From YSR to YSL - do Mumbai socialites know the difference??
I swear I am not making this up. The day YSR’s chopper went missing and the media was going overboard with the coverage , there was a typical Mumbai soiree on in full swing at one of those dark and terribly chic lounge bars where black is the only colour worth flaunting and the cocktails are customized. Someone stupid, but trying to sound intelligent, mentioned that YSR was missing in action. The initial blank looks were soon altered to more suitably informed ones. “ But I thought he died some months ago?” exclaimed a lady wearing a bum-scraping dress and lots of pearls. More blank looks. She giggled, “ I’d seen the funeral pics in Vogue… Harper’s…. somewhere.” The man in too tight jodhpurs and black bandgala , coughed discreetly, “ No. You must have seen it in ‘Vanity Fair’ - that double issue dedicated to him.” Ms. Bubble Dress looked seriously worried , before adding, “ You are right, ya…. I was at the salon…. no…. nail spa… flipping through some mags and saw it there…. too sad…. but the tributes were great… especially Carla Bruni’s.” The original bright spark who’d been silly enough to bring up the subject in the first place, swallowed yet another designer cocktail ( vodka-based), and coughed some more . Someone else had joined the conversation by now, “ Wasn’t he the one who invented the LBD and put women in tuxedos?? That’s just so cool!” Huh? Were they talking about the same man??
Oh oh… before any more faux pas were committed, Bright Spark swiftly interjected, “ YSR, ya. Not YSL.” It was the turn of all the Bubble Skirts to swing around and chorus in unison, “WHO?” Bright Spark was trapped. He mumbled apologetically, “ Politician. Andhra Pradesh. Chief Minister. Chopper crash. He may be dead.” Blank stares. Finally, one of the Bubble Dresses broke the silence by saying, “ Oh…. really??Okay….. but we don’t know any politicians. Of course, we know Praful… but he’s a buddy. Who’s this guy you’re talking about?” This is no exaggeration. Most people in Mumbai had never heard of YSR. The first time they did , was after he was dead. But to put things in perspective, the same lot has not heard the name of Maharashtra’s Chief Minister, either. These sort of individuals do not impact their lives on any level. YSR’ s existence was a matter of zero consequence. But YSL’s is. Their fashion quotient is judged on how well they know YSL’s contribution to couture and how well up they are on his breakthrough collections over the years. If they goof up on that, they are finished – dead meat in the fashion circles they court, obsess over and revel in. Never having heard of a dynamic chief minister is a bonus. It shows how isolated they are from the ‘dirty world’ of politics. And a reflection of the pride they take in their self-imposed isolation. This is a growing breed in urban India, and in order to better understand the mindset of the mindless, it is key to figure out why the politics of this country do not touch them at all. The same set of super elitist idiots can be found in the grand salons of Delhi and Bangalore. They know nothing beyond their fashionably-fixed noses. And are unabashedly, unapologetically ignorant. The YSR tragedy merely highlighted the extent of their apathy. In response to an innocent question as to how they can live in a blind alley, their indignant riposte says it all - “ How does it affect our lives, ya? Whether it is YSR or any other politician. Who cares? We are sure YSR must have been one hell of a dude. Good for him. But puh- leeze, can we change the subject now?”
The worry lies embedded in that single line - ‘Can we change the subject, now?” It has become a common refrain across India. With attention spans shrinking, nobody wants to look beyond the next development that is directly connected to their own lives. That, and the distressing media habit of remaining steadfastly focused on trivia and trivia alone, have resulted in an overall deadening of what’s going on in the rest of the ‘boring’ country. I would have glibly blamed it on stepped up regionalism ( some truth in that argument ), but it goes well beyond that sort of narrow mindedness. Most of us really and truly do not give a damn. If people in Mumbai fail to understand the mass hysteria unleashed across Andhra Pradesh in the wake of YSR’s death, and state confidently, “It would NEVER happen here’, it is equally true that folks in Andhra Pradesh would not ‘get it’ or care if anything were to happen to one of our local icons. But if a top Bollywood hero copped it…?? Hmmm.
