Deconstructing Kejriwal Part 3

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[Deconstructing Kejriwal Part 2]

In the last post, we left the discussion on Kejriwal at a very tantalizing point. [Picture courtesy Hindustan Times]

Even if we can discount Kejriwal’s comically overplayed honesty card, and his ¬†“sab bike hua hai to Ambani and Adnani” (the more Youngistan-friendly ¬†version of “You Maoists”) persecution narrative, and much of his camera-bait antics, can we still consider Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party to be a viable national alternative, at least conceptually (conceptually since they are not likely to get more than 5 to 7 seats), given that they have never presided over deadly riots nor have they been accused of stealing hundreds of crores nor of mismanaging the country for decades?

In other words, are they provably better than those they claim to oppose?

On the subject of corruption, it is very difficult to say what AAP would have done since Kejriwal and his men have never held power. It’s like a man who has never married claiming that he has taken a stance against dowry. The stance will only be validated if he gets married and then does not take money and never again asks for it.

Well okay. Kejriwal and his men did hold power. For, some 49 days.

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Santa Sree

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Sreesanth_Prost3832“Thappad se dar naheen lagta sahab, pyar se lagta hai” –Dabangg

Goodbye Santa-Sree. And don’t let the slap or the love hit you on the way out.

Cause the way things look right now, we won’t be seeing you no more. At least for some time.

To be honest, I am going to miss you. That butt-shimmy. That simian snarl. That slow clap-taunt when the batsman hit you all over the park. That “Look at me… I am a preening peacock” pose for the cameras, those rare occasions when you got a wicket. That “swinging bat like a helicopter” run down the pitch, those rare occasions your bat touched the ball. That self-effacing Charlie Sheenish “Do you know who I am? I am the greatest ! I am better than you !!” modesty that we have seen time and again. That unique ability to be hated not only by your opponents but also by your teammates.

Like all geniuses, you had your eccentricities. And like geniuses, you had something that set you aside from the crowd. Yes. I am talking about your singular lack of talent on the cricket field.

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You Want To Buy My Tears?

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What do you do when your brother murdered his pregnant wife? Or your husband hired a hitman to kill you? Or when you were molested as a child by a one-eyed uncle who wore a dress?

You write a book.

In USA this is one thing that has never ceased to amaze me. The commodization of grief. I understand why the press does it— it makes good dramatic TV. What I don’t understand is why people who have been hurt are so eager to make public spectacles of their grief in the US media.

For some it’s all about making a quick buck. That’s fine. Scott Peterson murdered his wife and is now gonna hang for it. Bad luck for him. Not so for his half-sister. She barely knew him before this incident but then the golden goose alighted at her home: Mr Peterson came to stay with after bumping off his wife.

Bingo ! Out came the ghost-written book “Thirty three reasons why my brother, Scott Peterson, is guilty” which immediately became a national bestseller.

I don’t grudge her for making money out of the misery of a murderer. What I found rather distasteful was the false grief she tomtommed in Oprah for her brother and his wife—- while and all the time cleverly promoting her book. And there prompting her along was the person who brought this misery-mongering into the media domain———Oprah.

Not to be outdone, Amber Fry, Scott Peterson’s mistress for whom the murder was done also came out with her own book……………

And now with the Terri Schiavo making headlines I keep on wondering who are the people who are gonna write books? It can’t be Terri Schiavo because when all this will be over and done she will be dead.

Ok in case you are asking who Terri Schiavo is—-she is a woman in a Florida hospital who has been in a permanent vegetative state for 15 years. Now her husband, who claims that Ms Schiavo told her she wants to die, wants her feeding tube withdrawn so that she may die. Ms Schiavo’s parents want to save her. Right now the husband is winning and Ms Schiavo is in the 7th day of a starvation to death.

I see on TV Terri Schiavo’s husband. A person who has been accused by multiple persons of physcially abusing his wife, who has had affairs and kids while his wife lay in hospital, shedding tears and saying that he wants Terri to die because he loves her so much and he cant bear to see her pain. And by the way he is the only person to whom Terri said she wants to die (my wife says this often to me incidentally) and this entire thing of withdrawing the feeding tube rests on the testimony of this man who stands to gain from her death.

