Akshay Kumar, King Khan V/S Singh and Madhuri Dixit-Nene

Sau sunaar ki, ek lohar ki!
Leaving the 100 crores club behind, Akshay Kumar has become a Rs 2000 crores man and how! I remember the time when his secretary Bali (now no more) pleaded with me to interview him and I met him at Natraj studio. His film was being released and we spoke about his background. He had been a cook in a small hotel in Thailand and wasn’t hiding it. He was a new age hero at that time!
He didn’t consume alcohol – he is still a teetotaler – and had a healthy way of coping up with anger and insomnia.
“If I am angry at someone or something, I just go to gym and work on the punching bag,” he had told me. And sleeping on the sand of any beach, listening to the calming sound of sea waves was his way to combat insomnia. He had said, “I have recorded the sounds and play the cassette in my bedroom if I can’t sleep.”
To come to the rivalry between the Khans and Akshay Kumar, I recall the rivalry between Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar as well as between Dev Anand and Dilip Kumar. To use a politically incorrect expression, the hoi polloi or another equally politically incorrect description (courtesy: Shashi Tharoor) the cattle class (read: mango man) used to treat the rivalry as communal. At the peak of this war, Hindus would be happy to see if Raj Kapoor’s ‘Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai’ did better than ‘Ganga Jamuna’, which Dilip Kumar directed by proxy. Continue reading “Akshay Kumar, King Khan V/S Singh and Madhuri Dixit-Nene”

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On the hanging of Afzal Guru

Whatever else, we have a decisive President in Pranab Mukherjee! Afzal Guru’s is the second hanging that he cleared – the first being Ajmal Kasab.
The earlier President, Pratibha Patil of silk saris and phoren jaunts – and her husband’s murder case as well as several chhota mota controversies, all showing her negatively – was a bad joke. She ‘didn’t have time’ to touch the appeals of those sentenced to death and then, she became an angel of mercy!
She gave Presidential pardon to 30 convicted and waiting to be hanged.
These thirty had barbarically murdered 60 women and children! One of them had brutally killed a child of six. Two others had gang raped and murdered the 10 year old daughter of a jailor on the prison premises! In another case, two persons had killed five members of a family and sexually assaulted the 15-year-old daughter of the family. I have two questions if this was Pratibha Patil just being against capital punishment on principle.
One: Why has she never expressed this view in any article / seminar / speech / interview?
Two: Why did she keep the files undecided for 28 months?
As it is, the legal procedure is very long and in case of capital punishment, longer. And that, in some way, is our strength too.
But the indecisiveness of the Presidents in such vital matters is unpardonable.
It is also clear that, a year before the elections, Congress is jittery.
Steps are being taken to woo the people and to blunt the criticism of the opposition.
Hindu Right Wing organizations and political parties were always demanding the hanging of Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru. Well, that issue is over.
This year will see many more gifts, many promises from UPA.

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The Five Foolish Virgins

Somehow, I don’t much care for christening a book or an article. I have always been sure of readers’ response. I had repeatedly seen readers buying a tabloid, turning pages to reach my column, read it immediately and then to return to the other articles. But I realized that my indifference to naming an article was partly because I’d spent long time in working out the name of the columns.
Some of the more popular names of my columns were Far-Out, An Ear to the Ground, OH Bombay!, Mohan Deep’s Diary, Mirch Masala, a Little Bird Tells me, Whispers…
But I didn’t give any heading to the stories, leaving it to the sub-editors. Some of them were quite creative and would give a catchy heading.
Naming a book, of course, is a different ball game.
I called my biography of Madhubala as ‘Madhubala’ and thought it was enough. This was the first time in India that anyone was writing a star biography of that calibre – well-researched, well-investigated, unafraid and unbiased. Magna group, which till then was into magazines, was to enter the world of books with my ‘Madhubala’. Unfortunately, the group faced a boycott from the film industry at that juncture. ‘Madhubala’ was about the scandals of older generation and some felt that it was not the right time to antagonize the older generation too. So the publishing schedule was changed. To return to the name of the book, some over-enthusiastic editor played with the letter M and called it ‘The Mystery and Mystique of Madhubala’.
Of course, Madhubala it remained.
It was easy to name the biography of Meena Kumari. Her life was so full of scandals that I didn’t have to think too hard to name it ‘Simply Scandalous: Meena Kumari’.
When I wrote the biography of Rekha, I first called it ‘Re’. This was the way she was addressed by her friends, admirers and lovers. But my friend journalist Chaitanya Padukane suggested ‘Eurekha!’ since I had unearthed every embarrassing scandal from her life. ‘Like Archimedes who screamed Eureka! when he discovered his principle (“a body immersed in a liquid or a gas has a buoyant force equal to the weight of the liquid or gas that it displaces.”) I was supposed to have ‘discovered’ the real Rekha. So ‘Eurekha!’ it was.

I’m writing about the names as I wanted a good name for my new novel.
I was not very enthusiastic about calling it ‘The Outsiders’. I could have just named it ‘Project 1’ but in stead settled for ‘The Outsiders’.
Now, I have got an exciting name for my new novel.
The name of my new novel is – The Five Foolish Virgins.

