I'm not a big fan of Bollywood or Hindi movies, and I find it hard to believe that I'm actually writing about one here now. On the other hand, I have to admit that they're beginning to address some pretty serious social issues these days.
Nor am I talking about only the big banners here. When Aamir Khan has finished making us squirm and burn with his latest crop of awareness-lifters and Ram Gopal Verma has given us the latest blood-splattered gangland update, films like 'Love, Sex Aur Dhoka' catch the tail-end of social wrongs and shake us up a little more.
No, I won't go into the intricacies of directorial and editorial style here. The film has been reviewed enough times on that level already. I'd rather stick to what it said to me personally, and the feelings it left me with.
To me, the film's overweening message was a confirmation of what I already know – we have outsmarted ourselves with technology. More specifically – by developing an abundance of gizmos invented specifically to invade privacy and lay all and sundry open for public scrutiny, we have doomed ourselves to perpetually looking over our shoulders.
Back in our hotel room after the movie, I looked at my laptop with suspicion I had never felt before. It has an in-built webcam, and I have been told that a craftily implanted Trojan can activate it without my knowledge. I shut the lid, but we changed in the bathroom.
'Love, Sex Aur Dhoka' is all about technology-aided voyeurism. Unsuspecting people are filmed for fun and profit in situations that human instinct has always required to be private. Lives are seriously disrupted or entirely destroyed.
The MMS scandals we have been reading about are apparently only the beginning. Sure, the film makes more some deliciously tense viewing and allows us to feel self-righteously outraged, but I think we need to go a little deeper than that. How safe are our daughters from technologically-enabled voyeurs and predators these days? Are our sons secure from the peer pressure that inevitably leads to such abuses?
A few years ago, a prominent public swimming pool in Pune was shut down because the girls' changing rooms had been rigged with amateur surveillance cameras. More recently, a 5 star hotel in Mumbai featured rather unfavorably in the news for similar reasons. Practically every college-going teen has a mobile with a camera and MMS capabilities built in. The market is crawling with spy cameras and surveillance equipment, at prices that many teens can easily afford today.
Sure, there are products available that can help us detect such devices in the periphery, but they don't strike me as the best solution. To begin with, they are expensive. Further, our owning them doesn't help our children when they visit the changing room in a boutique, gymnasium or swimming pool. Even if our teens have such devices on them, they still have to remember to use them in time. That's another paving stone on the long road of paranoia.
Predictably, 'Love, Sex Aur Dhoka' only showcases the problem – it doesn't offer an iota of solution. I don't know if I'm making a fuss about nothing, but I feel justified in voicing my misgivings here. I'd welcome any suggestions on how we can render our kids safe from such invasions – and their unthinkable consequences.