Category Archives: Society

DEEPIKA PADUKONE & THE “IT’S MY CHOICE” VIDEO: MISFIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS!

“Vogue” roped in Homi Adjania & Deepika Padukone for its Vogue Empower video on women’s empowerment in India. A seemingly fantastic mix of editorial, production and marketing choices indeed, which were bound to spur skywards the prospects of all involved. But after 22 million hits on You Tube, strangely, none of them is sure if that happened. So what went wrong?

Vogue India decided to celebrate their 7th anniversary by launching a social awareness initiative, #VogueEmpower, with the aim of drawing attention to women’s empowerment issues which (as per the Vogue website) “touch and impact the lives of both urban and rural women”. As part of the campaign Vogue India planned to include features in the magazine, get its ambassadors to espouse causes, to tie up with Give India to fundraise for various women focused organistations and to finally be a “conduit of change and champion of women’s rights to empowerment of mind, body, thought and action.” The chosen medium were the magazine, social media, multimedia, digital and off line activities with a simple message “It starts with you.”

To reach out to the social media, Vogue made its first video on the theme on the issue of women’s safety, titled Going Home, a film by Vikas Behl, it featured Alia Bhatt and received wide acclaim and was an inferno on the social media.

Emboldened by the response the next video was boldly titled “Its My Choice” and was about a woman’s ability or inability to freely exercise her choices. It’s a slick 2min:35 sec video with a catchy back ground score which had a montage of Deepika Padukone and 98 other women, in various expressions from joy to anger, with Deepika providing the voice over. The art in the video is predominantly black, for greater impact and to also go with the aggressive theme.

The opening lines go along fine when it talks about letting women wear clothes they want to and whether they want to be size zero or 15, because after all these actually are personal choices.Few controversial issues follow such as whether the woman wants to marry or not, whether she wants to have sex before marriage, outside of marriage or not at all, and whether she wants to love temporarily or lust forever, or if she wants to not to love or love a boy or girl- and in all of this Deepika says -it’s her choice. And her (woman’s)choice alone!!! And when adulterous behavior is simplified as a mere matter of mere choice, devoid of sensitivity , then the video would naturally lose appeal.After all havent the men been accused of the same callous attitude?Then how is the same behaviour a sign of empowerment for the fairer sex?Something doesn’t quite click, isn’t it?

The confrontational and “me versus you” undertones become OVERtones when Deepika says “you are my choice, I am not your privilege”. The apparaent trivialisation of the male hardly wins the video support from the “oppressors”, ironically, this is what the video set out to achieve.Instead of thoughtful reflection most men would easily,and damagingly, end up construing that “women’s empowerment = women’s supremacy” !When the reality is just the opposite.

Deepika reveals naivete when she associates empowerment with freedom to return home late and the offensive tone bars the father, brother or partner from even being concerned !The best (or the worst) is saved for the last when Deepika says it’s “her choice”  (alone) whether she wants to have “your” baby or not, and if the male wants it then he is being “cocky” (pun intended?).Now what kind of logic is this??Since when has having a baby been an individual’s choice alone?Isnt it a collective decision?

Finally,Deepika delivers the coup de grace by stating that the women’s songs, order or virtues are essentially a man’s noise, anarchy and sins respectively !Mercifully,the video ends soon after and all that lingers is the scent of controversy.

This Amul ad / topical on the Its My Choice video shows the Amul Girl depicting the montage of Deepika Padukone with open and windblown hair from the video itself. Designed against a black backdrop it is consonance with the black setting in the video too.

deepika padukone

The Tag Line …Its My Choice… is a play on the theme of the #VogueEmpower video.The all yellow “O” is a take on the traditional “bindi” which has been chosen by Vogue as its symbol of women empowered.

The Punch Line … To Use a Butter Knife or to Use My Fingers… is a witty play on the theme of the video while playfully endorsing the inviting and delicious taste of the Amul Butter.

So why did the video not click with the audience?

Vogue went off target right from the start. It chose mostly bourgeois topics to raise awareness. It totally panned to its upwardly mobile clientele and overlooked issues such as equal rights to education, health, support for seeking employment, more representation in public services, work – life balance, dowry, domestic violence, safety and security and respect in public places. So what was covered was essentially the peripherals to the debate.It seems someone at Vogue did his or her studies on women’s empowerment from IIN and goofed it up royally!

Next, the meaning of empowerment is mutual understanding, trust and respect which should lead to equality between the sexes. Whereas the video reduced mutual coexistence between the sexes to the realm of imagination.It alienated its target audience and was rejected across the sexes for being offensive, insensitive, missing the point and portraying an untrue and incomplete dimension of the espoused cause.Instead of a “me and you” approach the video embarked on a “me versus you” trajectory.

The above was exemplified by the controversy over the two most contentious issuse in the video – adultery and child bearing.

The entire agenda got hijacked when the video was seen to endorse adultery – “sex outside of marriage”- as a matter of choice for a woman.The men ofcourse turned around and asked if it was open season for them as well, with no questions asked?Is this what Deepika had in mind when she says “my virtues, your sins”?

The line adopted on the issue bearing a child was another sticking point which exposed the flawed logic and the misplaced sense of empowerment being espoused by Deepika and Co.And here she rings the death knell for the compassion sought to be generated.Women’s empowerment cannot happen without mutual undestanding and factoring in of each others sensitivity.

 As is obvious, the arguments were vacuous and the lines hollow and this undoubtedly damaged the espoused cause substantially.

In the aftermath, the men now, gleefully, demanded that they be not judged when they exercise absolute freedom of choice to love temporarily, lust permannently, to be adulterous and to consider everything about a relationship temporary. This retort and the line of argument by the men not only turned the logic of the video on its head but also exposed its hollowness completely. Seriously, I think Rahul Gandhi did more for women’s empowerment in his disastrous interview with Arnab Goswamy, than this video. At least in his case there wasn’t any hostility associated with the concept! Only hilarity.

The lines on returning home at 4am totally obfuscated the intent behind the video. It was as if the woman was saying that I will do whatever and you, the guy, can neither question (still understandable) nor have the right to be worried. And this in a country where crimes against women are committed on the streets, in the by lanes, homes, neighbourhood, trains, buses, fields, public parks and of all the places – Police Stations! So is being genuinely worried about a woman mutually exclusive with her sense of freedom??? If yes, then for me this is – #VagueEmpower!

