Sanjay Kapoor isn’t a godman. For one, he isn’t an incarnation of god. And for another, he doesn’t claim that he’s an incarnation of god. Subtle difference, that. What he is, however, is the dude.
So does he walk on water? Materialise coins from the back of your ear? Turn wine into whisky? Or erase the dead? No. What he does is tell the future. So what’s the big deal, you say? Every pundit with a parrot can do that. Well, the big deal about Sanjay the Dude is that he tells people what they should do after being told of their dates of birth.
Technically that makes him an astrologer — and his self-styled designation is astrologer, feng shui guru and face reader. But he’s much more than that. He’s brilliant on television. I saw him on television while in Calcutta the other day. He was on a small Bengali channel called Channel Vision, wearing a red bandana round his head, a batik print T-shirt with the goddess Parvati silkscreened on to its front, looking like Axl Rose and with two idols of Parvati in the background. And for a Punjabi, he spoke remarkably good colloquial Bengali. (What do Punjabis call a kurta? Answer: A bengali.)
What immediately struck me was his easygoing style as he was responding to a viewer who had phoned in. Instead of saying, ‘Hello’, like normal folks, Sanjay the Dude started a conversation with a ‘Jai Mata Di!’, which on first listen I misheard as ‘Jai Mamata-di’ thinking I had stumbled on to the new Trinamool Congress channel. (Why, what does Jayalalithaa with her Jaya TV have that Mamata Banerjee doesn’t for her own TV channel? Actually, don’t answer that.)
But he isn’t a regular ‘India TV’ kind of TV astrologer. He has a charming banter, joking with the callers, charming them, advising them with a lightness that television anchors, never mind television astrologers, lack. And the best part about Sanjay the Dude is that he gets everything right about the person just by knowing his or her birth date.
One of the callers called in and told the Dude her son’s date of birth. What followed was a miracle. Making some calculations with his hand, Sanjay the Dude asked her whether her son lived with her. Actually, he didn’t ask her; he told her that he lives with her with a slight inflexion. When she responded that her son did live with her, he proceeded to say that her son worked. “Yes,” Nilima replied, already impressed. The Dude then said that the 30-year-old son wasn’t doing well professionally. That eerily turned out to be true. “He doesn’t have a brother, right? Yes? See? You hadn’t told me that! See?” He told the amazed mum that her son had fallen in love a few times. She said he had liked one girl... “I’m telling you he had more than one romance. You just don’t know it!” And then he proceeded to end the call by saying that the 30-year-old son’s marriage in 2012 would be a good match.
I was gobsmacked.
The next caller was another distraught mother. (What’s it with Bengali mums?) Sanjay the Dude knew everything. “He’s not doing well in his studies, right? He’s not studying. I think his father doesn’t have a government job. Yes? Yes? See? You hadn’t told me that!” That call ended in another relieved caller who was told to make her son wear emerald.
A few other calls continued this miraculous run. One woman was told that her daughter was an only child (“See? I didn’t know that!”) and would be good in her studies and would get a job “but not a government job”. Another was told, “Is your son well educated? I don’t think so. No? You say he is? I don’t think so. He’s good in studies? Are you sure? Did he get a degree or a diploma? A diploma? See! There’s a big difference between a degree and a diploma.”
I have found a true seer, a divine visionary. The Dude has a divine gift and I plan to buy the evil eye locket (R500), the wealth-creating Lakshmi kunj (R1,500), the activated Shree yantra (R500 and the essential Hanuman kabach (R1500) — all Sanjay Kapoor-approved products advertised on the ticker that scrolls at the bottom of the screen while he’s being Super Oprah. If the Dude decides to have followers, I’ll be the first one to be sitting at his feet. And despite his Tollywood demeanour, he’s a deeply spiritual person who can show me the ‘direction’.
As for these miracles he does every day on TV, as Philip Pullman has the ‘scoundrel’ Christ tell his brother, the ‘good man’ Jesus, in the novel The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ: “Miracles have always been part of God’s way of convincing his people... by showing people miracles like this, we bring them face to face with the infinite power of God’s goodness, and we do it with vivid immediacy, so their simple hearts see and understand and believe at once.”
I wonder whether he’s thought of having dreadlocks or an Afro under that signature red bandana of his. Om Sanjay the Dude Om.