Who Are You Worshiping Today?

Salman Cartoon

Circa 1995, I, like various other boys, was mad assed crazy about World Wrestling Federation (formerly WWF, then WWE, now I have no damn clue). Besides posters of ‘real’ sportsmen, my walls were plastered with glossy posters of Razor Ramon, Macho Man, Hulk Hogan, and the ‘immortal’ Undertaker, while I enviously eyed a (taller than me) poster of ‘the narcissist’ Lex Luger belonging to one of my school seniors. Whenever my dad walked in on me watching the show on television, he would laugh and tell me that the show is a fake and men would die if really beaten like that. In reply, I fumed, hurt, teary eyed, complained to mom,  and ‘won’ the argument by counter questioning that how could a thing like the ‘clothes line’, ‘sweet chin music’, or ‘sharp shooter’ be faked (or faced fakingly), and that he knew nothing about the world.

Yes, the world and endorsers fed on my naiveté; as I grew up I accepted, begrudgingly so, that dad was right, and that The Undertaker has not yet died even once. That was the end of an era, era of hero worship for me. After that, all through my formative years, I painstakingly followed, rock bands, writers, and actors, but consciously and constantly knew that they were capable of misjudgments, crash landing a chopper on a tour bus, in the process killing themselves, mistakenly bite the head off a real bat thinking of it as a prop, or die of OD (not learning from past deaths).

I thought most of us grow up this way. But then the Salman Khan verdict happened, for a case that has been dragging on since the days I couldn’t even grow a full beard and made me realize that we indeed live in the times of Idiocracy. Times in which, supported by seriously stupid statements from the incestuous, movie industry fraternity (that has its head so much up its own behind that it cannot smell anything other than its own shit), even the common man is crying out loud about the ‘injustice’ meted out to their God by seriously flawed legal system. These men who don’t know who their neighbor is have suddenly developed so much acumen that they have begun talking about the law and various criminals roaming free while the transformed philanthropist is ‘unjustly’ sent behind bars. This man they say has done so much charity after that ‘minor accident’ that even God has planned 7 centuries in hell for the public prosecutor; meanwhile, amidst all the fervor, one of the village idiots (who (unfortunately for his kids) is a father)gulped poison to support his idol in some way we ‘non-believers’ won’t be able to fathom.

The verdict transformed those busy with mundane hero-worship into philosophers. ‘To err is human’ they cried hoarsely or, in a more pedantic fashion ‘galti to insaan se hi hoti ha, achhcai dekho insaan ki’. These statements should make any rational, reasonable man cringe, and worry about the times that we live in. Not to forget, these unconditional lovers of the star are the same people who blow their tops off and bump up their blood pressure on a daily basis when someone cuts them off on a busy street, or scratches their beloved vehicle; situations rapidly escalate to ‘MayPac’ levels if there is an ‘accidental’ push in a busy public mode of transport.  It is sad, that the supporters are not empathizing with the victims (maybe because they cannot imagine such poverty that forces one to sleep on hot Mumbai pavements) but with a man driving a fancy car (maybe because they (stupidly) aspire to be in his shoes one day) and are subconsciously covering their future, fictional, ‘unintentional’ murder.

I pity the nation that has so many hero-worshipers on whom this democratic machinery relies to pick its leaders; no wonder we pick the kind of people who are grey at best, and certified (potential) criminals to say the least; the optimistic hope of the elders in us, the ‘next generation’ definitely bears a dent now, and we should be ashamed of who we are supporting and the precedent that we are setting for the next generation; only time will tell, if our son would be behind the wheel or under it.

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Mission ‘Muffling Modi’ Accomplished

Never have I seen the country and its people (who don’t belong to that state) so glued to assembly elections, the way they were for Delhi 2015. Besides the overarching and obvious winner takes it all story, there were various interesting subplots that could inspire multiple movies. Some of these were:

  1. The underdog story, David Kejri v/s Goliath Modi
  2. The redemption of the bhagoda

    A Typical BJP Campaign That Backfired

    A Typical BJP Campaign That Backfired

  3. The final nail in the coffins of political careers of traitors like Ilmi, and Binny
  4. The fall of an upright ex police officer into the muck of politics
  5. The brain of Yogendra Yadav against the brawn of Amit Shah
  6. The failed ‘Avaamgate’

The brouhaha was ably supported by rhetoric, jibes, tears, kisses, and various side actors who played their part with sufficient elan, modulating their voices with expressions of joy, and disappointment as the script demanded.

