Monthly Archives: February 2012

How to Sound Intellectual Even if You don’t know Shit

Tired of being considered shallow and immature in front of your intellectual friends? Embarassed when they are discussing something called the ‘epicentre of power’ and you think they are talking about Shaktimaan? Had enough of coughing, going to the toilet, and changing the topic uncomfortably when something serious is being discussed?

Well, you need worry no more.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we present you with the ultimate guide to the social ladder. Remember, good looking guys will one day grow old and farty, but Salman Rushdie still has a killer girlfriend. Need I say more to stress on the importance of seeming intelligent and knowledgable?

Given below are handy tips that you can use to seem intelligent and mature. Care must be taken to avoid overuse, as it might backfire badly, and you might end up looking like a clown. So exercise restraint, and carefully adopt the given specifications one at a time. There’s lot of time (Rushdie is 64, no hurry, man!).

                                                                     GETTING THE RIGHT LOOK

You cannot sound intellectual if you don’t look intellectual. There are a few useful tips that can transform you instantly from ‘N Sync fan to practising Communist.

Get Thick Rimmed Glasses: Thick rimmed glasses might seem odd to look at on your face in the beginning. In fact, you will look like the geeky loser in a 90s Bollywood college romance. But a thick rimmed glass goes a long way in establishing that you are an intellectual. Care must be taken to get one without any bling. If Armani is written on it, it is a lost cause.

Act Like You Don’t Care About Your Attire: Intellectuals do not have time to bother about things like fashion, clothes and accessories. So make sure you carefully master the art of dressing carelessly. Tear off a bit of the new kurta, spill some ink on the sleeve, and dip your fingers in a bowl of paint for about 15 minutes before you leave the room.

Don’t Shave: What’s common to the people below?

Isn’t it weird? They all have a beard!

Apart from being the most intelligent men of their times, who changed the fortunes of the world with their wisdom, they all also had beards. So even if it doesn’t suit you, grow a beard. Avoid temptation to trim it with an electronic trimmer. A little care and discretion would give you the perfect ‘non-shaving, kurta wearing’ intellectual. Throw in a jhola on your shoulders if you want some change.

SPEAKING LIKE AN INTELLECTUAL

Now comes the tough part – sounding and conversing like an intellectual. This requires diligence and practice, but you can master the art eventually by following the following tips:

Say ‘Depends’: Whenever you are asked a question, and you don’t know what to say, just shrug and say, “Well, that depends on a lot of factors…”

Saying ‘Depends’ shows that you are willing to consider a lot of aspects. However, you should be careful not to list out what those factors are. Intellectual people do not disclose their intellect till they are pressurised to. So just say ‘Depends’ and look away.

  1. Use a lot of ‘ist’: Almost every word can be made into an ‘ist’. For eg: “Hey, that’s such a statist remark!” or “How can you be a realist when this is such a racist environment?” Every ‘ism’ can be made into an ‘ist’. Also, if someone apologises, he is an apologist, if he works on a machine, call him a machinist, if he believes in fate, he is a fatalist, and if he roams about naked, he is a naturist.

3. Use the PESC Formula: If you are running out of new angles to give to a discussion, follow the simple PESC formula. The PESC formula says that any discussion can be analysed by talking about the Political, Economic, Social, and Cultural impact on the people. And this works better if you fuse two terms – socio-cultural, politico-economical, socio-economic, and eco-cultural.

These phrases make you sound even more intelligent than you aren’t. So, if you have been sitting around warming the bench, shrug your shoulders and say, “Depends. On a lot of socio-cultural and politico-economical realisms that the world faces.” Bingo!

4. Quote Marx: Most intellectuals are leftist. They swear by Marx. In such a crowd, if you say, “Hey, have you checked out the latest iPhone app for Angry Birds?’, you will have to suffer through social leprosy. So make sure you have equipped yourself with a good number of Marx quotes, which you can get off the net. Be careful to drop them at the opportune moment.

However, you should be careful to quote Karl Marx, and not Groucho Marx, as it can have the opposite effect on your socio-intellectual standing (notice the fusing of two words??

5. Smile: You remember those Idea ads with Abhishek Bachhan? Remember those moments of pure awesomeness when Abhishek Bachan is looking at the person in front of him, and dishes out a smirk and says “Get Idea”? That’s the smile I am talking about.

