Monthly Archives: June 2011

MTV Rowdies

This week saw another season of Roadies come to an end. I thought people had gotten tired of the show by now, but I had underestimated the tolerance to bullshit that we Indians have. Year after year, Roadies has come up with new concepts. Hell Down Under, Seven Sins, Hell in Africa, and what not. I am waiting for the 10th season when they’ll call it Roadies Dashavatar and call Kamal Hasan as a judge. Kamal Hasan of course, will use prosthetic make up and look like Raghu, Rajeev, Ranvijay, and three of the contestants – two boys and a girl.

And people will still watch it.

Over the years, Roadies has become a phenomenon among the youth of the country. Raghu is no idiot. A pass out from IIM Ahmedabad, Raghu has packaged and marketed the most fashionable item to the youth of the country – coolness.

The youth of India are as such a confused lot. We are confused about whether we are proud or ashamed of our country. We are as confused about our future as about our past, confused about the wide vista of options that liberalisation has laid down in front of us. For such a generation, anything that sets standards of coolness is immediately lapped up. After all, nothing is cooler than cool. And this is where Roadies comes into the picture.

The contestants on the show, are a disillusioned lot. The constant references to the entire country watching the show, and dying to be a part of it, is something I find laughable. I have found this with other shows as well. There are shows called ‘Indian’ Idol and ‘Voice of India’ that do not have auditions in the South of India. Which is understandable, considering they are not a part of your target audience. But stop saying things like the ‘entire country’ and crap. You think the college going Mallu gives a fuck about Roadies when he can ask his friend to hide in a cupboard to shoot steamy MMS with his girlfriend? He doesn’t.

I remember watching a few parts of the first season on the TV and there was nothing special about it. It was just a show about a group of guys on a Karizma who seemed to be running around as if the sky was falling on their heads. Over the years, Roadies grew more and more popular, and very soon became the coolest thing on television.

It’s not that I have a complaint against the show (apart from the fact that it is a brain-dead), but the fact that once there is a Roadies show, there is nothing else on MTV for the following month. There will be reruns, and reunion shows, and chat shows, and remembrance shows, and what not.

But without doubt, I have to admit I watch the auditions when I can. I feel like Rajat Kapoor in Bheja Fry, but it is an enjoyable indulgence for me. Over the years, idiots of different sizes, shapes, and ages have landed up at the auditions and gotten spanked. The auditions have been given the feel of a NASA mission, or like a viva-voce to marry Osama’s daughter. I have had friends who have asked me to fill their Roadies forms. When I have had discussions with people, I have been told, “Saale, hum pe itna chilla raha hai. Jaake Roadies ke auditions deke dikha, phir maanenge ki dum hai.” I think he meant dumb.

Roadies auditions are considered the baap of interviews. I am sure IMS and TIME will start Roadies coaching in a few years. Youngsters around the country line up for days in advance, so they can come on the auditions. Once inside the room, they go to any extent. From dressing up as a girl, to singing and dancing, to acting like animals, just to prove that they have ‘it’.

There may be only seven people in the world who know what is the formula for Coke, but there are only two people who know what is this ‘it’ – Raghu and Ranvijay. ( I know there is Rajiv, but I am talking about individual brains).

I mean, if someone asks you to act like a monkey, and you do it, how does it show that you are tough? How does singing a song show that you are tough? And prepared? Or whatever??

All the contestants are the same. The guys are called Nikhil, or Mohit. They are all Jats who are adept in Hindi and English but choose to communicate in beep language. They look like Salman Khan and sound like him. The dialogues sound the same too: “Usne mere saath game khela. Main beep nahi hoon, maine bhi uska beep maara. Yeh game hai, aur main yahaan rehne ke liye kuchh bhi karoonga.”

The girls are from Delhi or Chandigarh, and all of them are fair and thin. All of them wear huge sunglasses and sound similar. They all talk about the others’ aukaat and izzat and beep each other whenever they open their mouth.

