Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Name is Mumbai....!

Let's call it the curse of newspaper deadlines. I wrote this column on thursday afternoon, when the sabre rattling of the Shiv Sainiks was peaking. Dramatic events took place between that time and the compromise that was arrived at a few key hours later, by noon on friday. A compromise that was clearly constructed in Delhi and executed in Mumbai. Whatever deal was struck doesn't matter any more. Unconstitutional conduct was successfully contained, movie goers got the chance to exercise their fundamental right, and nothing else is as important. Not even the backroom machinations that ensured a safe passage to the film. We may never know the real trade- offs, but let us be thankful Mumbai was spared the ignominy of having to cope with wanton violence and senseless destruction. Bollywood's newly established Tweet Factories were in overdrive all of yesterday. This new form of direct communication is likely to jeopardise the jobs of all those p.r.-driven filmi hacks who make a living out of being the mouthpieces and full -time chamchas of their favourite star-patrons.

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Sigh! It's Valentine's Day tomorrow. My heart is going dhak -dhak. Any defiant display of the colour red has been banned in some regions of the Middle East. Love is in the air....but it has to remain colourless, tasteless and odourless. I plan to watch a super cheesy movie ( no guesses - 'Valentine's Day', but natch )wearing a bright red outfit. I may hold hands with my husband and daughter - but that's an option.

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Hey Bhagwan! I am writing this a few hours before what may turn out to be Black Friday, if not for the city of Mumbai than for SRK. Fingers crossed. Shiv Sena’s legal eagle, Rahul Narvekar, with whom I shared a panel discussion on tv this morning, kept talking about a ‘mass movement’ that is sweeping over the metropolis . “You will get your answer tomorrow,” he said ominously, when asked what plans his party had for disrupting the screening of the film.If that sounded like a pretty nasty threat, Rahul Narvekar wasn’t about to give the game plan away to Karan Thapar. But, the message was loud and clear. Oh dear! There we go again, I said to myself. The same old threats, the wanton destruction of property, the senseless dadagiri – for what?? To prove who is boss??? Or even that the boss is still alive and calling the shots?? Well, after all that drama and hungama, the verdict is out – most theatre owners have ‘postponed’ screenings, claiming they were not prepared to risk damage to their property nor take the chance of patrons getting hurt. I guess Shiv Sainiks will be celebrating this great ‘victory’ tonight.Karan asked me whether I thought the people of Mumbai would actually ‘boycott’ cinemas. No, they won’t , I replied confidently. The word ‘boycott’ implies an active participation in the Shiv Sena’s programme to stop the screening of the film. Most Mumbaikars are entirely indifferent to the arguments being flaunted as the reason for the planned action. If one buys the Shiv Sena theory that citizens are outraged by Srk’s stand on including Pakistani cricketers in the IPL teams, they are certainly not confusing issues and linking his cricket statements to watching his films! They would definitely like to see ‘MNIK’ but not at the risk of losing their lives and limbs. I guess they’ll have to wait indefinitely for that now!!
Look at this absurdity - in order to enjoy ‘Avatar’, viewers were provided 3-D glasses. ‘MNIK’, will require something even more specialized - will Maharashtra’s Chief Minister, Shri Ashok Chavan, give us combat gear and helmets? Since he has gallantly offered full protection to film enthusiasts, and there are more cops guarding theatres and mutiplexes across the city than there were post- 26\11, it has not just raised several eyebrows, but countless questions as well. The sweet irony is that while Srk’s fans are ready to face lathis, stones and God knows what else, to show their undying love and support to their idol, King Khan himself has flown the coop and is attending premieres in Abu Dhabi and Dubai! No security risks for him on those shores. But what about his bechara fans back in India? Are his emotionally charged tweets-by-the-minute enough to inspire their confidence?
Everybody wants a piece of the MNIK action, it appears. The Mumbai Police are at it…. giving interviews on various channels, and discussing the lengths they’ve gone to so that audiences and theatre owners can go ahead with the screening. That reassurance clearly hasn’t worked going by the decision to pull out the film from theatres. Politicians of all hues are equally busy preening and posturing for the cameras. But busiest of all are the overwrought tv anchors themselves, playing kiddish games of one upmanship, each claiming ‘exclusives’, knowing SRK is an expert at playing the media as and when he needs presswallas. Yet, they fall for it every single time, and look totally star struck in his presence, hanging on to every bon mot from the man who sure has the gift of the gab ( undeniable integrity, unquestionable patriotism,) . In all this tamasha of hogging headlines and playing to the galleries, nobody is overly concerned with actual issues. Personal freedoms form such a low priority in India, that it is a wonder we are even aware we have them. The Constitution is invoked almost ritualistically by the usual suspects, knowing all along that lawless elements out to create trouble rarely look for constitutional approval! Sponsored violence has several takers in our country, and the current agitation against an actor, is yet another example of how easy it is to manipulate those who have nothing to lose by taking to the streets and indulging in wanton destruction of public and private property.
Driving through Mumbai on Thursday afternoon, it was impossible to ignore the exaggerated police presence at every junction. But the average Joe and Jane were least bothered and going about their lives like nothing was amiss. Frankly, that is the apt response to the preposterous show of teeth. And yet, why single out the Shiv Sena for attacking a film or an individual? The Congress may well adopt a holier than thou position and condemn the Sena. But its own record has been equally pathetic. From banning Rushdie’s ‘Satanic Verses’, to more recently stalling the filming of the Nehru-Edwina love story, the Congress has not covered itself with liberal glory. The ‘MNIK’ controversy is yet another instance of opportunistic politics going a bit too far. Star anchors egging on Srk by constantly asking , “ So… you refuse to apologise? You won’t apologise?” was setting the scene for an escalation of the conflict. This is one time the media has taken it upon itself to play both judge and hangman. Prominent journos expressing their support and solidarity to SRK were proving to be more loyal than the King! The usual noises about safe guarding the freedom of expression, protecting the future of democracy etc . etc. may have been trotted out, but at the end of the day it had to do with pushing the phenomenon of a personality cult to a new level. Had it been a lesser star, say a Shahid Kapur, would we have been as incensed, as vocal, as supportive? Bollywood’s star system provides easy alibis and forges convenient alliances. This battle is being waged on a personal level and has little to do with ideology.
Balasaheb has far too much riding on popular perception about him and his party, to allow this fight to fizzle out. India is watching an aged tiger deploying every last resource to save face – and hopefully, save his party. There is a great deal at stake, and vultures are already circling the air above his den.It is no longer a childish question of who blinks first, who apologises or who backs off. Not just the film industry but all of India has its eyes on the battle royale – it has all the elements of a mega pot boiler built into it. Intrigue, money, betrayal, victory. SRK clearly has his powerful backers and supporters in place or else his stand would have been different. But it is the silence SRK’s Bollywood colleagues that says a lot. Read the subtext – sitting on the fence has never been more obvious. Scared of the Shiv Sena? Or…. secretely delighted? Is this the beginning of the end? But for whom….? We shall know soon enough.My prediction? Mumbai will win! It is far bigger than any – repeat, any – individual.

