Wednesday, March 15, 2017

UPswinger by Modi






Elections in India are quite like playing cricket, and quite as unpredictable. Winning a state requires a distinct strategy that is not facsimile of another when it comes to reading the pitch, planning a strategy, fielding the players and selecting a captain. It’s a team effort. 

With four wins in five state electoral matches, Captain Modi established his pole position in Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring Uttarakhand. His triple century against main rivals, Samajwadi Party, Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party was seen as a resounding ‘Modi wave’ that swept the Hindi heartland. Barring one loss in Punjab to the Congress led Captain Amrinder Singh, the BJP also managed to steal a last over victory by outmaneuvering rivals in Goa and Manipur. With an incredible win of over 406 of the 690 seats on offer, they can now hope to win 2019 National Cup under the hawk eyed guidance of coach Amit Shah. 

Match Strategy

In UP, they say, people don’t cast their votes, they vote their caste. But if this was entirely true, Dalit centric Bahujan Samaj Party and Jat centric Rashtriya Lok Dal would not stare at political obsolescence. Which brings us to the moot question: emerging from a defeat in Bihar and Delhi and the aftermath of demonetization googly, how did Narendra Modi register such a spectacular sweep? 

What the media did not tell us was being planned for over more than a year by the coach, Amit Shah. There was organisational restructuring, an offer of primary BJP membership to potential workers, youth mobilisation,  canny ticket distribution and effective use of social media including more than ten thousand WhatsApp groups. The net practice under the Hindutva umbrella included hundreds of nukkad meetings (street plays), parivartan yatras, youth conferences, Swabhiman conferences (for SC/ST), traders meetings, motorcycle rallies and Kamal Melas.

The speedy implementation of welfare schemes like Ujjawala which aimed at providing free LPG connection to 5 crore BPL households, Jan Dhan accounts, insurance at a premium as low as Rs 12, promises of farm loan waiver and interest free loans struck a chord with rural voters. The overall strategy was to woo the middle class by development and the poor by financial inclusion. Poverty, after all, has no caste or religion. 

Finally, demonetisation and surgical strikes portrayed PM Modi as a decisive captain who was playing aggressively against corruption. The jury is out on the merits of demonetization, but politics is all about perception. When people feel that their leader is fighting for them, data and numbers are rendered useless. While PM Modi was seen as a visionary who played risky shots, the fragmented opposition came across as defensive team of opportunistic players. 

Why Rival Teams Were Stumped

In all fairness, it is easy to be wise after an event, or a match. Truth is, no political observer could envisage this TsuNaMo in the absence of a Chief Minister’s face. As for Akhilesh Yadav, anti-incumbency, deteriorating law and order, fast turning UP wicket, in-fighting between his team players and running between the wickets with a tentative Rahul Gandhi ensured that SP was on the back foot. You can not sing '27 Saal UP Behaal' one day and 'UP Ko Ye Saath Pasand Hai,' the following day.  People are not idiots. As for Behenji, with her traditional Dalit vote bank deserting her, Mayawati was stumped by the EVMs – the educated voting middle class.

We all know that if team Congress wants to contest the 2019 Cup, they have to re-invent, strategize, and look for captains who play shots according to incoming balls and not anti-Modi shots on every ball. As Ricky Ponting says, “Every batsman surveys the field before taking the strike and the fielders get imprinted on his mind. But in my head, I only see the gaps.” The Congress Party has to look for those gaps. Renting causes, jumping from one campus to another and disrupting matches is unlikely to register wins. Taking a cheeky run, the Congress Cricket Club is looking like an old bra – no cups and hardly any support.😉

As for AAP, a much hyped team in this series turned out to be a damp squib. In their hurry to go pan-India, AAPs attempts to win Punjab fizzled out with Bhagwant Mann out on a duck and a team collapse in Goa. The silver lining for a relatively young AAP is that they managed enough seats to sit as the main opposition in the Punjab state assembly. 
Despite all the euphoria over the Captain Modi’s knock, it cannot be denied that anti-incumbency provided a tail wind to the UPswing. The truth is that anti-incumbency cuts both ways. If SP was at the receiving end in UP, it was Akali Dal-BJP in Punjab and in Goa.

