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Breaking Up With The RomCom

I have been a fan of romcoms since it became possible for me to choose what to watch. I rejoiced when the Romedy Now channel showed up on my set. A 24 x 7 channel dedicated to funny, hopeful stories, YAY! But of course. The romcom is the fairytale of our times. And it is with a heavy heart that I concede that this so-called ‘modern’ fairytale is just as oppressive and problematic as the Snow White/Rapunzel/Dainty Princess-Prince Charming narrative I was fed as a child.

I find myself wincing during rewatches of films that I loved the first time I saw them. How could I not have spotted that stalker-masquerading-as-hero character? How did I think this entitled mansplainer was an ideal man? What on earth did I find funny about that misogynist tirade?


Topping the list is HITCH, a film that I loved for this sassy dialogue and the utterly droolworthy Will Smith. Not to mention its nonchalant diversity (both lead characters being people of colour without the film making a BIG deal out of it). In hindsight though, isn’t it a story of a pick-up artist actually helping other males prey on women using every manipulative technique he can think of? Oh of course, it’s charming Will who ‘actually likes women’. And yes of course, it’s because his heart was broken when he was younger. Notice how that is ALWAYS used to excuse away men’s misogyny on screen? Right down to our desi misogyny frontrunner — PYAR KA PUNCHNAMA.

There’s WHEN HARRY MET SALLY checking off all the boxes on toxic masculinity and utterly horrible relationship models. “A man and a woman cannot be friends because the sex always gets in the way”?

That was being challenged by Bollywood in the 1980s and by (of all people) Salman Khan. Who lost. Not to mention being copied scene-for-scene in the noughties. Down to excusing the male Im-a-screwup-so-love-me storyline. Boo.

Shall we think about female characters? After all, romcoms did follow the chicklit trend of the 90s/00s with women as protagonists. A hot topic was to address ‘her real problems’. Let’s look at how that turned out. We have 27 DRESSES and BRIDGET JONES DIARY to thank for telling us that being single means we are antiseptic martyr/prudes or alcoholic hot messes. Just until the right man comes our way, of course. And even if he’s a stodgy, dull, boring ‘Good Boy’, he kisses like a dream. Ugh, thanks for setting us back on all the sexual empowerment Sex And The City did (the TV show, not the movies but more on that later).

Oh and thanks, MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING for showing women can be ruthless bitches when it comes to not getting what they want. Feminism definitely is about letting us get off the pedestal of being picture perfect. I just wish Julia Roberts’ character hadn’t ended up being shown as the villain. Reverse the genders and the story of a guy who will do anything at all to land the person of his dreams (including lying, seducing an already attached person, gaslighting their significant other)— does that sound like a villain? No, it sounds like Shah Rukh Khan.

Then there’s HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS, an absolutely appalling story even at its time, about two nasty people setting traps for each other. A side character neatly sums up the story in her line, “Sounds needlessly vicious.” A man making a play for a woman to get her to fall for him, so that he can land a client account. A woman torturing a guy with ridiculous behaviour (Apparently this is what women do wrong. Uh no, this is what someone who never learnt how to be a human being does.) so she can write a magazine article about it. What is either funny or romantic about this story? And let’s put that through the gender filter. The story assumes that they’ve each done equal bad to the other. Is that so? Does seducing a person under false pretences compare with interrupting their boys’ night out? Can I get a Hell, #MeToo here?

I won’t bother talking about the Sex And The City movies because I’ve already done so when they each came out. And now here’s a rather disappointing analysis of why romcoms may not be that popular anymore. It’s time for new fairytales. Hey Classic RomCom, you and I are done.


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There’s A Woman In Your Friendzone!

Dear men,

What’s that you say? Women don’t get friendzoned? Allow me to introduce you to….




Exhibit A: The Queen of Friendzoned Females


Better known as Betty Cooper.

betty cooper

Hmm…sound familiar? Here’s her desi avatar.


And an updated version of the same.


Never mind the fact that both these women landed their guys after they dropped jock/geek attire and went babe. This is fiction, created for people who relate to being friendzoned. Nobody’s going to watch a movie that shows them losing out (just as they presumably do in real life). This, boys and girls (but mostly boys, for the purpose of this post), is what fairytales look like. When the above transitions to this:


(Interesting side note: The other female character in Yeh Jawani Hain Deewani, Kalki Koechlin, also gets friendzoned by her love interest, Kunaal Roy Kapur. This despite her being babe all along. And she never lands the guy.)

