June 23, 2021

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Shway shwaying my way to the Bollywood wives’ club, or not

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Uday Deb
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Maximising my stay in Chandigarh’s winter with saag, home-churned butter, juicy radish and some ridiculous Punjabi songs, I told my over-enthusiastic mother who wanted to know if I wanted another makki ki roti to ‘shway shway’. “Are you telling me to shoo away?” she asked, looking offended. But what do you do when you are slightly, actually obsessively, hungover with the latest series of Bollywood wives? I was oscillating between two worlds.

One, that I watched on Netflix and the other that I was living in my home in the capital of Punjab where endless songs were being played of Punjabi girls wanting something or the other from the boys. From jutti and earrings to kurtis and lehengas, there is nothing that these proud owners of beamers can’t afford to buy for their damsels. Of course, the songs are sung and composed by boys who assume that almost all girls are gold diggers or perhaps they like having girls pleading with them for gifts. Trying to control my rage over these despicable lyrics while having lunch with my folks, the only word that comes from my mouth is “twats”. My parents really thought I had lost the plot. They didn’t even bother asking me where I suddenly acquired this vocabulary. I mean they had experienced this before with a younger me. I was 12 and my cousins from the States came visiting. After two days of hanging out with them, water turned into wa-errr, park (with a silent r) went to pa-rrrk (with a super enunciated r) and kaddu went to… what is kaddu? I only know about pumpkin and Halloween. A week after they were gone, I was back to “Mummy, roti nai banayi?”

So you can well imagine my major FOMO attacks about the fabulous Bollywood wives. After much pondering on whether I will ever be able to be a part of this club, I tried to figure this out in an organised step-by-step manner. First step, of course, is the accents and as much as I want to root for women, I still couldn’t place these anywhere on the globe. The best part is that they acknowledge it and are unapologetic about it, which has me rooting for them again.

Though I start feeling out of league already, I focus on the next eligibility criterion which is planning. Their travel plan to Doha was made in a salon with one of them already in Paris, and after the hard work of discussing their trip, they had a girls’ night out that very evening. This was too much planning which again isn’t one of my core strengths. The proof of which was when I dropped my two kids to school at 7.30am after having fed them breakfast and dressing them immaculately in their crisp school uniform on a
public holiday. And if that’s not enough, I have done the most atrocious thing ever. I was a new mom, and took my months-old son in his pram to a lunch with my friends. He slept peacefully and I had the most amazing lunch and conversations after months. I almost felt ‘normal’. As we headed to the elevator, the waiter came running, “Ma’am, you have forgotten your child!!” I know people who forget to pay bills, or carry their bags but forgetting their babies? Who
does that? Sadly and embarrassingly I did and, worst of all, I hadn’t forgotten my handbag.

Let’s come to the next criteria of looks. My god how amazing they all looked! They always had their makeup on point, even their eye shadows didn’t repeat themselves on the show let alone their dresses and their hair was always impeccably styled and blow dried whether they were at home, in the pool, in the sky doing their rides or even at a salon where they actually went to get a blow dry.

As for me, earlier I was living Amrish Puri’s General Dong life, graduated to being Harish from Prem Qaidi and, nowadays, I can give competition to John Abraham’s dhoom machale look. So clearly I lost out in this department too. Feeling a wee bit despondent, my hopeless reverie was broken by another obnoxious Punjabi song where the singer blames the girl wearing palazzos for deliberately attracting attention by looking beautiful and challenges her to protect herself without him. Ufff these lyrics put a full stop to my ruminations about the two worlds. I realised no matter how many digs we take at these Bollywood wives the fact is they are progressive, confident women who are unapologetic about their dreams, aspirations and existence. A far cry from being damsels in distress. And that’s awesome. As for my other world, Punjab, which is where my roots are, I embrace my culture wholeheartedly and am extremely proud of it but there is something I want to tell these sexist Punjabi singers and composers who romanticise misogyny in complete Maheep style: “Shway shway, [email protected]#$%^&#, [email protected]#$ you twats.”

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Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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