How long can you really stay?

WINDS OF CHANGE

How long can you really stay?

MS OUTSPOKEN!  Deepika Padukone There’s bad news for those who found the curl falling on Superman’s handsome furrowed brow cute. It’s gone. Along with it, the lantern jaw, the beefy physique, the shirt and tie and the gentle disposition have disappeared too. Mr Kent with the squeaky clean Boy Scout image has evolved into a 21-year-old with smouldering eyes, spiky hair, low-slung baggy jeans, a hoodie and a brooding demeanour. Present-day youngsters can possibly identify with him better.

Facing the stress of survival next to new age heroes like Robert Pattinson  from the Twilight series, 78-year-old Superman’s had to evolve and Christopher Reeve couldn’t have played him anymore. Check out Superman: Earth One, the new offering from DC Comics that hit the stands recently. It has transformed that most clean-cut and all-American of superheroes into a moody, misunderstood urban youth. This is the latest example of comic book creators attempting to update classic characters for a new generation of readers.

According to Dan DiDio, Senior Vice-President at DC Comics, this was to reach out to buyers not just in comic book stores but in other book stores, too — fans of books and series like Twilight or Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy of crime novels.

Some time before him, in issue #600, Wonder Woman of the lissome curves, golden whip and hot pants cut out of the American flag was the one to get a new global look. Inspired by a girlfriend who told him, “What woman wears the same outfit for sixty years without accessorising?” writer, J Michael Straczynski not only photoshopped yoga pants on Wonder Woman but also gave her pockets to keep her things in. He says fans had been asking “where does she keep her stuff” for a long time.

They’ve come a long way, baby! Priyanka’s wicked act in ‘7 Khoon Maaf’ and Anushka’s aggressive wooing  of Akshay in ‘Patiala House’ are refreshing. Winds of change are blowing all around us. Even if you’ve not seen these comics yet, you couldn’t have missed what’s happening closer home. We could start with the Hindi film female actor in a leading role (earlier called heroine). Have you checked her out lately? She’s wearing hot pants as well, though maybe not cut from a flag like Wonder Woman’s.
Girls like Priyanka Chopra are comfortably flashing their long legs, their wicked sense of humour, their ambition and their refreshing disregard for virginity in film after film.

Anushka Sharma is seen wooing Akshay Kumar aggressively in Patiala House (while he’s too shy to tell her about his feelings) and Sonam is happily dumping her boring boyfriend of many years to make a pair with her advertising agency colleague Imran Khan in I hate luv stories. Deepika Padukone is cheerfully spiking her soft drink with more potent stuff from boyfriend Imran’s hip flask in the darkness of the cinema hall in Break ke Baad. What’s obvious from the performances is that the girls are just being themselves.

Try bringing a shy, blushing salwar-kameez clad damsel who is happy being the mother of the hero’s children, and she won’t last two shows with the audience. Chances are a younger generation of film goers just won’t connect with her.  

Gone are the days when a paunchy Rajesh Khanna played college kid or a middle-aged Rakesh Roshan skipped into grad class with a long-haired wig on his head and text books under his arm. There are young boys like Shahid and Ranbir to do those roles now and when older men like Aamir Khan decide to go for these, they have to literally kill themselves to look the age.

Music doesn’t sound the same anymore, and it is not just because cassettes have given way to CDs which in turn have given way to pen drives, though that’s a part of the evolution process too.

Music is getting so personalised that you can download it from the net on your Blackberry, create an album, listen to it while you’re jogging or attach Bose speakers to you cell and have a garden party on that sound.

Even if we ignore the technological advancement, we can still hear the change happening. Classical music is being set to drum beats and Rajasthani folk to guitar and it is all sounding divine. Sufi is mixing with pop and raga with reggae. English lyrics are being set to Indian tunes, Hindi is finding its way to foreign films, and guys like Rehman are taking it to the rest of the world and often returning with Oscars.

Yes, change is the only constant and if you can’t change, be ready to join the dinosaurs.
Internet has changed the way the world looked at communication. Skype will slowly kill paid ISD calls. STD is now at the same rates as a local call. Internet mail has made writing letters obsolete. Google is telling us things that no single library ever could and often faster than we can breathe. With its ever increasing users Facebook  is as populated as the third largest country in the world.  No wonder it is sounding the death knell for many others.  

It has taken us 630 million years but it is a lesson well learnt. Right from fish to simulation games on Facebook to film stars to superheroes, the universally applicable mantra of survival is: either you evolve or you perish.

Don’t look now – we’re changing

Wonder Woman: At 69 (though looking at her you wouldn’t believe that) in the 600th edition of her signature comic book, Wonder Woman underwent a makeover to ‘globalise’ her character and also keep feminists happy. The bustier remains but the hot pants have been exchanged for yoga pants with pockets to carry her stuff and the bracelets are more colourful now. The change was brought on by the comment that writer Michael Straczynski heard from a friend: “What woman wears the same outfit for 60 years?”

The Hindi film heroine: Inside she might be brimming over with all-Indian sensibilities, and ‘culture’, but in a definitely more normal picturisation, this girl cheerfully drowns tequilas at the bar, she back slaps her male buddies, can be cut throat ambitious and doesn’t necessarily marry the boyfriend she loses her virginity to. She’s come a long way from being the good girl all Hindi film heroes (and even villains) wanted to take home to mommy.

Old music: Ragas are being set to drum beats, old music is being remixed by DJs who wear earrings and nose rings. We’ve travelled far, far away from the image of serious musicians wearing kurta pyjamas and oily hair. New age guys are giving us some of the most wonderful music (often classical). They are wearing pony tails and tattoos, yielding guitars, sitting down at pianos and building biceps at the gym along with honing their singing. Take a look at Hariharan, Salim Merchant and Pritam if you want examples.

Superman at 78: The beefy guy with slicked back hair and a curl in the centre of his forehead looks different now. In the new comic, ‘Superman: Earth One’, that hit the stands recently, Clark Kent has put away his suits and ties. Instead, he wears low-slung jeans, a hoodie and a new hairstyle more in keeping with 20-year-olds in today’s generation. Christopher Reeve could not have played him anymore.

Garments like the sari: It’s still draping the beautiful Indian woman and her counterparts elsewhere in the world,  though often in new ways. There are innovative new techniques to tying the sari, some so daring that they might drive Meena Kumari to drink once again if she were to come back to life and see them. There are new fabrics, new styles of blouses – halter/ spaghetti/ tube top and now even the sari gown, that celebs like Elizabeth Hurley have been seen stepping out in (quite famously without even a bra).  The sari has evolved, but it has survived.

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