He has already gained when he won 300,000 dollars as a malpractice award for being deprived of his wife’s company. This money he gainfully used for dalliances and kids. Now it is crystal clear he wants to get rid of his wife and the State is letting him do so in a case that to me makes no sense. But that’s not the point

The point is that when asked by a TV reporter how he felt after having been made a villain of by the predominantly negative media coverage he has been getting, the man said that he is dying a thousand deaths inside for being crucified for the love he feels for his wife (the first wife that is—he now has a fiance) and that now the time is not right to say what exactly he feels but he shall definitely make his point known.

I smell a big book deal here.

In the same vein when Terri’s brother, who has been campaigning manfully to get her tube back on, was asked about his pain, he replied his first priority is to get to see Teri live but once that is done he will sit down, collect his thoughts and express his feelings. Or in other words…

Write a book !

These I understand. Everyone wants to make money when the opportunity comes. And grief sells. Bigtime.

What totally confounded me was an item a TV channel ran after 9/11. One of the unfortunate people who had been trapped inside the Twin Towers sent a voice message (which his family later got) on their answering machine in which he basically says goodbye to them.

I was intensely moved by the story——–but I also wondered why did the family give the TV channel these tapes? Werent the last words of a father and a husband something private meant for his wife and daughter ONLY? Why were his wife and daughter on TV allowing themselves to be subject to the questions of an intrusive reporter who kept on asking them “How they felt knowing that Mr so-and-so would never come back?” I understand the reporter was looking to increase the channel’s TRPs by playing on the grief of this bereavement but why was the family letting their genuine grief be made a public spectacle of ?

Sharing relieves grief. Accepted. But does it really help to do it in this very public, voyeuristic fashion?

Murderers Walk

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Murderers walk. They walk free. 329 people’s lives have been snuffed out, families devastated…..and the perpetrators just walk… free. Vancouver businessman Ripudaman Singh Malik (59), and Kamloops mill worker Ajaib Singh Bagri (55) were acquitted of all charges for the Kanishka bombing , the most devastating terrorist attack before 9/11, by a Canadian court in a shocking judgment. At a time when the Western world is crying themselves hoarse about the need to distinguish terrorists from criminals in terms of jurisprudence, the Canadian justice system bizarrely absolves of all guilt , two terrorists against whom the case was rock-solid. Well seemingly solid. I wonder whether this would have been the verdict if this was a plane full of Europeans. I wonder.

What I found interesting was the reaction of a section of Sikhs in India who rejoiced…..because seemingly this verdict has absolved the Sikhs from the label of terrorists. Firstly even if justice has been done and these lowlifes sent to their maker (ok I know Canada does not have death sentence), I fail to understand how that would reflect negatively on the Sikh community as a whole ? And the flip question: why their release is a matter of celebration for Sikhs ? I guess this is a manifestation of the OJ syndrome when African-Americans overwhelmingly supported OJ despite OJ Simpson’s obvious guilt —–turning a simple murder trial into an issue of race.

The liberals have been quick to jump to the defense of the murderers—-since they have been absolved by a court of law, they are innocent and deserve to be treated as such.

Well ok then ….By that same logic how is Narendra Modi a murderer?—–he is also blameless from the point of view of the law. Yet the same liberals, who love to have it both ways, take great pleasure in painting him as a Hitler avatar and their latest victory is getting the US to reject Modi’s visa application.

I consider Narendra Modi a murderer too. A modern-day Nero. A madman. But he did not preside over a genocide—in a previous post I have argued this point. There are far worse who are welcomed in US with open arms, (Khaleda Zia who presides over anti-Hindu pogroms as an example)——and yet thanks to the strange collusion between Islamic organizations and the liberal left, the US decides to make huge hue and cry ONLY over Narendra Modi. Which actually enhances Modi’s image as a persecuted Hindu leader representing Hindu pride under attack from Muslims and pseudo-secularists. God damn it, please let him attend the meeting of the Patel brothers—-don’t enhance his image by actually noticing him.

And while I write, a murderer heads home (to visit his mother and be cheered by his community).

As the “Pink” song goes:

You make me sick.

Shakti Chalisa

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The hypocrisy of Bollywood. Unless you have been living under a rock or simply have a real “life” (unlike me), you would know that one of the biggest stars in the Hindi movie firmament has been caught, with his pants down, in a sting operation where he was “allegedly” shown asking a starlet for certain “acts” in exchange for some career advancement.