Most of us who don’t live in Delhi, based our predictions on limited knowledge imparted by TV debates, traditional loyalty, and the much talked about suit worn by the God himself while he was visited by a much touted (and later ridiculed by the same people for pointing out obvious facts about the country) head of a much touted state, and were proven wrong by the results.

The man himself questioned the exit polls and derided the psephologists for painting a grim picture of the wilting lotus; just to point it out, these group of men with such a complicated spelling were the same people who were equated to seers by the saffron brigade when they had predicted that Ab ki baar there indeed will be a Modi sarkar.

But behind the fireworks of the battle, there in the dark, damp corner sat the Congress sobbing and sharing the blame for the loss (yet again) while that Indianized master family possibly munched on pizza and antipasti rejoicing in the loss of their arch rival, the BJP.

It can be confidently said that even the Mufflerman, who cried hoarse (literally) about not being invited to the parade, would not have expected such a mandate. Now, thankfully, he can curb his dharnas and really change the face of this morally rotten capital of the country.

PS: The ‘vigilante minister’ Somnath Bharti, who was discussed in my old post https://shutupshakalya.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/delhi-aint-gotham/ won again, that tells a lot about the difference between perception created by the media and reality witnessed by the voters.

The God Complex & An Exercise in Absurdity

msgDr. Gregory House frequently referred to overt acts of philanthropy and generosity as underlying symptoms of a disease. In his vitriolic style, he mocked people for having the “God Complex”, while it can be debated that he had one too.

Various God-men around the world seem to be having this delusion that they have special powers or abilities that promote them to a pedestal that is higher than that of us mere mortals (I think that’s what makes them excel in their line of business). Now, it’s good to have faith in a guide/teacher/guru and have a direction in life, it has helped many a men realize their potential (in movies, mythology, and real life) but I’d rather respect an unassuming inspirational teacher like John Keating (and various other real life ones that I had in school) that makes me yell “Oh captain, my captain”, instead of somebody who uses changing attires, pyrotechnics, and light & sound to mesmerize audience with his theatrics.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Insan, as he calls himself (you can’t miss the mass appeal there) happens to be this socio-religious (and I think political as well) leader in India that has a huge following. His ‘fans’ claim that he is a do gooder who is trying to rid youth of the nation from the evil clutches of drugs. He carries out blood donation drives, and his many followers unquestioningly tread on the path illuminated by him. Why should anybody have a problem with such a man who is working for the society?

But then, he decides to make a movie and star in it as a (super)hero. The promotional trailers of MSG-Messenger of God are on the telly and some people like me who are on a highway to hell by India’s religious standards are having a good laugh. His fans have come out all guns  blazing on various social media platforms, silencing the detractors and rooting for their babaji. They counter the arguments by asking questions that are only beaten in absurdity by the movie itself.

Those supporting the movie (most of whom are followers of the baba) innocently question that when other movies can show miraculous escapes and stunt scenes, why can’t Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s movie show him performing miracles?

Second. more important question is that when other movies get away with questioning religion in the name of ‘freedom of expression’, shouldn’t the makers of MSG be allowed to have their freedom too?

Both these questions look valid, but there is a difference that I can only highlight with a question(s) of my own.

If the supporters of MSG want to compare it to other mainstream movies then they must answer my questions:

Q1. Is the movie a fictional story about a fictional character who does things on screen only for entertainment of the audience and money for the production houses?

If the answer of Q1 is yes, then Gurmeet Ram Rahim is just an actor playing his part, and the character that he plays on screen is as fictional as Jai, Veeru, and Gabbar. If you answer no, then please help me by answering Q2.

Q2: Is the movie a factual account of the powers vested in baba Ram Rahim, like a biopic on the lines of Gandhi?

If the answer is yes and that the man has such powers, then this is a real life story and it should be first proven that he is in fact capable of performing miracles and I will enroll in his brigade instantly.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim can either be an actor playing by the script in front of the camera or a God-man looking to cash in on popularity and create more naive followers, of which there is no dearth in this country.

If he is an actor then the movie should begin with the usual disclaimer that the story is fictional and has no resemblance to any person living or dead…and so on but if it is not fiction and is in fact a misleading documentary about a man in the profession of religion who in some way will aggrandize himself and his abilities in front of those who are waiting to cling to the next bright ray of sunshine then there should be deliberation before the movie is screened publicly, because then you are setting a precedent that isn’t much different from Nazi time propaganda movies or those created by Islamic radical groups. You may counter by saying that it’s not the same thing and he is a man of peace, but it is; the underlying motive is to push an ideology supported by debatable facts and special effects to highly impressionable people especially in the times when religion is more volatile than ether.

