Video posts are never popular in RTDM. I never understand why. Perhaps people dont have time to play all the videos. Perhaps they don’t like my choice. I don’t know what the exact reason but I do realize I have not done one for years. Years I have spent trolling the alleys of Youtube looking for gems and diamonds, spending hours awash in the kind of joy that Kalmadi feels everytime he signs an approval letter for a contractor at the Commonwealth Games.
So like it or not, here is a video post once again, if only for sharing my pleasure with the world.
The theme for today’s video post is dance. More precisely South Asian males dancing, one of the most magnificent sights in the world, second only to watching Ravindra Jadeja bat. Since I was a kid, I have always wanted to break dance. But Bengali bhodrolok families, unlike Punjabi ones, have an aversion to body-movement to the beat of music, an activity which is frequently dismissed with a term that belies translation —“Bellelepona” (I guess the closest would be vulgar display of immorality and lack of proper upbringing ).
The only culturally acceptable solution, as Bengali man, was to learn dance from the disciplines of Kelucharan Mohapatra but honestly, with the utmost respect to our traditions, which college have you gone see girls go “Woo hooo” to such a thing.
And so I learnt my disco dance steps from television and prevented from unleashing them as weddings (a big no-no in Bengali marriages), I would bring out my moves once a year at the Jadavpur University Open Air Theatre during the annual fest final event night, with my shirt off, dancing in my baniyan and jeans. Not that I realized it then that there were evolutionary reasons for my behavior as science has shown that flamboyant dance moves attract women. The only problem is no one had told this to the formidable ladies, the very few of them that there were, at the Open Air Theater and so I had to be content in merely blowing dirt in the wind like a horse banging his hoofs in the ground. Alone. Unless you count gancing (guy-guy dancing) as a legitimate romantic activity.
From those days I have had a great admiration of free-style desi male dance. And youtube has plenty of these out of which I select, in the rest of the posts, a few of my favorites. Note that none of these are choreographed —-which is why the Condom Dance and the Worst Dance Ever and Sam Anderson are left out of this collection.
Favorite 1: This video I like is because in its 2 minutes and 50 seconds of running time it captures perfectly the dynamics of a desi dance party. In such an assemblage, there are two kinds of people—the lucky desi dudes who have a girl-friend/wife and those that do not (the latter by far the overwhelming majority). The couples are often found dancing among themselves, separated by a layer of air insulation from the group of single men. Single ladies are allowed to join this group under the protective eyes of the married/engaged women. The men in the exalted group look over their shoulders and periodically taunt the single men with “Hah. Losers”. Of course even the couples do not do body-contact on the dance floor— no ass-grinding please. Only thing we grind is haldi. Sandwich dance? Uii maaaa…..that would cause a scandal, whispered “chi chis” and too much gossip. Which is why man and woman, even those married in front of the fire, maintain a chaste distance between them and move their bodies as non-sexually as possible, like two passengers in a local train standing opposite to each other, holding the overhead bar, shaken by the rhythm of the train.
For the single men though even this sight is too much of oil on frying pan and they lose their minds like moths in front of a flame. And they start rubbing up against each other (like the guys in this video) or just stand /sit in a corner and move their bodies in an exaggerated way so that they may get “noticed”. Of course they almost never do, though some of the bolder ones may casually try to casually infiltrate the “ladies/couples” group. Even if they manage to pull it off, the maximum they can hope for is to lay their hands on some woman’s shoulder when the party culminates in the hedonistic orgy that desi parties always lead to, the obligatory train dance.
Favorite 2: I have always wanted to know how the Taliban entertain themselves when they have an infidel in the next room, blindfolded waiting to be be-headed. Well I presume it is somewhat on these lines. Not that I am saying this dude above is a violent type, but according to Canadian authorities, the following man from the land of the pure and peaceful definitely is. He appeared in Canadian idol, got rejected on the basis of his attempting to sing Avril Lavigne while moonwalking and then took the rejection so much to heart so much that he decided to destroy Western civilization in retaliation. Lesson: be very careful while making fun publicly of a man trying to dance, more so if he comes from the “best neighbor one can have”.
Favorite 3: Also called the Disco Mullah, this man really knows how to bust a move. According to my sources though, this is actually Saeed Anwar and Amir Sohail (in a dress) dancing to “Mauja hi Mauja” once they heard that Prasad and Kuruvilla will be bowling to them the next day in a cricket match.
Yes I know Mauja hi Mauja was brought into the world long after these two stopped playing but when you have Afridi in your team, turning back the clock isn’t a big deal.
You shine just like a star mahiya. From the seductive come-hither looks to the belly-dancing, from the shorts to the dirty room this captures a lonely Friday night in the life of a desi grad student in the US like no other, reminiscent of evenings long ago of downing some cheap tequila, half-frozen chimichanga and cribbing about moronic paper review committees. Not that I would ever dance like this. No that would never happen.
And finally my favorite. This isn’t just dance. Nor is it just music. It is simply put an expression of epic anguish, using voice, body and soul, where the artist gives the audience a truly intense view into his raw, broken heart. Dedicating this performance to fellow sufferers (This song is byaaaasicaallyy deevoted to all boys whose girl-friends are loose….him), Tarun Kumar proceeds to make love to his webcam in the way Jimi Hendrix used to make love to his guitar, strumming his nipples and banging his head onto the glass again and again, almost as if he wants to mount the person watching the video—-so passionate he is.
The reason why I love this last video so much is because it crystallizes exactly what it is that makes desi men dance. The melancholia of being left alone, of having to do it alone, that state of mind that makes you put on two shirts and propose to the camera, the condition of existence that makes you look longingly at those fortunate to be dancing with a girl who is not “loose…… him” and curse God for your bad luck.
Of course not that I would ever know how that feels.