Saturday, July 20, 2013

Bar, Bar Dekho....

 Blogdosts, I am off for a week.... wedding in London, and then on to Rome and Florence to say hello to Michelangelo!
This appeared in Mumbai Mirror...
                                       Bar, Bar Dekho….
Damn! One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t make it to the notorious Deepa Bar at Vile Parle when it was still throbbing. Who knows? I might have run into several familiar faces – ministerlog, MLAs, bureaucrats, municipal corporators, cops… all upright people and model citizens …. the very people who went purple in the face demanding a ban on bar girls swaying seductively to dhinchak Bollywood hits, while these men ogled, gawked, leched and showered notes on them. The point some of our commentators are missing in this sordid saga is the politics behind the ban.  Who were the patrons? Investors? Black mailers? Brokers? Pimps and agents of the dancers? They were mostly local politicians working hand-in-glove with cops and dodgy bar owners. The girls were a shade better off than sex workers, in that, they were supposed to have a choice when it came to bedding their admirers. Perhaps, this was so in theory. But the tragic truth is different. The girls were bullied and bull dozed by the men who ran the show. They had to pay fat commissions to several go betweens. Even their tips had to be distributed across the board. As for the money dancers had to invest in costumes, accessories and make-up, let’s say that took away another hefty chunk of their earnings. And remember, Not every bar girl became a Sweety or Tarannum – better known as the Crorepati Dancer.
I was lucky enough to visit Topaz at the time it was at its hottest. There were approximately ten of us in the group. We were ushered upstairs and led to our tables. The girls looked intensely bored and listless. They refused to make eye contact with our group ( no high rollers here…. just tight fisted honchos) and spent most of their time on the tiny dance floor gazing at their own reflections in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors behind the stage. The other tables were occupied by beer guzzling , pot bellied fellows who could have been 1) small time gangsters 2) big time gangsters 3) dubious neta types. There was one lone chap weeping into his whiskey and trying hard to attract the attention of one particular dancer.The waiter I asked, said the sad sack customer was in love with the girl and came there every evening in the hope she’d fall in love with him , too. This hopeless love of his cost him a lot of money. But who can argue with an aashique?
The Topaz girls were top class and  bore a strong resemblance to Bollywood stars. Their dancing skills were superb, and so was their styling. In fact, most of them were far more attractive than a lot of  successful movie stars. And yet, they were here – gyrating in a garish bar, being hounded and chased by creepos… and finally rendered jobless by a nasty piece of legislation. While the heroines they mimicked (and even surpassed) were up there, earning millions performing the same bump-and-grind routine on screen.Heroines had respectability even as Item Girls! While the Sweetys were forced to struggle night after night, and finally rendered kadka by the very people who exploited them. Some 50 to 60 thousand women lost their livelihood overnight.
The move against Dance Bars had nothing to do with public morality. The decision was a vindictive one.  It had to do with one set of politicians fixing upstart rivals. It was about dividing the spoils of this lucrative business. And playing up to popular sentiments of the time. Political nobodies shot to fame overnight, posing as upholders  of  collective virtue. Ministers who patronized these bars and hired the dancers for private parties, suddenly started to talk like saints determined to clean up a dirty city. They forgot that they had encouraged the dance bar trade in the first place. That some of the girls ‘belonged’ to them and were their mistresses and ‘keeps’. For eight years, the Maharashtra Government tried in vain to hoodwink citizens into believing the biggest problem in the State had to do with a bunch of  beautiful ‘things’ ( thank you, Sonia)  dancing sensuously in darkened bars. Cops armed with hockey sticks became a symbol of official oppression. The girls who could flee and resume abandoned careers did so in Dubai, Singapore, London. The others starved or turned to prostitution. The broke State lost 3000 crores worth of revenue.Now the same squeaky clean ministers have egg all over their faces.The Supreme Court won the war that ought to have been fought by ordinary Mumbaikars. But Mumbai chose silence. And allowed a hockey stick to subdue its spirit. Shame!

