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To tell you the truth

india Updated: Jul 25, 2009 23:09 IST
Indrajit Hazra
Indrajit Hazra
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Let me be honestly brutal. If I’m told to give a simple yes or no answer to whether I have ever put one hand in my pocket while urinating against a wall and hummed songs from

Muqaddar ka Sikandar

while thinking of pleasant thoughts that might involve Laila Rouass at the height of her powers, then I will lie and say yes.

Considering that the Mahatma has already conducted his experiments with truth and that neither radium nor enforced celibacy is any longer required to be discovered from scratch, the only way I can negotiate with this world without majorly losing out on what it has to offer is by dropping a little lie here and mixing a bit of facts with fiction there. I just have to ensure that I’m not branded a liar.

But what if I’m being told to be in a situation where lying is no longer an option? What if like news reports in this paper (and this paper only), everything I say are fact-checked and then played back to me for my reaction because my facts and their facts don’t match? What if I am made to undergo a psychophysiological detection of deception (PDD) examination — what in my grandma’s generation was known as a polygraph test?

Well, for starters, I just won’t agree to undergo the test, would I? But that refusal itself is bound to send out a message that will travel faster than it takes a text message to reach from a Vasant Vihar mobile to a mobile in Vasant Kunj. Like a man running away from the cops, I will be considered ‘guilty’ even before it’s established that I have been fibbing. So the only way out is to hone one’s lying skills.

Which is why instead of the far-too-honourable-for-words Ministers of Parliament, Information and Broadcasting Ministry and those Yudhisthirs petitioning the Delhi High Court and howling against the prime time game show Sach Ka Saamna should chill. Participants on the programme are not Guantanamo Bay orange-suited residents who have been pumped with temazepam and forced to listen to Amitabh Bachchan reading Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s poetry. These are people who, lusting after filthy lucre (a perfectly reasonable human endeavour), agree to come and sit on the hot seat after a polygraph test to answer questions such as ‘Did you, after your marriage, sleep with your driver while returning from a Gurgaon party that involved throwing in car keys in a big salad bowl?’

As you can gather by the line of that question — and I’m only exaggerating a bit — Sach Ka Saamna’s big ticket questions are overwhelmingly family-wrecking in nature. Which brings us to the real issue that’s made people like a Samajwadi Party MP (whom nobody had ever heard about until last week) howl against the show “promoting obscenity” and — here we go again — “propagating values against Indian culture”. After all, every TV channel, including rapacious Star Plus and Colors, decided not to televise Draupadi’s vastraharan (disrobing) when Dharmaputra Yudhisthir lost heavily at the Blackjack table, right? (Bhojpuri DVD recreations of the event are, of course, are kosher.)

But hold on. Telling the truth is not an Indian tradition (neither is it a Latvian one). Lies have thrived among humans simply because in the long run they work. The scary bit is being caught lying, and worse, being caught lying in public. Imagine a Congress MP being asked by Sach Ka Saamna host Rajeev Khandelwal the jackpot Rs 1 crore question: “Would you trade your mother for Soniaji?” Even being truthful here would be very tricky.