The topics spoken about in the video are hardly mirroring rural concerns. Was there any mention of female infanticide (it happens in urban India too) or of the necessity to provide proper ablutions to the women or about the atrocities of the Khap Panchayats? If not then Vogue failed in its stated intent as mentioned in the beginning of the Post.

If it’s about absolute freedom, then let everybody do what they want. Let rapists run riot, let murders be committed, let eve teasing be the norm, let wife beating and marital rape not be cognizable offences, then don’t drag boys to court on charges of rape when they walk out of relationships – as in all these cases it was all about “their” choices and they exercised it. So, whats wrong with it?

Everything.

There is a fine line between freedom of choice and absolute freedom. The latter will lead to chaos and anarchy. Choices have consequences and the ones who make them have to be accountable for it, as these always impact lives of those affected by these choices. Even the universe, which Deepika has alluded to, conforms to rules to maintain order and eschews chaos.

The utter gibberish dished out by Vogue led to numerous spoofs. The best amongst them was the one titled #DogueEmpower, where the cute little canine politely tells us about “his/her” choices. And believe me, the canine’s assertions for exercising “his/ her” choices are far more convincing than those of Deepika Padukone. The video has thus far received over a 100000 hits.

For her part in this charade, Deepika Padukone of course has proven that she is competing with Aliya Bhat for the “new blonde in town” title. She comes across as comfortably dumb, to have not realized the implications of the hollow lines she was parroting. And she can’t seek refuge in the fact that here she was merely in her “on screen” avatar. Doesn’t she add value to her dialogues and roles, in a movie, by sharing inputs with her director? Then we expect her to have exercised her discretion in this case too. Thus she is equally responsible for the fiasco and is also a poor choice as a feminist poster girl.She speaks of the uncaged female spirit and the expanding universe but then in reality does everything that signifies enslavement of a woman’s mind, body and spirit – just to stay on top of in the film industry, which happens to be the most exploitative of the women who are part of it ! Ironical, isnt it?

Padukone’s association with the #VogueEmpower campaign is extremely hypocritical as she is herself endorsing figure slimming cereals and skin lightening creams and perpetuating myths and stereotypes about the way women should be seen rather than want to be seen (choice.. Remember?) So, Deepika, see if you can differentiate between “real” and “fake” feminism!

As for Homi Adjania – “yeh hi hai wrong choice baby”. In the Bollywood flick “Cocktail” he has trashed the freewheeling “snowflake” (girl), in favour of the nice “snowflake” who is the exact antithesis of the “coming-home-at-4am-sex before marriage-sex outside of marriage” type endorsed by him as the poster girl for women’s empowerment. So, Mr Adjania, what do you have to say about this? After all, a director’s work also mirrors his beliefs.And yours appear as hollow as the video you dished out !

The in-congruence of the video also lay in the choice of the 99 women. Though successful in their own right, they are all from privileged backgrounds where they would have hardly ever experienced the denial of a choice. Vogue had hoped to carry out a marketing blitz and cash in on the latest big thing – Indian Feminism. And the fact that the video was a result of a marketing ploy rather than a reflection of the realities of women empowerment explains why it did not resonate even with the mere 30% percent (english speakng) of the population that it targetted.It also suffered due to the poor credibility levels of fashion and life style magazines as they are known to perpetuate trends and stereotypes which are totally against their professed stand on issues such as empowerment !

The video was an utter failure and i really wonder how much #VogueEmpower can do for women’s issues especially when the campaign is floundering and misfiring on all cylinders!

In the end, my heart goes out to Jiten Ram Majhi, who was pilloried when he endorsed the extra marital affair of his son as a consensual relationship. But here , #VogueEmpower wants us to believe that it is a sign of women’s empowerment.If this video would have happened a few months back Majhi could have cited it in his support.

Its never too late though.Makes for good copy and some more juicy controversy !

Advertisements

CONVERSION CHARADES:STUPIDITY IS A GIFT OF GOD TOO..LETS NOT MISUSE IT.

Religion is “the opium of the masses” – these words of Karl Marx perfectly explain why our polity would choose dogma over progress. Religion has been unabashedly exploited in India by the British and this continues unabated even now. It seems God too is fond of jokes, and he played one on us by making us the people that we are – helpless against our own failings!

In December 2014, Dharam Jagran Samiti (DJS), carried out the reconversion of some muslims into Hinduism in the city of Agra. It turned out to be a fiasco as the affected individuals, all rag pickers, declared that they had been duped into forsaking their faith and allurements such as BPL cards, Aadhar cards and entitlement to government housing were used in the attempted subversion of their faith. DJS , however denied the allegations and claimed the activity to be voluntary.

Matters weren’t helped further when plans for a slew of such events, termed “ghar wapsi” (homecoming),came to light and other right wing Hindu organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal announced plans for unprecedented number of reconversion to Hinduism in diverse places such as Aligarh, Rae Bareilly, Kerala, Goa, Bihar and elsewhere.

These reconversions were justified by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) on the ground that the ancestors of the Christians and Muslims of India were essentially Hindu and had been converted under coercion and now that the conditions had changed, the present generation was merely making a “homecoming”.

The opposition parties, were till now like a hapless boxer who didn’t even have his shorts on let alone the gloves, suddenly found themselves with an agenda to throw punches at the Modi government.

Meanwhile minority organsations rushed “task forces” to areas where the planned reconversion was likely to take place to help people keep the faith (why were they losing it in the first place?). Emergency symposiums were also conducted by them to keep their “flock together”.

The BJP government was accused of not reining in the Hindu organisatons and the opposition demanded that the PM make a statement in the Parliament to reassure the minorities. The PM did not oblige and instead the BJP asked the opposition parties to support a National Anti-Conversion law to ban all conversions completely. This led to a deadlock and the combined opposition stalled all legislative activities.

Dance of Democracy indeed !

