Beyond the heteronormative confines, let’s celebrate love that is real, joyful, innocent, and proud!

A student from Delhi University shares their love story—something that started off as a childhood crush, a relationship ended on unfinished terms, and a friendship that’s mature and understanding.

“So, as a kid, our family moved around a lot, so I was always the new kid that could never really make good friends as I wasn’t a conventional “girl.” I used to cut out pictures of Deepika Padukone from magazines, but obviously I was straight! The first boyfriend I ever had also turned out to be queer, so that was great. When I was in the 8th grade, our family moved to Orissa, and we lived in a corporate township. There was this girl with curly hair who soon became my benchmate. Since we lived pretty close to each other, bicycle rides, study sessions, and long conversations soon became the norm and blossomed into friendship. I started penning poems for her in my diary: “Her hair glistened in the sun,”  reminding myself of the fact that “I’m definitely straight.”.

Soon I realised that “kuch toh hai.” I don’t want to be just friends with her. I started justifying my identity too. The pandemic sort of gave me a sense of stability as well. I assured myself that “being a lesbian is valid.” After the lockdown, we started hanging out again. I used to call her up at night, asking her “homework samjhado.” She knew I had done the homework, yet she explained everything. One day I just called her (it was the 14th of July), and a cyclone was about to hit, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to meet up with her for some time. We met up, and I told her, “Oh, I think I’m gay,” and she said, “I think I’m gay too,” and we just cycled back to our homes. We met up again on the day of our SST exam. She said, “I’m not into girls,” and again, we cycled away. A couple of days later, she tells me, “I like you,” and again, we just cycle together. There is just a lot of delusion going on. Time passed by, and she was about to move out to go for JEE coaching. I knew I couldn’t beat around the bush anymore. So I just told her, “I like their pronouns.” We just cycled together again. We were having a 6th standard type of love story in the 11th standard. She finally moved away.”

(Trigger warning: s**cide.)

 “We started flirting over Whatsapp. She came back from the hostel, and we held hands and walked around; she was stable. My mom thinks, “She’s a very good friend.” Yes, a friend, with whom I used to spend hours in my room studying (making out). Thanks to my sister for always being there for me. Letting me “hang out” with my “friend” in my bedroom. My sister has always been my biggest support system. She used to always ask the barber to cut my hair just a little more. She bought me binders and fought for me to have even the little bit of freedom I could in my house. When I came out to her, she said, “I knew since the time you were simping over Deepika Padukone.” ! The second standard made me extremely s**cidal. Our parents started to question our sexuality. Her parents thought I was a bad influence on her. We were constantly pitted against each other. Family and academic pressure were extremely high. We broke up without even speaking to each other. I didn’t want to see her anymore. And we left on unfinished terms.”

“During our CUET exams, she came back. I saw her on the day of my first slot. Our eyes just locked together across the exam centre. My mom asked me to go say hi to her. I was extremely shocked, and I just stared at her. And I ran away; it seems like we were just always running away. On the second day of CUET, we met again. This time, we hugged each other and just bawled our eyes out. Then, we left things on unfinished terms again. After our CUET results, we were both getting into the same college, but her parents didn’t want her to go near me. They didn’t allow her to come to DU. We then called each other up. I guess we were much more mature then. We spoke to each other for hours and decided to end our relationship. She said how I should have always known she liked me back in school. “You were giving me gay panic back when we were bench-mates, and you used to run your fingers through my hair’, she said. We are still extremely good friends. I did love her first, and I guess I’ll always love her, but this is not a love story. We left things on unfinished terms so many times that we didn’t realise when our relationship became toxic. I guess I was always the red flag. But I just want to say that I’m much more confident, mature, and just a better human being now. We just grew up. We still sometimes flirt with each other. By the way, she’s in a relationship with someone now, and she constantly reminds me to stop flirting with her, but I guess old habits die young. She sends me origami swans, and I like to bind books, and I always do it for her. I once gifted her a hand-bound copy of “The Blue Umbrella,”  her favourite book, and that’s just our love language. I still love her. I always will. We sometimes joke about how, when we’re 50 and neither of us have wives, we will just marry each other. But again, just to reiterate, this is not a love story. I think it’s a story of friendship and support. Her, my sister, my friends in college now, my people—they are all my love.”

A student from Hindu College shares their journey of self-love, self-acceptance, and being loved.

 “I went through a lot of internal strife before even considering sharing this. You’ll realise why when I tell you who I am—a gray-romantic bisexual AFAB (she/they) dating a straight cis man.

Throughout my life, when I was aware of things like my romantic and sexual orientation, I’ve always been at odds with my feelings. It took me so much effort to come to terms with who I am—the constant question of, Am I straight? Am I gay? Or am I just seeking attention? coupled with the feeling that something’s wrong because, as much as I find men and women and envy people hot, I did not cry desperately like my friends did for love. I had no clue why I had to be bi when I didn’t feel the need for love only?! I sought validation in queer media and online queer spaces, where again I could relate to the struggles of being bi, the biphobia, etc., but my other half of the struggle was left unseen.

