Tag Archives: Satire

The Seventh Wonder Of The World

When I first learned about the Seven Wonders of the World in school, I went, “Hein, Ma’am are you sure?” After all, except for the Pyramids of Giza, none of the items on the hottest-places-to-see-in-the-world itinerary even existed anymore. Clearly, the Travel & Lifestyle folks of yore had been quite sluggish in updating their Best-Of lists. Anyway, I discovered quite recently that a new Top-7 list has been produced, and this one does have places that one can actually go to and click a suitable Facebook profile picture at.

Mayawatiji with halo

Mayawatiji with halo

I was also joyously happy to see my favourite politician Mayawatiji’s property making the cut. No small feat for a person who started her journey to greatness as a humble school teacher. By the way, Happy Teachers Day, Mayawatiji! Except for the Yadavs, everyone loves you!

Which brings me to the property itself. Mahamaya Taj Mahal, or simply Taj Mahal as it is known among the plebs, is a glorious monument built by Shah Jahan centuries ago (use Google if you really want to know exactly when – must I spoon-feed you?) when his beloved wife died bearing him his fourteenth child at the ripe old age of 29. It was a fitting tribute to erect such a huge building in her honour considering it was most likely the man’s perpetual erection that did her in.

Anyway, back to the Taj. I am certain that it wasn’t quite smooth-sailing to construct a building of that complexity. I suspect some of the conversations during its design and construction might have gone like this –

 

A’la Azad Abul Muzaffar Shahab ud-Din Mohammad Khurram, or simply Shah Jahan for short : (with thundering anger and blazing eyes) What the hell is wrong with you, you bloody nincompoop? Didn’t I say that I wanted taller minarets? What is wrong with you architects these days? Don’t you ever listen?

Taufeeq Contractor, Chief Architect : (trembling with fear) But, Sir, that was what I was trying to explain to you the other day. Any taller than this and we will not be able to get the blueprints approved by the Housing Board!

Shah Jahan : Who cares what the Housing Board says! I will just stuff their mouths with 1-Rupiya coins! Have those minions even seen what a 1-Rupiya coin looks like in their entire life?

Taufeeq Contractor : (sheepishly) I am sorry, Sir, but…

Shah Jahan : But what?

Taufeeq Contractor : They have declined to accept any bribes in the shape of Paisas or Rupiyas.

Shah Jahan : (spitting angrily) What?

Taufeeq Contractor : They say that they will only accept Dollars.

Shah Jahan : Dollar? What in Allah’s name is that?

Taufeeq Contractor : It’s what our cousins on the other side of the world, the NRIs, are using these days.

Shah Jahan : (ferociously) These blasted Native Red Indians! I hope someone from Europe goes to the New World and fixes those bloody rats once and for all!

Taufeeq Contractor : (almost whispers) : And there is one more thing, Sir.

Shah Jahan : What’s that?

Taufeeq Contractor : They can’t approve 8 minarets. They say that so many minarets are an earthquake hazard.

Shah Jahan : (angrily shakes fist) La haul vila kuvat! I hope they rot in hell!

Taufeeq Contractor : I am negotiating with them for six. Hopefully they will agree, otherwise we may have to settle for four. Or two. But it will cost extra.

Shah Jahan : And to think we already had to grease quite a few palms to get the riverside plot assigned to us.

 

So, as you can see, even in 16-hundred whatever AD, obtaining the right site, and getting a floor plan passed by the Municipal Corporation was like pulling teeth. And this man was the bloody King, for Christ’s sakes! Then, a few days later…

 

Shah Jahan : (annoyed as usual) Just make sure all the paperwork is pakka. I don’t want anyone in the future trying to take over this whole Taj Corridor and passing it off as their property!

Hukum Nawaz, Wazeer-e-Daftar (Chief Secretary) : As you command, Jahan-Panaah.

Shah Jahan : Any news on the Underground Parking?

Hukum Nawaz : Sorry Sir, but that plan has been rejected.

Shah Jahan : (with nostrils starting to flare dangerously) What the hell! Why?

Hukum Nawaz : We are too close to the river. It will cause seepage problems.

Shah Jahan : Damn it! Now where are we going to park all the horse- and bullock-carts? We needed at least two floors of underground parking!

Hukum Nawaz : Sir, we will have to use the area in front.

Shah Jahan : And have those four-legged monsters eat all my imported grass and dunk their heads into my expensive fountains? Use your brains, Hukum Nawaz!

Hukum Nawaz : Sorry Sir!

Shah Jahan : What sorry-shorry! You just have to come up with an alternative plan for the traffic.

Meanwhile, the Emperor has to still manage his personal life, and the fourteen sons his loving departed wife left him with. The most obnoxious one is the eldest.

Abul Muzaffar Muhi-ud-Din Mohammad Aurangzeb, or simply Aurangzeb : Papa, come play Emperor-Slave with me! I want to pump you with arrows.

Shah Jahan : (irritated) Go away, boy, can’t you see that your father is busy?