The Amul Ad deals with the Conversion Controversy.The Amul Girl dressed as a chef, with caricatures depicting a Sikh and Tamil Brahmin and serving generous dollops of the “yellow delight” on platters of Parantha (Indian Bread) and Idli, Dosa and Sambhar respectively. The strip attempts to showcase the regional diversity of India.

conversion

The Tag Line…..Easy To Convert To… hints at the complexities of the conversion conundrum by using the Amul butter as a medium. The line extols the pan India acceptance of the product and that it adds taste to any regional cuisine.

The Punch Line…Aapsi Mein Baato..is a play on the term “ghar wapsi” and literally translates into “equally distributing amongst all” implying that the product be consumed as widely as possible.

Religious conversion has been a sensitive issue in India due to the legacy of forced conversion of Hindus to Islam by various Muslim rulers and the proselytizing carried out by the Christian missionaries. Princely states had anti conversion laws specifically directed against conversion to Christianity. British India though did not have any such law and for obvious reasons.

Post-independence the Indian Constitution recognizes, in Article 25(1), that “all persons” are free to “profess, practice, propogate freely” the religion of their choice. The Supreme Court of India has ruled that the right to propogate be not confused with the right to convert and has also empowered states to enact Freedom of Religion laws to deal with forced conversion related issues. States of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Arunachal Pradesh ,Tamil Nadu and Chattisgarh have all enacted such laws right from the 60s upto now which make forced conversions a cognizable offence under the sections 295 and 298 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Also, while law prohibits conversion, `reconversion’ of low caste Hindus is permissible.

The above mentioned laws are seen to be aimed at keeping the low caste Hindus within the folds of Hinduism in the face of socially demeaning practices. Since most of the low caste Hindus are at the lowest rung of the society they are succeptible to coercion as well as allurements. Christian Missionaries have been regularly accused of proselytizing in the garb of providing relief during disasters or while spreading literacy and providing medical care.

Interestingly, though Islam and Christianity do not claim to have a hierarchical strata, yet in India these faiths too follow a caste system! At times converted Christians are discriminated against based on their erstwhile Hindu   caste ! The Hindu organisations have declared that all reconverted Hindus will be free to choose their new castes !This is an impossibility in Hinduism at the same time it’s a fantastic allure keeping in mind the sops and reservations available to low caste Hindus in jobs and education.

To those who fight over religion, I ask is there a perfect religion worth fighting over?

The Bible has improbabilities such as talking snakes and bushes ! Ask a dad about his belief in the story of the Virgin Mary if it is to be applied on his daughter? And how come Noah found Penguins and Polar Bears in Palestine??? (Where was the North Pole back then??)

Even in Islam the Quran is said to contain fables already existing at the time which have been presented as the “word of God” to the Prophet Mohammad.

Perfect religion?

A word about our politicians. The opposition came across as “pseudo secularists” when they do not complain against any incident of forced conversion of Hindus coming to light. Also they balked at the idea of a National Anti-Conversion law not on the grounds of constitutionality (as the constitution guarantees freedom of religion) but offered obfuscated logic to try and hold on to THEIR “flock of voters”.

I also ask the Indian National Congress (INC) or the “Janata Parivaar” that which PM of India has made a statement since 1947 to reassure the Hindu community when cases of forced or coerced conversion at the hand of Christian Missionaries have come to light? Then why such blatant vote bank politics at the cost of governance and development? Let religion be in the absolute background.

The ruling combine needs to be faulted for not nipping the menace in the bud and letting the Winter Session go down the drain.Also, could not the PM have addressed the people of this Country through any medium to instil confidence in his governments commitment towards secularism and secondly to defeat the opposition’s banal tactics?

Its time we got on with governance and development as even as I write there are millions sleeping on the roadside in the bitter cold, who have also gone hungry and will squat in the open tomorrow morning and have no way of ensuring that their children can avoid this fate.

Religion after all is the opium of the masses. Is it?

Btw the Bible does contains much that is relevant today, like Noah taking 40 days to find a parking spot !

MORAL POLICING: MUCH ADO ABOUT A KISS WHILE THE PISS GETS THE MISS !

If Indian Culture is under imminent threat follow these simple steps to render it invulnerable -shout obscenities, slap randomly, smash windows and time it for the TV cameras! And to share a secret, the easiest to prey upon are young couples confused between love and hormones. But beware, sometimes the hunter becomes the hunted and its even more bizarre when the weapon used is a mere “Kiss of Love”.

In end October 2014, Downtown Café in Khozikode,Kerela was vandalised and ransacked by members of the Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha (BJYM) for allegedly “facilitating immoral activities” by its young patrons. This was after Jai Hind TV telecast a programme about the alleged “immoral activities”.Interestingly the entire drama unfolded in front of the cameras and yet BJYM goons managed to evade arrest.

This incident led to the Free Thinkers group and others organizing a “kiss of love” protest against the “moral police” and its wanton and unrestrained hooliganism.Promptly a Facebook page came up and exhorted people to defy moral policing by locking lips at the Marine Drive on Kochi on the 2nd of November! Soon there was furore all over. The Shiv Sena,like all extremists painted a grim and murky picture when it  bizarrely predicted that the “Kiss of Love” protests would lead to “sexual anarchy” (what does this mean) and a renewed and more virulent form of “love jihad”.The battle lines were drawn and the stage was now set for a “kiss-ectrfying”  protest day.

On the anointed day, some protestors did managed to lock their lips (same sex also). Most of them though may have actually bitten each other because of the attendant chaos caused by throngs of yet-to-kiss-for-the-first-tine onlookers and i-am-jealous-of-your-girlfriend type goons of the “morchas”! Pandemonium reigned as the goons wanted to hurl the “kissers” into the sea, the “kissers” wanted to keep kissing as life had never been so good and the Police did what they are good at – baton charged, broke up the crowds, arrested the kissers and let the “morcha” hooligans go.Like always.

The fire spread to all corners of India and in Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi similar protests were organized. The media focused only on the kissing and invented a “kiss counter” which did not miss out on a single “kiss” whatever be the level of chaos taking place. Inadvertent fights too broke out and the Police did what they had in Kochi.

In spite of the “kissers” endangering themselves for a seemingly just cause, opinion was largely divided on the issue of the propriety of the form of protest and it did deflect attention from the moot issue -the “heckler’s veto” which is being exercised by the “moral police” and leading to infringement of liberty and fundamental rights as well.