And then there is the stud – Raghu. After eight years, Raghu reminds of those Navketan movies that Dev Anand made till the mid-90s. Most of them had Dev Anand in them, proving that he was still young, and that he was cool. Raghu is the Dev Anand of television and Roadies is his Navketan.

Raghu is so annoying, if he was made to sit on the LOC, Pakistan would surrender and start bombing Afghanistan in frustration. The motherfucker doesn’t know when to shut up, and keeps raising his voice to make his point. Of course, his point is the point – it’s his goddamn show.

As if one bald idiot wasn’t enough, there are two of them. OK, so he has an identical twin. But what is the point of bringing him into the show? And do the two of them have to wear similar clothes and shades and talk in a similar manner? I mean, who the fuck are you? Ramu-Shamu? Seeta-Geeta?? Now they are like Gods, who waltz into the show in slow motion, and blast the contestants, lecturing them about integrity and commitment.

Though much cannot be expected from the viewers of the show, you can always make out a Roadie aspirant. They talk in the kewl language, with status updates like ‘Mohit rawx! OMG, he is so hawt’. Roadies aspirants also think that the entire world watches Roadies. I have met random people who have asked me if I thought it was right that Sonam was asked to leave the show? I have resisted the urge to bang their heads on the ground and run over it with a Karizma ZMR – Above all.

Well, sorry to break the news, morons. Watching Roadies is not going to make you cool. Watching it is not going to teach you how to clear an interview, nor is it going to make you tough in life. It is just a show where two bald pervert guys have fun at your expense. While you sing and dance and do push ups, they jack each other off under the table, laughing at morons like you, who watch it on TV, making them rich with your stupidity.

R. D. Sharma


I happened to meet a tenth standard guy a few days back, and he was studying for the new session that was to begin two months later.

He took out a few note books, all of them with brown covers and a label on them, and then, he took out a medium sized book with a white cover, that I could recognise anywhere.

“R. D. Sharma?”

He nodded, and smiled.

I knew there was more to the smile than met the eye.

For years, I had single-minded hatred for R.D.Sharma.

Whenever anyone asked me what my favourite subject was, I always said ‘Maths’. I didn’t really like it. I loathed it. But then the smartest guys in class always said Maths was their favourite song, and I followed suit.

I have this theory that in any given school, the cruelest, most evil teachers are the Maths teachers. They are the ones who beat the children, crack the evil jokes, and bully the guys who don’t study too well. Maths teachers are also the least favourite among the students, and some of the hatred against them rubs off on the subject too.

I have always had problems with Mathematics. I remember, I had answered Two Nines Are Nineteen in Class 2, and the Maths teacher stuffed a Natraj pencil in between my fingers and twisted it. I started using Apsara Flora pencils (that had round edges) after that, not that it did much for my Maths.

Maths is like a control freak, commitment seeking girlfriend. You cannot flirt with Maths for a few years and then cheat on it with Social Studies. With Maths, if you’re good at it, you are good at it for life. Similarly, if you are bad at it, you’ll remain bad at it. All your life.

I used to dread Maths classes, and made sure I sat somewhere at the back of the class. I kept my hand down and resisted the urge to crack wisecracks, as I knew that the teacher could cut me to size by asking me 13 table.

If there is anything I detested more than the sums, it was the way they were made to sound like something fun. Like, for example:

“Hi. My name is Rishab. Last night, my wife gave birth to a son. My age is ten more than than twenty times his age. In ten years, my age will be four times his age. What is my age?”

How exciting! I always wondered who these people were who made these sums. Couldn’t they think of anything else?

And then, there were the upstream-downstream problems. I am going downstream at 20 km/hr. If the speed of the stream is 10 km/hr, how long will it take for me to reach a place that is twenty kilometres away, if I’m travelling upstream?

Who gives a damn, moron? Why don’t you try taking a cab or something?

Or those geometry classes where we were asked to draw a 60 degree angle with a compass. If I have a shiny little protractor smiling up to me from the geometry box, why would I want to do it with a compass?

