The Horror Of It All

It’s all going to the dogs. Everything is more heinous, more amplified, more disgusting. Scams are not in the hundreds of crores, they’re in the hundreds of thousands of crores. Politicians are not dimwitted, they’re fuckwitted. Sycophancy has made way for a disgusting pride filled slavery. Outrage has ceased to be meaningless and now has a veneer of fashionable impotence. Normalcy was once forced, but is now looked forward to with an anticipation that expedites it as much as it wants it.

The bone-chilling gang rape of a girl in Delhi has caused the entire country to unite for a common cause that, like corruption, goes beyond the petty boundaries of religion, class, race. And yet even in our unity, we remain selective. We choose not to highlight the horror of a four year old toddler who was raped, killed and thrown on the railway tracks. We choose to put our tears on display to perfection. The Delhi CM cried in an interview over this girl’s miserable plight. And yet her office also granted parole to a convicted killer who thought a girl’s life was only valuable if she served him drinks. For every Aarushi that became the poster girl for candle light vigils, a thousand more were lost in the same ashes they were born in, without any mention in as much as an obituary.

I tweeted that the rapists should be castrated to make them understand what ‘loss’ means, what it means to feel ‘powerless’. Will that really work? I’m just treating the symptoms. This wasn’t the first gang rape. It won’t be the last. It’s not about setting sights on a perceived weakling and taking advantage. The real animal lies in the BELIEF that you can do so. It lies in the CONVICTION that you have the right to. It lies in the FACT that you can do what you want and get away with it.

Men believe they can overpower a girl because they’re brought up as the stronger sex. Before they prove it, they’re told they hold the power and position of being the stronger ones. Those who are also taught the responsibility behind it grow up to become the cleaner face. Those who feed that power ultimately become its slave and morph into the vulgar face. It doesn’t stop there. The minute a son sees a father insulting his wife, talking trash to his sister or daughter, disrespecting his mother, he’s convinced his power gives him the right to behave and act as he pleases. That it’s his right to treat the women in the house a little better than slaves and to keep them under his thumb. That’s when things start getting ugly. He looks around and sees a system run by the corrupt. He sees that the police are the ones people actually need protection from, that they’ll sell themselves for a wad of notes stuffed in their pockets and mouths. He sees that even if he ‘may’ get arrested for his actions, he will be released on a paltry bail, he might pressurize the victim to drop the case, or in the worst case scenario, the case will take ages in the sewers of our rotten Justice system. The comfort of these facts is the steroid he needs to break free. The animal is unleashed.

And then there are the cynics. Oh God the cynics. Those aspiring stand-up comedians on twitter who think they’re the Superman of wit and humour. Who think that anything and everything can be made fun of. Who in their infinite wit and wisdom do not know that boundaries exist and need to be respected. Sometimes I genuinely wish harm on these jokers. I want them to be subjected to similar conditions and find humour in it. They’re joined by those doubters with a perennial question about intentions, actions and outcomes. The kind of people who take up the easiest job of demotivating those who believe. The kind of sadists who plant seeds of doubt in others’ minds and nurture them into poisonous fruit bearing vines.

One of these days it will come to a point where a single act will start a chain of event, a domino tipping another and shaping a pattern that will change the face of this nation forever. What face emerges, the cleaner or the vulgar, will depend on where you and I are at that moment, when we reclaim our country from these dogs. And we will have to be in the thick of the action because we’re accountable to our children, and their children too. Because sooner or later, they’re going to ask a single question with tears in their eyes that we better have an answer to.

They’re going to ask us how the hell did we fuck up so bad?



O Captain! My Captain!

Dear Balasaheb,

Rest in peace. Being a father to a state like Maharashtra for more than 4 decades must be very tiring. Standing up for the weak, helping the lost find their self esteem, taking up issues every one else was shit scared of even talking about and above all, being relentless in the pursuit of establishing, nourishing and propagating your ideology must be a hell of a job to be accomplished by a single man. Just imagining all this makes me want to quit and leave town. And yet, you did all that, and did it in a way that made you larger than life for us,   a Demi God of sorts.