This Amul ad captured the dominant national controversy of the time. It shows a love struck couple sitting on a bench poised to kiss, though appearing to do it on butter draped slices. The “moral police” is depicted by a caricature holding a placard and remonstrating angrily with the couple. A camera holding caricature represents the over zealous media. The Amul Girl is shown separating the “kissers and the morchas”.

kiss of love

The Tag LineKiss Power Ya Uss Paar..is a play on the protest titled the “Kiss of Love” and a popular hindi proverb “is paar ya us paar” which urges people to make a decisive choice which in this case is either for supporting the “kiss of love” or not supporting it and bringing to fore the question of propriety of the chosen form.

The Punch Line..Lipsmakhan Taste... is a subtle play on the lips and kiss and is spin off of the English term Lipsmacking Taste, which simply implies that the Amul butter has an amazing taste.

The “Kiss of Love” protest was not a knee jerk reaction to the Downtown Café incident, but a pent up reaction to a series of instances of moral policing in Kerala. So , though, the idea of a protest received wide spread support but a call to openly kiss did not receive the same kind of acceptance. It appeared that some took it as a right for indulging in “in your face” public display of affection which irked the majority sentiment. Call it false morality or what you may, most of us are not comfortable with “lolling tongues” and drooling couples in our vicinity. Even Bollywood used embracing flowers or a raging fire to depict the “ultimate expression of love ” (or lust). In a country where Emraan Hashmi movies were considered soft porn, accepting lip locks as a form of public protest was a tad too much to accept. Most related it with their own children and disapproved of the form.

This is where the protest lost its zing and instead struggled for its own legitimacy.

It is well understood that protests need to be innovative to have an impact but the organisers got the form wrong. The focus should have been on the over reach of the “morchas” instead it became an effort towards making maximum lip locks possible with leery on lookers assembling for a free show.Women protestors being chased by hoodlums seeking “kisses of love” totally queered the pitch and the accompanying obscenities was totally avoidable.

Another aspect is that the Police never really arrested the hooligans indulging in violence at the protest venues but preemptively arrested the protestors on the pretext of maintaining public order as the yet-to-be-planted-kiss could invite an imaginary sucker punch from a real hoodlum present in the gathering. So who is a threat to public order? The real hoodlum or the hypothetical kisser?

Also while our “moral police” raves and rants about women’s hem lines and kissing in public it is conspicuously quiet about “pissing in public” .Why? Isn’t it obscene and unIndian? And while women are blamed for getting raped because of their dress where is the moral police when the need for community policing arises?

The Central Government maintained a studied silence and got blamed for soft pedaling on the issue of the “morchas” due to its own umbilical linkages with the Rashtriya Swamsewak Sangh (RSS). This will only encourage the obscurantist groups to try and apportion more and more of the social landscape and one fine day we will be like Pakistan.

“Kiss of Love” protests were an eye opener and a definitive moment when some amongst us tried to push back the tide of rising moral policing. Only that it got waylaid out of exuberance but still managed to leave a “bite” on the moral police’s hips. Vigilante groups have no sanction under law and they should be restrained at all costs. If they have a problem with a particular behavior then like all law abiding citizens they should approach the courts and not run riot.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner let’s get serious about getting the “morcha types” girlfriends as this will keep them away from smashing windows and chasing couples. Otherwise be prepared for a sucker punch heading your way and also ending up spending the night in a lock up while the “puncher” keeps counting his hits.

“FREEZER “, “KISSING” & “TUNNU” BABAS – GODMEN GALORE AND THEIR TEMPLES OF DOOM !

In a country where a black cat can do what a traffic light can’t and where time is auspicious and not precious it’s natural to have your very own “customized” “Godman”, promising you salvation,and mercifully at cheap rates too. But with cheap rates – sleaze, avarice and crime also come cheap;sadly at the expense of the hapless victims of this Ungodly Man!

In late November, Satlok Ashram (hermitage) of self-styled “Godman” Sant Rampal, witnessed a pitched battle between his “private” army (Army of God? Mujahideen?) and the Police. Rampal, an erstwhile engineer, calls himself the “avatar” or reincarnation of a mystic poet Kabir. His stand off with the Police took place as he had been defying court orders to appear in relation to a case of inciting violence and murder ,dating back to 2006.

Rampal used 15000 disciples as “human shields” and caused the death of six people before finaly being arrested. Search revealed ostentatious opulence, sex literature, porn CDs and pregnancy kits from the “Godman’s” personal chamber and records of transfer of funds running into crores of rupees while the standoff was in progress. Rampal now stands accused of treason and sedition also . Definitely a first for a God!

There are others too in this Roll of “Honour”.

Asaram “Bapu” (father), preached the “existence of one supreme conscious”, but stood accused of murder and sex crimes while creating a Rupees 5000 crore empire. He and son Narayan Sai were arrested on charges of rape based on the complaint by a former disciple.The Police had to conduct a paternity test on the septugenarian “Godman” to get the charges to stick.Asaram passed with flying colours and the duo are still behind bars.

Please welcome Nirmal Baba- a failed businessman, who prescribes bizarre solutions for ushering in “kripa” (blessings),such as changing the “lal chutney” (red dip) for the “hari chutney” (green dip) while partaking the Indian snack “samosa” (???) and promises uninterrupted blessings for as less as Rupees 2000 (USD 30) to those who are gullible enough to believe him.He is presently facing charges of fraud leveled by some of his “now enlightened” followers.

“Freezer” Baba or Ashutosh Maharaj of the Divya Jyoti Jagran Samiti died on 29 January 14 but his body is still kept in a deep freezer by his disciples as they say he will awake again from “spiritual Samadhi”! His death is shrouded in mystery owing to land and wealth related issues.

“Kissing Baba” who hugged and kissed his devotees to remove their afflictions and problems, was recently arrested in Kaddapa.

We also had “Godman” Chandraswami who could supposedly “read minds” but was “famously” accused of gun running  and of being involved in Rajiv Gandhi’s murder. And Swami Premanand who produced “lingams” (male phallus) for select devotees (??), but only until he was arrested and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences for raping 13 girls!!

