So there exists an opportunity now to make election posters into collector’s items or posters to adorn a girl’s room. One of the candidates is a single half-Italian man. With dimples, at that. And no, Dino Morea is not standing for elections. Yet. (Which is actually a relief, given his recent departure from his Musu Musu Haasi-era good looks).
The scion of the dyNasty is who I’m talking about. No, I don’t say Mr. Gandhi is goodlooking. But he has all the right qualifications. Single? Check. Italian blood? Check. Dimples? Check. Fair complexion? Check. Under forty? Check (1970-born). So when I see this torturous poster every morning and evening exhorting me to vote for this man whose face doesn’t compare with that of John Abraham and Shayan Munshi in the neighboring hoardings, I cringe at all this potential going waste.
So… well… some pointers here to the folks who make posters for the Congress:
- Who are we trying to kid? Thirty-nine isn’t Young. Atleast not for first-time female voters in the 18-25 age group. So…. attempt to cast him in the Sanjay Dutt – SRK slot, not the Hrithik slot or John Ab slot. The struggling-to-be-fit-and-succeeding one.
- In a few years, he looks like he’s going to have more chins than the Hong Kong telephone directory. Dude…. or should I call you Uncle… work out, for godsake! SRK tops you with lines like “Yeah, Rahul Gandhi is goodlooking, but I have a six-pack’. And get Outlook or The Week or ToiLeT Paper or CNN-IBN or NDTV to chronicle your morning workout. And get cracking. The media goes gaga about Modi’s (if only figurative) chhappan ki chhatti….this is your chance to score one over him by proving that he is just all talk while you have the real stuff… and by extrapolation this is true for other issues like development, as ToI will write.
- Get a better photographer. Not your current one, or these presswallahs whose cameras add ten pounds to your face. Stretch your neck a bit when they take a picture of your face. That way you avoid the extra chins being added. Maybe you can strike the thinking-man pose – looking skyward in contemplation.
- And smile. Or grin. Widely. That’s what Italian men are expected to do. You don’t have it in you to look like a sleek mafia don – you need a darker skin tone and sharper features to carry that off. So take the pretty-boy route out.
- And sign off with Hasta la Vista, baby. Yeah, it’s Spanish, but who really knows the difference between Spain and Italy? People take Romance languages rather literally.
- An accented English/Hindi is okay. For the same reason as above.
I certainly don’t want the Congress to win this election, however narrowly. My loyalties are well-displayed on the widgets on the right here. But heck, if we are having posters that are going to be plastered everywhere from Malleshwaram to Basavanagudi, from Indiranagar to Rajajinagar, we might as well have posters good enough to be called eye-candy.
And… I guess the best thing for Mr. Gandhi to do would be to adapt a line from Jhankaar Beats to be his guiding light – Jeete toh jeete, haare toh haare, har dil ko apna banaana hai. My tips might or might not help with the former, but the latter, quite surely it will.
…. is what Mr. Shivraj Patil had to say about the Delhi Blasts.
And he also appealed for calm. And praised the resilience of people of the country.
I agree, losing your head in such a situation is not the best thing to do. But how long should it be business as usual for the average Indian? Should he keep going about his work in spite of all the people he knows suddenly turning into ex-people? What is being done to check this situation where all of us have to live in fear?
Millions die of hunger and disease… why am I bothering about these twenty people dying? It’s because they die not because they are denied facilities or jobs, but very very very basic security. Preventable deaths.
We’ll send out mails saying we are resilient… they’ll continue blasting us into pieces. Reminds me of that knight in Monty Python And The Holy Grail who keeps yelling out challenges even though his limbs are hacked apart and his head severed.
And why am I blaming the government now? It’s because terrorists attack us because they can. C’mon… You cheat me once, shame on you. You cheat me twice, shame on me…. just how many countries have witnessed encores upon encores of terrorist acts?
Since 2002, not a single reference to Gujarat has passed without association to The Riots. It’s turned into a conditioned reflex, just like we say earthquake when we hear of Latur, or many pairs of shoes and assorted pieces of jewellery all hidden away when Jayalalithaa is mentioned. And this bypasses even the earlier conditioned reflex – that of associating Gujarat with the Earthquake.
