Why Lekar Hum Deewana Dil is Everything that is Wrong with Bollywood

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Sometimes, some rare times, I don’t feel like watching a film on a Friday. The first time I felt this way was on the fateful Friday that Tashan was released on. I did not know what the feeling was. I was confused. Why do I not want to watch this movie? <Enter me-dramatically-screaming-NOOOOOO-while-the-camera-shoots-from-a-top-angle here>

I know what that feeling is now. It is intuition. One look at posters and trailers and I know which film is worth its salt. Yes, I have had my share of follies, but I am pretty intuitive, you know. And hence, when LHDD released, I didn’t bother. Even though it has one of my best friends in its supporting cast, I didn’t bother.

Finally, I bothered last night. I don’t know why. Maybe, I really wanted to give this film a chance.

Boy and girl are in love but they don’t know it – neither do they deny it (Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na). Girl’s dominating folks want to get her married (Saathiya). Girl gets drunk with boy at a café and they think they could get married and then, decide to elope (Too. Many. Films. To. Name). They elope, get married but then cannot adjust to married life (Saathiya). Marital problems (Saathiya). More marital problems (Saathiya). Boy dances with sexy tribal siren to make girl jealous (Saathiya). They apply for divorce and go into couple’s counseling (What Happens In Vegas and other Hollywood films). They fight with each other at the sessions (What Happens In Vegas). They finally get the divorce and THEN realize that they are in love with each other. Boy lands up at girl’s shaadi and dialogue maaroing-papa ko pataaoing-ladka ladki raazi toh kya karega ladki’s fiancé…the usual happily ever after stuff that happily ever after stuffs are stuffed with. Music by A. R. Rahman (Saathiya). Maoist sub-plot in Chattisgarh (Unnecessary).

Now, let’s get down to the people behind this film. The film is the directorial debut of Arif Ali, Imtiaz Ali’s brother. The film is the debut of Armaan Jain, Kareena Kapoor’s cousin. The film has been produced by Saif Ali Khan. It has music by A.R. Rahman. To start off, resources are definitely not an issue. And being a Kapoor-Khan-Ali-Rahman collaboration, publicity would not be a problem either. Then why, would these four outstanding and talented individuals choose to make and promote a film like this? Imtiaz, who honed Alia Bhatt in Highway is known to have faith in new talent. But surprisingly, with his brother’s film, he chose to play safe. Or is this the kind of cinema Arif Ali wants to make? Because, let’s get one thing clear – Arif Ali was not working with unknown producers whose tune he had to dance to, to ensure box office returns. That is the most common accusation debutant film makers make. He was on home turf (which is known for intelligent cinema in the first place) and still chose to make a film which lacks soul, heart, quality and content. A boring script that has no spark, a lead pair with questionable acting talent and film making that is below average.

That brings us to the film’s producers. Recently, I have begun questioning Saif Ali Khan’s choice of films. Why would he of the great Omkara and Parineeta and Being Cyrus and Ek Haseena Thi and Hum Tum choose Cocktail and Agent Vinod and Humshakals (what is the Nawab saab smoking these days?)? What scared him from taking risks with this film? Why did he not want to launch his cuz-in-law in a slightly different light? Because, let’s face it, Armaan does not do a Hrithik or a Ranveer. Then why bank on the stereotypical Bollywood debut format of singing-dancing-stripping-wooing? And does he really believe that format works today?

This is also an example of Kapoor’s incompetent mentoring skills. If she did mentor, that is. Because, if I were Armaan, I would want my older and much experienced sister to play a crucial role in my launch. Both Kareena and Saif have seen highs and lows and they know how much the audience have loved their de-glam and offbeat performances. As for Rahman, Imtiaz Ali is his new Mani Ratnam. He will make music for Ali. He does not promise quality though.

The film had everything going for the lead pair. There is no other prominent face in the film. The supporting cast has newbies and conveniently plays down talented veterans like Kumud Mishra and Varun Badola to minor roles. There is no one in the film who can steal the lead pair’s thunder. Well, they do not have as much as a fart anyway. Deeksha, with quite a bagful of Telugu movie experience, shows some promise but Armaan has a long way to go. He reminds one of Neil Nitin Mukesh. Is that a good thing?

