Of Love and Lust

Arshid Malik

The contexts and sub-contexts of love, better described by the term romance, have changed many hands over the decades. The practical and surreal connotations that supposedly involve romance and romantic feelings have somehow metamorphosed into something that is too grotesque for a person like me, drowned in nostalgia all the time, to grapple with. Back in time, a couple of decades that is, love or romance involved very deep emotions and veritably that mostly. Love always felt almost like a blossoming rose to one’s senses, pure and sublime. It involved what I would call a supra-intellectual bond between two souls which can always be connoted as two hearts. The very feeling of it was pure and divine and had almost very little to do with bodily desires where distance did matter a lot but in a different direction altogether. When two people would be in love, they would write to each other, in some “extreme” cases without these, two people would never even have met.

This is not “Bollywood masala” my friends, but the decent truth about romance which held ground only a few decades ago. These days, no doubt the very meaning(s) of romance have changed. Nowadays, it mostly deals with the libido of a person. It is generally about and over sex. I wonder how this utterly sublime and heavenly concept of a near-spiritual bond between people of two sexes changed its course and landed itself a brand new law of attraction, attraction that is all too physical. One wonders why and how.

As distinguished from Hollywood Indian cinema is characteristically marked by almost an extreme musical scores that do not dub around the actual sequence of the movie but rather take the actors unto their behest. This peculiarity of Indian cinema imitates the very style and significance of the Indian style of drama called “nautanki” which is riddled with musical scores generally romantic in nature, when we talk about Indian cinema that was a few decades back. There is no negating the fact that the peoples of a place or a region are deeply influenced by the pseudo-culture that the media creates and romance is no exception.

But is also debatable whether the concept could be turned around where popular culture affects or afflicts media, most peculiarly cinema. Yet, there is a distinguishable thread that leads one to the conclusion that the interloping of the two occurs to an immediate effect and what is creating what is rendered utterly undistinguishable. If it is not the media, cinema specifically, that influences popular culture – in this case where we talk about the metamorphosis of romance from a near-spiritual phenomenon to a lust-ridden, carnal voyage through space and time – what else is there to fish. Is it the consumer culture that is the culprit here? Consumer culture holds a decent sway on the world population and it usually imparts a distinct thread of “universalism” to all region specific cultures, rendering them a uniform makeover where the idea of the “posh” and the “powerful” rides high. It is mainly and immediately the youth that are affected by consumerism. Almost everything comes with a price tag in the consumerist culture and there is hardly anything beyond money, thus nothing is unobtainable and this includes gratification of one’s desires, lustful or not. The idea that is generated is that of accessibility which leads to release of libidinal energy and “ballonification” of the ego, where the ego stretches beyond limits and takes everything into its fold. This is where the basic or biological desire of physical contact with relation to somewhat romantic relationships gains precedence over the near-spiritual one. Understandably, what I wrote of earlier – the sublime concept of romantic love – is eventually designed for the gratification of the rather subliminal physical desires at a much logical and legal platform (generally marriage), even though these desires are rarely surface in the shape of lustful cravings which are remarkably notable in the current sphere of affairs.

A thousand and one explanations and hypothesis could be offered in the angle of understanding the metamorphosis of romance into a lust-ridden physical phenomenon. But the point that always draws my attention is what is to become of the now almost seemingly archaic concept(s) of romance. Romance as in the near-spiritual bond of love between a man and a woman, a boy and a girl – and now it has “evolved” to altogether new highs – inspired geniuses. Poetry in most cases preceded the very exact onset of romance and this poetry was brilliant. Prose was no less influenced by the very characteristics of an often short-lived era of romance between a man and woman and it graces the shelves of our libraries.

What does the current concept of romance (I am not sure whether I should even refer to it using the term “romance”) except some things that preclude lyrics and beats that leave your temples throbbing with pain?

I am all nostalgic for the romance of the 60’s where two people in love were not even sure that the other existed. The very root of it holds a lot of light. I figure I have grown old and it is time for the new generations to step ahead and ride the podium. But I am nevertheless distributed to the core as lust has overridden all barricades and barriers and it has secured itself a place where everyone’s core is exposed to a pertinent threat of being ravaged and scourged. Thousands of women are attacked and raped every year in India, not to mention global stats of incidents that send shivers up your spine, and this is a result of the irreversible phenomenon of the transfusion of the libido from the natural course to one that is nothing but monstrous.


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