February 15, 2020
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...And Also

What If Steve Jobs Had Stayed Back In Benares? What If AB Wasn't 'Inspector Vijay'? What If Amjad Khan Had Been Rejected For Gabbar's Role In Sholay? What if...

...And Also

What If Steve Jobs Had Stayed Back In Benares?

In the early ’70s, a stoned hippie called Steve Jobs arrived in Benares looking for nirvana. But when he asked a sadhu about the Big N, the savant dragged him to the top of a hillock, shaved his head and let him go. This weird experience convinced Jobs—don’t ask us why—that the N way lay in making the computer as ubiquitous and user-friendly as a bicycle. He set up Apple Computer.

If Jobs had stayed back in Benares, computers would probably still be room-sized devices running spools of tape (Apple invented the floppy disk drive), their secrets known only to cultish initiates. Even if computers became smaller, there would be no mouse, no graphical user interface, which Jobs introduced with the Mac. The internet would be something that only the Pentagon and universities would be using.

Jobs, settled in Haridwar, would be heading a million-strong spiritual movement, The Orange Path. And Bill Gates would still have found a way to be extremely rich.

What If AB Wasn’t ‘Inspector Vijay’?

Imagine Dev Anand, Prakash Mehra’s original choice in Zanjeer, hissing across the table to a bespectacled Ajit: "Tejaaaaaaa... main tumhe khatm kar doongaaaa." You can’t? Well so couldn’t Anand, who refused to play a songless hero. But what if Devsaab had said yes? Would Zanjeer have flopped, romance and family dramas continued to hold sway, and Salim-Javed’s angry young man been still-born? And would Bollywood history since the ’70s read thus?

To most people, the name Zanjeer evokes memories of a romance-laden family drama with Naveen Nishchol and Yogita Bali. Rajesh Khanna, voted the biggest star of the millennium in an online BBC poll, has just graduated to ‘character’ roles. The showman in Bollywood is Shakti Samanta, who followed up Kati Patang with bigger hits like Dulhaniya Kahin Nahin Jayegi, Kya Kuchh Nahi Hota, and Hum Aapke Hain Woh.

The last one heard of Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s son was when Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, at a cocktail evening, talked about this lost talent. Gossip magazines say the junior Bachchan (now, what did Abbas say was his name?), after Penguin refused to publish his poems, has confined himself to selling Nirma. According to Abbas, his awkward height and hairstyle did him in. Women don’t like tall men, you see!

What If Sushmita Weren’t Ms Universe?

Diana Hayden, having flunked her commercial pilot’s test twice, is an air hostess for Virgin Air. Lara Dutta, like many army daughters, is married to an armyman chosen by her parents and is a homemaker. A couple of years ago, on holiday in Goa, she was spotted by director Raj Kanwar and offered a lead role in Andaaz opposite Akshay Kumar. After discussing it with her husband, she refused. Yukta Mookhey, having completed a one-year computer course at Aptech, is working at the Mumbai-based Crest Communication, doing animation work on TV ads. Business communication graduate Celina Jaitley works for a PR firm in Calcutta, and is planning to wean a few of the firm’s clients away for her own outfit. In the evenings, she learns the violin at the Calcutta School of Music. Priyanka Chopra, like many army daughters, is married to an armyman chosen by her parents and is a homemaker. A couple of years ago, on holiday in Goa, she was spotted by director Raj Kanwar and offered a lead role in Andaaz opposite Akshay Kumar. After discussing it with her husband, she politely refused. Aishwarya Rai and Sushmita Sen chose acting as their careers.Ash lives in Mumbai with adopted daughter Renee.Her last released film was Main Hoon Na.The Gurinder Chadha-directed Bride and Prejudice starring Sush was released last week in Britain.

Would Ash have had the adopted daughter and Sush the films?

What If Salman Rushdie Had Continued To Be A Copywriter?

Alyque Padamsee,ad guru: "If Rushdie had remained a copywriter his Midnight's Children would not have been born. Literature would have been that much poorer. But then, if he were a copywriter, I would have hired him. Probably I would have got him to write some Satanic Verses and since he has been married thrice, I would have banned him from meeting the Liril girls."