The actor, in question, is the suave, polished, style-icon Shakti Kapoor who has, throughout his long and illustrious career, straddled the Indian screen like a colossus. For those who are not familiar with Shakti Kapoor’s “body” of work, he first burst onto celluloid as the stammering “Atak Gya Atak Gya” co-star of Amitabh Bachchan in “Satte Pe Satta”. From that time on, he went from strength to strength, establishing himself as one of Bollywood’s most cerebral actors dripping class in roles as diverse as Nandoo Tumhara Bandoo in Raja-babu (where his chaddi-nara antics matched Sharon Stone’s leg-play in Basic Instinct– the picture above with Govinda and Karishma is from that movie) , the village bumpkin in Tohfaa whose “Aooooooo” wolf-whistle sent female hearts a-flutter, and the perverted villain in Chalbaaz whose “Lolitaaaaaaaaa” and “Balllllma” was the last word in terror.

After a spectacular career in filmdom, Shakti Kapoor devoted himself to the service of the nation as a Congress party-worker campaigning ceaselessly for the party’s success in the elections. (to the left is a picture of him after joining the Congress party). He quickly made his mark as an as astute political observer and a champion of woman’s rights when he made the following statement:”

” I have raped only once or twice in my movies. Then too I kept laughing. It is so funny to rape a girl”.

However, there has been the odd controversy and sour moment in his otherwise glittering career—like the time he left an entire Airbus load of passengers standing for half-an-hour with his tantrums or the time he was beaten up in Kidderpore when he had Biriyani and did not pay for it—but as they say what’s the moon without its blemishes?

Which brings me, at last, to the monstrosity which has sought to besmirch his career. A female reporter, Tehelka style, had been asking Shakti-ji for a role and Shakti Kapoor, who has always promoted fresh raw virginal talent, asked to meet her in a hotel room. Nothing sleazy there. What transpired after that is “Rashomon-like’—–one side of it is the girl’s story (also captured on videotape) and the other side is Shakti Kapoor’s story.

Transcripts

According to the girl and the videotape, Shakti Kapoor came onto her with the patented line:

‘If you are with Shakti Kapoor, no-one can touch you… if you are tired I will give you a massage.”

and

“Aaooo sharmao mat” (Don’t feel shy)

And then asked her for sex in exchange for a “break”. He also accused Subhash Ghai, Yash Chopra and Yash Johar of similar “couch tests” and Aishwarya Rai, Rani Mukherjee and Priety Zinta of having slept with these people.

According to Shakti Kapoor, (this story sounds far more plausible) this girl had been SMS-ing him for months, threatening suicide if he didnt meet her (after this which gentleman could refuse?—if she had died, the same press would have come double hard after Shakti Kapoor—ok maybe the wrong phrase in this context) and then going to the hotel room, talking dirty to the great man, offering him alcohol (or as Michael Jackson calls it “Jesus Juice“) , pouring drinks on herself (ala “Wild Things”) and in short, seducing him to such an extent that only Ricky Martin and Keanu Reeves could have controlled themselves. Of course, none of that is in the tape—the bastards had edited all of it out.

Conspiracy here? Of course. Firstly as Mr Kapoor pointed out if he had gone to that room looking for sex, why did he have a briefcase? Did Narasimha Rao go looking for sex when he had the briefcase with him ? No. Same with Shakti Kapoor. Secondly, let’s look at the person who perpetrated the sting operation. Suhaib Ilyasi, the man behind “India’s Most Wanted, has been suspected of murdering his own wife and is no saint himself. Thirdly, BJP (which has been on the receiving end of a few sting operations themselves and who claim that the Tehelka videos are “doctored”) have gone to town with surprising alacrity which suggests there is more here than meets the eye. Fourthly, the producers and actresses named by him as having been predators and prey have condemned him brutally (these people were his best friends the other day) and have decided to get him banned from the actor’s guild. (Why? For using his constitution-given right of free speech?)

Well why do I think that this is all made-up? Firstly Shakti Kapoor says so and I think he is one of the most honest, upfront men in the industry. Secondly, this has already happened before. Yes sirrie bob ! MTV Bakra set him up before with an identical gag. This is what happened, in the great man’s own words.

“I was doing a photo-shoot at Rakesh Shreshta’s studio. Sandeep of Bombay Times called and said that he wanted to interview me. I asked him to come to Shreshta’s studio but he said that he had a girl who also wanted to interview me for an Irish paper. So we fixed up the meeting at Lokhandwala’s Barista outlet.”