Glad those lovely ladies have got their groove back! Can’t wait to go back to Topaz and cheer them on…
This appeared in Bombay Times....
                                   How I love the word ‘Doobara’…
There are several desi words that I challenge anyone to translate accurately. Think about it. Can ‘Bindaas’ or ‘Jhakaas’ survive transliteration? Try it for yourself - sound effects and all. Try doing the same with ‘Maar dalaa’ as expressed by the matchless Madhuri in ‘Devdas’. What will you say  -  “He killed me?” Yuck! That’s the power of our slang. It conveys far more and is much richer than its Angrezi equivalents. Take a simple word like ‘Doobara’. To start with, it’s musical. And more importantly, it has a certain emotive resonance that defies deconstruction . ‘Doobara’ conveys longing and nostalgia. When someone falls in love ‘doobara’ it carries more weight than ‘pehla, pehla pyaar’. When a man turns around to look at a woman ‘doobara’, it’s a bigger compliment than a one off  stare. And when an absconding lover makes promises of eternal commitment ‘doobara’ – you still fall for it! It’s not just the repeat value of a pleasant experience… it’s not nostalgia alone… and it certainly isn’t habit or familiarity that makes ‘doobara’ so irresistible. The only thing you cannot do ‘doobara’ is die. Which is also why we are so attracted to and fascinated by death.
 Ask yourself – and be completely honest – what is the one thing in your life you’d like to indulge in ‘doobara’.  The answer could surprise / shock you.Most young women I spoke to said they would like to give their first (and most passionate relationship ) a second go. The men were less forthcoming and generally linked their ‘doobara’ moment to some sport or the other (bores!).
Interestingly enough, in the world of bhais and gangsters, there is no such thing called ‘doobara’. And it’s that finality which makes these men so lethally attractive. The bullet has to find it’s mark the first time… or else. The woman has to succumb the first time, or else. The trusted aide has to step aside when asked, or else. Bullets are precious. They cannot be wasted ‘doobara’. If anything, they have more value than the life of the poor moll…
Bollywood has an insatiable appetite for revisiting ‘Bhai-land’. And audiences, too, can’t seem to get enough of that dangerous decade (‘80’s), when the Bhais called the shots in showbiz, literally and figuratively. It’s amazing how eccentrically and erratically the film industry in Mumbai functioned at the time. And how top stars, producers, directors and starlets were compelled to  play ball with shadowy figures, who were often just sinister voices on the phone. Despite daily threats, despite hefty extortions, despite kidnappings and murders, movies got made, and careers flourished. Those untold stories, of mid-night calls, ransom notes, early morning knocks on the door, and  direct orders to comply or face consequences, need to be chronicled. They are menacing enough to fry brains and freeze blood even today. And yet, more than three decades down the line, nobody wants to talk about that sinister era. Such is the fear psychosis. The threats remain omnipresent  and as real as they were back then. Seniors in Bollywood know better than to mess with these goons. One false move and it’s back to ‘goli mari bhejey main.’   It is indeed  a chilling reality even today and one must hand it to gutsy Bollywooders   who are willing to take their chances with the D-Gang by basing movies around their murky lives. They do so knowing  that the hitman’s goli rarely misses its target. It’s a strange sort of  inter-dependency – bone-fide, card holding gangsters feed off the movie industry. And filmwallahs love gangster scripts! Let’s call it a fatal attraction. But remember – life mein bada chance ek hi milta hai. Grab it! Because bullets don’t understand ‘Doobara’.


Dibyojyoti said...

Celebrations uplift spirit, and gifts simply fuel the celebration spirit further. Brilliantly crafted floral artistic works, food items to bring a tasty treat, showpieces to showcase your taste for creativity-all awaiting at your visit. Just drive in and get your glittering gift ideas.

Ravi Patel said...