So, this is what it all boils down to – successful Bollywood superstars, a talented film maker and a globally-acclaimed maestro produce the next generation of the Hindi movie industry and they choose to play safe, avoid risks and produce a half-baked forgettable film.

P.S. – Our sati savitri heroine won’t do the naughty shaadi se pehle. She’d rather play house with her pet doggy. Wow, now that’s being progressive.

 

Image courtesy: Google Images

Why I am a Non-Vegetarian (and the Mandatory Eid Story)

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“Sans divide, sans judgement…”

Eid Mubarak to all of you. I hope you and your families had a blessed month and a lovely time yesterday. This is one of my favourite times of the year along with Durga Pujo and Christmas. During Ramzaan, there is a wonderful oscillation between abstinence and gluttony. I have been fasting for seven years now. Yes, I have no idea how someone like me, readily gives up on the pleasures of the tongue for a whole month. And it does get tough, but the sense of fulfillment and compassion compensates. You feel a certain kinship, a warmth, a sense of brotherhood…you feel a sense of equality and blurring of lines, breaking of walls and a gradual obliteration of divides. When you wash your hands and feet with strangers, sit down in a group in front of a large plate of food, you realize the true origin of species. This is how God (or a massive burst of energy, or whoever you believe in) created men and women – sans divide, sans judgement, sans prejudice.

I am picky and particular about what I eat. I would have used the word ‘very’ with a capital V if we journalists were allowed to do so. But four to five times a month, for the last seven years, I have broken my fast at different mosques around the country with different people I shall never meet again. I remember one particular evening. I was at the Santacruz mosque in Mumbai and was waiting for a rickshaw to take me home after Iftar and prayers. One guy, who had ate with me in the same group, walked out with me. We commented on the rains, and then, while I was waving at rickshaws to stop, he went to his rickshaw parked close by, revved it, and brought it to a halt in front of me. Just like rickshaws do when you holler for them. I smiled and politely asked, “Andheri chalenge?’ He smiled and replied, “Aiyye, baithiye.” We chatted the whole way home about his family and kids.

Why are we polite only to people we know? And secondly, is hygiene only a construct of the mind? The second question always troubles me.

“The dirtier the phuchka, the tastier the phuchka…”

Most of my favourite snacks are street food. Bengalis adore the phuchka (golgappa, pani puri, pani ke bataashe – call it whatever you want. But please don’t tell me any of that is better than phuchka, churmur and doi phuchka. I’m not buying that) which are served by vendors off wicker stands at street corners or around local parks and gardens. Phuchka connoisseurs will let you know specifically which guy to have it from. ‘His tamarind water is the best’ or ‘he makes a perfectly balanced aloo maakha’. Most vendors know the preferences of their regulars and finish off with other customers to get the spices and the flavours just right for them. But, imagine having phuchka by the street, with all the condiments laying uncovered, flies hovering around, the heavens know where that handi of water has arrived from – and then, imagine, you see the vendor’s hands squishing the potatoes, seasoning the mixture, dunking his hand into the handi of flavoured water to give it a swirl now and then, squeezing a lemon, cracking every phuchka with his thumb, pushing some mixture into it, and then dipping it into that handi…over and over and over again for every single customer. There is rain and heat, there is sweat and itching (you know where and where), there are pee breaks, maybe loo breaks, maybe an adamant wedgie, a pus-filled boil…you look at his fingernails, dark under their edges, caked in potato mash and masala…

And for some reason, all of this has not put generations of Bengalis off phuchkas. I remember a quote by Sabyasachi Mukherjee years back – The more unhygienic the vendor is, the tastier the phuchka will be. I kind of want to agree with him. I have tried places which use mineral water only and gourmet restaurants which use organic and healthy ingredients but they have been no fun at all. Theirs do not taste the way Kapil bhai’s does. Kapil bhai is really close to my family. He has been our phuchka guy for over a decade now. Kapil bhai gives me an added serving of churmur for free. No wonder I love him!

