The Wannabe Trends of 2011

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Like love, it is difficult to define wannabeness. You just know when you see it. Like when beefcake Akashdeep Saigal, of Big Boss, insists that he be called SkyWalkR. Like when Sreesanth speaks with an accent on Love2HateU but another, the real one, comes out from time to time, like a torn Lux baniyaan strap peeping out from behind that Louis Vuitton.

This brainless, thoughtless me-too-ness with aspersions of coolness—-ooh the humanity.

Yes I know I am sounding like one of those old men who sit on park benches and rail against the world.

I understand that perhaps wearing trousers in place of dhotis was considered wannabeness once upon a time.

I also remember that when I was in high school, the legendary Anjan-Babu of South Point High School made me rap in the staff-room, dubbing me “The Baba” because I had publicly announced my admiration for Baba Sehgal, something considered then to be the height of wannabeness.

And finally I consider myself a progressive person who understands the inevitability of the proverbial generation gap.

But despite it all, some things, some things, just still keep grating away at me like nails on chalk.

So here they are—the wannabe, most infuriating trends of the year. Agree with me. Or I will poke you in the eye with my Mahendra Lal Dutt black umbrella.

Cause you are in my corner of the park.

The Second Freedom Struggle: You are 20-something. Your knowledge of Gandhi-ism comes from Munnabhai. Your idea of political struggle is inspired by Rang De Basanti. You consider yourself apolitical because “all politicians are crooks.” You think we can live in peace with Pakistan if only the politicians get out of the way. You normally change the channel whenever there is anything remotely seriously political on TV  because “Yaar these politicians are such buddhas”.You saw the Islamic revolution in Egypt (of course you thought it was a mass uprising of the “democracy” against “dictator” because our Indian news channels told you) and thought “Hey dude, I want my Tahrir Square. Looks so cool ya.” And so when this hullabaloo over corruption happens, you put on your white T-shirt, balance a Gandhi topi on your head, paint colors on your face (the news channels always pick these girls up to show), go wild on Facebook, and then, with all friends, hang out at the Maidan.

So far, it’s fine. Not that I like it. But it’s fine.

But then you decide to call this “India’s second freedom struggle”. Why? It’s a cute marketing slogan. Cause there is that rush of living that freedom-fighter experience. Like being on a roller-coaster. Like bungee-jumping.

I hate to break this to you little kid but if you think the first freedom struggle was about rock-concerts, theme songs, one-day cutey “de-tox” fasts, and a half-drunk actor and a honest management guru fulminating on stage….you have no idea. Not that I would not dare attempt to tell you what it was, but it consisted of lives torn, solitary confinement in dark cells on islands for islands and sacrifice of the type none of us would dare to understand. Not that we need to either. The point though remains. Do not delude yourself into thinking that this is the “second freedom struggle”. In any way. We can argue till the cows come home about everything else about this whole Lok Pal thing, but can we agree on this? Please?

Flash Mobs:  Men urinating on walls in broad daylight. We, as a nation, know all about flashing. As to spontaneous assembly of people united by a common goal, well we know all about that too. So honestly, as a concept, there was nothing new about flash mobs. But then they were doing it in foreign cities—in stores, in malls, in public squares. To Jai Ho no less. Our national song. From that great movie “Slumdog Millionaire”, which makes us feel so proud.

So you see we had to do it. Mumbai did. Nice. Now Delhi, wannabe central, had to replicate it. For the first time though, Delhi police were pro-active in preventing an act of terror by stopping them within a few steps. No such mercies in Hyderabad where the flash mob was as spontaneously pleasing as a Dr. Manmohan Singh speech. Bangalore evidently did some collective freeze-unfreeze act which Kolkatans of course laughed at. Spontaneous freezing of the city for no reason. Very original.

And so now this cloud of “Me-too” will spread from city to city as the harried citizens of India, under attack from price-rise, a falling national currency and misgovernment have to face the ever-present threat of a bunch of wannabes, like jack-in-the-boxes, popping out of the crowd and rubbing their carefree abandon into their faces.

Kolaveri-Di Knockoffs: I am not complaining when instead of avian flu, the most dangerous virus you can catch is the “Kolaveri Di”. It is a nice, catchy song whose greatest achievement, and this I understood after hearing Dhanush sing on “Star Ya Rockstar” was the voice correction that seems to have done to make him sound good. Quite remarkable, I would say, for something marketed as something “spontaneous”.

But then the prevalent air of wannabess took over—everyone had to have their own version of the song. So there was the Punjabi one.

The hot girls one.

The super-wannabe one.

My personal favorite: The sexy boys, tree-humping version.

And then in a killer kung-fu chop of undiluted wannabeness, the execrable Bangali one. Murderous rage. I think I understand what it means.

La Tomatina: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara was pure testicle-puree. In it men were reduced to these “sensitive” stereotypes that women objectify, the ones who buy expensive bags for their fiances and go to exotic places to “discover themselves”. If that was not bad enough, a bunch of moneyed morons from all across the country were so influenced by the spectacle of the human tomato Katrina Kaif jumping on tomatoes that they decided they needed to do it themselves. Screw the cultural context and history.

We have money and we will spend it by dancing on tomatoes. No matter if it is less about tomatoes and more about men dancing on poles.

We love it. Cause it makes us feel like Hrithik or Katrina. Plus tomato is good for the skin. And there is always the possibility of getting tomatoey with a hot “gal”.

Nothing I can do about it since they are your greenbacks. Except to pray that you wannabes find yourself in front of raging bulls one day. They shall give the Spanish life that you so desire. Or in this case, death.


63 thoughts on “The Wannabe Trends of 2011

  1. couldn’t have agreed more with first and fourth. I am meh on third. But i liked flash mobs. Didn’t see any of them live, but i think the spontaneity is quite charming and worth a smile.