Aurangzeb : (angrily) But, Pops, you always keep saying that! Why do you never listen to me? Come! These arrows won’t hurt much. Look, they are Made-in-China.

Shah Jahan : (equally angrily) I said go away. Don’t you make me angry, boy!

Aurangzeb : (even more angrily) You wait till I grow up, Papa. When I am the King, I will lock you up in prison and throw away the key!

Shah Jahan : (dismissively) Yeah, yeah, yeah, we will see about that, you Dumbass!

Shah Jahan yells to the maid who comes scurrying.

Shah Jahan : (authoritatively) Kaneez, take this juvenile delinquent away. And make sure he doesn’t manage to sneak into my chambers again, ok?

The maid bows. Then, Shah Jahan calls her close to him to pass on covert instructions.

Shah Jahan : (whispering) He likes to butcher people. Just provide him a few slaves so he can play with. Who are we to curtail his natural instincts? At some point in the future, people like him will be very famous. There may even be books and plays about serial killers!

 

The boy is taken away screaming and yelling egregious threats at his father. Meanwhile, the Emperor has another visitor who has been stopped at the door.

 

Hukum Nawaz : Sir, it’s Anarkali. She says she must see you. It’s urgent.

The concubine. Alas, there is no hope of getting any serious work done today. The Emperor caves in.

Shah Jahan : (mildly irritated) What is it, Anarkali? Just speak quickly, I don’t have any patience with your slow, husky, whispered tone today.

Anarkali : (in a huff at being scolded in front of everyone) Ok, I will make it quick. You promised me a new Sheesh Mahal where I could do my dance performances, and where the walls and ceilings would mirror a million reflections of my swirling Anarkali suit and dupatta. What the hell happened to that plan?

Shah Jahan : We will get to that by and by.

Anarkali : (still annoyed) Delaying tactics! Why are you focused on that dead woman’s mausoleum when you should be focused on me!

These damned women, the Emperor says to himself.

Anarkali : (starting to cry) Do you really not care that at some point someone will want to make a biopic on my life? What good it will be if there is no item song featuring me in my own grand Sheesh Mahal?

Aaaaaand she begins to cry.

Anarkali : (for extra effect) Have you no heart?

Shah Jahan : (sighing loudly) Ok, ok, my dear, let me see what we can do.

Anarkali : (immediately back in control of her tear ducts) Yes, and you had better do it quickly.

Suddenly his father’s original idea of entombing the whining woman doesn’t seem like that bad an idea to the Emperor.

Anarkali leaves happily. The Chief Secretary and the Emperor are back to discussing the monument.

 

Shah Jahan : Ok, what’s the plan about Labour? Do we have 20,000 labourers ready for the show?

Hukum Nawaz : (excitedly) Yes, Sir, we are working on that. We are getting some from Bihar and Jharkhand. Others are being summoned back from the Middle East.

Shah Jahan : What about their contracts? Remember it is imperative that they don’t stay on in the construction business after building my property. We can’t have them copying our style elsewhere! And we certainly don’t want them building Casinos in the New World that look like our monument!

Hukum Nawaz : Exactly, Sir. That is why we are making them sign a Confidentiality Agreement.

Shah Jahan : Sign?

Hukum Nawaz : Yes, Sir.

Shah Jahan : (blowing his top yet again) Naa muraad! Do you think they can read or write? Sign, he says! You bloody IAS-type idiots! Do you not know anything?

Hukum Nawaz : (extremely mortified) Sorry, Sir! We will come up with an alternate plan.

Shah Jahan : What alternate plan! Can’t you just cut off their arms after the job is done? Isn’t that simple?

Hukum Nawaz : Oh, absolutely, Sir. That can be managed.

Shah Jahan : Ok, good. What about all the raw material? I am warning you again – I want only the best quality marble!

Hukum Nawaz : Yes, Sir. Absolutely, Sir! We are sourcing it from Rajasthan via NOIDA. The only hitch is hauling it all the way to Agra.

Shah Jahan : So what are we going to do about that?

Hukum Nawaz : Sir, can I ask you to fast track an Expressway from there? From NOIDA to Agra? That way, our bullock carts can just zip through at double-digit speeds.

Shah Jahan : So fast! But is it safe? To drive so fast on the Expressway? What is this – some kind of Formula 1?

Hukum Nawaz : Oh, totally safe, Sir. In fact some of our spies in Europe claim that the highways there are so smooth that horses and oxen practically slide on them. And there is no speed limit on those roads either!

Shah Jahan : No way!

Hukum Nawaz : Yes way, Sir.

Shah Jahan : So how can we get this Expressway done quickly?

Hukum Nawaz : We should really go ahead and give the approvals for it. In fact, (coughs) some of the interested builders are willing to (cough), you know, write ‘ghazals’ for Jahanpanaah.

Shah Jahan : I see. How many ‘ghazals’ are they willing to give…errm, write?

Hukum Nawaz : Sir, the going rate is 200 ‘ghazals’. You know, pure gold ‘ghazals’.