The Idea 3G ‘I’m awesome and you know it’ smile

When you don’t know how to counter the stance of the person in front of you, just smile. It drives them mad. While the other person is frantically explaining his stance, just look at him, smile, and shake your head from one side to the other. This shows that you know what the person is going to say and are smiling at his ignorance. Some other smiles that you could use are the following smiles.

The Kevin Spacey ‘I don’t give a fuck’ smile
The Morpheus ‘Do you know what the Matrix is?’ smile
The SRK ‘I look like a moron, but I’m cute’ smile

6. The Intellectual Emergency Exit: If nothing else works out, use the Fire Escape. Wait for the person to make a point. Pause. Take a deep breath, and say, “Well, if that’s the way you are looking at things, there isn’t any point in talking, is there?” Then stand up, dust your hands, and walk off.

Don’t turn back, for the people are still staring at you with their mouths open, aghast at your biting intellect. Find another group, and use the same techniques all over again.

Remember, intellectuals don’t do different shit. They do the same shit differently.

Saffron Groups and Pink Crap

Yet another Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and the great protectors of Indian culture, organisations like Bajrang Dal, have woken up from their slumber to protect our great cultural heritage. This activity of protecting our culture is done in many effective ways, like throwing black ink on the faces of the couples, or taking videos of the couples and uploading it on youtube.

These stupid acts not only piss me off a great deal, they are disturbing. Go back to 2009, when Ram Sene activists attacked a pub in Mangalore, dragged women out by their hair and beat them up. (video) But hey, that’s part of Indian culture, man.

Remember how Dushashan pulled Draupadi out of her chambers, dragged her by the hair and pulled her clothes out?

May be the Ram Sene could create a branch called the ‘Dushashan Sene’, who could be employed near pubs and bars, and protect Indian culture.

The National Commission for Women was asked to investigate the case, and this is what Nirmala Venkatesh, a member of the three-member team had to say, “”Everybody was dancing wearing so many nude clothes and all. That is why they did what they did. We women should always try to safeguard ourselves.”

Not surprisingly, Nirmala Venkatesh a few months later joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, saying she was ready to contest the Lok Sabha elections if they gave her a ticket.

This sort of nuisance has been going on for long, and while this is a generalisation, it can be found in states ruled by the NDA alliance, like Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat – states ruled by BJP, having an affiliation towards organisations like VHP, Bajrang Dal, and Ram Sene.

And this is precisely the reason why, in spite of all the scams and scandals in the country, I would never vote for the NDA. Scams and scandals go on. Our economy is a cow, milked by one and all, under different pretexts – none of it affects me directly. But if I vote for the NDA government, some horny bastard might come and pour ink on my girlfriend’s face if I am out with her. That kind of shit affects me, and drives me mad.

For all the bullshit that the BJP propagates, not once did they raise their voice against such criminals.

All this is interesting in the wake of recent reports of BJP ministers caught surfing porn in the Karnataka Assembly. Surprisingly, none of the Ram Sene members so much as raised their voice against this.

But that’s also part of our culture, macha. Remember how Bheeshm, Dhritarashtra and other elders of the court did nothing when Draupadi was being pulled out and stripped??

For years, these jobless fuckers, who have no girlfriends, have taken law into their hands, and threatened to go on a rampage, insulting people who celebrate Valentine’s Day. No government, no party, no organisation, and none of the great NGOs of our country have protested against this vandalism.

What helps these idiots, is that the laws in the Indian Penal Code ratify such acts. Most of the cases booked against couples in parks, abide by the Section 294 of the IPC, drafted as recently as 1860.

294. 4[ Obscene acts and songs.– Whoever, to the annoyance of others,

(a) does any obscene act in any public place, or

(b) sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.]

Poor Richard Gere, he kissed Shilpa Shetty at a charity event, without knowing that ‘Big Brother’ was someone else, and he was watching. And filing cases.

Surprisingly, most of these actions have the moral sanction of older couples, who believe this is corrupting our ‘culture’. But is culture set in stone, to be abided by generations to come? What about changing times, and shifting cultures?

So how does one get these grumpy old fools to keep pace with the times?

Simply by rubbing it in their faces.

If you go to Goa, you can find couples kissing on the beach, or on the roads, and no one gives a flying fuck. Simply because the local people there are accustomed to seeing people kiss.

Here’s my suggestion:

With so many flash mobs being organised around the country, some organisation should organise flash mobs of couples who go to a public place and kiss. This will at least let people get used to the fact that youngsters will kiss if they are in love (or not), but it is none of their goddamned concern.

