Monthly Archives: September 2011

Unfair and Ugly !!

If one were to do an analysis of Indian television after the liberalisation phase, one striking feature will be the huge influx of fairness creams into our lives. I don’t know why, but I can’t seem to remember any fairness cream ad during the Doordarshan days.

Is it that just after liberalisation happened, people started realising that they need to get fair? Was there a feeling that we need to be fair and ready to face the world? Or did the entire country just become dumb, after eating McDonald’s and drinking Coca Cola?

The earliest one I remember showed Genelia D’ Souza getting rejected for having no talents (the only shred of reality in the ad). She then, looks down dejectedly, and someone suggests she apply Fair and Lovely. She applies it, and lo and behold! She gets a ‘fair’ selection in the commentary box with Krish Shrikkanth. Which is a disturbing thought, considering that Srikkanth is now the Chairman of Selectors, and Virat Kohli applies Fair and Lovely. What message are we giving out to budding cricketers?

For years, we have tolerated outrageous ads that show girls who are rejected, unsuccessful, and untalented, change their fortunes, due to a fairness cream. It’s almost like saying, “Life is not fair, so you have to be.”

There have been fairness creams for girls, for women, for men, and for sportspersons. The ones for men are disguised under names like skin lightening, skin whitening, power whitening, and what not. I suggest some company comes out with a fairness cream for infants as well. Make the child fair from childhood, so that future is secure. And what about bure nazar wale? Why should their mooh be kaala? How about one for them too?

If we are showing girls of today that they need to be fair to be successful, what kind of message are we sending out? As long as there are ads like this, people like Shakti Kapoor will have something to do. Because we are endorsing the idea that good looks is the way forward, that one needs to apply fairness cream to get a job. It’s as if companies mention in the job notification – “Candidates who do not apply, need not apply.”

Then there are the ones that show the girl applying cream and becoming more presentable for the numbskull who has come to choose a bride. In the 30 seconds that the girl has applied the cream, everything about her changes. Her skin, her dressing, the walls of her house seem brighter, even her parents seem to be in a better mood. I am sure in a few days there will be a fairness cream for ‘maximum pleasure’ as well. Apply cream so that your wife looks fair, guaranteed to make you last longer.

It is revolting.

I don’t know who are the douschebags who do research and market surveys for these fairness creams. I am sure it is someone from Arindam Chaudhri’s ashram who dared to think beyond the IIMs. Well, here’s where you went wrong, dickheads:

DUSKY GIRLS ARE HOT.

Since times immemorial, from Draupadi to Chitrangada Singh, Indian men have fantasised about, worshipped, loved, chased, and proposed to dusky women. I am not saying fair girls are not hot, but not all of them are. If only being fair was enough to make someone hot, I’d have a Dolly Bindra wallpaper on my computer. There is nothing as sexy as a wonderful, intelligent, dusky girl. Dusky girls seem more earthy, and sensuous. I somehow have found fair girls to be more finicky about getting tanned in the sun, getting their skin dirty, about pimples, dimples, and crumples. I have always wondered if it was a constant pressure to remain fair. At the same time, I know morons, guys, who apply Fair and Handsome. May be they took the phrase ‘Everything is fair in love and war’ quite literally. It’s sad, because as long as you have men applying skin whitening shit on their faces, there will always be ads that talk about changing your life through fairness lotions.

My problem with the terms is more than just the usages. The problem is with the etymology itself. The word ‘fair’ has stood for “justice”, “nobility” and “good looking”. At the same time, “dark” has stood for the evil, the ignorant and the sinister. With the usage of these words, we are just reinstating what our idiotic ancestors thought of such issues. Our mythology is replete with stories of queens who are cursed by rishis for being too proud of their good looks. And what does the curse entail? That they turn dark and ugly.

While I do not have huge respect for such kind of stories, what is saddening is that our parents and grandparents have all believed that, and enforced it upon us.

If one believes that today’s people have gotten over such beliefs, one has to open a Matrimonial page and have a look. No matter what the religion, caste, educational achievement or income levels, what unifies us as a nation is our obsession with being ‘fair’.

Check this out: Wanted Fair, homely girl for boy, 28. B.Com now running family business. Caste no bar.

The guy is probably some dimwit who completed his graduation and now sits in his father’s sweet shop, but he wants a fair bride for himself! And notice the magnanimity in his search for the perfect girl. She can belong to any caste, but needs to be fair.

Fair is everything in love, obviously.

Na, Tomato La

The recent controversy caused by the Tomatina festival in Bangalore is reflective of the mind of the modern Indian.

There are heated debates and status updates on how the festival is insensitive towards the poor of the country. That  there are millions of people who don’t get to eat anything, leave alone tomato soup. There was also this argument that we are not a rich country and there is no need to ape something that is done in rich countries.