Matches Ahead

After his 4-5 sweep, striking a note of inclusiveness, Captain Modi said that the five states win would lay the foundation of a new India by 2022. But a week later, the appointment of Yogi Adityanath, a hardliner UP CM surprised many who cheered for team Modi’s development agenda. Little surprise that Modi’s message of ‘Sabka saath, Sabka Vikas’ was overshadowed by overt Hindutva push. One hopes that all sections of society will represent team UP and that development, not polarisation shall remain the driving force.

On the political pitch, the UPswinger will provide Modi the courage to go for some unpalatable reforms, roll out the GST and perhaps bat for Uniform Civil Code. The increase in Rajya Sabha numbers will brighten their chances of choosing their ICC Chairman, I mean, the President of India. 
Even though it is likely that the BJP will add more states in its kitty, it would be premature to grant them the 2019 Cup. Jobless growth, education and health in shambles, and a sluggish economy are huge challenges. While inflation and corruption are in control, government policies have failed to provide employment. If villages are facing rural distress, cities are facing large scale lay-offs. The global environment is not helping either. 

Regardles, the opposition teams might go for all-except-BJP teams pan India. Given that most batsmen from challenging teams are facing serious injuries, Modi is likely to lift the 2019 Cup. Moreover, its not Modi they have to defeat, its the people they have to win. Win people to win elections.
But like cricket, the only thing predictable in elections is the unpredictability. The matches are more than hundred weeks away. And a week, they say, is a long time in politics.



Monday, March 6, 2017

The Perfect Click



Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned; in a photograph that is. If her hair is not right, her double chin pops up, or if her tummy-bulge shows - a barrage of silent abuse come the photographer’s way. For some reason, most men behind the camera are unable to grasp the simple complexity of it all.

So I’m picking up my cousin and her husband on the way to a family wedding. When I reach their apartment, the couple is nowhere in sight. Her husband calls to say that he is ready, but wifey will take some time. After ten minutes, when my petticoat string begins to suffocate me to death, the apologetic couple arrives. 

My cousin’s husband, a jovial army-man, lightens the air with his cheerful ho hum. I notice that his witty fire power is met with a glacial silence from his wifey. Oblivious of the frost in the car, the amiable army man begins to dig a trench for himself, one shovel at a time. ‘We were ready at eight but she wanted me to click her pictures. Which is why we got delayed,’ he shoots. 

I understand. The side with the simplest uniform wins the war. For women, getting wedding ready is a stressful affair. There are safety pins to tuck, sari pallav to adjust, pleats that don’t fall in line, jewelry hooks that refuse to behave, earring screws that disappear under the bed and last minute pictures to click. When you take hours to get ready, the outcome deserves social media validation.

‘See,’ my cousin scrolls down her phone. ‘I look like an aunty in all the pics.’

‘Haha, not my fault. I click what I see,’ her husband digs deeper. 'Jaisi shakl hai vaisi photo ayegi.' 

Pin. Drop. Silence. All I hear is the buzz of the traffic.

I try to thaw the frost by indulging in some rear seat girl talk. Misery, after all, loves company.
‘You are not alone darling, it’s the same story here. Each time I ask my husband to click a picture, he messes up big time. Either my eyes are closed or my hair doesn’t look right. When my hair looks perfect, my face looks horrific,’ I say. 

Water gushes out of the dam. My cousin shares her trauma in a low voice, ‘First he forgets to pick my sari from the dry cleaners. When I select a new sari, the blouse doesn’t fit. Instead of helping me out, he starts the timer. Ten minutes to eight, seven minutes to eight, five minutes to eight. See, I couldn’t even blow-dry my hair.’ Then she turns around and asks, ‘the curls look tidy, no?’
‘Love your curls. Always envied them.’

The sun begins to shine again. Partly. She says, ‘I wore a sari after a long time. Thought I’ll nail Instagram today. Will have to make do with the selfies.’
Yup dear.  
Always believe in your #selfies. 