Shah Jahan : What shit! Tell them nothing less than 500 ‘ghazals’ will do! 200 ‘ghazals’ my fat ass!

Hukum Nawaz : I shall let them know, Sir.

Shah Jahan : And warn them that if they don’t write me the right number of ‘ghazals’, I will sit on their file forever.

Hukum Nawaz : Absolutely, Sir. Yes, Sir.

 

Well, Taj Mahal supposedly took 20 years to build. It used the best marble from Rajasthan and the best stones from wherever else (just Google it, for Heaven’s sake). Quite a handful of a project for the great Shah Jahan who later died in captivity. (That bloody Aurangzeb locked him up, you see!)

But, in the end, we all got our Taj Mahal, the only Indian thing that features in Hollywood disaster films when they have to show worldwide destruction of the planet.  

Meanwhile, one assumes that the right amount of ‘ghazals’ never passed hands between the builders and the government for centuries. The Yamuna Expressway wasn’t inaugurated until 2012. It cuts down journey time between Delhi to Agra from over 6 hours to under 2, possibly the smoothest road in the country where zipping at 160 kmph is a-ok. But will it ever be featured in any Wonder Of The World list? Unlikely.    

 

 

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013. The theme is SEVEN. This post features a person and a monument, both are among the Seven Wonders of the World as far as I am concerned. 

 

‘The Hand That Rocks The Cradle’ – A Stupid Short Story About Entirely Fictional Characters

Image stolen from Google

Image shamelessly stolen from Google

 

“I told you to stop doing that!” the mother admonished her boy a second time as he continued to blow bubbles in his bowl of cold milk with a straw. Getting him to finish his breakfast without drama was climbing fast in the list of rants she had with her life. Heavens knew she had other, bigger things to worry about.

“But, Mamma, I don’t want to go there,” the son wailed. “No, No, NO!” his voice began to rise with each utterance of resistance.

The mother sighed. It was the same argument over and over again. ‘My beautiful boy, but stubborn like an ass!’ she thought. She had already tried her damndest to make him shift to the other house just a few blocks away but everything had proved futile so far.

“But you won’t be there na, Mamma!” had been his first pushback when she had broached the subject with him several months ago.

“I will keep visiting, my little baby,” she had tried to counter-argue. “Plus, Ramu Kaka will be there. And Bhalloo, your favourite teddy. All your toys! You won’t even miss Mamma after a while!”

“NO!” The intransigent monster had stuck to his toy guns.

Then, a few days later, she had tried to change her tactics. “Ok, so how about I go live with you in your new home for a few days? Will that make you happy?” she had asked.

“Yes! But what will you do after a few days?”

“I will return back here,” she had said quietly. “Mamma can’t stay there forever, my child.”

“NO!”

Failure.

It wasn’t just her efforts that had proved futile. Several other Uncles and Aunties had urged him, too, but none of it had mattered.

Today, she had decided that she needed to get to the root cause of his obstinacy.

“Are you scared to go there?” she had asked him a few minutes ago as they started breakfast.

“No…” The voice sounded timid.

So, he is scared!’ the intuitive mother realized immediately. No wonder he had been resisting so vehemently! No amount of toys, gifts, threats or mollycoddling was going to help if she didn’t address his primal fears. She needed to know what it was. Ghosts? Girls? Old men with scary beards?

“What is the matter, my poor baby?” asked the concerned mother in her best kindly voice. Then, suddenly sensing that the boy probably didn’t want to go to the new house because he was scared of the man who already lived there, she asked, “Has that man said something to you?” Her voice was back to being mildly angry.

“No…” the quivering voice repeated.

“Tell me, boy!” the mother demanded sternly this time.

“No, he hasn’t said anything!” he said, almost in tears.

“No? Then why are you scared of him?”

“Because he doesn’t say anything! He just stares at me quietly. I think he wants to eat me!”

The mother laughed loudly. Her stupid little boy.

“He is not going to eat you! It’s not that he doesn’t talk to you alone. He talks to no one!”

“So, is he dumb?”

“No!” the mother said angrily. “Don’t use foul language against Singh Uncle! And remember, he will leave once you arrive there. So there is nothing to fear anyway!”

The mother was interrupted by the sound of footsteps behind her. It was the maid. She was panting as she walked briskly.

“Madam?” the maid said as she faced the mistress. “Priyanka Baby is on the phone. She says it is urgent.”

Bloody hell,’ shrieked the mother in her mind. ‘What has Robby done now?’ she wondered. As she pushed back her dining chair and rose, she gave a stern look at the boy again.

“Listen here, no more fussing! You are shifting to No. 7 next year. It is DONE. No more arguments!”

The sullen boy’s face fell. The lower lip trembled and the eyes welled up promptly.

“And you had better finish those cornflakes before I come back after dealing with your sister!”

 

 

I hope the reader has realized that this is not a short story, merely pretending to be one! After all, I don’t want the CBI coming to arrest me in the middle of the night and hauling me away to jail in my underwear. With my pretty looks, nasty things could happen to me there!  

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013. The theme of this festival is SEVEN, so do pay attention to where that number has been used.

 

 

This Post Is Not About That

The Aakash Tablet. You are looking at the only piece in existence.

The Aakash Tablet. You are looking at the only piece in existence.

Recently, I paid a thousand bucks to see a play at Siri Fort, New Delhi. That’s a fair bit steeper than what Delhiites typically dole out to see their local actors give amateurish performances on the spartan sets of IHC, Kamani or Epicentre auditoria. Before you start thinking that I have won that big Sikkim State Lottery jackpot and start reaching out to me as a potential door ka rishtedaar, let me quickly scrub your hopes. No such thing has happened – I am still poor and the purse strings remain tighter than ever thanks to Mr Chidambaram. These hard earned thousand rupees were coughed up for a one-evening-only theatrical ‘event’ – a monodrama by Anupam Kher called ‘Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai’. Rest assured that despite its silly title, this was not a play based on some limp horror (comedy?) film from Ram Gopal Verma’s potty. This play featured a bona fide Bollywood celebrity, one of our leading, national award winning actors doing a one-man act. How often do we get to see that in Delhi? Surely, a thousand was a small price to pay for the sake of art? What’s skipping a few square meals in order to afford that, I thought.

Anyway, this post is not really about Anupam Kher or his play. It is not even about the good folks who had organized the event. And good folks they indeed are – a leading NGO that is providing free education to children in over 150,000 schools in remote, mainly tribal areas across the country. Noble cause by any yardstick because not only are these kids being offered an education, but even their basic needs of primary healthcare, clothing and nourishment are being taken care of by these schools that are managed directly by this organization. Presumably, the charity of the well-heeled in Delhi, and the blood and sweat of the feet-on-the-ground, are allowing that little Adivasi child in Bastar to dream of a brighter future that opens up for her when she has access to language and maths. She now has books and multimedia that open her eyes to the world outside her village. She has clothing that gives her dignity and protection, medicines that keep her healthy. At some point in the future, she aspires to be the nurse who looks after you in a hospital, or your neighbourhood bank teller who greets you as she dispenses cash to you, or the driver who pilots the Metro train that takes you to your destination. And, a mother who insists on a better life for her own children and family.

No, this post is not about the hundreds of kind folks who have the wherewithal to offer assistance and do so, generating opportunities for thousands of kids who deserve and get them. This post is not about them.

This post is about the millions of others who get left behind.

This post is about a nation that dreams big and yet squanders opportunity after opportunity. It’s about the Right to Education Act that gets passed by the federal Parliament in 2009. An act that establishes India as one of the few progressive nations in the world where education to children between the ages of 6-14 is a fundamental right. A law that provides 25% reservation of seats to EWS even in private schools. One that mandates all schools to ensure the existence of a proper building, a boundary wall with gate, a toilet, and drinking water to its students, or face the risk of losing accreditation and funding. It instructs the states to provide educated educators and able administrators to make all of this happen. And yet, 3 years after the Bill was notified, only 10% of the nation’s schools conform to its mandates. This post is also about other associated policies on Human Resource Development, like the vocational schools that don’t exist. Or the grand promise of the new Akash, not the polluted blue one above our heads. Or the free laptops dispensed to children whose homes have no electricity. Not to mention usable sports equipment and training facilities, instead of the locked and rusting behemoths erected for a two-week long sporting event.

Yes, this post is about the points I have enumerated above. But, mainly, this post is about lost opportunities because we constantly attempt to beat a corroded system into place, not by robust, get-your-hands-dirty action, but by new ornamental and shallow promises.

You could say that this post is about getting what we deserve.

Oh, I know, before I close, you still want to know how the play was, don’t you? Well, here is a quick review, in that case. It featured Anupam Kher laboriously playacting the story of his own life in excruciating detail (yes, you guessed it right – the play was quite awful, pompous even). But still, a nice change from what we usually get to see in NCR. You see, what the avid theatregoer gets here is either British or American plays, and it is normal to see desi actors addressing each other as ‘Charlie’ or ‘Polly’ on stage. Never mind that in real life, the only Charlies and Pollys that we actually know are the neighbour’s raucous dog and our aunt’s graceless parrot.

Anyway, like I said, this post is not about that.

 

This piece has been carried in the April 8th, 2012 issue of The Education Post : www.theeducationpost.in. My thanks to Arvind Passey for making this happen. Do check out his blog at : http://passey.info/

 

Article_The Education Post_Rickie Khosla

 

Indian Railway : 22nd Century Up!

Indian Railway : 22nd Century Up!

(The Times Of India News Service)

Shri Ganesh to the 22nd Century!

Shri Ganesh to the 22nd Century!

New Delhi : February 26, 2013 : The Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal presented his first budget in Parliament today. Experts, parliamentarians and Aam Aadmi are universally hailing it as the most glorious rail budget ever made since the invention of the Steam Engine in 1781. This farsighted budget has, in a giant master stroke, erased the combined losses of Rs. 24,342 crores that Indian Railway has accumulated over the years, and transported it to the 22nd century much ahead of schedule.

The measures announced today are expected to effectively deal with expansion of passenger capacity, passenger comfort and rail safety. Revenues sourced from both passenger and freight services are expected to treble, with only a marginal increase in expenses. No fare increase was proposed.

In a bold and far reaching move, the Minister announced that every train, no matter how fast or slow, will henceforth be referred to as ‘Ultra Superfast Express’. Taking a leaf out of the French train naming convention, where such trains are simply called TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse, or Very High Speed Train), Indian Railway will title their trains as Tatkal-Tivrata or TAT-TI for short. Three trains have been shortlisted for immediate name change – Poorvanchal Tat-ti, August Krantikari Tat-ti and Shan-e-Punjab Tat-ti.

Interestingly, this change will not just be limited to name only. The locomotives pulling these trains will now bear new speedometers where a “0” will penciled in after each number on the dial. So a train running at 40 kms per hour earlier will now be deemed to be doing 400 kmph, easily beating the fastest trains from Japan, China and continental Europe. The fastest Indian train, the Bhopal Shatabdi Tatti, is now expected to gush at over 1000 kms per hour, comprehensively breaking the sound barrier.

“We are world beaters once again!” announced the Minister amid the din of thumping desks in the Lok Sabha.

An innovative approach to effectively deal with safety issues plaguing the railways has also been proposed in the budget. “Safety is paramount. I have a 3-word answer to deal with accidents due to signalling and human error (or Aam Aadmi Mishtake). Respected Madam Speaker, the answer is ‘Non-Stop Horn’”, declared the Minister. Non-stop tooting by the train engine is expected to keep the driver, passengers and everyone in the 25 km vicinity of every train wide awake and ever watchful. Experts agreed with this assessment. “Genius solution!” remarked Prof. A.K. Acharya. “Why couldn’t anyone think of this solution earlier? Was the government asleep?” he added questioningly. Prof. Acharya is Senior Vice President at Hasbro Toys where he manages the toy train sets division.

Unlike moribund policies of the past, the current budget proposes drastic changes to mop up additional revenue from freight. Goods trains will now bear open-air seating on their roofs, opening a brand new revenue stream for the ministry. Ticket price will be kept in line with 3-tier Non-AC. A ladder to climb up to the roof, and a raincoat, will be provided to passengers at nominal costs. However, to contain costs, no bedding or pantry services will be available.

Passenger capacity is also being augmented in other unique ways without incurring additional rolling stock expenditure. The Minister announced that all train toilets are being disbanded with immediate effect. These spaces will be refitted as sleepers and chair cars. In lieu of public conveniences, each paying train passenger will now be provided an earthen lota which they are free to use as they wish. Given that all trains make frequent unscheduled stops along our nation’s picturesque countryside, passengers will have ample opportunity of simply hopping on and off to answer a call of nature at their convenience. Most train passengers interviewed by this reporter heaved a sigh of relief at the new benefit, including those seated 100 feet around train toilets and had been holding their breath for several hours. Rama Devi, a passenger interviewed on the Patna-Indore Janshakti Tat-ti, seated a mere ten feet from the train toilet, managed to mumble “Fantastic news!” before succumbing to the odours in the bogey.

The Minister made it clear that, as always, in case of dire emergency, or whenever one felt like doing it, the ‘chain’ could be pulled to instantly stop the train and fifty others behind it.

The Minister lamented that passenger comfort had taken a back seat in the past few budgets and was eager to bring it back as a key focus area. To that end, he proposed a repainting of the interiors of all bogies to be carried out on a war footing in the current fiscal. A dual-tone colour scheme has been selected. From the ground to a height of 3 feet, all train surfaces will be painted a shade of reddish-orange. Surfaces above that height will now bear the inviting shade of dark brownish-greyish-black. The new paint scheme is being called ‘Bhartiya Rail Rangoli’ and is expected to uniquely complement the millions of passengers who enjoy oiled hair and paan, and like to touch and feel things around them constantly.

Politicians cutting across party lines gushed at the “best railway budget ever”. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerji tweeted, “Best rail bhaajet : beeg ween for TMC”. Later, however, she retracted the tweet, possibly after realizing that her party was not in the government any more, and called the Minister a Maoist.

Earlier in the day, before the budget was even presented, there was an air of exhilaration pervading through the Parliament. Many Members of Parliament were seen locked to their iPads cancelling impending flight trips. “I will use my rail quota myself instead of giving it away to my in-laws,” said Kumari Selja, when asked for her expectations from the budget. The minister, considered to be single until now, however refused to divulge any details on the ‘in-laws’ despite persistent questioning.

The Bollywood Mutiny!

Vote for us! We are not just a pretty face.

Vote for us! We are not just a pretty face.

Bollywood was in an unforgiving mood. It had had enough of these godforsaken politicians. After all, how much more nonsense could anyone sane endure? The government, the opposition, in fact all these damned politicians needed to go! Scoot! Vamoose! And Pronto!