Kapoor says that a ‘firang’ girl (in a backless outfit, say our sources) started interviewing him. “I told her I had no inhibitions talking about sex. The interview went off well. Finally I realized that they had made a fool of me, but by then I had completed the interview,” he offered.

“But I am upset. I have used a lot of slang words and gone a bit over the top in the interview. I don’t want them to carry it in toto. If they do that, I will sue them for Rs 20 crore. I did not sign the ‘No Objection’ certificate. The whole joke is in bad taste. It’s sic actually. I have a family. My image is at stake if I speak such language on camera,” he added

Mr Kapoor refused to sign the No-objection certificate and so this show was never aired. But the point is—-if this has happened once (and not so long ago), how big an idiot would Shakti Kapoor have to be in order to fall into the same trap twice? Quoting a line from a Shakti character: “Summari Main Kummari, Kabaddi Khele Kabaddi”

Thirdly, why the hell would he need to “Boom Boom Boom Boom, I want you in my room” a woman, (who he advised to lose weight) when he has hot women throwing themselves at him for his attention ? Please look at the picture below taken from an “item number” search contest of which the great man himself was the judge.

Here, Shakti Kapoor is brutally honest and up-front (a sharp contrast from the hypocritical Subhas Ghai and Yash Chopra). A few samples:

By Rohini’s side was her mother, who wasn’t the least bit fazed when Shakti Kapoor scooped up her daughter’s legs and plonked them on his for a photo shoot. “We have to be open-minded these days,” she sighed. …………
Looking like his casting dream had just come true, Shakti Kapoor stretched back on the couch and drawled: “A bomb must ooze sex. I’m looking for t*** and a**.”

Raj Kapoor drenched Mandakini under a waterfall and captured it with leering camera angles and passed it off as “worshipping the female form”—a whole lot of tommyrot. He gets the Dadasaheb Phalke. Shakti Kapoor, on the other hand, tells it like it is. And he gets the scorn of the Mahila-mandals and the BJP. Justice anyone?

However, even in this hour of need, Shakti Kapoor’s wife has stood beside him. Which goes to show how loving and nurturing their marriage is—something that Mr Ilyasi, a wife-murderer, would not even understand.

At this difficult time, I am happy that my wife is by my side. She treats me as her only God on this earth. She is a typical Hindu woman who is very religious. She sees me as her Pati Parmeshwar and the video has done nothing to change that image. All this false and distorted exposure has not shaken her confidence in me one bit. In fact more than me, it is my wife who has jumped to my defence. If she has her way, she will go up to Mr Illiyasi and give him a good thrashing.

Way to go tigress……….Hillary Clinton’s blessings are upon thee. In Bill’s case too, the Monica thing was a right-wing-conspiracy—over here it’s the BJP’s !

In conclusion, what this incident has done is to ruin the trust producers/directors/actors should have on aspiring actresses. Things have become so bad that I am sure that the next time an aspiring actress screen tests for Shakti Kapoor in a hotel, he would have to insist she totally disrobes. Just to see that she does not have a recording instrument planted on her.

Disgrace at Mohali

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One more superstar has been made. Yes made by India. One more cricketer dragged from obscurity into eternity by the sheer incompetence of the Indian cricketing machine. A Test we should have won in a canter has been saved. And Pakistan, paradoxically, after being outplayed for 4 days of a 5 day Test match have emerged as moral victors.

This is not the first time. Jimmy Adams padded his way to glory against India in the 90s and vanished into oblivion subsequently. Chandrapaul has not been able to consistently reproduce the form he shows, time and again, against India. Andy Flower deflowered the Indian spin machine Test after Test on Indian soil in Bradmanesque fashion and snatched respectable draws for Zimbabwe—-performances he never reproduced subsequently against other countries. One common thing between all these “made in India” labels—-all left-handers. Just to show we don’t discriminate add to this list a few right handers—Manzoor Elahi, Ricardo Powell….I can go on.

We have been equally profligate with bowlers—R.Price from Zimbabwe, Ronnie Irani and Pat Pocock, M. Whitney from Australia, Adeem Hafeez from Pakistan to name a few. It’s ok not to recognize these names—-they have been consigned to cricketing obscurity ever since their moment in the sunshine against us.