While we are having a hushed conversation, the good man is on a suicide mission. He forgets the Murphy's law of combat - Never mess with a loaded weapon. The trigger for his funny bout is perhaps the guilt of arriving late. He chuckles, ‘Talking about selfies, do you know she clicked dozens only to delete them all? Haha, women are so picky about their selfies.’
Ouch!
‘I wish I was as picky about my man as I’m about my selfies,’ she shoots back.
‘Stop it, you two. I’ll take your pictures once we reach the venue,’ I offer. 
‘Great,’ she says in a hushed tone. ‘Seriously, what’s the point of his training and degrees when he can’t even click one decent picture?’
Point. No point, I mean.

Once we reach the venue, the ice begins to thaw. We have a gala time clicking pictures before we greet others. All is well with the world. 
On our way back in the car, the frost returns. Still wearing his sunny demeanor, the army man asks me, ‘Minutes ago she was laughing and giggling. What happened to your sis now?’ 

I can't blame the army man for his naivete. Instead of a tactical retreat, he has landed himself in no man's land. Looks like he is in for a long night in the trenches.




Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Dressed in Hyperbole




Let’s say, your friend uploads a picture on social media. After her 1226 friends are ‘blown away’ by the ‘eye popping awsomeness’, what can you possibly say that stands out? After all, you have to create an impact. Seek acceptance. Remember, all your friends will read what you’ve written with deep interest as if they are studying English adjectives for school exams. Simply liking the picture means little, unless your friend is vain enough to check all the 742 likes. Also remember that ‘Beautiful’ is boring, ‘Lovely’ lame, ‘Awesome’ passé, ‘Stunning’ done-to-death and ‘Gorgeous’ clichéd. 

You can shout in capitals. YOU. LOOK. STUNNING. Or add extra alphabets - Sexxxxxxy. If that’s done, you can say Super Sexy. And if that’s done too, you can be a little hatke and say OMG Maar Hi Daloge Kya. Don’t forget to add half a dozen exclamation marks for that eye popping effect. 
The most dramatic outpouring is a tribute to originality even if it means an orgasmic ‘Yes, Yes, Yes’. So much for a lame exercise, because the odds are that whatever you write will have little effect on your friendship. Unless, of course, you call her a wild Babboon.

Welcome to the social media hyperbole, where simple is boring and superlative cool. Which is why I like Whatsapp where one emoticon 👌can pretty much convey the Absototofantabulosomeness of it all. 

So, I’m watching this video sent by a friend whose son is dabbling with stand-up comedy. After I say it’s hilarious, even though it’s pretty ‘meh’, I scroll down the comments. One lady who is who is ‘Literally Splitting at the Seams’ hasn’t smiled in the past one week. Another who is ‘Literally Dying’ is devoid of a funny bone. Silly me. If folks can ROFL, they can literally die. That’s the way a internet cookie crumbles. But for a generation that has recently learnt to ROFL, it’s tough. How do you process ‘Donkeys Balls’ which basically is an expression of disgust? 

It’s strange, but we never felt short of adjectives before the onslaught of social media. My heart goes out to food bloggers who cannot describe their labour of love as ‘Delicious’ because it is so un-appetizingly old-fashioned that their dish runs the odds of turning sour. ‘Tasty’ doesn’t work either because it amounts to saying nothing. And now that ‘Yummy’ is going the tiresome ‘Awesome’ route, how does one describe the lip-smacking scrumptious dish? Never mind. Don’t sweat it. We’ll find a way. Till then, make do with Yummilicious and Tastyyy!!!!
The easy way out of this hyperbole mess is to wear a funny cap. If you can say something witty, you don’t need to dress in hyperbole, add extra alphabets or unload a bagful of exclamation marks. 

The trigger for writing this post is a short story I read on a blog. It’s an emotional story with an innovative twist towards the end. And I’m wondering how to praise and seek acceptance on a public platform. Given that there are fifty odd comments and being repetitive is not an option, I scroll down the comments. One lady says that her heart is pounding, eyes are watering, and that her brain is literally exploding after the unexpected climax. Literally exploding, really? I give up.