Or those trigonometry problems with the cos theta and san theta. Even jokes like “Alpha Q cos ur Sec C” couldn’t get me interested in them.

I do not have a single memory of childhood where I enjoyed a Maths class, and considerable credit for that goes to my Maths teachers. Ranging from pure evil to the totally nuts, they came in all sizes and shapes, and you never knew when they got into the moods.

The best Maths teacher I ever had was Venkataramana sir. Not that he made the subject totally interesting and understandable for us mathematically challenged ones. But he could crack the worst jokes in the universe.

So, at the beginning of his classes, we would request him to tell a joke. The entire class would go, “Please sir, one joke sir. What, sir? One joke, sir.” He would smile, and then say something like,

“You want joke? Drink Coke.”

Immediately, guys would begin to roll of their chairs, and fall on the floor, laughing. People would hold their stomachs, and scream at the top of their lungs. Like a seasoned stand up comedian, he never laughed at his own jokes, and smiled contentedly at the joy he was spreading in the world.

The rest of the Maths teachers, were evil. From poking a burning agarbathi into the cheek to whacking the daylights out of students, I have seen the John, Johnny, Janardhan of Maths teachers. And all of them went a long way in increasing my hatred for the subject.

Now in school, for every subject, we had a text book that was prescribed by the NCERT. There was the usual NCERT text book with its brown pages that adhered to the highest quality of toilet paper available back then. There were questions at the end of every chapter, and every year, the questions in the board exam would come from there. We could have happily studied those questions and passed the exams. But no.

Mr. R.D. Sharma created a wonderful little book for mathematics aficionados, so they could surf through exciting problems of various types. While it was possible for anyone to mug up the problems at the back of every chapter in the NCERT book, the R.D. Sharma book was a little treasure clove of smart little sums that made life miserable for people like me.

I was in the Maths Special Class. There were about ten of us. Each as clueless as the other person as to what was going on. Honestly, the teacher could have said ‘dhinka chika dhinka chika’ instead of ‘tan theta cos theta’, and it still wouldn’t make a rat’s ass of a difference to us. We were a stoned lot, nodding through explanations, and hoping we were not the one who will be asked a question. And the reason for my torture, would be that one Mr. Kishore, who was 7x times his son’s age, and yet the moron wanted thirteen year olds to calculate what his age was.

Throughout my high school days, I used to wonder who this R.D. Sharma was. What he was like, as a person? I imagined him as a man in Delhi who had retired as a school teacher and took tuitions for children at his home. There, I imagined him to be the sum total of all the evil Maths teachers I had ever had. A ten-faced, multiplication table spouting monster who branded children with iron rods if they didn’t know the answer.

My misery with Maths went on for a few years, and then it was the Grand Finale. The Board Exams.

I don’t really understand the fuss made behind board exams in India. For heavens sake, its just a bunch of fourteen year olds going to give an exam so that they can move on to the next class. Parents and teachers in India make it seem like we have to go to war.

The tenth standard guys in our school were given special timings, milk in the night, inspirational talks by teachers, and lectures of the ‘future’. There was a sense of going to battle, like a song from a J.P. Dutta movie. Students would touch the feet of the teacher before entering the exam hall.

I never really understood that. Quite clearly, the question paper has been set, and you only know as much as you learnt. Will some gyan get transferred from the teacher’s feet if you touch them before entering the hall?

Because of all the ballyhoo about the exam, I was wary of it from my ninth standard itself. Finally the day came when the dates were out. I read the list and my heart sank. We had ten days gap for the Maths Board Exam.

I knew I should have been happy that there were so many days. But I had a fair understanding of my abilities, and knew that no matter what I did, there was a certain upper limit to what I was going to score.

Quite expectedly, each gap day seemed worse than the previous one, as the dreaded day neared closer. The day before the exam was Shiv Ratri and as per the norm, we stayed all night in the mandir, studying mathematics amidst thousands of devotees singing bhajans of Shiva.