As if Godhra was the only place in India where riots took place…. there have been bloody riots all over India over the question of Religion, these are nothing new. State-sponsored, someone said? Hark back to 1984, New Delhi. I don’t think there was widespread demonization of Rajiv Gandhi, least of all by the mainstream media when he justified the riots spawned by his mother’s death with “When a great tree falls, the ground is bound to shake”, or some such similar line.
Which brings us to the much-maligned man of the moment. Mr. Modi. His is one name that brings up association with Hardline Hindutva (an oxymoron, but I don’t think most people care, or notice). That spells annihilation for the Minority (Er… what Minority? In India, we are all minorities). That brings up the nightmare of draconian laws like POTA being imposed.
That’s not surprising considering the conditioning process we’ve all undergone over the past five years – the mainstream media consider it to be their prerogative to keep it alive in public memory what happened in Gujarat in 2002 – Five years on, the old horse Gujarat continues to rake in the TRPs much, much more than the new-born brat that is Nandigram. Why, even RDB had a SanskritizedHindi-spouting evil politician who was easily distinguishable as a lookalike of the Merchant of Death. But I guess we can’t hold it against Rakeysh Mehra – he wasn’t making any statement; he was only putting together bits of Indian Pop-culture.
And that is not in the least surprising. Nehru, and before him, Macaulay coached us through a woefully inadequate instruction system to feel ashamed of our roots, our heathen polytheistic religion. Nehruvian and Gandhian secularism, which translates to its pseudo counterpart. So today it’s uncool to take pride in belonging to the Majority. Corollary, contrary to Minority-bashing being frowned on as politically incorrect, Majority-bashing is Cool, even a social necessity.
Naturally, when a news item came up, with live action, of the Majority inflicting blows on the Minority, just during the 24HourNewsChannel Explosion era, it was like manna for media moguls desperate for some news to telecast. It had all the necessary qualities for viewers to stay glued, that the Establishment was evil, that innocent lives were being lost, that there was widespread violence. For most of us, the gory images of Gujarat, splashed in newspapers and on TV screens were the first bits of live violence we’ve seen, and hence stay etched in memory.
And Modi, hitherto unknown, was cannoned to fame, as the architect behind it all. Within a few weeks, Gujarat, and its CM would too have faded into oblivion, just like the people of Nandigram. Except that it didn’t. Because the man stood his own. Refused to buckle under any pressure. Stood by what he did. Unapologetic. And ensured that his name and face turned bankable news items.
Since then he’s won his party two elections, both by large margins. Had Non-Resident Gujaratis swear by his commitment to Gujarat. Had someone no less than Ratan Tata saying “It is stupid if you’re not investing in Gujarat”.
So why is the Evil image still not washing off?
I mean, I know that’s a huge thing to forget, but hell, too much time has passed since then. And too much has happened. Especially with regard to Modi, and Gujarat. There has been more violence on the streets in Bangalore alone in the past year than in Gujarat in the past five years. And more terrorist activity, too.
So why is Modi still the Media’s favorite whipping boy?
Because shining light on his good points would be today’s equivalent of a Klansman dining with a Black. And that means hell for TRPs in the long run.
But the current stance of the mainstream media spells hell for India’s image abroad. And I don’t just mean Modi being denied a US visa.
The UPA government will not last forever. I guess Antonia Maino’s masterstroke of ruling the entire country by proxy, with marionettes in both the PM’s and President’s post has angered many citizens, and left most with no doubt of her Rasputin-like intentions. And the educated, who last time, didn’t turn up to vote, and hence lost the NDA an election will definitely vote in the next elections. Or people may vote for the BJP more out of lack of choice than anything else. Sometime soon, the BJP will be in power either at the Center or in some key states.
And such character assassination by the media doesn’t go well with foreign relations. People outside the country have their perception of India moulded mainly by what the Indian media says about it; case in question – Indian filmmaking is synonymous with Bollywood. So wouldn’t an outsider think twice before investing in a state, or worse, country, being ruled by what was (and possibly is) portrayed as a far-right minority-hating votebankPolitics-playing party? Or worse, if Modi did become PM, (which seems increasingly the possibility, considering his increasing stature as a development-oriented administrator, the CEO of Gujarat) wouldn’t other countries tread with care dealing with us? Or publicly denounce us?
The mainstream media, the one that shapes all our opinions, needs to do a volte-face on this now. There’s a lot more at stake than TRPs and political correctness.