Sunday, July 19, 2009

Show Must Go On!

Eating one's own words isn't fun.

The first three lines over here bear witness to a fact I took for granted- that I couldn't be swayed.

Not by the soporofic music (that is what they call those cries to the Devil that issue from their mouths) excreted by Indian Idols, not by the desperately talentless little kids trying to sing and dance and being told that they would be stars, not even by a drool worthy Diana Hayden entering some house where-hold your breath- someone either stays, or someone else doesn't (gasp)!

Not by Mr.- oops-now Dr. 12th-fail-watzisname-Kumar bringing along his entire harem to perform stunts- quite frankly the girls looked far from sexy- too much of doing it as Spectacles would no doubt have said.

Now bring Helena Bonham Carter on screen- with or without her kit- as Marla Singer or Mrs. Lovett or better still as the chillingly sexy Bellatrix (funny how that rhymes with dominatrix..) and you would have yourself a show. But you wouldn't have guessed that I have a kind of kinky thing going on with her, so I might be slightly biased there.

But then- all my self importance was dealt an immense kick in the arse by an innocously named show called Rakhi ka Swayamvar.

In the olden days, this programme informs, women had the right to choose their husbands- it was the ultimate symbol of ancient India's female empowerment. Somewhere down the line this right, this adhikaar got diluted and then got transferred to that most vile of species- men.

Fair enough.

But this is Rakhi. Rakhi Sawant.

Yes- that same bronzed buxom starlet, who made fame a full time job. Who slapped her then boyfriend on national television. Whose language changes almost as frequently as her bra size, who is- when all is said and done- a hoot.

For if she does indeed go through with this marriage- for that is what it is (ये show नहीं है- ये एक शादी है! she confidently proclaimed) - it definitely tickles one's interest as to who, apart from that gold digger of an ex boyfriend- is going to marry her?

A lot of people as it turns out.

This is a reality show that takes itself so seriously that you have soppy songs like hum bewafa playing in the background when a suitor is given his walking papers by the lady herself.

A show where a 22 year old looks solemnly into the sometimes 29-sometimes 27 1978 born Ms. Sawant's eyes and says with oscar worthy skill I love you.

A show where another guy gives Rakhi a gift, she thanks him, and he- with all the conviction of Romeo talking dirty to Juliet- says Mansion Naat..

It's brilliant I tell you- the best comedy (albeit unintentional) on TV in a long time.

And the star- no exagerration here- is undoubtedly Rakhi Sawant. She is without a doubt the best working hindi comedienne today. No mean feat that. And that is because she sucks so badly at acting and yet thinks she is a dramatic actress. Because she doesn't think she's being funny. Watch her bat her eyes, stare into space, watch her say Mai udna chahti hoon with that serious look on her face, watch her tear up- watch her run the emotional gamut with all the seriousness of a Meryl Streep and you'll know that NDTV Imagine has hit a jackpot.

Frankly, in terms of pure entertainment, (note) I'd rather watch Rakhi Sawant be herself than watch any of our leading ladies embarrass themselves on screen. You can watch her and guffaw all day long. Still far from Helena's league but then again, is anyone close? But way to go Ms. Sawant!

Oh and she seems to have met her match in some of her would be husbands. There's this one supercillious squirt who seems to be openly using her as a means to get famous, spewing pretentious poetry left, right and centre, smirking at others' ousters, even admitting to a girlfriend, and having an ogre of a mother who wants her bahu to wear a pallu, to not work, to always stay at home and generally be a relic of the stone age. In short, anything to gain notoriety. The other- the Mansion guy- had the temerity to kiss her on the cheek and forehead- with utmost rishpect he says.

All this is done with such sincerity, with such -damn it all- gravitas, that it's a wonder how anyone on this show- least of all the host who seems to be a level headed chap- manages to suppress their laughter. I swear, this gives many comedies a run for their money, this does.

And what does our prima donna do?

She becomes an avenging angel for the female race, trying to best the great Glenn Close. See the gulf in class here (0:58 onwards), here and here.

Watch it at the end of a long boring day- not more than once though, because too much of a bad thing can be -well-bad.

As I said- seriously funny stuff!

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Thursday, July 16, 2009


A cynical attitude is probably the last thing India needs right now.

What she needs is that little spark of idealism in her cadre.

But this cynicism creeps on you so insidiously that its difficult to think where it all began.

Take for instance the Sabharwal murder case.

Almost three years ago, we watched on live television, helpless with rage, the ABVP assault Prof Sabharwal in broad daylight. We saw him lose consciousness on television and later he was pronounced dead due to his injuries.

This was actual murder- recorded live on television.

Surely we thought, surely this time they would be punished.

But we hadn't accounted for the archaic rotting institution called the judiciary.

The very same judiciary which due to the many many loopholes in its system caused the culprits to walk free a few days ago.

The same judiciary which inspite of having recorded evidence still depended on eye witnesses.

Speaking of whom- it almost seems futile to have eye witnesses nowadays- right from the infamous Best Bakery case to Jessica Lall and now the Sabharwal murder case, every one of them has turned hostile, bought off by the money or threats of the rich and famous. And in the recent Sabharwal case, the Government-the Chief Minister no less- seem to be blatantly supporting the culprits. Forget it, its in the past .. is the MP government's refrain.

What is so frustrating is that no one is ever punished. Not in 62 years. No high profile punishments have occured. That woefully incompetent organization called the CBI hasn't solved one high profile case so far. They've accused Aarushi's father of killing his own daughter only to release the poor man after 10 days of torture. Who actually did it remains unknown. And will remain so- lost in piles of dusty papers- another name added to the list of crimes unsolved.

No one cares.

And we call this a democracy..

