Friday, July 25, 2008

The Class of 1983!

by Murali Gopy

June 24, 2008

Dad said, "Let there be Television". And there were grains! The most watched programme, in those days, was the one that starred these pre-telecast granules. The howling color-gradation barcode was the next in popularity. And the third place on the TRP charts went to the "Rukawat ke liye Khed hai (Sorry for the interruption)" slide!
The Doordarshan buff's evening started with a poorly made Signature film that boasted of the most depressing tune on earth! On the terrace stood a towering antenna that almost flirted with the clouds.
Into this black-and-white world descended the Prudential Cup Final of 1983.
Vada Paav was the dish of the day; platefuls were served with amazing regularity by a dutiful mom. Cousins, all 11 of them, had arrived for the event. And Joel Garner lumbered in to deliver the cherry to Sunil Gavaskar, who seemed to mourn his scorecard for the series – it looked like the figures on a back bencher's progress report: 19, 4, 0, 11 and 25! Srikkanth snorted nervously, at the other end.
The most respected one in the drawing room, that night, was my uncle, who was accorded a special seat on the sofa in acceptance of his cricketing acumen and for owning an imported Slazenger willow. He gave us a brief lecture on "Why we should hate Sunil Gavaskar?" and wrapped it up with a "Hail Richards". He predicted Sunny would score just 2. And Lo! Gavaskar played into the scheme. He shuffled across to an Andy Roberts out-swinger, misread it, extended a hesitant bat, and sent it right into Jeffrey Dujon's gloves. The ordeal had begun!
Obviously, no one in the crowd expected India to win that day. All we prayed for was an honourable exit. The crackers had all gone up in the air, three days back, when India had beaten the English. Only Mom believed that India would lift the Cup. I invoked the 'Deewar' dialogue: "West Indies ke paas Richards hai, Llyod hai, Marshall hai, Roberts hai… Kya hai humare paas?" Mom said: "Hamare paas Kapil hai!"
The well-oiled Windies juggernaut started moving, and heads began rolling one after the other. Amarnath trudged in and connected a massive hook off Marshall. The angry Barbadian took revenge by trapping Srikkanth plumb in front of the wicket. Yashpal Sharma took his customary 'gilli-danda' stance and smacked one right through point; Amarnath opened his gates to a Michael Holding in-cutter that set the off-stump on a gymnastic floor-routine; Sandeep Patil seemed to walk in with a match plan, but couldn't do much.
When Yashpal fell prey to the deceptively effeminate Larry Gomes, there was dead calm, followed by a roar. The room erupted in applause, as the Hero of Tunbridge Wells walked in.
Kapil Dev immediately put himself to the task of inventing cricket shots. He jumped down the pitch and cross-batted Gomes for a huge six, following it up with an awkward swipe that went for a four. He, then, tried to loft Gomes over mid-on, and paid the fine for being overambitious.
Indians were bundled out for a paltry 183, and it was unanimously decided that the television set should be rested for the lunch break. The elder one among the kids went to the terrace to “strengthen” the antenna against a possible granule invasion. Dad smoked up five Gold Flake sticks, and nodded in agreement to my uncle's observation: "Now, they will show us what batting is all about!" Patriots—the cousins and I—fumed at the treacherous snub.
Deep within, we knew that 183 would be chickenfeed before the Caribbean cannon, but to accept it was heresy! Mom was no ally, and she was too cricket-illiterate to be pessimistic.
The second half opened to a stunner. Balwinder Singh Sandhu hurled an inswinger with the fervent hope of getting knocked away to the extra cover fence; instead, he saw Gordon Greenidge raise his bat in respect and let the ball brush off the bails. God had started padding up for the Indians.