But that is the exact dilemma one faces when you land up in Md. Ali road or Kurla during Ramzaan. What if I really screw up my tummy? And the monsoons don’t help either. Everything is wet-squishy-slimy-sweaty-musty-damp-dank-yuck. And the whole thought of eating off the street during this season is not appetizing at all. But can the spread really make up for it? Is it really worth the effort?

I shall digress here, to discuss something very important. Yes, I used ‘very’. Grammar is not more important than what I am about to discuss. Nothing is.

“Non-vegetarianism is in danger”

I, surprisingly, have quite a few vegetarian friends. And, surprisingly, they are still vegetarian (for all those who accuse me of being a dominating arse, here’s proof I ain’t that bitch!). And while, I do enjoy vegetarian cuisine – because Bengali cuisine has plenty of vegetarian options and my Mum always stresses on a high-fibre diet – I am a true-blue carnivore. I even have cannibalistic instincts. I day dream of having a chunky slice of human thigh, braised or grilled to a good medium-rare…There I go again. And while, I am not one to get into propaganda, we carnivores are in danger these days. We are attacked by heart doctors, the PETA guys, self-confessed animal rights activists, vegans and E.Coli survivors. There is this sudden mania to take the meat off the heat. But before I present my case, please keep two factors in mind – a) moderation is always the healthy way to eat and b) if you’re allergic to something, stay away from it, bozo!

There is a reason why the early man hunted. Plant protein cannot substitute for animal protein. Vegetarian health freaks will condone that even though it is possible to create a vegetarian protein-rich diet, it would just be easier to include animal protein. Hence, nutrition is a crucial reason. Eggs are rich in protein and healthy carbs, fish are lean sources of protein, like chicken, and are also rich in fatty and amino acids and red meat, when cooked healthily, is the heartiest (yes, it’s a jibe at you cardiac crusaders) protein+carb+healthy fat combo you can include in a meal.

Secondly, please understand the concept of breeding for specific reasons. Early man understood which meat to eat and which to train for races. We don’t eat horses and watch cows run at race courses, now do we? We don’t eat dogs and domesticate pigs (allow exceptions please). Goat, lamb, chicken, cow and pig are primary meat sources all around the globe. Along with fish and selected seafood, of course. There are the occasional turkey and quail, but that’s just about it. But, one of the endangered animals is the Tiger. Another endangered animal is the one-horned rhino. If you check the endangered and extinct species list, none of them have been polished off by consumption. Whatever man eats, man breeds. What you should be fighting for are rehabilitation of injured wild animals, more forest reservation, maintenance of sanctuaries, artificial breeding and other practices that will help improve their numbers.

Then, there is the humanitarian angle of killing another living being. Now this one, I agree, is the most difficult to counter. Yes, I agree that killing any other living being is a cruel act. And yes, if you are the type who keeps tab of sins committed, we have too many stacked up against us. Like the tiger kills a deer, the elephant uproots trees, man has been designed to choose what he wants to consume.

“So, getting back to Md. Ali road…”

There’s something my Mum says all the time. If you don’t enjoy your meal, it will have an adverse effect on your body. Most of the times one falls ill because you are too worried about what you have eaten and you believe that it wasn’t healthy for you. Now, I don’t mean that hygiene is not important. But trust your body’s immunity. And remember those common tricks to keep germs at bay. Eat everything hot. Do not eat stale fried snacks and confectioneries. Make sure desserts are as fresh as possible or are made in front of you. And lastly, eat at the most crowded stalls and shops.

I did visit Kurla a couple of times this Ramzaan for my usual fill of haleem and khichda. For a detailed understanding of the two, please read this post from last year. Mughal Flavours at Kurla did not disappoint. And surprisingly, even after a year, the flavours remained the same.

