- February 1, 2013
Love is an overused word and an under-lived experience. In a recent interview, a journalist asked me what love meant to me… in one word. How could I replace one word with another and yet mean the same! I remember reading a cheesy line during college, “love is what the lover makes you feel about yourself”. But it rings true! The other exists to reflect that emotion, to be the mirror, to be the manifestation. Love, in its purity, is a formidable force that brings out the best in us. It is also complex enough to given birth to a million stories, a million works of art.
The month of February, on the western calendar, and therefore in the globalised world, celebrates the day of love. I have to say, February 14, Valentine’s Day, was not something I had ever celebrated. In fact, I found it irritating that we were adopting a new festival, primarily driven by and for the market and media hoopla. Then the right wing goons started moral policing and violently stopping people from celebrating it. It is strange how someone’s ridiculous reaction can change one’s own response to it. And now I find myself defending those who choose to celebrate it. Anyhow, up until now, February 14, personally, held no relevance. But, for two reasons, this year it does.
The small one first! A play titled Gates to India Song will open in Mumbai on that day. As part of the Bonjour India celebrations, an eminent theatre director of France, Eric Vigner, is doing a play based on the works of Marguerite Duras, one of the most important 20th century French writers. All her works are about love, and here, too, she explores it in a unique way. In her words, “All the references to physical, human or political geography in India Song are wrong.” She never came to India, but it is clear that for her the authenticity of emotions was far more important than, say, that of its geography. As an actor, I am excited to be a part of this journey which explores literature and theatre in ways that are foreign to me. What a delight it is to watch someone work with so much commitment, passion and sheer abandon. A rare sight in a world that is so caught up in making sure even art ‘works’.
The second, a unique initiative, and not just in India, but all over the world will be seen on the streets on this February 14. We will get an opportunity to express our commitment to fight violence against women. A global movement, started by Eve Ensler, the writer of the provocative play Vagina Monologues, has called it One Billion Rising. It is said that one billion women on the planet will be raped or beaten in their lifetime. ‘One billion women violated is an atrocity and one billion women rising is a revolution.’
So, on February 14, it is expected that women and those who love and respect them will ‘rise, dance and strike’ to pledge their support for a fight against such violence in the world.
Prejudice and thwarting of love is also a form of violence. But true love also gives rise to effortless courage. My son’s new nanny, in her first week at work, asked me if I had known of two women marrying. I smiled and said yes. Relieved, she said her ‘husband’ had told her that she could trust me. And then came pouring out a tale of pure love, with all its struggles and joys. Inspired, I listened to her speechless. In a few days, her ‘spouse’ walked in, travelling all the way from Nepal, for just three days. The two girls couldn’t stop smiling! I still can’t fathom why some would want to stop people from being happy, in love.
Despite my allergic reaction to festivals that are being reduced to marketing bonanza, I think if a day is meant for love, then let’s seize the opportunity and do just that-celebrate love.