The applause in the room was deafening. But Uncle Slazenger smirked and rolled his eyes in derision. His solitary clap, even after we had stopped celebrating the wicket, was not in appreciation of Sandhu's feat but in anticipation of his hero. We watched with bated breath as Master Blaster the First walked in. The Richards swagger was enough to make us desperate. His gum chewing was the kinesthetic equivalent of "Who are these morons out here?"
The score skyrocketed to 35 for 1, in no time. Kapil's rabbit-grin was gone. Madanlal and Binny looked flustered. Sandhu was happy that his opening quota was over. Gavaskar squatted nonchalantly at the slips.

Stop Press!!!
A Bang and Thud, and the screen went to the grains!!! Doordarshan had staged a coup!
A few minutes of mental agony, and the monitor blinked back to Lord's. Uncle Smug looked terrified at what we saw on the screen. It was Kapil Dev, in slow motion, running backwards in chase of a huge loft. Someone was Out.
We longed for a shot of the scoreboard. We waited for the commentator to speak, and finally, he spoke: “Vivian Richards Caught Kapil Dev bowled Madanlal 33!” The repressed crowd of Generation W sprang up and danced around the crestfallen Richards fan. Mom came in with a Vada Paav reinforcement, and the rest of the match was just YUMMM!
India had never before or have never after played the way they did that afternoon in Lord's. The fall of Richards was the "sign" they were looking for. Post the Richards wicket, it was a Windies landslide. Skipper Cool hunched his way back after a tough time at the crease. Gomes and Bacchus looked clueless. Dujon and Marshall looked serious, but then, God had already spoken: "Inner edge is mine!"
Andy Roberts held the willow as if it was a school foe he had just met at the café. We enjoyed the Garner walk, for no one had seen him padded up, till then. Not even in stills! Holding hid his face in the greens of Lord's and we saw "the green bottle fizz". "It's champagne", said my uncle. Enlightenment!
The sling of David did the unthinkable, and Goliath came crumbling down. Never ever have I experienced the kind of elation I had on that humid June night. How we wished we could end it there and put up the slide "And they lived happily ever after"!

A quarter century has gone past, since those unforgettable hours. We sold the TV, five years later. Uncle Smug migrated to Australia, and is now an avid Punter fan. All 11 of my cousins are spread out on the globe like the 11 apostles. Dad is gone.
India survived the Revenge Series to tell the tale of the 1983 wonder. Heroes rose. Heroes fell. And cricket changed garbs from time to time. Generation X took the baton from us, and Y grabbed it halfway on.
To the 2008 fans of Twenty20 and IPL, 1983 might look like Jurassic age, where the white-and-white game was like a tussle involving 20 widowers. Prudential Cup might look like a midget world cup fought for by 8 Test playing nations in absolute idyllic bliss. "What is the big deal?" they would ask.
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind!
Source: India Syndicate

That glorious afternoon of June 25, 1983 at Lord’s

Indian Cinema’s RAIN DRAIN

Chasing the monsoon, B’wood style.

