Who’s The Bigger Threat?

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Anyone who knows me or  has followed this blog, definitely knows that I’m a connoisseur of bad Bollywood cinema. To be honest with you, I’m the kind of guy who enjoys The Dark Knight and Purani Haveli in pretty much the same vein. Naturally then, I had more than enough reasons to be excited last month . For starters, Himess Bhai was about release his second movie Karz (with extra Zs free), which was destined to deliver a truckload of laughter for ‘fans’ like me before it went straight to hell on a haath gaadi. Sadly I didn’t manage to catch that awesome movie. Himess Bhai crashed out of the theaters before I could say ‘Ooooo Huzoooor!’ But all hope was not gone, because over the last month or so, a strange little man had emerged out of nowhere and suddenly taken over all the bus-stops and TV screens at Shoppers Stop, McDonalds and even the new digital signage at the railway stations. That man of course was KRK, producer and lead actor of Desh Drohi a man who we’ve already exalted earlier this week.

7th November was to be the D-day when KRK and his motley crew of 2 item girls and 15 villains would roll into town with their drama, emotion, action, comedy and social messegwa! What made the day even more exciting was that Dasvidaniya a bonafide, well made film was to be released on the same day. The Thursday before D-day however, both movies were nowhere to be seen in the movie listings though the TV promos proudly declared Coming November 7th. As it turned out later, Bollywood had gone into a frenzy and for some reason, every Raj, Rahul and Prem wanted their movie to be launched on November 7th. As a result, our two diametrically opposite, small budget movies couldn’t afford the theaters that week and both pushed back their release dates to the coming week.

While Dasvidaniya managed to stay controversy free after that, Desh Drohi faced a different fate. A B-grade, shoe-string budget movie, that until recently few (like me) cared about (mostly for a quick laugh) was now the talk of the town with everyone from the Delhi Tribunal to the Maharashtra CM giving their opinion on it. Unfazed, the great KRK pooled in all his remaining financial resources (remember he financed his own damn movie!) and went on an all out rampage to campaign the crap out of Desh Drohi. If earlier one saw Desh Drohi posters at Bus-stops, one could now see them on the buses too. Heck my harmless KRK blog-post started receiving hits by the hundreds after some alert Manoos linked it to the Orkut community of a party which seemed very concerned by the movie.

Amidst all the hullabaloo no one really seemed to notice that Desh Drohi, if it managed to make it to the theaters, would now get a decent amount of curious spectators who’d want to see what exactly was so ‘inflammatory’ about it. If all went as planned, KRK would even make a buck or two in profits. That, however was not meant to be. After screening after special screening, the Maharashtra government finally decided to tadipaar Desh Drohi from Maharashtra for 2 whole months, a time frameafter which, let’s face it, most movies are completely erased from the juntas memory. This probably is the end of the road for Desh Drohi, but it is also the start of a discussion.

We need to ask: Was it Desh Drohi that was a threat to the decorum in Maharashtra? or was it the people who threatened that the city would burn once again if it were released? Who really deserves to be kicked out of the state, the movie or these mindless vandals who kill in the name of cultural pride? Let’s face it people, if Desh Drohi was even a tenth as influential as the government that banned it built it up to be, KRK would be a millionaire by now. Desh Drohi was at best, a B-Grade movie filled with has-beens and never-will-be’s. The only ‘negative impact’ it could have caused would be the mild-headache that one is left with after watching movies of the Himesh kind. Yet we’re made to believe that Desh Drohi is the problem here.

Sadly, the ones who have both the power to influence minds in Maharashtra and spoil the decorum are the ones the state has catered to. Today, it’s an obscure B-grade movie that has fallen at their hands. If something isn’t done soon enough, soon the state will too.

I mean seriously, does this look like a man who can convince you to come out on the streets and break stuff?

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The Great Indian Democrazy.

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Disclaimer: The above interview was a work of fiction. Any resemblances to any politicians dead/ alive are purely co-incidental. Even if not, we don’t claim responsibility.

In November 2008, Americans voted in record numbers in a landmark election which gave America it’s first African-American President, Barack Obama. With his message of ‘Change’, the young Obama has managed to unite a divided America. Closer home though, we didn’t really have a leader to match Obama, until recently that is. Last year, a young, fiery politician, won the TV reality show Bleed India and since then has taken the politics in India by storm. I present to you ladies and gentlemen, the chairman of the SMS (Super Maniacs Sena), Mr. PK Kulkarni. Here are some excerpts from a free-wheeling JAM interview that covered everything from his views on President-elect Obama, to his plans for the forthcoming elections.

