Thursday, May 11, 2006

On romance

Amar talked about Hir Ranjha a while ago. This story is the subject of a Bollywood classic that has been described as the Punjabi Romeo and Juliet. Reading this, a sister pointed out that this description was inaccurate, because Hir and Ranjha, unlike the star-crossed lovers, did not come from feuding families. Countering it, a brother noted that the feuding family is irrelevant as the point of these tragedies is love not the feud.

Another brother noted that this great romance was not noted in that great arbiter of Desiana, its page 259 contains: Once upon a time there were Radha and Krishna, and Rama and Sita, and Laila and Majnu; also (because we are not unaffected by the West) Romeo and Juliet, and Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn.

This led to yet another sister making another observation: Angrez and Hollywood romances are from the West, sure, but Laila and Majnu are also from a land that is to the west of Desh. After much googling, we ascertained that the origin of the story of Laila Majnu is pre-Islamic Arabia (that is Jahiliya for you believers).

So, what is the West? And what is Desi? Difficult questions to answer, and Brothers A-A-A don’t pretend to have any, except to note that patatar (that is aloo) is also from somewhere else, but is aloo-ghobi not Desi?

Anyway, Laila Majnu is also the subject of a Bollywood classic, and the Bollywood version looks like it is set in the Islamic Republic of Romance. Check it out if you can, while I go and check out the Laila Majnu and Hir Ranjha of the Blighty.