June 11, 2008

It is pouring outside. And the Piscean is excited! The wait is finally over, and the vanguard clouds of the southwest monsoon have started firing grapeshots. Every Indian is bound to fall in love with the invader. The proverbial "Saawan ka mahina" of Bollywood!
The time of the year when Nargis and Raj Kapoor unfold their umbrella and look into each other's eyes with platonic intent! When Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore run into an abandoned house, make a fire and sing ‘Roop tera Mastana’! When Mithun Chakraborthy runs out and ploughs the earth with his weird dance steps, while Shilpa Shirodkar shakes her hips in torrential frenzy! When Mandakini lies supine with languorous expectancy even as her B-grade hero runs in, 48 frames per second! When the belly buttons of Ramya Krishnan and Simran act as rain water reservoirs! When RGV's goons run through the dingy galis of Andheri in pursuit of their prey! Monsoon means different things to different people.
Far from the waterless pipes of Chennai, in the barren expanses of northern Tamil Nadu stands a beauty queen drenched in what the crew calls “artificial rain”. Twelve hoses, originating from three mobile tankers, are trained on her. The director screams for silence, the audio spool is switched on, the song hops out, and the cam trolley moves in to capture the gyrations. The hose-men synchronize the sequence. The “rain” is even. And a good 28,000 litres of water are showered over the screen siren. The guys who handle the “propeller” are not idling either. They simulate a nice 10-knot crosswind that enables the skirt to rise to the occasion. The hero blows a kiss to his girl; it braves the crosswind and lands on her cheek. The shot is Okayed; the female and male leads take a warm shower, facilitated by the spot boys, before reclining on their respective easy chairs. The male resorts to dryers. The siren is carpet-bombed with antiseptics and anti-allergy sprays. She finally gets into a head-to-toe bath robe, and the smile on the onlookers’ face vanishes. Four such days, and the rain song is canned.
A mile away from this waterworld is a village where the Bhuvans and Gauris (invoke ‘Lagaan’) of India reside, perpetually in need of H2O. In their world, a bucketful of water is a luxury and the monsoon cloud, a devilish mirage. The world where a half-formed drizzle is enough to inspire a “Ghanan Ghanan”.
In Hollywood and elsewhere, filmmakers do not need the rain to tickle Lady Box-office. They use it to a specific cinematic purpose. In ‘Rashomon’, rain is a superhuman presence. It provides a stoic backdrop to guile and intrigue in “The road to Perdition”. In ‘Hotel Rwanda’ it adds to the terror indoors. And in ‘Shawshank Redemption’, it is the shower of freedom we see! Only a few mainstream Indian filmmakers, such as Ram Gopal Varma, have got the 'rain syntax’ right. That too, very rarely.
It is not that Indian cinema has totally gone the Caligula way. There still are people who believe in doing things with a definite sense of purpose. The “artificial rain” of a Goutham Ghosh or an Adoor Gopalakrishnan would be different from that of You-name-them. Incidentally, most of our classic filmmakers tend to treat famine and drought instead of the rains. Climactic rains are, however, spotted in such films-- sequences wherein the hose-men are asked to fire their water guns at emaciated bodies!
As of now, Indian mainstream runs the risk of walking into the environmentalist’s jaws. He might hold the industry responsible for wasting water over “ungodly” purposes. The slogan will always be “Save water”. Here, again, it would be the Bhuvans and the Gauris who would be talked to. By none other than our Hero Blowkisswala! He would intrude the TV screen, close a water tap and shrug his shoulders. “Save water, save electricity”, he would preach. The very next day, he would walk out and give 25 retakes of the shot in which the character he plays is expected to react to his mom’s death! (A one-minute shot, it is said, eats 120KW) Some “Save water, save electricity” for you!
Having said this, I must say it is not safe to write this in these times, when Ramadosses lurk in the dark, waiting to pounce on inanities. He might call up a meeting, raise a hammer and ban rain in movies. And the Indian hero will have to look for other options to consummate hidden love. The ban would, however, put an end to unwanted on-screen pregnancies, since rains are looked upon by our scenarists as a great alibi for the hero and his girlfriend to indulge in carnal adventures. And the thundershowers have been vocal witnesses to hundreds of rapes, sometimes assisting voyeuristic audiences by flashing lightning at the appropriate moments. If rain is gentle, then the director is obviously hinting at consensual sex—an adept filmgoer can always tell!!
The World Watch Institute, Washington DC, warns that India would become a “water-strained” nation by 2020. In the darkness of their village cinema, the real Bhuvan and Gauri would clap at the song sequence shot near their village, not realising that they might be driven into an exodus in search of water, 20 years later.
It is not that Bollywood is a Mogambo planning to drain India of its water and going HA HA HA. But it certainly is a Bhikku Mahtre, wasting precious shooting hours on a “Goli Maar Bheje Mein”.

What would be the future coinage for Bollywood’s “Sawan ka Mahina”?
“Brain Drain’? No.
“Rain Drain”, it would be!
Source: India Syndicate
About the author: Murali Gopy is Entertainment Editor for MSN India.

