Gunda turned eighteen this weekend. Or to put it in Gundese “Haye haye mera Gunda jawaan ho gya, toota hua teer kamaan ho gya”.
What began as a closely guarded secret in male dorms across the country, like a shared password for that orgy in “Eyes Wide Shut” except there are no women, all men, and all of unappealing body-types, and while imagining this, also imagine the stench of sweat, the musky odor of wet underwear drying in the breeze, and only then do you begin to get a faint flavor of the origin of this global phenomenon.
For today Gunda is a cult. Some go beyond. They say it is a religion, they say it is an identity. Go to a party and meet a stranger who drops the fact that he is a Gunda fan, and even though you may not know his name or anything else about him, yet you feel you are brothers for life, and you know exactly, exactly, what is going on in his mind. While the rest converse on mortgage rates, digital photography, whose garden grows the biggest tomatoes and what a lovely movie “Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara” was and how much they look forward to “Rock On 2”, you steal glances at the man, and a silent communication takes place, and you know, just know, that just like you, he wants to scream “Mera naam hai Bullah, rakhta hoon main Khullah” , before overturning the buffet table.
It is not easy to be part of the Gunda lifestyle. Those whose ma is chudail ki beti and baap shaitaan ka chela are not easily accepted in polite company, especially when people know that when they say “Oh so this is your boy” they are actually thinking “Toh yeh hai tera haseena ka paseena”
As an early adopter, much much before it became mainstream, and a shameless evangelist of the religion of Gunda, I have had to make personal sacrifices. I have been judged. I have been ostracized. I have been unfriended. I have been unfollowed. There are places I shall never be invited to sit. But overall it had been a small price to pay, certainly not like being thrown to lions like Christians were or being slapped by Sardesai like Hindus are.
For I have a personal relation with Gunda. A deeply personal one.
I find in it prophecies, like wise men find in holy books. Coffin-chor netas who look like George Fernandes. London se sex ki goli long before Pfizer’s Viagra. Not just self-driving cars (even Salman Khan was using them in the 90s), but cars that exhibit autonomous swarm behavior, as manifested in the fight scene where white Ambassadors spontaneously rearrange themselves, without drivers. Just a month ago, I read about this man at the Olympics specially hired to distribute condoms among athletes, and immediately I thought of Nirodh Kumar, distributing “garam paani” and “moza” to customers in Bed number eighteen of Lucky Chikna’s “Latakta Circus”. Gunda had seen it years ago. And when Kejriwal called a minister of his cabinet “gandi machchli”, I could not but be reminded of the line “Kyon re paap ki paani ki machcli phir shuru ho gayee teri khujli”, the similarity “khujli” and “Kejri” definitely not being an accident.
And that’s not all.
In Gunda, I find in it the strength to carry on, especially on those days when the world just rips apart my pantloon and some more. “Dhande pe baithi hai to buddha kya, jawan kya, kya chhota kya bara, kya baitha kya khada” captures poetically the human condition, and I have repeated it to myself, like one does a mantra, so many times that I cannot remember, and it has never failed to give me courage, when I most needed it.
And finally, I find in Gunda a refuge, a safe place, a strange kind of comfort. When nothing makes sense any more, only then do I understand what “Kyon tu baraf peeta hai whisky mein daal ke” means. When I fall behind, be it in the rat race or in a fantasy cricket tournament, I tell myself “Woh bhi peeche se angootha lagake” and rush forward, for only when you come from the back, can you truly leave your mark.
Gunda makes me laugh. Gunda makes me cry. It draws me in, and it never ever lets me go.
Always familiar yet startlingly new, if this is not art, what is?
Happy eighteenth, my old friend.
You are the anthem of my life.