I remember making a long list of prayers to Lord Shiva the previous night. That I will never complain against anything ever in my life. I will never think bad things about anyone, and do bad things to myself thinking about those bad things. I will never waste food, and I will study well and make my parents proud.

The days after the board exams are hardly as peaceful as you would expect them to be. Parents, relatives, neighbours, friends, and anyone else who lives around you wants to know how you did, and when the results will be out, and what you will do next.

It hardly mattered what you told them, because they knew what they wanted to tell you anyway. Finally, our results were declared. Without looking at the name of the subjects, I looked at the numbers. Scrolling down, I saw it. Standing out against the others, sitting comfortably, was a fat 53. I looked at the subject and it was Maths. That was all I wanted to know.

I remember thinking how I would get rid of my R.D. Sharma book after the exam. Strangely, I didn’t do anything to it. I gave it off to someone, and it is probably still there. In tatters maybe, but still screwing the happiness of a fourteen year old somewhere in India.

A few days back, I was surfing the net and happened to remember R.D. Sharma and was browsing to see if anyone remembers him. Within minutes, I found it.

Someone had taken the pains to ask on Yahoo Answers if it was true that R.D. Sharma’s son had failed in Maths in the board exam.

It made me smile. I was not alone.

M****** F*** Husain

The last week saw news channels paying rich tributes to M.F. Husain, who died in London at the age of 95. There were debates among intellectuals and politicians about what M.F. Husain did right, and like this blogger, some who magnanimously took it upon themselves to tell people ‘where Hussain went wrong’.

If we ever enter a dictionary and take a tour of all the words we use everyday, in a dark corner, we would find the word ‘culture’ sitting crouched. She has been battered, abused and raped, and is still dragged into our conversations everyday. ‘Culture’ has been used to take matters into our own hands, she has made our blood boil, and has united and divided us, both at once. Little does ‘culture’ know the havoc that she plays with our lives everyday.

When a Raj Kapoor shows the breasts of a 16 year old, disguising it under cheesy references to the Ganga getting polluted, the censors pass it off as ‘artistic and aesthetic’. The largest selling book from India is the Kamasutra, which reaffirms Western notions that India is an exotic country with queens and snakes, but we have no problem with that.

I wonder how much controversy would be generated if Husain was a Hindu.

The one criticism that still haunts Husain is that he painted Hindu goddesses nude. This was with an intention to offend the sentiments of Hindus. We were all shown chain mails that compared paintings of Husain, with Hindu women on the left side and Muslim women on right side. While the goddesses were nude, the Muslim women were all well-dressed. These mails enraged Hindus, and were forwarded to each other.

Truth is, Husain started painting from the age of ten or so. He was a prolific painter who continued to paint till his death at the age of 95. He has been credited with over 60,000 paintings, and comparing a few and drawing a conclusion is like saying Amay Khurasia is a better batsman that Sachin because he scored 55 on his debut and Sachin scored only 18 in the World Cup final.

We were enraged by paintings of Sita in the nude. What about when political parties scream ‘Jai Sri Ram’ and beat up women in pubs or slaughter and rape women? Do you think Sita would be proud of her husband at that time? What do all these enraged people feel during such times?

India never had a culture of artists. We had rich artistic traditions, but all the artists worked for kings. They painted portraits of the royal family, or built commissioned monuments. The credit for the works went to the king, and nothing was mentioned of the artist who did the work. The concept of individual artistic celebritydom was never a part of our country.

Husain grew up painting everyday objects – the markets, the local people, the women, the monkeys and the horses. Born into poverty, he never learnt art, but his expertise with the medium is credited to the experience he gained by painting huge hoardings of Hindi films.

Husain joined the Progressive Artists Group a few years later. Along with his group, Husain acquired fame and money. He held numerous art shows, directed films, also winning the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for his work. I have never studied art, but I can recognise a Husain just by a single glance. Though most of us trash paintings as ‘modern art’, Husain’s paintings have a character to them – you have to see them to know what I am talking about.