Then I met a friend who suggested the term “aromantic.” She identified me as Aro-ace, and yet again, I was torn—it seemed like I was an anomaly. My two halves would never be reconciled. I dehumanized myself and saw myself as some heartless monster who could never enjoy the beauty within people. I had come to terms with the fact that I would just not be able to relate to love; everybody is hot, and it is okay. I would get myself a cat, and I would be the single crazy cat lady forever.

That was until I met my partner. I am that extroverted person who can talk people’s ears off and yet not open up a single thing about herself. I had trauma growing up, and it created giant walls around myself, and because of my nature, very few people notice it and try to get past the walls.

It is safe to say that the people I let in just created more trauma for me. They saw me, but I never felt seen. And here comes this shy but playful boy, who saw me at one of my worst times, holding my hand and telling me, “It’s okay. You’re not a monster. You’re just another human who was let down by people who should’ve never done that in the first place. I promise that I’ll try my best not to join them.” For the first time in my life, I felt seen. I had not known what it’s like to feel love, but for me, that was it—to  be seen. To be understood. To be supported.

Now I smile whenever his text pops up on my screen. I love him with all my heart; he’s been nothing short of wonderful, caring, and supportive. I am happy and content with everything I have in my life. Then what’s the strife? Again, I’m a gray-ro-bi AFAB dating a straight cis man. Every word of that sentence is a plot twist. There aren’t days when I don’t feel like maybe I’ve just been lying to myself and everyone all along—that maybe I’m just a straight woman who might not have “found the right guy yet.” I thought I had defeated my internalised aro-phobia and biphobia long ago, but now I realise it’s never as simple as that. Queerness is never a static thing; it flows and does so in beautiful ways. I might feel like I’m a walking and talking contradiction and that I’m not queer enough to be in queer spaces. But those are just that—just feelings. I’m still gray-romantic, still bi. Still queer, and a loved one at that too.”

Dear reader, let’s not let “love” be restricted to an idea, romance, or mainstream holiday. I believe it’s a celebration, something we experience every day, and there’s love in our joys, our sorrows, our laughter, and our tears. Your love story is valid; it’s real, and it’s yours. Let there be love, and let there be light!

 Read Also: https://dubeat.com/2024/02/11/feminism-a-belief-or-a-tagline/

Featured Image Credits: Sukriti for DU Beat

Gauri Garg

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Similar to what you must’ve studied about sound grade 8 physics; love too, doesn’t exist in a vacuum, especially not in India. It unfolds against a backdrop of societal expectations, parental pressures, and the relentless pursuit of individual dreams.

“Hai tujhe bhi ijaazat, kar le tu bhi mohabbat”, says the lyrics of a Hindi song from “Life in a… Metro”; this 2000s melody isn’t just an underrated gem but also a poetic attempt to encapsulate the silent yearning of hearts, entangled in the web of duty and desires.

Love in India is never a solitary endeavor but rather a communal affair, subject to the collective scrutiny and judgment of society at large. The interference in your love life can take various forms, ranging from subtle manipulation and coercion to overt control and restriction. With the Uttarakhand assembly passing the Uniform Civil Code Bill, it’s not very difficult to understand what we’re referring to. While on one hand, the Dhami government can now punish couples living together outside of marriage without official registration, it has also robbed couples of freedom and the choice to move in together as they explore their connection before marriage. 

Though such checks can be seen as a necessary evil by some, as revealed in one of our conversations; Shanmay Bokde, a student from IIT Delhi, appreciates the move and said, 

A well maintained record and data might help minimize crimes by reducing chances of deception. These regulations aren’t really restrictions, for they will help ‘legalize’ and subsequently destigmatize ‘live-in’ relationships in a society like ours where it is looked upon as a ‘prohibited practice’ of some sort.

A conversation with a final-year student from Ramjas College, offered another perspective as she contemplated over the implications that the law is likely to have. She remarked,

I think it is too early to say anything as of now. But I am sure personal freedom and privacy will go for a toss, considering how the state is interfering with individual autonomy by documenting everything.

From laws governing inter-faith marriages; that decide (or to say, give a well-framed guideline to explain) who can love whom and under what circumstances, to moral policing in public spaces on grounds of upholding traditional values and societal norms, the state wields considerable power in shaping the landscape of love in India. 

If this wasn’t enough, there’s also an annual spectacle of thrashing of couples on Valentine’s Day by Hindu right-wing groups. Under the guise of protecting cultural heritage and religious traditions, these groups seek to impose their worldview on others, resorting to violence and intimidation to enforce their vision of societal norms. While I am anxious about what this Valentine’s Day will make us witness, if you travel about 365 days back into the past, you will remember how in Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad, the members of the Rashtriya Bajrang Dal made couples tie rakhi to each other on 14  February; their only offense being – sitting in a park with people from opposite genders; without being neither spouses nor siblings, so for obvious reasons the only way left with Bajrang Dal members was to ask the women to tie rakhi to her “brother”.

Couples being subjected to harassment, and violence at the hands of right-wing groups is not new. This intolerance and intimidation took the form of coercion and control, when in 2019, in Hyderabad, a couple was forcibly married off by such activists in a public park, perpetuating fear and insecurity among couples in the name of “protection of cultural values”.

