Aah what a week. Like the maharajahs of yore rewarding nautch-girls, our politicians have been throwing our tax money at the feet of our victorious cricket players, Ricky Ponting has been mouthing off and Symonds, of all people, has been lecturing us about our supposed lack of “humility” in victory (yes we do remember the shove off given to Sharad Pawar in a moment of victorious humility some time ago) with some people interpreting the Australian’s intensely negative reaction to the outpouring of adulation for the winning Indian team as nothing but a case of the worst kind of sour grapes (“Gee whiz, we win the One Day World Cup and we don’t even get a bicycle from the Australian government and here these oafs win a Twenty20 tournament and are having Porches and Mercedes being left at their doorstep”)
Sometimes it all comes down to one decision, just one knife-edge of a moment at which the past and the present fulcrum.
Should I say “I love you”?
Should I jump this stop sign?
Should I peek into my neighbor’s answer-sheet?
Should I attempt an Ashraful shot and seal the game?
This is what I had said before about the recent Twenty20 world cup drawing parallels with the current Indian team and the one that won the World Cup in 1983.
And as to the lukewarm response to Twenty20 in India, all that is needed to change it are wins by the Men in Blue—–remember that one day cricket took off in India only after 1983 and truly became a part of pop culture with the 85 Benson and Hedges Cup win. If Dhoni can do a Tunbridge Wells, if Yuvraj steps into Mohinder Amarnath’s shoes, if Sreesanth can shake his ass like the generously endowed Roger Binny, if Rohit Sharma becomes a Yashpal Sharma, if Hayden leaves an outswinger that then swings in and takes off stump, if Gilchrist top-edges a pull to midwicket, if Pathan can regain his mo-jo and Sehwag can blast the ball past his beer gut then who knows—-those who have come to scoff may very well remain to pray.
Not that I had any expectations of the Indian team at the time I wrote this but yes Dhoni has emerged as a leader that rides at the front of the lines, Yuvraj has stepped into Mohinder Amarnath’s shoes as a player around whom the whole team rallies around, Sreesanth has channelized his pyscho-ness to produce a killing performance (his bowling against Australia was nothing short of sensational), Rohit Sharma has indeed become another Yashpal Sharma , Pathan has adjusted well to his new role as a first-change bowler, Sehwag has given solid consistent starts and Hayden and Gilchrist and the whole Australian team have been brought down from their pedestal in true “Chak de India” style.
At last ! Good sense has dawned upon the UPA government and they have, like they do every time, bent themselves to what Lalloo calls the “weel of the peepul” by expunging the blasphemous assertion, made by those vapid Godless “reverse grave-diggers” (or as they fancifully call themselves archaeologists), at the Archaeological Survey of India that Lord Rama is not a historical character simply because they didn’t find a fossil of a monkey tail or the remnants of Ravana’s flying chariot buried 50 feet in the earth.
The Twenty20 World Cup is about to get underway.
And as India sends in a team comprising of virtual unknowns (Rohit Sharma,Yousuf Pathan), gladiators who have lost their way (Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan), first XI hangers-on yet to establish themselves (Gambhir), a man who writes letters to God and expects a reply (Sreesanth) and the legendary Ajit Agarkar(who can single-handedly turn the game for the opposing team with a regularity that only rivals Shoaib Akthar’s being sent home at the beginning of major tournaments), Indian fans (the ones that actually care to follow the tournament) can take comfort in the fact that 24 years ago, another such inexperienced motley crew of bits-and-pieces no-hopers went to foreign shores sans any hype and expectations.
And we all know what they did.
Kuch log mar mar ke jeete hain to kuch log maarke.
—Inspector Narasimha in Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag.
Ram Gopal Varma definitely belongs to the second category. He takes his directorial sword and scythes off, in Gabbarian style, the two arms of “Sholay” (its script and its characterization) leaving behind a stump of a movie that is a bastardization of everything the original classic epitomizes, adds some shots of Nisha Kothari’s butt and Ajay Devgun’s chest as his own creative input, and finally with much fanfare excretes out the resultant monstrosity calling it “Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag” where you would think, that in the interests of fair labeling, a “gaand mein” should have been added before “Aag”.
Readers at RTDM would be aware of my ceaseless quest to understand the Hindi heartland, its society, its politics and its people through the study of subaltern visual/audio art as found in the caves of Youtube. History is written by the conquerers, editorials are written by those who can pay for them—it is only in the non corporate embodiments of popular culture that the truth of its times lie. And may I also say a lot of its beauty.