Friday, December 2, 2011
Can't get Kolaveri Di out of my head!
I guess i have gone totally mad! I interrupted my writing no less than five or six times today to listen to the nonsensical but oh-so-catchy superhit, 'Kolaveri Di.' I also loved the crazy track from 'Dirty Picture', which plays as a recurrent theme through the film (Tamil folk song?). About the movie! Ummmm, I'll post my review tomorrow at some stage. I'll be rushing off to the Mumbai Literary Carnival, aptly titled 'Fully Booked' for my session with Suhel Seth 'refreed' by Bachi Karkaria. Should be fun! Then I shall hijack Suhel and a few friends to our home. Little do they know they have a full on Kolaveri Di evening ahead of them! That's my 'revenge' - ha!
About the picture , like my daughter sarcastically titled it , "Just another lazy sunday at home....!" As if! We were shooting a fashion spread for Abu-Sandeep. And it was the first time I was working with Ram Shergill, the London-Paris based photographer who counts Naomi and Kate as friends. I can see why. He is sure, quick and competent. Once we got into our sunday best, the shoot was over in an hour. I had the best time working with a charming, caring gentleman, and not a cold robot (like most top photographers are these days). I remembered and missed GAUTAM, like mad that afternoon. Ram and he share the same gentle, refined qualities that bring out the best in their subjects.
Earlier the same day, my 'Thappad' column had appeared in the Sunday Times... the shoot provided a welcome respite.
Okay, chaps. It's time to go back to Kolaveri Di. This time I'm going to dance to the fabulous beat!
The Slap that shook India….
There are two ways of looking at ‘The Slap’. Remember Herman Hupfeld’s immortal lyrics of ‘As Time Goes By…? “….a kiss is just a kiss…” crooned Louis Armstrong many moons ago. Well, extending the sentiment, we can always say, ‘A slap is just a slap.” Which is exactly what Sharad Pawar, the recipient of the latest ‘thappad’ has shrewdly and sensibly done. Hats off to the Union Minister for proving with great finesse and finality what distinguishes him from his cabinet colleagues and puts him in a league of his own – it’s the man’s sang froid, dammit!Let’s hand it to him. Seconds after Harvinder Singh attained his 15 minutes of fame by taking Pawar off guard,our cool customer (Pawar) had regained his composure and even ‘forgiven’ the attacker. Now, that’s the sort of masterstroke only a seasoned,wise and astute neta can convincingly pull off before waltzing away with a relaxed smile. Let lesser beings respond to the ‘dastardly, undemocratic’ attack on their leader. Let his party workers lead protests, block roads, stop trains, throw rocks, burn tyres, rough up people and generally disrupt life as a mark of their loyalty and love. Their actions have nothing to do with Pawar. He isn’t responsible for wanton acts of destruction. He isn’t pointing fingers or blaming anybody. Why, he is even ignoring Anna Hazare’s taunt ( “ Was it just one slap?”). This is how the game of politics is played by professionals. It’s the bumbling amateurs who rave and rant and act martyred after being publicly humiliated. Pawar once again established his position as the biggest ‘Dada’ of them all.
But the ‘thappad’ itself has generated a great deal of reaction and this is the interesting part. Throwing shoes at leaders to show unbridled rage and frustration, flinging cream cakes on the faces of celebrities, spitting on fallen heroes and getting within striking distance of VVIPs has recently acquired the elevated status of a legitimate sport. Far from being looked down upon as a hated figure, Harvinder Singh is seen as a hero by a lot of viewers who clapped and cheered each time the infamous ‘thappad’ was telecast. Forget the rightness and wrongness of Harvinder’s action for now. Forget arguments about how ‘uncivil’ and ‘undemocratic’ such a trend is. Focus instead on the response by the aam aadmi. Nobody is manipulating that person. Nobody is monitoring the reactions of ordinary people eating dinner at home and applauding Harvinder. More than that, how can anybody ‘manage’ what happened on social networking sites, seconds after the incident? The jeering and jubilation is still on, and we cannot ignore it. Harvinder may well be a mentally unstable person who does it for publicity. But there is no denying the fact that Harvinder’s unruly conduct has touched a chord . People across India are saying the same thing in one voice - ‘Well done, Paapey!” Yes, it’s dangerous and disturbing. But there it is.
This is not about Sharad Pawar . He just happened to be the man at the receiving end of the most recent slap. This is about the mood that’s building up and threatening to overtake good sense and better judgment. There are hundreds and thousands of Harvinders out there, each one wishing to do what he did. Not all of them are crazy publicity hounds. A lot of them are average citizens at the end of their tether. People are plain fed up and sick to death of what they see as official deception - an eyewash. Too many people are starting to believe they have been taken for a monumental ride by leaders who are above and beyond the law themselves, yet preach transparency and honesty to others. Yes, Anna Hazare did do his one good deed after all: he succeeded in galvanizing public opinion by making corruption the centerpiece of his movement.What we are witnessing today is an impassioned reaction to the government’s apathy to deal with the biggest issue faced by independent India – corruption.So long as our leaders continue to play ostrich and wait for the present angry national mood to miraculously blow over, there will more chappals and thappads to deal with. Too bad it can’t be any other way. Deep rooted frustration and anger need an outlet. We are still some distance away from Tahrir Square. But if we continue to ignore the Harvinder Singhs in our midst, rocks and worse could replace footwear and slaps. It’s time to start singing ‘Kolaveri Di’ …. it’s therapeutic!