Mr. Brijesh Mohan Sharma, a working professional, shared that while couples should maintain some dignity while engaging in public displays of affection, this doesn’t give these extremist ideologies groups a ticket to moral policing. 

In a country where even platonic relationships with the opposite gender are viewed with suspicion and moral judgment, making romantic relations acceptable will require a lot of unlearning.

Khushi Garg, a student from Daulat Ram College shared her brief interaction with a middle aged relative, who upon realising that she studies in an all-girls college happily remarked, “Are waah! Yeh toh bohot achhi baat hai gudiya” and frowned upon “aaj-kal ke bachhe” having close friendships with individuals of different sexes.

In this kind of a complex tapestry of Indian society, the perceived dichotomy between love and career also becomes a significant hurdle in relationships. 

Vidhi Kanojia, a sophomore from Lady Shri Ram College For Women, shared the importance of prioritizing one’s career over the pursuit of “true love”. 

There’s no point in having a successful relationship when you’re struggling financially. Especially as a woman, one must ensure they have a settled career before looking out for love, otherwise you won’t be able to enjoy love in its true essence. Kal kya khaana hain, how to sustain tomorrow, will be hovering over your brain today.

This challenge is multifaceted, influencing parental concerns and subsequently individuals’ expectations from one self, and the dynamics of modern relationships. The prospect of love is often overshadowed by the fear of disappointing their parents, leading many to suppress their desires and aspirations in the name of duty.

Bina Sah, a student from LSR, revealed,

 The age bracket between twenty to thirty is thought of as a delicate period where we children are in pursuit of our ambitions towards a successful career, coupled with the desire to have healthy relations, strong friendships and according to our parents indulging in anything other than ‘padhaai’ will lead to a compromise in a ‘secure future’.

Shedding light on the gendered perspective Bina shared, 

Especially for daughters, the pressure to uphold family honor and tradition weighs even heavy, because while the son being in a relationship might not be as big of a deal for the family but if the daughter engages in romantic pursuits, it is looked upon as a ‘crime’.

Amidst this chaos and conflict in values, desires and personal aspirations, it won’t be wrong to say that it is a privilege to love. 

Bina further shared, 

And to top this all, the age-old obsession of parents with religion and caste, and for all these reasons I have made my mind not to fall for someone to avoid trouble in my family.

Love in a country like ours, plagued by discord and division, is nothing less of a journey that requires courage, compassion, as the “samaj” tests your resilience, patience, and commitment.

So, while I don’t know what might have been the case with the protagonists of  the movie Shree 420 that made Manna Dey sing, “Pyaar Hua Iqraar Hua, pyaar se phir kyu darta hain dil”, but these surely are one amongst the key issues with which today’s youth is confronted by, making them fear love. 

Kavya Vashisht
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Kamasutra: A Tale of Love, a 1996 cinematic relic that failed to find its place in the Indian film industry of the 90s, gets me to question whether such a contentious movie would survive the scrutiny of the new era.

An unapologetic masterpiece or a stark spotlight on societal norms. Did the visionary filmmaker Mira Nair subvert gender stereotypes or reinforce them? Kamasutra: A Tale of Love sparked this debate when it first came out in 1996. In times when sex was considered taboo and Indian cinema, or just cinema in general, was still largely dominated by male perspectives, she told us a story about two young girls, Maya and Tara, who explored the complexities of love and desire. Set in the 16th century, the movie follows Maya, who, in the wake of a heartbreak, embraces her sensuality and becomes the courtesan of the king. The same king who is married to Maya’s former friend Tara is entrapping her in a loveless marriage.

While Nair was applauded by many for the brilliant cinematography seen in the film and the bold portrayal of female sexuality within the Indian context, she also, not so unexpectedly, faced heavy criticism due to its erotic nature. This resulted in the movie being banned in India. Now the pertinent question emerges: if released in the 2020s, would the outcome have remained unchanged?

Taking into account the female-forward intentions of the filmmaker, this movie was set out to portray that sexual desire is something that comes naturally to men and women alike. The female characters actively expressed their sexual inclinations throughout the movie. Inclinations that would have generally been a lot more silent given the time period Beyond sexual desire, Nair’s female characters exhibit a plethora of very powerful emotions, including fury, resentment, and grief. Focusing the story on the journeys of women and putting them at the forefront contributed greatly to the element of gender inclusivity.

Despite the benevolent objectives behind this movie, it received an enormous amount of backlash. While the power dynamics seen in the characters’ interpersonal relationships were a problem for some, the graphic nudity and eroticism infuriated others. The movie was called out for reinforcing stereotypes, insensitive cultural representations, and male dominance at play throughout the entire movie.

The question of whether this movie falls in the realm of commendable or critiqueable is a complicated one, especially if we are to look at it in the context of the 2020s. It’s safe to say that the movie, in today’s time, would potentially offend multiple cultures. Moreover, the evident patriarchy in the film would not align with newer feminist ideals. Although it could be attributed to the film’s historical context, these aspects would still be considered regressive, keeping in mind modern expectations for diversity and inclusivity.