Right then.

So women get friendzoned too. Routinely. I’d say, as often as men. Maybe not as visibly, not as obviously, but put that down to the average interested man being being more open/expansive in his gestures than the average woman. A lot of women still believe that they’re not supposed to give any indication of their interest since it’ll turn the guy off. That doesn’t stop them from feeling the same things that men do – affection, lust, love, the works.

Most women, even the most tradition-bound ones, show their interest in different ways. I mean, you can’t help it. If you like someone, you’re going to want to do nice things for them, you’ll be nervous around them, you’ll try and look good for them – all of this unconsciously even if you’re trying your damnedest to keep from doing so. Ask me. I may be an offbeat woman but I am a woman.

A few years ago, I went on a hike with some friends. One of my friends developed a crush on one of the other hikers and wooed her successfully. In one of our conversations, he mentioned another girl who had also been on the hike.

“I just realised, B has been calling or texting every couple of days since we got back. Once she mentioned a movie, another time, coffee. I mean…I think…”

“You friendzoned her.”

I told him.

“I didn’t even realize. My mind has been so much on A. But I just realised B has been doing the same things that I’ve been doing for A.”

Friendzone Alert! Poor B.

Then there’s another friend who’s had the uncomfortable pleasure of a drunken admission of interest. He doesn’t feel the same way, what to do? But he admits, the attention is very, very, very flattering.

And finally, the friend whose words inspired this post told me earlier this week about a  woman he met at a party. They hung out a few times. And then it got to that kiss-or-not moment. He decided to walk away. And as he did, he asked himself,

“Hang on. Did I just friendzone a woman?”

Yes, indeed, I told him. It happened again, with another woman, he said. And both, he moaned, stopped being friends with him. Why, he wanted to know, why ever? After all, he was being a nice guy and not leading them on.

“Welcome to a woman’s life.”

I told him. That’s exactly how women feel when we’re accused of friendzoning as if it’s a deliberate act of malice.

Friendzoning isn’t deliberate. It’s not always an act of manipulation. It’s not a deliberate attempt to destroy someone’s ego and use them before discarding them. And it’s an equal-opportunity tragedy. If you’re a man, the chances are that you’ve friendzoned at least one woman in your life, even if you don’t realise it. It’s not the woman’s fault. It’s not yours either.

There are nearly 7 billion of us on the planet. We’re constantly  making choices, dropping some, moving over some, running towards some and forgetting or overlooking the rest. Accepting one person means rejecting everyone else. So every single woman that you have not proposed to, not pursued a relationship with, not married, not attempted to sleep with, is in your potential Friendzone. There have to be dozens of them in your worldview already and if they exist on your radar but are not in focus, they’re in Friendzone.

Don’t believe me? Take a look around. Who told you the difference between a stiletto and a kitten heel? Who do you get ‘a woman’s perspective’ from? Who do you call to ask where you can get stuff to put in the kitchen? Whose advice would you need, to buy your girlfriend a gift? Take that further. Who do you talk shit about your boss or silly buddies to? Who do you bounce off your ideas about a Ladakh trip on? Who do you argue politics, work, books, music, movies or just about anything else with? Any of them women?

There you have it. Your base of friendzoned females.

Friendzoned people aren’t necessarily good-looking or successful or intelligent. The chances are they’re in the Friendzone precisely because you didn’t notice them.

They may be the wrong religion or the wrong age. They aren’t always single or the right sexual orientation for you. Those are valid reasons for friendzoning too.

Don’t strike any of them off just because:

  • they’re an ex-girlfriend
  • you’re attracted to them

If either of the above is true and you aren’t pursuing them, they’re definitely in Friendzone. Balance your guilt out with the gleeful realisation that maybe your friendzoners feel a little something for you too. They’ve just chosen not to act on it for their own reasons.

You’re welcome.

– A Woman in Your Friendzone


Fallen Eve

To ‘the one special woman’,

You are the stuff of memories that never fade, rust or get forgotten. You are the overriding factor above everything hormonal, practical, emotional, logical and fair. Indeed, you must be special.

