Tag Archives: Rahul Dravid

The Making of an Outrage

As someone who writes articles and cracks jokes for a living, I am fascinated by the cycles of rage and outrage that appear on the Internet on a daily basis.

I wish I could say I am detached – but my livelihood depends on keeping track and opinionating on these outrages. Writing an article on a trending topic has brought me thousands of readers. Cracking a joke on a relevant person has won me applause and cheers. Suffice to say my livelihood depends on me being in tune with what’s the rage and outrage on the Internet.

But I managed to get into the eye of an outrage storm last month, and the entire experience – while tiring – has been fascinating for someone who studied culture and trends.

The article

I wrote a blog on Hardik Pandya’s controversy on Koffee With Karan, and how it was unnecessarily being drummed up to be an issue.

If you are familiar with my blogs, you’ll know that they are peppered with abuses, sarcasms and jabs. I write for a newspaper, news websites, for TV channels, the Internet, for my stand-up bits – amidst all this, writing for my blog seems like a release – I can write what I want and move on without thinking about it too much.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case here.

The article gained some traction and I got a request from the site – ThePrint. They asked me permission to repost the article after making minor changes to it. I agreed, because that is how I begin writing for most sites.

But not only was I NOT offered any money, ThePrint did not have the courtesy to reply to my repeated mails about the article. The worst bit though, was they edited the headline of the article. From The Lynching of Hard-Dick Pandya, it was changed to If Hardik Pandya was a woman, she would be hailed as a sexual revolutionary.

This was one line in the post, but making it the headline changed the slant of the article from political correctness to gender equality – which the article wasn’t about. They also added their own tagline to the article – Rich Liberals attacking Hardik Pandya same as Right-wing trolling of Naseeruddin Shah.

They also sanitised the article of all the puns and jokes. From a funny rant, it now read like the rabid outpouring of a deranged man.

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Perhaps I could have gone about it in a smarter way. I later found out that the site was run by Shekhar Gupta. That it was accused by right-wingers as being leftist, and by liberals as being jingoistic. And I had uniquely brought myself into a situation where I was hated by both the sides!

The article began to get traction because the headline toed three trending topics that week – Hardik Pandya, Feminism, Political Correctness. I began to get comments on the post by readers who were ‘disappointed’ in me. I don’t understand this ‘disappointment’.

They all said that they’d been reading me for years, and were ashamed of being a subscriber after reading the article. I don’t get it – I write what I want, you don’t pay me a penny for it. On days that you smile, laugh or take your mind off work – do you send me a message saying ‘Thanks’? Better still, do you ask for my Google Pay number and transfer me some money? Where does this ‘disappointment’ stem from, then?

I generally reply to every comment or mail, and I was trying to do the same.

I tried explaining that misogyny or gender is hardly my point here. It was about being overly politically correct.

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The one line that angered a lot of women in the article was this – If Hardik Pandya was a woman, she would be hailed as a sexual revolutionary. I still stand by the line. I think Indians don’t speak too often about sex. We need to address it, get comfortable with it, discuss it

The next question was – how do you know she would be hailed? Who would hail her? How can you speak on behalf of women when you’re a man? Accusation of ‘mansplaining’.

I have never understood that line of bullying. That being a man gives me no right to speak about women. Being a woman however, gives someone the right to comment on men’s behaviour. This is bigoted logic, but one cannot oppose it without being called a misogynist or sexist.

I do not claim to speak on behalf of women; I can only speak on behalf of myself. I would certainly have hailed her for speaking about sex on national television. Unfortunately, it was a case of a man presuming how society would have reacted to an imaginary comment by a woman, and the red flag began to flutter on Twitter.

 

THINGS STARTED GETTING SCARY

In the meanwhile, two important things happened – Baradwaj Rangan and Anurag Kashyap shared the article. These are two men whose craft and opinions I respect, and it felt wonderful to see that they echo my sentiments. But the warm feelings quickly began to subside.

Them sharing the article led to even more shares. From a few hundred shares on my blog, it spread far and wide – getting shared more than 10,000 times.

If you’ve read my blog, you’d know that I always reply to comments. If there’s a contrarian opinion, I always engage in a discussion. On the blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook – both on my blog page as well as The Print’s FB post.

By then, it was too late. I was already branded as a misogynist.

 

THE HATRED

Unfortunately, it is impossible to debate with someone who has a preconceived notion of you.

The comments began about the article, slowly got personal, and then became about promoting rape culture. I was baffled how the interview, my article, or anything in the issue pertained to ‘rape culture’ in the first place.