I visited Bohri Mohalla and Minara Masjid twice this year. While the first one was rushed and not satisfying at all, I enjoyed a leisurely food walk with some friends the second time round. It was the last Friday before Eid and the Minara Masjid galli was packed with hungry groups, chaining up one behind the other, to swerve through the crowd without getting lost. We actually managed to find a table under a makeshift extension of Modern restaurant and hungrily placed our order. Chicken boti fry, kaleji masala, bheja masala, chicken tawa masala and rumali rotis. Service was swift and no-frills. The rumali rotis were manna from heaven. Fresh off the semi-circular tandoor, they were soft as cream, royally sized, not-too-thin and tore effortlessly. The boti fry was what it was supposed to be – a munch fest that you nibble on between conversations. This batter is unique to Mumbai and I am yet to find its origins and ingredients. It has a Chinese-y twist to it and nowhere else in India or Pakistan do you find this taste. The bheja was a winner for me. I love brain. Period. And while some places cook it into a smooth spicy mash, this restaurant retained a scramble-like texture which beautifully complimented the spicy gravy. There was a certain ‘melt in the mouth’ moment which, along with the roti, was, well, quite a moment. I am not a fan of liver but I must admit that I didn’t mind the gravy much. It’s something about the texture of liver, I guess. I don’t mind it when it is keema-ed though. The chicken tawa masala was nothing out of the ordinary and I’ve had better.

We started walking again, satisfied but thirsty. The crowd grew more suffocating as the lane grew narrower. Shops selling skull caps and keffiyahs had crawled onto the lane, brightly lit ice cream carts and makeshift shawarma stalls lined the sides too. Beggars with tumblers filled with smoking incense elbowed through, groups of knee-height urchins stamped on your feet as they tried to reach the ice-cream guy, chortling bunches of gaudily dressed girls shared a plate of kulfi between them, raucous young men hooted and whistled and wolf-called to make way, burkha-clad aunties asked them to shut up…we walked through all the madness that this one alley, stuffed to the brim with epicurean pleasures, was producing.

A while later, we stopped at a cart filled with meat pieces on seekhs, happily sizzling over a coal fire. A cauldron bubbled on a low fire by the side. We asked for mutton and beef rolls and khichda. The rolls were to die for. Perfectly spiced, open-grilled, crumbled meat stuffed into a tawa-fried paratha wrap (ends tucked in like a spring roll to minimize mess – loved that), cut into swiss roll-like circles and served with green chutney. The meat was flavoursome and delectable. The khichda was piping hot, served with generous doses of lemon and caramelized onions. Well, it wasn’t as amazing as Mughal Flavours in Kurla but I enjoyed it thoroughly. The cereals and grains had blended well and there were chunky pieces of meat. It is the perfect comfort food. And nothing can taste bad if you have sweet fried onions on top of it.

Talking of sweet, we needed dessert after this. ASAP. So, after some disastrous gulab jamuns at some random shop (one of my pals wanted an instant sugar high to get in the mood. Don’t ask me why. I have weird friends), we landed up at Suleman. Our list of debauchery here was long – rasgullas, gulab jamuns, kala jamuns, doodhi halwa, rabdi, meetha boondi, chiku firni, kesar firni…no, we did not hog on aflatoons. Because –

We wanted mawa jalebis. Especially Burhanpur’s mawa jalebis. They are hot crispy and sticky bites of unadulterated pleasure served on a sheet of newspaper. I adore this lack of refinement, this ignoring of adornment. They are probably the best mawa jalebis you’ll have in this whole world. I can vouch for that. We washed all of this down with glasses of apple and mango juice.

A short walk later we were at Bohri Mohalla’s Tawakkal Sweets area. It was almost 2 am and things looked dim and drowsy there. We stopped at one of the stalls and asked for kaleji and beef rolls but what was served was absolutely abysmal. That was disappointing and we thought it was best to put our experimenting to rest. I could go back for that bheja masala and those amazing mawa jalebis. This year, I didn’t find the chance or company to enjoy some paya. That makes me sad, you know. No, I’m not a nalli fan but I love nihari stews. I should write a detailed post on these three complex dishes.

Have a fantastic year ahead. Eid Mubarak.

 

Photo courtesy: Google Images

Wassup Cumberbitches: Reasons Why Benedict Cumberbatch is the World’s Favourite Star

BEING HUMMUSEXUAL

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His fans call themselves Cumberbitches or Holmesexuals. They camp overnight outside hotels just to catch a glimpse. Even Tokyo airport was brought to a standstill when he landed in Japan. And women and men are equally enamoured by his charisma.