As a replacement, the members of the Bollywood fraternity had decided that it was time for India to be run by them instead. This answer had been staring at them in the mirror for a while. Quite literally, actually, because they did like to stare at their mirror often and for extended periods. 

To take this discussion further, an emergency closed-door meeting was taking place at Jalsa, Aaraadhya Bachchan’s swanky crib in Mumbai. The entire film fraternity was in attendance. This was too important a meeting to let egos, personal bickering, camps, height, box-office results, clubs, accent, fisticuffs etc. come in the way. Moreover, the return-gift goody bags that had been promised to all attendees after the meeting, prepared by master artisan Karan Johar himself, were already the talk of the glitterati circuit. Obviously, no one was even remotely interested in staying away from this shindig!

 

Manoj Kumar, Chief Guest : (finally winding up his hour-long speech, in which he had recited poetry and dialogues from deshbhakti films such as Upkaar, Kranti and Clerk) And therefore I say, enough is enough! What have these politicians given us anyway? Same old boring ghisa pita story lines of corruption and violence! No more! It is our turn now! Jai Bollywood! Jai Hind!

The audience starts applauding slowly, after having been woken up in haste by determined elbow kicks from the stray folks who managed to stay awake through the Chief Guest’s discourse, possibly due to pill addiction induced insomnia.

Aamir Khan, Convenor : (stifling a yawn and rubbing his swollen red eyes) So, Friends, fellow Mumbaites, Countrymen, it is, therefore, time for us to wrest control of our nation from these bloody politicians. Guttersnipes, all of them!

Shah Rukh Khan : (excitedly) Hear, hear!

Katrina Kaif : (looking confounded) Eh, but what about Countrywomen? What do you want us to do?

Vidya Balan : (shaking her head) Oh you poor Firangi Phool, by ‘Countrymen’ he meant everyone in the country. Men and Women. But mainly strong, intelligent women like me.

Priyanka Chopra : (looks around pointing to Katrina) How did this foreigner even get into this meeting anyway? Isn’t she from Southall, London or someplace? What is she doing here (breaking into a song) In My Citaaaay! Go back to where you came from, you British Bitch!

Begum Kareena Kapoor : (turning sharply toward Priyanka and tossing her dandruff free hair almost toppling her tiara) Shut up! You mind your own accent, I mean, business!

Shah Rukh Khan : (raising both hands) Ladies, ladies, be quiet. Important matters are being discussed here. Let’s take these petty squabbles outside later so even I can join you!

Aamir Khan : So, as I was saying, Bollywood films have consistently breached the 100 crore mark. That’s more than the GDP of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh put together! Obviously, we are doing something right!

Akshay Kumar : (butting in) Excuse me, but some of us have even breached the 2000 crore mark. Oh wait, not some…only one person has! Me!

Dimple Kapadia whistles from the audience followed by a loud “Woo Hoo!”

Salman Khan : (hisses) Yeah, yeah, we know. We are no bloody Jokers, are we? Some of us are Tigers.

Akshay Kumar : Or Wanted? By the law?

Aamir Khan : (ignores the two and labours on) So, all that is left to be done now is the appointment of the leader of our party – the Bollywood Overseers Of Bharatiya Society. As you know, the leader of the political party that wins the election becomes the Prime Minister.

Sunny Leone : (interrupting) Are you certain that’s the party name we are keeping? “Bollywood Overseers Of Bharatiya Society” or BOOBS for short? And if so, have you chosen a mascot yet? A party symbol?

Aamir Khan : (annoyed) That name has been chosen after careful market research conducted by Mahesh Bhatt Sahab. And please don’t interrupt. Once our leader has been chosen, we will get to the business of selecting the right face to go with BOOBS. Now, talking about the party leader being Prime Minister…

Sonakshi Sinha : (interrupting) Really? Is that how it works? Then how come my father never became PM? He is the most important leader of his party!

Amitabh Bachchan : (turns curiously at her) Hah! Says who?

Sonakshi Sinha : Says he. In our house! All the time!

Reena Roy : (looking at Amitabh) Typical. (Both shake their heads incredulously)

Before Aamir is able to resume, a voice from the back calls out authoritatively.

Ekta Kapoor : (speaking boldly as she walks up front) I should be the Prime Minister. I run the country from 7 pm to 11 pm every day, anyway!

Sajid Khan : (angrily) Ekta Kapoor, you bloody insect from the TV world! What are you doing gatecrashing a Film People Only event?

Shilpa Shetty : (joining in) Yes, we can’t have you small time TV people come here and tell us what to do. Next thing we know, Alok Nath will want to be PM!

Ekta Kapoor : Arrey, I am the lifeblood of this nation!

The whole room erupts into loud guffaws. People have tears of laughter brimming in their eyes. Tiku Talsania is seen rolling on the floor, quite literally.

Ekta Kapoor : Khamosh, Fools! Half of the population of this country – that is, ALL the women – are in my Louis Vuitton handbag! I rule that vote bank! Don’t you forget!

