Welcome to the Kalpana channel and today we are coming close to the finale of “Urvashi Ka Swayamvar” , which has garnered records viewership in all the three worlds. This is your host Narada and with me I have, as always, my trusty henchman Vidur.
For those, who like the Magna-mainaak (submerged Mainaak mountain) have been hiding underneath the ocean for thousands of years and have no idea of what I am talking about, a brief re-cap.
Urvashi is the most famous “item girl” in the universe (or as we call her round here “apsara”) who became supposedly “irresistible” after being granted several boons by the God of Plastic Surgery, Implanta-karma. She initially made her name by doing provocative dance numbers like “Mohabbat Hain Chili” and managing numerous other small-time little-clothed appearances in several Indrasabha programs. However she catapulted into universal limelight only after being kissed by Mika-asura (famous for setting fire to the rains), in full view of Trinayana (television cameras). This was followed by another explosive appearance on a reality show “Bada Boss”. Since then Urvashi has been controversy’s child, forever in the media with her opinions being sought on cricket, terrorism and even on whether Mahishasura needs a deodorant.
A few months ago, after a failed relationship with male-apsara, mega-nautanki-baaz Abhi-Shake and after much nationally-televised drama, Urvashi floated a universal tender for herself and decided to get married in front of the Trinayana (the television cameras) with the three worlds as witnesses. Thus was born “Urvashi Ka Swayamvar” as sixteen worthies, representing Dev Danav and Manav came from the far reaches of the galaxies to win her fair hand.
Vidur: And now only a handful remain and the excitement everywhere is palpable.
Narada: You don’t say. How is this for appreciation? A viewer, a God in fact by the name of Aranya Dev writes in —-“Urvashi Ka Swayamvar is must-watch evening viewing. I have always been intrigued by how Lord Mahadeva bore Halahala (the Great Poison) in his neck during the Great Churning Of the Ocean (Samudra Manthan). Watching “Urvashi Ka Swayamvar” gives me some sense of what he went through as I feel my body turn blue every evening.
Vidur: That’s extreme. But amazing. Or as Urvashi says “Amaaaaaaizing”. What I find so appealing about Urvashi, besides her saying “mother-in-low” and “father-in-low” and “Shock ho gayee” and “Woh off ho gya” (to denote someone’s death) and “Aap mere liye thande hain” (I find you cool) and “Tank You”, is her honesty or as the Danavs call it “Bind-Ass-ness”. Take for example her age. Whenever any of the contestants tell her his age, she is always concerned that she is six years elder to him. So as the contestant’s ages vary, so does hers in a wide spread.
Narada: Most astute. After all, age like bra size is just a number.
Vidur: Aha you betray your bachelorhood. A bra-size is actually alpha-numeric.
Narada: Whatever. But you bring up an interesting point. Bachelor parties. Urvashi very openly makes a clean breast of her bachelor-party dancing past though of course she remarks that no touching was involved. Ever.
Vidur: Yes. Good you mention that. It was indeed bravely honest of her to lay bare in front of all how her father abandoned her, how her mother and sister and brother and boyfriend all exploited her and how she, like a blameless all-sacrificing martyr who makes even Jesus-Dev look ordinary, worked herself to death for them. Most people would not talk about their pasts, even when it makes the halos round their heads brighter at the cost of others.
Narada: Of course I should mention there was some controversy regarding that. Some people believed that Urvashi’s hammering of her family on universal TV was rather unfair and poor form (especially since she eliminated a contestant for not being respectful of his mother) since those being vilified were not there to give their side of their story. But then again Urvashi has never shied away from controversy and neither would the channel want her to for that matter.
Vidur: The biggest controversy in my mind of course was Urvashi eliminating a contestant who dared ask her about her past. The nerve of that guy ! Not only was he very probing in general but he also had the gall to inquire whether she has engaged in a physical relationship with her ex. Critics of Urvashi said it was hypocritical for her to get so angry at being asked genuine questions people encounter before getting married, especially since Urvashi who makes such a show of bind-ass-ness had asked her prospective grooms to ask her anything they wanted.
Narada: What bull. Even a bachelor like me knows that when a woman says “Ask me everything” she means exactly the opposite. Every husband knows when wifey puts on a dress and asks “How do I look darling? Please be honest” you don’t say “You look like a blue whale wearing a circus tent”. No. You say “You look delicious. I could eat you right now”.
I mean every other contestant knew that. Given the opportunity to ask Urvashi questions, they waxed eloquent about how ethereal she looked, how heavenly she was and how they wanted to spend eternity looking at her emmm eyes. Why did that guy have to ask her “those questions”?
Vidur: Right. When Ganga-ji married King Shantanu she laid down the rule that he was not to ask her any questions. He didnt utter a word when she started drowning her new-borns. The day he said something, we all know what happened. Didn’t that manav learn a lesson from this story? Did King Pandu ever ask Queen Kunti why Arjun and Bheema look nothing like him? If he did, then perhaps we would not have gotten the greatest warriors of all time but instead merely a few Pandu Havaldars. Hah !