34 comments:

Naina Sethi said...

I write for an Indian fashion blog.You guys should follow me at enrapturenow.blogspot.com . And I promise I will follow you back !

Hobo ........ ........ ........ said...

Next?

anupamaa said...

I dont care or SRK or K Jo much, but the movie has struck a raw nerve somewhere for me. Sorry for Blog whoring , but please check out "My name is almost Khan" on http://amapuna.wordpress.com/2010/02/13/my-name-is-almost-khan/.
It is sure tough living with such a surname anywhere in the world.

Ravi Patel said...

Can Shah Rukh Khan tell us how that terrorist criminal piece, Pakistan, committed to the destruction of kafir Hindu India, is a great neighbour.In the NDTV interview one could so clearly see the utter joy on the face of our mia saheb while defending Paki interests. All the pent up pro-paki emotions simply poured out. The pakistani in him eventually came out. To bat for paki cricketers is one thing but to call this criminal enterprise Pakistan a great neighbour after all that thay have inflicted upon us kafirs and especially more recently in Mumbai where the mia earns his keep,is simply breathtaking! Now the many many stupid indians, prideless and without self-respect and no strenght of character, have turned this traitor into a great hero. Next time there is a paki sponsered jihadi attack on India please do not complain. India will deserve everything the low life pakis throw at it!

goodluck said...

Only when biggies like Bachchan and SRK are targetted, the issue is highlighted. So the end result is good and should be welcomed. Shobhaa, it seems you are worried over the last few days developments. The people of Mumbai are fed up of all sorts of violence and they want to have some peace. If Ashok Chavan government provides it, so be it. Dont criticise the peace bearer and invite trouble makers for short term gains. This is one little step towards peace and also a giant step towards making a statement.

sourav said...
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sourav said...

really ironical that movie giving such strong statement about world peace is being attacked by some hooligans who call themselves as "Indians". Shiv Sena is the desi Taliban who will continue to do all these things and our P.M. will keep quiet. And people in bollywood can do nothing but tweet their views.The truth is everyone is scared of them.

vijay kumar ponnada said...

