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Amitabh for prez?  Though the “big b” has dismissed these rumours, I am amused by this it. Amitabh, perhaps is arguably the best entertainer Bollywood has seen. He may not be the best actor of all time,but he has the charm that made him numero uno.The “BigB” brand is one of the highest valued Indian brand, only next to the batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar.

The popularity of Amitabh, as far as I know could be attributed to his metamorphosis from the guy next door roles to the ones that show strong and unique character (like Sarkar and Black) through the highly popular angry young man phase.Moreover, his personal image has always been “clean” (We always give unwanted weightage to one’s real life persona, while rating the star; Otherwise, how can Rajini be a bigger star than Kamal in Tamil moviehood?). After the dark phase of ABC going bankrupt and the notoriety for tax evasion, he has emerged out to be the biggest winner of Bollywood, thanks to KBC and a string of movies which brought Amitabh back to the thick of things.

But the question remains, is it all enough? So far, Amitabh has shown that he is a definite crowd puller, an absolute entertainer and a smart businessman (?). But as far as president goes, one needs to have a vision and passion for the nation. Amitabh is definitely passionate about acting, more than that, he wants to be in the good books of millions of his fans.

Let us examine the case of Mr. Kalam. He showed his faculty by heading the rocket research (ISRO) and is widely appreciated for his feats. Moreover, he is known for his humilty and erudition. Despite all these, he started poorly as it took time for him to learn the tricks of the trade, and he improvised immensely, emerging as a quality President. Within his limited strata of power (I don’t believe that the President has the absolute power in democratic systems. The rubber stamp Presidents under Indira Gandhi taught us so), he was able to assert his authority and demonstrate his character.

Coming to Bachchan, he has never got a chance to proclaim conspicuously his vision or passion for the nation, owing to the nature of his work. He has devoted a lot of efforts and hard work to reach where he is right now. His efforts were complimented by the charisma that I mentioned earlier, and succeeded in luring the masses. But in the highest administrative and diplomatic levels,  glamour won’t work as smoothly and effectively as they do in stardom. Moreover, we don’t need a president who is hell bent in preserving his feel good impression amongst the masses, as this could be a serious hindrance to his unbiased thoughts.

So, who we need is a tough president, who knows about his jurisdictions. T N Sheshan (noone likes arrogance!) could be a good choice, so is Shashi Tharoor (He needs to dispose off his obsession for diplomacy and euphemism though!). But, believe it or not, politicians always want a dummy president. Indira Gandhi has been the pioneer of this idea. Hence the natural choice for them could be someone who has been very popular amongst the masses, and is a repertoire in his field, but a total rookie when it comes to politics. On the course of this idea, they totally underestimated the brains of Kalam, and the idea boomeranged. Neverthless, the bunch is incorrigible, and hence I would not be flabbergasted when encountered with the flash news that Bachchan is unanimously elected to be the next president of the nation. All said and done, Mr. Bachchan could still bamboozle them, and culminate his transformation from the guy next door into the Prez next term.

There is a devotional poem named Jnanappana in Malayalam. It is a wonderful work by a poet Poonthanam in the 16th century. A few lines can be roughly translated into:

(What was there till yesterday, I didn’t know;

Neither do I know what beckons me tomorrow.

It’s you almighty who can take us

From rags to riches or otherwise…)

This is the case of all celebrities in India. Take the case of Sourav Ganguly. From the enviable position of the best captain India has ever seen, he fell into the dungeons of embarassment in a matter of weeks. Based on his performance, he was stripped of captaincy and was sent back to domestic cricket. Though he was awarded the treatment he deserved, I still feel the media treated him shabbily. What followed his exit was a string of articles vehemently criticizing and questioning the ability of a person who has more than 10000 runs in his kitty. Sure, for every crest, there is a trough, and one had to accept Sourav was having a bad patch. But the critics who praised him once started singing elegies for him. It was for sure, an emotional torture for Sourav. The same is the case of Sania Mirza. The wonder girl of Indian tennis, who rose to the celebrity status due to her diligence and talent, has been discarded off by media, and vehemently criticized for her inability to be consistent.

Leave sports for an instant. Let us take the case of Bollywood. Sanjay Dutt was a spoiled brat with underworld connections. He made the life of Sunil Dutt miserable by his irrational acts. Post Munnabhai, Sanjay is a “transformed” gentleman, who needs to be pardoned. The Sanjay, who got ammunition from Dawood was an immature, high adrenalin kid, and is not the Munnabhai whom we know. What would have been the situation had Munnabhai never occurred in Sanjay’s life? Whatever the court verdict is, the Indian media and public have forgiven him. What happened to Salman Khan? He shot a blackbuck, then a couple of other endangered animals, and the case is still alive. According to the media, he has been taunted enough, and the time has come to condone his actions. This essentially transforms to Salman leaving Scot free.

Politicians are no different. What happened to Lalu Prasad Yadav? His cases of bribe on cattle feed is a forgotten chapter in India, except for the poor judiciary. What we have today is the new Lalu bent on reforms. He indeed has resurrected the railways. But, is that enough to forgive him also? Another instance, what happened to Godhra incident? Where are the reports? How is Narendra Modi left out without even questioned? Looking at all these, what message should the youth of the nation take? Commit any unforgivable sin, to compensate that, change your image, and do some charity stunts. You are not crucified anymore. Nice way, isn’t it?