Shame and Sherawat

Musings on Mallika and the Moral Police

May 14, 2008

by Murali Gopy

When I was a kid, I loved power cuts. That was the time of the night when I had the liberty to make faces at my dad. I exercised, with great verve, my super-constitutional right to step on the chair cushions (forbidden), juggle the remote control and the pen torch (life sentence), moonwalk to the prayer room in my slippers (deportation) and hide the candles thereof(punishable by death). When the lights came back, my dad would find me reclining on the easy chair with the chemistry text book spread across my chest and a pen idling in my hands; he never mistook it for the catnap of a nerd. He bought an emergency light without fanfare, hid it, and switched it on while I was on my Act. My embarrassment was my punishment.
I have a reason to recall this. Some fans of “Indian culture” remind me of the arboreal ME of yore. They buy the tickets, squeeze into the hall, and wait for the lights to go off. Then, they devour the sleaze that is thrown at them in the name of entertainment. They whistle at the belly button close-up, clap at the double innuendo, cheer the rapist on rampage and hoot wildly at the hero who comes in time to save the prospective rape victim.
THE END, LIGHTS, and they are back to the streets lecturing on moral science, burning effigies of cultural defaulters and issuing life threats on women who have a great wardrobe to choose from.
Mallika Sherawat does not have a master’s degree in dress sense, but that should not prevent her from sharing the dais with Kamal Haasan, Jackie Chan, Amitabh Bachchan and the most venerable M Karunanidhi. But she was told otherwise. She was actually given a sermon by an enraged political outfit of Tamil Nadu on Indian culture. And ordered to apologize unconditionally “or else face the consequence”.
This is not jotted down in favour of Mallika Sherawat’s couture acumen. In fact, I find it tough to describe her choice of attire. It was the sartorial equivalent of “Don’t look at what I am wearing; think of what I am not”. She walked up as easily and confidently as she had done her pole dance in the movie, ‘Dasavatharam’, the audio launch of which was being staged on the dais.
She forgot something: The lights were on!
The watchmen of Indian culture are terribly peeved at Mallika Sherawat “for making Tamilians cringe and hang their heads in shame, for causing mental agony and hurt to the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu by wearing a revealing mini skirt, for exposing her back and sitting cross-legged in front of the Chief Minister M Karunanidhi”. Mallika did what celebrities of her hue do when faced with similar obstacles. She fled the scene.
Fleeing has been a standard practice with all post-modern artistes who have dedicated themselves to amoral dictums. Richard Gere had had his share of India’s fabled “athithi devo bhava” when he came down for an AIDS awareness campaign, last year. He had, obviously, selected the Fool’s month for the sojourn. After shaking hands with Shilpa Shetty, Gere changed gears to hug her, bend her to an uncomfortable right angle before planting a few smooches. The next thing he remembered is the chat he had with the airhostess on the “next morning flight”.
Shreya Saran, who sang and danced hand-in-hand with Rajnikanth in ‘Sivaji’, ran into trouble for going on stage, skimpily dressed, and addressing the most venerable M Karunanidhi (again) in “unacceptable attire”. The moral police (again) had asked for an unconditional apology and Shreya had promptly bent her knees and pleaded for dear life. Khushboo, with the 25 pending court cases against her for “degrading Tamil womanhood”, reminds me of that famous Sandhya character from ‘Do Aankhen Baarah Haath’—the village lass with the noisy drum trailing her like a blunderbuss saheli.
Where exactly are we standing now?
The average Indian blockbuster has been, for a long time now, a garish mix of bolly-mujrahs and melodrama, with a liberal serving of the crimson liquid. We have no complaints, since the lights are off every time we bump into one. Peeping Toms that we are, we love to watch without being watched. Once the emergency lamp is trained on our Darknesses, we stand to lose face.
For the volatile fan of Hindu culture, who is ready to empty his barrel on the Shreyas. Mallikas, Shilpas and Khushboos of the world, I must quote Octovio Paz: “The Hindu genius is abstract and realistic, sexual and intellectual, pedantic and sublime. It lives between extremes, it embraces the extremes, rooted in the earth and drawn to an invisible beyond.”
All lights off!
About the author: Murali Gopy is Entertainment Editor for MSN India.
The Best of Upper Cut
Khan’s labyrinth

In the league of GLADIATORS

Confessions of an IPL born-again.

