Most of love is but a memory of it. How it used to be. How it used to feel. I was reminded of this while watching two of the most haloed Bollywood romances ever, late one night while researching for my next film—which is about love.
I choked, saw most of the films through a teary film over my eyes and my minus five glasses, then got up and spooned with my wife and partner of fifteen years and pretended I was seventeen again.
Now I'm told love conquers all. I have proof otherwise. Making tea in the morning conquers all. Coming back home early from work conquers all. Cleaning out the study conquers all.
But try making a film out of these things. Or even a memory. I dare you.
Hence, the memories of love long gone. Memories of when you were seventeen. When she walked into class, hesitant, shy. You looked at her face once and looked away. Memories of a knee-length skirt, perfectly waxed calves ending in a pair of Nikes you could never afford.
You never thought of touching her. She walked in a light of her own, glowing, carrying her own backlight and diffusion filter that made stars shine out of her earrings.
Some days you noticed her body, as she played in the basketball court. But you turned away, hot and confused. Most days you thought of dying of cancer in a luxurious hospital single room, while she wept quietly at your bedside, holding your hand and a thermometer. She could be loved, all your life, safe in your memory, tucked away, close at hand, and you could make a film on her anytime.
Bitch is, they had made them already.
How on earth could they know what you were thinking at night, nuzzling your pillow, alone, nursing a heart aching to be broken?
Which came first? These memories? Or the films that stole them?
More importantly, whose memories do I steal?
Could someone love someone like the following?
Nearing forty love As against Forever Seventeen love. You can see the wrinkles around her eyes. She works, earns more than you, cuts through your macho nonsense, is bullshit-repellant, has a potbelly, has married once and doesn't want kids. Can she be loved? I mean superhit, six-weeks-running loved?
Dishwasher love She does the dishes. You do the home alone writing while your wife travels. It started with guilty, slum it sex. It's become love now. She's ready to leave her wife-beater husband for you. If only you gave her the guilty respect you give your wife. Can she, in all her rough-fingered, detergent-corroded glory, be loved?
She gave head once love At seventeen, she was caught on tape performing fellatio on her boyfriend in a BMW 7 series. She denied it, made a fool of herself, went away and is now back in Bombay with a hideous I-don't-care grin on her face while trying to make it big in B movies. She's not even that pretty now. Can she be loved?
Unfair, unlovely love She's dark and pimply. She stands all day at a shop counter wearing an ill-fitting T, cheerfully trying to find you just the right shade of pink lipstick. She smells of sweat, cheap perfume and stale coconut oil. But she finds you your pink. Can she be loved?
Bitch left me love You picked her out of the gutter when she was ready to kill herself. You got her her revenge. You gave her the strength to go out and win. Then she leaves you because you're a loser. Can she be loved?
Making tea for her in the morning after fifteen years love She loved you when you were boyish, funny, unknown and followed her like a pooch. Now she loves you when you're overweight, stressed and daily late from corporate dinners because, once a month, you make morning tea. Can she be loved?
One day, they'll spoon to these loves, you'll see.
For most of love is but a film someone else made.
(The author is the director of Khosla ka Ghosla and Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye.)