Now, take the case of media. I am not questioning their integrity. But the sad fact is that, no one knows about it. They are the ones responsible for feeding information to the public. Now, the question is, are they justified for their actions always?

Take for instance, the case of Princess Diana. She was followed by Paparazzi in a high speed lane, before she crashed inside a tunnel. Why weren’t these paparazzi questioned? They were running around for a scoop, and they ultimately ended up killing the golden goose. Nevertheless, they devoured enough on her public image, had enough news to fill their column for months. How about infringing into the privacy of celebrities? We get the photos of Agassi spending his honeymoon with Steffi from these photographers.

Are these actions morally correct? If one feels these are the only questionable acts of the media, boy! you are seriously wrong. Consider Iraq and Afghanistan. How many news papers/channels have been bold enough to report about the number of civilians who had to fall as victims of this unfortunate war? I have read somewhere that the satellite images published in the worldwide media were administered and censored cleverly by the US government, concealing the act of barbarism committed by soldiers. A few on the atrocities done on the prisoners of war by the
US troopers created an initial furor, which later got subdued. Why didn’t the media enquire what happened afterwards?

In the Indian scenario, I remember the incident of Karunanidhi getting manhandled by police at 2 AM, five years back. Jaya TV (owned by the then ruling party) showed it as Karunanidhi being un co-operative, where as SUN TV (owned by the then opposition) show cased the event as an act of inhumanness by the cops. So, if the logic is anything to go by, who is wrong? And if one of the parties is wrong, who will punish them? Is this what we call power of media?

I am not trying to undermine the wonderful acts that the media persons have done. Sure, they did a brilliant act when they campaigned for Priyadarshini Mattoo and Jessica Lal. This commendable act showed the power of media. The question is, can media do something better? When will the dream of unbiased media come true? How do we know if they are fabricating data or news? And, at the end of it, who will punish the faltered ones in the media? I am sure that there are more glasses to shatter, than the ones so far.

Sometime during my 1st standard (has to be 1991).

I first noticed a slight pain on my incisors. My father called me and examined it. He confirmed that the tooth is shaking. He educated me that all milk teeth will be replaced by the secondary set soon. He also said that the child in us will gradually be clobbered to the subconscious by the monster in us. Though I didn’t understand what that meant at that time, I now understand what it means.

After a few days, the tooth was visibly shaking. I was afraid to pull it out, as it was paining a bit. I showed it to my father. He is a very patient and composed person. He told me a nice story, and as I got involved in the story, he pulled it out in one go. Out came the teeth, he gave it to me. I saw it, got so sad and started crying. I went and looked in the mirror, could see a big hole in the gate and was stuck by horror. I could visualize my friends poking fun at me the next day in school.

I was very rude at school when I made fun of a couple of my friends, one of them a bully, when they lost their teeth. I wasn’t smart enough to remember the repercussions of that otherwise harmless action. Now I started biting nails, had nightmares of the big bully turning pink and bursting into laughter.

Next morning:
Aim: I should not be a buffoon in front of my class mates.
Solution: Bunk the school till a secondary teeth replaces it.
Route: I have a stomach ache.

My mother, a scarecrow, got immediately scared. She told my father. He came to my bed, asked me where exactly I am feeling the pain. I said I am feeling it all over the stomach. Then he slowly tried to locate the pain, after some unsuccessful attempts from my side to pretend pain, he slowly realized the pain is somewhere else for me.

He asked: “Tell me the truth, do you have a stomach ache at all?”

I was in tears by this time again: “No!”

Father: “Then why did you lie?”

Me: “I don’t want to go to school”

Father: “Why?”

Me: “My friends would bully me”

The plot unfolds gradually. He sat beside me, and slowly said, “Son, what makes you think that a missing tooth looks ugly on you? It is something inevitable, and adds on to your beauty. In fact you have said that mutthassi (grand mother) looks good without the teeth. And what will happen if your friends bully you? It is just for a day or two, after which, all of you will forget them and become friends again. That is why children’s world is the most perfect one. “

Slowly, he took me on to his lap, patted me gently and waited till I get back to my smart mood again. He also promised me something special if I go to school and come back smartly.

I go to school with a bit of shyness, found things much better than what I actually thought. I could stand to the big bully (he was also toothless!) and came back running like Anil Kumble after guiding India to victory in a match with his batting prowess (hypothetical situation of course!)

I was half asleep by the time my father came back, and narrated the whole story. He was impressed by my performance and as he had promised, gifted me with a stamp album. I was so happy, I kissed him all over and went back to sleep happily.

16 years later:

My father is not there with me anymore. I am on my own, working in an automobile firm. I would not say I lie, but I am forced to say, many a times I tend not to reveal the full truth. They say all this is a part of work, where strategic relations are important. I get reminded of the Yudhistira- Dronacharya episode in Mahabharata battle.

It is all a part of the game.

“When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb”