Thursday, July 19, 2012

The real tragedy of Rajesh Khanna.

Now that Kaka has made his exit from the worldly stage on the new moon day notorious for immoderately excessive imbibing and landing in the gutter at the end of the unbridled liquid orgy (“gatari amvasya”), it is time to ponder his real tragedy. After Devyani Chaubal, Bollywood’s own Hedda Hopper, rechristened RK “Superstar” in her Star & Style column “Frankly Speaking” and a wee bit later Stardust dubbed him “The Phenomenon”, his thirst for attention must have reached unquenchable depths especially because his “hit” count was dipping fast. This longing may have been further augmented also because he was by nature a loner, guarded – his reticence often bordering on total silence − in his social interactions and intensely insecure. Jack Pizzey, who made some of the episodes of BBC’s Man Alive, described RK on the sets of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Namak Haraam (1973) saying that he was someone with the “charisma of Rudolph Valentino, the arrogance of Napoleon, and he’s late.” His oft-quoted dialogue from Safar (1970) was: “Mein marne se pehle marna nahi chahta.” (“I don’t wish to be dead before dying.”) Unfortunately, at the end of his heyday, Kaka must have died a million deaths in his mind and finally resigned himself to an ongoing spell of mourning till his final exit for his loss of superstardom. Come to think of it, the real tragedy of Rajesh Khanna was not being here on earth to relish the eulogies from the media hyenas as well as his hypocritical Bollywoodian peers after his departure. He missed the grand hurrah. He did.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Only in incredible India, OTT goes ballistic invariably.

Correct me if I err. We almost always seem to overdo our eulogies shamelessly. I noticed this tendency in at least three recent instances: Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor and Dara Singh. All these dearly departed were okay in their own way in their own fields. But to raise them to the level of cultural icons and societal milestones is scandalous − in fact, the height of hypocrisy, even if it is done in a fit of extreme nostalgia. Take the case of the most recent departure. He might have been Rustom-E-Hind but he made his mark in WWWF Free Style Wrestling in the fifties, sixties, seventies and early eighties which, if memory serves, was riddled with “fixing scandals” especially vis-à-vis “return bouts”. He featured in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1996 for wrestling in India, England and Canada and as a one-time holder of the Canadian Open Tag Team Championship. In his other incarnation as a film star, he was at best a D-grade actor in mostly B- and C-grade movies. He was to all appearances a decent human being insofar as no gossip about unseemly behaviour ever seems to have attached to him. So, enough already.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Lentil soup for the Middle Indian soul.

Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen’s Chicken Soup for the Soul: 101 Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit is a worldwide bestseller. It got its start from their tours as motivational speakers. It was on the circuit that they picked up the short inspirational, life-affirming and soul-uplifting vignettes about ordinary lives. These stories are meant to nurse back the sick soul of the reader to emotional health, much like the yummy-smelling bowl of steaming chicken soup served to a patient to restore his physical and psychological well-being. The logic behind this sort of pseudo or placebo therapy runs along the following lines. Even the worst sinner hopes to find a sliver of everything that’s right with the world and to feel the hope, joy, love, peace, tears and healing that he suspects are lurking somewhere just beyond his reach. Offer him an access to his wish list at an affordable price and in comfortable surroundings and he will be in your debt for ever out of gratitude and relief. Is Aamir Khan’s Satyameva Jayate with its multichannel telecast as well as webcast doing anything less for Middle India? It’s weekly therapy made supremely palatable by his much venerated, soothing presence (don’t miss those empathetic umms he peppers his listening-to-the-victim spells with!) to rid Middle Indians of their guilt and superciliousness towards the less fortunate Others. Shrewd fellow that he is, loveable Aamir Sirji may have already struck a multi-billion deal for a print blockbuster with DVD included for all you know. Once this surefire antidote is safely stored in your medicine chest – er, bookcase,  who would need to join an NGO or a candle-lit march?