When the news that British singer Amy Winehouse had mopped up five of the six Grammy awards she was nominated for reached Anbumani Ramadoss, he was not only appalled but his blood pressure shot up to a dangerous level. Any other Union minister would have had at least a sip of a drink or a puff of cigarette or even gurgled down a glass of roadside fruit juice to relieve the tension. But not Ramadoss. The fact that an internationally recognised and respected body like the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States had awarded Winehouse, someone who flaunted her drinking and substance habits, made the minister use a phrase that he hadn’t since he left the last Group of Ministers meeting that debated the pros and cons of pictorial warnings on cigarette packs.
How could the 24-year-old singer of a song called Rehab (“They’re tryin’ to make me go to rehab/ I said no, no, no”), who was caught on film having what seemed like crack cocaine, and not to mention having a totally inappropriate surname like Winehouse, be feted, nay glorified in front of millions of youngsters? Ramadoss saw a vision of thousands of teenagers, both in India and elsewhere, taking this moment of Amy Winehouse ‘victory’ as a signal to drink, do drugs and — shudder! — what else.
And as if the song ‘Rehab’ getting the Record as well as the ‘Song of the Year’ Grammys wasn’t bad enough, this paragon of vices also got the Best New Artist, Best Female Pop Vocal Album and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance awards. What was it that the Grammy jury saw in this nasal voiced, tatoo-behoving, swig-friendly woman? If there was any consolation, it was that Ramadoss’ entreaties that she not be given the Album of the Year for her album, Back to Black was listened to.
Ramadoss managed to make pariahs out of drunkards like Ritwik Ghatak, Dylan Thomas and Billie Holiday. Why, oh why, did he fail when it came to Amy Winehouse?