No Bar,Bar Bar Dekho... for this Gujuboy. For some Bar, Bar Bar Dekho, Bibi at home no Bar but not for your highness. With a beautiful, feminine but feisty Sardarni in tow, or more aptly the other way round, any lecherous gaze elsewhere and it will be curtains for the great man!
So you lovely lady ( purely platonic ) are off to London. I will be there early next month for a couple of days for the so adorable little Lisa's christening. Lisa is my wife's Goddaughter. Then off to SwissLand. No No, not to deposit any billions. Hop onto the Glacier Express,( just cant get tired of this, the most wonderful work of Swiss engineering), and to the wonderful Zermatt for a week, to try a leisurely climb up the Matterhorn? Will wave a Buon Giorno to Italian Soniaben's country folks just across the border from Zermatt! After all the Italians are our In laws and have a first right to our scarce resources!

Have a lovely time!

usman said...

Bar Bar Dekho: In fact great article on the flipside of issue.

Pooja Rathore said...

loved your"Doobara"post,so well written ...I had good time reading it!

Pooja Rathore said...

loved your"Doobara"post,so well written ...I had good time reading it!

Pooja Rathore said...

loved your"Doobara"post,so well written ...I had good time reading it!

Pooja Rathore said...

loved your"Doobara"post,so well written ...I had good time reading it!

krishna said...

I loved your POST."DOBARA".yes NOW A DAYS judges are taking GOD DECISIONS.all dance bar girls are not PROSTITUTES. They got their LIVELYHOOD. GOOD. For UNSEEN pics visit below

Reema Saxena said...

Bar Bar dekho... the other side of the coin !!
Loved it!!

Anonymous said...

The bars, Shobhaa! Fully agree with you on the basis of the Puranas that we swear upon.

Any of the idiot culture vultures can answer these questions:

1. What was the act of Menaka to seduce Vishwmitra - when the Kshatriya turning Brahmin was being pious to a fault? Am I hearing someone saying there was no bar on the dancing girl then and more importantly no bars at all?

2. During the Kannagi era, Kovalan fell for a dancing girl - Madhavi. She was a courtesan ... performing in what is described as a bordello vide a system called the Devadasis. So, why did the righteous prods not prevent this kind of behaviour then? Does anyone have any evidence about liquor not being used in the dance hall?

3. Kunti and Madri delivered six children born of six men, and five of those children married a single woman - who was almost disrobed by her own one-removed brothers-in-law in the open court. Am I going to find anyone who will defend the actions of the elders of the Kuru family who, in my opinion, ogled at the figure of Draupadi pretending to be powerless?

The dance girls fulfill a social and perhaps a physical need. If we are so prudish as a nation, why do we drink at all, why does alcohol generate so much wealth to support some 31% of the national economy and finally, if the males are getting led astray by the girls in the bars, should one presume that the women at home [wife, mother, sister] are as powerless as Bhishma, Guru Drona, the blind Dhritarashtra et al?

Write some more hard hitting stuff, Shobhaa! The culture vultures who seem to have nothing better to do than wring their hands in despair like 108 year old spinsters getting scared about a cockroach cross the pew in a 220 year old church need to be taught a lesson or two in modernity.

tushar NARKAR said...

Nice article ,had good time reading this.Liked it!

Jasmine Chabria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Decent Stalker said...

Thoughtful and appealing...

Anna Bezhani said...

Check our new social networks from indi....

Jogeshwar said...

An article in The Economist
These days India’s super-rich elite makes a similar migration, to London. From June to August, when the temperature in Delhi rarely drops below 35 degrees Celsius, wealthy Indians and their wives flock to the former imperial capital—especially to its most exclusive quarter, Mayfair.

Shekhar said...

It could be only Shobhaa De,both analytical and missionary in her churnings!Whether you are in London or Mumbai,you are sweet.

Anonymous said...

"...Speak Gujju, think Gujju, act Gujju.That’s the Modi brand."
Simple and elegant substitution of communalism with regionalism.
I would also like to know your views about English (and Hindi and Gujju) of Mr. Vladimir Putin or Mr. Hu Jintao.

Rajive Singh said...

nice article.

Aditya said...

Great Content

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