Nevertheless, above everything, there would still be the persistent concern surrounding nudity and mature content, particularly where Indian cinema is involved. “Showing too much ankle” still remains a breach of cultural modesty in our country. While some people would argue that with a few censor cuts, the film could still make it to the big screen, I hold a different standpoint. Sex plays a crucial role in unfolding this narrative; without it, the story would risk losing most of its substance. So it’s fair to conclude that although this movie would have been looked at more positively where the feminist elements are concerned, I still do not think that the Indian audience would allow its release.

“Kamasutra: A Tale of Love” left a permanent mark on the canvas of film history. It is a production shaped by our own, a work of art that is beyond our grasp. As close as the Indian audience is to Mira Nair’s heart, this creation remains forever elusive—a reminder that maybe some stories are never meant to be told.

Read also: Barbie: A Review

Featured Image Credits: IMDb images

Lakshita Arora

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In a hyper-communal environment with growing sentiments of ethnic chauvinism, we as a nation seriously need to introspect on what it means to be an INDIAN. The Armed forces provide a handbook on the same with valuable takeaways.

Contrary to an average civilian who is introduced to the concept of Diversity through formal schooling via pedagogues or books, I, owing to the itinerant nature of my Dad’s job in the Indian Army, have been privileged enough to witness this diversity first hand.

A great deal of my understanding of India’s diverse cultural milieu has been shaped because of my Fauji background. A sense of belongingness and a simultaneous appreciation of diverse cultures, ethnicities, religions and languages came to me through the Indian Military traditions. The entire Fauj is a profoundly diverse community, a huge old military family – bereft of divisions on the basis of caste, class, creed or religion; united by shared love for the nation and the army community.

Originally, I am from Punjab, but today, I can easily sing the Bengali prayer “Amader Bhalo Karo Hey Bhagwan”, that I learnt while dad was posted in Siliguri; I have successfully memorised the Assam Regimental song “Badlu Ram ka Badan Zameen ka Neeche hai” line by line, I know it by heart; I know some amazing Malyalam slangs that I was taught as a kid by my neighbours; and last but not the least, I can count from 1-20 in Sinhalese, something that I was taught by my Sri Lankan acquaintances who had accompanied their fathers for a course at Mhow, MP. Needless to say I have seen, heard, read, experienced, internalized and celebrated the Diversity our country has to offer ever since I was born.

Sentiments of respect and embracement towards all faiths, is demonstrated in the fact that most cantonments have a common worship place – Sarv Dharma Sthal, for people from all beliefs. We celebrate Janmashtmi, Holi, Eid, Gurupurab, Christmas – all with equal fervor and gaiety. Greeting with a casual “Ram-Ram”, Hindu soldiers praying in Gurudwaras of Sikh regiments, Sikh and Hindu soldiers paying homage during Eid festivities in a Grenadier regiment mosque seems very organic to us. Baba Harbajan’s shrine en route to Nathula pass generates an unmatched vigour in soldiers from all communities, alike.  The Rajput regiment’s war cry, “Bol Bajrang Bali Ki Jai”, the Sikh regiment’s “Jo Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal” or the Maratha regiment’s “Har Har Mahadev”, send shivers down the enemy’s spine when proudly uttered by every soldier of the Paltan, irrespective of their religion.

We as a nation today direly need to derive inspiration from the secular ethos the armed forces have stood for. The barracks of unity and a shared love for the motherland have for long safeguarded the cantonments from all sorts of pernicious ethno-communal propaganda. After bravery and patriotism, one can definitely learn this embracement of plurality from the best.

Image Credits: Ed Times

Rubani Sandhu

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After a long wait of four years, ‘Made in Heaven’ released its second season this August. It is just as visually stunning and inspiring as the first.

In 2019, we were introduced to the lives of Tara (Sobhita Dhulipala) and Karan (Arjun Mathur) who work as wedding planners for grandiose families in Delhi, all the while struggling with personal issues. Beneath the surface of extravagant celebrations, the show explores various prejudices and challenges faced by the families involved.

Season 2, released in August 2023, picks up a few months after where season 1 ended, with Tara now finalizing her divorce proceedings and Karan trying to mend his relationship with his mother. Each episode delves into a unique scenario, using it as a backdrop to address a distinct issue. This season deals with problems ranging from the caste system and domestic violence to self-love and tender parent-child dynamics.

The two additions to the cast, in the form of Meher (the new Production head) and Bulbul (the new auditor), add significantly to the storyline. Meher battles with acceptance as a transgender woman while Bulbul grapples with navigating a situation where her son is accused of molestation.

(The next paragraph contains spoilers)

The biggest power of this season is how, multiple times, it stuns the audience by making the not-so-obvious decisions. This is done when you see a bride going ahead with marrying her abusive fiancé, when Jauhari turns out to be the good guy instead of the bad, or when the protagonists Tara and Karan make questionable, morally grey decisions.

One prevalent critique this season is the lack of depth while addressing some of the issues. A thorough examination of the complexities of the social issues tackled is prevented because the show immediately moves on from one subplot to another. The space for fruitful discussion seems saturated because of this. In certain instances, this season appears to offer quick lessons for each problem. This has resulted in a preachy undertone.