On the other hand, there is the version of the organisers, who say that people are just crying hoarse for publicity sake. They say that ‘these NGO type people do not complain against Diwali and Holi and instead only pick on the rich and their enjoyment”.

I hate generalisation but I think I fall under the category of these ‘NGO type people’ in this regard.

I understand that the organisers are well within their constitutional right to organise the event. They are paying for the tomatoes, and they are not breaking any laws in anyway. What do I have against the festival, then?

Primarily I think it is a very dumb idea.

To have a festival just because it was part of a film and then talk about exchange of cultures is chutiyaap, nothing else.

And like many things in India, there is this apologetic “We care for the poor too” tone to the entire festival that sucks. Sample this:

“We are aware of the reservations. We will only use rotten tomatoes. If fresh tomatoes are used, it will only be for serving mocktails. We are also planning to call some underprivileged children and donate 10-20 per cent of the money collected from the event towards charitable purposes.”

Ah! Such noble souls! So collect 1500 rupees from rich snobs whose idea of fun is to ape a fucking Bollywood film, and then give away 10-20 % of the money towards ‘charitable purposes’ by calling some ‘underprivileged children’.

Then the argument that only rotten tomatoes will be used is another priceless gem. So you are telling me that your guests, who have signed up on Facebook and paid more than two thousand bucks to attend the event, are going to throw rotten tomatoes at each other? So the organisers actually sit and sort out inedible tomatoes from edible ones and then have the festival? Why don’t you just go ahead and tell me Obama won the election due to Shaktimaan?

Then finally, there is the argument that Diwali and Holi are also waste of resources. I saw this comment on Facebook where someone said we are wasting water and burning crackers. So why stop this?

Well, here’s the deal, numbskulls. The water used in Holi is not drinking water. And people don’t eat crackers. There are entire industries built around the festivals, and like it or not, they are intrinsically a part of our calendar.

Now, here is some information on the Tomatina festival in Spain.

The festival has been a part of Spanish culture for quite a few decades. The tomatoes are grown especially for the festival, and they are overripe, and hence cannot be eaten. The festival was institutionalised by the government to celebrate the surplus production of tomatoes in the country. SURPLUS. That’s the keyword here.

In India, we DO NOT have a surplus. While you are shagging each other off in tomato pulp, you are being responsible for increasing tomato prices. It is estimated that at the Tomatina at Bunel, 40,800 kilograms of tomatoes are used. Now, think of the same scenario in India. If the event is organised in say, five cities, as it will be, you are talking of roughly 2,04,000 kilograms of tomatoes being bought, crushed into pulp and thrown at each other. Cool, no? Let’s do it!

Then there is the argument that thousands of kilograms of food is being wasted in government warehouses every year. Perfectly valid. So that gives us a right to throw tomatoes at each other, doesn’t it? Government is doing it, why don’t we?

I think it is a part of the ‘instant fix’ that we want. Want a building, cut down a forest. Want to end corruption, just enact a new law. Want to have fun? Hurl tomatoes at each other. Very, very cool.

Here’s a suggestion. I am sure all of you have watched Spiderman. Do this. Take your friends to the top of buildings, and jump off.

You will be heroes in your own way, trust me.

The Most Annoying Indian Commentators

Maninder Singh: Maninder Singh was signed by Doordarshan as a part of their historic show – Fourth Umpire. Between ads of Mysore Sandal Soap and Dandi Namak, Maninder Singh peppered the match with his own wit and understanding of the game.

He’s a nice chap and all that. Friendly, smiling, and safely neutral. He does not have the balls of Navjyot Singh Sidhu, nor any radical suggestion. But he has the one outstanding quality that is required of a Doordarshan commentator – boredom.

Maninder Singh can make Inception seem like Shaadi No.1. Picking out the most obvious and boring points in every department of the game, Maninder Singh was instrumental in maintaining the brand and image of Doordarshan.

Then he got caught doing cocaine.

Atul Wassan: It is said you don’t have to enter the ditch to see if it is dirty. Atul Wassan follows the same principle when it comes to commentary. Having played for India for a full year, Atul Wassan uses all his acumen and understanding of the game to criticize everything – from Rahul Dravid’s footwork, to Dhoni’s follow through.

What makes Atul Wassan a handy commentator is his ability to easily shift from English to Hindi – and successfully transform the most exciting match into a drab affair, but easily understood by the entire nation.

Arun Lal: is the only one to have truly crossed over from Fourth Umpire to the Big League. Arun Lal can be regularly found pissing off firang commentators, and making them smile with his jokes, after he has had a hearty laugh at them himself.

Arun Lal is also heard in the IPL, where he displays extremely creative usage of terms like Karbonn Kamaal Catch and DLF Maximum. Sample this.