But its Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ek Insaan-spiritual head of the Dera Sachcha Sauda takes the cake. He drives a Range Rover, wears rockstar clothes, has Z plus security status and is a “spiritual Mika” who has crooned Punjabi pop numbers such as “Love Charger” and “Atom Bomb” ! He is making his directorial and acting debut in the film MSG-The Messenger of God in which amongst other stunts he plays rugby to save the world! To round up the impressive CV, Rahim is accused of blasphemy, two rapes and two murders also!

The movie -MSG-The Messenger of God,starring Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim has run into serious trouble in Punjabi and has stoked communal embers  as it portrays him as an apostle of God. And also God himself!. It’s release is being opposed vehemently by the predominantly upper caste Sikhs and the ruling  Akali Dal.The Censor Board chief ,Leela Samson resigned citing political interference in by the ruling dispensation in according clearances to the movie which the board had denied on grounds of communal harmony.The matter went to the tribunal and is presently subjudice with the movie yet to be released.Meanwhile the opposing camps have only been becoming more belligerent and threatening violence against each other..all in the name of God.

The Amul ad on the movie MSG-The Messenger of God captures  the controversy regarding the Censor board certification.It shows a caricature depicting Ram Rahim in a costume worn by him in the movie and looking surprised at the cuts made by the Censor Board.It also shows a caricature depicting Leela Samson angrily walking out and a pen thrown on the ground showcasing the fiasco surrounding her sudden resignation . .The Amul Girl is witness to it all while a raging fire depicts the violence that has erupted because of  the controversial movie.

B7tgg2aCAAAzWyi

The Tag Line…Sab  Godmal Hai. ..is a play on the Hindi word “golmaal” implying that everything is murky about the incident and also hints at the entire controversy being in the name of God – and in this case the Godman  of Dera Sachcha  Sauda.

The Punch Line..Messenger of Taste..is a play on  the name of the controversial movie and suggests that Amul is spreading a simpler message unlike others around us.

Getting back to the main theme.

The Amul Ad on Sant Rampal depicts the  carnage and fiasco at Satlok Ashram. It shows Rampal with his trademark hand gesture being nabbed by the Police. The battle gear of the Police, an upturned ashram and shadowy figures of the trapped disciples round off the scene,with the Amul Girl shown as a bystander.

rampal

The Tag Line…Sharampal Baba?….is a take on the name “Rampal” and the urdu word “Sharam” meaning shame. It asks the simple question that isn’t this “Godman” ashamed of all that he has indulged in?

The Punch Line…Spread Amity and Amulity…is a message for these “Godmen” as also the society to spread peace and amity and a subtle play on the name Amul.

Religion in India is characterised by elitist rituals,schisms,exclusivity and “Godmen”  who have held sway over the minds of the excluded as well as the so called “privileged” groups.The “Deras” are a result of the former where the excluded classes have found a semblance of acceptability and also a sense of strength in numbers.Even the, affluent and the privileged get sucked into this whirlpool of religiosity.Since our childhood we are fed on a staple of “miracles” by saints and Gods we get drawn to modern day “super healers” and “Godmen”.These then conjure fake miracles and prey on our need to lean on a superior power.

Once the “Godman” has sufficient following he is then a mascot for the politicians who intend exploiting the crowd pulling power of these “saints” for their electoral gains. And the “Godman” then perpetuates more power and wealth. A self-sustaining cycle is thus in place and includes the most demeaning aspect of sexual exploitation of the disciples.

The misdeeds and ungodly conduct of the “Godmen” are well documented yet we allow this charade to continue.It is because of the “disciples”; they are the biggest perpetrators of this misery.Seeking redemption and solace these mindless herds flock in thousands to any new wonder magician claiming to be the reincarnation of any deity under the sun.These disciples allow themselves to be fooled and start believing in their “Gods” and their machinations and contribute to the perpetuation of various myths surrounding the “Godman”; the most common being some wonder “vibhuthi” (holy ash) or concoction or potion which cures all ils except superstition !

Superstition and lack of rationality perpetuate undying loyalty to the chosen “Godman”.Its an amazingly successful “business model” and all that is required is to master a  few scriptures, voice modulation,a PR agency,handful of congregations and a sleight of hand for tricks packaged as miracles.Of course a pliant section of the media too.Then in 2 to 3 years anyone can become a “Godman” and then carry on with his legacy and whence the politco-religious nexus is complete he can unleash his perversion on the hapless yet culpable devotees.

Why is this phenomenon successful in India?Well, when the mere ability to sign ones name is considered a benchmark for literacy then true knowledge and rationality will surely give way to robed charlatans and their antics. QED!

The negative manifestations of the “Godman phenomenon” are also and undeniable result of the mixing up of politics, religion and democracy and its exploitation by the politicians. This prevents our government of the day from taking resolute action against frauds and charlatans and encourages them to inflict misery and  chicanery on the hapless (yet culpable) disciples.

To round up, I suggest that the next “Godman” should name himself “Frauddy Baba” as the name itself would be a disclaimer and he could then indulge in all that he desires!

POST SCRIPT

Related to the subject is the recently released Raj Kumar Hirani directed and Aamir Khan and Anushka Sharma starrer “PK” which is a satire on the business of “Godmen”.The movie has become the highest grossing Bollywood flick but has run into serious trouble with right wing Hindu organisations protesting the supposed denigration of the religion in the movie.

pk

A previous Amul ad on “PK” depicted a controversial nude poster of Aamir Khan for the promotion of the movie and the Amul Girl is shown wearing an attire which was worn by Aamir Khan in one of the scenes of the movie. The tag line and the punch line are a play on the name of the movie and the fact that Aamir bared all in this venture.

The protests against the movie inspired another Amul ad.The ad shows a  caricature depicting Aamir Khan as PK and borrows from a scene in the movie wherein PK shows the contents of his briefcase to his friend Jaggu, played by Anushka Sharma. Here Amul butter blocks are shown in the briefcase with the Amul girl depicting Jaggu in a similar attire as in the movie.

IMG-20150109-WA0026

The Tag Line Don’t Bhaste It,Taste it…has borrowed the word “bhaste” from a song in the movie which is but a demented pronunciation of the word “waste”.It subtly implores people to watch the movie and not to ruin it by baying for its banning.

