Last week’s star was undoubtedly Jyoti Devi, MLC. As she twirled and flung those heavy flower pots with practised ease in front of the Bihar Legislative Assembly, appreciative gasps went up from an awestruck nation watching the show open-mouthed on TV. “Look at those muscles,” commented a fan. Another called for Suresh Kalmadi to enrol her forthwith for the Commonwealth Games. “We’re sure to win the gold medal in the hammer throw,” he said. “Wah, wah, what acting,” said a star-struck admirer.
But what struck most people was the sheer professional quality of the performance. This was no ordinary run-of-the-mill protest, no mere rushing to the well of the House. It was the best show in town. No wonder TRPs of the saas-bahu serials, the song-and -dance items and the reality shows all plummeted. The India-Sri Lanka match was forgotten. The real drama was happening in the Bihar assembly. The MLAs knew it and they staged some marvellously melodramatic heroics for the cameras.
“Jyoti Devi is a fantastic actor,” said a Bhojpuri movie producer, adding that he hoped to sign her on for a TV serial he was planning on a super-heroine called SuperMLA. “The story starts off with an alien abducting Jyoti and carting her off to his spaceship,” he said. “But she soon chucks some flower pots into the spaceship’s computer, blowing it up and saving the world from alien domination,” he added. “She will, of course, manage to leave the ship seconds before it explodes,” smiled the producer. He said he had already thought of an appropriate costume for SuperMLA — a swimsuit worn over a salwar-kameez, with the dupatta being her flowing cape. He agreed that Mamata Banerjee would be the ideal alien, but he was wary of casting her. “I wouldn’t like my show to be derailed by her running off to West Bengal every now and then,” he explained.
An avant-garde director said people would soon start watching assembly proceedings instead of movies. On my expressing strong doubts whether anyone would watch ‘NREGA: The Movie’ or a film titled, ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer: You Passed the Amendment to the Hindu Marriage Act’, he said the MLAs no longer wasted time on those things. “We need to capture the day-to-day violence and excitement in the Assembly and weave a story around it,” he said. But he agreed that weaving in a love interest may be difficult.
The Bhojpuri producer, however, pooh-poohed these fears. “I’m thinking of a movie titled ‘Love in the Legislature’,” he said. “It’ll be a love triangle — a BJP MLA and the speaker, both vying for the love of a comely Congress MLA. It’ll be Romeo and Juliet plus dances in the well of the assembly,” he explained. “The speaker cuts every motion the BJP chap puts up,” he continued, “till in frustration the BJP guy throws a slipper at the speaker and misses. The Congresswoman curls her lip in contempt. Dejected politico-cum-Romeo goes to Uttar Pradesh Assembly to take throwing lessons, returns and hurls microphone with deadly precision at the speaker. Speaker retires hurt and camera pans down to Congresswoman whispering ‘My Hero’ to BJP lover boy behind the speaker’s chair.” “Of course, we’ll need a good choreographer,” he added.
“Now I know,” said a scriptwriter, “why those things MLAs and MPs pass are called Acts — the Right to Food Act, the Right to Education Act etc. It’s because they’re all superb pieces of play-acting.”
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed by the author are personal