“The minimum they need is a DLF maximum. HAHAHAHA

Kindly note the clever juxtaposition of the word minimum next to the word maximum. Very very clever. Arun Lal truly is dharti ka laal.

Ravi Shastri: I know many of you will be shocked to find Shastri in the same list as Maninder Singh and Arun Lal. But fact is, Ravi Shastri is the Jackie Shroff of cricket commentary. Very popular at one time, and a rambling, has-been at present, Shastri’s booming voice has become as pleasant to the ears as the Nokia ringtone.

He says the same thing over and over again. “That’s just what the doctor ordered. He knew exactly what he was doing. That’s gone to the boundary like a bullet. Clean as a whistle. Lofted in the air, high and mighty.” It is a barrage of similies, proverbs, one-liners and comparisions that are as old as the hills.

The revelation that Shastri and Gavaskar are paid by the BCCI to air the views of the board wasn’t shocking to me at all. On some days, Shastri has this distinct, drunk look on his face, you wonder if he took one large swig and sat down in the commentary box.

The icing on the cake was the toss of the World Cup final. MS spins the coin, and this is when the commentator should announce what was called. Shastri has no clue what’s going on, and then after everything is over, turns to the camera and says,

“We will do this again. The problem? The noise”, he says, pointing to his ear.

I was a tad disappointed him and Gavaskar didn’t break into the naagin dance after the World Cup was over.

One of those days when Shastris not Sobers! 😉

Sunil Gavaskar: The Holy Man of cricket, the God under whom every Indian cricketer, critic and fan is supposed to bow down and pray. Gavaskar has an opinion on everything, even when it is not related to Indian cricket. Not that it’s a bad thing.

The only problem is that he makes sure everyone around him knows what he feels, and agrees with him. Watching him have a go at the Australians is fun, but only for five minutes. After that, it is a preachy sermon on ethics and values, and how cricket has been degenerated because of T-20, and ethics aren’t a part of cricket anymore.

Here, I would like to point out two incidents. One, the 1980 Australian tour, where on being given out, Sunil Gavaskar wasn’t very pleased. It’s funny to see him lecturing on the need to be ‘walk’ when judged ‘out’. Well, walk he did. Only, he took his non-striker along with him, and refused to play the match. Not very ethical, are we?

The second grudge I have against Gavaskar is his criticism of T20. He very smartly avoids saying the word ‘IPL’ in his rants, but serves along with Shastri as part of the IPL’s Governing Council. Why not quit that job and work towards promoting Test cricket? Or better still, why not just accept the money and shut the hell up?

It’s this hypocrisy that makes me puke.

Gavaskar, Shastri and Bhogle share inside jokes and giggle around, screw the match and the audience. Coz apart from the regular match fees, they are being paid 3 crores to pass the BCCI’s word. Who gives a fuck?

According to a news report last month, it was reported that “the two respected opinion makers have been contracted by the BCCI for an annual fee of Rs 3.6 crore each to spread the Board’s gospel – on issues such as UDRS, IPL, or umpiring decisions that may be adverse to Indian interests.”

A “senior BCCI member” is quoted as saying “They cannot say anything that goes against the policy or interests of the Board,” A “top BCCI official” is also quoted saying “Yes, both Shastri and Gavaskar are employed with the Board as commentators. We tell the TV companies that they have to take them on board as our official commentators,”

If only they asked the audiences what we thought of their opinions!

Harsha Bhogle: Probably the most disappointing of the lot is our man Harsha Bhogle. For many years, Harsha Bhogle was our man in the box. He was not a cricketer, but had a fair understanding of the game, and made interesting conversations with the experts. He brought in views that spectators feel, and showed that it is possible to understand the game without being old, or boring.

But then, he got himself a hair transplant. For me, that was selling out.

Ever since, Harsha Bhogle is all over. He has written books on cricket, on success, on winning, and picking one’s nose. Anything you need to know, Mr. Bhogle will be there to tell you. He started writing articles on how other sports can catch up with cricket, and how Team India is the prime example of leadership skills. He sold tea, and gyaan, and advice, and started sounding exactly like Shastri and Gavaskar.

Now, after two decades, I think it is time for Shastri, Gavaskar and Bhogle to retire. There isn’t anything new or original they say anyway. And the BCCI could save 7.2 crores a year, and use it judiciously for other things that have long been pending.

Like that surgery for Shreesanth at NIMHANS.

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(PS: I know many of you will demand for Sidhu to be put on the list. But may I gently remind you that Sidhu is not just a commentator. He is a laughter critic, an MP, and an entrant into Bigg Boss. Such varied interests transcend the realms of a mere commentator, and deserve special mention. Also, I don’t wish to meet Sidhu at a parking lot!)