JAM: Both you and Barack Obama have risen meteorically in politics. Do you think it’s fair to say that the two of you are similar politicians?

PK: Of course of course, I totally agree that Barack and I are very much like each other. In fact, I can name so many similarities between us right now: He is the first Black President in the history of America. I am the first leader in the history of India who blackens the faces of other leaders! He supports the minorities in America, my supporters are a minority in India. He is in favour of change, my party workers will kill for loose change. Arrey, in fact, our slogans are similar too! He says ‘Yes, We Can!’, my party says “No, You Cannot!”

JAM: Your party has been at the receiving end of a lot of flak because you said that non-natives should leave Maharashtra and go back to their home states. Are you really against all immigrants?

PK: This is entirely false, I have always welcomed immigrants to the state. In fact, I’ve always maintained that people from all over India can come to Maharashtra and stay as long as they want…provided they leave the next month.

JAM: The Supreme Court has recently said that Maharashtra is becoming increasingly unsafe for Non-natives because of your party. What are your comments?

PK: Once again, these allegations are absolutely false. My party does not believe in discrimination against anyone. Yes, I admit Maharashtra is unsafe, but then it is unsafe for everyone no? Tomorrow if the Supreme Court orders that I should be arrested again, my party workers will attack everyone: native or non-native.

JAM: As a matter of fact my next question, was about your arrest. When the Police took you into custody last time, your supporters went on a rampage, destroying several PEST buses and auto rickshaws in protest. Isn’t this ‘Jungle-Raj’? (no pun intended)

PK: No no, you are unnecessarily tying up two unrelated issues. The destroying of those buses and rickshaws had nothing to do with my arrest. If you remember, my party had given an ultimatum to PEST and the Rickshaw Union to replace their old vehicles with a new fleet as a part of the MM-Mar-Diya Infrastructure Development Project which expired on that same day. As both PEST and the Rickshaw Union failed to replace their vehicles with new ones, we destroyed their old ones. So you see, we were doing a great service to the citizens!

JAM: Recently, an angry young man hijacked a PEST bus and even threatened to kill you. Is this a matter of concern for you now that the Police has lowered your security to B-Grade?

PK: (Laughs) Arrey these people are amateurs. Everyone knows that you hijack planes and destroy buses and not the other way around! As far as my security goes, my party workers are enough, I don’t need the Police. As you have seen before, they can destroy a bus (hijackers included) before you can even say, “Cha Mailaa!”

JAM: On a lighter note, rumor has it that you were asked to participate in the TV-reality show Bigg Dogg. Considering that you’ve already won a reality show, why didn’t you participate in Bigg Dogg?

PK: Let me tell you the inside story on this Bigg Dogg fellow. Three years ago, he came from another state for the Railway exams and was hired as a Railway Announcer. Back then he had no issues making announcements in Marathi, Hindi and English, but now since he has a high paying job, he makes announcements only in Hindi. I refuse to take orders from a Railway Announcer, especially if does not speak the state language! And who is he to tell me what to do and what not to do? That coward doesn’t even show his face!

JAM: Thank you so much for your time, Sir. All the best for the upcoming elections.

PK: Thank you very much…wait what did you say your name was? Paras SHARMA? Cha Mailaa, that is a North Indian surname!

JAM: Er…something wrong Sir?

PK: No no, nothing, just turn the camera off, my party workers just want to have ‘a brief talk with you’. Thank you for coming.

P.S. No Animals were harmed in the making of this interview, not even this writer. Now if you will excuse me, I need to go get my stitches removed.

– Paras Sharma. With Camera-person Satish S.

Barack Obama and The Winds of Change

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Now I’m the kind of guy who checks the ‘Apathetic’ box under ‘Political Views’ almost by reflex. The fact that the politics in India sets new lows in dirtiness and underhandedness has only strengthened this stance of mine over the years. All of that however, gradually changed over the past one year. As a democracy loving Indian, I have been gravely disturbed by the seemingly unstoppable terror attacks that have rocked our nation on numerous occassions since the 11/7 Mumbai Local train blasts. The absolute inability of the state governments and the centre to both check these attacks and bring those responsible to justice have only irritated me further. Add the emergence of divisive radicals such as Raj Thackeray to that and I’m sure most people wouldn’t blame me if I said I no longer had any faith in what has now become a mockery of a democracy.