I just read and also watched you on TV yesterday smiling to the indiscreet and much degenerated responses of Rahul whatever of Shiv sena fame. I recollect his stance on the late night ‘Left, Right and Center’ program on NDTV 24X7, wherein he was not in tune with himself nor corresponding to the queries thrown at him. I feel he was pushed to the front while the Shiv sainiks were cooling heals.

The whole thing was structured to absurdity and a desperate attempt to stay in the lime light and making it a barefaced attack on the MNIK. It made some good to may be SRK or the K J, for it tempted me to watch the movie today first thing in the morning. Though I stay I Hyderabad, I love Mumbai for the city it is. I am sure that people like you will not let the city go down as a mere existence, but make it live up to the reputation. My name is Mumbai.

Latha said...

Nothing happened ! Though I don't want anything to happen to Bombayites or any Indian for that matter, I am surprised at the kind of publicity that MNIK got with (Thank God)absolutely no bloodshed.
When somebody suggested it all could be a publicity stunt, srk said 'Shut up'.
Today (& even yesterday) life is normal. I still find it difficult to believe that all the drama could have been for just the promo of the film.
King Khan - aap to wakaihi 'Badshah' (Oh nonono not 'Bad Shah) nikley !
Today I watched an interview of srk in 'Zoom' which he had given when 2 schedules of the shooting were pending.
Z: Will there be any publicity like 'Wake up Sid' where Karan had to apologise ?
srk: Why should there be. We don't need that kind of a low level stunt. I have confidence that Kajol, Karan & I can pull it off without that kind of stuff. It is very unpleasant. Moreover I don't want anybody in this city to get hurt. (Something on those lines)
I love the team. I simply can't hate them ! And nobody got hurt.
Even in Shobhaa's words it is a win-win situation. Why should anybody complain ?
Pakistan is a good neighbour. The Pak Talibans, ISI & terrorists are bad neighbours. The people & the Govt are themselves victims of terrorism. They are asking us to eliminate terrorism in their country.
The BSF should be given a free hand in finishing the terrorist outfits which they can see via satellite. Hafiz sayeed should be eliminated. He is the main culprit of 26/11.

suresh said...

Shobhaa, please read Vir Snghvi's counterpoint on this topic on his website. Thats straight no-nonsense journalism stating it as it is and explaining why and what the fear is all about. Hope you will be able to do that one day. But then you may have to shift to Delhi too !! But meanwhile lets all give credit to the authorities for taking that first step after so many decades, going where others have dreaded to go before !!

kala said...
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Santhosh K Ramachandran said...

u r the most cynical columnist..!! wats uor point...


u suck..!!

Jogeshwar said...

You are right there has been too much tamasha over 'MNIK'. Last night while watching BBC world news, 'MNIK' controversy actually made it to the headlines. Even people in the west must be wondering so much drama over a film ? Such incidents hurt India's image globally. I think they act as deterrents to MNC's and foreign investments.

kala said...
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HU said...

Just learnt about the terrorist attack in Pune city. Though as of now our GovernmeNt thinks that there's no direct involvement from our 'Good Neighbour', I am pretty certain that when the investigation is complete we'll find that some kind of funding or help (directly or indirectly) has been provided by our 'Good Neighbour' or those responsible for this attack at least have some direct/indirect association with the 'Good Neighbour' of ours.

It's a shame that 1.2 billion population of India adulate SRK, who's so very pro-Pakistani. That neighbouring hellhole on every step is trying to attack our cities and disrupt our economy (Information Technology sector in particular) and it is being regarded as a 'Good Neighbour' by a crackpot who though residing in Mumbai, India and earning his living here has very deep emotional attachments to that shitty 'neighbour' of ours. Yes, his Dad was from Pakistan and a quick 'Google' search would also return SRK's childhood pics somewhere in Pakistan at his relatives' residence. Pakistan is housing the world's most wanted men 'Osama', 'Dawood' 'LET Chief', ....and so many others. It's economy is in shambles and as per CIA (USA) report it might disntegrate by 2020. It already a 'failed state'. Being jealous of India's progress and growing economy, scumbags from across the border are trying to execute terrorsist attacks and some mudbags from India are helping them too and have a soft corner for them. This includes a list of politicians, Bollywood actors and some citizens on our side.