I’ve been thinking about you a lot. Do you know who I am? I am the one who he leaves to chase you. Or the one who battles with the insurmountable statue of you up on the pedestal. I am the real-world girlfriend. I spend the boring, traffic-laden, polluted days with him while he reminisces about the special candlit dinner-violin serenaded moments with you.

Actually we’ve met a few times. Once you were a good friend who toyed with the idea of him while I stood around waiting and then handed him back to me, slightly soiled, a few months later. The thing is you gave back to me his bruised ego to heal but not the fragments of his heart. That you kept for yourself and I’ll never be able to touch them.

Some other times you’re a stranger, nice and pleasant. You are never off-balance, never irrational, you never scream like a banshee. No, I do that….after all, security brings a level of peace and calm and I wouldn’t know what that looked like.

A lot of other times we haven’t actually met or even spoken. I’ve looked at photographs of you, heard about you from friends (and from him) and wondered a great deal about what you must have that I don’t. You aren’t prettier. Or smarter. Or nicer. Or more loving. But in his memories, you are incomparable.

I’ve thrown in the towel a while ago. I can’t compete with a memory. Or perceived perfection. I am real. Flawed, inconsistent, imperfect. I have acne, PMS, extra inches around my tummy, doubtful taste. I’m the real thing. Well…that can never compare with the poetry of a fantasy, can it?

Your position isn’t exactly a complete one either. For you do know what will happen the minute you succumb? You’ll turn into me. I guess you know. Which is why you let this state exist as it is. I guess it is better to be adored from a distance than ignored right to your face.

Do I sound bitter? Yes, I am. Very. I wanted someone to want to settle down with me, not settle for me. No one wants to feel like a consolation prize.

My Best Friend’s wedding‘ was about me. But I am not always like that. The platitude talks about wanting happiness for someone you love, even if it is not with you. I aspire to do that, even if I don’t always succeed. Believe me, if you think its difficult being friends with me, you have no clue what its like for me to battle envy and resentment and like you for who you are. Well, you are likeable. Which makes it even more difficult.

I won’t ever tell you this to your face. Why, I wouldn’t even admit to him that he’s important enough to me to colour my thoughts of another person. But I feel it. I guess all I have left is the thought that….

Eve’s greatest enemy isn’t Adam
But another Eve

Even if you are a better woman than I am, I love him more than you ever will. Now if only, he’d understand that. But that probably doesn’t matter.

The ordinary woman


An earlier version of this post is here. A version is also posted at Yahoo! Real Beauty.

The Wedding Night And Other Friendly Stories

Heeheehee….got this picture off The Lady‘s post.


It reminded me of the time my friend got married. The pre-wedding days were a time of much mirth for the cronies of the bride and groom. But of course. We were such a bunch of wits.

For the wedding night, we decided ‘as good friends’, we’d make things as comfortable and easy as we could for the two newly-weds. Aside from the usual decoration of the ‘love-boudouir’ and planned pranks (alarm clocks hidden around the room set for a different hour), one guy came up with the novel idea of directions. So we decided, we’d plant directions all over the couple to make it easier for them.

For her, there’s be arrows pointing to all the erogenous zones…ears, waist, breasts, neck, back of the knees etc. For him, we concluded all arrows would point to right below his belt!

Errrm. Am afraid to say that we reduced the bride-to-be to tears. Which, hopefully her husband did not on the wedding night. With our without our directions. 😉

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —— — —— — —

*If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.


My Best Friend’s Wedding

My best friend got married last week.

That deserves a post. But I can’t think of anything meaningful to say.

I’ll miss her. She’s not leaving me. But people change after marriage. She won’t. Even if she does, I’ll still love her. Does she know that? She knows everything.

Is she doing the right thing? I so much hope so. Let me not jinx it by thinking of the future.

Has she left me behind? Will we still relate to each other? When will I see her again? Will she forgive me as easily now for not returning her calls? Will she accomodate me as much now that there’s someone who wants much more of her? Needs more of her? I don’t know.

How did this happen all of a sudden? It just did.

Mostly I’m amazed at how calm I feel. I’m numb I suppose?

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