Despite my disappointment in my very own country’s political state of affairs, I stayed awake until the early hours of the morning to watch the outcome of an election that we had absolutely no say in. It would be unfair to say that I was merely curious to see whether Obama or McCain would eventually cross the finish line and take the White House. I was in fact just as anxious and hopeful for a Barack Obama victory as any of the half-a-million people present at Grant Park, Chicago last night. The fact that this election would have a great impact on the economic conditions all over the world was obvious, but that wasn’t the reason I was concerned about these elections. The reason was Barack Hussein Obama.

This man, who today has become the first African-American President in the history of America, is certainly special. His meteoric rise in the last eight years, from the time he unsuccessfully ran for Congress to becoming the winner of the longest and the most expensive election in American history ushers in a feeling of hope in a time where hopes aren’t too high the world over. His charisma and his ability to capture the imagination of the public every time he addresses them has certainly earned my respect. The way he has beaten the odds of having neither the experience nor the conventional lineage of a US President gives hope that maybe some day the world will look beyond race and religion and consider the ability and the character of political candidates.

While Obama’s victory is a proud moment for me and possibly many other Indians, it is also a stark reminder of the fact that  there isn’t a single leader in India today who excites us quite the way Obama does. While I felt privileged to have witnessed a piece of history being made last night, I couldn’t help but wonder whether the day would ever come when I would feel even half as excited for an Indian general election.

Change may have arrived in the USA, but how long will it take before we see one here in India?

Farewell Anil Kumble – A Retirement Tribute

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In the weeks leading up to the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2008, the BCCI (as usual) made a gaffe of gigantic proportions by announcing to the blood thirsty media that ‘Senior players should inform them of their retirement plans so that the BCCI can prepare for an appropriate send-off for them.’ That careless let-up by the richest cricket board in the world nearly ruined what could have been a perfect farewell for the top senior players in the Indian team, who by all means, have earned it.

Within no time the media-hounds were in hot pursuit of everyone from Tendulkar to Kumble enquiring whether there was pressure on them from Board to hang up their boots in a hurry. While most remained mum, one man who characteristically remained reserved in situations such as these snapped back saying ‘I will retire as and when and I want to.’ That man, of course, was Anil Kumble.

In the weeks to come, Kumble’s defiant statement was overshadowed by Saurav Ganguly’s decision to retire from international cricket at the end of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2008, and his subsequent outburst at the outgoing selection committee. Naturally then, when the series commenced all eyes were glued on Saurav Ganguly. Every run he made was cheered, every fifty he hit was built up as a slap in the face of Dilip Vengsarkar and every passing day became a reminder of the gigantic void he would leave behind once he retired.

Around the same time, the senior-hating media, unaware of Kumble’s future plans, heavily criticized his captaincy in the first test and questioned his fitness when he pulled out of the second. The anti-Kumble media protest became the shrillest when he was selected ahead of Harbhajan Singh for the third test match in Delhi, with some caustic yesteryear figures going as far as saying that it would cost India the series.

Unaffected as usual, Kumble went ahead took to the field with his men as they pummelled the Aussies during the first two days piling on a score in excess of 600 runs.

In the Aussie reply when Kumble injured his left hand while attempting a difficult catch, more than a few snickered knowing that he would now be unable to play the final test and his chances of returning to the Test side would be bleaker still with Amit Mishra announcing himself as Kumble’s heir apparent.

As the third test headed for a tame draw on the final day with Ganguly batting on 30-odd runs at ground littered with ‘Farewell Saurav’ hoardings,Kumble surprised the world with a googly, the likes of which he fauxed batsmen all the world over the years. To the world and to the BCCI (with their ‘Retirement Scheme’), the announcement may seem absolutely out of the blue.

But anyone who knows Kumble or understands the man one bit would know that this is exactly how he wanted to go – On his own terms without the maddenning excesses of a BCCI function. Truly his timing was perfect!

When the world questioned whether Kumble would ever return once the finger injury ruled him out of the final Test at Nagpur, Kumble defied all speculation with a bowling spell that was both a testament to his ability as a player and his mental strength as a competitor. With a heavily bandaged left hand, Kumble managed to pick up 3 wickets and wrapped up the Aussie tail, much like in the Caribbean half a decade ago when he came back to bowl even after his jaw was shattered by a Mervyn Dillon bouncer.