In a landmark judgement by the Delhi High Court in 2009, the Court dismissed a case against a married couple, seeing nothing wrong in them kissing, terming it as ‘an act of love’.

So all you flashing mobs of the country, grow some balls. Do something that might help other young people like you, not just dancing to Kolaveri di and Jai Ho!

That’s not going to make a rat’s ass of a difference to us.

Trying to ‘Remember Shakti’

‘Remember Shakti’ was performing in Hyderabad, and I was lucky to get a ticket.

The gig was a reunion of the ‘Shakti’ band, which disbanded in the 70s, and now consists of John McLaughlin (ranked 49 in the Rolling Stones’ Greatest Guitarists of All Time), Zakir Hussain (tabla), V. Selvaganesh (Ghatam, Kanjira, Mridangam), Mandolin Srinivas, and Shankar Mahadevan.

The concert was to be at the Chowmahalla Palace, the majestic palace built by the Nizam that has been converted into a tourist attraction. Beautiful music, in a beautiful location. Just perfect, right?

WRONG!!

You have to consider the many ways in which Indians would fuck up a perfectly good concert. So, for music lovers (or at least the ones who sat where I was sitting), it was a battle you had to win. Against all these elements constantly trying to challenge the band.

The concert surprisingly began bang at 8.30. While the artists were ready on the stage, some IAS officer who was supposed to light the lamp and begin the proceedings, took his own sweet time, lighting all the wicks on the lamp.

The seating system was the usual. The ‘Silver’ tickets at the back, the ‘Gold’ category was in the front, separated by a barricade. In front of the ‘Gold’ category, was the ‘Asshole’ category, which meant politicians, and their stooges who could waltz in and out of the concert whenever they wanted.

After the first number, Zakir Hussain took the mike and announced, “A concert is about creating a rapport with the audience. It’s like driving a car, with the wiper constantly on the windshield, which makes it difficult for you to drive. So the people in the front please stop walking around.” This was met with cheers from the back rows – serious people who had come early and were sitting on their chairs, craning their necks to watch the artists.

To add to the mahaul at the Chowmahalla, the organisers had come up with the idea of having food stalls. Which meant a constant ruckus of people asking for Pepsi, coffee, pop corn, and mirchi bajjis. Not unlike going to watch an Akshay Kumar film.

If you managed to overlook the noise and immerse yourself into the music, there were the children. Now, why do parents bring in children to movies and music concerts? Children, considered to be incarnations of God, hate silence.

The tranquility of the concert was interrupted when an imp next to us decided to test his vocal chords and went, “Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, WAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH”

Zakir Hussain promptly got down from the stage, ruffled his hair, smiled and said, “Wah Taj! bolo”.

Ok, I made that up. Everybody just turned and cursed the kid in their minds, and smiled benevolently at him, and his dad took him away. Things remained calm for a while, but Hyderabad was planning its next attack.

A loud boom caused everyone to look up, and there it was. Crackers going off in the sky – bright and loud like Rakhi in the Sky. At one point, even Zakir Hussain looked up to see what the commotion was about.

The crackers eventually fizzled out, only to give way to some classic Indian shadi songs, being played at full blast. Getting married in India gives you the right to fuck with everyone’s peace of mind, and these guys were going at it with a vengeance.

At one point, Shankar Mahadevan stopped and said, “Sur thoda alag hai unka.”

To which Zakir adds, “Ek ticket mein do do concerts ho gaye.”

But the marriage songs faded into oblivion as the Jugalbandis reached a crescendo. First between the guitar and mandolin, and then between the two percussionists. And Shankar Mahadevan’s silken voice seemed to caress every note, helping it on its way.

Since I had the ‘Silver’ tickets, and my father is not a politician, I had to contend with staring at the two screens that was were installed on both sides of the stage. But the cameraman…..!

The cameraman clearly harboured ambitions of working with Mani Ratnam. So instead of zooming in the middle of a terrific solo, he would zoom out to a panoramic shot of the palace. The last piece of the concert was the jugalbandi between Hussain and Selvaganesh and this is where the cameraman’s true genius showed.

By the time he would pan left to Hussain, his part would be over. The cameraman would then slowly pan to the right with BBC like precision, only to realise Selvaganesh’s part was over too. At one point, he thought ‘Fuck it’ and zoomed in on Shankar Mahadevan, sitting right in the middle!

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At one point, I thought about how it would be if this concert was being held a hundred years ago, with the Nizam sitting in the first row in his own palace. He would probably jail everyone who disturbed his concert.