The reactions to your death were polarizing, to say the least. People are saying that we are being ‘forced’ to mourn. How can you ‘force’ a son to mourn for his father? How is it possible for us NOT to feel it’s the end of the world when one of the pillars of our identity crashes? How naive can people get in their assumptions of others? As I’m typing these very words, there are an estimated 2 million people on the streets in Mumbai, just to pay their last respects to you. Are they being ‘forced’ to do that? Is it ‘fear’ that is driving them? Did someone stuff their pockets with a wad of notes and the promise of alcohol? Can people be this fuckwitted to question our emotions for you? I guess I can only answer the last question today – Yes.

The apathy today has reached a point where a person who’s just been in Mumbai for 2 odd years thinks he understands enough about you and the Shiv Sena’s ideology and Mumbai’s fabric to comment on your influence on us. For him the Shiv Sena is all about V-Day hooliganism and vandalism of controversial arts. Shiv Sena starts and ends there. He derides your politics because having a cultural identity is bad according to his highly developed, cultured, ‘liberal’ intellect. I don’t even pity him. He has ignored the most important fact of your life – fighting for those who couldn’t. He has ignored your fight to help regain the self-esteem of the ‘marathi manoos‘, who was being ridiculed in his own home as a ‘ghaati‘. He has ignored the fact that right at this moment, Kashmiri Pandits are mourning your death as much as we Maharashtrians because they revere what you did for them. He has ignored that had it not been for you, Mumbai would be run over by Bangladeshi illegal immigrants and he wouldn’t have a place to dry his underwear. I bet he was shit scared when Mumbai was attacked on 26/11. I bet his dimwitted, warped intelligence and pathetic grasp of the situation won’t allow him to understand the havoc those illegal immigrants could have caused. For him, all these issues are irrelevant because they don’t affect people like him living in high rises. For him it’s just a matter of opposing anything anyone does which is outside the established and approved thinking and actions, benchmarks of which have been decided by a handful of elitist socialite columnists and ‘intellectuals’. Like these people, he doesn’t understand nor care about the common Mumbaikar who actually goes through this. And when the time comes to right the wrongs, these elitists are nowhere to be found, even when people bang on their doors and beg them to come out and do something as simple as cast their votes. He, like the people he draws his twisted view of the world from, are willing to defend defamation of my Gods being passed as ‘art’, but is cold blooded enough not to feel anger that my Gods were made the subjects of said ‘art’. Little does he realize that had that artist used his own religion’s prophet as a subject of his paintings, the backlash would’ve been near fatal. He prides himself in Hinduism’s freedom, and yet does nothing when that very freedom is abused and humiliated.

I too have demons of my own to slay. I didn’t agree with your protests and vandalism of V-Day. What Marathi youngsters today lack are a proper education about our culture and it’s strength, virtues and values. That is just bad parenting, more than anything else. That coupled with how V-Day is marketed (a way to express your love for your girlfriend / boyfriend, rather than a universal expression of love) is why that day is eagerly waited upon by youngsters. To target them physically won’t solve problems. And yet, more than that, I’m eternally grateful to you for often doing what I was too much of a coward to do. Like when I wanted to but couldn’t defend my religion, or when I wanted Mumbai to breathe again and not be subjected to the hordes of illegal immigrants. That is my solace. That is my redemption. Knowing and understanding what you did, and being able to see what it meant for the average Maharashtrian. Perhaps that’s the reason why today out of the 2 million grown ass, hardened people on the roads that are crying their hearts out for you, none are the typical page 3 mourners. On your last journey, you’re surrounded by the people you loved and fought for, and who loved you back. For all of us, you are the hero we needed and the hero we deserved.

I have a sneeky feeling that people hate you just because all your life you said and did what they could say in the comforts and anonymity of their living rooms and the internet. They too wanted to use cuss words in public, berate the corruption riddled, blood sucking government, but couldn’t find an ounce of courage to do it. And when you did it, their coached civility and the shepherds who herded them forbade them from applauding you, and their instructions manual asked them to condemn you. Such is the inbred hypocrisy around here that while you were targetted as being communal, MPs in Hyderabad walked, and continue to walk scott free after giving hate speeches on a daily basis. Such is the sycophancy today that while people worship the feet of the family that was forced down their throats, your’s is called a Mafia family and we, your followers are labelled blind whose ‘intelligence is hijacked by hormones’ (sic).