Yeah, that’s what he calls us.

This is what happened in Japan –

This is how he controlled the fans –

He debuted at the age of twelve as Titania Queen of Fairies in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Most kids play camels and sheep in Nativity plays at that age.

Piece of cake, actually.

Besides being a stage, film, television and voice actor, he is an excellent rugby player since his school days and started painting oil canvasses while in Harrow (oh yes, he studied at Harrow).

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After finishing school, he taught English at a Buddhist monastery in Tibet for a year before going off to the…

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Sharing the Same Plate: Finding the Beautiful Secret between India and Pakistan

BEING HUMMUSEXUAL

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I was indeed intrigued and delighted when I came across this brilliant piece of information. The two countries, torn apart by too many reasons-prejudices-excuses can still find one very strong common ground. I have spent considerable time researching on this subject and nothing makes me happier than finding out what I have.

But, this post must not be misinterpreted as weak or sympathizing. Let us be objective enough in saying that both the countries have been wronged. Also, let us be objective enough to say that both the countries have not always played fair. Who is to be blamed is a fool’s debate we have been debating on for the last seven odd decades.

My love for Musalmans and Islam is no secret in my social circles (This is not the appropriate article to discuss why I have such immense love, warmth, kinship, and respect for Islam). What makes the…

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Of Iftars, Sehris, and Late Night Roadside Dinners

BEING HUMMUSEXUAL

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Along with October and December, this is my favourite time of the year. October ushers in the Big Fat Durga Pujo Madness (mostly October – I have to refer to Beni Madhob Shil’s Phool Ponjika for confirmations. The ‘ponjika’ is the Hindu Almanac by the way, and knowing the plurality of Bengali festivals, it is quite essential for Bengali homes) which is almost a month-and-a-half of shopping-hogging-drinking-socializing-hogging some more. December is good ol’ Christmas and is the warmest time of the year for me. Nothing soothes my soul more than Kenny G soulfully playing ‘Silent Night’ while a permanent aroma of cake baking hangs in the air. And then, at midnight, the church bell tolls, rice lights flicker everywhere to their set choreography, and you dream of the magnificent Christmas feast while singing ‘Rudolph’.

That brings us to this month – Ramzan. I fast during this period, something I have…

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Of Daaru, Dhrupad and Dadra

As a metaphor for intellectual stimulation or the bone of contention for the nagging housewife, alcohol has found favour and ire in various genres of Indian music. For the longest time I wanted to spend hours researching on the marriage of my two beloved vices – Indian music and alcohol. While this might not be comprehensive, I guess I have been able to scratch the surface a little and capture the chemistry (or should I say alchemy) they share. And if you were me, there is never too much of either of them.   

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Dhrupad and Khayal (Classical and Semi-classical Music)

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Dhrupad is the oldest and parent form of Indian music which provides the structure of sur (melodies and compositions) and taal (rhythm). Known as Khayal in its modern freestyle forms, it led to the creation of semi-classical genres like Kajri, Thumri and Qawwali. Dhrupad verses typically talk about romance and marriage, mostly referring to Krishna from the perspective of Radha or other cow girls. Alcohol is often used as a metaphor to insinuate intoxication, like in the popular thumri, ras ke bhare tore nain saawariya/tadpat ho more din rain saawariya (the wine of your eyes, my love/tortures my day and night, my love) and the bandish in Raag Malkaus, raseeli rang daare/pee ke khoye chain (your intoxicating colours/give me a high – a reference to the festival of Holi). Later, the verses began mirroring social habits and behaviour and the focus shifted from Radha-Krishna to everyday relationships. Jao jao sayyian, sauten ke saath raho (Go away, lover/live with your mistress) is the bold rejection of a housewife who tells the husband, in the second couplet, to stay away from her as he is dead drunk – pee ke ho choor choor/rahiyo humse door door. Ankhiyon se na piyo/jaam hori khaali (Don’t drink with your eyes/the bottle is finishing) is the seductive invitation to the lover to stop drinking with only his eyes and come closer.

