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.
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.