But our inability to win this Test is not just due to Kamran Akmal’s innings alone. It is due to the sheer bloody minded pursuance of personal goals by Sachin Tendulkar and Ganguly-Laxman’s inexplicable go-slow at a time when quick scoring should have been the order of the day. True that the Pakistanis bowled a negative line but that never prevents the Australians from scoring at a brisk pace. Sehwag said in an interview that it was the Indian thinktank’s decision to go slow—-considering the position India was in, I cannot fathom what could have been the rationale behind the pedestrian rate of scoring. It just did not make cricketing sense.

With half a day lost due to rain, didn’t it make sense for India to show some urgency? Wouldn’t sending Pathan and Balaji up the batting order have made some sense with Ganguly in “let-me-answer-my-critics-with-a-big-innings” mode and Sachin in “let’s-get-my-35th-century-team-goes-to-hell” mood? In passing what the hell has happened to Sachin ? Dravid’s declaring when Sachin was 194 apparently didn’t send the message to Sachin—–that there is no “I” in the word team.

I just cant believe India did this–surrender the initiative when we had everything going for us. The monstrosity of the folly has yet to sink in. I am flabbergasted, disappointed and angry.

Is this news?

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Male Gaze: where is he staring at ?

The basic reasons why men find certain women more attractive than others, are just as enigmatic as before. But today, the scope of what a man looks at in a woman has expanded considerably, finds Priya Pathiyan

Here is the link. This is on the front page of India’s largest circulation daily: Times of India. I ask you: is this news? Come on now, everyone knows what men specifically check out when they ogle a lady…..and this article, albeit in a mock researchy fashion, regurgitates what we all know. In that sense, there is nothing new to be learnt. Of course, one can argue that the topic itself is unseemly and not deserving of front page attention. But my main beef is that it is just a waste of time reading something I knew ever since my hormones kicked in.

But it could have been news if it reported that according to a latest “study” (whoever does these studies anyways) , men had started looking at a woman’s intelligence, poise and moral fiber before they focus their pin-hole camera on their specific “research interest”.

Talking about studies here is one which says that married men in India are the most unfaithful among all nations of the world ! As a member of this villified group, I want to know what the hell were their research methods—-how did they get to know who was cheating , what is the definition of “cheating” (especially in a cyber world), and how did they conduct this so-called global survey? According to the article published in Hindustan Times, this survey was done by a dating service called cupidbay which I found to be a sleazy mail-order bride kinda site which had no mention of this survey anywhere on the website. The relationship expert Francis Deacon quoted in the article also didn’t turn up on a Google search.

Again yellow journalism at its worst

Not that I am complaining about similarly scholarly articles in TOI and HT on “Wife Swapping in Delhi” or the “Call Girl Market in Bangalore” but this one simply crosses the line.

Note to self: I have to keep my wife from getting to read the above article.

Oh Calcutta

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So what was the Indian presence this year at the Oscars? We didn’t get nominated for best foreign film, Ash didn’t show up to present an award, “Little Terrorist” lost out in the short film category————–a washout like every other year….

But no wait—–we did pick up a big award….and it needed the sheer power of Kolkata’s brand equity as the dirtiest, the most hellish city in the world to pull it off. “Born Into Brothels” —a story about children born into brothels in Kolkata won Best Documentary trumping “Supersize Me”, a delightful take on America’s obsession with fast food, (which shows that malnutrition always wins over obesity when it comes to Oscars) must be one of the biggest successes of the Kolkata name.

So there it is folks—-you want an Oscar you come to Kolkata. Besides the brothels (when did Kolkata become famous for them anyways?) we have colonies of lepers, beggars, eunuchs and many other forms of low-life waiting eagerly to be made into Oscar-winning documentaries or to be salvaged for a Nobel Peace Prize and a beatification.

Of course you can still be a Roland Joffe who gets the formula dead right in “City of Joy” but makes a poor film and misses an Oscar. Yes “City of Joy” had everything going for it—-trams full of lepers, lecherous Indians, dirt , squalor and all the other little things that makes Kolkata special.

And the showstopper of them all….what you MUST have in your movie to get an Oscar/critical acclaim, the fundamental axiom on which everything stands—-it’s only the white man who cares for the poor souls. In City of Joy, the saviors are this band of white social workers with whom Patrick Swayze, the dirty-dancing Father Teresa, makes common cause with.