Despite this, season 2 remains a visual treat. The performances, production design and costumes are nothing short of grand. The beautiful aesthetics and the fast pacing keep you immersed. ‘Made in Heaven’ thus does an excellent job at both awing and inspiring you.

Read also: Dilution of Discrimination

Featured image credits: India Today

Arshiya Pathania

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The most recent season of Made in Heaven, a show about two wedding planners, Tara and Karan, who work under the name Made in Heaven, provided plenty of points to ponder. Each episode of the show focuses on a couple and the unique problems they or their family face during their wedding preparations. Tara and Karan, together with their team, deal with these hurdles while going about their everyday lives and dealing with their personal issues.

(This piece may contain Spoilers)

Made in Heaven depicts the sparkly fairy tale world of weddings while also demonstrating the irony of its title ‘Made in Heaven’, because most of these marriages aren’t as beautiful and perfect as they appear on the surface. As well as bringing the harsh reality that our lives, too, aren’t flawless as they appear on the exterior. Perhaps, this is what I like the most about this show.

The show’s setting, Delhi, also plays a significant role in bringing the truth of the city to light through realistic characters. I was impressed by how accurately the city is portrayed, the representation of its multiple sides conveyed through various characters, their hidden biases and desires. It also shows the city’s difficult nature and how people cope with these challenges. One could easily observe the struggles that people face in such a diverse city. There are those that conceal their real intentions and build relationships for their own gain, while others are caught between what is morally correct and what they desire, and the rest of them want to move on from their past and lead regular lives. The series focuses on the process of organising a dream wedding for the couple while also balancing several societal standards. It reveals what lies beneath such lavish weddings. The most unsettling part is that the societal themes the series focuses on are very much relevant in today’s environment and are not merely imaginary.

The show mirrors society and conveys how the entire process of a wedding ceremony brings these hidden concerns back to the surface. On one hand, while one gains education, power, and money in public, when it comes to their private affairs, the desire to be perfect and thus adhere to conventional values creeps in. It demonstrates how people can be aware of right and wrong yet still make decisions that are unfair to them. It’s worth noticing how characters throughout the show will occasionally submit to the adverse circumstances in order to save their family’s pride or to protect themselves from any further judgement.

As in the instance of a bride in one of the episodes played by Mrunal Thakur, who is a successful model in the industry but is abused by her partner. Even when the wedding planners and her own family find this and urge her to reconsider her decision. She is once again manipulated by her partner and thus maintains the popular belief people carry – love and care will change our partner’s actions, forgetting that respect is the foundation of a relationship and nothing else is capable of transforming someone who doesn’t want to make changes in the first place.

In another episode, it is shown how discussions over skin tone persist even among wealthy,  elite families. When the bride takes a beauty treatment to appear ‘fair’ for her wedding owing to pressure from her own mother and in-laws, it demonstrates how modernity and education can still fail to change old narratives. Acceptance of the reality that looking fair has no connection to being beautiful is still missing. And it makes one wonder if one should wait for society to modify their beauty standards and accept everyone equally, or whether one should begin the process of acceptance with themselves. Are parents correct when they try to  change their child to protect their reputation, or instead they should shield their child from unjustified treatment? These are someof the questions to think about.

The episode featuring Radhika Apte as the lead, Pallavi, and directed by Neeraj Ghaywan is most powerful and artistically structured. Her performance and the episode’s theme received considerable recognition on social media. Pallavi is a successful lawyer who acknowledges her Dalit identity and advocates for the elimination of caste biases. Even though she is highly accomplished and brave, when it comes to her marriage, it is interestingly highlighted in the episode that her personal accomplishments are the reason for this respect and acceptance. This is in contrast to the reluctance of her in-laws to openly embrace her Dalit identity. Pallavi’s firm stance—even to the point of confronting her fiancé and her own brother—shows that acceptance is not only necessary to gain equal respect but it also emphasises the difficulties and sufferings that the community faces as a result of long-standing caste-based discriminations.

The dialogue delivery was impeccable, every emotion was highly moving and it all ends in a beautiful Buddhist wedding, representing Dalit plight and a path to acceptance and equality. This episode was notable because mainstream films and television shows have rarely addressed such topics with such delicate balance, and the concept of a Buddhist wedding is novel.

This is my top choice episode because it subtly invites viewers to ponder how issues such as caste play an important role in a person’s journey, subjecting them to different treatment, and how when a person rises above their circumstances, they don’t necessarily detach themselves from the situations that shaped them. They want it all to be remembered and accepted just like any other aspect of  themselves.

Even though caste is still a dividing line in today’s world, many people continue to be reluctant to disclose their last name or caste for fear of social discrimination; as a result, accepting oneself becomes the first step towards equality. Pallavi’s identity as a Dalit, her choice to keep her original surname, and the fact that she opted for a Buddhist wedding are all examples of how her character serves as a reminder to society that, despite her material success, her caste plays a significant role in her story as well as the experience of her ancestors who suffered, so it cannot be ignored or disregarded. Her caste does not bring her humiliation; rather, it brings her pride.

