Thank god for Sushma Swaraj. After looking at the video, I can't understand the anguish of the critics who have taken her to task for the dance. True, the singing was raucous and off-key. But Sushma's dancing was far from pedestrian. Her graceful hand movements, the tilt of her neck and some superb half-pirouettes combined to take the dance beyond the accompanying pseudo-nationalism into a sublime exploration of line and form. The rhythmic tension brought about between the demands of the dance, the gravity of her body mass and the recalcitrance of a stiff spine are splendidly brought out.
That doesn't mean, of course, that it's perfect. A few trips to Sandip Soparrkar's dance classes, some useful tips from Terence Lewis, and Sushma could easily compete with the best dancing politicians.
What dances should she do? Indian dance, like the ballet, is too classical for politicians. You really can't see Manmohan Singh dancing kathakali, it'll be like Putin doing the Russian ballet. At the other extreme, nobody expects our leaders to romp to numbers like 'Sheila ki jawani'.
Sushma already has a folksy charm, all she needs is some modern pep. To start with, her dancing the hokey-pokey will be a good idea. You know, the one that says, "You put your backside in/ You put your backside out/ You put your backside in/ And you shake it all about/ You do the hokey-pokey/ And you turn yourself around/ That's what it's all about." Sushma's example is sure to inspire our leaders to shed their inhibitions and start cavorting.
I personally think Sushma dances much better than several world leaders. Recall Barack Obama's leaden two-left-feet performance at the Mumbai school? Hilary Clinton has some great moves, but the dancing queen is clearly Michelle Obama. Anybody who can dance the dougie to Beyonce's 'Move your body' is in a class apart.
But Omar Abdullah has thrown down the gauntlet to Sushma by claiming his dad is a better dancer than her. The only way to settle this question is by holding a dance competition among our politicians.
It would be best to start with simple steps, like a foxtrot or a bhangra, moving on to Bollywood numbers, the tango and the salsa, with the funky chicken dance for the final. For those who've forgotten their funky chicken moves, you tuck both hands under your armpits to make wings, flap them up and down to the beat and kick your feet in and out. Then wiggle your knees and scratch the floor while making clucking sounds. Something tells me Ramdev could do a mind-blowing funky chicken.
All that remains is for our leaders to pick the songs they want to dance to. Here are some suggestions: The prime minister could pick Aretha Franklin's 'I will survive', Dayanidhi Maran may go in for 'Character dheela hai', Kanimozhi Madonna's 'Papa don't preach', Rahul Gandhi 'We are family', LK Advani Aretha Franklin's 'Respect' ("All I'm asking, oooo, is for a little respect when I come home"). I've been told Mamata Banerjee used to dance to Kylie Minogue's 'Locomotion' when she was railway minister, while
BS Yeddyurappa, for some reason, likes Michael Jackson's 'Bad'.
The only other way to satisfy public demand is for our entire top leadership to dance the conga, forming a line by holding the waist of the person in front of them and dancing along. They will dance, of course, in tune with Gloria Estefan's wonderful song, "Come on, shake your body baby, do the conga/ I know you can't control yourself any longer...'
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint.
The views expressed by the author are personal.