One of the most telling lines in the City of Joy comes when one of the “Indian” protagonists tell our white knight——-”Who are you to interfere in our country? These are our people and we can do with them as we like——-how is it your business?”

An amazing parallel with the line above and the pronouncements of the makers of “Born Into Brothels.” can be found in the article linked above to the Anandabazar Patrika. (Bengali) In this we learn that the makers of “Born Into Brothels” refused to give interviews to the Indian press ( we are free to exploit you but not talk to you) because “the Indian press and the common people of India would harm the subjects of the movie”.

So here’s the deal. Not only are we wickedly poor, we are too uncivilized to even recognize that and alleviate our plight. And that we are our own worst enemy.

Who sold this myth about Calcutta ? Who made money out of this image ? Did the makers of “Born Into Brothels” ? Nope.

It is Mother Teresa—-the single biggest reason why Calcutta will always be the city of lepers. It’s the Missionaries of Charity who have portrayed Calcutta in this false negative light to further their agenda and to brighten their halos at the city’s expense. There is no denying the work that Mother Teresa did but her motivations were far from saintly. And the media muscle that she exerted due to her links with the Vatican made sure that the good work that Indian charities did was never highlighted. Which was instrumental in perpetuating the myth that she is the ONLY God-sent savior of the souls trapped in the hell that is Calcutta.

The upshot of all this is that we as Calcuttans/Kolkatans are doomed to be citizens of a city that is synonymous with death, disease and depredation all around the world. And we need kindly foreign men and women to be saved from ourselves.

What’s Washington like? Well its like Calcutta, surrounded by beggars. The only difference is the beggars in Washington wear 1500 dollar suits and they don’t say please or thank you.

–Traffic

I rest my case.

A Barbie World

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Happy plastic
Its fantastic

Whenever I hear these lines from Aqua’s Barbie doll I cant help thinking about Aishwarya Rai. I just dont like her….ever since she burst on the screen singing “Thora Sa Pagla thora deewana”. Initially I didnt like her because she could not act. She still cannot act (Exhibit A: Bride and Prejudice, exhibit B: all the rest of her movies) but my disliking of her is no longer based on her lack of histrionic ability. To be objective, my disliking of Aishwarya Rai is motivated not by who she is as a person but more as to what she stands for. Which to me is a manifestation of modern society’s corporate-sponsored worship of vacuous physical beauty to the exclusion of everything else.

Let’s look at Ash. No I didnt mean at her picture——–let’s look at her achievments vis-a-vis the Indian film industry. Some of her most fanatical fans may claim she can act but anyone who is analyzing with their brain knows that her acting is extremely artificial and stilted. Acting ability has not gotten in the way of Bollywood stars producing box-office hits but even here her record is abysmal. And yet she finds herself on the Cannes jury as the representative of the Indian (Hindi) film industry when far more deserving icons (Amitabh Bachchan) stay at home. The reason? Ash looks much better than Amitabh in a back baring dress. Ergo she gets on the jury rubbing shoulders with Martin Scorcese et al. The fact that she makes a fool of herself looking like rogued-up tart is quite besides the point.

But then there she is. The face of Indian cinema. The cross-over queen who shall do for Indian movies what Crouching Tiger did for the Chinese movie industry. Backed by Miramax—she was supposedly even invited to present an Oscar ! She’s on 60 minutes giggling like a 15 year old girl on a date. She’s on David Letterman’s—–rehearsed and stilted in all her plastic glory. Which would all have been fine if she was there as Aishwarya Rai. But no she was representing India—and that’s how the publicity machine both in US and India choose to drum her into public consciousness. Which is why I want to shout out—no no she does not represent me…..oh good lord no.

The same kind of objection I have with the new darling of the Indian media—Sania Mirza. Ok I got it—she won a couple of matches in a Grand Slam……….SO ? Does that justify the media circus around her or the fact that her endorsement earnings are just below Sachin and Saurav among all Indian sportsmen ! I mean Sachin and Saurav have reached their superstar status after years of consistent performance and here comes Ms Mirza—-a couple of victories and she is there ! Leander Paes had many significant victories—-the Davis Cup miracle they pulled off in France , his total demolition job of Goran Ivanisevic…..Ramesh Krishnan took out Wilander when he was World No 1 in the Australian Open. But here comes Sania and people are asking Leander who? Sania may go on to become one of India’s legendary sportspersons but she has done nothing till today that warrants the hype surrounding her. Her status is only because she has one common characteristic with Aish—she is easy on the eyes. Ramesh Krishnan’s pot belly vs Sania’s legs—–guess which one wins !

