By Shikhar Goyal:
My ‘questionable’ cultural inclinations make me feel like an imposter all the time. I constantly feel the weight of some of my tastes in music, literature and films in social situations. While I am often hailed for my offbeat selections and in-depth knowledge, I am also judged and called out when I display a liking for titles that don’t fit in the popular culture.
I identify myself as a massive film nerd. A part of my brain is dedicated exclusively to storing trivia from the entertainment industry. I can make you excellent recommendations from Spanish, Greek and Norwegian cinemas. I will happily dissect “Memento” for you. I can and will convince you that “The Social Network” is David Fincher’s best movie, and I will absolutely refuse to talk about “Fight Club”. What I won’t admit very vocally, at least not when I am creating a first impression, is my undiluted love for Bollywood. And I am not only talking about the handful acclaimed movies that come out every year, but also the basic garden-variety of Hindi films with their dance sequences and alleged flaws. Bollywood movies are my comfort food. I am thrilled when my anticipated movies inch closer to their releasing date, and I am also emotionally involved in their success or failure.
Why wouldn’t I acknowledge something just because it is looked down upon or not popularly elitist? The answer lies in the question itself. But isn’t that everybody? Switching on and off parts of your personality to adapt to different social climates.
My friends will tell you that I maintain a separate playlist of loud brash Hindi songs from the nineties and noughties, just to annoy people away. It is the kind of playlist that would make Anu Malik proud, and probably serve as my best defence in the likely event of a zombie apocalypse. You would be exposed to this playlist only if I have known you enough. Till then you should only know that I sleep to Sufjan Stevens and wake up to “Chicago”.
I was at the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) earlier this year, submerged in the sea of fellow pseudo-intellectuals. When I heard that Anuja Chauhan, one of my favourite authors, is signing books, I quickly joined the queue to get my copy signed. Her books are superlatively witty and laced with humour, I love her work! This queue was outrageously dominated by teenage girls, and until that moment I had never thought that Chauhan’s work is not consumed by many male readers. Even the ‘literature-know-it-alls’ whom I would later meet at JLF dismissed her work as “shallow” and “candy floss fiction.” I wasn’t going to toss the signed copy of Chauhan’s book, which I was carrying around like a badge of honour, into a dark corner of my backpack. Or was I?