April 23, 2008.

by Murali Gopy

One sultry afternoon of 1984. I jumped the gate, threw my school bag on the sofa and hopped in to join the august dine room gathering. With its navy blue covering cloth and flannel, our B & W television set looked like a Nainital tourist guide. The crowd of cousins was into the DD coverage of an India-Pakistan cricket Test played out on the leukodermic greens of Feroz Shah Kotla (or was it Wankhede?).
I was walking backwards to the kitchen to get my share of chips when I heard a roar from the dining room; I rushed back and saw the close-up of a man who was least expected to show up: Amitabh Bachchan. The camera had caught him on the VIP balcony. The shaky shot held on. The players waved at him, and he waved back. After a minute’s silence from the commentary box, Ravi Chaturvedi (I think it was him) sprang up with a great sentence that had the whole room in splits: “Screen par abhi aap dekh rahe hain, bharat ka sabse mashhoor adaakar, Amitabh Bachchan.” He made it sound like an Indian equivalent of “Eureka”! We couldn’t see the Bachchan squint through that ‘Trishul’ sunglasses he was wearing.
That was the first time I saw a movie superstar shake hands with cricket, Live!
By the time cinema met cricket again, in Sharjah, the dine room gathering had become an expert panel of cricket commentators. And the 22-inch Onida color TV was implicative of the economic evolution of our family.
Sharjah had this special launch for Bolly bigwigs—a surreally starry platform where Feroz Khans, Anil Kapoors, Anju Mahendrus, Man-D-akinis and Dimple Kapadias sipped cola, shared a giggle and clapped languorously to the occasional pull shot. Door Darshan had hired Henry Blofeld, this time, for special comments on exotic earrings. Cricket had still not fallen in love with Bollywood. It was infatuation.
Twenty years later, I recline on my easy chair, munching pop corns and in war with my daughter who prefers POGO to my CNN-IBN. I am reminded of that popular geological prognosis: Future wars would be fought over water. They would surely be, once the problem of the remote control is solved!
Smugly, I thump buttons and reach a mushy news channel where, to my disbelief, I see the auction of cricketers. I see bidding. I see the rich and the beautiful make their gangs. I see the mighty holding the hammer. I see money. I see greed. I switch channels, and I see batting pads set on fire. I see Shah Rukh Khan scream “Korbo, Lorbo, Jeetbo”. I see Hrithik Roshan dancing with the willow. And Puritan Me is thrown into a blue mood. I search for precedents, naturally, in Hollywood annals. I see only inspirations. I spot Jack Nickolson, Leonardo Di Caprio, Denzel Washington and Ice Cube (Laker fans all) enjoying the dunk-in-cheek. I come across Madonna begging for the sweaty Tee of Roberto Baggio. I imagine Elvis shaking hands with Pele. But from where did Bollywood get this idea of buying cricket to be one with it? Finally, I get a hint from the mischievous glint on Preity Zinta’s eye. I decide to brush up my Gibbon.
Fade in. Rome!
Indian Premier League’s ancestor seems to be the Gladiatorial games of Roman yore. Gibbon says Julius Caesar owned “so many gladiators that the Senate, fearing the cold-blooded application of such a private army, passed a law limiting private citizens to owning not more than 640 gladiators”.
Shah Rukh says “I love winning, whether it is IPL matches, or film or a game of carom with my kids, or the entire world. I believe my victory is God’s assurance that I worked hard”. Julius Caesar gives SRK a befitting rejoinder from his Roman bath: “Men freely believe that which they desire”.
IPL’s similarity with gladiatorial games seems not to end at the auction table.
“The Games,” says the historian, “were according to a precise plan. The organiser (read Lalit Modi) on behalf of the emperor (read BCCI) meticulously planned the combinations of animals and gladiator types in such a way as to catch the basic instincts of the viewer. Gladiators were displayed publicly (the promos) to huge crowds a few days before the event. Pamphlets containing gladiatorial details were distributed to one and all (the glossy press releases). Banquets were held before the games and even gladiators with criminal background (doping) were invited”.
This is my chance to participate in a reenactment, albeit weak, of past gore. I decide to take a peek. I choose the Eden Garden tussle for the first look.
I see the arena. I see the kings. I see the powerful. I see the slaves. I see the cheerleaders. I congratulate the boy with the placard: “I am here to watch the girls dancing.” I relish it.
The crowd goes berserk. The floodlights light up the stadium better than even the sun. An envious Nature employs her favourite weapon- fate- to ensure a power failure, but that too does not douse the euphoria. Brendon McCullam tears apart the classic stroke book and launches one rocket after another. Memories of the archaic white-n-white game are sent packing with the wind. SRK sings from the front and India’s first family provides the chorus.
My jaw drops!
My eyes bulge. I am morphed into a Caesarian Roman!
I emerge from the game, a born-again. The puritan in me has been beheaded. My blood lust has been consummated. The jingoistic nerve has been tickled.
I scan the newspapers and come across this Mangalorean travel agent, Oswald Saldanah, who has been declared IPL’s first martyr. He had betted on Vijay Mallya’s gladiators in their fight against Shah Rukh Khan’s. He lost, and ended his life. I feel sad but then, gladiators don’t cry. Nor do their fans!
It is a fine morning. I enjoy the tea and wish to see more of such fare, where boundaries vanish and the thin line that separates innovation from outrageousness gets hopelessly blurred.
I have only one grouse: They could have been more creative with the team names. Royal Challengers, Super Kings, Deccan Chargers, Knight Riders, Rajasthan Royals….!
Does not sound like Rome at all.
About the author: Murali Gopy is the Entertainment Editor for MSN India

