POSTERAMA - Affordable. Inspirational.Art.
Blogdosts, this is my son Ranadip's brand new venture. And it's doing very well - God is great! Posters on canvas are flying off the shelves.... great gifts for the coming season. These are the two I have booked for myself. If you want more options, log on to www.posterama.co
There's a Tiger in Maharashtra's tank!
Balasaheb is a phenomenon. A force of nature.Period. At the time of writing, he is struggling for his life, and as an apt newspaper headline put it , “ Thackeray remains critical,keeps city’s heart pounding.” Well, so far, both hearts are still pounding – his and the city’s. Balasaheb will go ( as all of us must) when he is good and ready to. Not one second earlier. That’s the kind of man he is. For the past few days we have been hearing several people across popular television channels paying pre-mature tributes to Maharashtra’s Tiger. If this seems somewhat inappropriate, indelicate and insensitive, that’s how the media works. I recall being asked by a leading channel to record my feelings about Balasaheb nearly a month ago. When I wondered aloud whether the enthusiastic anchor was jumping the gun, he answered smoothly, it was far better to have all the sound bytes and footage in place well in advance, rather than air an amateurishly put together tribute when the worst does happen. He had a point.Internationally, this is an old and common media practice. Obituaries of public figures are written months and even years in advance. And those public figures don’t have to be either ancient or ailing. This is a cold but far more professional approach which we in India find cringe-making. It’s true we handle such matters with a highly exaggerated sense of sentimentality. We refuse to let go. We resist closure. And the imminent death of a ‘maha purush’ is a calamitous proposition, even if the person is what we call ‘serious’ and close to 90. In the case of Balasaheb, this refusal to accept the inevitable has been so pronounced as to be thought ridiculous. It was left to young Aditya Thackeray, Balasaheb’s grandson, to put things in perspective when he tweeted ‘Let us stay optimistic.’ Contrast the maturity of that comment with the reactions of other, far older people speaking on behalf of the family, who kept insisting Balasaheb’s condition is ‘stable’ and that he is ‘improving’. Come on!
Then came the question of protocol. As VVIPs rushed to Matoshree on Thursday, breathless mediawallas reported each sighting with the sort of excitement one reserves for red carpet arrivals at the Cannes Film Festival. Fortunately, the stars who turned up ( Amitabh, Abhishek. Salman and Aamir) were not asked the standard red carpet question by idiotic tv reporers, “ Who are you wearing?” Anything is possible when there is no other ‘news’ to fill those hours earmarked for something that does not take place on cue. This was largely true across the board, when Mumbai more or less came to a stand still, as offices hastily shut shop, store owners downed shutters and sensible people stayed home. The point is, none of the above was required , in order to display profound grief and respect for someone who is , after all, a mere mortal, an octogenarian and a very sick person. Why should the public have feared a backlash for what is a natural cause , and not a gory assassination? Why did the cops convert the area around Matoshree into an impenetrable fortress, instead of reassuring citizens that Mumbai is calm and functioning as usual? Why should Mumbaikars have cowered and run for cover fearing an outbreak of violence? Violence is misplaced in this situation, even if loyal party workers wished to express their concern and anxiety. This sort of fear psychosis only reinforces the stereotype and does no good to anybody. Least of all to the reputation of the political leader with a mass following in Maharashtra. It also leads to widespread panic and confusion, with citizens worried about the safety of their life , limbs and property. This is no way to ‘honour’ a revered leader. But that’s us. It is again our over sentimentality that compels us to beat our breasts and make a theatrical public display of love.All this, while the cops stand around helplessly , insisting they cannot ‘interfere’ for fear of escalating the violence. That generally provides an excuse to potential arsonists to go right ahead and burn buses, taxis, cars…. anything inflammable. It’s hard to figure out how these wanton acts of destruction become demonstrations of asli sorrow. It is almost as if those who do not take to the streets and throw stones are not loyal enough to the great leader.
How can we change this mindset and bring more dignity to such occasions? When will a show of shameless sycophancy replace sincere sympathy? Why are there so many distinctions when it comes to meeting the families of those in precarious health conditions? Why the class system? The hierarchies? The power play? And the ongoing extension of what we call the VIP culture in India? Celebrities are ushered in instantly and given access to other celebrities waiting with the family. Plebs, who may have far more real admiration and love for the leader, are subjected to a lathi charge. This is terribly lop- sided. And an annoyingly desi trait that we keep perpetrating. I was asked in hushed whispers by several Important People when I’d be visiting Matoshree. As also how well I know Balasaheb.
Frankly, my dear, that’s nobody’s business but mine!
Here's wishing Balasaheb a speedy recovery and an even longer life....