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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If Narendra Modi was a gora we’d have crawled

Modi and Obama

Had the Prime Minister Narendra Modi been a Caucasian (white skinned man) all of us would have further crawled in front of him!
We are a nation of racists and there is no doubt about it!
Let’s begin with Giriraj Singh‘s statement.
He said, ‘What if Sonia Gandhi was a Nigerian? Would Congress have accepted Sonia as its leader if she weren’t an Italian and instead of African origin.
Amit Shah had rebuked Giriraj for what is being considered a racist remark and even the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has frowned on it. But they are just being politically correct.
Giriraj Singh makes a lot of sense. And he is not the first person to say it.
Journalist-columnist Tavleen Singh who made a career out of moving in the high places and even ‘married’ Aatish Taseer, the slain governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, and had a son from him, has said the same thing in her book about Gandhis.
According to Tavleen, “Sonia Gandhi is revered simply because she is from Italy and is of white skin. She’s not articulate, she is not smart, she isn’t even well-read. In her own Italian surroundings, she might even be considered as “down-market”. But not in Delhi durbars where she can be the center of attraction mainly because of her skin and partly because she is the wife of one of the “princes” of India. People with white skin are considered gods and goddesses by Indians.”
Tavleen even mentions the servility shown by people in South to Sonia Gandhi; they create songs like “you have such white skin, you are a goddess.
I remember seeing the Chief Librarian of Asiatic library taking a gora visitor on the round of the library in a similar servile manner. The visitor wasn’t even holding some office of power!
You see this attitude in restaurants in Colaba (Leopold Cafe, for instance) and at in Goa. The waiters would give the firangis a royal treatment and ignore the locals. This may have to do with the tips they hope to get but not all goras are good tippers and not all Indians are frugal with tips.
It is the same whether you visit and art gallery or a shop.
And to come back to BJP, did you see how our Prime Minister flaunted his non-existing camaraderie with his friend the President of US Barrack Obama and flaunted being on first name terms with him? You can only imagine how he would have behaved if Obama had been a Caucasian!

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#SumitraMahajan ko kabhi gussa nahin aata!

SumitraMahajan1

A TV anchor interviewed the new speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
He asked her about her reputation of ‘never getting angry’. She smiled, grinned happily, turned and twisted with “Main puri koshish karti hoon ke log pyar se samjhen.”
“Ma’am, aap ki reputation hai ke aap kabhi bhi gussa nahin kartein?”
Mahajan answers humbly, “Haan reputation to hai.”
Journo grins.
Lekin aap ko kabhi to gussa aata hoga?”
Nahin, kabhi nahin.
Wider grin.
Apne ghar walon par bhi nahin?”
Apne parivaar ke saath kya jhagda karna. Main unhein pyar karti hoon aur woh mujhe.”
Kabhi padosiyon ke saath koi jhagda?”
Nahin, kabhi nahin. Padosi hi to samay par kaam mein aate hain.”
“School college ke friends ke saath koi anban?”
Bored. “Never, bhai, never. Doston se kya anban. Aap ek hi sawaal baar baar puch rahen hain.”
“Party ke doosre netaaon se koi takraar?”
(A little irritated) “Nahin, woh to party ke sadasya hain. Aap koi aur sawal poochhiye.”
Aur aapki party ke senior members ke saath koi argument?
(Sore) “Phir? Apne seniors ke saath kyon argument karna?”
Ab Congress opposition mein hai, kal ruling mein thi. Kabhi unke saath haathapaai?”
(Trying to control her temper with difficulty) “Politics mein kuch personal nahin hota. Main aapko baar baar kah rahi hoon…”
“Media ke log jab aap ko betuke sawal poochhte hain tab aap ko gussa aata hai?”
Picking up a flower pot to break it on his head Sumitra Mahajan runs after him shouting, “Maine bola na mujhe gussa nahin aata!”

(Inspired by a scene in an old Bollywood film after seeing #RajatSharma interviewing #SumitraMahajan)

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Mukesh Ambani, Modi and Media

mukesh_ambani

I start my blog on the first Sunday after Narendra Modi has become the Prime Minister and the Gandhis have become irrelevant.
Some of the Modi critics have changed their tunes, some are singing a new song and many are blaming their contact lenses or spectacles for not being able to see the writing on the wall.
Mukesh Ambani has acquired Network18 Media & Investments and TV18 Broadcast (TV18) for Rs 4,000 crore. This includes In.com, IBNLive.com, Moneycontrol.com, Firstpost.com, Cricketnext.in, Homeshop18.com, Bookmyshow.com and broadcast channels like Colors, CNN-IBN, CNBC- TV18, IBN7 and CNBC Awaaz.
I remember a line I wrote in one of my columns in the early nineties. My line was: if they can’t buy the journalist or the reporter, they buy the editor and if he is not for sale they buy the newspaper!
But much before that, even before Deepak Neogi the Chief Reporter of Free Press Journal joined Ambanis – I don’t know where he is now – Dhirubhai Ambani had asked me about the economics of running a Daily newspaper. I didn’t know anything about the business side of the newspapers. For that matter, I didn’t know the editorial side either and realized that unlike freelance writing, editing a newspaper or a magazine for that matter was like walking a razor’s edge.
And I knew The Razor’s Edge only as a short story by Somerset Maugham.
This is why I never got to be the editor of Sunday Observer, the paper Ambanis brought out.
To be fair to Dhirubhai Ambani, Sunday Observer was a good and non-partisan paper. Vinod Mehta even published my grilling interviews of Sharad Pawar and Ramarao Adik who had to resign after he was accused of molesting an airhostess while travelling under the influence of alcohol.
Rajdeep Sardesai and Sagarika Ghosh have resigned – or will be resigning soon – and some others will do the same.
This doesn’t mean that they are more honest than the others. You can be dishonest while supporting UPA and you can be crooked while supporting the Modi Sarkar too.