A hypnotist who ruled the subconsciousness of an entire state, a strategist who fought in the trenches and checkmated kings in their own courts, an orator who mesmerized millions, a leader who was as relentless as he was astute, Maharashtra’s Tiger who when sprang his claws drew blood, without the slightest care for opinion or votes. Words fail me to describe what you meant to this state, how burdened we are by your debt to us, and how disturbed at the thought that try as we might we won’t be able to fully repay you for what you’ve done for us. To quote Walt Whitman –

Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.


Dear Mr Prime Minister,

When you were elected the Prime Minister for the first time in 2004, an email did the rounds which contained your resume, highlighting your stellar accomplishments. We were awestruck and considered ourselves privileged to be led by a leader as learned and distinguished as you are. Little did we know then that 10 Janpath would drive 9 RCR, and that you would be surrounded by worshipers of a name and a dynasty.  Your own approach of keeping to your work and not communicating with the masses did not work either, as we all awaited eagerly for you to tell us what you had in store for our country’s glorious future.

What future unfolded in the subsequent years, has just about devastated us. A recession and a slow recovery later, we find ourselves bleeding dry from scams like CWG and 2G. In a time when the superpowers of the world are on their knees, we could have picked up the mantle and surged ahead. But instead, we find ourselves tangled in our own web of self serving politics, short-sightedness and an appalling absence of a collective vision for this country, and ideological bankruptcy when it comes to execution. Is it any surprise sir, that it is a commoner, who believes in the principles of your founder more than the people who wear his name, has now taken the fight to you, and is arm twisting you into doing what’s right, and what should have been done a long time ago?

Your response to this person’s movement has evoked every possible emotion in us, but they have all been undesirable ones. We felt enraged, amused, saddened, surprised, disappointed, exasperated, shocked, dejected. But never did we feel assured, optimistic, relieved, hopeful, content, or proud by your response. From making statements saying that Anna was a paid agent of right wing hardliner groups like RSS, or claiming that there are external forces instigating him, you stooped to the low levels of engaging in mudslinging through Mr Manish Tiwari, alleging that Anna Hazare himself was corrupt. But never did you once give us any hope that you were willing to work with the society’s representative to bring out ironclad legistation that will ensure corruption will be dealt with unprecedented severity.

You are saddened when you think that the legislature’s authority is under attack. You feel that such movements are nothing but blackmail, forcing the government to bend to a handful individual’s wishes, and not letting it do it’s work. Let me ask you sir, isn’t it a fact that if the legislative machinery had done it’s work, and introduced / amended laws periodically, this situation would not have occurred in the first place? It was the legislature’s failure in forming strict and foolproof laws that gave these criminals the courage to break them for the first time. It was the law enforcement community’s failure to stop them that gave these criminals the guts to keep on breaking them, again and again. And all this while, the country had to tolerate your petty political bickering  in  the houses of the Parliament. The opposition is equally to be blamed, as they know nothing else than to be an opportunist. I have no doubt that even if the roles are reversed, the attitudes won’t. By calling this movement ‘blackmail’ and ‘unconstitutional’, you are questioning the very method by which our freedom fighters gifted us the freedom in which we live. A greater irony never existed.

It took your office an year to warm up to the fact that there had been a gross miscarriage of policy and law in the 2G spectrum affair, and yet at the slightest hint of Anna Hazare breaking section 144, he was arrested and sent to Tihar jail. And yet again, the same rule did not apply when Rahul Gandhi toured UP and similar conditions prevailed? If this isn’t hypocrisy, pray tell what is. Nevertheless, this has been the general trend of events so far. The heir apparent has been too busy diving into the huts of the poor and helpless, grabbing every photo-opportunity, while nibbling away at whatever little those souls had left to begin with. When the Orissa tribals won a battle against a global company, thanks to the decision of the Environment Minister, he famously proclaimed that there was a soldier in Delhi, fighting for their cause, and his name was Rahul Gandhi. This same soldier however, has not made a single statement on inflation or corruption, which threatens every common man in this country. Even now, when Anna Hazare was released from Tihar Jail, NDTV claimed that it was Rahul Gandhi’s intervention that made it possible. Is this man really bigger than the government machinery? It’s a rhetoric question, but we’d love it if you could answer it.