Prem Chopra, Rajneet and Shakti Kapoor, the statisticians in the BOOBS team, are seen to quickly huddle into a whispering tete-a-tete with Mahesh Bhatt. After discussing for a few minutes, Mahesh Bhatt looks up and addresses Ekta Kapoor directly.

Mahesh Bhatt : (firmly) Well, we have confirmed that it isn’t half, as you are falsely claiming, you liar! The sex ratio of our country is already down to 800 and falling fast. Pretty soon, much of your audience will either die out or settle abroad. So shut up. And Get Out of this room!

Ekta Kapoor recoils at the backfire. An old man with jet black hair and pure white shiny shoes gets up agitated and rushes to her side.

Jeetendra : (yelling) Stop shouting at my daughter! (With that, he takes off one of his white shoes and flings it towards Mahesh Bhatt)

Suddenly, there is pandemonium in the room. Unable to bear Jeetendra’s outburst towards his uncle Mahesh, Emraan Hashmi springs out of his chair, picks it up and flings it towards the aging Himmatwala in true Gangster style. This causes everyone to rise to their feet and start tossing whatever objects they can get their hands on. It’s a free-for-all. Microphones, Blackberrys, iPhones, mirrors, hair brushes, compacts, sandals, wigs and toupees, Bentley and Land Rover car keys, nothing is spared. When Salman Khan can’t find anything to lunge and toss, he tears off his ‘Being Human’ t-shirt and flings it across the room barely missing Shah Rukh Khan by an inch.

With great difficulty, order is eventually restored. It is only possible because Karan Johar offers to distribute two return-gift goody bags to each person instead of just the one as earlier promised. That calms people down.

The meeting resumes and Madhuri Dixit gets up to make her case.

Madhuri Dixit : For PM, I have a laat of wourrld experience naao. Efter awl, I have bin living in Amairrica, but have nao returrned to Baambae to rool everything and everybaady. I am in everry rreality TV show. I haiv evolved as somewaan rreelly sooperiur. I am a Regenerist and my pimples are gaan! And my husband is a daacterr! Plus, look at mai teeth! (She pauses to flash her smile exposing ridiculously perfect white teeth)

The audience is unmoved. Possibly because they haven’t understood a word of what Madhuri has just spoken. Some ask for a translator but that request is quickly turned down in the interest of time.

Shah Rukh Khan : But why should we (tosses his index finger at himself, Aamir, Akshay and Salman) look for an old retired actress like you? We already have Hemaji, Rekhaji, Jayaji…wouldn’t we just choose one of them as our PM then? (Looks around searchingly) By the way, where are they? I can’t see those original Lux Beauties anywhere.

The audience repeats his gesture. Everyone looks around searching for the older actresses mentioned.

Salman Khan : (pointing at a dimwitted-looking man with floppy hair sitting by the door) Hey, Darbaan, where are they? Jayaji, Rekhaji, Hemaji? Didn’t they come for this meeting?

Vivek Oberoi : (extremely pissed) I am not the doorman! I am Vivek Oberoi!

All attendees look around quizzically, not knowing who that is. Some wonder if there has been a security breach. ‘Have they just allowed anybody and everybody into this room?’, ‘Who?’, ‘Nonsense, how can he be an actor – just look at him!’ is heard murmured loudly. Vivek Oberoi leaves the room in a huff.

Unperturbed, Salman Khan looks at the other homely-looking young man sitting near the door.

Salman Khan : Sorry, Darbaan, so I was asking…

This time, it is Tusshar who gets up and leaves the room in disgust.

Aamir Khan : (interjecting) Wait, I spot someone who can answer that question. Zeenatji?

Zeenat Aman : (in unbelievably perfect English – the kind that has never been heard in India before) Let me tell you, boys. Those beautiful ladies that you have just alluded to are already in politics. They are all MPs! Obviously, they didn’t want to be a part of this meeting! We are the actresses of the 70’s and 80’s. We have very high morals and dignity!

Aamir Khan : But how about you yourself, Zeenatji? We could all build consensus around you!

Zeenat Aman : Oh, no thanks, my dear friends and fellow fraternity. You see, I may already be taken. Since I may or may not be getting married soon, I will have to decline the offer. But, thank you anyway!

The discussion is back to square one. Just then, someone big and bulky in nothing but chaddis bursts into the room.

John Abraham : Sorry, I am late. I was at the gym. Did I miss anything important?

Bipasha Basu : (dryly) It’s ok, we didn’t even notice you were away. We are just electing our Prime Ministerial candidate, that’s all.

John Abraham : (sounding relieved) Oh, in that case, I am just in time. I’d like to throw my hat in the ring. (He raises his right hand to the back of his head and crinkles his forehead trying to strike the standard pose of a Softhearted Hunk)

The room immediately breaks into loud guffaws again. Everyone laughs hysterically – exactly like they did when Ram Gopal Verma came to them to offer a role in his Sholay remake. This time, Tiku Talsania doesn’t just roll on the ground but even has a massive heart attack while rolling and laughing, and dies. No one notices as his body quietly rolls to the side on its own.

