Thursday, November 20, 2003

Mooch Nahin to Kuchh Nahin

Nothing says "Give it a Go" like sportin a mo! --Col. Blighty Sudafed

Mooch Nahin to Kuchh nahin--popular Hindi heartland proverb

East or west, moustache is an issue. In rural India, the facial hair in the upper lip region is something to be proud of. They have no choice, as lack of a moustache attracts unwanted attention and unsavoury comments. Urban India has somehow shaved off the necessity to keep the faith.

When this writer decided to come clean for the first time, the reaction in friends and family ranged from a wicked smile to outright outrage.

A village elder said: “Rajput is known by his moustache. "Did Lord Ram have moustache?" He had no answer. And I kept up the offence: "When Ram, the best a man can get (Purushottam) didn't have, why should I." I must say he was convinced. You can't fight religion. But nothing would make him shave his own.

Moustache-lovers have so much belief in November being the month of moustache that they call it Movember. By a cruel turn of fate, Dileep Singh Judeo, the man who can't breathe without feeling his moustache, has his in trouble.

Early in November the Union minister had said if he did not win the Chhattisgarh Assembly election for his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) he would shave his moustache, the "hirsute appendage of the upper lip, with graspable extremities", the symbol of a man's pride.

Mid-November he was caught on tape taking what appeared to be bribe. And his party is on a shaky ground. If the party loses the election, Judeo loses his moustache. He's lost a lot already.

His opponent and tormentor-in-chief, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, is safe. He doesn't sport any hair.

What is that makes a moustache so much macho? The fact that most powerful dictators in the world had moustaches? Stalin, Hitler, Saddam Hussain, Parvez Musharraf, the list is long.

Advani is more acceptable to rightwing hardliners than Vajpayee is. Is it the moustache?

Does moustache make man more attractive?

According to a Roy Morgan survey: "79 percent of women prefer men to be clean shaven and 2.1 per cent prefer beards."

The pro-moustache people rubbish the survey saying it was backed by Gillette.

There are no surveys yet to show the percentage of voters who prefer their candidate clean-shaven.

Taking us for a ride

Biharis are being killed and maimed in Assam. This a reaction to the loot and rapes that targeted Assamese people that went for hours near a Bihar town. That was in reaction to the beating of Bihari students appearing in a Railway Recruitment Board exam in Assam. This is not going to stop here though.

Student organisations, which led the protests for "job for locals", are no longer leading. I happened to be in Bihar two days after the ghastly incident happened. This is an account from an eyewitness Bihari friend, who was beaten by fellow Biharis—

"Students protesting against the illtreatment of Bihari students in Assam were protesting at different places including Bhagalpur, Katihar and Jamalpur. Protesting students in Katihar had already beaten some passengers coming from Assam."

Bhagalpur students had stopped the train for hours. And goons in Ratanpur, near Jamalpur, were ready to take advantage."

(The area — between Sultanganj and Kiul nearly 90 km along the railway line — is such a gone case that train robberies are a daily story. Every second young man is a potential criminal. If he is not committed a crime, it is because he never got the opportunity. The area hasn't seen any development for decades. Roads do not exist. Guns are freely available. There is no order and they don't care about the law.)

They were ready to take advantage of the flaring situations. A train dacoity in daylight with a perfect excuse: protest. They stopped the train. Went on a looting spree. They molested women, tore their clothes, ripped their baggage and took off with whatever they could. They looted everyone including Biharis who have borded the train as the train had entered Bihar some five hours ago. They didn't care about who's from Assam." (At least one rape was confirmed. The government woke up too late but did transfer some senior police officers.)

The genuine students with a cause, whatever that may be, have gone back to their homes regretting what happened."

The reaction in Assam is similar. All Assam Students Union (AASU) began the protests. And now separatist extremists like Ulfa have taken over and AASU doesn't know what to do.

They have a ready cause. Widen the gulf so much that Assam is cut off again. Bihar is the link state, they have to cross if they have to go to the heartland.

Ulfa is provoking the goons in Bihar to retaliate so that they can continue their retaliation. Ulfa, sidelined by the peace-loving people of Assam, has begun sowing of fear again. The harvest would please its counterparts in Bihar too.

One to three & now four

First the News: The government will form a censor board to censor music videos. Indians, especially elderly politicians in Parliament, have been debating the increasing vulgarity in these music videos.

It all started with Kaliyon ka Chaman, in which Meghna Naidu seductively swirled in clothes that accentuated her assets. He success of the video gave the audio sales an unprecedented push and let out a flood of similar videos, which doesn’t seem to ending anytime soon.

Sensuality went out of the window, once sexuality began dancing in our living rooms 24X7. Some dared, and bared so much that the music video could put a C-grade film to shame. And the average middle class India was furious.

Music video directors found their own way of censorship, not by adding to the clothes the models used to wear. But by increasing the number of semi-clothed women.

One semi-nude woman is vulgar, two is little less vulgar, three is community. So Chadhti Jawani had three women in almost nothing pinching their own bottoms.

Now we have four doing the Saiyan Dil Mein Aana Re. Is plural less vulgar than singular. Seems so. One is nanga but hammam mein sab nange hain.

Seeing a woman bathing alone is playing Peeping Tom. So a woman doesn’t bathe in public. But they don’t mind taking a dip when there are many like community bathing in India’s holy rivers.

One Bangaru Lakshman caught on tape was vulgar. Mayawati VCD triggered a lesser outrage. Judeo shock is over in three days. Hammam mein sab nange hain.

Nobody thinks corruption is an issue any longer. Because corruption's dance is a community dance. No one thinks it’s vulgar.

It’s bad if it’s done privately. If you smoked up in the college loo, you are a bad guy. If 500 of them get high on Acid, it’s a rave party.

One prostitute soliciting on the road is “Oh My God.” G.B. Road or Falklands Road is not.

A man kills another for some reason or reasons. The killer is a killer and is arrested. Many kill many is a riot. And riots have their reasons and killers might be activists. Many otherwise normal going-to-office people take part in riots. Alone they won’t dare kill an ant.

So is many less vulgar than one?

The Baghban Effect

Are politicians and the media taking movies seriously? In the recent family tearjerker Baghban, Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini play husband and wife, whose love doesn’t diminish with age.

They express their love but always with a oneliner: “Tum Sudhroge Nahin (You will not improve!).”

The horizontal, black-and-white advertisement had nothing that could catch one’s eye. Who looks at a state government ad these days, though the number of such ads has grown manifold of late.

They are similar: Honourable Chief Minister’s smiling mug with a list of their achievements. But this one was different.

While most such ads also carry a photo of the leader of the ruling party, this ad had Honourable Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Honourable Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav sharing two corners.

Mulayam Singh’s party has always termed Mr Vajpayee BJP as the enemy no. 1. This, at a time when he and his party keeps denying media speculation about whether the two enemies are coming closer.

The day before his Uttar Pradesh government had given a clean chit to senior BJP leaders in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

An uproar the next day had forced him to step back and do a Mayawati. When his predecessor, Mayawati, used to get in trouble with a decision, she would blame it on some bureaucrat and would sack the poor guy.

Mulayam blamed it on the state government advocate. Strange happenings.

Off screen, Amitabh Bachchan represents Mulayam Singh Yadav. Hema Malini is the mascot of BJP. Will their onscreen love give UP another set of strange bedfellows?