You must have gathered from all this rambling above of how frustrated I am. If you were to wear a disguise and roam the streets of India, you would feel this frustration in every human being you meet. Under the circumstances, it might also be the most pracical thing you did, instead of surrounding yourselves with sycophants who are not accountable to you, but to the president of a party. Of course, I am just an ordinary citizen, and there are things at stake that I know nothing about. But if that is the case sir, please stand up for your government, take the reins in your own hand, and start the painful but rewarding process of righting the wrongs. Being the elected representative of the people of the Indian Republic, you owe us that much atleast.

And if, sadly, you again look up to 10 Janpath for advice, take mine instead. Quit.

An Indian citizen.


Rajneeti – A Politician’s Promise

There were many reasons why Rajneeti could have been one of the biggest and most powerful films of the year, if not the decade. It had the one of the best directors at the helm, had veterans and stars to pull it through, had already generated enough interest ( I am consciously avoiding the word ‘hype’ here because it’s reserved for films like ‘Kites’ and ‘Housefull’), was based on a topic very dear to us Indians. But inspite of all these advantages, it wound up as just another frivolous story of bloodthirsty  ambitions, politics, backstabbing, and political one-upmanship.

I’m not going to delve into the intricacies of the story here. I’m more interested in the plot and characterization. It has borrowed heavily from Mahabharat and The Godfather. And I don’t think that was a very good idea. It enabled the knowledgeable audience to know where the story was heading next. And some of the scenes were so straight out of the epics that it was unbelievable. Like the scene where the SP slaps Ranbir in the hospital lobby, or the scene where Arjun Rampal dies are textbook Godfather scenes. Imagine if Chetan Bhagat wrote ‘The Godfather’!!!! (not that he could have, even in his or our wildest dreams!!!) he’d be laughing his way to the bank on copyright infringements and royalties. Other scenes reminded one equally of Mahabharat. These two epics are mammoth in their own rights, and to combine them just to make the movie more imposing didn’t work. The result was a movie where the story is lost in tactical maneuvers and never achieves the intensity of either of it’s parents.

Of the performances, I felt only Nana Patekar , Manoj Vajpayee and Arjun Rampal were the true performers. While Ranbir Kapoor had the best role in the film and for most it was an out and out RK film, I humbly disagree and honestly think he needs to work on his dialog delivery badly.Once it was established that RK was Michael Corleone and Arjun, all he had to do was watch Al Pacino a couple of times play Michael. Naseer was only meant for the birth of Ajay, and again Ajay himself delivered a hallmark performance we have come to know him for.

Two of the girls I know were surprised that there were no songs in the movie, even though it has a soundtrack. And I was surprised at their surprise. Why would a movie like this need songs? It was not a love story, it was not a sitcom comedy, it was not a patriotic movie, then why? Songs were not meant to be a part of this story, and were wisely kept away. And if at all they wanted to have a proper song sequence, the only place they could have put it was when Ranbir agrees to marry Katrina.  And that brings me to the two most ridiculous scenes I saw in the movie. The first one is immediately after Ranbir agrees to marry Katrina. The next thing we see is the couple hitting the dance floor in a club and a ‘wink-and-it’s-over’ dance number. What the hell was that about?!! One moment I was watching an intensely manipulative Ranbir wooing Katrina, with Nana watching with an approving smile, and the next moment everything is blanked out and we have girls in skimpy clothes (I don’t mind 😉 )dancing!!! and before I can adjust (no pun intended, don’t mean it in the physical sense), we’re back to the politics of it all!!! I mean WTF!!!

The next scene is after some major event occurs. There is a close up slow motion shot of Ranbir running wearing a bandana. Very Michael Bayesque i must admit! and the next frame cuts to the terrace where a worried Sara watches him sprint away!!! My first reaction to it was the memory of countless scenes in comic situations where the hero and heroine run towards each other in slow-mo (real or faked) and then as soon as they are about to hug, they switch from slow-mo to real time, cross each other only to stop some distance away!!! coming back to the particular scene in Rajneeti, it made absolutely no sense to me. Ranbir had shown enough intensity in some previous scenes already. This scene was not required to establish how focussed and intense that character was. Again, WTF!!! One thing’s for sure, Prakash Jha has many talents as a director, but artistic rendition is not one of them.