Cricket pundits may celebrate his 6-12 in the Hero Cup or his perfect 10-76 at the very ground he announced his retirement today, as his most impressive performances, but to me the two abovementioned instances where Kumble battled both his critics and his own body will remain as the most enduring images of the man.

His retirement may not be conventional, but then again, Kumble never was a conventional player to begin with. The purists called him more of a medium pacer than a spinner but his statistics speak for himself.

Throughout his career, he soldiered on for the cause of team. Rarely was thanked for it. The test captaincy as most agree came half a decade too late but regardless of what ‘could have been’, it’s very likely that Kumble retired today as a man with no regrets.

Amit Mishra’s performance in the first test may show a sign of hope for the future, but there’s no denying the fact that there’s a long long way to go before the void that Jumbo leaves behind will be filled.
Farewell Anil Kumble – And Congratulations for a glorious career!

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For those of you on Orkut, share your tributes here

Breaking News: Khali Mahabali Ko Naye Challenges

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It was 1997. India, playing against archrivals Pakistan in the Independence Cup final, was chasing a mammoth 315 run target. Eventually the equation came down to 9 runs from 6 balls with 3 wickets. Now in the zamana of T20, 9 off 6 is child’s play even for Ashish Nehra with one arm tied behind his back. But let me remind you, this was 1997. India rarely ever made totals this big; in fact this big a total had never been chased. It looked like the same would be the case, as India needed 3 runs of 2 balls with an inexperienced left-hander on strike. Saqlain came in and bowled a short one and BAM! The rookie clubbed him to the mid-wicket fence for four! I’m sure at that point he didn’t know what it meant, but the young lad who struck those winning runs, was virtually guaranteed a spot in the Indian team for the next one year solely on the basis of that boundary. I like to refer to this peculiar Indian tendency as ‘The Kanitkar Phenomenon’.

Ten years later in 2007, the phenomenon resurfaced again. And HOW! This time it was The Great Khali! He gallantly marched into the ring and knocked The Undertaker out cold with his dhai kilo tonne ka haat. Bas since then, he’s been on the Breaking News bulletins on Aaj Tak, India TV and Star News thanks to that one tagda blow!

It really pains me to see Khali achieve such dizzying heights while other great Indian wrestlers languish on the sidelines. What’s that you say? There aren’t any other ‘Great Indian Wrestlers’? Yeah right! Prepare to be shocked baccha log. Here I present to you, The Great Khali se bhi great wrestlers in India:

1) The Great Thali: Hailing from Kathiawad, Gujarat, this behemoth savours challenges like dhokla and undhyu! Weighing in at 250 kg, he can beat the best in the business to aam ras in a matter of seconds. His signature move is the Dandiya Wrath in which spins four times before striking the opponent on the head with a stick
Achievements: The Great Thali is the Udipi Wrestling Federation (UWF) Champion for the last 3 years.

2) The Great Bengali: He is the hunk from Howrah with Bengal tiger like reflexes and a complexion as fair as a rasgulla. His motto is Torbo (To break), Lorbo (To fight), Pitbo (To beat). Thanks to his good looks he has received a lot of Bengali as well Hindi movie offers off late.
Rumours: Around April this year, Kal Tak found semi-nude pictures of The Great Bengali with scantily clad, foreign cheerleading girls on hoodibaba.com, these reports however are yet to be confirmed.

3)The Great Idli: They call him the Dakhsin Devil. This 6’10, 230 kg Malayalee monster is the second heaviest wrestler in the UWF. He gobbles up competition like the 35 idlis that he has for breakfast everyday. Despite his enormous girth, he is one of the most agile wrestlers in the business. He is known to back-flip from the mat to the top rope in a Rajnikant-esque manner.
Achievements: The Great Idli has never lost a casket match…because there isn’t a casket big and strong enough to hold him!

4)The Great Mali: Previously a gardener by profession, The Great Mali is adept at taking care of all kinds of ‘Obnoxious Little Weeds’. Not afraid to speak his mind, he calls a spade a spade. His signature is The Fertilizer where the slams his opponent face down on a pile of horse manure!
Rumors: They say that The Great Mali once killed a man by throwing a flower pot on his head!