Letters | May 21, 2007
  • How To Catch A Falling Superstar
    May 21, 2007

    Your article The Big Belittling (May 4) made great reading. You aptly summed it up with a verse from Harivanshrai’s Madhushala. I quote a few lines from another of his poems: Praarthnaa mat kar mat kar mat kar/Yeh Manushya ka chitra nahin hai/Pashu kaa hai re pyaare.... /Manuj parajaya ke amaarak/Yeh math, mandir, girjaaghar.... Roughly translated: Do not bow in prayer, just do not/This is not the image of man/Hands together...bent... lifeless eyes.../This is animal-like, my friend..../Monuments of man’s defeat/These monasteries, temples, churches...
    Kamna Prasad, Delhi

    Looks like Rajendra Yadav has not read Harivanshrai’s autobiography. Else, he’d have known how religious he was. He renounced meat because he had asked for a mannat when Amitabh fell ill. He introduced wife Teji to the worship of Hanuman. Anyway, since when has atheism become a proof of "progressiveness"? Well, for those still carrying the ghost of Marxism on their back, atheism probably is a requirement for Hindus to be seen as progressive. But there’s nothing to be ashamed of in following our centuries-old traditions. If these folks had spent even half their energies in understanding these rituals, they’d have found out how rich and endowed with meaning some of these are.
    G. Shrivastav, Sunnyvale, US

    Your article reminded me of a famous incident in Mahakavi Dinkar’s life. This was when he had to stand below at a Shiva temple which was closed to the general public to accommodate a vip. Dinkar apparently threw his offering high towards the temple door and asked Shiva to go get chummy with the vips; he, Dinkar, was leaving him. Of all the things that Amitabh Bachchan has had, the one thing I’ve envied him is that he got to sit in Dinkarji’s lap. Pity, he seems to have gained nothing from that advantage.
    Vikram Shah, Wembley

    Isn’t the expectation that Amitabh follow in his father’s tradition in itself regressive? It’s sad that even the progressives in this country need a celebrity to further their cause rather than advance it by the force of their rational arguments.
    Sachin Nikam, Houston

    Your article is a true miscellany of opinions from the still thinking Indians who’d any day prefer the anarchist Harivanshrai with a small b to his son the Big B. But it perhaps speaks less of a personal fault of the ‘icon’ in question than of the corporatised ritualistic times he prospers in that while the father fraternised with the likes of Nehru and Indira, the son is forced to or has opted to do so with the likes of Amar Singh and Mulayam Singh.
    Aparajita Krishna, Mumbai

    Whether one should pray or not; pay obeisance to one deity or several; invite 10 guests or 2,000 to one’s son’s wedding—it’s entirely a personal decision. Why should Amitabh be denied this choice just because he is in the public eye? Aren’t all Hindu marriages and ceremonies ritualistic? Why not attack the Hindu pandits instead who have reduced Vedic rites to brisk business? These so-called intellectuals should spare us the armchair innuendos and concentrate on some real issues like education, corruption and the petty insecurities that are holding our nation back.
    Rohit Karir, on e-mail

    If Harivanshrai were alive today, he’d have issued a public notice dissociating himself from his son’s activities. This Bachchan does not have his father’s cultural and intellectual heritage. He has proved to be a gold-digger of the lowest order with his crass behaviour and obscurantist beliefs. If you break bread with the likes of Amar Singh and Anil Ambani, part of their mental make-up is likely to rub off on you.
    N.P. Bajaj, on e-mail

    The problem lies with the media, not the Bachchans. The latter were just carrying on with their personal lives, the media made breaking news of the event to jack up that monster called the trp. As long as it doesn’t bother the masses, Amitabh has the right to marry his son the way he wants to. The over-indulgent, shortsighted, avaricious media has no business meddling in it. The intellectuals quoted in the article would have done better to train their guns on the media rather than criticise Amitabh.
    A.P. Singh, Doha, Qatar

    It’s heartening to see a few sensible people, the intellectuals of this country, speak out against an actor who has been elevated to a demi-god status by blind fans. Agreed that Amitabh is a Bollywood icon, but is that any reason to give undue importance to all that he, his family and friends say or do? By repeatedly emphasising the Abhishek-Aishwarya wedding to be a private affair, the Big B inadvertently invited more publicity. And if the rumours of their selling the TV rights of the event to foreign media agencies are correct, then one wonders if the honeymoon was included in the package too! By the way, in the few snaps of the wedding floating around on the net, all of them and especially mother Jaya seem overdressed!
    Sanjay Kapoor, Delhi

    Despite her designer finery, Jaya Bachchan, in the picture you carried, looks like a Karol Bagh aunty while Bachchan senior looks like a P.C. Sorcar clone in his maharaja get-up. As for Ash, she can safely say rip to her international career and Hollywood dreams.
    Rashmi Singh, New Delhi