And here we were, contending with democracy and all the bullshit that free will brings with it. I might sound like a grumpy old man, but in spite of the the popcorn, the kids, the crackers, the marriage songs, and the ambitious cameraman, the music was worth it.

Yeh jo bhes hai tera…

The year was 2004, and I first saw the trailer of Swades on the TV.

It seemed like an interesting film, and I was impressed that Shah Rukh Khan would take up the film, something that was totally out of his comfort zone.

He was done playing the Lover Boy in Europe, the Lover Boy with a daughter, the Lover Boy with students, the Lover Boy who dances in a troupe, and the Lover Boy who knows all about loving his family. Quite clearly, he needed to do something different.

It must have been quite a bold decision for him to make. The film wasn’t being made by the Johars, or the Chopras. Ashutosh Gowariker, fresh from the colossal success that was Lagaan, had both directed and produced it. Shah Rukh Khan did not wear colourful clothes that seemed to be stolen from a Gay Pride parade, and he didn’t stretch his hands out in the trailer.

My name is Khan, but I love playing Jesus Christ”

It was a clear departure from the kind of films he had been churning out for more than a decade. I wondered if he was finally waking up to the fact that he could not dance around trees after reaching the age of 40. That he was looking for more grounded roles, and sensible cinema.

Though I didn’t go in with a lot of expectations, the film managed to capture my interest from the beginning.

It had an interesting premise, that of a NASA employee who comes to visit his childhood maid, and the experience transforms him. While the above description does not sound terribly exciting, it was a charming story.

There were no evil Zamindars, no Ramu Kaka, no weeping mothers with arati plates and the curtains flying. It was a simple story with a heart, and resorted to no gimmicks or unnecessary histrionics to move the story forward.

The biggest surprise of the film was Shah Rukh Khan. Now, whether you love him or hate him, Shah Rukh Khan is in your face throughout the year. Terrible as his choice of films may be, one cannot deny the fact that he has got tremendous screen presence. In Swades, he comes across as genuinely likeable.

Forget Kajol and Rani Mukherjee, the chemistry that SRK shared with the actress Gayatri Joshi (where on earth is she??) is the most I have seen with any actress he has shared screen space with. The two didn’t break into song in Holland or Greece at the drop of a hat, but there was enough in the plot to keep the tension going.

The soundtrack by Rahman is one of those less popular, but superior ones that vanish behind the Jai Ho and Naadaan Parindey.

The film did not have a fight in the climax, and no item numbers, and yet, when the film came to an end, there was a general sense of satisfaction I felt.

But the empty halls and poor reviews told another story. Taran Adarsh, the genius who said Ra.One has ‘soul’, and that ‘Rascals’ is hilarious, used all his film critiquing acumen to say, “The story of SWADES would’ve been ideal for a documentary…”

Even though some of the critics raved about the film, Swades eventually flopped.

Ashutosh Gowarikar took a sabbatical for four long years. And Shah Rukh Khan went back to his Om Shanti Om and Rab Ne Banadi kind of films.

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Now, when I see films like Ra.One, or SRK monkeying around at Filmfare awards in a Sheila costume, I wonder if he’d be doing this if Swades had gone on to become a hit?

Satan Bhagat and Salman Rushed-out

What is it about Chetan Bhagat?

Like an itch inside your pants during a Team Meeting, why is he always there in the media, the news, the internet?

As if the brouhaha over his latest book (I was tempted to review it, but dropped the idea due to the sheer mediocrity in it) breaking new records wasn’t enough, he also commented on the Salman Rushdie issue. “We shouldn’t make controversial authors into heroes,” says Mr. Bhagat, the IIT-IIM passout panacea for every problem in the world. Really?

Coming from the second most annoying person on television (after Suhel Seth), someone who is always in the middle of some controversy or the other, the statement seems laughably hypocritical. Here’s why:

Chetan Bhagat is what he is, simply because of the hero-worshipping that he attributes to Rushdie. Rushdie didn’t publish tweets saying he wanted to attend it. He was invited to the Festival, on the basis of his writing. Chetan Bhagat, meanwhile, has a say on every issue, provides Idea-3G like solution to the the most complex problems of the country, and has created an aura of a messiah around himself, whereas at best, his books are pulp fiction. Something you pick for a train journey, and then pass it on.

Before I face brickbats, let me make it clear I am not undermining his worth. He has changed the game in Indian publishing, selling millions, and spawning a set of young authors, who write about the terribly fascinating subjects of campus, romance, love triangles, and friendship. He has brought down the price of books, and many would argue, the standards of writing in English as well.