*****

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BJP, don’t turn filmmakers into bhaands!

DilwaleDulhaniaLeJayenge

On the surface, the idea of having a wing exclusively for developing and promoting films ‘themed on Indian tradition’, as announced by Mithlesh Kumar Tripathi, the convener of the art and culture cell of the BJP seems harmless. But, as a writer, I’m wary of any interference / influence on cinema or for that matter, any other mode of expression.
BJP is not the only party that wants to propagate Indian values in its cinema. Congress and Marxists have used the cinema in pursuit of similar goals with their private agenda. Jawaharlal Nehru encouraged Raj Kapoor to propagate his brand of socialism that glorified Soviet Russia. Lal Bahadur Shastri asked Manoj Kumar to turn his slogan (Jai Jawan Jai Kissan) into a movie and Upkaar was born. Nehru was also instrumental in getting Haqeeqat a propaganda film made by Chetan Anand; a film that puffed up India’s defeat at the hands of China in an avoidable war.
Mrs Indira Gandhi got Manoj Kumar to start work on Naya Bharat to justify and glorify the draconian emergency. Kumar got Javed Akhtar to write the script. Fortunately for Manoj and Javed, the emergency was lifted much before the film could be made.
Keep your hands off the content of the films!
Encouraging any form of art with grants and awards, incentives and facilities is encouraging the culture of bhaands.
The big filmmakers who make films like Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge, who are making pots of money, don’t need these grants and awards. The smaller ones would find themselves compromising, towing a particular line to woo the awards.
If you, as a government want the Indian filmmaker to compete with his counterparts in other countries – provide an infrastructure. Free him from the clutches of the distributors who control the theaters, and therefore the filmmakers. A good film by a small maker can’t reach the audience as the multiplexes control the screens. They have their own interests to look for. It is easier to make a pile from simultaneous release on 3000 screens even from a third class film with a couple of stars. All they need is the right marketing and publicity; content be damned.
These distributors and exhibitors have created another culture of bhaands; the filmmakers who just cater to the lowest common denominator making films like Grand Masti.
A government run chain of small theaters, each with a capacity of 300-500, spread all over the country would give a chance to the small, independent filmmaker – a chance to make good cinema, a chance to compete at the world level.
Whatever these filmmakers – other creative people – make is going to be a part of Indian culture.
Knowing how the over-enthusiastic and often culturally uneducated wannabes hijack ideas, it is important to analyze the idea of ‘Indian tradition’ and ‘Indian culture’. If the idea is to have a conservative presentation of women or a military boot on depiction of erotic scenes, the BJP and its art and cultural cell will have to do a rethink. I’m also writing with reference to the U turn of the Central Board of Film Certification in the recent times. It is slowly returning to the dark days of stone age.


The Censorship has never been a Hindu idea!

Hindu is a free thinking, all accommodating religion. There is no place for censorship in Hindu religion.

Continue reading “BJP, don’t turn filmmakers into bhaands!”

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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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The Dying Indian Book

Waterstones-006

Authors don’t crib about editors and publishers in their columns. It has to do with the survival instinct. This is why I took notice of the recent column of Vanita Kohli-Khandekar. Writing in Midday about her experience, she lambasts the entire community of book editors. She had written one-third of a book and now thought of approaching some book editors and publishers. She had a hard time fixing a meeting with the editors of Penguin India, and even after she got an appointment, she had to wait for 45 minutes before she could meet the bored-looking book editor. Within two minutes of listening to her, he told her that “Short stories don’t sell.” She had a similar experience with at least three other people who were ‘rude, unresponsive and put her down’. Vanita is not some tyro author. She is the writer of ‘Indian Media Business’ and writes at least two columns, one each in Midday and Business Standard. And if a lady with her background had this experience, the fate of a tyro writer can only be imagined. Like she says, the publishing industry is staring at annihilation, if not extinction, because of this attitude. Yet, according to Vanita, the editors working for the publishing houses don’t care, are incapable of reading and running through several manuscripts and book proposals they get every day, and they are not trained. Not surprisingly, the most successful books have not come from regular publishers but from self-published authors or small publishers.
I have known this for a very long time.
MD for the blog (smaller)

I’d go several steps ahead and compare the bunch of editors in Penguin, as well as in other bigger publishing houses, with the army of salesmen in malls and the waiters in the mushrooming coffee shops – uninterested, untrained, insecure and jealous. You can see them huddled in one corner of Croma or Reliance, or other outlets where the ‘boss’, two rungs above the huddled staff, was once a part of this group.
Continue reading “The Dying Indian Book”

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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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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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