    Why not leave all the voyeurism and P3P obsession to entertainment channels and glossies and newspapers and newsmagazines like yours get on with real issues? I promise you, I won’t stop reading Outlook if it stopped covering AB, his baby or his bibi.
    Bindu Tandon, Mumbai

    Excellent piece. It’s unfortunate that those who have a genuine hold over the masses in this country should promote mediocrity and encourage the reactionary forces of society. Amitabh Bachchan today is in a position to take a definite stand on issues which would help in promoting progressive and liberal values in society. Instead he has reduced himself to a caricature of the typical father he plays in his films.
    Amit Manuviraj, on e-mail

  • How To Catch A Falling Superstar
    May 21, 2007

    Mrinal Sen calls the ritualism of temple visits and marrying trees "ridiculous", Kiran Nagarkar says "God doesn’t give any insurances". What about the scientists who, when the pslv9 was to be launched from Sriharikota, chose an auspicious hour for the launch, which, incidentally, was heavily insured by international insurance companies? Not just that, they also went to the temple to pray for its success. Aren’t they regressive too?
    B.V. Shenoy, Bangalore

    I am surprised at all the hue and cry being raised over the Bachchans’ conduct of Abhishek’s wedding. Jab miyan-biwi raazi, then why should the rest of the world be bothered?
    D de, New Haven

    More than any other celebrity in recent times, Amitabh and his family kept their celebrations private and dignified, never asked for the media attention that was directed at them and are now being censured by the hypocritical media precisely for that.
    Shubhang S., New Delhi

    This article is what you call making something out of nothing—hollow opinions from people who have something to say on everything except the things that matter. What is wrong with Amitabh conducting his son’s marriage in a traditional fashion? Would these intellectuals have been happier with a glitzy, Bollywood-style show of ostentation?
    Pranav Singh, Ahmedabad

    After reading your article, I really felt like distributing copies to people around me. On the one hand, we try to rid our masses of their superstitions, on the other, icons like Amitabh perpetuate these beliefs.
    Avneet, New Delhi

    You lament that the Bachchans turned a private celebration into a "tacky production". Do the Bachchans really need any more mileage? Had they actually made an attempt at publicity, the media would have had better things to show than stand at the sidelines and rave and rant about some Jhanvi the whole day. As for a superstitious Amitabh setting a dangerous example, surely you credit aam janta like me with more intelligence than that.
    Rahul Gaur, Gurgaon

    Looks like it’s our out-of-work intellectuals, not Amitabh, who’re seeking publicity.
    Amitabh Upadhyaya, on e-mail

    I thought we lived in a democracy where freedom of religion was guaranteed? First the media hounds the celebs, then castigates them for how they live their lives.
    Pardeep, Calcutta

    If visiting temples is such a sin, then maybe the government should rethink its subsidy for Haj as well.
    Kiran Voleti, on e-mail

    The Big B’s donation to the educational fund of a temple is laudatory and should be emulated. As for Harivanshrai, he’d have certainly remained a "minor poet" were it not for his illustrious son.
    A.L. Banerjee, Lucknow

    What do you do when you’re Amitabh Bachchan? Whatever you do, it attracts attention. A million Hindus visit temples, but no one has a problem. One Amitabh does the same, and a horde of self-righteous busybodies rises to straitjacket his freedom.
    Arun Gulati, on e-mail

    The least the media can do is to be true to the original Hindi vernacular while transcribing lines in the Roman script. Harivanshrai’s rubaayi/couplet at the end of the article reads "...jiske bheetar ki jwaala...girje sab kuchch...", while the original reads "...jiske antar ki jwaala ...girje sab ko...". But then I reckon Vinod Mehta doesn’t mind twisting the sanctity of the written word as long as it does not hamper his witch-hunts.
    Sujit Prasad, New Delhi

  • Realpolitik
    May 21, 2007

    The problem of disharmony is not diversity of religion as PM Manmohan Singh thinks (Harmonising India, May 7). There’s no religion in politics; religion is politics. Spiritualism is an individual phenomenon, religion a mass one. Harmony comes from individual spiritualism, not from ‘religion’. Teachers like Swami Vivekananda attained harmony with inner questioning, not by blindly following religion. PM saab should stress this to dilute the fanaticism of the masses.
    Raj, Chicago

  • Raring To Go
    May 21, 2007

    Once at the Indian embassy in Paris I struck up a conversation with two young illegal chaps from Punjab who were jobless, had lost their passports, and wanted a special permit from the embassy which would allow them to return to India (This Bird Has Flown, May 7). They said the only thing that inspires people like them is the odd success story of a fellow Punjabi striking it big in Canada or the UK.
    G. Natarajan, Hyderabad

    When seemingly rich people are willing to shell out obscene amounts to become illegal immigrants in Canada, it means they are confused. I think these Gujaratis or Punjabis are misguided by their friends and relatives who’re settled abroad and show off a great deal. Moreover, they also have the money to try this; it’s not that Biharis or Bengalis are any less interested, they just lack the means.
    Kunal Mangal, Denver