Why has beauty replaced ability? Why? What happens to overweight, male, talented people like me? Who will look after me and Arjuna Ranatunga ? Who?

The Real Great "Bong"

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It’s something I have observed whenever I am in a mixed group of Indians watching a cricket match involving India. As soon as Ganguly gets out cheaply wafting at one outside the off stump or fending one off his ribs (regrettably both becoming a recurrent feature) people from different parts of the country seem to hold me responsible . Some will say “Aare Arnab , Dada has failed yet again” , some will abuse Ganguly while looking at me. Somehow I am anointed as the Ganguly surrogate on whom to vent their collective spleen. The reason is obvious–I being the only Bengali most of the time (the graduate student population I have always interacted with at Stonybrook have always been South Indians—Gults and Tams predominantly and Marathis) in the group makes me responsible/answerable for Ganguly’s batting woes in the eyes of non-Bongs. However Sachin Tendulkar’s boo-boos (and I can reel off several) and Rahul Dravid’s inability to get the ball past 15 yards may bring forth a passing remark or two (never on the scale of the vitriol reserved for Dada)— however Marathis and Bangaloreans are never never pulled up for the follies of these two heroes.

And that brings me to a question I have never found a satisfying answer for:

Why is Saurav Ganguly intrinsicly associated with Bengal to an extent no other Indian cricketer is associated with his origins?

I dont really understand it. In my opinion Ganguly’s greatest contribution to Indian cricket is that he has never been guided by parochial feelings——-among all India captains in the past ten years, he has never let his judgment be affected by his roots. Look at the people he has supported —–Harbhajan and Yuvraj from Punjab, Sehwag from Delhi, Zaheer Khan from Gujarat. Many of the people he has backed despite media/selectorial opposition have vindicated their faith in him—-some like Agarkar and Parthiv Patel have not. But the point to note is that unlike Sachin or Azharuddin the people he stuck his neck out for were people he believed in only because of their ability and not because they played for the same Ranji team or spoke the same language.

In contrast Sachin, for all his greatness as a batsman, could never look beyond Mumbai. Under him, old pals like Vinod Kambli (to be fair Kambli had talent that was ultimately ruined by his own indiscipline) and Sanjay Manjrekar (his early promise mysteriously disappeared) had an extended run in the national team even when they were past their sell-by-date. At least it could be said that Kambli and Manjrekar had showed promise at some point of their careers——–what of Abey Kuruvilla, Nilesh Kulkarni and Sairaj Bahutule ? The only thing that connected them was their singular lack of talent and performance and oh yes they all played for Mumbai. Before that was Azharuddin who single-handedly destroyed the career of Subroto Banerjee to further Srinath’s in the 92 tour to South Africa. Venkatapathy Raju, Azhar’s Ranji teammate, used to come up with sporadic performances throughout the 90s, get dropped and keep on coming back like a bad penny thanks to the support he got from our “boys didn’t play well” Azhar

Yet it’s always Ganguly who has been the “Prince of Calcutta” and not Sachin “Mumbai Mawali” .

A non-Bengali friend of mine who had a few issues with Bengalis once told me that Bengalis are known to be lazy, arrogant and bossy and that Saurav Ganguly embodies that stereotype. He argued that Ganguly does not deserve to be in the team based on his batting and that his reputation as a captain is built on the performances of Dravid and Sachin. Ganguly does nothing except to simply supply sound bytes to the press and shamelessly appropriate the labours of others as achievements of his captaincy. In addition, Ganguly is a selfish batsman who cares only for his personal achievements, is a lazy sportsman who does not like to run singles or work on his fitness (his abysmal fielding is proof of that) and who captains the team like an arrogant autocratic Maharaj shouting orders at others while his own performance leaves much to be desired.

I don’t want to bring a whole lot of statistics into it but I think we all know who in the world has the greatest ODI record after Sachin. Sure that does not make Ganguly the greatest in Test matches but since World Cup 2003 Ganguly has been averaging more than 50 in both forms of the game which shows, that at the very least, he deserves to be in the team as a batsman. There is no room for doubt–Sachin and Dravid are far better batsmen that Dada but that does not make Ganguly any less valuable to the team as a batsman.