When I wrote about YSR on my blog, the comments that came in were pretty revealing. Especially from South Indians who have settled overseas. Most said one has to be born a South Indian to understand the love and passion people bestow on their political idols ( examples cited – NTR, MGR). It made me curious. There are any number of Maharashtrians who adore Balasaheb Thackeray, any number of Gujaratis who love and adore Narendra Modi. But enough to kill themselves over them? Naah. Not a chance. Frankly, it sounds crude and cruel to be saying this, but most people in the city have moved on from the YSR story, already. Who succeeds him who doesn’t. What happens to his legacy. What happens to the money? How his death affects the future of Ramalingam Raju. Yup, same chap who is in the ICU and was seen as YSR’s principal bete noire. Who replaces YSR as the Congress Party fund collector in Andhra. Whether all those schemes for farmers will continue on schedule.Or what happens to the vast tracts of land controlled by YSR ( worth 80,000 crores and still counting, according to conservative estimates, even after prices crashed by 40% there). None of these issues bother the aam aadmi. It is back to business as usual. What is far more interesting is Amitabh Bachchan’s new role as a pop psychologist in The Bigg Boss. Rani Mukherjee’s hot new bod in a bikini. Akshay Kumar’s tough talk in Fear Factor, Shahid Kapur’s new puppy\parrot\kitten\tortoise, Saif Ali Khan’s latest gift to Bebo. Bebo’s latest gift to Saif. All this is breaking news. It breaks several hearts. Everything else can wait. But at least, a few key priorities do manage to slip in between Bollywood gup- shup. The proposed multi-crore statue of Shivaji Maharaj, for example. It is being avidly debated by the chattering classes. And this is a positive trend. One of the many alternative suggestions involves using the same funds ( even half the staggering amount will do) to set up a meaningful and permanent memorial to those who lost their lives during the 26\11 terror attacks on Mumbai. This could be a hospital or a shelter that provides a much-needed service to the city that is perpetually reeling under various threats. It is an excellent suggestion, but guaranteed to find no takers in government circles. It is so much simpler to erect monumental statues at a monumental cost. Granted, Shivaji Maharaj is Maharashtra’s greatest hero. But imagine how much greater he would be seen as, if along with him, we could also honour some of our other heroes – people like Tilak, Gokhale and Ranade, who fought valiantly for India’s freedom? Why not a pantheon of Greats? A gallery with impressive statues of all those mahaan individuals who brought glory to Maharashtra.
It’s a question worth asking Mayawati – the statue queen. It’s also a question YSR’s followers should bear in mind before the craze to erect his statues all over Andhra Pradesh goes completely out of hand . We love to deify our leaders. And turn them into modern day Gods and Goddesses. But these attempts to create personality cults need to be curbed right at the start. Here’s hoping the good people of Andhra Pradesh show the way.
I have just come home after watching 'Wanted'. Did I 'want' to see such a 'crappy' film?? For sure!! I love crappy films. They are my ultimate stress -busters. Salman Khan's muscles did all the talking\emoting, as did Ayesha Takia's impressive chest. Between these body parts, there was a great deal of action... no, make that 'ackhshun'. Prabhudeva should dance more and direct less. And Boney Kapoor should just escort Sridevi to Fashion Week now and then. What a combo these people make! This is the sort of movie 'chavvani' audiences back in the 'seventies used to love - good cop, bad cop, vardi ke vaastey kuch bhi karega yada yada . In this crazy film that involves pulping two dozen thugs, one of whom is called 'Golden' ( but ' Charcoal' may have been a more apt 'dak naam'), Salman plays Radhe - an undercover cop who specialises in bump-and-grind routines and eats chaklis between crushing skulls. Ms. Impressive Chest just has to breathe - we are watching you breathe, girl. Don't stop!!! Mahesh Manjrekar plays the lech like its second nature to him ( perhaps it is?). The rest don't count. Salman keeps his shirt on till the very end - when he finally rips it off, the audience climaxes collectively along with the film. Paisa vasool.