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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What does this mean?

bodice ripper (n) = a historical or Gothic romance typically featuring scenes in which the heroine is subjected to sexual violence.
-Merriam-Webster Online

Hmm... Now I'm sure you're asking how the hell I came upon this word in the first place. Well, it all began with this little mouse pad/coaster which showed a cover of Cosmopolitan magazine with Preity Zinta on it. She looked good. She was wearing a red top and a short, black, leather skirt. No wait, she looked pretty hot. I guess it was because she looked a little different from the whole 'bubbly girl' image that most people have come to associate her with. Annnyway, and because I'm obviously spending too much time on the description, it came down to what the red top she was wearing was called. My colleague Sujata said it was a corset, her daughter said it was a tubetop, and I said it was a bodice. As it turns out, it was a corset/bodice, or that's what we all agreed on anyway. However, while looking up the word bodice on Merriam-Webster it also churned out "bodice ripper" as an associated word. Being gifted with endless amounts of curiousity, and gifted being my way of looking at it, I had to explore further. The rest, as they say, is history...well, it's at the beginning of this post, actually.

But now I have a name for many of the hindi movies of the '70's and '80's. I mean, until like a decade ago, the average Indian actress had to be able to laugh, cry, and shriek "Nahin" on command, among other things. Also, and in an attempt to list what these 'other' things are, she also had to be able to make a rape scene believable...without making it look like too much fun, which I'm quite sure wasn't ever the case. This meant mastering the art of wearing flimsy/breakable jewelry, and making sure it broke, so that the scene of the 'aftermath' looked that much more deplorable and seemed like that much more of a reason for the hero to exact revenge. Oh, it also meant that costume designers had to imagine not only how the costume would go on and come off, but how it would react to a villain's overzealous 'grab', or how cleanly and aong what lines the attire would fall apart as the actor rushed frantically about and her clothes seemed to got caught on all sorts of nails and stuff that you never noticed before. Hats off to costume people, because almost without fail the villain managed to disrobe his victim in as few moves as humanly possible...and disrobing, albeit unwillingly, was just the beginning.

But that was, like I said, about a decade ago...sorry, make that two decades. And then things changed, for the better no doubt, when Asha Parekh, star Hindi actor from a while ago, was heading the censor board and made rape scenes, or any scene depicting violence against women, illegal. I think the deal was unless it was absolutely essential to the plot, then there was no need to have such a scene in the movie. Good move I think...especially since movies like that usually resulted in parents asking their kids to cover their eyes, or to turn around. I'm not saying that parents should've been cooler and let you watch in the hopes that you would one day realize how "debauched" (thanks Anjori...for letting me borrow this word :D) humanity really is because, quite frankly, that would never have worked. It was just the way things were then, and that's how we've grown up...not that we were particularly ennobled by our respective childhoods, but anyway.

So, here's my word for the day. Hope you like it.
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