One comment said, ‘Then you must also support the Nirbhaya rapists who gangrape women’. That one comment really shook my insides. For all their contributions to a great cause, most Indian feminists are rude, condescending, and bigoted in their views. Talking to a feminist is no different from talking to a BJP fanboy in many ways.

Also, I am sick of people bringing up Nirbhaya just to buffer their arguments. It is an insult to Nirbhaya herself, the trauma her family goes through, and every woman who has faced sexual assault. But unfortunately, there is no spectrum of moderation in Indian debates. You are either a bra-burning feminist or a Nirbahaya-rapist supporter. There is no middle ground, no scope for negotiation, no moderation of any sort.

A WORD ON INDIAN LIBERALS

Indian liberals are not very different from the hardcore right-wing.

Both these sections are constantly looking for ways to slot you into a category. Spoke against Congress? You are a Modi supporter! Spoke for Hardik Pandya? You support rape culture!

This narrative is so lazy, so uninspired, so dull – that you quietly back off into the background to avoid a splitting headache. What was most surprising was the reaction of my juniors. I studied in the University of Hyderabad – one of those Indian universities where the professors subtly plug moronic leftist agenda into their students.

The indoctrination in universities is astounding – you take an impressionable 20-year-old kid and feed him/her with your own ideology. You could walk into any Indian social-sciences university today, and you’ll find you need to fit into a ‘category’.

These are all kids with no real-world knowledge, haven’t worked a single job all their lives, their world is a limited, urban coterie of echo chambers, but now they are equipped with a rigid, myopic view of the world.

I generally laugh off my University juniors and their opinions but sadly, it didn’t just end with trolling.

I perform stand-up comedy shows all through the year and people started commenting on the events. One dude with an anonymous profile (but of course!) posted messages like ‘Do you also promote rape culture? ‘Cos Hriday Ranjan certainly does!’. Every single link or event I shared was met with the same response – some 20-year-old dumbfuck pissing his half-baked opinions on my wall.

I logged into Facebook the next day and the scenario was the same. The article had been shared over 30,000 times. I was being called a misogynist, a promoter of rape-culture. Friends of mine pinged me to say that their boss shared the article, and they are misogynists, and my article was enabling them, giving them a voice.

Memes began to be circulated of Hardik Pandya’s interview being compared to Rahul Dravid’s MTV Bakra clip from the 90s. Shit had hit the fan, but it wasn’t the first time something like this was happening. I was used to being trolled by fans of actors but being labelled as a supporter of rape because of an article really perplexed me.

THE EBBING

In a few days, it was all gone, People found new things to outrage over, and I was glad the thing was beyond me. I had thought of putting up a post about what I meant, but it would seem like I was justifying my opinion – something I didn’t find necessary.

But then, something amazing happened. Rahul Dravid the man that Indian liberals were comparing Hardik Pandya to, himself commented on the issue. His take? That they were boys who made a mistake, the issue was being blown out of proportion, and that it was necessary to educate youngsters rather than chastising them.

So, I guess Rahul Dravid is a promoter of rape-culture too then, huh? And Anurag Kashyap, and Baradwaj Rangan, and all the men and women who shared the article – they must all be promoters of rape culture?

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I have found that discussions and debates in the country are slowly descending into mud-slinging and name-calling. It certainly wasn’t the case a few years ago.

I have been writing for more than a decade now, and till a few years ago, someone who disagreed with my opinion would leave a long comment on the post. I would chill through the day and check the comment in the night and reply to it. Some of these debates would go on for days, and one got to learn of different opinions, facts, and viewpoints.

Around 2014, the rise of the right-wing in both India’s political spectrum and social media brought about a new phenomenon. Ardent devotees of the Supreme Leader who would bash your opinion to the ground, bury it in soil and piss all over it. But the liberals could at least be reasoned with.

In the last few years, the liberals have risen to challenge the right-wing in their own currency. What we have now is two cardboard boxes on either side of a debate. One must come running and quickly jump into one of the boxes. If you’re not a feminist, you are a misogynist. If you are an atheist, you must be a left-winger. If you criticise the BJP, you must be a ‘presstitute’ (whatever the fuck that term means). This type of categorisation is sickening and stifling.

To stay neutral, or to be able to pick pros and cons from different side – is called out as ‘hypocrisy’. Which is funny because in India, there is no real left-wing or right-wing.

