The Sadness of the Comic

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If one ever wanted to make a movie about a superstar with a flair for characters and for physical comedy who ends up dying of depression while making the world laugh, there would be no better man to play him than Robbin Williams. And so it came to be, art became life or was it the other way round, and the sad irony of the whole thing would definitely have made Robin Williams himself laugh.

It’s difficult to make laugh, difficult even more to make people laugh so much that they cry, and difficult most to make people cry while they laugh. In that Robin Williams was a master, like Charlie Chaplin, for their best performances,  always had a melancholic poignancy to them, lingering long after the laughter had died down.

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Deconstructing Pictures Posted on Social Media Part 3

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[Continued from here. The second part]

If there is one thing Hindi movies have taught us it’s that the most important thing in life isn’t gari, bangla, rupaiyya, adventure sports or conspicuous consumption.

It’s love.(pronounced lowe)

Which is why when painting the panorama of perfection that is your life on the canvass of social media, one must reserve the most expansive brushstrokes for love.

Remember har kisi ko naheen milta yahan pyar zindagi mein.  And even if they do get pyar, not everyone gets gigantic-sized stuffed toys for Valentine’s Day, or a hand-written note that says “Because you are there for me”  or a new iPhone <latest model number> for their birthday or a dinner for two on a romantic yacht for their anniversary (may be substituted for a surprise “breakfast in bed” every alternate year for that sweet spontaneous vibe) or comments on their Facebook Wall that say “Janooo I love you: your Sanam” even though the Sanam may be sitting in the same room as the Janoo.

Which is why if you are the few who indeed are blessed suchly, you must remember to rub your fortune into the faces of the other denizens of your social media world, keeping in mind that the perfection of your life is contrasted only by the imperfection of the others—-the lonely, the broken, the one whose love only texts her four times a day from work or does the anniversary dinner at a chain restaurant (Burger King) or never “Likes” her photos or forgets to give sweet comments like “You are looking so beautiful” on her profile picture.

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Because only when someone somewhere in the world screams, “Why can’t you love me like he does her” or  weeps into a handkerchief ‘Why isn’t my marriage like his?” does your chronic posting of pictures on Facebook find fruition.

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On the News Hour Tonight

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[Parody. No vocal chords were harmed in the making of this post.]

Arnab G:  Ladies and gentlemen, we have broken many stories here on the News Hour over the years. But nothing, ladies and gentlemen, nothing will have prepared you for the story we will be breaking here today, exclusively on Times Now, something that will dwarf the 2G scandal, Gujarat 2002, Coalgate, Coffingate, Commonwealthgate, Bill Gate, Seagate and Stargate.

I have, in my hand, (brandishing papers in front of the camera), conclusive, CONCLUSIVE, proof that I have been impersonated on Twitter. I have this impersonator today with me here in the studio, now, at the top of the hour, a man who goes by the name of Arnab and runs a blog called “Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind”. I will be asking him a simple question. A simple question, because I am a simple person.

And that question today, is

“Will you apologize to the nation now or will you apologize later?”

ON THE NEWS HOUR TONIGHT.

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Middle Class Guilt And Satyamev Jayate

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It’s not easy being middle-class. Rising prices. Sweatier traffic jams. Global warming. And then there is that thing which keeps gnawing away at us, ceaselessly, like a rat at a sack of grain.

Guilt.

Guilt at how shallow we have become, how we choose that-which-is-fun over that-which-is-good. Social-media over social service. Junk food over vegetables. IPL over Tests. Katie Perry over Carnatic. Page 3 over the Editorials. “Oops pictures” over…you get the picture.

Of course, it’s never really our fault. It’s everyone else’s.

Authors write books that pander to the lowest-common-denominator. Greedy TV execs make TRP-friendly trash. Bad journalists peddle yellow copy.

If only “they” would give us something wholesome, we would consume it. And till they do, we just have to, with infinite reluctance, discuss how much weight Aishwarya Rai has gained post-pregnancy. Even though we should be talking about…mm…let’s see farmer suicides and child labor.

This pervasive guilt of course creates a demand. A demand for programming that is surreptitiously entertaining in a non-intrusive way while providing a “Look Ma, I am being socially conscious by watching this instead of a Zee re-incarnation soap” comfort-blanket to the middle-class audience.

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Rage Icon Of The Generation

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I have always rued the fact that this generation lacks true rage icons. This, I believe, explains why the new Vijay Dinanath Chauhan, unlike his predecessor, breaks down into tears at every opportunity. Or why the handsome hunks in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara spent so much time discovering their Ying side.

One cannot blame the bachchas too. Because they had not grown up with Amitabh Bachchan’s angry enraged man avatar, where the tightening of jaw conveyed as much burn as three hours of the angsty Rockstar. Because they have not, at an impressionable age, felt the blast from Sunny Deol screaming “Balwaant Raii….” like Mount Krakatoa or experienced first hand his wrath as he laid to waste the Pakistani Army with just a handpump. Hell these poor kids have been brought up under the shadow of a KJo-ized namby pamby Sirish-Kunder-slapping SRK, a far cry from the lip-quivering, red-eyed, macho Madan-Chopra-penetrator which is how we like to remember him.

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Uncle Pai

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In the bedroom,  in the narrow space between the foot of the bed and the old wooden bookcase, was my own little corner. Growing up, I would squeeze in that narrow space, open the lower shelves (the ones near the ground) and bring out piles of Amar Chitra Katha and leaf through them, one by one.

It didnt matter that I had read them, like a thousand times before. Like a favorite song or a favorite person, Amar Chitra Kathas had repeat-value, you could discover and re-discover them, marveling only at how much you missed last time.

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Radia Activity

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[This post is a somewhat longer version of this earlier post, reflecting some updates since this was written]

In Hindi movies, on which we grew up, the villain may be a politician, a policeman, a businessman or even a priest. But in very few movies, would you find a newspaperman “editor-sahaab” to be anything but a knight in shining armor who even though he might not make it alive till the intermission would never compromise on his ideals. Maybe that is why  while we expect our politicians and the police to be corrupt (and they unfailingly exceed our expectations), for the person carrying a pencil and a clipboard our standards are very different.

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