Narada: Point. Point. To me what’s most appealing is Urvashi’s “child-woman” appeal—-her babylike innocence, her “cho chweet” smile, her closed eyes, her making faces at the camera in the style of Sree Devi, her desire to have a wedding like Plastic-Arya Rai (she even got the same designer Langda Lulla who designed Plastic’s wedding ensemble to do hers) , the Yash Chopra “Mere Khawabon Main Jo Aaye” “Pativrata Indian nari “thing she has going (note how she takes ghunghat in one of the prospective groom’s parents house but does not forget to show some cleavage and navel), the fresh lady of indeterminate age awakening to love and romance, a love she feels for many contestants, in the best traditions of Draupadi.
Vidur: Aaah. Some asshole Danavs of course run her down saying that this whole show is all about Urvashi playing out a gigantic Hindi movie fantasy—– repeating cliched filmi dialog (like how despite having a line of multi-billionaires behind her she wants a simple honest boy), pretending to be the typical solaah-saal heroine, getting pampered obscenely and being showered with gifts every second, having dates amidst carefully constructed sets in the best traditions of the Johar-Chopra genre with songs of the Great God SRK playing in the background. This is of course framed in the context of a larger complaint—that the show is fake and scripted. And that the ending is fixed and will involve no marriage.
Narada: I could make an epistemological point about truth and maaya here. But such high philosophy will be lost on the average Urvashi Ka Swayamvar viewer. If you are really interested in “Sach” I ask you to watch “Satya Ke Aage” on our competing channel where Hardy Kambli weeps under a lie-detector saying Laurel Tendulkar should have done more for his weight problem.
So for now I will just say “What ! You think the program is scripted !” I cannot imagine how anyone can find anything remotely fake about the show. I understand that her “elder brother” isnt really her elder brother and her “mai ka” have no connection with her and her “friends” are hired professionals and that sometimes even when Urvashi knows exactly which surprise “relation” will show up, she feigns surprise and happiness.
But just look at the contestants. What can be fake about such a group and their expressions of mad love for Urvashi, a love for which they jump on burning coals, bend rods with their chest, debase themselves in every episode, try to outdo each other with the most over-the-top expressions of passion possible? Indeed. When I look at these fine group of Manav, Danav and Dev like Ilish (Hilsa) the Fish King from NRI-land I don’t see a bunch of star-crazed small-town halfwits or fame-hungry sharks out to out-Urvashi Urvashi at her own game or “trophy-wife seekers”. No sir. I see a bunch of people, madly in love, out to catch that comet debris in the sky, the cosmic matter that their Mamas always told them they could not touch, in the process giving hope to people all over the universe that the pin-up doll you have in your bedroom can one day be yours. If you want her that much and if you are willing to forsake totally your self-respect. Yes you can.
Vidur: Excellent. Let me read out a note I got from an anonymous viewer. She writes.
“Call it what you will. Fake. Scripted. I don’t know. And I don’t care. But being a woman who has gone through the humiliation of an arranged marriage, of being paraded in front of prospective grooms like a goat at a country fair , some of whom are eager for the laddoos from the plate and some eager to measure the other laddoos they like to think they are “getting” through shameless stares, and then finally of being rejected like a piece of furniture I just love the way Urvashi turns the tables. For once it is men who have to show their wares, dance and sing, brag about their cooking skills. It is the man’s family who have to go out of the way to be nice and complaisant. And most importantly it is the men who now have to put up with a public rejection. People will now be pointing and smirking “There goes the guy Urvashi rejected despite his best attempts”. Not that it changes matters much but at least it will be a pleasant change from the whispers I often heard: “She is getting so old. Why doesn’t anyone marry her?” Go Urvashi go. Give it to them.”
Narada (coughing): Yes. Indeed. Very interesting. Well before we go to the program, there is just time for one more viewer mail, where from the millions we get, we select one at random. And here it is. We have no idea as to what’s written here. We will read it together with you viewers.
” There is just one winner here. Urvashi. She gets to live her fantasies. She gets to blast whom she wants. She gets pampered. She gets paid. For those people scoffing at her and using the word “loser” , here is what I think. There are losers. Sure. The contestants for one. But they are nothing compared to the biggest losers—- those who watch the program. Every day of the week. Wait. I take that back. The biggest losers are those that watch the show and then comment, email, discuss and blog about it. ”
Narada: Moving on……let us now go to Freddie Flintstone, our man in the Swayamvar as he takes over….
Freddie Flintstone Kapoor (trying hard to prevent himself from laughing out loud at the ridiculousness of it all): Urvashi Ka Swayamvar mein aap ka swagaat hain……
[Event: A Kolkata blog meet, which I think can be better characterized as a small blogcamp, is being organized by some enthusiasts in the city . Here is the link for the event]