    MPs smuggling people on diplomatic passports! What a shame! One cannot blame the youth for trying to escape India, a failed state. Tens of thousands across the US or Canada work in motels and gas stations. They see no opportunity in corrupt and lawless India. Very soon they’ll enforce quotas in the private sector too. Even Somalia will be a better option.
    Joseph Kurien, Dallas

  • May 21, 2007

    We can’t have a peaceful India without eschewing central rule (Siege at the Gates of Oudh, May 7). This is possible only if a federation of Indian states is formed along EU or US lines. The culture of Punjab is completely different from Tamil Nadu’s, as is Bengal’s from Gujarat or Rajasthan.
    Gope Lalwani, Pennsylvania

  • Chinese Rendezvous
    May 21, 2007

    I hope Sichuan University finds better Indians for their fellowship programme (Kashgar Diary, May 7). Call it hypocrisy, but Tarun Vijay can’t see the plight of widows in Brindavan, Instead he can go out hunting for green in red wearing saffron eye-glasses.
    Naved, Dehradun

  • For Poetry’s Sake
    May 21, 2007

    Your review (No One Belongs to the Bordello, May 7) bemoans that while greats like Ghalib and Iqbal have got a lion’s share, poets like Azmi, Ali Sardar, Gulzar, etc didn’t find a place. It’s not possible to include all Urdu poets in a single volume, but one can get the best of Urdu poetry in Prof K.C. Nanda’s Master Couplets of Urdu poetry.
    F.J. Mehta, Secunderabad

  • Explosive Justice
    May 21, 2007

    Apropos l’affaire Sohrabuddin (Cannon Fodder, May 7), a fake inquiry will be held for a fake encounter and the dig will be exonerated honourably.
    Vinod Sharma, Ludhiana

  • Sexy Confusion
    May 21, 2007

    Apropos Shefalee Vasudev’s column Coldplay Be Damned, (May 7), the new laws on marriage and divorce are trivialising the bonds of matrimony and making the options of walking out of a marriage simpler (the long list of incompatibles included as grounds for divorce can suit almost every marriage)!
    Col S. Kapoor, Delhi

  • A Bit Archaic
    May 21, 2007

    The saffron brigade’s antics (Civil Code, De Facto, Apr 30) need to be checked. Are such people in charge of society? At a time when India is considered an economic powerhouse, such incidents are a slap on the face of democracy.
    Aalekh Kapoor, Ahmedabad

  • It’s The Differences, Stupid!
    May 21, 2007

    RamachaNdra Guha does succeed in presenting a correct picture of India and citing reasons why it survives as a democracy despite odds (The Miracle that is India, May 7). He rightly notes that India’s culture, evolved from syncretism and assimilation, makes it a deeply—though loosely—tied nation which gives space for dissimilarities, dissensions, disparities and even digressions. And work as the bonding factor amid such internal turmoil.
    Amitabh Thakur, Lucknow

    We may still be a democracy, but I feel only the rich enjoy its fruits. Your pocket should be full for you to praise our polity.
    Shailesh Kumar, Bangalore

    I may have read only a portion of his book, but it’s puzzling that Guha, in his alacrity to praise India’s pluralism, does not spare a sentence or two to denounce fissiparous tendencies that have troubled the nation right since inception. We have suffered from the Khalistan movement, we still face problems in Kashmir and the Northeast but Guha finds the post-Godhra and 1984 Delhi riots far more threatening!
    Varun Shekhar, Toronto

    I don’t think it’s Bollywood films that have led to the spread of Hindi in cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad. Rather it’s because of a mass migration of Hindi-speaking people from the bimaru states to the south in search of better livelihood.
    Ram Narayan, Bangalore

    The prime factor that keeps India stable is the insular nature of the Indian mind. For most of us, it’s family first, caste second, locality third and so on. At the end of this cascade comes state, region and nation!
    Akhil Rahul, Chicago

    Full credit to our first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, for nurturing democracy in a fledgling nation but he is culpable for some of India’s major ills. This is one thing Guha seems to condone or camouflage. Nehru’s educational policy was clearly flawed—see the state of our primary schooling. He got it wrong in defence matters too—the creation of PoK and our loss to China in 1962 are proof.
    Vijay Agarwal, on e-mail

    Whatever be the mistakes of our modern rulers and the book itself, I found it interesting to read its post-Independence profile vis-a-vis 5,000 years of recorded history.
    Vikash Rakhecha, Calcutta

    I am glad our country still has scholars of repute who can essay history with authenticity and without bias.
    Fr Joe Vaz S.V.D, on e-mail

    Your cover says "Why India Survives". Why not! It must’ve been "How India Survives".
    C. Vasi, Chennai

    I agree with Guha that there’s a dearth of history material post-1947 (JP should be blamed for Emergency too). For, academicians in India, unlike those in the US, have to strive hard to produce researched books.
    Nasar, Raleigh, US

Online Casino Betway Banner