These were concepts created for economic reasons, and in India, every party is a left-wing party. If you assume that the BJP is truly right-wing according to global standards, have a look at sops, subsidies, and demands for reservations among the ruling party this year. In India, right and left wing is determined primarily on religious grounds.

It is a laughable dichotomy to begin with, but turns out to be silly when you see passionately calling themselves either ‘left-wing’ or ‘right-wing’.

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In a few days, the news became stale.

Ranveer Singh wore an outrageous costume, or Jahnvi Kapoor picked her nose on the way to her gym, and all was good with the world again.

That, unfortunately, is the way we feel, discuss, and debate issues in our country.

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And these are stats from 2015 !!

How much more money will Sachin Tendulkar make?

When Sachin Tendulkar retired on November 13, 2013, the entire nation stood still to wipe away tears.

Mike in hand, as he addressed the nation in whites for the last time, the sun set on an era of cricket followers. When he choked up in the final leg of his speech, three generations of Indians stopped their work to realised that time had passed. Like Sachin, the entire nation had grown softer around the edges, pudgy on the sides.

There will always be whispers about the lack of celebration when Dravid or Laxman retired, but Sachin Tendulkar retiring was a true turning of the pages of Indian cricket.

The very next day, Sachin was awarded the Bharat Ratna – the greatest civilian award in India. He was made an honorary member of the Rajya Sabha, India’s Upper House in the Parliament. As he stepped off the field that day, Sachin wound up an entire era of cricket. [Read my blog on Sachin’s retirement].

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As a voracious consumer of popular culture, I am fascinated by brand stories.

I like to track the trajectory of people once their glory days are behind them. That is how I know of Zayed Khan’s production house with Dia Mirza; and that Ravi Shastri lives in the apartment below Sunil Gavaskar’s.

When Sachin Tendulkar retired, I assumed he would go on to lead the dignified life of a modern great. That he would take up adminstrative, coaching, or mentoring programs at domestic, national, and international level. He was never a man of words, so the commentary box would be too much of an ask (Also, how would he feel sitting next to Laxman Sivaramakrishnan?).

Nearly four years since his retirement, Sachin Tendulkar continues to set up business establishments across the country. Sachin today owns enterprises in sports, telecasting, clothing, sports entertainment arcades, and restaurants. This is keeping aside the numerous brand endorsements he is a part of.

Every time you see a mention of Sachin in the papers, it is in relation to the launch of a new product. In his own unique way, Sachin has moved from the Sports page to the Business page of newspapers.

But for how much longer?

One is free to argue that it is his life, and what he chooses to do with the rest of it is completely up to him. Which of course is an irrefutable argument. After spending 30 years of his life to the sport, he is free to choose how he spends the rest of it. But the question remains – aur kitna paisa banayega Sachin?

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Sachin’s contemporaries have all moved in different directions. Anil Kumble and Venkatest Prasad have taken up coaching roles, along with contesting the Karnataka State Cricket Association elections. Javagal Srinath is a match referee.

Saurav Ganguly serves in an administrative position in the Bengal Cricket Academy. Rahul Dravid is the coach and mentor of the under-19 Indian team and recently refused an honorary degree from Bangalore University because he wanted to pursue it as a full time course.

Sachin meanwhile, just launched a new app called 100MB which will provide users with a unique, fresh view into the life of India’s greatest sporting star. Another platform with ‘Yayy India won’ tweets and pictures in front of Ganesh idols.

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When you’ve been the richest sportsperson in the country for two decades, how much is too much?

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As a devout Sachin bhakt, the reports about his lack of activity in Rajya Sabha did not come across as a shocker. In an uncanny coincidence, Lata Mangeshkar – the other Bharat Ratna who was made MP and featured in Tanmay Bhat’s video – was also accused of not doing enough for her constituency.

And these are stats from 2015 !!

And these are stats from 2015 !!

There is no doubt that Sachin remains arguably the most loved Indian alive. That he has a pull over target demographies across age and geography. That Indians will buy anything he promotes – from Rorito Racer Gel to ‘Sach’ Innerwear. Through our entire lives, Sachin has sold us every single product. Want a pen? Reynolds. Want a car? Fiat Palio. Not getting your periods? National Egg Co-ordination Committee. Sachin has endorsed and sold every product that can be stocked, from the glitziest malls to the tiniest kiraana shop. From Infinity Mall to the infinitesimal.

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But as an icon of the game, as the face of a generation, should Sachin Tendulkar be contributing more to the game? Shouldn’t Tendulkar retire from our televisions, and feature in the aspirations of youngsters pursuing the game across the country?

