Popular Bangla movies. There was a time when the problem faced by the hero heroine used to be —guy belongs to religion 1 and girl belongs to religion 2 , guy loses memory, guy rich girl poor, girl rich guy poor, rural-urban tension………..familiar, comfortable topics.
But breasts ? A Bengali movie where the point of tension between the hero and heroine is the expanse of cleavage ? Chobi Biswas and Pahari Sanyal, for whom a Hindu-Christian marriage would have been the thin edge of the wedge, must be turning like tops in their graves.
“Shunya E Buke” which translates to “Emptiness In the Chest” directed by Kaushik Ganguly handles this particularly prickly issue—-how much of our supposedly ‘pure white innocent” love, which old Bengali/Hindi movies glorify, is based on corporeal attributes like the size of a woman’s breasts ?
In “Shunya E Buke” (whose punch line is the very tacky: ” Bhora Buk Na Buk Bhora Bhalobasha” or ” Full Breast or Breast Full of Love?”) an artist, obsessed with mammaries, (also known as the typical Bengali male) on a visit to Khaujaraho becomes besotted by the stone carvings of impossibly voluptuous women that symbolize the Bengali male’s ideal female form. There he also meets a lady and falls in love with her. There is a distinction in their social class—-I suppose the director put that in so that there would be at least some small thing the Bengali audience would find familiar.
Because the rest of the movie sure as hell is not.
On the marriage night, the husband discovers that what he perceived as his wife’s full breasts were nothing but an illusion created by underwire and padding. All his dreams of “Bangalir Bodhu Buk Bhora Modhu” (Rabindranath—Do Beegha Jami) go out of the window.
He leaves her.
Is he being shallow and immature ?
Or is she culpable by having been “padded up” in the first place?
Actually when I first heard of the movie, I was a bit disgusted….my first reaction was—“Have Bengali movies come down to this?”
On second thoughts, maybe it is a good topic to bring up in the media.
I have been told that when prospective grooms come to “see” girls (for matrimonial purposes) they try to get sneak a peek so as to size up they are getting. And because of this, girls are also advised to get stuffed up by the “old ladies of the house”.
Sounds disgusting ! Of course it is. Because that’s what arranged marriage is—– a cattle fair !
Girls look at bulging wallets and guys look at other things that bulge . And based on such corporeal considerations, a match of “love” is made.
While we are comfortable accepting that guys “look” for a girl with fair skin and a convent educated background , we are very uneasy in considering that there are other “ignoble” considerations that affect the choices we make about our life partners—-considerations we know should not be included in the equation but come in, nonetheless.
Let’s not even consider marriage. Are men nicer to ladies who are tight in the right places? Do we always look at a girl’s face when we see her for the first time ? If we don’t, does that make us a lecherous villain or just a normal male? When men say about someone—“she is very good company” or “she has a very interesting personality” —how much of that judgment is a function of the female’s physical attributes ?
And let’s not kid ourselves that this “breast obsession” is a MTV-Channel V gen issue brought about by American cultural imperialism (Personally, as an agent of imperialism, I would prefer Pam Anderson to Lord Clive anyday)—-it’s always been there with us –except that we have packaged it in an idealized, feel-good wrapping of ethereal, non-physical love.
It’s encouraging to see Bengali movies pushing the envelope. And not by addressing “bookishly bold” topics like homosexuality or extramarital affairs (which is what Hindi movies are doing) but by dealing with issues that everyone knows exist but feel very uncomfortable accepting or discussing.