Khan’s labyrinth

Here is a lowdown on how Shah Rukh Khan psyches all of us!

April 16, 2008

New Year eve, 2000. A nervous looking Shah Rukh Khan is hugged and received by Amitabh Bachchan into a ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ episode. Shah Rukh tries hard to break the patriarchal Bachchan rhythm. In vain.
He tries a few jokes that get lost in icy silence. The audience claps when Bachchan claps. Bachchan laughs and the audience giggles. Shah Rukh finds it hard to untie the Gordian Knot. He bids his minutes. Big B proceeds to welcome SRK’s companion for the show, Karan Johar.
“Karan aur main go back a long time…” Bachchan says; the voice modulation is Shakespearian. “Karan ko main ne tab se dekha hai jab se woh itne chchote se the…” he lowers his lambe haath to the bottom buckle of the hot seat to convey the height… Shah Rukh pounces at the opportunity and fires a salvo: “Sir, aap ke height se sab itne hi dikhte hain”. The hall erupts. Bachchan laughs… And the famous Khan dimples emerge from hiding.
Feat One: He vetoes Bachchan’s authority with his cheekiness.

Feat Two: He gets over the height factor, by addressing it openly.

Feat Three: He makes Bachchan laugh naturally, for once!
Shah Rukh Khan has always survived by following the golden managerial commandment: “Loha garam hai…! Mar do hathoda!” There is not even a single moment in his career where the dude has failed in choosing the right words for the right occasion. He even seems to have the right words for the wrong occasion. Astonishing is the talent to make us feel that even his wrong words “were actually right”.
Here is a star, who is not reluctant to call himself a brand, and to be his own ambassador. If anger was the hallmark of the Bachchan persona, irreverence has been Shah Rukh Khan’s signature attitude. A typical Shah Rukh Khan fan loves his idol because, “SRK is irreverent, arrogant and narcissistic”. Irreverence was once held against Shatrughan Sinha. Arrogance and narcissism had led to Rajesh Khanna’s downfall. Yet, when these three supposedly negative traits unify in one man, it becomes gold. Why or how does Shah Rukh make this happen?
“Whenever I fail as a father or husband, a toy and a diamond always work,” is one of Shah Rukh Khan’s most quoted quotes. This sentence, on first look, is directly humorous. On second glance, it seems to mourn a glaring truth. A cynical eye would see nothing more than the glossiness of a Double-O-Seven one-liner. From another vantage, it reflects the man’s outlook. It is such multi-edged verbal blades that make Shah Rukh Khan Devil’s own charmer.

The greatest achievement of Shah Rukh is that he has successfully posted himself CEO of Brand SRK, which is now a synonym for success and taken with certain religiosity in management schools all over the country and beyond. Marketing Himself has been his core activity, over the years. With this Khan, you never discuss art. You discuss the buck.