So here it is, from a terrible poet to a great cricketer, a poem filled with hope.

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Cover Picture Image courtesy: Factly.

If you are a cricket fan, look out for our show Silly Point – India’s First Cricket based Stand Up Comedy Show as me and Rohit Swain embark on an 8 city tour with the show. Please come down or spread the word. 🙂

Of Idiots Who Smash Beer Bottles

As part of everyday life as a homo sapien in the 21st century, one of man’s primary responsibilities is to deal with assholes.

It’s a natural, evolutionary process. Early Man had to deal with wild animals, forest fires, and Anil Kapoor’s chest hair. The modern man is saddled with the responsibility of dealing with assholes around him. It has to be done.

And to live in the 21st century in a country like India, means it is open season for assholes. There’s the guy who waves at you from the train while taking a dump on the tracks. Then there’s the guy who decides to enthrall you with a vintage Kumar Sanu number when you walk past him, throwing in a few animal smooching noises for few. Then there are the guys who walk past a long line in waiting, and quickly dart into the line like they’re avoiding Agent Smith.

As a race, we have learnt to adapt to some of them. Devised ways to deal with such kinds, worked our way around their habits. But if there is one category of assholes that I simply cannot make my peace with, it is the kind who smash beer bottles after drinking.

Why?

Just why would someone do something like that?

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A beer is not just any other drink. It is a slow, drawn-out process, liking writing a poem, or finishing a painting.

Imagine all the drinks to be cricketers in the dressing room in the 90s. There is Whiskey, the Sachin Tendulkar of the lot. Loved by all, revered by some, worshipped by many. Then there’s Rum – flashy, an aura around it that commands respect, the Ganguly. There’s Tequila, the Sehwag madness that comes, shoots, and leaves.

Beer is the Rahul Dravid.

Beer doesn’t begin by hooking the first ball over long-on for six. You have to spend time with it, take a few sips, and talk. And then slowly, a beautiful innings is created. It is a cover drive on a sunny morning at Lord’s. The kind that sends the knocking sound of the ball across the ground.

You don’t pour your beer into glasses. No pouring it out, measuring, mixing. You raise the bottle, and gulp down its contents. Drinking beer is perhaps the only drinking custom that has remained intact after centuries. There’s no adding flavours, making cocktails, shaking, setting it on fire, or any of that crap. You raise it, put it near your mouth, and guzzle down the divine nectar.

Why on earth would you want to smash the bottle to smithereens after that?

I have always wondered what sort of machismo is proven by breaking a bottle of beer! It doesn’t involve high risk – the bottle will break even if it slipped from your hand. So why then the deep urge to smash it?

There are so many wonderful things you could do with an empty bottle. Find a stick – one that’s not too thick – and use it to drum on your bottle. It gives off a nice, clinking sound that’s hard to find elsewhere. Then one could also tie the bottle to the branch of a nearby tree, to serve as beacons for fellow revelers. The bottles will light up in green and brown luminescence every time there’s light, showing the path to brothers with parched throats.

If you are the noble sort, you could keep the bottles and give them to a rag-picker, who could sell it for a few rupees? What could be more uplifting than having a beer and doing a good deed at the same time?

If you choose none of the above, simply carry the bottles back to your room. Use them to fill water, and watch people stare in amazement as you sip off the bottle first thing in the morning. There’s no end to the possibilities thrown up by an empty bottle of beer.

And yet, every time I have a beer, there’s that one guy who is hell bent on reversing millennia of human intelligence in a few seconds. By flinging his bottle into the distance, and craning his neck to hear it shatter.

Yay!! Happy Birthday, you fucking idiot.

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Of course, one might argue that it is beyond reason and logic. Just an animalistic urge to fling the bottle, to hear it burst into a thousand pieces. A drinking ritual of the modern age. I have no problem with that.

This is what I have a problem with.

I take my beer and find my spot.

One that isn’t very hot, preferably with shade above, a breeze if god is kind. I sit down, get comfortable, and open my beer. Take a sip, feel it go down my invariably parched throat, when a piece of glass cuts through my jeans and gnashes at my ass.

That, my friends, is not cool. It is torture. It is not just the pain. It is the fact that you’re completely lost in the beautiful moment, and taken unawares in a cruel way.

Just because some asshole decided to have a beer, and thought it was a cool ritual to shatter it to a thousand pieces. To hear it burst, the satisfaction of the sound.

Animalistic urge, it seems!

Fucking assholes.

 

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