Vidya Balan : (angrily) Stop that Dirty Picture pose, John! We are not talking entertainment, entertainment, entertainment. This is politics, politics, politics!

Aamir Khan : (extremely distressed at where the meeting is going) How the heck do you even consider yourself fit for Prime Ministership? Ok, tell me, do you even know the meaning of ‘Satyameva Jayate’?

John Abraham : Oh come on, stop pulling my leg! Isn’t that just a made up name of an old film? And then you just used it for your reality TV show? Lots of film directors use made up names. You tell me – does ‘Boom Boom Shakalaka’ mean anything? Or ‘Kai Po Che’? They are all made up!

Hritik Roshan : (derisively looks at John and then flexes his own muscles) You fool – ‘Kai Po Che’ is a Gujarati slang! Do you know nothing?

John Abraham : Really? So ‘Satyameva Jayate’ is also a Gujarati slang? I had no idea! (looks around sheepishly)

Hritik and Aamir roll their eyes.

John Abraham : But how did it get so popular? (Suddenly, his face lights up as if a bulb just went off in his head) Must have been coined by Narendra Modi ji! That man is a genius! What a catchy phrase he has created – ‘Satyameva Jayate’. It almost sounds real!

Amitabh Bachchan jumps to his feet at the mention of Narendra Modi and starts applauding loudly. Clearly, the Gujarat CM has connected well with the youth of the nation, including the eternal Angry Young Man.  

Aamir pulls his right hand up to his forehead, draws it in the shape of a handgun and shoots himself.

Taking a cue from the youthful sprightliness of Amitabh, another ‘youthful’ actor rises from his seat to make a case.

Rishi Kapoor : I say, this coveted Leader position belongs to the youth of the country and no one else.

Deepika Padukone : Hein? Uncle, you may have been the original chocolate hero lover boy of Hindi cinema. (Adds politely) But don’t you think that the chocolate is past its expiry date now?

Rishi Kapoor : Oh no, not me! I nominate my son Ranbir for the PM post. After all, the Kapoors are the first family of Bollywood!

Sanjay Dutt : (angrily) Bloody dynastic politics! We have no place for that in our country any more. Look at me, Uncle. I could have followed my dad’s footsteps and become a minister too. But did I? No! And you know why?

Ajay Devgn : (cheekily) Because of your love for AK-47s?

Sanjay Dutt : No, you idiot, because body building is a full time profession, that’s why!

Salman Khan, Sunny Deol and Dharam Paaji spring from their chairs and give a standing ovation for this sterling answer. The 3 sets of hands, each weighing 2.5 kilos, keep clapping until they realize no one else has joined them. That makes them stop and settle down into their chairs a wee bit sheepishly.

Ranbir Kapoor : (makes an angry face and looks at Neetu Singh) Mummy!

Neetu Singh : No, don’t worry, my little Laddo, my pyaare Barfi, we will get you something else!

Meanwhile, noticing that Amitabh has still not stopped applauding after the original Narendra Modi comment, Aamir addresses him directly.

Aamir Khan : (determinedly) Amit Uncle, you are the most senior, most well respected man in this room. Why don’t you take the mantle as our leader?

Amitabh Bachchan : Oh me? Oh no, who has the time? I have a Binani Cement shoot this week, then I fly off to Maldives to shoot for No-Corn Hawaii Chappal ad. As soon as I am back, it’s Hajmola Churan. Next month, Reid and Taylor, followed by Kajrare Kajal, where I am joined by my son and bahu. Then a guest appearance in KJo’s next film, then the next season of Crorepati, Balki’s next film….. (the list continues for the next 17 and a half minutes.)

Some people go off to sleep during this narration.

Amitabh Bachchan : …and some other commitments that we have not firmed up yet. So, looks like I might be free in 2019, but only in the second half. Does that work?

Aamir looks heavenwards, realizing this meeting is not going anywhere. He takes a decision.

Aamir Khan : I am afraid we will just have to adjourn this meeting to a later date. In the meantime, if anyone has any other thoughts on how to dislodge the politicians, do log into www.BIG-BOOBS.reliance.in. As you know, this event is sponsored by Reliance Industries and Big Entertainment. (Looks inquiringly at Abhishek Bachchan who nods back)

Abhishek Bachchan : Ladies and Gentlemen, food has been served at the back lawns. This way, please!

Abhishek leads the assembly towards the assigned area. As he gets there, he sees most serving containers empty and the scared staff shaking their heads and pointing to the woman sitting in the centre table ravaging a chicken tangdi.

Abhishek Bachchan : (incredulously) Where is all the food, honey?

Aishwarya Bachchan : (giggling, as she normally does) Oh, sorry, you people were taking so long in your meeting, I just couldn’t resist starting lunch by myself!

Lara Dutta and Shilpa Shetty look at each other and cluck their disapproval.