Democracy- one of the few things we can be really proud of- is in danger of becoming a banana republic. Obviously ordinary honest citizens have no chance to demand justice.

A democracy where for every Tom, Dick and Harry there has to be a consort of 10 cars at least. This disgusting laal batti culture will be our ruin. In the west- yes the same west we love to hate- MP's ride the metros. Judges cycle to work. But here- it would be blasphemous.

Speaking of blasphemy- nowhere have I seen more cynical, vindictive, degrading and malignant politics as in UP. Spending 6000 odd CRORES on an exercise of extreme megalomania (aka the statues in Lucknow) is yet to be surpassed I think. The way Mayawati has divided society in UP on the basis of caste has to be seen to be believed. A woman who didn't think twice before sanctioning such money to build statues of Dalit icons- she is (in my opinion) possibly the most poisonous snake Indian politics has spawned. Of course one can argue that for a woman who thought nothing of selling the Taj Mahal (you know, Bunty and Babli weren't too far from the truth) this is peanuts.

And that is why that state seems doomed to remain in darkness (literally- villagaes have no electricity).

And ironically, with a dalit CM, the dalits remain the most socially and economically backward class in UP. According to polls, dalits found nothing wrong with the eyesore she has erected in Lucknow. This is what has happened- we don't think as a country anymore- just as that bane of Indian society- caste. I'm not sure the use of the word dalit should be even allowed anymore. But to perpetuate that age old bias against dalits by a dalit herself smells of political shrewdness and cynicism.

To think that one day she might become Prime Minister- it is too ghastly to be imagined. And NOT because she is a 'dalit'- because she is who she is.

Of course if her adversary, the equally reprehensible Mulayam had his way, speaking English will be a thing of the past because one has to talk in Hindi only. This, from a man whose son has studied abroad.

Highest level of political discourse in UP: A clearly senile Rita Bahuguna flippantly challenging the honourable CM to get raped- yes that's right- raped. The response? Her house burnt down, her cars smashed and Bahuguna dumped in jail.

And the Karnataka Government's dreadful decision to derecognize schools which do not have compulsory Kannada mediums- who are they fooling? Their children- both legit and the other kind- go to the best convents here and abroad.

To think that there is no one to take action against people like the dubiously named Mr. Stalin- openly threatening a 'blood bath' if Prabhakaran is killed is just shocking. We knew these people got away (literally) with murder, but open declaration of terrorism? And not a pip from the powers that be.

Oh and don't go to pubs in Mangalore. Especially if you're a woman. Its 'immoral'. Thus speaketh the guardians of our morality- yes, the very hooligans who destroyed Babri Masjid.

And watch your hands if you're in Pilibhit. Their MP himself wants to change professions and become a butcher.

Give me the dynasty any day- atleast we can marry Venezuelans and still be Indian.

So what does one do to control this surge of helpless, impotent rage? What can one do to stop this utter destruction of our ethos? Is this the country my generation will inherit?

In the past when such anger took root, revolutions occured. Whether they were stained with the blood from the guillotine or wrapped in the white of peace didn't matter- they purged mercilessly the tyranny that stood in front of them. It took a long time, but it happened.

And now?
Is there any hope at all?

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

As it happens...

It's called 'commitment'.

By some.

A typical day nowadays begins with an almighty thrust- uh- no, that doesn't sound quite appropriate- with a reluctant push (not much better, but whatever..) out of the bed at 9:30am. Then, in the middle of eating breakfast one realises that one hasn't brushed one's teeth yet. AND one isn't shocked by this disgusting habit. One merely shrugs one's shoulders and continues with the food.

Then at around 11:30pm, one gets down to one's job- superfluously named 'entrance exam preparation'. Lunch at 12:30!!

In the middle of eating lunch, one remembers that one still hasn't brushed. This time- no shrug even- just eating.

Did I mention the internet? or 30 Rock? or YouTube? Well one is so interested in General knowledge that one watches Elaine Stritch on YouTube describing why she thinks the word 'fuck' is the best word ever- provided it isn't used in a sexual way. One nods sagely and ponders the deep inner meaning of her phrase- "I don't like fucking when it has anything fucking to do with fucking" at the same time marvelling at her intelligence and dare we say - genius.

Right- lunch has lasted a couple of hours and its back to studies- with a grandiose time table laid out in front according to which you're supposed to be studying post partum haemorrhage, but the baby hasn't even been conceived yet.

3:30- TEA TIME!!

More of YouTube and 30 Rock, and suddenly one realises that its been a while since one has bathed. So one goes to have a bath, under the shower and one realises that one's clothes are still on.

No more of that.

Now- the period of introspection. At 5:30. What have you done the whole day? Aren't you ashamed? (am I? ok, if you insist..) Everyone else is studying their ass off and aren't you falling behind? (hmmm) You'll be the only one in class not to get a seat- doesn't that scare you? (I wonder what's for dinner- hope its something good) You're disgusting! (I wish I could see season 4 of 30 Rock like right away..)

And then comes regret. And that frikkin' enemy of man's pursuit of happiness- guilt. And the promise that one will do better next time.

Why next time? Right now.

So one embarks on a furious search for things that'll make the guilt go away. Like a whirlwind swirling across the house leaving books, pages, pens et al in its wake. That wretched thing they call conscience keeps droning 'Study....that'll make you feel better' and one triumphantly answers- following the commandments of Ms Stritch, in a purely non sexual, innocent way- FUCK YOU!

And then one finds it.

Right there- glowing in the dim light.

One's only chance at salvation, one's only hope for redemption.

And a surefire way to show conscience the finger.

A Pizza Hut home delivery brochure.

Conscience: (in a low voice) Brush your teeth first....

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