I can say with enough certainty that if Baba Ramdev, Shankaracharya, some Imam or the Vatican funded a movie where these messengers of God played themselves with some miracles and superpowers thrown in for impact then there would be a big hue and cry and people will take to the streets and the same circus would be repeated for the nth time.

But if you are one of those who still want the movie to be screened without any opposition then just admit that religion is a form of entertainment for the elderly, and the naive and let’s have popcorn together at the interval (can I please drink while watching the movie?).

 

 

 

PK, Charlie Hebdo & Non-sense of Humor

Just about a month ago, several of the men who frequently discuss critical matters of the human race with God via e-mail got pissed stzlbxa8fijmnwxec7muat PK, a Bollywood movie (unnecessarily touted by the intellectually evolved) that raised serious questions about the human practice of blindly following any religion and its God men. These distinguished men who have been serious people throughout their lives and find jokes un-amusing and insensitive decided to visit movie theaters with gentle equipment like swords and bats and made the owners of the cinema halls who had dared to screen such an unfunny movie realize their sin by peacefully breaking glasses, ripping posters and uprooting seats. I, a simpleton, who is easily amused by cartoon strips and jokes, found this act of valor quite disconcerting and secretly prayed God to make me a serious guy like these brave men so that I can gain respect in the Indian society.

But lo, Paris, only known in our poorer parts of the world for that non-Mughal and hence an eyesore, the Eiffel Tower, usurped the poor Indian subcontinent in acts of valor by shooting those racist men who doodled irresponsible things and forced everybody to read them thus seducing them to laugh at jokes, leading to dumbing down of the human race to dangerous levels.

How dare they! These french men never respect the sacred and needed to be taught a lesson; it was smart of these bright group of people, who carry out an important task  of protecting the frail and emotionally fragile God from such nonsense in the name of humor, by carrying guns instead of swords because they had heard that a pen is mightier and it would be foolish to risk their precious lives dedicated to hugging God and hushing him to sleep, promising him that nobody in the world will poke fun at him the next day.

 

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

“Society invents a spurious convoluted logic tae absorb and change people whae’s behaviour is Trainspottingoutside its mainstream. Suppose that ah ken aw the pros and cons, know that ah’m gaunnae huv a short life, am ah sound mind, ectetera, ectetera, but still want tae use smack? They won’t let ye dae it. They won’t let ye dae it, because it’s seen as a sign ay thir ain failure. The fact that ye jist simply choose tae reject whut they huv tae offer. Choose us. Choose life. Choose mortgage payments; choose washing machines; choose cars; choose sitting oan a couch watching mind-numbing and spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fuckin junk food intae yir mooth. Choose rotting away, pishing and shiteing yersel in a home, a total fuckin embarrassment tae the selfish, fucked-up brats ye’ve produced. Choose life. Well, ah choose no tae choose life. If the cunts cannae handle that, it’s thair fuckin problem. As Harry Launder sais, ah jist intend tae keep right on to the end of the road…”
Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting

There are a lot of books that move you in some way when you read them.  This is true specially for those who have always taken and still take a sabbatical from the pell-mell  life for that short duration when they step into the world created through words.

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh is one such book that did not just move me but punched me square in the face when I read it for the first time. Still used to reading fiction as I knew it, Trainspotting was a novel that was not only bereft of any real hero but also talked about the drug subculture in a Scottish accent written in English. The powerful first person narrative by the characters in the book about their tryst with Heroin and how life takes them forward, forcing them into acts that they might not normally have committed kept me debating about the current state of the society (drugs or not) and downfall of the ‘youth’ that every nation takes pride in.

Of the ensemble of characters, Rents who most will relate to(at least partially) is in a continuous flux, striving to be definitive about drugs(to quit), life(to have one), friends(to leave them) and other issues while the rest of his friends range from, handsome yet underhanded-Sick Boy and down right unscrupulous and violent-Begbie to the clueless and darkly comic-Spud. The book gives enough pages to all the characters to talk to you in their unique style, keeping you thoroughly entertained and involved in everyone’s story.

This burning commentary, sans the sugar coating or political correctness, on the state of affairs of the young, without really justifying the characters and their actions, is ably summed up with Renton’s escape (with the money he made with his friends by selling Skag) doing justice to the story.

The fact that the book was left out of the Booker List because some members found it ‘inappropriate’ is the ultimate acknowledgement of the power of this book.