Somewhere in the 90s, a few Bajrang Dal activists found some paintings that he had done in the 70s, and the entire nation spat its hatred on the man. We stopped his exhibitions, burnt his books. We stoned his house, threatened him with death, and the government did nothing. He fled his country and stayed in Europe. We ignored how lovingly he spoke about India in every interview of his, but accused him of sucking up to a Muslim country on accepting a Qatari citizenship.

The truth is, Husain has done more for our culture than all of us put together can imagine.

Husain along with other artists brought art back in vogue. He was probably the first superstar of Indian art. Today, thousands of students pursue art as a discipline. They work on our indigenous art forms, keeping them alive, because they see people like Husain and look at art as a viable option.

But kya karen? The bastard painted Sita nude, yaar. He deserved to be kicked out of the nation.

Emraan Hashmi songs

It was in the year 2005, when I first saw the bearded man on the television. Mike in hand, and anguish in his face, a new cult of songs was born. I like to call them Emraan Hashmi songs.

Emraan Hashmi is one actor who has done way better than his peers in the same league. Within a few years, he has proved that he can draw audiences to theatres as a solo hero. When his career will be analysed later, one aspect that will never escape the critics is the huge number of hit songs he has had.

Film after film, Hashmi has managed to make even ordinary songs a hit, even though his dancing is limited to swaying his pelvis from left to right. And it is an unignorable fact that most of the songs were sung by Himesh Reshamiyya.

Together, the two of them epitomise something that is intrinsic to us Indians – horniness. We are a very tharki country, saar. Very tharki. Repressed as we are throughout childhood and adolosence, horniness is something that comes naturally to us.

Here is where the Emraan Hashmi songs work. They make every dream imaginable, in two ways. One, that anyone can be a hero. And two, that anyone can sing.

Emraan Hashmi is no Hrithik Roshan. No bicep-flexing, brake dancing, moon-walking crap. Those are for sons of film producers. He is just a guy who walks slowly behind the girl, a perverse smile on his face, singing a slow song, and at the end of the song, he gets hot action. Emraan Hashmi is the tharki Indian’s role model.

The same goes with Himesh songs. They are generally sad in nature – the earlier ones mostly about the girl being bewafaa. The songs talk about broken hearts, and infidelity, our favourite pet themes for songs. Even though his songs were targetted at the urban audiences as well, as can be seen by the lyrics of the song:

“I love you Sayonee, I love you Sayonee, I love you Sayonee.”

“Koi Shaq? What’s up??”

Even though words like ‘What’s up’ make the song appeal to the urban audiences as well, Himesh Reshamiyya was the true voice of India. For years after his cap debuted on Indian television, Himesh’s songs were played in autos, in markets, in clubs, and in films. His song had easy lyrics, mostly with words that repeated themselves over and over, which made it easy to remember as well. Sample this:

“Zara Jhoom Jhoom, Zara Jhoom Jhoom, Zara Jhoom Jhoom Zara Jhoom”

“Aashiq Banaya, Aashiq Banaya, Aashiq Banaya Aapne”

“I love you O Sayyoni (X 3 ) Koi Shaq? What’s up??”

“Hari Om Hari, Hari Om Hari, Hari Om Hari. Hari.”

“Thathananana Tandoori Nights, Tandoori Nights, Tandoori Nights”

 

I think you get the point. Himesh made the entire nation sing. Songs of heart-wrenching pain and ‘blood-supplying’ lust. Together, Hashmi-Himesh gave wings to the entire country’s fantasies.

And so when I saw the trailer of Emraan Hashmi’s new film, there was a sense of nostalgia. It was an Emraan Hashmi song.

Hero walking behind heroine, crooning a love song with a slow beat, the unmistakable horny voice, lyrics pregnant with meaning (Tujhe dekhun aaj, tuhmein khoun aaj….), the babe walking ahead of the guy, looking back at him, and Hashmi, smiling, and approaching her….

