Inception was a movie that I was really looking forward to. Christopher Nolan, DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe – how could it go wrong? The Matrix references only added to my excitement.

Turns out, it’s a good film. But it’s not a great film. Perhaps I have been let down by my expectations. I have watched every film but one of Nolan’s and, while hard-pressed to point out his best, believe that this particular film is not it. It’s a very novel concept, it’s been well executed, but there’s nothing like the kick in the gut one got when one watched The Matrix. One has to admit, though, that The Matrix is a tough act to follow. Even the Wachowskis could never attain the same heights again….they never even came close.

The best thing about Inception is the idea – it’s unique, and it’s clearly been thought through. Nolan has also kept it taut, even if it runs for almost two and a half hours. It’s a good-looking film, well shot, with competent acting, and is definitely worth a watch. I just wish I could better explain this feeling – of something missing – that persisted with me long after the end of the film.

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Now to other matters. Two sets of friends are in the middle of divorces. And it just made me realise that men are very often victims as well. In one case, the wife carried on with another man for a long time, and decided to end the marriage. Ok, that happens. You find someone else and decide to move on. The husband, who had no idea, was shocked. But they decided to keep it amicable and civil, and he’s now trying to pick up the pieces of his life.

It’s the divorce of the other couple that has really disturbed me. Wonderful people, both the husband and the wife. I’ve known them for years. They decided to separate, and also figured on doing it amicably and civilly. Things were proceeding well. And suddenly, the husband was threatened with allegations of harassment and torture, and is now being arm-twisted to part with more than he should. And frankly, he was already being more than fair in the settlement. Anyone who knows the couple knows that there is not an iota of truth in those allegations. But the law, when it comes to allegations of this sort, is skewed in favour of the woman, and the man, if he decides to call the bluff here, is in for the long haul – FIR, possible arrest, harassment and possible arrest of his parents, and a long and sapping court battle. With his father having undergone a complicated bypass procedure a few months ago, he is anxious to end this with minimum fuss. Which means giving in to the wife’s extortion.

Most of us who know them are aghast, more so because the wife is also a warm and caring person. At least, she used to be. But greed can, I suppose, make people do strange things.

The unfairness of the law galls me. But it also struck me that this was part of a larger Indian phenomenon – the tendency to cover incompetence and shortcoming in implementation by making tougher laws. So, if women are being harassed and intimidated at home, instead of ensuring that the police investigate such complaints promptly and efficiently, with some degree of competence, we take the short-cut of enacting a tougher law. And as much as domestic violence targeted against women is a sad fact, it is equally true that there are many women who exploit and misuse this law to screw over their husbands.

And we don’t restrict it to that, do we? No. Terror laws, for example. The police can’t competently handle things here as well, so make it easier to pick up people and lock them up for long periods without judicial redress.

In both cases, we have tougher laws – unfair laws, in my opinion – that actually absolve the investigating authorities of the need for any competence and expertise, and instead hand our men in khaki yet another source of income.

It’s shameful – and ironic – how we keep snipping away at the thin sheets of liberty that our constitution gives us, handing over more and more power and control to an already predatory state.

And, as with my friend, it’s always the innocent who bear the brunt.

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Did I forget to mention that it’s good to be back?

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Pramod Muthalik has said that he opposes Valentine’s Day because, among other things, it is about lust, not about love.

To begin with, if exchanging cards and roses is a sign of lust to Muthalik, all I can say is that this man has had a very, very sad life! He needs help. And I don’t mean in his chaddi-retailing business.

But even if it is about lust, so what?

I think lust is good. I also think love is a tad overrated. Just a tad, mind you.

Why is lust seen as something undesirable? I mean, ‘only love’ is fine when it comes to parents, siblings, friends, offspring, pets, friends, abstract concepts, mathematics, art, vada-pav – you get the gist.

But when it comes to the real thing, isn’t it actually lust that makes the world go ‘round? Isn’t it really lust that kick-starts love?

There are many myths about love. That could be because no one can really define, or even describe, love. Many, it seems, don’t know or realise what love is – but in the same breath will tell you that they are, or at some point have been, in love. On the other hand, lust is so much more, well, tangible. Everyone knows and realises what lust is. It’s kind of difficult not to.

So what are the myths? Let’s start with the most enduring one – that love endures, while lust is fleeting. Complete drivel. Let me stand that question on its head. Without lust, can love endure without degenerating into glorified companionship? And, allow me to add, by the time lust stops to matter, I am sure love does as well. Then, all that one craves is company – any company, comfort and care. And a safe distance from incontinence.

There’s also this whole thing about true love (as opposed to the false variety!) not asking anything in return, being unselfish, putting the other person first. Isn’t that exactly what a traditional Indian housewife does, or is supposed to do? Is that true love? Because if it is, I know most women would not want love! And – be truthful now – how many of us are truly unselfish, not asking anything in return, and putting the other person first? Not too many, I’d wager.

This is not to knock love off its lofty pedestal. It’s just to point out that regardless of which one comes first, or which one outlasts the other, for most of our lives, love and lust go hand in hand. And my submission is that both, lust without love as well as love without lust, are necessarily transient and incomplete experiences. For anything less fleeting and more fulfilling, both need to co-exist. So perhaps it’s time to stop not just trashing lust, but also lauding love at its expense.

Besides, does ‘pure’ love, as glorified by the scriptures, literature and the religiously orthodox, exist? Or is it just a pleasant, companionable feeling in the head, initiated by a chemical reaction and sustained by a biological urge?

Do tell.

Simple, as far as men are concerned. Just get hold of Dante Moore’s book.

The Re-Education of the Female, written by Dante Moore, is a best-seller in the United States. Its success could be explained by the fact that, among other gems, it advises women to obey men unquestioningly, and wear sexy clothes while cooking and cleaning. In hard-hitting chapters titled ‘Appearance, Appearance, Appearance’, ‘You Knew He Was a Bum When You Met Him’, and ‘Are You an Indirect Prostitute?’ he apparently dispenses advice on what women should do to get – and keep – their men.

Another delightful piece of advice: “The fatter you get, the more you decrease your potential single-man pool. Let me give you an example. When you go to the grocery store to shop, do you pick out the nastiest-looking, most rotten, smelliest fruit or meat you can find? Oh you don’t? Why not? It’s the same with men when they see baby-elephant-sized, out-of-shape women.”

Interestingly, Dante Moore still doesn’t have a girlfriend.

Gee, I wonder why.

PS: Dante’s book would probably meet with this horny old geezer’s approval. Don’t miss the almost wistful fiddling with the wedding ring.