What If Indira Gandhi Had Not Sent Maneka Out?

Pritish Nandy, poet and ex-MP: "If Maneka was not sent packing from the Gandhi household by Arun Nehru and his gang who poisoned Mrs Gandhi's mind against her, she would have patched up her differences with her mother-in-law. The SVM would have become a ginger group within the Congress, espousing some of the causes close to Sanjay's heart and holding together the old loyalists who, later, migrated to Rajiv's coterie or, like Jag Mohan, joined the Opposition to erase public memory about their Emergency excesses. Later, if the assassination of Mrs Gandhi took place, as in all probability it would have, Maneka and Rajiv would have had a head-on collision. It is anyone's guess who would have won. But one thing is sure: It would have exposed both myths. One: That Rajiv was a reluctant prime minister. He was not. Two: That Maneka is a political scatter-brain. She is certainly not."

What If Sachin Hadn’t Arrived?

Kapil Dev, cricketer: "If Sachin was not there, even then Rahul Dravid would have always been there for India. Even when Sunil Gavaskar was playing we used to ask a similar question, but we found replacements. In fact, in the last five years, Rahul has done more for Indian cricket than anybody else. He has real substance. He may not have caught the media's attention and may not market himself that well, but he is a great player. After Sir Bradman he is the only cricketer who has maintained a very high average while playing abroad. So I believe that Rahul would have always been there for India, but this is not in anyway to underestimate the fabulous contribution made by Sachin."

What If Bal Thackeray Had Remained A Full-Time Cartoonist?

E.P. Unny, cartoonist:  "If Bal Thackeray had remained a professional cartoonist his work would have been very different from the cartoons that others were churning out in the 1950s and 60s, which were very Nehruvian and gentlemanly. For a person who professes to have little faith in democracy, his cartoons would have been really bizarre. There would have been more bio-diversity in Indian cartooning for sure. On the other hand, cartooning moderates a cartoonist, so Thackeray could have been less right-wing if he had continued to be a cartoonist."

. What If A.R. Rahman Hadn’t Done Bombay Dreams?

Andrew Lloyd Webber: "Rehman is in a league of his own.He's got so much there that's his own, he's got masses of stuff that no Western musician would ever be able to do. He's hugely melodic and quite unique. These melodies could not have been written by a British person or an American, they couldn't."

What If Yoga Hadn’t Taken Off?

B.K.S. Iyengar, yoga guru: "If yoga had not been practised, the health of the world would have been even worse. There would have been more conflict. Without knowledge of yoga, people would have focussed just on physical health and would have completely ignored internal health, which is guided by intelligence and emotion. Yoga brings about a transformation in them. Health is a word beyond description and only yoga taught the world to grapple with it holistically. If only yoga had been taken more seriously the government could have forgotten about peoples' health and concentrated on other development activity. Yoga was the first thing that made India famous across the globe."

What If The IT Revolution Hadn't Taken Place?

F C Kohli, IT pioneer: "IT is about forty years old and it still has a long way to go. Without IT China's growth over a decade 1990 to 2000 would have not taken place. India and China were at the same level in 1990 in terms of per capita income, Computer and Telecommunication penetration. In 2000 China's per capita was twice than that of India, Computer penetration five times and telecommunication penetration ten times. It was extensive use of IT that let them make progress. India has made very little use of IT within the country. Most of the work we have done is for other countries. India has yet to participate in the IT revolution."

What If Amjad Khan Had Been Rejected For Gabbar's Role In Sholay?

Javed Akthar, scritp writer and lyricist: The role was to be played originally by Danny Denzongpa, his costumes were also ready. But then there was a problem with his dates. Our next choice was Premnath, who was at the pinnacle of his career, but he too was not available. It is only after this that I remembered of Amjad Khan, whom I had met in 1963 at the Delhi Youth Festival. But then, the big if... if he too had not played the role, you'd be surprised, Sanjeev Kumar and Amitabh Bachachan were very keen to play it. When we first read out the script, these two great actors had asked as to why they shouldn't be playing Gabbar. If Amitabh had played Gabbar, imagine people greeting him with an "Areyo Samba."

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