USA, Israel and other European countries would be literally laughing at India's stance. A country after facing the worst terrorist attacks in their history on 26/11 is trying to maintain bilateral relations through sports hoping that it's going to resolve almost 60-year old conflict which hasn't been resolved inspite of three wars and so many 'talks' and 'sports'. Not to mention that we have been playing cricket with these mudbags for so many decades. Shiv Sena's actions may not be 100% accurate but their concern and cause is 100% accurate and justifiable. But in Indian democracy mere words aren't that useful and the deomocracy was built in such a way that it was more favourable to the so-called 'minority' groups and the rich. The reason is pretty obvious - vote bank and money. Unfortunately, in our country we have been bootlickers to everyone who has attacked us and 'spanked' us for centuries. Be it British, Turks, Portuguese, French, Dutch, Mughals, Chinese, Pakis... the list goes on. No wonder why our country is regarded as a weak country world over and why our citizens are being racially targeted and made fun of world over. We deserve it!!! We ourselves don't know which countries are good to keep relations with and which aren't.

Wake up before it's too late!!!

RENU CHAWLA said...
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S.K SHAH said...

Respected Mrs Shobade
Mumbai
There is subtle substance in your write up “My name is Mumbai”. The legacy of Shiv Sena is to preach, practice parochial and sectarian politics and spread of hatred against non Maharastrians. The fetish for Marathi manoos does not flow from any sincere concern for them in particular but the fulcrum of Shiv Sena’s existence is to bolster, the bloated ego of Thackeray clan.. You have depicted a picture as you have seen its loonies and lackies from close quarters. Being a Mumbaikar and avid observer of Shivsen’s wanton and licentious conduct. The stink of Shiv Sena has attained ad nauseum and people’s solidarity with SRK by patronising MNIK and snub to Shiv Sena has brought a whiff of fresh air to the suffocating metropolis of Mumbai cause by shiv sena’s choking its arteries. Mumbai where even air does not blow and leaves don’t stir without Shiv Sena’s blessings, a radical change has brought Shiv Sena on its knees. Taking a short break from its pusillanimity the Maharastra government has betrayed that it is now back from inertia and it will measure up to its job. It is hard to find even a blurred contour of logic in Shiv Sena’s rabble rousing against SRK , in fact, the uprising of MNS has made it jittery. Therefore to regain the loss ground, Shiv Sena is indulging in such weird antics. It can be said with fair amount of certitude that Bala Sahib and Udhav Thackerey find themselves on the cross roads of wilderness, they have neither clue nor the key how to rejuvenate the party which is languishing and sagging. Therefore their paranoia with MNS is taking a heavy toll on its credibility. Mumbaikars have given befitting answer to Shiv Sena’s threat not to allow screening of MNIK in Mumbai. Shall we presume that one or two more incidents of this type, where the Shiv Sena will be defeated at its own game and it will be an obituary of this communal outfit which is pursuing a personal agenda to acquire self glory for father and son duo and nothing to the nation/ Shiv Sena, in fact, is morally and ideologically a bankrupt party and nothing is expected from such a party. Then where is the crib?
Warm regards
S.K.Shah

Pooja said...

Dear Ma DE and all blog dosts
Happy Valentine DAy! god bless all with love , happiness and peace,Amen!

Cool4u said...

I wonder what makes u think there was some deal was struck and money changed hands ? i think for a change the Govt took a stand agianst, as u call him the ageing tiger!! and taught him a lesson and left him and his cub licking his wounds.
U r a busy woman and i dont expect that u would respond. so any one else who could answer me.

RAVI DHINGRA said...

http://www.fun.dhingra.co.in

Bala said...

On twitter every celeb jumped in to voice the opinion for MNIK. After Pune blast all these stars expressed condolences and immediately moved on to praise how good MNIK is and how lovely valentine day is. I do not see outpouring voice against the terrorism activity neither I see outpouring support on helping victims. There were almost no tweets from celebs on Pune on Saturday/ Sunday.

SRKs so called good neighbour hasn't done enough to dismantle lashkar but the same neighbour has made MNIK housefull in Karachi.

Shame on the celebs who stand up against stupid issue of MNIK or rather publicity stunt but no word on terrorism

Nirbhay said...

Who the hell did the Pune Blast !!Maybe SRK and his good neigbours will have an answer to it.

Federal , State Government and dim-witted journalist are more concerned about the Movie than the Security of the Masses.

Latha said...