Wicked Pursuits-A Synopsis

The book Wicked Pursuits compellingly and entertainingly tells the story of trepidations and travails of the youth that is willing to sell its conscience in exchange of that which lures it the most; through its various characters it delves deep into the psyche of a common man who shares the aspirations of those who have made it big but chooses for a quicker way of reaching the promised land, trying to replace the ethos of hard work and dedication.

The novel narrates the life of Karan and Yash, two common, everyday youth that shares the dream of making it big; their pursuit is aided by Sunder, the politician who has no qualms about using people as pawns in his game of power and money.

As the gravity of their crimes grows, from petty college politics to betting, the boys further descent into the mire of deceit, greed, and murder leading to an end that signals the demise of the current value set (or the lack there of) in a society where the royalty on monetary success is higher than that on individual talents or the ability to judge what is beneficial for the healthy functioning of the human race.

Sorry I’ve been away

I realize my last post was months ago, generations ago in tech terms. Was tied up with things like managing my startups, taking care of a new born and publishing the book.

As you can understand, none of these are easy and just one of these on its own can consume years and lives without yielding much to talk about.

Anyway, what is life if not an incessant effort to upgrade: phones, cars, houses, standards. I feel this is a race everybody loses (if he takes it as a race). But as the theme remains the same I moved from writing columns and articles to publishing a book.

The book is named Wicked Pursuits, more on this in the next post.

Good to be back!

Aboard the Ship of Fools

Aboard the Ship of Fools

Plato had created an allegory- Ship of Fools, where all the mentally unstable and clueless passengers get on a ship and set sail without a captain, I, as an Indian citizen, am feeling slightly similar right now.

Never have the elections captured the fancy of our nation like this ongoing carnival of democracy. This carnival includes road shows, light and sound, publicity stunts, jugglery of words, show of strength, partnering with snakes, barking matches, sleight of hand and magic with numbers; but the key entertainers are the clowns who entertain people with their inappropriate and unintentionally funny statements that amuse some and offend the rest.

The statements vary from violent, talking about murdering rivals or cutting them into pieces and taking revenge to amusing, about a prime ministerial candidate being referred to as Pappu while the other being labeled as mentally challenged and needing immediate medical attention. But then there are the third kind of statements that highlight the putrid state of Indian politics reeking of intolerance and double talk and rotten mindsets of those who want to rule us (not govern us). SP leader’s (in)competence as a high caliber statesman needs no proof, his silence on critical issues of riots and junkets was criticized  but now that he has spoken we wish he had remained silent. His ‘boys make mistakes’ comment only shows why the rape culture has developed unabated in a country that worships goddesses on one hand but on the other puts the blame squarely on the victim when the boys who have done no wrong (according to their mothers) get indicted.

To match his leader and even surpass him, walks in a man who was known only to the students of political science or viewers of news channel debates and who is now being introduced with qualifiers such as “the father-in-law of a Bollywood actress” to those who don’t find anything interesting and significant unless it is connected to the film industry. This man with super powers was a witness to the Kargil War just like Sanjay from The Mahabharat and announced with authority and to great applause that those who won the war for India were Muslim Soldiers, then after the EC’s verdict he went on to represent an entire community talking about how they are not getting what was promised by ‘Bapu’. Seems like he is in a hurry to usurp Digvijay Singh as the annoyingly funny spokesman on the Indian grounds; he has an opinion on everything and sure of his talent to give one controversial statement after other the reporters never fail to take his bite to make otherwise vapid news bulletins the most TRP fetching shows of the day. His statement about pelting women with stones and other such enlightening points of view made his otherwise dormant bahoo come out and defend herself and her husband, seeking apology for the apparent senility of the SP leader.

For the impartial ones who are following these political discourses every day, it is very evident that be it the palm, lotus, elephant, lantern, broom or any other symbol of Indian democracy, these statements let us peep into the mindset of these so called saviors of the nation. In the heat of the moment, which is rapidly rising, they let their masks down and speak things that they really believe in but don’t say them out loud for the fear of the media backlash. The parties may be different but the people are the same. There is no difference in the views of Azam Khan or Pramod Muthalik, they speak the same tongues only representing different people, milking them for votes, sowing seeds of hatred in return. And we, the clueless are on board with these deranged men, riding out the ways on The Ship of Fools with no land in sight.