In an article, writer Charlie Brooker says that the online world has subconsciously converted everyday conversation into a form of exaggerated entertainment. Nothing wrong at all. But you have to, “Perform, entertain, exaggerate. Oversteer and oversell, all the time. And of course in this increasingly binary world, if good equals amazing, bad equals catastrophic. Any disappointment, any setback, anyone who steps out of line – all instantly labelled the Worst Thing Ever.” 

Indeed, if exaggeration is the official language of the internet, innovation is an inherent need. Go ahead and add an extra ‘s’ in Yesss or convert it into an Yasss for that feeling of wholesome agreement. Pre-fixing a ‘Super’ will do too. As will adding an ‘iest’ to whatever you are feeling. Just don’t say shittiest blog post ever. And no Donkeys Balls either. 
Puhleeze. 
I might die, like literally.



Image Courtesy: www.imgflip.com
www.collegetimes.com


Thursday, February 9, 2017

No Theme for a Dream





There are moments when I miss being crazy about someone, something. Anything. It’s not that the Dil doesn’t dhak dhak. It does. But it just doesn’t say dhak-dhak-go.

I’m talking about fandom. Not being a fan of any celebrity or a team, I’m clueless about what being an avid fan is. And I’m not exactly proud of it, heavens no. I mean, I’ve seen my son save money to go to Europe to watch Arsenal play. And I know of friends who will happily endure hail and sun to watch their favourite star. 

What then, could be the reason for this cold detachment? Is it because my Leo smugness stops me from being starry eyed? Or is it genetic? 

There are, of course, reasons for doubting my genes. As a teen, I remember the excitement when Hema Malini was shooting in the vicinity. When giggly friends flashed their autograph books, I succumbed to peer-pressure. Eighties was a time when most men would do anything to get a glimpse of ‘dream girl’. So the following day, when dad was getting ready for work, I tried my luck, “Papa, Hema Malini is shooting close by. Don’t you want to meet her?” 
To which he said, “Why should I meet her? She can come and meet me if she wants.” 
I thought he was joking. But he added solemnly, “But only over the weekend.” 

As I huddle across a bonfire of memories, I’m reminded of meeting Rajiv Gandhi at Vigyan Bhawan and Vinod Khanna at an airport. While other girls etched the moment in Kodak, I couldn’t muster enough enthusiasm to push my way to get a picture. 
This is not to say my childhood was devoid of silly crushes and heartthrobs. Like regular teens, there were posters of movie stars and sportsmen for they joined the dots between dreams, hopes and aspirations. Yet, for some reason, adulation in all its waxing and waning shades lurked only in the shadows. 


Cut to present. We are watching Australian Open on television. The husband is cheering for Federer, the son for Nadal. When Federer wins the first set, the young man goes into a shell. The tension is palpable. If Federer wins, we go out for dinner declares the senior. Why not go out for dinner regardless of the outcome, I say. Since I want peace to win, I repeat, ‘Haha we are here to watch good tennis, both are equally good, both deserve to win….blah blah’. There is glacial silence. So I say I’m kidding, I have my favourite too. But I won’t tell. I look more sheepish than sheep. Finally when Federer wins the line call and the trophy, the young man finds refuge in his room. No dinner for me, he mutters. And the senior FedEx fan is happy for the entire state of Haryana. 
So much for good tennis.

Why get emotionally involved with someone you’ve never met? I really couldn’t care less if Salman goes scot-free, behind the bars or fathers a new baby Kardashian. I really couldn’t care less if Raees crosses Dangal’s earnings, does better than Sultan or wins an Oscar. All I want is a good movie or a great game. No heartbreaks, no heartaches.
That said, Indians are perhaps the most emotionally involved fans in the whole wide world. Priyanka Chopra confirmed this in her recent 3076th interview with an American talk show host. Above all, a South Indian fan is the very definition of the word ‘fan’. Nowhere in the world do hundreds of people die of shock when their idol dies. The rest of the world, including Justin Bieber fans can never dream of constructing his temple or tearing his posters if he names his baby Taimur.
Whatever it is, look at the bright side. If you are not a Jabra fan, you never have to get stuck in a stampede when SRK waives at you from the Rajdhani. You never have to skip dinner because your favorite team lost a nail-biter- unless it’s India. On second thoughts, eat less, why skip? And you never have to suffer a panic attack when you see your muse in flesh and blood.

