About dramas and life imitating art

I have watched too many free stuffs on youtube, I mean many East Asian TV dramas; Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, etc, more than is good. I fear I may have unintentionally become somewhat of an expert on the subject, not that anyone has asked for my expert opinion ever. Ofcourse I’ve weaned myself off this hobby
a long time ago but the memories remain! It was good while it lasted and interesting and educative. I overdid it and there can be only one fate when you do a thing excessively. The threshhold of boredom was reached!

Looking back, I think I was first pulled into it by the visuals of beautiful people (unbelievably beautiful) and kept on watching when I found out how relatable the family system, culture, friendship and personal equations shown in the stories were, not to mention the opportunity to get an insight to foreign cultures it presented. I had this one misconception that people usually have of other people from foreign countries. I thought that East Asians were unemotional and cold. Probably because of the tourists of those regions to my country I noticed at a young age, who with their cameras and cotton hats (which frustrates me as much as the fringe haircut on Asian girls, the frequency!) used to remain aloof and indifferent and never interacted with the locals unlike say Europeans or Americans. I’m glad to say I was rid of my misconception after watching the many dramas. I may have even said “Oh! They are like us!”

Any ways, these are off topic trivia and personal opinions. But while I am at it, let me shoot out one more. One of my favourites, a veteran Hindi film and drama actor Naseeruddin Shah when asked what he thought was important about movies said that the things in reels served as archives and it was important they represent the time period and society and everything in it with honesty and truth for future reference and for generations to come or something to this effect. (I am bad at verbatim), Among the dramas I’ve watched, I thought Japanese and Taiwanese were more interesting than the Korean and Chinese dramas. Taiwanese dramas were fun and realistic (I am a sucker for anything realistic, no sci-fi or fantasy stuffs for me!), I found Korean dramas OTT and stretched, and Chinese Dramas strange and surprisingly unprogressive, and Japanese atleast cracked the code with the drama length! But I wonder if and how much these dramas are representing the real societies truthfully. I am curious about these things! No reason.

My favourite Korean drama is ‘What happened in Bali’. It is not without flaws but for whatever reason, it is unforgettable. The climax is awesome!  One day, I was on my way to a supermarket, you know walking and thinking about random stuffs. And suddenly the stuffs about this drama popped into my head out of nowhere. I was like “Wow! That was interesting!”. Talk about late reaction!

The Korean romantic dramas almost always have the same story, a rich boy and a poor girl or a rich girl and a poor boy. I feel like they are selling dreams to a certain class of people. When you are young, you are happy to live vicariously through these stories. But now as I get older, I refuse to be taken for a ride. In real life people rarely venture out of their circle or social strata. I think people are usually looking for someone as good as if not better than themselves. As good as oneself means one’s equal, is it not? I feel feeding Cinderella like fairy tales to people again and again and again does more harm than good and serve only to deflect them from reality. And don’t get me started on Chinese drama. I have a problem with the portrayal of females in the drama. A stinking rich guy comes along and the female has no problem being jerked around and treated as a doormat. Ugghh! Dramas like these make you realize what you do not want in your life.

It is very easy to wish for a miracle. More than you, if your loved ones are going through difficult times and if they are not able to catch a break and you are not in a position to help at present, would you take the easy way out? I mean get hitched to a person with means and money like in the dramas, to avail yourself of his help and suppose he is not bad to look at. I imagined this scenario (thank you over active imagination!) and my whole post was leading to this question. It wouldn’t be bad, right? But is it good? The situation will always have a lingering scent of Bargain, Mercinariness, Calculation, right? I was thinking about it today. It is just a hypothetical question. But it’s come to my psyche because I see so much of this theme in dramas and come to notice some of it in real life too. How will life shape up? I thought long and hard. I cannot say after consciously taking such a decision, a person cannot be happy. Most likely he/she would. Life is all about changes they say. But wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to take the high road disregarding the temptations, no matter the magnitude and stake and take chances on yourself and not extricate yourself. If I ever find myself in such a situation which I doubt I will (I have the most wonderful parents who do not let me do any kind of sacrifice) I wish… you know what I wish.

Easy. Difficult

Do you know we Nepalese are multilingual? Those of us belonging to an indigenous group have our own mother tongue, Limbu in my case. And we have our National language ‘Nepali’ . We are taught in English in schools and colleges. And we watch so much Hindi movies and TV that we end up learning Hindi and understand Urdu and Punjabi. Hindi and Nepali are both derived from Sanskrit language as is Bengali so if you have basic knowledge of Sanskrit, you learn all these languages easily. I think a Southeast Asian picks up these languages naturally if he/she hears them often enough.

But other Asian languages are different and very difficult to learn at least for me. Whenever I am watching a foreign drama; Korean, Japanese, Chinese or Persian, there’s a fleeting moment when I wish I could learn the language. But they are in different league and too damn difficult to learn. When we were in school, one time we got a Chinese channel CCTV, probably by accident from our cable provider and we used to watch a drama. This was before the internet explosion. I and my best friend Sabi, then nemesis and neighbour used to follow it religiously. The drama didn’t have any subtitle so basically we guessed the story and everything. We were so obsessed with the drama that we had to watch it everyday. It was an emotional love story so we used to cry a lot. I remember we’d be crying in front of the TV and my mom and others would be sitting behind us in the sofa in the living room and my mom would ask “Are you even understanding or just crying?” and she’d laugh. There would be two kind of emotions in the room; us crying and mom laughing at us. But we had few laughs too, the time when Sabi’s cousin from Darjeeling was visiting and when she saw Sabi and her sister crying while watching the same drama, she was so impressed because she thought they understood Chinese!

I have watched a few Taiwanese dramas now. ‘In Time With You’ is by far my favourite. Someday, I want to visit Taiwan or even live there for sometime, soak up the culture. With these feelings, I was trying to learn Mandarin through some mobile apps. I could learn the characters, but the sound, the pitch while pronouncing, I am not sure I can even produce such sound! So, I said “F* it. Maybe later. Much later”.

I loved the drama ‘In time with you’. This one was in my ‘to watch list’ for a long time. In fact, I was saving it as it had good reviews. I fast forwarded through some episodes towards the end but nevertheless I ended up crying in some scenes. I thought this drama had some similarities with a Hindi movie ‘Tanu weds Manu’ which is one of my favourite movies, one that I can watch again and again because of the story, music, songs and especially the characterisation of the male lead. You cannot help but feel for him, admire him, and marvel that such man can exist! If only…