Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Get Real, Arshad Warsi; This Isn't Reality TV

I thought you were cool, Mr Arshad Warsi; one of the more sensible guys in Bollywood. And, I reckoned you would give it back to those blighters who racially abused you and Bipasha, while filming in London. What you did, instead, was disappointing; you cribbed about it in the media – “I was shocked; I am not used to this sort of thing”. This isn’t on, not from ‘Circuit’, of Munnabhai fame.

Let’s consider what really happened. Warsi, with co-star Bipasha Basu, was filming outside a pub at Southall in London. A couple of whites in a passing car stopped by, shouted at them something about ‘brown skin and black skin’ and buzzed off. I know this could hurt a sensitive soul, but Warsi, you can’t be too sensitive to stray utterances of berserk minds.

Any Asian resident in Britain would tell you this sort of thing happens to us all the time. Pubs and street-corners, notably in a working class area, are designed for hoot-and-run racial abuses. Most people ignore it as public nuisance. Some hoot back at the racists, if it makes them feel any better.

The incident happened in a predominantly Asian locality. Those familiar with London would tell you Southall is so desi that no white, with racially abusive intentions, would want to be caught making trouble there. It is not an area for anyone to take panga with desis. What Warsi encountered was a couple of cowardly, car-borne cat-callers of the racial kind. They, presumably, were unaware of Arshad Warsi’s celebrity status. Maybe, they didn’t care. Which may well be the sticking point with Bollywood visitors, accustomed to strangers seeking autographs, rather than shouting swear words at them.

“For me it was an alien thing,” Warsi is reported to have told the media. Another actor chipped in, “you come to London, and you’re shooting; this is the last thing you expect”.

Come now, Warsi. You should know better. Skinheads and hoot-and-run scumbags are almost everywhere. You could report to the police. I reckon Britain has a law against racial abuse. But then you can’t legislate against racial mentality, can you ?
Lage Raho, Arshad Warsi.

Cross-posted from Desicitics

Friday, November 16, 2007

Karnataka CM on thanksgiving rounds

I can’t figure out what our Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa is up to. He has been doing the rounds of temples and mutts, has done homa at his official chamber at Vidhana Soudha. He has paid a visit to his village astrologer near Tumkur. And, between trips to temples, Mr Y has ordered transfers of some key IAS and IPS officials. He has also managed to give sleepless nights to several others in bureaucracy, which is as clueless as you and I are on what he might do next.

A media report spoke of elaborate official bandha during CM’s visit to his village astrologer, near Tumkur. Senior government officials had reached the village the night before Mr Y’s arrival, to be at hand, just in case Mr Y needed to have a word with officials. As it happened, the astrologer reportedly advised CM to maintain silence till he returned to his office in Bangalore from the village visit. Such fuss and official fanfare may not be in the official protocol book. It would have been much simpler to have the astrologer over to the chief minister’s chamber, for consultations.

We have a chief minister who turns his official chamber at the state secretariat into a venue for Vedic rituals, including homa. Mr. Y is entitled to his puja at his official residence. Having it at his office in the state secretariat may be good for Mr Y’s soul, but such things wouldn’t go down well with those of us who believe in the sanctity of the seat of government. Mr Y may not think much of it, but there is a distinction, however subtle, between the CM as a person and his seat of power.

Today’s CM is Mr Y. Tomorrow, the seat may be taken by ‘X’Ali or ‘Z’Anthony. Mr Y, I reckon, isn’t conscious, or he doesn’t care, about such finer distinctions in a secular democratic set-up. If anything, our five-day old CM has been sending distinct signals to the people that, in governance of the state, he may well be guided by the Parivar and the divinity, rather than his cabinet and officials.

The media carried the other day a picture showing our CM prostrating before a spiritual leader. For Mr Y this may be personal. I don’t know what our swamijis and sadhus make of heads of government touching or falling flat at their feet. Surely, there must be more dignified ways of seeking their blessings.

My take is such gesture, by those in power, send out wrong signals to people. They can’t be blamed for thinking that they could have their work with the government done, if they seek a reference or recommendation from this guru, that sadhu, or such and such swami. Such public perception, of a close connect between spiritual leaders and the seat of government, is extra-constitutional, Besides, it doesn’t enhance the prestige of the community of spiritual leaders.

Meanwhile, we have the CM’s word that he wouldn't take any official decisions for the next few days and all decisions his fledging government has taken till date would be put on hold as he spends time visiting temples and offering prayers till Nov.19 when Mr Y is scheduled to prove his majority on the floor of the Karnataka legislative assembly.

Cross-posted from Desicritics