It’s final. As I wobble into antiquity, I’m not running after anyone. Not that it matters, or they care, but if ShahRukh or Salman and Federer or Nadal want to drop in for a cup of tea, they are welcome home. But only over a weekend. After ten, before eight.


Image Courtesy: www.searchnetinc.com

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Jodi No 1





Given that Bade Miyan and Chote Miyan in UP have been replaced by Ek Aur Ek Gyarah, Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav appeared before the press in colour coordinated kurtas and jackets. Both Yuva, both Yuvraj. Same to same. But Akhilesh's is bigger than Rahul's. The nose that is.
Common', if apples and oranges are sold from the same political shop, who can resist comparing. Anyway, if you missed the presser, here is what happened.

The Prince bereft of a kingdom pretended to be a political pro. Flashing his dimples, he kept blabbering about his Sangam with the rebel Prince. The Dostana on display was hard to miss. Wait. Focus. Stop thinking about Jhon Abraham’s toned man lumps in yellow shorts. I’m not implying anything. It was Rahul who called this Sangam an alliance of hearts. Whatever that means. Go figure.

Rahul also mentioned Ganga Jamuna Sarawati, but I don’t know who was Ganga, who was Jamuna, and who was Saraswati. Unless Mayawati ji was also planning to wash hands in behti Ganga to cleanse UP of divisive forces. But Akhilesh clarified that he can’t give space to Behenji because “she takes up too much space”. “Even her symbol is elephant,” said Pinocchio. Oops, so impolite, that!

Haath Mera Saathi but Haathi Not Mera Saathi? 

When pen wielders and mic munchers reminded Rahul of his past,  he said, “History is not static, it keeps changing." Phew!! Wonder why he makes these ho hum statements.
Many are still making sense of the Aloo Ki Factory that he plans to install at the speed of Escape Velocity to Empower Women. Phrases of the kind Rahul ji serves us are as precious as Arvind Kejriwal’s movie reviews and Amar Sins phone sex with Bips.

So AkhiRa or RaAkhi, whichever way you want to look at, are being promoted as UP ke Ladke. Good. Whatever it takes to stop Modi from winning the Dangal. UP, a state bigger than most countries needs deserving boys and not the UP ke ladke jinse galti ho jati hai. For all we know or care, Rahul may be lip synching this duet with Akhilesh but the song was originally sung by – Dimple and Dimple. I mean dimpled Priyanka Gandhi and Dimple Yadav, UP ki bahurani. That Priyanka communicated with Dimple was acknowledged by none other than Ahmad Patel. 
 Priyanka Gandhi and Dimple Yadav, they say, are the architects of this Hum Saath Saath Hain act. Which, actually is a tacit admission of the failure of Rahul’s leadership.

The BJP can put on a brave face, but Jai-Veeru bonhomie is likely to give Thakur some sleepless nights. Given that BJP has neither a credible CM face nor ground work to show, it won’t be easy to get votes on the basis of their Sultan and his promises. For all my support for the PM, narrow chauvinistic pounding by his MLAs where Hindu women are asked to pop quintuplets to beat the minorities is not necessarily an election winner. The anxiety was evident when Mr Katiyar said that if Congress had Priyanka, the BJP too had many pretty faces like Kirron Kher. 
Well, ahem. Dimple for dimple. Let the men folk decide. I said nothing.

It’s amusing how Priyanka Gandhi emerges in crisp cottons during UP elections like Rekha does in gold Kanjeevaram during Filmfare awards. Many are calling Priyanka’s resemblance with Indira Gandhi a trump card. Really? It's like saying Robert Vadra should sing because he resembles Freddie Mercury.  
Anyway, now that Priyanka has emerged on the political minefield, can Vadra bomb be far behind? Despite his cases, Vadra ji could have been an asset for his wife, but what to do? Sirjee is a little short in the humility department.

 If Akhilesh and Rahul are able to Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Shivpal Yadav may have to say Sorry Bhai, and Raees Amar Singh might be Airlift-ed back to UK.