I went to watch Rajneeti expecting an intense, power-packed political drama. Even if Mahabharat was the mould for it’s plot, I was damn excited because it touches on every subject, every emotion under the Sun, and remains the most powerful epic ever written. What turned me off was the rip off of The Godfather, minus the intensity. For movies based on the novel,  I really found the Sarkaar duology more intense.

Rajneeti started as a modern day Mahabharat, morphed into The Godfather but dissolved in their shadows without leaving any imprint on my mind.


A Question of Answers

Dear Dr. Manmohan Singh,

I congratulate your government on completion of it’s first year in the second term. You have attained that rarefied status in Indian politics of being above the filth and mudslinging that our leaders of the common man are usually practitioners of. Only Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee joins you on that pinnacle, and God knows we could do with some more leaders at such rare heights of character.

But my purpose of writing this letter is not to give you a character certificate. Indeed, I’m too less a mortal to do that. I do have, however, some questions that are bothering me and leaving me with a feeling of helplessness. I shall endeavour to list them down here and would plead that they not be treated as rhetorical.

1. Why did you consult an MP with a claim to the throne of a dynasty over the issue of Sugarcane subsidy when the opposition and farmers had laid siege to Delhi? Were you perhaps, waiting for a final word from the future High Command? Does this in turn mean that you, being the leader of the people, are instead accountable to someone else?

2. The food inflation has been sucking the common man’s blood for the better part of an year now. There is a widespread opinion that the Public Distribution System has collapsed. Tonnes upon tonnes of foodgrains are rotting in warehouses, which is causing artificial inflation and further adding to the common man’s woes. The Agriculture Minister has been a total failure and yet is stubbornly not accepting any responsibility.

In such a case, don’t you feel that in the interest of the nation that you serve and lead, it might be wiser to give that responsibility to someone who can perhaps REALLY work for the people of India?

3. Why does the Home Minister of India, the second most powerful person, entrusted with our internal security, state that he has a ‘LIMITED MANDATE’ in tackling the Maoist threat? Why does he need to come to you asking for a bigger mandate? And if he doesn’t already have a bigger mandate, then why is he incharge of the situation?

4. Despite of actionable evidence of MPs lobbying for juicy portfolios, and subsequent scams that seriously hamper our growth potential, why are they still retaining their portfolios?

5. Why are certain political party leaders allowed to go on a statue erection rampage, splurging crores of Rs. in states that lack basic amenities, and not held accountable by the Central Government?

6. Why is there no watchdog over an extremely unethical, powerful, biased, bullying media?

7. What makes the External Affairs Minister of Pakistan arrogant enough to claim that India came on its knees to plead Pakistan to start talks again, post 26/11?

8. What made you give a statement in the press conference that you’ll step down if it is decided that Rahul Gandhi should lead?

I assure you, there are a lot of other questions haunting a good many of us. As a citizen, I look up to the Government of India as the most powerful Institution. And one that has carried this power with the utmost responsibility. But looking at the past year, I have come to believe that this government is not really in control over the nation’s affairs.

I would like nothing better to see you put your foot down firmly and ACT. Not to save your government, not to stay in power for another 4 years, not to please the high command or the heir of a dynasty who revels in photo opportunities to flaunt his concern for the downtrodden.

I would like you to ACT for the commonest of the common, because we, as a nation, NEED you to.

A citizen of India


Of Foxes and Fanatics

Now that the hoopla around the SRK Vs. Sena is subsiding, let me share my 2 cents.

Lets go a bit backwards in time, the IPL 3 auctions are over, and there is a controversy about the Pakistani players not being favoured by any teams. The official statement from the GOI is that they didn’t interfere, but the low down from teams’ strategy rooms is that they were discouraged from bidding for Pakistani players. Lalit Modi defends the IPL by saying that it was left to the teams to decide who they wanted. Preity Zinta defended the auction process by saying that a lot of Australians were not picked either, and thereby begging the media to be more responsible while reporting news. Shilpa Shetty raised the security issue to defend her selections.

At the auction, KKR (SRK’s team) bagged NZ pacer Shane Bond in a silent bid at an undisclosed  amount. They emptied their available funds on a single player.

SRK then came into the picture and made a statement. This statement ruffled the feathers of the Maharashtrian regional parties and Shiv Sena became active in condemning him and all hell broke loose.

Now that we’ve collected the data points, let’s try to analyze.

