Most people open their mouths to speak, but the Thackerays seem to open their mouths only to abuse, malign, warn, threaten or intimidate. The Shiv Sena’s latest victim is Shah Rukh Khan and a procession of various Shiv Sainiks appeared one after another on news channels, openly calling Shah Rukh names, accusing him of being a traitor, telling him to go to Pakistan etc etc.
I waited for someone to take on Balasaheb/Uddhav, to ask the questions that needed to be asked, to not let them get away with their rabid rhetoric. Rajdeep Sardesai’s interview with Uddhav Thackeray (CNN IBN) was the closest I got. Rajdeep was aggressive and angry and mirrored the outrage of all non-Sena lovers (Uddhav and company might find it hard to believe but there are quite a few of us around). Rajdeep asked Uddhav why it was impossible to have a “civilized debate” with the Shiv Sena. Given the Sena’s history, the very idea of a “civilized debate” with the party is almost comical. Is it possible to have a “civilized debate” with someone who doesn’t want to listen to you and is ready to bludgeon you if you hold your own ground?
In contrast, Barkha Dutt’s rather placid interview with Uddhav on NDTV 24x7 was disappointing. I found NDTV 24x7’s 60 Minutes anchored by Sonia Varma a far stronger, more vibrant show. Headlines Today’s interview with Uddhav (done by Sahil Joshi) was also a waste of a golden opportunity to do a tough interview.
What was shocking — and shameful — was how none of Bollywood’s big stars came on TV to lend their support to one of their own, on an issue that is in fact much bigger than Shah Rukh. According to NDTV 24x7’s 60 Minutes, there was a deafening “No comment” from many of them.
Because the whole issue is about much more than SRK, Friday’s TV images of Rahul Gandhi taking Mumbai’s local trains were infinitely cheering.
And finally. After Rakhi Sawant, Swayamvara No. 2 has started on NDTV Imagine — Rahul Dulhania Le Jayenge. A pink and beaming Rahul (wearing, I suspect, more makeup than the girls on the show) welcomed all the potential brides (who were not doing too badly in the makeup department either) and told them to proceed to a “party” where he would join them shortly.
When Rahul finally walked into the “party” (after greeting all the girls by telling each one how stunningly beautiful she was looking), half the girls were draped on various sofas and jhoolas and mattresses, while the other half had broken into frenetic dancing, as if they were on the sets of a Bollywood film. Once pink (and still beaming) Rahul entered the scene, all of them sprang into action. “You are so handsome!” cooed one, batting her eyelashes. “I’ve loved you since I was 14!” simpered another, giggling. “You are so intelligent!” breathed a third, gazing at him adoringly. And within minutes, the claws sprang out too. (“Did you see how she dragged him away?” / “She’s not giving anyone else a chance!” etc etc) I have a few questions. (a) Where did the channel find these girls? (c) Why are all the girls the way they are? Did they have a nation-wide search for girls who could giggle and bat their eyelashes at the same time? (d) Can Rahul stop grinning for five minutes (he must have at least one other expression). (d) Why are all of them dressed as if they’re acting in a film called Hum Sab Shaadi Karne Jaa Rahen Hain? (e) Why is life like this?