May the Kaabil team win.





Watch the PC here

Image Courtesy: ABP Live, www.ansa.it



Thursday, January 19, 2017

Break the Cycle



I have spent last few weeks visiting places, talking to strangers, playing with kids and meeting relatives I never knew I had. With my brother and his family in India, it was a family re-union of sorts. Missed birthdays, milestone anniversaries, ignored achievements - we celebrated them all. And you know what? Away from newspaper, TV, Facebook and Twitter, life was actually good. Vibrant, warm and mostly peaceful. 

While packing bags for our first day trip, I noticed that the kids in the group were focussed on stuffing their chargers, gadgets and wires. The rules had to be set. Contemplating trouble, I lectured, “Since family time is precious, let’s use our phones sparingly. No chatting, no Facebook and no watching movies. Minimum use of phone. Is that clear, everybody?” 

With a sly smile on his lips, the son asked, “The rules apply to all. Right mom?” 

“Yes, everybody,” I snorted. 

If I could read minds, the three teen faces were perhaps saying, ‘Oh puhleeze…these adults, I tell you, they set up rules specifically to torture us. And then they go on and on about how we will understand when we are their age….’ Thankfully there were no counter questions, just silent murmurs of protest.

As for me, what can I say? Setting a good example for children takes a toll on middle ages. Forget middle age, even Dadi Ma was anxious about missing her ladies chat.

Anyway, once we were not obliged to post comments, know who checked in where, and react to who said what, there were places to discover, people to chat with, restaurants to explore and a disregard for WiFi. It was a relaxed vacation against which a happening virtual life registered as a distraction. 

The husband, many a times, has tried to feed me with his well meaning nuggets. Read more, write less. Observe more, react less. Limit your time on Twitter. But the idea of a life away from virtual world seemed too old fashioned to be relevant. What does he know? He hasn’t checked his Facebook in a month. And Twitter is as alien to him as getting his eyebrows done.

This is not to say that temptation didn’t knock. Almost all of us cheated in between morning dumps and car sojourns. However, towards the end of the second week the virtual world had lost some of its charm. The teens were not fixated on looking at screens and the adults were not obsessed about what the world was doing.

Needless to say, I spent the happiest two weeks of 2016. But, once family members flew back to respective destinations virtual world beckoned in all its glory. The demons began raising their heads. ‘You haven’t written a blog post in 2017, what are you doing dammit? Writing defines you. What are you if not a writer? Do you even know what’s happening on Twitter? You missed reading other blog posts and now no one will read you’.

After the first week of 2017, I was back in the arms of WiFi, albeit in my new enlightened state. Limit and optimize. There was little point stressing about every opinion in the Twitterverse. Most voices, after all, shout in their ideological wells. Why engage with those who refuse to listen to diverse views. Moreover, most outrage on Twitter was over trivial stuff. Name of a celebrity baby. Dress of a cricketer’s wife. Any tweet by Barkha or Rajdeep was equally effective. Whichever side I flipped, the mirror had cracks. People were getting personal and petty over trivial issues. Those who were miffed with Aamir earlier were writing rave reviews of Dangal. Those who twisted knickers over Fawad Khan in ADHM were oblivious to the presence of Ali Zafar in Dear Zindagi. And those who batted for Fawad Khan were muted over threats to a kid from the valley. 
Almost all of us were sinning, albeit differently.

And while writing is what defines me, no one was waiting for my posts to make their life fulfilling. They were simply being nice when they said they enjoyed reading what I write.
Besides, look at the irony.  While we itch to share our pictures with 500 odd friends, we don’t even want to meet a majority of those who like them. But, but, but. All said, my Facebook friends whom I met via blogging have enhanced my life and in helped me grow as a person. I cherish them more than any ideology, political parrty or politician. 

The truth is that social media came into existence to relax, connect and express. Not to distract, addict and exhaust. Snatch a moment, go out for a lunch and say hello to the close ones in real time. As they say, there is a difference between practicing what you preach and preaching only after you have practiced. You can’t blame me for not practicing. Let's see how long I remain in my enlightened state.



