Jab Saut Kare Karva Chauth

Pop Culture

Jab Saut Kare Karva Chauth

Illustration: Rutuja Patil/ Arré

Iimagined the end of the marriage playing out, as I stared at the ceiling fan swirl at its hypnotic pace. Radha would be dressing up, in all her bridal finery, wearing uske naam ka sindoor in high speed, as Lataji screeched in the background, “Yeh hain mere karam, kabhi khushi kabhi gham.” Radha would put kajal and smile at herself, remembering God knows what moment (certainly not post-coital, since they had never really kissed or had sex). It was more likely, the morning when she put poha in his plate and he held her hand to say, “Bas aur nahi.” And just as she would pick up the channi to see the moon, Rahul would slam the divorce papers on her face, taking off with his lusty secretary.

While Radha had to do something radical to resurrect her dead marriage, I was trying the same on my comatose iPhone 6. It lay sealed in a packet of uncooked rice at this point, having nosedived in a river on my holiday, looking for fresh trout no doubt.

So, my mood when Purple (the executive producer, who gives feedback on my TV soap screenplays) called was blue. I saw her name flashing and I knew that she was calling for the Karva Chauth scene. KC was back and Purple was about to have multiple orgasms all week, in the build up to the final day of the vrat. Each year, as the date approached, the pressure on the creative team to come up with more bizarre ideas than the year before would increase, until it reached bubbling point. There was no question of normal wives praying normally and breaking their fast for some normal husbands. There would be flying chudails trying to stop the wives from seeing the moon, evil MILs who would make sure the DILs break their fast by maybe feeding them some chicken, while they sleep or sing bhajans.

Last year, I was on a show where we planned KC three months in advance. We killed the hero in August, made his body disappear; the bereaved widow refused to believe that her husband was dead. In October, a week before KC and her second arranged marriage, the widow began to see glimpses of her dead husband everywhere. His face swirling in dust particles, gurgling in a pan of boiling rice, swooshing across the garden as dead autumn leaves with CG effects that would make James Cameron commit seppuku. On KC, just as she was about to see the prospective new husband, the old dead fellow came right back, and stared at her through the steel channi, as Lataji wailed, “Yeh hain mere karam, kabhi khushi kabhie gham.”

This year, KC was back on my head like a thousand-pound gorilla with abandonment issues. As I took Purple’s call, her voice was high-pitched. I imagined her buttons bursting at the seams as she exulted over the scene.

“The last shot as she bends to touch his feet, will be of the camera panning to include, Sharona’s (lusty secretary) feet. Sharona is dressed in full bridal finery and it is finally she who breaks the fast with Rahul, even as Radha watches.”

Even as I wrote the last line, I knew I had nailed it. Roma, Purple, and Mansplain would all love me to the Karva Chauth moon and back.

Wow. I work in a world where even the saut fasted for the long life of her lover, bag, baggage, and cheap stilettos in tow. Purple squealed, “OMG! Hit hai yaar, Roma will simply love us.”

That’s all that we were working for. Roma’s love. Purple’s dream of moving up the ladder and sitting on Roma’s chair was forever blocked by Roma’s big butt already on that chair. In TV channels, the movement upward is so slow, that in frustration they move parallelly. Purple was in Star when Roma was in Zee, Purple moved to Sony and Roma moved to Colors, then they both moved to Zee, and then Purple moved back to Star and now they are both at XYZ. Purple and Roma had been stuck with the same designation for seven years now, because their boss Mr Mansplain, was still on top.

Mr Mansplain was a guy who knew everything about everything. He could even mansplain tampons to women, as though he’d just delivered three babies from his vagina. This, for some reason, charmed the hell out of both Roma and Purple and each of them vied for the honour of making this much-married man lose his extra-marital virginity to them.

I wondered how to juice out the scene, as I sat to write that night. I quickly read up the story of Karva Chauth and then flipped through the story of foolish Savitri, who fought with Yama, the God of Death, to bring her husband Satyavan back to life. Pondering over situations that bring the committed dead back to life, I toyed with the idea of singing devotional songs to rouse my iPhone, but gave it up when the girls called for a drink.

Three hours later, I was at the bar, channelling my inner Madonna belting out “Like a Virgin”, like a banshee. My girls watched me sympathetically; they understood my relationship with my phone. It was the only one that wasn’t complicated. I felt a surge of love for them and boozily declared, that this year I would do Karva Chauth for my girlfriends and my iPhone. May they never die. I came back all charged and wrote a Golden Petal award-winning scene.

Radha stands there resplendent in red, the divorce papers lying at her feet. Shocked, she and Sharona stare at each other.

Sharona takes a step toward Rahul, when suddenly a gust of wind blows the curtains, the moon shines brightly on the papers at Radha’s feet, and the diya from the puja thaali falls because of the wind on the paper. Suddenly, the divorce papers are on fire.

As Radha stares at the burning divorce papers, Sharona walks over to Rahul with the puja ki thaali. She is about to start the puja, when Rahul begins to choke. He falls on the ground convulsing and faints.

Full of Karva Chauth fire, I wrote on about the duel between Radha and Sharona where Radha, a dull-as-dishwater character, nurses her husband back to life, thus defeating the starving Sharona forever. Even as I wrote the last line, I knew I had nailed it. Roma, Purple, and Mansplain would all love me to the Karva Chauth moon and back. As would the perceptive viewer, in Meerut, Gujarat, and Indore, who apart from fasting for their own husbands, were also breaking their fast just in time to see Radha touching Rahul’s feet, Akshara feeding Naitik ladoo, and Gopi finally uniting with Ahem’s lookalike Jaggi.

However, the ultimate acid test, whether love could bring the dead back, was still a burning question in my mind. I needed proof. With shaking hands, I dug the phone out of the rice and switched it on. I held my breath and suddenly it came alive.

Two days later, I kept my promise. Over many beers and kachauris, mogras and a Benarasi saree, gold choker and diamond nose ring, I celebrated Karva Chauth for my girlfriends. And for the resurrected electronic mate. I suppose, some marriages are made in heaven and some in uncooked rice packets.