After 26/11 India decided not to talk to Pak until it takes firm action against terrorism. Home Min was sceduled to go to Pak in March. Meanwhile somebody came from US. Immediately high level talks between the foreign secretaries of Pak & India was decided & what's worse, we took the initiative. Former ambassador to Pak G Parthasarathy says this undermines our own HM's stature. What was the hurry to talk ? This is the reason for the blast.
Whenever we wanted to talk, blasts have taken place. Anyway they are going to talk. Who will be the next victim & when is the question. But talk they will, come what may. What a crazy country !
While airing the attack 24 hrs, someone says, 'Let's be sensitive to those who have lost their loved ones'. Intermittantly the song, 'Nazar main rehte ho, phir bhi nazar nahi aati' hits our ears. Aman ki Asha! Can't they stop that stupid song at least for now ? What sensitivity !
Aman ki ashes.
Shobhaa, sorry for going beyond the subject, but I couldn't stop myself. I had to connect.

goodluck said...
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goodluck said...

MNIk is an average movie worth 2 or 2.5 stars. SRK is good but Kajol is over the top. Tabu would have given this role another dimension. The movie is rather slow and needs editing and sprucing to add some tempo. Oversimplistic movie. Ironically, Pune faced another blast nullifying the effect of this movie. This movie will make jehadis laugh or snigger contemptuously. Pacifists will find it inadequate. This movie is strictly for SRK and Kajol fans. Karan Johar will always sink into mushiness whether it is a love story or a serious subject. He just cant make a sharp movie. And he is good at PR and marketing. That saves his films.

Rajesh said...

Your absolutely true Shobhaaa.... it is SRK VS Shivsena nonsense which people are witnessing... people are forcefully fed with this stuff by the so called media biggies.... these 3 are taking the people for a royal ride... as you have said we the common people are fedup with MNIK..... not interested to see the movie at all... so disgusting that media and the newspaper are spending so much time on such a trivial issue... isn't it shame on our part.. such a catastrophe has happenned in Pune again and the media is still haggling with MNIK and Sharukh...

Minanath Dhaske said...

Mumbai... Mumbai... Mumbai... I dont know why everybody is mad about Mumbai. Just allow Mumbai to breathe easy.. dont overload it more.
http://caricaturehome.blogspot.com/2010/02/mumbai-belongs-to-all-indians.html

mitusingh said...

dear shobha de
ive been following your blog for some days now. pretty interesting write ups and ive been reading Superstar India too for past few days.I had been out of touch from net for past few days as i had been travelling. Today i was updating myself on the latest happenings around the world and India and in that endeavor i was just surfing ndtv.com and i came across pune blast..and going thru those images and videos and looking at the names of young people in the list of dead..really pained my heart. There seems no end to loss of innocent lives due to terrorist acts in India. So while i was going through all that..i thought let me see what shobha de has to say on pune blast..and i came to ur blog...frankly..i was disappointed to see that our fierce shobha de had nothing to say on pune blast..but everything to say about ..never ending SRK and SHIV SENA issue. Somehow i find this whole shiv sena and marathi manoos thing completely non sensicle and purely political tamasha. dear Shobha de, as a writer and as a personality, i really admire you and your guts..but just wanted to frankly admit that i was disappointed in knowing that there was no reaction from end on this pune blast thing, while i am sure it pains you as much as it pains any of us, but reactions of people in your position... count and matter.

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Gajendra said...

I found srk's paki comments insulting...

Mukund said...

More than shahrukh khan, it became a prestige issue for NDTV. NDTV should be booked for this anti india tirade they launched win at any cost. WHo knows they can even make zardari the prime minister also of india.

THE EVIL BOON said...

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b E a V i S said...

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See the following link for yourself to believe

http://realestategangstersandpolice.blogspot.com/2010/02/who-is-really-behind-pune-bomb-blast.html

Sahoo said...

Dear respected madam,

today morning i read an article about Budget-10:nani yaad aa gayi, it was absolutly correct what you have expressed your valuable views on Budget, one thing i want bring to your notice about our electronics media(Private NEWS Channels in India)which was not a news channel it was getting worst day by day its now getting to a Telebrand and entertaineent channel rather than News channel, for example let say what i know the real news channel is BBC, CNN these are called NEWS channels, where you can watch current affairs, and news around the world, but in our channels u can see hardly any news, if any news is there, then it will e with lot of Masalas which couldnt see in BBC or CNN etc.

please madam do write some article about this.

P K Sahoo
Vizag/Dhenkanal