I am missing my father today. He was an old-fashioned patriot who used to urge me to make puran polis on the 15th of August, since he felt it was exceedingly important to celebrate 'Freedom'. Freedom, not just from foreign rule.... but as a basic human right . He also believed it was important for us as parents to convey to our children that this precious freedom was worth guarding with our own lives. His vivid description of what transpired at midnight on 14th-15th of August 1947, in the compound of the district court in Satara where he was the judge, still gives me goosebumps each time I recall his eloquent words.
Nope. There are no puran polis at home this year. It is yet another dull, uninspiring and listless day. I'm sure my father would have disapproved of this article which was carried in Asian Age\Deccan Chronicle today. I am glad he isn't alive to read it.... but I am equally glad I wrote it.
As always, I'm looking forward to your comments and reactions.
Vande Mataram !!
Is India @62 ready to appear on ‘Sach Ka Saamna’?
First things first – at the risk of enraging feminists – India at 62 is like a woman dealing with delayed menopause, trying strenuously to come to terms with drastic and dramatic changes she is not yet ready for. Think about it – sudden hot flashes ( Pakistan, China, Baluchistan), cold sweats, migraines, mood swings ( flirt with America? Court Russia? Ignore France?), hysteria ( the contoversial 1-2-3 treaty ), panic attacks ( 26\11),tantrums and more. That’s the downside. But as we all know, menopause doesn’t last forever. It is but a phase… and when it’s over, it’s over. And more often than not, women at this stage of their lives come into their own like never before. So it will be with India. Forget those fuddy duddy doomsday prophets making dire predictions about India’s grim future, forget the worst case scenarios. Focus instead on what lies ahead… it isn’t just swine flu, drought, starvation, corruption and more corruption. With some luck, it could be a ‘Mera Bharat Mahaan’ ending to this potential blockbuster. And with those words, I’m putting an end to the mandatory ‘Independence Day’ lecturebaazi.
In fact, there should be a media law that bans those boring Special Issues nobody actually reads or remembers. Why has it become mandatory to indulge in this meaningless annual exercise? Report cards are for school children. India is a senior citizen. Let’s begin by showing a little respect. For me, that includes a ban on bumper editions carrying erudite, unreadable, analytical pieces on ‘Where India Has Gone Wrong’ written by pompous gas bags whose views are completely passé. If at all anybody wants to indulge in this foolish exercise, let us convert it into a time pass tv show that gives us vicarious cheap thrills. Hire a hottie as an anchor ( Rajeev Khandelwal has the looks and experience) and let the cameras roll. India getting candid will be so much more fun than all this intellectualized baloney from self-styled experts.
In any case, far too much is being made of the current tv series that invites middle class India to perform the full monty in public. ‘Sach ka Saamna’ is getting countless knickers in a knot because, I guess, this form of public catharsis is considered a bit too much for India to handle Hmmmm. But is it really too much? Going by the astonishingly high ratings, I’d say not! I believe all that moral outrage is just hot air. We love to mind other people’s business. We are known for our obnoxious inquisitiveness. Come on, it’s only in India that complete strangers seated next to you in a train can turn around and ask the most intrusive, the most intimate questions without blinking …. and actually expect a prompt response. Which person has not had to deal with , “ Are you married? No?? Why not? Family problem or what?” Which young couple has been spared the embarrassment of responding to an inquisition that goes, “ No children? Howcome? Medical problem? I know a very good doctor…” That’s us.Nosey and tactless at all times. Which is why, I’m a little surprised by the howls of protest that have greeted the latest reality show which quizzes tv actresses on their sexual fantasies and asks about teenage abortions and school expulsions without mincing words. This is baby stuff compared to what we deal with in real life.
Similarly, Rakhi Sawant’s Swayamwar eats into our own fears and foibles, as we watch the bold and brazen lead character reveal the nasty minutae of her miserable past , frequently bursting into a flood of tears before adjusting her cleavage and carrying on. If we are riveted by this spectacle, it only establishes our insatiable desire to play peek-a-boo – a perfectly understandable, acceptable emotion. Especially in a country where the notion of personal privacy and space remains very sketchy. We believe we have the absolute right to know every little dirty detail about our neighbour’s ‘lafdas’. We also believe we have the same right to offer instant advice. This is as ‘desi’ as pure ghee – and we can’t get enough of either. When the canny tv channel hosting the show persuades Rakhi Sawant’s estranged mother to come on the set and give her version of their crazy relationship, we are urged to take sides and offer unsolicited advice to both. We fall for it!! This stuff is irresistible. We can’t get enough. We want more and more and more. Call that creative manipulation, if you wish. But are we putting up any resistance? Naaah.
The Rakhi Sawant phenomenon ( I use the phrase with care and after deliberation) has to be seen in the context of a rapidly changing India. I have been an early champion of this spunky woman, and hang on to her every bon mot. Her quotes are priceless and original – that’s what makes her stand apart in an over crowded field of wannabes. When Rakhi declares earnestly ( tears threatening to run down those heavily painted cheeks and ruin her mascara) that she has done several things for money during her difficult teenage years, including dance at stag shows, but one thing she has NEVER done for cash is ‘that’, nobody needs to be briefed on what ‘that’ stands for. By making such a statement, Rakhi lets the cruel, mocking world know that even she - bad assed girl that she is - lives by her own moral code. Hurrah.Paisey ke liye kuch bhi karegi?? Na baba… aur sab, par ‘woh’ nahi… kabhi nahi.Rakhi has defined her limits. Can the rest of us define ours? Can India’s politicians make a similar claim in public and spell out where they’d draw the line? Now that would be a scorcher of a ‘samna’.
Rakhi had once famously boasted about her silicon implants declaring naughtily, “ Joh dikhta hai who bikta hai.” Perhaps, without realizing it herself, she had accurately placed her finger on the pulse of the nation and provided a catchy phrase for the prevailing philosophy dominating Jawan India’s dreams.Do those out- of- touch- with- mass- reality men and women prowling the corridors of power in Delhi really get the message?? They’d better. For if they don’t , all this big talk about harnessing the youth of the nation and pushing India forward will remain empty rhetoric. The surprising truth is that there are far more Rakhi Sawants in our midst than we’d like to acknowledge. She makes us uncomfortable. She makes us blush – hey bhagwan – such gaucherie.But she is here, and she isn’t going anywhere. If India has to face the truth about itself, why not start with Rakhi Sawant and her brand of bindaas, in your face, outrageous and outré conduct that shies away from nothing, reveals everything, but is still clever enough to figure out the inbuilt commercial value of saying ‘no’ to ‘that’!!