No City for Catwalks

With photographs of models on the ramp adorning the colored pages of both Hindi & English dailies of the city in the

DNA, 25/03/14

DNA, 25/03/14

past few days, I had been wondering why the moral brigade has not woken up yet to forcibly shove their unwanted two cents down the throats of the rest of us; I thought they must’ve been busy promoting their lords with elections round the corner. But lo! Come the weekend, to utilize time these men readily reached the venue of the fashion show riding on the moral high horse representing people who they and their men harass on other ordinary days. Going by the story in the papers, the gentlemen who are responsible for popularity of sleazy movies like Ragini MMS were offended at the beach wear that was on display (on female bodies of course), however, the Curios George inside me had two question for these men; question 1: how on earth did they know what is being worn by the models inside when they were not invited and hence were busy protesting the death of culture outside? Question 2: Who made them the spokesperson of the town so much so that they could speak on behalf of everybody about what goes and does not go in Indore?

Rabble rousing is the fastest way to TV coverage and political popularity these days; Pramod Muthalik, the goon posing as a leader, responsible for getting girls beaten in Karnataka because he did not approve of them clubbing was all set to contest and arm-wrench the voters had media not created a furor forcing the BJP to backtrack on its decision. The rise of such men inspires others of their ilk to oppose anything of the opposite grain. These men are always ready and eager to oppose events they are not invited to and people who don’t really wait for their approval before making any decision in life.

These days, the act of reading comments and replies to originally posted articles or videos is more entertaining than reading/watching the post itself. For neutral observers, internet forums would be boring in the absence of uncensored venom from overly sensitive religious zealots (yes! they exist in the West too), fanboys who can’t hear a word against their favorite stars, players or superheroes and now supporters (paid?) of political parties who are quick to take on anybody who has the time and the patience to voice(type) opinions that are different from that of the cyber mob emboldened by its anonymity and consequentially absence of accountability for their statements.

Socrates who is now considered as the father of Philosophy was sentenced to death on the charges of corrupting the youth and failing to acknowledge age old beliefs, his crime? He asked too many questions that obviously threatened and annoyed the men in power. Galileo, the father of Modern Science, stated that the Earth revolves around the Sun and not the other way round, this was in dissonance with the mob of that era, and as a result he spent the rest of his life under house arrest. In the modern times, various writers and thinkers across the globe have been metaphorically crucified for voicing viewpoints that displease the majority.

For a society to continuously progress, it is important that passionate and informed but non-violent and respectable debates are held between the differing viewpoints, for everybody has heard the story of the demise of sheep who fall off a cliff because they blindly followed the one who was leading them.

Why So Seditious?

For those who haven’t come across the term sedition (very different from sedation), it means inciting rebellion against government through speech or deeds. Recently the term caught on much fire thanks to Kashmiri students allegedly chanting pro-Pakistan slogans in Meerut while watching the always hyped India v/s Pakistan ODI. Before we move to the exaggerated charges about disruption of ‘national security’ and ‘communal harmony’ just a nod to common sense; every follower of competitive sports knows that it is not wise to root for the ‘away’ team while you are sitting with the fans of the ‘home’ team, for example, no matter how big an Arsenal supporter you may be, you will not dare to cheer your team, unless you want a Chelsea Grin from the Headhunters.

Blowing manageable things out of proportion to garner media attention or ignoring critical events in totality are regular moves in the game of politics. If it helps, serious allegations of anti-nationalism or anarchy are slapped recklessly; from Ramdev and Kejriwal to Arundhati Roy, everybody who creates a little discomfort in the foyer of the House of Parliament is browbeaten into submission or at least clarification.

The book of Political gimmickry has turned a new leaf with the popular acceptance of social media, on one hand you have a Prime Ministerial candidate who has given an all new meaning (and reverence) to the term Chaiwalla! So much so that local thugs and henchmen aspiring to be Netas whose faces can be seen on various unpaid hoardings and direction boards across the city don’t want to portray themselves anymore as the biggest dons but as humble and approachable tea seller. Then like a wrestling match, from the other corner, in comes Hasiba Ameen with puppetish gestures and inane dialogues that made her the pin-up girl for trolls for a little while. Either way both the parties got a lot of publicity they were looking for.

Apparently the people pacing the corridors of power have certain proof that the common man can be easily waylaid into believing whatever they desire him to believe. So be it showing a youth party member belonging to particular community to milk it for votes or talk loftily about rising from the murk of poverty to all the flash and glare that an aspiring prime minister receives, it is a given that that those who cast the ballot get swayed by such appeal to their emotions and irrationalism.

As if the politicos taking us for a ride was not enough, we have our corporate bigwigs who actually fund these politicians accumulating wealth in ways that should have landed them in jail long ago. As if winning bids for tenders, bandwidths and mines was not enough they now use IPL as a profitable vehicle while the common man still sits and roots for his favorite team.

With all these examples that we witness every day I end up really confused; who should really be charged with sedition?