Thursday, November 15, 2007

Aaja Nachle!

Bad morning. . I've been leaving the house at 9am all week, being the only functioning person in office, and hence entrusted with the responsibility of opening office up and then running to whichever godforsaken corner of Mumbai I need to appear in.

The morning ritual in our house is for me to wake up, usually at the sound of the doorbell (our maid), and depending on the schedule ahead, begin to make tea, or go back to sleep and then make tea. Once the tea is ready, I start waking A up. She's usually up by 845. A little random chat, a little reading of the newspaper, and after we bathe (separately, sorry for ruining the moment, guys) and dress up in corporate/legal attire, we scoot out by 930.

This morning, however, A was at the mercy of a highly apologetic investment banker who would change their document structure every half an hour, so she had to be in office by 9am. She woke up at 730, and i snuggled deeper into my pillow. I couldn't believe my luck - an extra half an hour of sleep!

Yeah, right.

The phone rings. Its my boss.

"I need a Judgment"

Lawyers live on precedent to save the day. Somewhere, there will be a case, similar to yours, which was decided in the Supreme Court or High Court, and the way this case was decided and the rationale behind the decision (as stated in the Judgment, and not "I thought the lawyer was hot, so I gave it in her favour") is what will bind your case.

Murphy's Law on Legal Research

  1. If your Boss gives you a citation format to locate a Judgment, the Journal will not be available. If the Journal is available, the Volume will be missing. If the Volume is available, the page on which the Judgment is supposed to be will be torn out.

  2. If your Boss tells you that he recalls a "1996 Judgment on the point, of the Delhi High Court", it is as likely to be a "2006 Judgment of the Calcutta High Court" or a "1976 Judgment of the Mumbai High Court".

  3. If your Boss tells you to find a Judgment on a particular point of law, you will find a binding Judgment saying the exact opposite.

This time, however, our subscription to our Legal Internet database had expired. The guys made the friendly reminder call earlier in the week, at which I told them to send a guy to pick up the cheque on Monday.

The account had not been deactivated, though, or so I thought. I logged on, opened the search engine, tried all sorts of permutations and combinations to refine my search to the exact point which I wanted, then opened the headnote (or summary) of the case to see if this was the one, and I looked through several head notes until... voila! So I clicked on the case to open it, after which it was to be saved as a PDF form and printed out.

As soon as I clicked on the case name, the Case opened, however, so did a little window.

Your account has expired. To renew your account online, click OK

OK Cancel

Clicking OK would get you to a Credit Card secure thingamajig, Cancel would just get you back to the home page, having been unceremoniously logged out and your research endeavour coming to a complete and utter waste.


As I sat sprawled on the floor, exasperated, my eyes turned to the TV, which was on for no particular reason, and there she was.

Dressed in blue and black, kohl rimmed light brown eyes, she was dancing. And how she danced! Hips swaying, pirouetting on her heels effortlessly and gracefully. But what shone through the most was her exuberance, through every expression, and from the way she smiled.

Hooray for the return of Madhuri Dixit!

So I must confess that in the 90's, I wasn't much of a Madhuri fan. I was living at my Grandmother's house, and totally out of sync with the Hindi Movie scene, having spent most of my life abroad. I had a Korean girl in my class who told me that she had seen a Hindi Movie.

"There was this guy, and he throws his wife into a River full of alligators! They eat her face up and then she gets surgery and she comes back!"

"Ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod!" I exclaimed. This was more exciting than the latest New Kids on the Block Video. "I've seen that movie tooo!"

"Aaaaa!" (I was eight. Give me a break)

Besides Khoon Bhari Maang, I had seen two other movies - Chandni and Aashiqui. I loved the music of Aashiqui and even got my Mama to buy me the audio cassette. Every Sunday, some network would broadcast a Hindi Movie, which was the high point for my parents and my uncle and aunt. But none of them caught the attention of either me or my Cousin, who were more enthralled with the name of the Broadcaster:

"Dick-shit... haw haw haw..."

Anyway, I was a voracious reader, and the only English literature (of sorts) which was available at Granny's was my Mama (mother's brother's) Movie Magazine collection. Movie Magazine, under the editorship of Dinesh Raheja and Jitendra Kothari, I still believe, was the best film magazine ever published in India, and I have read a lot of film magazines in my two years of braces at my Dentist's office. The subject matter may have been trashy, but the presentation and writing had a lot of style and class.

The first magazine that I read, I recall, was under the coffee table, and had a strikingly lovely woman on the cover. The Magazine advertised its inner contents on the cover, and included the story of a young starlet who died after falling from her veranda - Divya Bharti, who was, much to my dismay, the cover girl. I read all the other issues under the table, and even trashed my Mama's room when he was at work to look for the past issues, which I found and deliriously gobbled them up.

When we moved into our own house, I asked my Dad to subscribe to Movie, and I guess he was still in the throes of excitement over his super purchasing power thanks to dollar rupee conversion (from middle class, we were now upper middle class, yo) and so every month, there was a Movie Magazine on our doorstep.

Movie conducted a poll every year based on reader's votes, for best movie, best actor, best actress and the like. The favourite actor would always go to Amitabh Bachan. This was during his period of retirement (after Khuda Gawah and before Mrityudaata) and I couldn't figure out what the hell everyone was talking about, just as I could not figure where Rahul Roy had vanished off to (Aashiqui being sure shot to super stardom). The worst actor would go to Kishen Kumar, which was understandable. And the best actress would go to Madhuri Dixit.

Though the surname failed to amuse me any longer, I couldn't understand what the whole fuss was about. I was too young to appreciate her sensuality in Dhak Dhak, or Choli ke Peeche, and I just thought she was badly dressed (which she actually was). And she had starred in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, which I thought was the worst movie I had ever seen (I've seen worse, but mainly Barjatya products only). I was more of a Juhi Chawla fan, (you think that's funny? have you even seen Hum Hai Rahi Pyaar Ke?) and was thrilled to bits when she made it to favourite actress one year, finally!

So I was anti Madhuri, to the extent of cribbing over Dil Toh Pagal hai when she wins over Shah Rukh, despite Karisma's awful "main buri nahin hoon tum bure ho" routine. I thought she was too old to do stuff like this, which was also true.

So when did I convert? The romanticized Sanjay Leela Bhansali-ed take on Indian Literature's worst commitment phobic, Devdas, has Madhuri playing Chandramukhi, the courtesan with the heart of gold, to SRK's Devdas and Aishwarya as Paro. Her performance and grace and everything was outstanding, especially the way she kicks Ash's non existent behind in the Dola Dola song.

So what changed in me to appreciate this Diva? 5 years of law school, inculcation of feminism, and the realization that popular culture's portrayal of women was skewed and Twiggy-fied, and the image of the real woman - maternal, well endowed, not very young, effervescent and confident - was what we needed to uphold. Madhuri Dixit, now Nene, nearing her 40's, well proportioned, mother of two children, and now playing mature roles and thanks to Manish Malhotra and Co, much better dressed, is the Indian Woman. Not Aishwarya and her terrible accent.
No wonder then, that when you see her on the Hoardings that adorn the Western Expressway, with her exuberance and her smile, and her head slightly cocked to the side with her arms wide, palms slightly curled in invitation, you really want to dance with her.
Aaja Nachle!
PS: Yes, I am straight.

No comments: