Good Deed, Eh?

Mohan’s Musings

Good deed, eh?

In school, I was told that as a boy scout, I was expected to do one good deed a day. Hence, I discovered a lot of things that would be considered good deeds.
But what if we didn’t do the good deeds? We could just write imaginary stories in the notebook.
Soon, I learned that many were already doing it. Some of us may have improved our handwriting skills and even ‘creative writing,’ but this certainly was not the way to do the good deed.
I don’t know what happened to my classmates, but as I changed the school, I didn’t remain a scout anymore. I didn’t have to do 365 good deeds in a year compulsorily.
Nowadays, I find a lot of people doing a lot of good deeds. Lesser mortals, celebrities, film stars, and the Richie rich.
They all are doing good deeds.
I too agree that visiting old people is a good deed because you are lonely when you are old. You can be in your home along with half a dozen others, but they become indifferent to you and your needs. A visitor, irrespective of age and gender, can turn that day into a festival. And if you’re in an old age home, a visitor, even if he is the son of the crabby old man, four beds or rooms away can provide some excitement if he/she stops to crack a joke with you.
But if he has come only because he wants to do a good deed and go back feeling nice about it, it is not a good deed.
Ditto for a visit to the cancer survivors, giving alms to beggars, helping a visually impaired person to cross a road, donating notebooks to needy students, visiting orphanages, and giving them breakfast or lunch.
They are all good deeds, but not if you end up feeling that you are a jolly good fellow.
Not when you feel good, take some pictures, and post them on your Facebook wall.
Not if you get a PR freelancer to get coverage in the media.
And this brings me to the wannabes and celebrities. The good deeds remain the same, but the coverage (paid, certainly) is more. I consider this to be the worst kind of good deed.
You open the papers over the morning cup of tea and with a mock surprise to show your wife (or husband) the media coverage that can really be called advertisement and say, “We really got good media coverage!” Now, you cannot proudly tell your spouse that you’ve got good advertisement coverage or that every newspaper has published your advertisements.
If you’re a bigger fish, the arrangement is more discreet. Only your secretary would know why you released an ad for a paper whose demographics don’t suit the product your company manufactures. You can continue to pretend to your spouse over the pictorial report of your good deed.
Good deed?
If you really wanted to do a good deed, you would have transferred your secretary’s ailing mother from a Municipal hospital to Breach Candy or helped her daughter get an admission in the medical college.
But nobody would have been wiser.
It is only when you are a Bollywood star that even a contribution of a lousy Rs five lakh for the family of a stuntman who lost his life as your double, riding a motorcycle at a maniacal 160 kmh would get you a four-column headline.
Why, if you’re still a bigger star with a bad image, you can hire an entire PR agency that would transform your image into that of an angel, the God’s Gift to the world – a great name for a trust and NGO, no? – By writing long articles and ‘news-stories’ about your, mostly imaginary, good deeds.
They would get old women in the wheelchairs or young boys on crutches to your drawing room or if you don’t like it, to your sets. You can have a battery of photographers shoot you with them as you wonder why you are doing all this shit when you can shack up with another starlet.
Let’s not talk about the politicians in the same breath, not even the ministers, who don’t do good deeds. Their signatures are considered good deeds whether they gift you a parcel of land to build a hospital or a school.
Nor are the Indian businessmen doing any good deed when they build temples after their family name or donate to build an entire ward in a hospital and get it named after their mother.
They are not Boy Scouts.
The hospitals and colleges named after industrialists or their parents are not acts of philanthropy. These are business organizations where the aim is to have huge profits.
Let there be chains of hospitals with state of the art equipment that are free to citizens. Let there be groups of schools and colleges (even medical and engineering colleges) with the same quality education that you sell for premium fees and donations for the citizens.
Our Kaamwali wouldn’t have to borrow money from every house she cleans to pay for her daughter’s admission.
This will be a big bloody good deed. You won’t need media coverage for this. Your name will be etched in the memories of the people, the real people.

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Mahesh Bhatt on Mohan Deep

The launch of Color Me Rich just got over.
Filmmaker, writer and thinker Mahesh Bhatt launched it. After unwrapping the parcel, Mahesh Bhatt spoke about me. I’ll cherish these words forever.
He said, “As I was leaving my daughter Pooja‘s office at five to seven, making sure that I come here by 7:45 , she told me ‘I think Papa you’re doing the sweetest thing by going for Mohan Deep‘s book launch because he was the only guy who supported me when this controversy erupted about the body paint. So, when you burn into people’s memory, when they feel vulnerable, especially in the society which pretends to be very upright and very moral and it takes sadistic delight in kind of savaging you, you remember those few very brave people, in the media especially, who have the balls to stand up and protect you from the so called rot which is unleashed on you. So, on behalf of my daughter I thank you for what you did, Mohan. A good deed that is done always resonates through time.”
Mahesh Bhatt added, “Coming to your writing, I’m shocked to know that you wrote ten books. In this age and time when you are on Twitter, where you are limited to 140 characters, to sit down and write 500 words is a phenomenal task. So, anybody who puts pen to paper and writes is a most extraordinary individual. I think the most solitary of all acts is to write and I think our industry suffers from what is called ‘narrative starvation’ and that is because we talk about film stories. We don’t write stories. We talk about scripts. We don’t write scripts. So, I think Mohan has dared to excavate lives of icons in the past: Madhubala, Meena Kumari ji, rubbed Rekha ji the wrong way! I think you have always had this tendency to gravitate on the wrong side, as they say, of this field but that is what brings both of us together! So, I think this book obviously, when she was reading that strange name of the wine that even I struggled with, it indicates that you have really gone into the lives of the rich and the super rich and you have a good looking model on the cover and Color Me Rich has the fragrance of a blockbuster and it’s going to climb the charts higher and higher and higher. And we’ll make sure that every individual who walks out of here tweets about it and raves about it even if they’ve not read more than two lines in their bloody life! So I think, congratulations and it’s very heartening to see you still on the crease, daring, baring and saying, “I won’t stop as life doesn’t have a full stop, the spirit of Mohan Deep will not have a full stop! I’m certain about that! Well done, Mohan. Congratulations!'”
This has been a memorable launch for me for many reasons and these words certainly are one of them.

*****

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Manoj Kumar, Modi and my ‘Tantrik Woman’

Manoj
I am again in touch with Manoj Kumar. Spoke to him. He is excited about Narendra Modi becoming the Prime Minister of India. And happy.
Manoj Kumar is an apolitical person who loved Bhagat Singh and Lal Bahadur Shastri. Now, he admires Modi.
Maybe the time has come for someone to stage my controversial play – set in emergency period – 
Nehru and the Tantrik Woman. BJP’s K R Malkani was intrigued and fascinated with the theme and Manoj Kumar even wrote a song for my play! 
I had always admired Manoj Kumar and loved his films. But I didn’t realize that he would  casually ‘write’ the theme song in an half an hour chat on phone. 
Here is the song: 

Aate aate ghari wo aayee
Churidaar se churi takrayee
Tan se tan yun takraya
Bharak uthi ek jwala

Prem ka baadal aisa barsa,
Beh gayee man ki jwala
Phir sadhvi bani kaamni
Yun chale ke ho gajgamini
Kuch aise kadam uthe the,
Un rahon pe chale the
Jo rahen thi anjaani
Wo thi kitni deewani

Khudaai hai mumkin aaj ki raat
Ke chiraag jal chuka hai andhere mein /
Janam ho raha hai us maseehe ka
Jo apni tawnaai se waakif hai. 

*****

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(Not so) Pretty Lies of Bollywood

aamir khan in dhoom3 2
Even as the film stars do their nautanki – like Salman Khan gets just 10 percent of his income and that he signed his first cheque 5 months ago (as credible as his claim of being a ‘virgin’ at 48) – and we just smile at the half truths and pretty lies that is an inevitable part of Bollywood, a rather sinister aspect of Bollywood lies goes unnoticed.
Everything about Bollywood is as fake as a six hundred rupee note featuring Madhubala in front. But this here is the story of intentional lies, fraud, tax evasion and perhaps violation of FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act).
First the shocker and then my story.
The shocker: With visible pride YR films announced last week that their Aamir Khan-starrer Dhoom3 created Bollywood history with gross box office collections that touched a never heard figure of Rs 500 crore worldwide, a first for any Indian film.
But YR films have paid only Rs 5.5 crore as advance tax! And when the dust settles down they would pay, may be, another 5 crore, employing what is described as ‘Bollywood accounting’.
It is the same with the entertainment tax.
It has been a boom time for Bollywood with the growth of multiplexes. 3 Idiots collected Rs 227.13 crore
Krrish3 made 300 Rs crore though an over enthusiastic Rakesh Roshan claimed the collections to be Rs 500 crore!
Shah Rukh Khan claimed that his ‘Chennai Express’ had broken the record of !3 Idiots’.
Continue reading “(Not so) Pretty Lies of Bollywood”

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Robert De Niro’s Chaperone raped by editor of Tehelka

I’m changing the heading:

Robert De Niro’s Chaperone raped by editor of Tehelka

The first person account of the victim

I am reproducing the letter the 24-year-old lady journalist wrote to her Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhri.I am not adding any comments:

The Letter

On the night of 7th November 2013, the opening night of Tehelka’s Think festival, I had discharged my duties for the day as the chaperone for Mr Robert De Niro. As it was Mr De Niro and his daughter’s first night in Goa and at the festival, my editor in chief Mr Tarun Tejpal accompanied Mr De Niro, Drena De Niro (his daughter) and I to Mr De Niro’s suite to wish him goodnight. (As his chaperone, my work was to be available all day to Mr De Niro and Drena, take them sightseeing, make sure they were well looked after in Goa and at the Hyatt – until they retired to their suite at night. )
As we left the suite, Mr Tejpal and I were in conversation — I have known him since I was a child, he had worked closely with my father who was also a journalist, and after my father’s accident Mr Tejpal had always been a paternal figure to me. He was responsible for offering me my first job, and was always just a phone call away whenever I needed his advice on a story or life. His daughter, Tiya Tejpal and I are very close friends as well.
Continue reading “Robert De Niro’s Chaperone raped by editor of Tehelka”

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Pataudi – Nawab of Cricket

pataudi and sharmila

Book Review: On the eve of Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement, I review a book about another ‘Nawab of Cricket’ who too played and retired at his own terms.
Though I am not a cricket buff, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi has always fascinated me.
He was the Nawab of Pataudi, or, Tiger or Tyg to friends. This is why I picked up “Pataudi, Nawab of Cricket”, a book edited by Suresh Menon with, a foreword by Sharmila Tagore.
Here was a real Nawab, though without the privy purses and the title, but with a definite air of royalty. I’d even thought of Pataudi when Padmini Kolhapure planted a kiss on the cheek of Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales.
His marriage to Sharmila Tagore interested me. Here was a true-blue Nawab, who was marrying an actress, an actress whose family tree connected with Rabindranath Tagore. She had debuted in a Satyajit Ray film and had ‘shocked’ the world (the world that was interested in such things) by wearing a two-piece bikini and more important, was a Hindu. These people seemed to belong to a world that was way different from the world of Syed Shahabuddin and LK Advani.
I believe that their marriage added to their stature.
What impressed me was the stories about Pataudi losing his eye and yet bouncing back to become one of the greatest captains and cricketers in India. There might have been more details in some books, and if there was one I think “Tiger’s Tales”. I missed reading it. It was only from the articles that paid tributes to him after his death, that I learned more about him. I read every account, and forgot about it.
Continue reading “Pataudi – Nawab of Cricket”

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Just b’coz RGV can make a movie…

MD for the blog (smaller)

Yesterday, I’d an interesting visitor and if I’d more time, I’d have spent more time with her. 
She is the younger sister of a celebrity, much married scandalous model-type, who made news with her unconventional lifestyle. She had nothing except a mixed up philosophy that shocked the timid middle class and provided good copy, gossip and tidbits to glossies. Of course, being a woman willing to expose and talk about her intimate affairs helped. 
The lady, in her late fifties or early sixties, who came to me looked like her sister, dark, fat and old. She had said that ‘she had written a book’ and wanted guidance about how to go ahead with it. I didn’t mind meeting her.
It wasn’t a novel. It was to be ‘her legacy’ (her pompous words) before she departs. I won’t mention the subject. She thought it was important enough to interest housewives. 
Interestingly, the lady has never written anything in her life. Nor is she into reading. 
Continue reading “Just b’coz RGV can make a movie…”

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What is Karan Johar doing with ‘The Lunchbox’?

Saw ‘The Lunchbox’.
My first question is: what is Karan Johar doing here? 
But that will come later. 
Great performances by Irrfan Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui (though he is a little loud and makes an effort to steal the show from Irrfan) and a restrained performance by Nimrat Kaur. 
What I liked about the movie, besides it being a slice of life of Mumbai’s middle class and the ‘small moments’ of real people, is the end. 
No climax, no anti-climax, no surprise ending. 
Just leave the story hanging.. the way we, who wrote short stories in ’70s, used to do. I remember telling a critic that I end my short story at the point when the ink gets over!
I wrote nearly 200 short stories. I’d almost forgotten them. But seeing that even Karan Johar types are now interested in such stories (remember his Bombay Talkies?) I’m thinking of selecting 10 of mine, updating them and getting them published. 
Basu Chatterjee used many stories. ‘Rajanigandha’ was one of them. Basu Bhattacharya made ‘Aavishkaar’. There were others. There were serials too. No, I’m not talking of third class – but popular – Tarak Mehta Ka Ulta Chashma or Sharad Joshi’s equally bad ‘Laptaganj’. They were considered trash which they certainly are, but that is also because the people who watch them know nothing better. They read about ‘Oscar’ controversy and watch ‘The Lunchbox’. 
I don’t see any difference between them and Karan Johar. KJO is a commercial filmmaker who has managed all the awards and honors in Indi. For sometime he has longing for honors at film festivals and if possible Oscars. 
He doesn’t realize that it is difficult to swing both ways. 

