Paromita Vohra: Khichdi - The Wedding Movie
And, finally, I accept that perhaps it is fake news that keeps us together as a society, as weddings keep extended families together by force, chance, choice and habit. Like weddings, it gives us occasion to talk to or at each other, otherwise who'd bother? This week's rumour: khichdi declared national dish. Before you could say 'two minutes, haan?' social media dished out not only several tweets, but entire articles, in the same way a matchmaker fans out photographs of eligibles. It was like a dialogue script for characters in a genre-solid Indian wedding movie. Khichdi ke chaar yaar, dahi, papad, something, achaar - chacha/kaka, who can be relied on for clichés and PJs at all times, except uttered with shiny enthusiasm like he has just coined it. You don't like khichdi? You prefer pizza, burger, chowmein, foie gras is it? Angrez chale gaye libtard chhod gaye - NRI uncle, who has become vegan after going to foreign and eyes jalebis with distaste.
Will we have to now sing Vande Mataram before eating? - First-in-class cousin, recently started her BA in English Hons who feels the rest of family's unenlightened ways are a personal tragedy. Country is having loose motions, so obviously, khichdi is national dish - uncle who reads newspaper items out loud to any passing family member. I hate khichdi, I prefer khichda - cousin who paints her nails yellow and utters lines like, "I don't believe in the institution of marriage. I'm pansexual" when the other side visits (I confess I was this character in my youth, kya karein.) Hamare yahan khichdi is made with meat/beans/mountain herbs/ truffle oil - bua who knows how to make roses out of beetroot and whose recipe for mulberry parathas once got first prize in the Eve's Weekly recipe contest.
While you are discussing khichdi, people are dying - revolutionary cousin who will cry at least three times at the wedding and leave before the pheras because he does not believe in religious rituals, but only after having a few drinks in the parking lot with all the other male members of the family, plus khichda-khichdi female cousin. As also thin-voiced aunt who ends all hilarity with "your grandmother has fever and you people are doing khee-khee in the living room." Khichdi is good for us and will reduce the carbon footprint - good-hearted maasi with home remedies for everything from flatulence to flamboyance.
Khichdi is good, if made with organic millets or quinoa. I garnish mine with arugula - MBA cousin from Bandra. Khichdi eh? Here's an article full of pop culture and high literary references, which is sardonic to left, right and centre - cousin who went to Columbia University and lives-in with his Bengali boyfriend. I hate khichdi, but I will defend your right to like it - sweet cousin who wants us all to get along, just like in the old days or Hum Aapke Hain Kaun whichever came first. What is happening to our secular fabric? In the good old days...
father of the bride. Khichdi? Oh God! Now I feel like eating khichdi. Who's making? - Me. By night, it had been understood that this was fake news and khichdi was not becoming the national dish, just like it gets understood that the bride has not in fact run away but just gone to exchange a pair of sandals. Everyone returns to ironing their shaadi clothes. Burp.
Paromita Vohra is an award-winning Mumbai-based filmmaker, writer and curator working with fiction and non-fiction. Reach her at www.parodevipictures.com