The portrayal of the LGBTQ community and their relationships was another distinctive feature of the show. The protagonist Karan plays a gay character,  It’s interesting to see that Karan doesn’t submit to his family’s demands to marry a girl; on several occasions, he asserts his identity and wishes, reflecting a sense of confidence and acceptance in himself. Even though the decision could damage his relationship with his mother, he takes the risk. Another character, Meher, who has undergone gender-affirmation, is also shown to be struggling to find love and acceptance.

While I agree that the second season was too overwhelming and attempted to address a variety of societal problems without delving too deeply into any of them, it appears that the second season, despite its pressing subjects, couldn’t stir up the emotions that the first season did. Despite the representation, this season did not adequately explore the aspects of intimacy between the characters. Things seemed superficial and they lack a deeper, more solid connection, leaving viewers with a sense that their favourite character’s story is incomplete.

Tara and Karan are not the characters who make the ideal decision. They make mistakes and argue, the consequences of which can be seen in both their professional and personal lives. Tara herself is in a challenging spot while building a life of wealth, luxury, and power, she still struggles to find the happiness she desires. Throughout both seasons, viewers will see how her decisions and past mistakes affect everyone around her. By the end of the second season, despite the fact that I enjoyed Tara’s character in the first, I was unable to identify to her choices since there has been a lack of  personal development in her character and no acknowledgment of her previous mistakes. Even while Tara and Karan stay close, their ability to communicate with each other and solve problems is never fully explored in the season. Instead, the two main leads continue to plan separate weddings without any proper conversation to fix the issues between them . When it comes to displaying how things are truly planned and implemented in these weddings, there was a lack of detail.  So even though I appreciate the extent to which ideas were covered throughout the season, I was disappointed in how story of central characters was handled.

However, there are new characters in this season that have impressed me, such as Mona Singh and Vijay Raaz as the Jauharis, who are the most wholesome and relatable. The side plot in which they deal with their young son and his friends in a matter of molesting a girl is presented honestly and organically by everyone involved. The culmination of it, which involves the disclosure of a personal secret about Mona Singh’s character, addresses the problem appropriately.

The season finale was warm and wonderful, concluding with the usual poetic commentary by Kabir, the in-house videographer. It goes on with the theme that everyone is flawed and that before we can continue looking for our soul mates, we must first accept ourselves. Perhaps this is what I like about the show: the relationships we form can be just as imperfect as we are. They require effort and change, and nothing, neither our worries, hurt, or pleasure, is permeant. The taste of Heaven isn’t necessarily discovered in large celebrations like marriage, but in fleeting moments of joy and freedom, in moments of embracing and loving yourself despite your flaws.

Read Also: https://dubeat.com/2022/03/02/big-fat-indian-weddings-are-we-thinking-rationally/

Featured Image Credits : Free Press Journal

Priya Agrawal


The internet age, especially the reign of social media and the increasing prominence of pop-culture has brought with it the infamous ‘labelling culture’ and brought with it bouts of armchair psychologists. While we have willingly accepted and internalized the ‘Instagram trend’ of fixer-culture, it’s imperative now that we stand back and actually think about it. Can your well-meaning 3AM-therapist friend also be harmful to some extent? What’s wrong with armchair psychology? It’s time to deep dive.

Quite often, you have heard your ‘selfish’ roommate being called a ‘narcissist’ or your ‘socially-awkward’ friend being randomly labelled as ‘autistic’ within your friend circle. This is what we call as armchair psychology- jumping to labels and conclusions without understanding a person’s behavioural context or even being qualified enough or licensed to diagnose individuals with mental health labels. And this is going wrong in several ways.

When we talk about ‘armchair psychologists’, it refers to individuals who are not licensed to practice therapy or treat mental-health related issues, or in simple words, aren’t the professionals. This also includes your 3AM-therapist friend, as well. But you might say that your friend only means to give you ‘friendly advice’ but usually it isn’t true. As Gen-Zs inspired by Instagram culture, we often are swallowed by the ‘labelling culture’. Your so-called therapist friend also comes into a loop of inserting labels to your problems- “Stop being a psychopath”, “Don’t be so bipolar about stuff”, “You’re so possessive”, “So hyper-sensitive” or “so obsessive” yada yada yada.

Professional psychotherapists usually do not jump ahead and insert labels to issues. They go through several sessions, slowly analysing patterns and try to resolve individual aspects, rather than attaching labels to your personality. Giving mental health advice without formal training not only may push individuals to internalize those pseudo-labels and associate them to their problems but also may tend to neglect real mental health disorders. Armchair psychology leaves the other person out of the conversation, allowing you to put on your ‘judgy’-goggles and restricting their persona according to your own perspective. Not everybody you dislike is a “psychopath”, when you judge people so soon, it stops them from opening up about their struggles. They tend to internalize the fact that they are probably a ‘psychopath’ and that’s when the cycle of harm begins.

While the Instagram age has opened up more avenues to have open and honest conversations about mental health and but this has also opened doors to an influx of armchair-psychologists. Taking it upon yourself to speculate other people’s mental health can be damaging. Hushed conversations like “Your ex-boyfriend is a total narcissist” or calling out celebrities on twitter, the age of armchair therapists is troublesome nevertheless.