1. The Shiv Sena is seen by many to be a party past it’s prime. I watched a live interview of Uddhav Thackrey on Saturday the 6th and somehow I got the feeling that there is an ace up his sleeve. He was very cool and surefooted the way he responded to the comments and criticisms targeted at him over the last fornight. But I fear I’m digressing. Anyway…

2. Anyone who thinks that this issue will help Shiv Sena recover lost ground is a bit naive. The next elections are 5 years away (if the Congress – NCP) coalition holds, and the public memory falls WAY short of that timespan ( I mean agree or not, we’ve even managed to move on from 26/11, even if the intellectuals like Des and Bedis would love to shout otherwise). So my point is that the Shiv Sena won’t count of this issue alone to try to gun for power and prominence.

3. The Shiv Sena is also smart enough to know that all this ruckus notwithstanding, the awareness, education and exposure of the population of Maharashtra and the permanent negative sentiments of the media and the intellectually elite ( again read as De, Bedi and co, self proclaimed, really!!!) means that people are moving away from divisive politics and want accountability from the political leaders towards the real development issues. So no matter how much the Shiv Sena shouts, it’s voice is still fading.

Lets look at the SRK camp now.

1. SRK doesn’t need a hit at the box office to establish himself. He’s already done that, again and again. His PR and promotion skills can be the subject of discussions and workshops in the best of B Schools. But looking at last year’s records, his competitors’ movies have had more limelight ( Wanted, Ghajini, 3 Idiots).

2. His movie ‘My Name is Khan’ is just round the corner. Remember his US visit when he was questioned for about 2 hours at a US airport?

3. There was no real need for SRK to make that statement about the auction in the first place. No one had forced him to empty his pockets on a single player. He could have gone ahead and bought whoever he wanted. Like others, he too perceived an underlying issue about certain players and choose to play safe. He says he believes in the Constitution of India and in India’s inclusivity, then why didn’t he defy the other team owners and go ahead and do what he thought was right? having a herd mentality and then talking about fairness and honesty is not my idea of being righteous.

If you think the points I’ve written about the Shiv Sena and SRK above are rational and objective, just try and find the answer to the one question that’s disturbing me.

In this whole issue, WHO BENEFITS?


Austerely Stupid

I admire Rahul Gandhi. I really do. He’s a true Congress worker. And he’s so humble!!! Imagine! Just because his mother, the great Smt. Sonia Gandhi decided to travel by economy class from Delhi to Mumbai to Mysore, he decided to go by AC Chair Car!!! His mom saved 7000 bucks, he saved 445!!! Now’s that’s a mama’s boy!

We Indians really overdo it when we overdo it. Of course, the Great Indian Media has to play its part here as well. Or how else will the people know about all the hype? Our leaders are splendidly exemplary. The moment our FM made an appeal for our ministers and MPs to be austere, everyone got busy telling the media how austere they are by telling their travel plans and their overseas appointment cancellations and their refusals to use private jets (which they are entitled to) to visit foreign countries. But Rahul Gandhi truly overdid it! For me it’s just an example of how blind our leaders can get. To save a mere Rs. 445, he travelled by train with all his security guards and his followers (read as suckers), causing great inconvenience to the ordinary citizens, who by the way, are the real users of our trains. So if you look at the economic value of this whole exercise, I must say it would be in the negative.

The media, as always, is doing its bit to contribute to all this bullshit. And they too overdid it when a channel went on to show what Rahul ate at 8.15 am or what he drank at 8.45 am. I bet the reporter also knew when Rahul went to use the rest room, how long he was in there, and the exact nature of his stay inside (judging by the atmospheric smells afterwards). I mean, come on! This is expected from the Indian Media but the question remains that how much low are they gonna go???

I’m sure a day will come, and soon, when our austere leaders will resort to wearing the same clothes thrice before washing and using half flush when peeing so that they can give the water thus saved to the flood affected people on the lower banks of Yamuna, and begin using Tata Docomo’s pre-paid plans to save the precious paise on every call and out do each other to convince people that they care for the tax payer’s money.

Come to think of it, we have leaders who build a city full of elephant statues and parks by demolishing residential quarters and buildings, and ask for a draught relief fund of 80k crore to the centre. Sigh!

Austerely yours,