Love outside relationships: are open marriages the way forward?
The notion of infidelity in marriages has been dissected in Bollywood a hundred times. In Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, filmmaker Karan Johar exposed the hypocrisy of marriages and Shah Rukh Khan went to town saying "marriage and infidelity are the same" and "sometimes it is fun to flirt with somebody's wife or husband".
That was August 2006. And it took three hours of high drama to deconstruct (the meaninglessness of) the institution of marriage.
A decade later, a short film - The Dinner -- has taken all of seven minutes to drive home the view monogamy is boring. And that open marriages are the thing of the future.
The film is based on the theme of Ravinder Singh's newest book This Love that Feels Right. Singh, who is called the 'King of Romance', has raised certain questions in his book - "Is monogamy overrated? Is it the best option? Is it fine to be in an open relationship? What will you do if you find true love but you are already married?"
In the span of a week, the film has been viewed more than 6 lakh times. The comments on the film run into hundreds. Everyone has an opinion on the film, on the notion of infidelity and on extra-marital affairs.
Amazed by the stupendous response, Singh's publisher Penguin Random House tied up with dating app TrulyMadly and ran a survey to understand what the youth of the country think about "Love Outside Relationships" and the results are surprising.
While the world moans the death of readers, Singh's packed book launches across the country may fool you into thinking that our youth's favourite past time is reading. The young find Singh's characters very "relatable". And they love Singh for "bringing to the fore the unspoken, or things we consider sin, and push under the carpet".
This is how the This Love that Feels Right opens:
My name is Naina Singhania.
I am twenty-five and I am married.
In my life, marriage happened first and I fell in love later.
The only problem was-I fell in love with a man who's not my husband.
This is my story . . .
And when you are done reading, you cannot put the book away because Singh has given you homework.
I am your author. Now that you have read this story, I have a question for you. Not that you are obliged to answer me. But I will feel grateful to you, if you do so. I will keep my question brief.
Both Naina and Manvika were in extramarital relationships. My question to is: Who do you agree with more? Naina, who does not think it right to be in more than one relationship at a given point in time and yet lands up committing the sin of adultery? Or Manvika, who is comfortable with this idea but is against adultery?
Of Love & Megabucks
There is a reason why Singh is called the "King of Romance". He is the bestselling author of I Too Had a Love Story, Can Love Happen Twice?, Like It Happened Yesterday and Your Dreams Are Mine Now.
After spending most of his life in Burla, a small town in western Odisha, he is now based in New Delhi. Given the grand successes of his book, he has swapped his eight-year IT career for full-time writing.
Of course, a lot of the publicity for his newest book is because of the short film that Penguin asked Humara Movies to shoot. Written and directed by Neeraj Udhwani, the movie has been mostly endorsed by youth.
"In just 7 days (the film) has crossed over 3.2 lac views on Youtube and 3 lac views on Penguin and Ravinder's facebook pages. In total around 6.2 lac views. The debate in the film is being liked by some and not by a few, but it definitely is making people think," says his publicist at Penguin.
The film opens with a Mason Cooley quote: "Promiscuity is like never reading past the first page. Monogamy is like reading the same book over and over."
But Singh works hard to market himself - he humours his fans and reaches out to them during his travels. Before he headed to Mumbai for the book launch, his video message was in Marathi, in Delhi he promised his fans to drop by if they were "vela" and oblige them with selfies. No wonder then he has 237 thousand followers on Twitter and 685,767 fans on his official Facebook page.
Open Marriage Market
On his Facebook page, Singh throws open the discussion with - "Are we ready to discuss the idea of open marriages? #ThisLoveThatFeelsRight".
The comments are long, emotional, irrational and boring. But the point is Singh has got everyone talking. 100,307 views, 1,900 comments and 382 shares on just one post.
"A thousand times claps for this video. Inspired me a lot. Thank you Ravin," writes Suravi Mandal.
"...I was really moved by these words 'Marriage is a commitment of sharing lives, not being caged or controlling each other; If anything, the rule should be of freedom. Love does not bind you. Love sets you free. Love flourishes in freedom. If you see marriage as the end of it, you are doing it wrong" and you have actually made me ponder that today, rather than 'loving' what most of us do is 'own' each other..." posted Twinkle Banerjee.
"Love stories have always been seen as something out of pure fantasy and dream-like. Who could have thought that logic plus love story could weave such magic? But then, when you have the King of Romance telling a love story, it ought to be something extremely out of the box. It is uncanny how you can use simplicity, which is definitely the wow factor of your writings, to make stories so beautiful and leave us readers with a pleasant smile and a mind overwhelming with thoughts. I can't say much about the concept of open marriages. But the idea is surely striking, talking about which would have been probably labelled as taboo earlier," wrote another ardent Singh fan.
"But isn't there a middle ground for things? What if both of them love each other a lot? Should they not get married on the basis of the differences in their idea of marriage? That's insane! What if two people have the same thinking, but don't love each other? That marriage won't work, anyway!" posted Kanika Mandhan.
Infidelity is Ok
Dating app TrulyMadly's survey revealed that 77% Indians think it is "ok to like someone else when they are in a relationship, and they would share it with their partners too".
Around 23% Indians think that they "would not like someone else if they are in a relationship but if they do - they would not share it with their partners".
Youth between the ages of 18 and 35 were contacted for the survey, 45 percent were aged between 18 and 25, 35 percent between 26 and 35, and 20 percent were above 35.
Singh obviously knew the pulse of the nation much before he started batting for open marriages. He says "this is one romance story that will make you think about your equation with your partner and probably change your viewpoint about the relationship you are in right now."
In the film, the woman who plays Manvika bats for open marriage, "If you change the way you view your marriage, you can enjoy the best of both worlds. Marriage is like a beautiful house. If you shut the windows and doors you will suffocate," she says.
However, the woman who plays Naina believes "monogamy nahin to shaadi nahin" and she breaks off with her boyfriend who believes "Azaadi nahin to shaadi nahin".
For the record, Singh's own marriage with Khushboo Chauhan is going strong. In fact, he credits her for sharing with him "real life stories of people who landed up in extramarital relationships and how that broke their marriages".
Also, for the record Singh has dedicated this book to Ankur Sharma, his personal trainer in the gym. This book is Singh's "guru dakshina" for Sharma. So we know where the pearls of wisdom are coming from - not his genes, but his gym.