They have nothing to do with the five foolish virgins of Jesus Christ.
They also have nothing to do with the Foolish Virgins of the second world war.

They are Mohan Deep’s new novel –
The Five Foolish Virgins.

And the name has me excited.

*****

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Legalize Prostitution

4-Letter words

Yesterday I met a couple of friends on dinner. One of them told me that he was disillusioned with an actress (of yesteryears) when he heard her using MCs and BCs. “It really put me off especially because she had a screen image of being very feminine and innocent!”
I was not surprised to hear her name!
Once, angry at an article, she had called the office of ‘The Daily’ (or was it ‘Blitz’?) and gave a mouthful to the sub-editor who had the misfortune of attending to her call.
“Arre baap, she was more abusive than the machhiwallis!” the editor who had heard her abusive diatribe told me.
It didn’t color my opinion about her but I found it amazing that the character she played on the screen was so warm, friendly, loving and innocent. The actress is Maoushmi Chatterjee.
I see an interesting paradox in our attitude towards 4-letter words.
Some people find four letter words in the mouth of a baby cute – yes, believe me! – and even teach some harmless swear words to their kids.
A few years ago I found reviewers treating the cuss words from Shobha De with kid gloves but lambasting me even for rather harmless four letter words. I was told that dicks in the mouth of a beautiful Shobha De, sound sexy but motherfucker with my byline wasn’t!
Another point: An English cuss word is okay but a Hindustani gaali is not…unless it gets a label of realistic cinema like Bandit Queen which had more gaalis than in the mouth of Moushumi Chatterjee.

*****

Rape law reforms: Legalize Prostitution
The legal pundits are questioning the validity of government’s ordinance on rape laws as the parliamentary session schedule is already announced and may drag the ordinance to court. But even if it is considered valid, it is only a part of the recommendations of Justice JS Verma Committee. P Chidambaram has assured that the rest of the points would be debated.
And if this all seems enough to them, I notice a serious lapse on the part of everyone involved. There is no take on prostitution. Okay, to be politically correct, I found nothing about sex workers in the debates, amendments, proposals and discussions.
I believe that freeing the oldest profession in the world from the hypocrite attitude of society and the government (committees are a part of it) can go a long way in ensuring the safety of women.
We need a commercial sex workers sector. It is necessary as it would serve as a safety valve for millions of immigrants who come to cities, leaving behind their families. They leave behind the conservatively dressed women in their villages and suffer a cultural shock as they see women who dress provocatively. They see the semi-nude, sexy girls on the hoardings selling everything from toothpaste to cars. They see porn on their mobiles. They are potential rapists.
Not all the laws in the world can stop them. The countries where they have capital punishment, public floggings and death by stoning have failed to curb crime. India is no different.
Along with everything else suggested by Justice JS Verma Committee, making sex worker easily available in designated areas and protecting the prostitutes from exploitation by police, pimps and dubious NGOs is necessary.
An interesting legal situation is that prostitution is legal but soliciting is not. A prostitute can’t advertise her wares. Of course, you will see thinly guised ads in all the newspapers but that is a different story. Pimping (Soliciting business on her behalf, on commission basis) too is illegal.
Removing these lacunae, ensuring healthcare for the prostitutes can provide a healthy option to potential rapists. So long a woman gets into this profession as a free choice; they need to be given protection and opportunities to run their business freely.

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Why so servile?

Last week, I posted on facebook:
Why the fuck people are so servile that they almost do sashtaang pranaam to celebrities and film stars?
I almost puke at the way they thank them ‘for accepting them as fb friends’ and their monologues. Arre whatever fb says you are not their ‘friends’! You are their fans, admirers, followers and chamchas.
And there is a lesson in it for the celebrities too. They are not only YOUR fans. They ogle at Salman Khan, Vivek Oberoi, (even) Abhishek Bachchan and Johny Lever lekin they don’t necessarily buy the tickets of their films.
Abhishek Bachchan ke liye bheed hoti hai lekin theatre hamesha khaali hota hai!