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Ghazal

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One of the primary subjects of Ghazals (the other being romance), alcohol has found various forms in the ashaar or couplets of innumerous poets over centuries. Mirza Ghalib obviously is the most respected and renowned of Urdu-Persian poets, his love for the bottle and mockery of hypocritical clerics being recurrent features in his poetry. Zaahid sharaab peene de masjid mein baith kar/ya woh jagah bataa jahaan par Khuda na ho (Let me drink in the mosque/or send me there where God does not exist) remains one of his most philosophical lines accusing the faithful of restricting God’s presence to religious boundaries. On a more romantic note, he flirts with the wine girl – pila de ok se saaqi jo hum se nafrat hai/pyaala gar nahin deta na de, sharaab toh de (Serve me wine in cupped hands if you hate me/don’t give me a glass if you want, pour the wine, please). Syed Allahabadi writes, gar aag maikashon ki sazaa hai to yaa Khuda/dozakh mein ek nahar bahaa de sharaab ki (If the drunk will be punished with Eternal Fire/God, make a canal of wine in Hell), portraying the popularity of alcohol, as does the famous Pankaj Udhas Ghazal, kabhi nahi pad sakta yaaro maikhane mein taala/ek do chaar nahi hai, saara sheher hai peene waala (the wine house cannot be shut down/not just one or two, the whole town drinks). On a different note, Akbar Allahabadi’s famous lines, hungama hai kyun barpa, thodi si jo pee hai (Why the fuss? I have just drunk a little) symbolized his love and belief in Hindu-Muslim unity, something he had been heavily criticized for by the Muslim League.

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Qawwali

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A semi-classical style, Qawwali can be both spiritual (Sufi) and romantic in nature. Hamd or Naat, which are the spiritual kinds devoted to Allah, the Prophet (pbuh) and other saints, do not have any direct references to alcohol of course. Khumaar or intoxication is often spoken of as a concept, a higher state of spiritual ecstasy achieved through meditation and prayer – Tali har balaa humari/chhaya hai khumaar tera (My obstacles have been removed/you have left everyone intoxicated). This likening of spiritual high with drunkenness is unique to Sufi poetry and music and takes up different forms – the whirling dervishes would be one of them. Regional flavours are found in Punjabi Qawwalis like gal kar koi peen pilawan dee/rut langna jaawe saawan dee (let’s talk about drinking before the monsoons end), as people of the region have always enjoyed drinking during the rains. Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Sahab’s treasure trove of romantic Qawwalis often uses alcohol to signify feminine beauty and romance. Nothing can be more romantic than the lines, Yeh jo halka halka suroor hai/yeh teri nazar ka qasoor hai/teri behki behki nigah ne/mujhe ek sharabi bana diya (This tipsiness, I blame your eyes for it/that look in your eyes, made a drunkard of me).

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Bhajan

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Devotional music or hymns are as old as Dhrupad sangeet itself and over centuries, guided by regional and sectarian preferences, Indian music has sung praises of various deities. Bhajans can be both respectful and irreverent in nature – Gods are praised for their kindness and mocked for their human weaknesses. Shiva has been a favourite of Shaivite Bhajan writers who fondly talk of his love for bhang, ganja and som ras (a Vedic drink with intoxicating qualities). Som peeke naache Bhole baba/sab karo parnaam (Shiva dances happily after drinking som/worship Him, everyone) and Peeke ek bhang ka pyala/mast mast hua Bhola (After a drink, Shiv is enjoying a high) are crowd favourites that one can often hear in Haridwar and Benaras. Vaishnavite Bhajans sing of Krishna and poets like Sur Das, Tulsi Das and Meera Bai (doyens of the Bhakti movement) are the primary contributors to this school of hymns. Intoxication becomes the metaphor for spiritual knowledge and awakening in their Bhajans, an interesting similarity shared with Sufi poets. Meera Bai’s Raam naam ras peeje manawa/taja ku-sanga, sat-sanga baith nita/hari charcha suni leeje/Meera ki prabhu Giridhar nagara/tahike rang mein bheeje (Drink the name of Ram/abandon bad company, sit with the pious/listen to the holy hymns/Meera’s lord is Krishna/she is drenched in his colour) is a shining example of the Bhakti period’s social relevance – drinking was a common social vice everyone was battling with.