Hit hai boss!!

Baba Black Sheep

Today, one of my greatest fears over the last few years came true. After flirting with political aspirations for a while now, Baba Ramdev jumped into the Anti-Corruption brigade, and has gone on a fast unto death for the cause.

It’s not long before he’ll announce a political party, and it would be a sad day for Indian politics.

My first brush with Baba Ramdev happened a few years back. When I am bored and have nothing to do, I flip through the devotional channels and trip on the babas on them. That was when I first saw Baba Ramdev, and he was giving a pravachan on Ramayan.

“……but Ram is Purushottam.” Wink.

“And every action of Ram’s is for the welfare of the people.” Wink.

I thought he was a cynic who was looking at the funny side of things. It was only when I noticed that he had a twitch in his left eye, I switched the channel.

Gradually, from our bedrooms, Baba Ramdev began to make appearances on news channels. Once he claimed a cure for cancer, and at other times spoke against cola companies. The truly absurd moment was when he said that homosexuality was a disease and there was a cure for it. Where could the cure be found? Why Baba himself has invented a medicine to cure it, of course!

This is precisely why his joining politics is a scary affair. In a country where media channels cannot even use the word ‘Muslim’ and have to resort to words like ‘minority’, the thought of Baba Ramdev entering politics is equal to an oil tanker leaking on Diwali night.

It is high time we did something about the quality of people who enter politics. Just last week, there was a report in the papers about the Information Technology Minister of Orissa passing his +2 exams with first division. The effing Information Technology minister. While his courage is admirable, the question is how could he have been made a minister? That too, an IT minister??

I wonder why there is no requisite educational degree or work experience for anyone entering politics. Probably a course in Public Affairs/ Public Administration. Though it sounds like a long shot, it does make perfect sense.

Doctors and engineers need to earn degrees to begin working. In every field, one has to go through a professional course, and gain work experience. Then how come, to become a political leader, a career that needs more responsibility that all the above put together, a person need not be qualified?

I know people will say that not everyone is bestowed with a good educational background, and cite the state of our schools and primary education system. But then, after a minister is elected, doesn’t he/she have to read reports, analyse results, plan policies, and manage funds? Dont all these require a high level of skillsets?

Another positive from a minimum benchmark would be that we wouldn’t have bogus politicians. Like a Govinda who takes ample time off from the Assembly to shoot for cinematic masterpieces like ‘Life Partner’. Or children of political leaders continuing the family legacy like it just a halwai ka dukaan. Or spiritual babas who masquerade as the panacea to all the problems of the country, like Baba Ramdev.

Seriously, can you imagine Baba Ramdev in his office, reading reports? How much administrative experience does he have?

While some might accuse me of taking potshots at the crusade against corruption, I would like to point out here that Baba Ramdev is a pathetic torchbearer for such a worthy cause. He has simply jumped on the public anger against politicians and seems to be adding a new issue to his list of demands every hour.

If you have been following him on the news channels, he has listed in his demands that minimum support prices be revised, currencies of large denominations be banned to avoid corruption. Right, baba. So if we buy arms from the US, we should ship them cargo ships of ten rupee notes. Baba also wants that all engineering and medical colleges teach in Hindi, rather than English.

But the present movement has given him the ideal platform to announce his debut into politics. Ironically, a few weeks back, the same Baba who cries hoarse about illegal money stashed abroad, bought an island in the UK. Why, baba? Surely you could have set up the same ashram here in India? Or, like Anna Hazare, with whom you are ‘fast’ friends, probably adopted a village and transformed its fortunes?

Why get your hands dirty in politics, baba? You are in the best career one could think of. No targets, no results, unlimited income, and tax benefits. What more do you want?

You should continue educating the country on the benefits of Yoga. The only time the common man does pranayam is when he enters a Sulabh Shauchalaya. Why not work on that? Or may be work on the cure for AIDS that you claimed to have found??