hit the jackpot.
The last time I did come close to a proper cash-making business model was on December 4, 1994. But it turned out that the Sahara group had already come up with a scheme of its own by which a 10 rupee note could be sold for Rs. 12. I, however, have no regrets, especially after the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and the Supreme Court have been hounding Sahara for the refund of Rs. 24,000 crore to its investors.
Nearly a decade after my aborted 'Dus ka baara! Dus ka baara!' plan, last Sunday, as I was contemplating my navel, I came up with a most splendid idea. Inspired by a tsunami of feature stories in newspapers and magazines about how writers are all tweaking mythological characters and gods these days and getting zillion copies of their books sold and making a gadzillion amount of money, I figured that here was an opportunity for ever-under-achieving me to do something for my gods and pocket.
My friend and writer Amish Tripathi, even with the disadvantage of having 184 less Sundays at his disposal due to his being born some three years after me, has already claimed and collected my favourite deity: Shiva. I probably would have got my version of Bholanath to come across as a slacker king, more Khopri-meets-The Dude than Amish's muscles-rippling Tibetan tribal warrior chief Shiva who's like a young Saruman from The Lord of the Rings. But then that's why, I suppose, Amish can afford to wear spotless white jackets all the time while I continue to wear my rexin tiger-skin print lungi.
A few days later on Ram Navmi, however, it struck me that deities other than Shiva are open to signing joint ventures for re-interpretations with me. Taking a cue from Amish's model of tweaking the mythologies into something more 21st century FX-action movie-ish - for which I'd be happy to share 7% of the franchise proceedings with Amish - I've planned to come up with five upgraded religious heroes whose imagined exploits I will chronicle. This should, gods willing, turn me into the next super-entrepreneur who writes like Amar Chitra Kathas but lives like Amar Singh (at least, before the latter fell out with Mulayam Singh Yadav).
Buddha: Starts from his life as a rich kid of a timber baron in the UP-Nepal border. After leading a playboy life, he decides to settle down and take over his father's empire. As an SP MLA, however, he realises that law and order is ephemeral. He leaves his business and opulent family life behind one fine day to prepare for the IAS exam. He goes on to become one of the most respected (and feared) district magistrates in the country.
Meghnad: Though not depicted as a good guy by the mainstream media, Meghnad's genius in weapons technology makes him a kind of Tony Stark-Ironman of the non-Western world. His business dealings with Iran leads the Yanks to force the Indian government to make him a persona non grata. But his cloaking device, which he refuses to sell to any client, allows him not only to hide from the authorities but also to get India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to junk its Arjun tank and go for Mägermachh-2, the amphibious super-tank that the Chinese are desperate to get their hands on.
John the Baptist: Playing Batman to Jesus's Superman, John the Baptist is a classic anti-social. Ironically using social network platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, he's also the invisible go-between for the mainstream media and organisations such as WikiLeaks, the Opus Dei, the Falun Gong and The Art of Living. An invisible spearhead in movements such as the Lokpal Bill agitations, the Arab Spring, anti-FDI protests and the Occupy movement, John appoints visible figureheads like Julian Assange, Anna Hazare, Mamata Banerjee and Baba Ramdev to fight the war against crony capitalism. He is not to be confused with Arvind Kejriwal.
Kchamunda: A ferocious vigilante, she tracks down perps committing or thinking of committing crimes against women. Having seen her own mother being verbally abused by members of her family including her father, she added a K before her name (inspired by her two heroes, Kali and Ekta Kapoor) to slay rapists, eve-teasers, stalkers, misogynists even as Kchamunda maintains a double life as an IPL cheerleader.
Mohammad: As any depiction of Mohammad, a prophetic stock market analyst, is not allowed by either Islamic law or Sebi rules, the tale of this incredible man is told through the rise of a tribe in a futuristic landscape where water is more rare and expensive than oil thanks to the disruptive technology of fracking. Any parallels between this story and an 80s movie starring the anti-semitic actor Mel Gibson is purely coincidental.