Sachin’s tenure as captain was a disaster both for his personal form as well as for the team. Dravid averages 17 in Tests when he is the captain. Both Sachin and Rahul Dravid are known to be self-absorbed cricketers——–Sachin’s failure as a captain was acknowledged to be the fact that he expected superhuman performances from everyone which led to team mates being alienated. Dravid looks outwards only when he is satisfied with his own game—the moment he gets a little bit out of form he withdraws totally within himself. Ganguly on the other hand never loses the intensity needed from a captain even when his personal form goes to pieces. He has shown time and time again——Dada does not mentally disintegrate. He sticks up for the people he believes in and in the process earns the respect of his colleagues——the mark of a true leader.

Ganguly is selfish. Well I have seen him slowing down before personal landmarks but which Indian batsman does not do so? Ok Sehwag does not but who else ?Sachin, Dravid , Laxman….everyone has done so. We Indians are intensely conscious of personal achievements and we as a nation worship statistics——–so let’s not make Saurav an example.

All this is quite beside the point. Which if you remember was why Ganguly is linked to his linguistic heritage like no other player? Lets look at an article about Laloo Yadav published in the Rediff (and titled as a “must read) and read the gross generalizations made about Bengalis.

The zamindars began to exploit the farmers for more and more and also, they themselves did nothing to develop the land’s productivity. In fact, zamindari lifestyle meant doing nothing. Any kind of physical activity was looked down upon, and this can still be seen in Bengal.

Bihar was created because of the supercilious superiority attitude of the Bengalis and because some of the Kayasthas (one of Bihar’s smallest forward castes) resented the Bengalis domination of the British Raj administration.

Can you imagine such gross generalizations being made against any other linguistic, social or religious group in mainstream Indian media ? I cannot.

Such a negative mindset against Bengalis can be seen all throughout India and nowhere more so than in the cricketing fraternity. Zonal selection boards and the Mumbai lobby kept out many deserving Bengali players throughout the 50s to 80s. When Ganguly was first selected in 91, he was the victim of a vicious conspiracy by the then-manager of the India team Ranbir Singh (the BCCI president). In his report about Ganguly, Mr Singh did the easiest thing to do to a Bong—paint him as a lazy work-shirking individual who asked Kapil Dev to carry his bag (a version denied by Kapil but something that found its way into Ganguly’s assessment by the manager).

This damning report about Dada combined with selectorial myopia kept him out for another 6 years till the tour to England where his selection was dubbed as a “case of blatant selectorial regional bias”. This charge was put to rest when Ganguly whacked back-to-back centuries against England in Lords and Leeds. Yet soon Wadekar had him dropped for the Toronto cup in order to make way for state-mate Hiphop Kambli………again a tour de force performance from Ganguly with bat and ball enabled him to make his spot permanent. In short, contrary to the image painted by his detractors of Ganguly being born with a golden spoon who has had it easy all through his life, the real situation is that fewer cricketers in the Indian team has had it as tough as him.

Which brings me to the point……finally. I am proud when people associate me with Ganguly because of my being a Bengali. That is because , ironically, Ganguly is the antithesis of the Bengali stereotype. He is a fighter and a trier. Despite being not as naturally talented as Sachin or Dravid and having well-documented weaknesses, his ODI record is the second best in the world. He has relentlessly battled prejudices coming up through India’s cricketing structure. He has witnessed , first hand, the way administrators destroy careers and in turn has worked to ensure that what almost happened to him does not happen to the new generation of cricketers ———–regardless of which state they are from.

On paper he is the most successful Indian captain ever and that is reason enough to guarantee him his place in history. But his greatest legacy will remain the fact that he has taught Indian cricketers to look the opposition in the eye and to “act with confidence”———an attitude that symbolizes not only the cricket team but also the new resurgent India.

I am not a parochial person. I do not think that linguistic/social/religious groups have defining characteristics nor do I subscribe to the jingoistic exclusivism predominant among much of the Bengali elite. However once I am painted with the “Bengali brush” I fight back. Just like Dada. I proclaim loudly for all to hear——-

Listen all ye haters, I am proud to be a Dada-fan and to come from the same state as him. He is the true “Bengal Tiger”…. and if you think thats a manifestation of the “supercilious superiority attitude of the Bengalis” I hope that you stand in silly mid off the next time Ganguly launches into his off-side glide.