The Punch Line… Tarray it ,Please…is an oblique exhortation to the public to try the Amul butter as also a clever play on the heavily accented eastern dialect of the central character PK and it obliquely exhorts the people to at least watch the movie and to give it a try before dismissing it out rightly.

The controversy was needless and most on ground were protesting without having watched the movie itself.And if there was anything to be protested about then it was he blatant misuse of a gullible man’s faith to perpetuate practices and superstitions as highlighted in the movie.

NIRBHAYA REDUX – “UBER” DISGRACE & THE THEATRE OF THE ABSURD!!!

Within two years of the “Nirbhaya” smear, a cab driver  perpetrates heinous rape in the heart of the National Capital. What follows is a study in absurdity and in the dock are all those who are now making all the noises – not necessarily the right ones!

5th December 2014, New Delhi, a 27 year old finance executive boards a taxi, provided through the Uber App and before the trip’s over her world has disastrously transformed. The driver rapes her en route and drives off!

The impunity with which Shiv Kumar Yadav,the alleged perpetrator, diverted from the designated route and committed the crime raises some qestions.

Was there a GPS tracking the cab? Was Uber monitoring the trip? Was Yadav’s criminal record checked? Do enforcement regulations exist?

The answer to all of these queries is exactly what you feared – No! Yadav had a GPS enabled and company provided I phone which he switched off after picking up the passenger. Since Uber ride share services in India do not fall under regulatory mechanisms which make installation of GPS mandatory they did not track the driver. It’s mandatory only for cab services hired by employers for late night drops of women passengers.

Also, Uber claims it “is not a transportation provider” but an “aggregator”. This implies that it does not own a fleet and it does not employ drivers, unlike other transportation providers. So it has “zero liability” towards ensuring the drivers registered with it have valid licenses, permits and insurances. Instead it’s the government which picks up the tab!

This is exactly the reply made by Uber to shake off responsibility, in its initial response to the incident. Uber cool !

No need to seethe as all those who have signed up with them have agreed to that “UBER DOES NOT GUARANTEE THE SUITABILITY, SAFETY OR ABILITY OF THIRD PARTY PROVIDERS. IT IS SOLELY YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO DETERMINE IF A THIRD PARTY PROVIDER WILL MEET YOUR NEEDS AND EXPECTATIONS”. This allows them to shrug and walk away while you are traumatized for life. Read the fine print next time, “me hearties”!

For the background checks it has emerged that there are 4000 unverified cab drivers registered with Uber and the likes of Yadav were employed on the basis of forged “character certificates”. So does Uber even know who is driving? And this is when Uber advertises to provide safe rides and “shortcut to everywhere” – including your personal hell!

Yadav did not possess the Public Service Vehicle Badge (PSV Badge) which is mandatory for cab drivers. This badge is provisionally available from the Transport Department based on furnishing of the passport or a character certificate. Previously a three page Police verification form was required to be filled which sought details of criminal record and also two local guarantors of addresses and character. This was done away in 2013 and in its absence Yadav avoided disclosing facts such as his trials for sexual crimes in 2003 and 2013!

A look at Uber’s record reveals that it has services banned in Spain, Netherlands and Germany for unfair business practices and for flouting national permit requirements. Also,In Portland and California it is facing law suits over flouting regulations and for misleading customers about its background checks on drivers !

These concerns have been raised earlier and the regulatory bodies should have taken cognisance of Uber’s record worldwide. But that’s where the theatre of the absurd descends upon us.The main protagonists seem like the anthropomorphic characters from Lewis Caroll’s – Alice in Wonderland.

Like the “Queen of Hearts” declaring “off with her head” the Government immediately banned Uber from operating in Delhi. This was seemingly to appease seething public anger in a poll bound Delhi and not for regulatory concerns. The service could have been banned earlier but like Alice, the regulators had been drinking heavily from bottles labelled “Slumber on” and “Cant care lesser”!

Like “Bill the Lizard” fetches the gloves from inside the palace in a time of crisis Delhi Police too retrieved Yadav from Mathura. The Police’s unwillingness to deal with Yadav and his ilk emboldens the latter.But what better can be expected from a potbellied service seeped in alleged corruption and unsympathetic to the public it serves? (Uber burps I suppose !)

Post its castigation, Uber’s concern for the safety of women in Indian cities rings hollow and would have warmed the cockles of “Mock Turtle” who remains sad in the story even though he has no sadness !!!

The media carried out a public trial for the intial few days to cash on the TRPs and the various political parties instead of suggesting practical measures to deal with the menace indulged in a pathetic blame game ! The entire jamboree reminded me of the farcical trial of “Knave of Hearts for stealing the queen’s tarts”!

And just as in the famous tale when Alice speaks up to protest the ridiculous proceedings the King and Queen order “off with her head” this is what happens to the women of this country when they raise their voice against the lax attitude towards rape, Mulayam Singh Yadav will come up with “boyj will be boyj” theory and Chautala will prescribe early marriages and no mobile phones for girls, to prevent rape. Uber Bizarre !!!

Alice in Trauma-land indeed !

The Amul Ad is based on the incident being discussed.It depicts the Amul Girl angrily admonishing a caricature depicting an Uber executive. The executive is showing the I Phone as an alternative to and defence for not installing the GPS in the taxis.In the background is a white cab akin to the white Maruti Swift Dezire involved in the crime and a cab driver depicted cleaning his taxi, a common sight.

IMG-20141210-WA0032

The Tag Line….KhUberdaar Kyon Nahin Thheis a play on the name of Uber and the hindi word “khabardaar” which means “to be careful”.The Amul Girl is seeking the answer from Uber as to why the company wasn’t careful enough to prevent occurrence of the rape.

The Punch Line….Safe To Take Home…subtly brings home the threat posed by unregulated service providers such as Uber by comparing it with the unquestioned reliability of the Amul Butter !

There’s an urgent need to regulate the USD 6-8 billion taxi industry in India of which only 6 percent is regulated. Unbridled advent of foreign companies by luring them with low taxes and easy processes doesn’t mean that regulations will be done away with or be absolutely lax. The government and the regulators will need to ensure the safety and interests of the people of this country.

