Thursday, November 19, 2020

Diana - Whatever in Love Means


The Crown

This is not a review. Just musings.

I don’t mean to exaggerate but after baking sour-dough bread, the greatest lockdown survival tool has been Netflix. So I made the important announcement of watching Season 4 of The Crown on my WA group. Only to be told that others had already binged. Yes, this is what we discuss.  Netflix. Disappointed? What else were you expecting? A mRNA vaccine code?

See, if you are a woman my age the new season of The Crown is special because it introduces Diana. Charles and Diana saga remains most watched wedding spectacle, second only to Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. Their romance was like a fairy tale on steroids. So this season I got to huddle around a campfire of recollection - events I had seen on television, news I had read in the papers.

A lot changed in the last few decades. Diana passed away and Charles married his love Camilla despite professing platonic friendship. Pity, Brits didn’t know what Bollywood taught us all along – Ek ladka aur ek ladki kabhi dost nahi ho sakte. Telling you, if you follow Bollywood, you can never go wrong.

So back in the 80s, arrival of Diana heralded a new era for the stuffy British royalty. I was enamored by her. Watching her helped me escape my own political reality of dull khadi and drab dhotis. We wanted the same haircut. Perhaps Diana’s life evoked a fairy tale romance for girls who had outgrown Cinderella but were too young to follow movie stars. There is no denying that the likes of Angelina Jolie or Kim Kardashian couldn’t match the enigma of Diana, no matter what they did. Whether her charm resided in her beauty or the bucking off the stiff upper lip legacy; Diana occupied a special place in our hearts. Like triglycerides. 

Transfixed to my telly, I remember watching her play with AIDS infected kids, work for landmine deactivation and waltz with John Travolta wearing a blue velvet gown. Yes, I have this quality of remembering the past even though I open the refrigerator but forget why I opened it.

Coming back to The Crown, Emma Corrin does a splendid job of bringing Diana magic back to life. With the deeply researched script and eye focused on detail, we see Diana grow from a royalty smitten teen in frumpy frocks with frilly collars and baggy sweaters into a determined fashion icon. Same nervous tilt of the head, same gangly walk, and same coy smile. Capturing that beauty was never easy.

I could flashback to the time when Charles was asked “You both look very much in love?” Diana blushed, “Oh, yes, Absolutely”, but Charles quipped, “Whatever being in love means.”

( If you like you can watch here)

Emma Corrin captures the same perplexed look Diana had in that moment. Which means it’s ok to be cold and callous as long as you are royalty. Imagine saying that to your fiancĂ©e today and she will stuff the engagement ring up your nostrils. Or spank you in public.

The rest of the cast is equally brilliant. Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles is perfect in portraying an unsure gawky Prince with a slight stoop. Also, The Crown 4 is not only about Diana but about Margret Thatcher, played by Gillian Anderson. As someone said, she looks more like a mimicry artist than the stoic Thatcher we remember. And yes, we also get to witness the Falkland fiasco amid flashes of spectacular country side.

Going by the news, the royals and the royal biographer is unhappy, claiming that the show vilifies the royals. Perhaps he knows better but the show works because the director has not given in to the temptation of royal indulgence. It is a far cry from routine biographical accounts as it paints the characters with a realistic human brush. Even in the slightly nauseating sense of royal entitlement, their humane quirks resonate.

If you watch it, note that the middle class upbringing of Margret Thatcher as a workaholic does not auger well with the royals who prefer the aristocratic upbringing of Diana even though she lacks academic or social brilliance. Which tells us parents are the same world-over. Ladki apni jaisi honi chahiye.

Going back to my brilliant memory, just before the royal wedding Diana’s virginity had become a speculative sport. The world was debating her virtues when no one questioned 31 yr old Charles. In many ways, Charles and Camilla saga was like Silsila where Amitabh continues his intimate encounters with Rekha even as his wife Jaya waits patiently. Only Crown does not have Charles chewing pan, high on bhang and singing double meaning ditties. Bela Chameli Ka…..that would be so un-royal. Like Pierce Brosnan doing a Gutka ad.

Jokes aside, do watch The Crown for a well researched script, brilliant acting and spectacular sets. As with all nostalgic shows, only once you’ve finished watching it you feel a sense of void, making you unhappy that it ended.

And I’m back at the refrigerator wondering why I opened it. So much for a trip down the memory lane.



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