Armchair psychology can even go beyond labelling, it may seem like – diagnosing someone with a mental health condition (“You definitely have borderline personality disorder, all the symptoms are there!”), offering psychological advice (“The only way to get over your triggers is to face them head on”) or making judgement about someone’s personal psychology (“She had a traumatic childhood so she trusts nobody around her”). This pretension of being experts trivialises the heavy weight of being diagnosed with mental health conditions and also propels stereotypes- not everyone who is socially-awkward falls on the autism spectrum and not every selfish person is a narcissist.

Moreover, armchair psychology can even lead to stigmatizing mental-health issues. Associating people’s controversial or abusive behaviour with mental health issues, perpetuates a harmful and inaccurate image of how people with mental issues behave. You tend to pathologize normal behaviour. Sometimes your roommate is just having a bad day and we do not need a diagnosis or a deeper psychological motivation as to why your friend is behaving the way she is.

But this pseudo-psychology, cuts down on ways to get proper treatment. If your loved one is truly struggling with a mental health issue, providing unqualified opinion to them might lead them down the wrong path for their recovery or even hinder them from reaching out towards professional resources or the help they need. On most days, they don’t need their friends to act like experts; they just need encouragement, support and someone who will listen.

While the well-intentioned therapist friend, often takes on the role of a ‘fixer’ with their ‘I can fix all your problems and you’ attitude, it’s time we start calling out this armchair-psychology. If you’re being targeted by an armchair psychologist, try to acknowledge their concerns, set boundaries and call out the harms. It’s absolutely okay to say, “I’m coming to you as a friend. I don’t need you to act like my therapist.” Or if you notice someone targeting someone else, be courageous enough to say,” As friends, our job is to support them, not judge them”.

Often times, we tend to act as armchair psychiatrists ourselves, unconsciously or consciously. Ending on a note of advice for all those therapist friends, if you are concerned about someone’s mental health, reach out and check in with their condition, and instead of passing labels and stereotypes, listen without judgement and connect them to proper resources, so that they can heal the right way.

Even though you might have an overwhelming urge to give advice and fix their issues, sometimes the best thing you can do is show them the right mental health resources, and be the friend they need you to be 🙂

Featured Image Credits: Google Images (IMDb)

Read Also: It’s Not Your Job to Fix Others

Priyanka Mukherjee

[email protected]

Providing guidance to the students of DU since 2008 on matters of sex, dating and intimacy, Amma is back again this week with her dose of advice.


Question: How to start a conversation with a random girl you like?

My dearest,

“Man is by nature a social animal,” said some great man (pardon my memory with names kanna) but I believe they forgot to package us with an instruction manual on how to actually be social. I see you kids tick-ticking on those phones of yours while you sit in the same rooms and at the same tables. I see you not talking and then crying over how you have no one to talk to. But that isn’t it, is it? Back when I was young, then also these people had no idea how to approach someone. Well, what are you to expect from a generation whose movies tabooed even kissing (oh, those poor violated flowers).

But you young kids of the new generation have it so much better. Things are so much more open and talked about now. So frankly, the only thing I can tell you is that the only way to have a conversation is to just have one. Although kutty, don’t be one of those creeps who just won’t take a no for an answer or leave. When you do approach someone, remember the three Rs: Respect, Realize, and Retreat (if required)— respect their space, their time, and most importantly, their response; realize if the conversation is not going in the direction you wanted it to or if you’re making them uncomfortable; and please, please don’t come off as a hyperactive serial killer but just retreat if they don’t seem okay with the conversation. 

I know these Bollywood movies taught you uski na mein bhi haan hai but trust me when I say that’s not the case. Everyone appreciates a compliment. Everyone appreciates respect. Lead with that. Know your limits and theirs. Don’t do anything amma won’t approve of. I know it takes a lot of guts to talk to your one true love (of the moment) but you don’t want to leave them emotionally scarred for life. 

So live, laugh, love, do whatever you want, but just don’t do it at the expense of others. Remember kanna, life is short but you aren’t going to find the love of your life by being chep.




Want to ask Amma a query? Mail it to [email protected].

Providing guidance to the students of DU since 2008 on matters of sex, dating and intimacy, Amma is back again this week with her dose of advice.


Question: My best friend is getting into a very toxic relationship and somehow she can’t see it. Do I make peace with it or should I go beyond my way to stop her, because it is affecting our friendship?

My dearest idli,

Maturity comes both with age and experience, but in relationships there is no real expertise and you might make new mistakes every time. For starters, give your bestie, a suitable space to have her own opinions. There is no problem between two friends that cannot be solved without talking, so have a serious chit-chat session over chai or hot chocolate. Be open towards hearing her opinion and also try to understand her stance as to why this relationship is so important to her. Instead of focusing on your perspective of the relationship, try to see how she perceives it.

Your Amma would always tell you to let out the feelings. Keeping things bottled up would only make you feel nauseous and uncomfortable. So, try to confront her about your feelings and understand her point of view. I know, it is often difficult to directly express your feelings, but believe me kanna, it’s the best solution to get out of any mess. There is no mess that can’t be cleared with a heartfelt conversation along with good food and coke. Don’t make the same mistake as me of creating an ego wall and acting all cool with a no-fucks-given attitude. Take my word, it only makes things worse.

