Saturday, June 10, 2006

Often the best man. Never the bridegroom.

How movies change the way we behave is both amusing and annoying. Ever since the three-and-a-half hour ‘wedding video', Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, became a smash hit, mehendi, sangeet and baraat with traffic-stopping street dancing – invariably with a video crew in attendance – became a sine qua non of nearly every (not necessarily Punjabi) affluent wedding in Mumbai. Even if the groom's and the bride's families were sharing the wedding hall, the make-believe baraat would start a little distance away just so that the baraatis and their spouses or fiancées got a video op to have themselves digitally immortalized as the pseudo-HAHK couple. That those on the road inconvenienced by this hankering after fifteen minutes of fame may be wishing fervently for a ‘shoot' of a very different kind won't even enter their HAHK-besotted brains. We can see this "Smile. You're on Candid Camera" mindset in operation in Indian studio audiences and sports fans in stadia too. Speaking of weddings, do you remember the often-cited phrase ‘Often a bridesmaid but never a bride'? In the Listerine mouthwash (halitosis) ad which ran without a break from 1923 for a decade, it summed up the sorry plight of the graceful but foul-breathed Edna. It is also an ‘original' addition to the English language? The copywriter, Milton Feasley, invented it and the mainstream lingo accepted it with open arms. Also see

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