For now, you don’t need writing skills to write a book. What you need is a love story, a campus, a little sex added to the plot, and stir it up with a colourful book cover, and sell it at 100 rupees. Ho gaya!

Which again, I have no problems against. I am no one to decide how someone should write, and what someone else should read. If his books have been selling like hotcakes, there surely would be something in it that people can relate to. What I have a problem with, is his messiah-like image that he has carefully built around himself.

Look at some of his articles on The Times of India.

In an article, supposedly to help women deal with stress, he writes,

Can you imagine life without the ladies?”

There would be body odour, socks on the floor and nothing in the fridge to eat. The entertainment industry would die. Who wants to watch movies without actresses? Kids would be neglected and turn into drug addicts or psychopaths by age 10. Soon, all-male world leaders would lose their tempers at the slightest provocation, and bomb the guts out of each other’s countries. ”

Really, dude? And the Times of India accepts that kind of trash?? May be they asked him what Hrithik Roshan’s pet name was, and then selected the story.

He ends the article with this remarkable line, “Now smile, before your mother-in-law shouts at you for wasting your time reading the newspaper.”

The article advices women to stand up for themselves, not to cook four dishes a day, and to tell their bosses that their work is not being appreciated. There is no mention of how men could help out women at home, stop suffering from vertical squint (the biological condition wherein a man’s eyes are squinted downwards, giving the impression that he is talking to the woman’s boobs), or just treat women as equals.

Or his solution to corruption – this one-sentence stroke of genius – “Punishment is must for all scams.” Wow! My eyes were opened on that day, and I still find it difficult to sleep at nights, they refuse to shut.

The fact is, Chetan Bhagat, thanks to his tweets, his speeches, and his articles, has been made into exactly that – a controversial author made into a superstar. Then what does he have against Rushdie?

Now, let’s talk about the issue of censorship.

Chetan Bhagat will never face censorship of any kind, because his books hardly have the density or depth that require any censoring, in spite of lines like “I want to milk that woman.” In such a case, it is easy for him to talk about controversial authors being made into heroes.

As an author, if I were to begin writing by thinking within a certain periphery of what I am about to write about, what is the whole point?

I don’t want to get into the religious repercussions of Rushdie’s writings. I understand that his book has ruffled feathers worldwide, but does that mean we won’t let him enter the country and attend a literary festival? Who are we, the Taliban??

The government made up facts about underworld dons threatening to kill him, and Rushdie was kept out of the event. And then, our Mr. Chetan Bugger says that what happened was right, and we as a country, should not make controversial authors into heroes. Which is scary because he has made himself into some sort of model for youth, and his words impact a million youngsters in the country. Isn’t he propagating intolerance? He should be talking about people being liberal, accommodating, and mature.

Censorship in books has been an issue over the last few years, and taking a look at the list of books that have been banned in the last few years will tell you that there is no set yardstick for banning a book. A few protests here and there could ban a book, that’s how simple it is. Some of the books are:

The Polyester Prince – The Rise of Dhirubhai Ambani. The book speaks about the rise of the Reliance empire, and apparently had some objectionable content about him. Now, tell me, do you think that a particular set of people, belonging to a certain caste, community, or race would have protested against the book? It clearly didn’t go down well with a corporate house, and without any explanation, the book was downright banned.

Nehru: A political biography: No explanation needed about what the book consists of. But, unfortunately some of the people in our country didn’t like the book, and so it was banned.

Shivaji – Hindu king in Islamic India: The biography didn’t go down well with politicians in Maharashtra, and after attacks on the publisher’s offices and a library, the book was banned. When the Supreme Court lifted the ban last year, here’s what Raj Thackeray had to say: “”If anyone tries to sell the book, then they will face the music in MNS style. We will burn each and every copy of the book.”

If this goes on, what is the future of writing in our country? Do authors get to write only nice things about people? Do all authors have to write about campus love stories, books titled ‘Three Morons’, ‘Four Buffoons of my Life’, and ‘I love Sixty Nine’?? If I want to write about a personality, and there is something that might not be pleasant to read, do I need to shut up and keep it to myself? Is this the new, shiny India that Mr. Bhagat envisages for us, when he sits down to write those inspirational Chicken Soup for the Country’s Soul articles in the ToI every Sunday?

Allow me to choose my heroes, Mr. Bhagat. I would rather have a controversial author as my hero, than a mediocre one.