If even after this serious conversation, she can’t see the “toxic” side, it is for you to understand, my dear macchi, that you can’t take over the decisions of her life. It is ultimately on her to understand the dynamics of her relationship. You can simply be there for her. But being there is very different from being a “nosy” friend. I know, my kutty, that you are worried about her but we can’t impose our opinions on others. I think this is the best thing I have learnt from Gen Z, the concept of giving space, to realise and to learn. So don’t stress yourself out, you won’t lose your friend with your words. Trust the process and trust your friend (even if that means trusting things you don’t approve of).




Want to ask Amma a query? Mail it to [email protected].

Ahead of Valentine’s day, we look at why couples flock to parks and monuments in search of safe spaces in an oppressive society.

On the next page of this week’s Valentine’s Day special issue, you will find the weekly travel column – by yours truly – on Sunder Nursery. I won’t spoil that piece, but the reason we chose the sprawling park for an issue surrounding the theme of romance was because of its most prominent visitors: couples looking for safe spaces to share moments of love in a country where loving outside of wedlock is taboo.

This dislike of expressing love or affection is particularly curious when you look around at the things that make up desi culture. This is a country that’s known for its infamously romantic films with lines like, “Pyar soch samajh kar nahi kiya jata… bas ho jata hai” (”Love doesn’t happen by plan, it just happens”) and for songs with heart wrenching lyrics like, “Tujh mein rab dikhta hai” (“I see god in you”). Despite these dramatic and cheesy notions of love pervading our entertainment, being in a relationship in India is often no less than a game of high stakes.

For most students in college, inviting their significant other home is a hard proposition as well when living with family. Hotel rooms are often off-limits as well, due to financial constraints (and sometimes moral ones). That rules out almost any form of private safe spaces for young people to share moments of affection. This is exactly why parks and monuments such as Lodhi Gardens, Sunder Nursery, Humayun’s Tomb and more have become safe havens for young couples looking to catch a break from the rest of a deeply conservative country.

It is a socially acceptable convention in most liberal spaces around the world to indulge in public displays of affection that include holding hands, hugging, kissing and more – as a sign of affection. In India though, all of the above are taboo. Innocent acts of affection in the parks that are supposed to be safe havens for the young are still met with looks of disgust and in extreme cases, violent interventions on the behalf of prude strangers.

Online social spaces like Reddit are often full of such firsthand instances by young lovers looking to spend time together but facing harassment by strangers. Worse, there are instances of police officers using this atmosphere of oppression and fear surrounding young lovers to extort the youth for money. In a specific instance posted to the Reddit community r/tamilnadu last year, a police constable and a sub inspector tried to blackmail a couple for a ridiculous 10,000 rupees for a hug and a kiss. The couple later had to approach the collector of the district to apprehend the police officer behind this blackmailing. The officers were found to have been extorting couples for three years before finally being apprehended. The fact that the poster and his significant other had to appeal to government officials in the first place after losing 10,000 rupees is a big mark on the authorities. In addition, the young couple were also terrified of the prospect of having to testify against the police officer in court as this meant publicly disclosing their relationship to their families – another sign of the social stigma surrounding the idea of young people dating.

In the face of instances like these, it is no doubt that even the aforementioned “safe havens” aren’t truly safe. It creates a fear in the youth to even attempt to express any sort of affection – even if it’s simply holding hands with a significant other. This fear is after all exactly what this moral police attempts to create in an effort to control how consenting adults express love and affection between each other. There is no logical reason why sharing a kiss or a hug with someone you love should be more than just a simple gesture to show care. Often, the harassers cite preventing “western influences” as the reason behind their actions. It is interesting how expressing affection consensually is “western” and “bad” while Delhi is known as the “Rape capital” and India ranks as the 9th most dangerous country for women travellers.

Further, the case in Tamil Nadu involved a heterosexual couple. However, these parks are often also a safe haven for members of the LGBTQ community looking to find safe corners in the vast expanses of such parks. The general bigoted atmosphere throughout Indian society means that these quick, stolen moments of love and affection are often even more treasured. However, for members of the community, PDA is generally a much bigger risk due to the possibility of added persecution on the behalf of patriarchal bigots.

Looking out at the landscape of a country blitzing past population records while vehemently discouraging love and affection, one must wonder if in the end this story is not about love or hate but instead about control. This moral policing reeks of conservative, patriarchal ideals that still believe that a woman’s sexuality is to be controlled. It further seems to cling to hetero-normative sexist values where any form of affection is seen as dirty – especially if the consenting adults belong to the queer community. Because of course, being terrified of love and sex is how India became the most populated country in the world. What they do not seem to be able to comprehend is that humans are social animals and seek warmth as they run into each other’s arms. It is a shame that a country that claims to celebrate love is so terrible at providing its citizens the right to love.

This piece was first featured in our print newsletter. Look out for us the next time you’re on campus!

Read Also: DUB Travels: Silent Nights in Sunder Nursery

Siddharth Kumar

[email protected]