Uber verifies criminal records for drivers associated with it in the US for the last 7 years in each county of residence, in the Federal Court and also in the national crime’s register. But here it did not even check that Yadav’s cell was not registered on his name !

Not banning but stringent enforcement will work. The Police needs to get its act (and belly) in shape to infuse confidence. And they need help from the community as well,as protecting the women in our families is foremost the society’s responsibility.Its time for community policing to take root and also for creating a national register of offenders to simplify the verification process.

And its already too late for the 25000 rape victims in 2014 alone….

Parting thought..

Missing Arvind Kejriwal’s sound bytes as since the muffler is out- “Kaali Khansi” has perhaps taken the “Cheshire Cat’s” tongue !

 

 

BILAWAL BHUTTO; FANCY SLOGANS & STUPID NOTIONS !

Bokata-Bokata! Buzdil Khan!Tsunami ka soolab (?)!Lawange…Pakistan ka (?) Kashmir Laawange!These are but just a few of the pearls of wisdom shared by Bilawal Bhutto in his inaugural days as the “gen next” of Pakistani politics & his Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).Sounds eerily familiar to a similar coronation a few months back in India.Its deja vu and seems “har shaakh pe Pappu baitha hai”!

Touted as the biggest thing to happen to Pakistan in the last 20 years (after Gullu Butt?), Bilawal has left no stone unturned to be the butt of all jokes.Foreign accent, poor Urdu , effeminate mannerisms & a bungling persona make him an easy target in the machoistic politics of Pakistan.While delivering “bulldog dialogues” (as per Hasan Nisar) he is unable to look up from the script & indulges in mock anger & ridiculous voice modulations – like being locked in a room with the grunts of Monica Seles, Maria Sharapova & Serena Williams to keep you company!

Trying to imitate Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s firebrand style & the mindless rantings of Benazir Bhutto, Bilawal is ending up making a caricature of himself.His conduct during speeches has been farcical & immature. (Sherry Rehman are you listening?)

He drives himself into a misplaced frenzy by frequently alluding to being the “nawasa” of ZA Bhutto & the son of “shaheed” Benazir to gain sympathy & establish a connect with the famous title – “Bhutto” & repeatedly shouts “may Bhutto hoon” (may—phonetic expression of Bilawal’s dialect).The more he shout the more the “Zardari” in the name gets accentuated.

Bilawal showcased his terrific hold on Urdu when he coined the term “Tsunami ka soolab (?)” (its “sailaab”) and this has got Faiz,Iqbal & Ghalib turning & loading their guns in their graves.To cement credentials he opened the Sind Cultural Festival by delivering a speech in English, wearing a Superman t-shirt!!!! (Clark Kent was from Sind ?) Then he came up with a phrase “desi-donkey-derby”…what does this mean??????Can any Sindhi please explain this?For me it implies that the guy is definitely a “desi donkey” with pretentions to compete in a “derby”.

Compounding his troubles is the issue of Bilawal’s genes. Father Asif Ali Zardari tried to be a leader but ended up being a “dealer”.Not much of an intelligence to fall back on Bilawal becomes insolent & crass in his speeches.He calls Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister, a “cat having milk from (Joe) Biden’s cup”, Imran Khan – “buzdil (coward) Khan”, Shahbaz Sharif -a progeny of Zia-ul-Haq & Altaf Hussain is threatened with personal vendetta by the chocolate faced disaster -in-waiting himself!

His reference to the Indian Mars mission as “frivolous” smacks of envy & mental bankruptcy.And this time China cant help- their orbiter is sleeping peacefully in the Pacific!!!!

He even got the concept of the “External Affairs” ministry wrong & reportedly had an affair with the incumbent minister ,Hina Rabbani Khar. True love.com?(as per the Weekly Blitz,Bangladesh)

Now when this unintelligent man wants to get entire Kashmir back from India but does he realise he will have to give “10 percent ” to his dad! Old habits die hard, isnt it Mr Zardari?

Pakistan is most welcome to compete & better India in every aspect.But why did they have to develop their own Pappu (call him “Billu” to avoid patent issues)?

Its evident that son’s dont really inherit the political mantle of their father/ mother – for eg Rahul “Pappu” Gandhi, Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah & poor Mulayam Singh Yadav doesnt know which buffalo to blame for the “specimen” called Akhilesh Yadav. Talking of “kapoot ka soolab” – Abhishek Bachchan- but for him Amitabh Bachchan wouldnt search for work at age 72!!!

Thankfully ,as yet, Rehman Malik & Digvijay Singh are not intending to unleash their genes on the hapless millions in the two countries!!!

But the same isnt true for the girls.Indira Gandhi,Benazir Bhutto,Sheikh Haseena,Khaleda Zia & Chandrika Kumaratunga are all stellar torchbearers of the legacy of their fathers or husbands.Why dont we convince “Billu” & “Pappu” to undergo sex change and may be then….Billo Rani & Ragini MMS can be their new names too!

This Amul Ad/ topical on Bilawal Bhutto came up after Bilawal’s unrealistic call to arms for getting entire Kashmir to be a part of Pakistan.A caricature depicting Bilawal Bhutto is shown alighting from a car with a security guard in tow & pointing a finger at the Amul Girl to not to stop his path.The Amul Girl has stopped his car from moving ahead-probably on a confrontational path on Kashmir.

IMG-20141018-WA0002

The Tag LineBilawal Phutto is a take on the protagonists name & Phutto is play on the hindi word “phuto” implying -get lost (or to go away & not lay eyes on Kashmir)

The Punch LineMakes You Fighting Fit…extols the virtues of the Amul Butter as also subtly hints at fighting back any designs of inimical forces on the integrity of India.

Lack of political ideology & corruption has forced the political parties in the sub continent to rely on personality based politics.Practically resulting in dynastic rule-less the Monarchy. Mostly the “heir apparent” is good for nothing & is foisted upon the people.They tend to start believing their hypocritical portrayals & make life miserable for the hapless electorate.Its time to shun this brand of politics. Otherwise we shall have no one to blame, as after all WE GET THE GOVERNMENT WE DESERVE!