  2. Too good – “balance a Gandhi topi on your head”. Also the refernce to Mahendra Lul Dutt black umbrella – having stayed in Calcutta, it brings back nostalgic memories

  3. The wannabe-ness of the so called mass supporters of the Lokpal movement can be gauged by the fact that many educated folks who were rooting for Anna Hazare’s movement had no clue what exactly the Lokpal was asking for.

  4. I have been following your blog for 2 years now..have never commented though..but a post like really mirrors what I have been feeling about these fads..Great post.

  5. you rocked… :) couldn’t agree more…specially ‘the second freedom struggle’..it’s all marketing and a sudden need to make us look like something which we are not…

  6. Agree on all points. It’s a thing of beauty when muddle frustrations in your head get articulated thusly.

    Also, just bringing to your attention this wannabe trend to start “business blogs”……It’s just random management words knitted together…Let me not speak more……here is the link

    http://fifthangle.com/blog/start-here/

  7. Classic Arnab_da … Very well said, things like these get under your skin, makes you want to scream and hurl choicest abuses, but now that we have a name for it … it would be easy to notice tell-tale signs and avoid this species …

  8. pock you with Mahendra Lul Dutt black umbrella…..guess what other day with stoong gale for wind i was walking with one..making me nostalgic after so many years…..

  9. Well, how Himachal can be left behind, here is himachali version

    But its only audio, land of the great Khali isn’t of much histrionics.

  10. This was one of your better posts in the last 2-3 months.This is pretty much like your old style that gained you the following for RTDM.

  11. WTF man.. why stereostype a generation for some of its stupidity. I am sure your generation had some of it too. You yourself resort to gay insinuations and pictures to extract cheap laughs in your blog( which is btw no different than stupid bollywood award shows and karan johar coffe chat). Is that not banal? Don’t behave like an effing grandfather

  12. arnab, agree on most ‘wannabeness’, but pray , why leave ‘raging-raving-ranting’ on twitter out ?

    isn’t that the trend too (maybe even before 2011). Come to twitter-take up an issue – either outrage about a POV that is not yours or make fun of people dying ! so much for the love of ‘wannabeness’ !

  13. well, the number of deaths due to drinking desi alchohol has reached 170 …that’s one of the reason Anna wants them to leave drinking …its unsafe,highly tempting, and it never lets the poor get out of the vicious circle of poverty. Alchohol is real danger and it should be avoided…Annna being head of his village ..used his methods to stop the poors….as a mother would slap his child to stop him from wrongdoing. His method may not me good on large scale but its honest effort from a selfless person. It would have been better if instead of Warning & beating drinkers, Anna sat on a fast himself.But may be he treats it as an addiction which have to be dealt with very strong deterrant methods.

  14. Have started to hate your cynicism on the ‘anna’ movement. maybe your problem is with the hype and hoopla surrounding the movement , but distortion of truth is the biggest problem . maybe your ‘chalta hai’ attitude is to blame..

  15. I almost puked laughing after watching the Vetnary Kolavari masti video. I wanted to re-post the link on FB but figured my non-desi brethrens might not fully appreciate the concept of desi campus masti. Well done son! Are you familial with Dayal Baba?

  16. Testicle-puree awesome!
    You lost me and probably urself when u say the first freedom struggle was hard and ppl made sacrifice n all that. Bawa, how does saying second freedom struggle negate the first one? It still remains the first and Anna’s struggle remains SECOND.

  17. And then there is the Spar Hypermarket’s Grape stomping Festival 2011 at Bangalore. But what really irritated me was their caption “Come join the fun and be a part of a thousand year old tradition of grape stomping”…Whose tradition?

  18. you will not need ‘your’ black umbrella at all i guess. Lovely humourous read. although i feel flash mob concept is charming and can bring a smile to many faces… indians do need some “planned” spontaneity

  19. Awesome article. You really took the words right out of my mouth. The part about youth interest in politics is especially true.

  20. Oh, the truth never had a cathartic effect on me in a hilarious way. i loved it.. i mean seriously, “We have money and we want to spend it by dancing on tomatoes” OMG!! hahaha… they definitely need to get the spanish taste of raging bulls too :D <3

  21. awesome arnab da… loved it..may i draw your attention to numerous twitter-er wanabees who started with full zest but just got bored in-between and fizzled out. (eg: aamir khan: started 30th June 2010, ended: 16th Aug 2010)

    Note: I am probably the biggest fan of aamir but his irregularities are so like mine…( i forgot my twitter password & had to ‘forgot my password’ it)

  22. sorry… had to write this as well:

    Aamir apparently got bored of his blog too…
    (last post May28th 2011) :):):)

  23. I think there’s a typo in “solitary confinement in dark cells on islands for islands and sacrifice of the type none of us would dare to understand.”-Unless you mean confinement in islands for the freedom of islands??

  24. This is by far the best and hit-the-nail-at-the-right-spot among all your posts Arnab da. Simply superb. I think the “wannabe” generation needs to be shown the truth… and as soon as possible!!!

  25. and what the fuck was this La tomatina bullshit!!! was cringing while watching the video.. I am 29 years of age and I daresay I am feeling like my grandpa looking with utmost detest at this nanga naach. Come on bangalorean S/W engineers(presumably) … this is done with more elan in Spain where this festival belongs to!! Please go out and play Holi if you want some revelry

  26. Pingback: India:Wannabe Trends of 2011 · Global Voices

  27. Absolutely agree with the “2nd freedom struggle” and ‘La Tomatina” pointers…seriously is donning a gandhi topi and getting a tattoo enough? I mean, do people even understand the level of sacrifice required to make an independence struggle successful?
    And La Tomatina of course is height of wannabeness! Really!

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