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Bollywood menu: Rs 50 lakh and a role for a fuck, Rs 50 for the soul!

MD for the blog (smaller)Indiatvnews.com carried my interview yesterday. Deepti Kaul, who did the interview is shocked with the dark side of Bollywood, has loved my one-liners. She specially mentions my favourite line, “Bollywood is where they pay Rs 50 lakh and a role for a f**k and fifty rupees for the soul!” I am thrilled as it took three rewrites before settling on this line.
I’d dedicate this quote to every Bollywood aspirant who was used and discarded.
Here is the entire text – unabridged:

New Delhi, Jul 20: The controversial author Mohan Deep has come up with a new novel ‘The Five Foolish Virgins’. The book reveals the dark side of Bollywood, the gory details about tinsel town’s connection with underworld and casting couch. The author talks to Deepti Kaul about his book and what went into it in a brief interview.

You’re already a controversial author and now comes this book ‘The Five Foolish Virgins’…Comment.
It is true that the tag of ‘controversial’ is always added before my name, whenever I am mentioned in the media. I liked it as I stood apart. I liked my individuality. I was not a conventional author. I had broken traditions, again and again. But I haven’t broken the traditions for the sake of it. I broke new grounds when I wrote the three star biographies. Industry might have been aghast at my treatment of Madhubala, Meena Kumari and Rekha but that didn’t matter. Nor did it matter that Rekha didn’t like what I wrote. What the hell would Rekha, a primary school dropout, know what a biography is usually all about? It was sheer coincidence that I wrote about Rekha.

To me, writing was important. Being close to the Bollywood personalities I had little choice. At one stage I’d fondly hoped that Rekha would be grateful as, someone of my caliber wrote her life. But it requires an educated and cultural background to value a biography. Stars are a spoilt lot. She would have been happier with a coffee table book, make up, fashion statements, close-ups and large, glossy air brushed photo-shopped pictures.
‘The Five Foolish Virgins’ is a natural step in my evolution as a writer. It is a novel with a large canvas. It is a story I always wanted to write. The migration of 20 million refugees during the partition in 1947 is one of the biggest historical happenings. My story is rooted in this period. It is the story of Sindhis and Punjabis and how the experience changed the entire character of these two communities.

“Bollywood is where they pay Rs 50 lakh and a role for a f**k and fifty rupees for your soul” – Yes your book is a fiction… But this line makes a strong statement… Comment.

It makes you think. Isn’t it? I was just wondering why we don’t have such lines coming from people like Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan! Amitabh Bachchan’s are banal quotes from his babuji’s writings. Aamir Khan’s idea of wit is to spit in the palm of Madhuri Dixit! They go on and on, pontificating, lecturing, but no one says anything profound…

Don’t you think your book will tarnish Bollywoood’s glamourous image?  As it shows the dark side of this glamour world.

Bollywood is a world full of glamour and I had no intention to ‘tarnish’ its image.

What is the reaction of the industry people?

Industry first reacted to the title. ‘The Five Foolish Virgins’ has a curiosity value. Is being a virgin foolish? Do the foolish girls remain virgins? The producers thought in terms of sex and sleaze. More than one producer offered to organize an item for the launch. They wanted the item to be with five young girls. I declined. I didn’t want that kind of image for the book. By now scores of filmmakers have read the novel and seem excited. Their excitement is with the story element, with the intrigue, with the inside stories and a gripping theme. The best compliment that I have received is from an experienced filmmaker. He told me that I have worked out everything. The director and the actors would have a ready script in their hands.

The novel can be turned into a Bollywood movie… So, have you already sold the story?

No. It is important that my novel is read. It is an experience between a writer and reader. Movie from my novel can be an exciting idea. Even a long running TV serial is possible. But I’m happy with being read.

You have referred to some actual incidents. Did friends in the industry raise eyebrows over it?

I have used the actual incidents as a part of timeline. I know for a fact that a drunk Raj Kapoor sat crying at the feet of Haji Mastaan after his ‘Mera Naam Joker’ bombed or that CBI discovered a transmitter when they raided Dilip Kumar’s bungalow and accused him of being a Pakistani spy. He never got a clean chit. A part of industry may not like it but it doesn’t matter.

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