss her though she said no.

Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 4.29.58 PM

In case we did not get the point she clearly states, with tears flowing, “It is I who made the mistake.  Sorry.”  (1:04:53)

At this, our hero’s smile returns and he chivalrously tries to cheer her up by offering, “No Siri, I made the mistake.  I’m sorry.” (1:04:57)  She then heaps more blame on herself, “No, I should not have done that,” while contritely slapping herself on the cheek.  Not to be outdone he offers, “No, I went a bit too far.”  She settles the matter by declaring sharply, “Is it wrong to want to be close to a girl whom you like?” (1:05:03) and adds that being from abroad, he has no way of knowing right from wrong behavior, “How would you know?  You didn’t grow up here.”

The Character of the NRI

In the context of a steady stream of movies concerning the (male) NRI’s compatibility with India, such as Dilwale Dulhania Lejayenge (1995) or Swades (2004), the question, “If you want to come, would I refuse?” is a rhetorical one implying that Mother India is always ready to welcome back her sons, provided they show themselves worthy and able to rein in the loose morals they would have absorbed while abroad.

Take this scene from Dilwale Dulhania Lejayenge

After Raj and Simran, who have met in Europe, gotten drunk, fallen asleep, wake up the next day, Raj temporarily lets her believe that they have slept together.  She cries and hides her face.   It is then that Raj affirms his Indian character, which would apparently rule out such a transgression.

At the same time, Raj characterizes Indian womanly honour based on firm patriarchal foundations:

मैं जानता हूँ की तुम मेरे बारे  में क्या सोचती हो तुम समझती हो की मैं बहुत घटिया किस्म का आवारा लड़का हूँ।  पर मैं इतना भी गिर हुआ नहीं हूँ सिमरन।   मैं एक हिंदुस्तानी हूँ और मैं जानता हूँ की एक हिंदुस्तानी लड़की की इज्ज़त क्या होती है  मैं सपने में भी तुम्हारा साथ ऐसी हरकत नहीं कर सकता

I know what you are thinking about me.  You think that I am a good-for-nothing boy but I am not that low, Simran.  I am an Indian and I know what an Indian girl’s honour is. Not even in my dreams could I do something like that to you.

His insinuation that he has slept with her, his amusement in her distress followed by his reassurance to her is analogous to Santosh’s snatching and returning of Siri’s horse.  In each case, the man makes sure the woman knows that he could have violated her trust, but has refrained.

In this vein, once Santosh demonstrates his ability to till the soil, and adapt to the standard of living of an agricultural labourer, he will be accepted.  Tilling the soil represents not only the physical work, which after all needs to be done in any country, but also a cultural transformation to appreciating country living, honest values, and thus being worthy of the Indian woman.

Because it is his wish to marry Siri that prompted him to leave his life of luxury and presumed depravity in London for the hard work and simple living in the village, Siri is credited with teaching Santosh to appreciate Indian culture.

Kiss and Tell?

A woman’s advances also place her reputation at risk in the future, as we see in the scene, that serves to cement the bond between Santosh and Siri.

They collaborate to rescue Lalitha, who is Siri’s friend and Santosh’s cousin, from one of the most dramatic fates that can befall a bride-to-be … the walkout of the groom.  Why does she fear that the groom may pull the plug?  It seems that an old flame has appeared with love letters she had written to him earlier, threatening to show these to the groom-to-be.

So what?  No one ever asks this question.  No one wants to risk finding out.  And so follows a scene with no pretense of credibility, in which Siri and Santosh enter a small house where the letters are kept, have plenty of time to show concern for each others’ safety, and together evade attack by a dog and by a thug and emerge triumphantly with the letters.

Would the groom actually have called off the marriage if he found out about the letters?

Should Lalitha marry a man who would walkout if he knew that she had written letters to another man before?

These two questions are not asked.  To both questions, the answer is presumed to be YES.  To question this presumption is to fail the test of “Indian culture” that the movie is at pains to teach the hero.

Evidence of Lalitha’s prior affair is never shown to us – it is contained in a set of secret letters, hidden in a secret drawer of a separate house, to be retrieved and destroyed.  In contrast, Santosh’s prior affairs are carried out in broad daylight, atop a cruise liner in full swing, and full knowledge of his father, who talks to him on the phone during such a party and complains only of his son’s selective hearing over the din of the crowd.

Santosh partying

Santosh’s partying with the ladies does not impact his future marital prospects.

His earlier activities with women, clearly not confined to writing letters, not only never raise a question or put his future relationship in jeapordy, but are part of his foreign character which he will now overcome.

Leaving the Altar

Fear of cancellation of marriage after it has been fixed and announced forms a typical plot of Indian cinema – implied is that the jilted bride will then forever be ineligible for marriage, and the taint will spread to other women of her family.   To challenge the notion that one must not, at any cost, risk cancellation, a movie must take feminism and social reform as its theme – for example a movie like Lajja (2001), in which a bride, Maithili (Mahima Chaudhary) walks out of her wedding due to dowry demands; or the “Gandhian” Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006), in which the bride, Simran (Diya Mirza) informs her prospective in-laws that her horoscope was falsified.

Sometimes even in the absence of such lofty causes as truth, Gandhi, or anti-dowry, an ordinary rom-com movie like Nuvve Kavali (2000) or Ashta Chamma (2008) accepts the idea that a woman can herself change her mind and call off her engagement.  In Ashta Chamma, although her reason is considered frivolous, when Lavanya (Colors Swathi) calls off her engagement with a “No!” no one questions that the right to decide rests with her.   In Nuvve Kavali, Madhu (Richa Pallod) backs out of her engagement not because of any problem with the groom but simply because she has changed her mind, or perhaps was not really sure in the first place.  Notably, although she decides not to go ahead with the wedding, she does not have an alternate groom settled.  The audience fully expects her to marry the boy next door, but that is not declared either at the time her father agrees to let the groom’s family know the wedding is off, nor by the end of the movie.

(edited January 2013 to add stills from movie)

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