To answer my own question about people being so servile, I find an answer in the questionable custom of touching the feet and 200 other reasons (including feudal mentality) which I’ll talk about later.
I, personally, abhor this practice. I was 12 when I refused to touch the feet of our family guru and questioned the system of respecting the old age. My argument was that you can’t equate age with experience and wisdom – there are many old fools and in fact, the old people whether Morarji Desai or LK Advani or for that matter Manmohan Singh have no business being in politics, leave aside ruling the destiny of hundreds of millions. Just compare our old fogies with the ever alert Clinton or Obama and see the bad jokes our leaders become.
Even otherwise, Indians don’t age gracefully. Look at the normal looking Harrison Ford and laugh at Dilip Kumar’s jet black hair or the wig of Amitabh Bachchan.
(An exception that I admire is Rajanikanth. By the way, his email address is gmail@rajnikant.com and mine is gmail@mohandeep.com but that is where the similarity ends.)
I once asked PV Narsimha Rao: how do reconcile the talk of 21st century, computers and modern world with the ages old custom of touching the feet.
This was when, after shaking his hand I sat next to him and saw several people coming, kneeling in his front and touching his feet.
He appeared irritated at my ‘foolish’ question but said, ‘I don’t see any paradox in this. It is an Indian tradition.’
I have privately sniggered when I have seen twins of an actor-politician touching his feet before leaving for school.
But I have started realizing that may be I’m the odd one out! Though, I continue to have the same beliefs.
But not to digress, I return to the Indian habit of sashtaang pranaams and daandvaat pranaams.
Or the way, people address the leaders in letters.
Worse is the way the eulogize the leaders, past and present. Sunil Dutt is addressed as Vishwa Shanti Doot though neither the world knows about him – even Jimmy Carter, the American President he used to meet suffered from Alzheimer’s.
And less said about the media the better. I happen to be an exception who has written biographies. Otherwise, ours is a land where every writes hagiographies! As ridiculous is the use of crown prince, nawabs, rajasaheb in the news-stories. Has everyone forgotten that India is a democracy and that privy purses, states and titles were abolished?
I have seen the nawabs referring to the people living in what was once their riyasats as raiyaat or subjects and everyone accepting the description with ‘bilkul sahi farmaaya nawaab sahib!’.
I guess it all has to do with the feudal outlook. Often our gods and the kings are the same. Like, Ram.
So, we treat rulers as gods and gods as Rajahs who can grant us all the boons provided we maskofy them with aartis, saashtaang pranaams and use all the adjectives in their praise.
May be it has something to do with the Moghul rule and British rule. Baa Ba-adab, ba-mulahiza, hoshiyaaaar.. nigaah-e-rubaroo, Zill-e-subhani.. tashreef la rahay hain and the curtsies that our older generation witnessed may have something to do with the way even our ministers behave in front of the Caucasian leaders when they visit India.
A political psychologist like Ashish Nandy can analyze it better but the poor guy is already in trouble over his corrupt Dalits theory.

*****

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Fifteen minutes of fame and a cover up attempt in Mid-day

copy-IMG_9912-e1359707620747.jpgRespecting the requests of friends, I am starting my blog. The ghosts of the past that have been haunting me for a long time can rest now.

 

Fifteen minutes of fame

 

There is a serious communication gap between the intellectuals and the guys who rise from nowhere, ask for an arrest or a ban and then return to obscurity after enjoying 15 minutes of fame and gaining their pounds of flesh.
Often, this is deliberate!
They are invisible and inaudible when a priest from their milieu is arrested for rape or sodomy.
Ashish Nandy has either been deliberately misunderstood or his analysis has gone above the head of those who have taken upon the mantle of dalit leaders. I suspect the  former.
Nandy seems to speak for the dalit and even endorse the corruption among them as a short cut to rise to the level of the rest. He has talked of the subtle quid pro quo among the elite (though I see another sinister aspect in his analysis: why has he  ignored the rampant, open, shameless and massive corruption in this class unless he has already shrugged it off like he is now doing to the corruption among the SC, ST and Dalits?) and the open corruption (read: Mayavati) among the Dalits.
He has landed himself in the hot soup partly because he is unfamiliar with the very milieu. He should have known that his off-beat analysis, which might have got him some awards and recognition from the intelligentia which believes in 69, was not limited to academic circles. What was limited to the privileged few who attended these ‘boring’ seminars have been converted into tamaashas that are being covered by the byte-hungry media.
This kind of attention would be 15 minutes of fame for Nandy too. One usually read about him in occasional articles, knew him as a sociologist but didn’t see him figuring on page one.

 

 

 

Dilip Kumar Spy Story

(There will be a reference to this story in my in the pipeline novel ‘The Outsiders’ but I find myself compelled to make this one of the first stories in my blog thanks to a scribe who wrote about Dilip Kumar Spy scandal today.

 

Her words in Midday (30th Jan 2013):

As we recall it the state was casting aspersions about his patriotism on the grounds that a suspected Pakistani Spy had been found to possess an address book with his phone number (along with that of many others, mind you.) On this slight evidence, the star’s house was raided and he was on the verge of being arrested.

 

The correct version is a little different.

This happened in 1965, at the peak of Indo-Pak war. As happens, India would claim on All India Radio ke dushman ke itne vimaan giraaye gaye and Pakistan Radio would spout similar lies. Listening to the Radio Pakistan was banned during this period. You couldn’t hear their propaganda on regular transistors. Muslims who were sympathetic to Pakistan or had relatives there would stealthily listen to Radio Pakistan. CBI raided Dilip (Yusuf Khan) Kumar’s Bungalow after getting a tip-off that he had organized a transmitter in his bungalow.

The newspapers (including the Times of India) faithfully reported that a transmitter was indeed found in his house.

There were also stories about people with dubious connections staying in his house. In fact, his popularity nose-dived after this incident. People rejected films with him in the lead.

The inquiry went on for decades and Dilip Kumar used all his contacts to hush up the scandal.

 

*****

 

 

 

 

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