In 1969, angels representing the people of India & Pakistan had assembled in heaven to discuss the fate of the two countries.Disgusted with the way things were going they decided to give 50 years to the two peoples to improve their lot.Failing which they decided to unleash disaster & havoc by ensuring the ascendancy of incompetent leaders.If we dont improve the way we run our affairs then Pappu & Billu shall be Prime Ministers in 2018/2019! Qayamat duur nahin hai…God gave us a 50 year lease..5 of those are still left- or “Bokata,bokata” (term used to declare victory in kite flying) will be a joke directed upon us by these buffoons!

 26 October 14 – London; While leading the “million march” on Kashmir,Bilawal Bhutto was pelted with tomatoes,shoes & rotten eggs by his fellow countrymen! Bokata !

OMG! DEEPIKA PADUKONE & THE “DIRTY TIMES”!

When a leading daily decided to “showcase” the cleavage of actress Deepika Padukone ,it had no idea of the furore about to unfold.Spurred by a spirited counter attack by the actress herself,celebrities & netizens tore into the reputation of the Times of India (TOI).

On 14 September 2014, TOI Entertainment tweeted a link to a web photo gallery with the caption: “OMG: Deepika Padukone’s cleavage show.” The clips shows Deepika wearing a low cut dress designed by Anaita Shroff Adajania for the trailer launch of Chennai Express in 2013

Padukone responded by tweeting -“YES! I Am a Woman. I have breasts AND a cleavage! You got a problem!!??”.

Within no time Deepika was hailed as a crusader.Her reaction was re tweeted more than 7,000 times & #IStandWithDeepikaPadukone started trending.

The newspaper has since tried to backtrack telling her the tweet was intended as a “compliment” !

Padukone came up with her Point of View,titled -My issue is objectification of a real person!In this the actress essentially arguing that the media & the society in general should differentiate between the “REEL” world, depicted by the characters she portrays & the “REAL” world wherein she is woman & deserves to be treated with respect & not objectified by showcasing parts of her body for the sake of head lines & leveraging the power of “influence to proliferate recessive thought”.

TOI came up with its defence wherein it accepted the actresses’ “reel versus real argument” but accused her of hypocrisy especially since she has been photographed “flaunting her body off screen” in “real” life.

Not accepting the faux pas & facing the heat from rivals (who have themselves indulged in similar “objectification”), TOI put forth a vacuous argument & justified its actions by disregarding the actresses’ reservations & confirming the notion that they totally ignored the fact that Deepika is a woman first & an actress later & she needs to be respected.

Media houses need to survive & sometimes they adopt reprehensible tactics (News of the World is a case in point) & justifying their scrupulousness by laying the blame on the society, that they present what is likely to be read or watched more!

Bollywood too is under the scanner for constantly raising the bar for indecency & vulgarity & relying on raunchy “item numbers”, in the name of artistic expression & that “the script demanded it”. Though Bollywood as an entity rallied around Deepika but it continues to perpetuate the very actions which are leading to the increasing objectification of women.

Shakespeare never needed a rape or an intimate scene or an “item number” to progress his script, yet he is known as the greatest playwright ever. Food for thought?

The women in Bollywood too need to stand up against being depicted as “Pinky hai paise walon ki”, or as ” Main to tanduri murgi hoon yaar,Gatkale saiyan alcohol se ” or inviting the hero with ” Aabroo ke silaayi khulegi, Sharm ka bhi lifafa phatega ,Kaddu katega to sab mein batega”.And please stop taking pride in being “item girls”..for an item is essentially an object!!!

Sadly, Deepika, you fumbled when Barkha Dutt asked if you would take the issue of objectification of women in films to its logical end? Your answer was the same banal “if the script demands”….

This is getting too serious!

I have realised that there are some who willingly get exposed & dont mind getting ripped of all dignity as well.And remain thick skinned enough to repeat their ridiculous acts.

Some of the “guests”  on Arnab Goswami’s News Hour are the chief culprits.

Peerzada from Pakistan, is a classic. Almost gullitioned each time that he appears on the show, yet in his exposure lies publicity & may be financial interests.After all “muft mein koi itni beizzati kyon karwayega”..okay i am not game for it !

Next – the spokespersons of political parties.

Rahul Gandhi tears an ordnance in public & gets kudos from his media team!!! Sakshi Maharaj rant about Love Jehad & their party spokesperson defends it by invoking everything under the sun & still doesn’t sound convincing! Stout defence can after all get them in the political fray itself!

Ajit Singh shamelessly tries to blackmail the government into letting him be a regularised “squatter” in a bungalow, by unleashing hordes of “distressed farmers” on New Delhi & its water supply. Exposed totally!! But appears next instant as the “lokpriya kisan neta”! And the closest that Ajit Singh has been to the word ” farmer” is when he orders the Farmhouse Pizza from Dominoes!

Kapil Sibal stated that there was zero loss to the exchequer in the 2G scam when the CAG pegged it at Rupees 1lakh 76 thousand crores!You see in a hurry to make brownie points ,Sibal saw 176 on one page & a pageful of zeroes on the other..and showcased his inteligence!!Then he wanted to be re-elected in 2014!!!

The nation & the crocodiles demand an answer for the secret of the thick skin on these stalwarts!!!!

Coming to the Amul ad/ topical on Deepika Padukone.It depicts a caricature of the actress wearing a similar gown as the one which generated the controversy.A bit of the cleavage too is shown to draw parallels.The Amul girl is the likely assistant while reporters are obscenely vying for odd angles to take sneak pics of the actress.

IMG-20141012-WA0005

The Tag Line…Newspaperazzi…is an apt take on newspapers crossing the line & including tabloid & paperazzi content in the name of news.Thus the inglorious correlation of serious reporting with that of the paperazzi kind!

The Punch Line…Star Power…is inspired by the power of a star to stand for a cause & rally massive support.It also draws a parallel with the Amul butter being a star product with the power to pull customers!

Lastly, Deepika..Shah Rukh Khan..Hrithik Roshan..do take up cudgels against excessive violence, vulgarity & obscenity in films because most confuse the “reel for the real”!

And unlike all papers which reported the incident – I am not tagging this as the “Deepika Padukone cleavage row” .I don’t need publicity at the cost of a woman!