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When I was in school one of my best friends was a certain Inderdeep Singh Kalra.
Inderdeep was a proud Sikh. Always ready to lead any project, bowl his medium pacers at any opening batsman from any section and always fearless when defending his side of the argument. Pretty much the sort of no-holds-barred, oft stereotyped Sikh.
Also he was around four feet tall. The tall kids never took any pangas with him. A single heartfelt headbutt from him and you were floored due to severe agony in the mid-latitude region if you know what I mean.
Yet Inderdeep also had the largest collection of Sardarji jokebooks I have ever seen. Shelf upon shelf of them. Some weekends we used to sit at his place, along with his dad who made the best Amritsari French Fries, and read the jokes and laugh out loud.
Little did Inderdeep know that he was sowing the seeds of communalism and insensitivity in my juvenile brain. By using those joke books as a vile instrument of divisiveness he was trying to make the Sikh people appear small and insignificant in my eyes.
Of course there is the question of why he would want to do that considering he himself was a first-class Sikh. I could have asked him. But he may have headbutted me.
Therefore I was more than a little relieved to read on rediff.com's home page earlier today that the honourable members of the Lucknow Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee have lodged an FIR against Anil Ambani and other senior members of the Reliance Communications [Get Quote] company.
Apparently Reliance has been circulating jokes via mobile about the Sikh community which is defamatory in nature and insulting to the community at large.
"How dare he say such things about us? This is utter nonsense. Suddenly you can make jokes about Sikh people? Somebody will get headbutted," was what the president of the LGPC said with minor inputs from my end.
Reliance Communications, a company known for outstanding Corporate Social Responsibility, immediately took complete blame for the incident. But then five minutes later they filed a legal notice with an Internet Service Provider who provided the content and washed their hands of the complete imbroglio.
Reliance had this to say: "We are sorry this happened and would like to ensure everyone that we will now exclusively deal with only Mallu jokes. For instance the one they made about how Misbah should have known Sreesanth [Images] was there because AFTER ALL there is a Mallu in every corner of the world was hilarious no?"
Hopefully this will be the first step in bringing to a close this unhealthy trend in Indian media of portraying certain sections of society in a negative light. Some might say that this is a harmless attempt at highlighting the cultural diversity of our country and the inherent fun of being a part of this very varied country. "We must learn to laugh at ourselves more! Take things in a jolly sense!"
"Look! We are burning your house down. Now WHO'S laughing eh? Take it jolly won't you?" is what I have to say to them.
Also in the news recently was the controversy over a certain line in a certain song in the movie Aaja Nachle. This movie is, as all of you know, the comeback vehicle of Madhuri Dixit [Images], the great Bollywood Diva. Mrs Dixit was living happily in the US with her husband and kids when someone told her that the Indian media was beginning to refer to her as, gasp, 'Diva'.
Anyone with any knowledge of the Hindi movie industry knows that once you fall into the 'Diva' category then no more raindances, low-cut blouses or slit skirts for you. The best you can hope for is hottie sister-in-law. But even then you might get only one seductive shot but that too with someone like Anupam Kher [Images] or Satish Shah.
Mrs Dixit immediately went on a diet, cut out all carbohydrates and then finally did the ultimate in terms of fitness prep before a movie: hired a good Photoshop guy to work on the posters.
As she walked in for her first shot during the filing of Aaja Nachle someone whispered: "Hey! Look at the diva!" The person was immediately headbutted on the spot.
Aaja Nachle ended up being a mildly interesting movie that had the audience jumping out of their seats at one memorable moment when the movie got over.
But just when you thought that the movie would disappear into oblivion the Honourable Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh banned the movie. She said: "There is no way we are going to let her mock a section of society with that line in that song. Also not all older women can dance like that you know! The nerve of the Diva!"
Apparently one of the lines of the movie was disrespectful to a section of society that has been involved in the Footwear Development and Augmentation Industry. (I will not use that word as I have extreme distaste for the burning down of any house in general and mine in particular.)
Thankfully, just before things could get all fun and interesting the Aaja Nachle people decided to delete the line and the film was allowed to resume exhibition at multiplexes.
I cannot tell you how happy I am. This hypocrisy of communalism in the name of entertainment must be brought to an end immediately. This can only be good for our country and its long term unity.
However, if you must make fun of people and states I highly recommend picking on Orissa, Lakshadweep or the Andamans.
Q: Have you heard of that guy from the Andamans?
A: Err... no?
Q: Me neither!
A: Ha ha. Too much.
More adventures of the Vadakuts, mister and missus, can be found at Domain Maximus.
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