The idea for this post was triggered by a friend who posted an old DIGJAM advertisement which featured Shekhar Kapoor. She asked me to help her find the one with Karan Kapoor – (yes that old Bombay Dyeing ad with Shashi Kapoor’s handsome son! ) We had a lovely banter over the comments section about how we used to "drool” over these men..
Thinking back, I cannot not help but laugh at some of the men who were part of my fantasies during my teens. Coming as we did from gender desegregated schooling systems, we had little opportunity to actually interact with boys. There was no question of having a boy friend ( though there were some who did manage THAT). So we put our entire heart and souls into our dreams.
Dreams may be intangible but they require a “ muse” . And those men in the ads and the heroes of the novels were our sources of inspiration. While the men in the movies and the ads were in a way very real, I think the kind of love that one had for an unseen hero like the protagonist in a novel or a poem was very different as it relied a lot on one’s own imagination- an imagination triggered by words! I realize now that I am probably a person who is more led by a sense of imagery that is self defined rather than imposed on by external sources like ads.
The first time this happened was when I read “Lochinvar” by Sir Walter Scott . I fell head over heels in love with the main protagonist who was supposed to be “ daring in love and dauntless in war”. Nowhere had I actually seen a picture of this knight who “save his good broad sword had weapons none” and who “ rode all unarmed” and “ all alone” . But I could just imagine him in my mind as the most handsome man in this world.- that is . until I read “ The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes when the bandit replaced the knight in my dreams. I almost “ looked” for him by “ moon light” and “watched” for him by “ moonlight” .Many moon came and went and I kept looking for him!
A few years later when I read “ Gone with the wind” I lost my heart to Rhett Butler. Interestingly, I refused to watch the movie though I had many occasions to do so. I wanted to hold on to my mental image of this dashing hero. It was only very recently that I watched a program on a television channel about the making of this movie and that is when I actually set my eyes on Clark Gable playing Rhett Butler- I must confess at this point that he lived up in every way to my mental image of Rhett!
Other loves were Mr. Darcy in “ Pride and Prejudice” and to some extent “ Robinhood”.
I think you must have noticed by now that all these men populating my dreams were western charachters. I can only blame it on the colonial schooling system which stuffed our head with English poetry and literature. Who knows, if I had studied in a Tamil medium or a Hindi medium school I may have fallen in love with “ Veerapandya Kattbomman” “ Raja Raja Chozhan” or “ Chandragupta Vikramaditya” !!!
While poetry and stories have a way of triggering mental images, so does music. An avid fan of Hindi film music, I used it as a background for spinning images-almost like in the movies. While I am a great fan of Mohammad Rafi’s , the voice that triggered dreams was Kishore Kumar’s. Actually, it continues to do so.. Rafi and Yesudas are okay for beautiful songs based on ragas but to me it is only Kishore who can sing a song with and about passion! Unfortunately the faces which lip synched Kishore’s words often did not live up to the images in my dreams. But when I saw Kishore perform live –that was actually the ultimate let down!! Poor guy he cannot help the way he looks. But how do you explain that to a sixteen year old? My heart broke into a thousand pieces and I wished I had been born blind!
The teenage years went by and as we grew and interacted with real men/boys the dreams readjusted to accommodate some of their traits. There was a time when the real and the fantasy intermingled often impacting on crucial decisions like the selection of one’s life partner. We made those decisions and live with them accepting the reality that comes with it. I don’t know how many of us found those dream men.. but I can certainly say that if some psychologist did an analysis of the type of men we married and the men who were part of our dreams during our growing years, they would be amazed by some striking similarities.
However, as we all know, it is one thing to dream about a Lochinvar and another to marry him.. because one is certainly not “ the fair Ellen of the brave Lochivar” or “Bess the landlord’s daughter- the landlord’s red lipped daughter”
But when has that stopped a girl from dreaming? Dreaming is her birthright and no one can deny her that!( The images are from the internet - they do not in any way do justice to the images in my dreams)