Unlike Amitabh Bachchan, his predecessor in superstardom, Shah Rukh Khan has carefully planned his career. Most of his popular manoeuvres were off screen rather than on screen. Amitabh’s career has always been a roller coaster ride; one that took him to the pinnacle of mortal fame, to the abyss of despair, and back. Shah Rukh’s heights pale in comparison, but his consistency with fame is phenomenal. His ability to project his ideas and impart a halo to each one of them is greater still.
Even when Amitabh consciously decides to break ice with his viewer, there is a certain aloofness that hangs around the man, like clouds. Shah Rukh, on the contrary, has surprises flitting around him like butterflies. Amitabh’s enigma was the result of his measured behaviour. Shah Rukh’s charisma results from aggressive auto-suggestion. A right parallel, here, would be the boxing great, Mohammed Ali.
Before almost every bout, Ali would thump his chest and scream aloud: “I am the best! I am the champion!” And he kept the world guessing as to what prompted him to say it. Was it fear? Was it insecurity? Was it confidence? Was it arrogance?
While the world pondered over his brag, Ali drugged his opponents with some terrific sucker punches. His admirers never got to know the real man. They never quite understood his ploy. But they didn’t care. They knew only one thing—they could never take their eyes and ears off him. The stardom, the legend and the myth of Mohammed Ali was born in one litter.
Shah Rukh Khan is not an easy target for the psychoanalyst. He is one of the cleverest public figures of our time. In a way, he reflects the aspirations of post-liberalisation India better than any other icon. He promotes selfishness as a virtue. Ambition, to him, is a talent in itself. Irreverence is projected as a need. Humour, to him, is the right to jab his opponents after the bell. His gab is Generation X’s equivalent to Sermon on the Mount. He is the role model of the lower middle class youngster, who has two bikes and yearns for a car. Last but not the least, Shah Rukh Khan loves to joke on himself, but then, that is it! No one else is allowed the privilege.
Nothing in this world is holy for Shah Rukh Khan.
He will chase even Amitabh Bachchan. He will redo even KBC. He will remake even Don. He would smoke in banned areas. He will censure the health minister for criticising him. He will take bhare-bazaar digs at the Amar Singhs of the world. He will buy cricket teams. He will sell tickets to promote his team. He will make the media eat from his hands, and give them the opposite impression. He will host award nights and venture into “forbidden humour”. He loves to instill fear on the audience. They MUST laugh or else he would assassinate them, with his verbal volleys.
Shah Rukh Khan is the trickiest phenom to have ever happened to Indian cinema.
To see the Khan and his media Reich for what they are, one has to look through 3D goggles. It demands more dimaag than a Paanchvi Pass! The question is: Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass se tez hain?!
And see what I have just done. I have ended up promoting his latest TV show. This is what they call “SRK Magic!”
About the author: Murali Gopy is the Entertainment Editor for MSN India