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Folk

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Different regions in the country have indigenous folk music or lokgeet forms which mirror society and talk of prevalent ideologies and philosophies. While the Maharashtrian Lavani is erotic and boisterous in its treatment, egging men on to the pleasures of life, the Baul and Bhatiyali of the East is more introspective in nature. Lavani and Tamasha performances objectify nautch dancers, often comparing them to other immoralities like drinking. The Rajasthani Podina songs are irritated complaints of housewives who are frustrated with their inebriated husbands – ojhuk jaaye re hariya podina. The Bauls and Fakirs of Bengal and Bihar sing of finding God in one another, brotherhood and a universal religion. A famous Lalon Fakir number, Khejur gaache haari baandho mon/shujon gaache bandhle haari milbe ashol chini/je roshik hobe bujhe libe/ beroshik bujhbe na go ashhadon (Tie your mind like a pot on good Palm trees for sweeter knowledge), talks beautifully of seeking enlightened company just like the toddy-seller searches for healthy Palm trees to make good quality liquor. Bhatiyali are songs sung by boatmen to avoid boredom while rowing. Rupali nodi re, roop dekhe tor hoiyasi pagol/cholish tui dolok dolok, maatla cholok cholok (O silver river, your beauty drives me mad/your soft waves are like drunken swagger) is one of the innumerous odes to nature in Indian folk music.

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Photo courtesy: Google Images

The ‘Lesser Evil’ Theory and Some Myths About Muslims

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I am reminded of the opening paragraph of Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities. Our life and times are equally paradoxical. An election is empowering. At the same time, it might bring the wrong people to power. Who are the wrong people, you ask? Who, according to you, are the ‘right’ people, you ask further? Hence, the paradox. We are not voting this year to elect the good and defeat the bad. We are voting for the party who will cause the least damage to this country.

We have three options – The UPA, The NDA and AAP (and whoever they will land up joining hands with). We do not have the luxury of dreaming about the benefits of voting for any of them. I think I speak for all of us when I say that we are a disillusioned group of people. We do not believe that our government is capable of improvement. BUT, what we want to maintain is peaceful status quo. And who can ensure that?

The promises of all the three political groups (I love the word ‘umeedvaar‘. It makes the voters seem more powerful) are the same – jobs, security, education, health, sanitation, drinking water, girl child, rural development – issues that have been ISSUES in this country since independence. Issues that previous governments had failed to solve (which is why they were removed) and issues the present government failed at (which is why they might be removed) and we are not hopeful that these issues will be resolved by the next one either. In the theatre, lead actors have understudies – junior actors who are kept abreast with the part in case they have to step in during an emergency. In governance, the role of the understudy is that of the Opposition. They are expected to play the part of a responsible ‘shadow government’ who will make policy changes (which the public are aware of as these policies are their definitive tenets and NOT empty promises propped up on banners right before the elections). Therefore, the voters have an actual logical reasoning behind voting the Opposition to power.

Today, if we are unhappy with the UPA government, what are our reasons for voting for the Opposition?

In India, the election is nothing but an audition. It is a chance, a try-off, given to the other party – a scary sort of blind faith – because we are absolutely fed up with the present one. Is that not why you will be voting for the Opposition if you do plan to?

I am not hoping for a drastic administrative improvement in the governance. That is sheer folly. What will change is the socio-political agenda, if a different party is voted to power. And that is where the ‘Lesser Evil’ theory comes in. We are not voting for benefits or improvement because we KNOW that nothing shall change. We should therefore be voting for the party that shall cause the least collateral damage in the process of achieving its vested political interests.

So, you don’t have to choose between the BJP, the Congress, and the AAP. You have to choose between Communalism+Gender insensitivity, Corruption, and Inexperience. Which of these evils will cause the maximum harm to this country? Which of these evils can you live with?

That is the unfortunate compromise we will have to make this General Elections.

Just yesterday, I came across this fantastic article on kafila.org. It is clean, clear, and to the point. Read the complete article here.

Do not vote with hope for a better tomorrow. Vote with the hope for a safer one.

#LesserEvil

 

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