Image Courtesy: Here




Friday, December 9, 2016

Mapping Thoughts






Interviews, they say, are like first dates. What you say counts, awkwardness can occur and results are unpredictable.

What exactly brings me to interviews? A day after the demise of J Jayalalitha, social media was awash with several interviews of the AIADMK chief. In one interview with Karan Thapar, Jaya appears visibly cagey, reclusive and non-committal. When Thapar bids adieu and says, “It was pleasure talking to you,” Jayalalitha quips, “I must say it wasn’t a pleasure talking to you, Namaste.” She promptly folds her hands, removes the microphone and walks out. 

While Karan keeps a straight face and a half embarrassed smile, it must have been a setback for someone with an impenetrable air of being the ultimate anchor with contemptuous confidence. Given his experience of making people squirm, Karan knew where and how to tap for answers. And yet, he faltered. Perhaps, in over-trying to be a tough task master his rapid fire turned out to be as futile as a pistol without bullets. For all his direct salvos, there was one answer from Jaya – “I completely deny it.”

Then we saw another interview where Jayalalitha is singing ‘Aa Ja Sanam Madhur Chandni Me Hum’ with Ageless Garewal. What’s more, she’s talking about her teen crushes. Which is understandable because when one is answering questions coming from someone whose face is botoxed into everlasting bliss, it’s easy to drop the guard. As expected, Simi’s gentle prodding exposed Jaya’s vulnerable side, giving us a rare glimpse of her insecurities. It is endearing when Jayalalitha tells us how she used to hold her mother’s sari before going to sleep.

Given that Simi is as harmless as a kitten and Karan a Devil’s Advocate, the respective outcomes were expected. It all depends on who is interviewing whom. Journalists, moreover, are a prisoner of their image. More so, when their show is called Hard Talk or Seedhi Baat. Or Devil’s Advocate. 

Which brings me to another memorable tete-a-tete. 

Women empowerment. 
Just as ‘Tequila shots’ remind me of Priyanka Chopra's interview with Ellen Degeneres, ‘women empowerment’ reminds me of Rahul’s interview with Arnab. That RaGa has not had any sit down thereafter, says it all. 

Moving on to Modi, our PM isn’t fond of answering questions either. Monologues over dialogues. Arnab, in his interview with Modi did nothing to puncture the air of righteousness and solemnity as he does with other guests.

If Arnab had Modi, Rajdeep had Sonia. And if Arnab's interview with Modi was tame, Rajdeep’s with Sonia was lame. In a recent interview touted as the ‘Interview of the decade’ Rajdeep discussed what Sonia felt when she first met Indira Gandhi. In fact, he just stopped short of talking about their cooking escapades. If the brief was to stay away from personal and controversial, the outcome was as engrossing as watching the grass grow. 

Talking of Indian chat shows, how can we forget Aap Ki Adalat by Rajat Sharma. Looks real, grills hard, and entertains admirably. Audience claps, Rajat Sharma gets a Padma Bhushan. Everyone is happy.

Happiness brings me to another Karan who is not a Thapar. 

Away from the stench of politics, Koffee with Karan froths with filmy gossip, adult banter and feel-good bonhomie. There are moments when your eyes pop out because you haven’t heard jokes about unbuttoning, crotch gazing and gay play acting on desi television. If this piques your interest, go watch Twinkle Khanna’s episode.

I don’t know about you, but as a silly teen I used to fantasize about being a celebrity who gives interviews left, right and centre. Today, I can’t imagine myself in the hot seat. Not that anyone’s interested, but asking questions is so much easier than answering them. Imagine, for instance, Karan Thapar demanding menacingly, “Do you think demonetization is a right step?” Being a radical middle kind of a person, I’d perhaps get caught in my own ‘on-the-other-hand’ kind of long winded explanations. Give me KJo over KTha and I will be happy to rate the Khans in order of my preference.

All said, the magic of spoken word is far reaching that the mundane written word. How many of us remember a memorable print interview? The lovely Katherine Hepburn once said, ‘Death will be a great relief, no more interviews.’ I’m sure, somewhere up in the sky Jayalalitha would agree.