August 09, 2020
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Cynosure, Eyesore And More

It was a fool's dawn—premature millennium and all that. But the dullspeak called 2000 had some saving spaces, sorry graces.

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Cynosure, Eyesore And More
Cynosure, Eyesore and More
It was a fool’s dawn—premature millennium and all that. But the dullspeak called 2000
had some saving spaces, sorry graces.
Bore No.1 Mamata Banerjee
Our Lady of Tantrums did Jayalalitha proud. Petrol hike? “Rollback or I’ll quit.” Rail accident? “I quit.” The fiery Trinamul leader who counts painting and music among her hobbies could’ve added “cribbing” to her list. Through the year, mahajot and after, Mamata-di was relentless in her criticism of arch rival Jyoti Basu. Every wrong in Bengal viewed through her bifocals was courtesy the grand old man of the cpm. Imagination on overdrive, she even saw a commie plot in the floods that ravaged West Bengal. When she finally quits the nda and politics, it’s rumoured she’ll take up writing. She’s already shown her gift for eloquence (didn’t we know?) with such titles as ‘Struggle for Existence’ and ‘Crocodile Island’ and a train called Pather Panchali!
Bore No.2 Shekhar Suman
Gift of the gab or high on ham? With Shekhar Suman, you never know. After a string of indifferent flops followed a steamy art flick debut, a soothsayer told the Patna-born actor that he would end up as India’s biggest TV star. That turned out to be fatal. Today, Suman is one of the telly’s original bores with his silly rapidfire banter and queer body language in the late-night desi Jay Leno-clone Movers and Shakers show. With afternoon shows now on the air, even housewives are no longer safe. Spare us.
Law Book for the Jungle
In the year after Kandahar, when everybody and his uncle wanted the nation to stand up to terrorists, who would have looked to a frail 76-year-old Mysorean called Abdul Kareem to show us how? When the Karnataka government decided to release tada detenus to secure the release of filmstar Rajkumar from the clutches of Veerappan, Kareem—whose son Shakeel Ahmed was slain by the moustachioed brigand—decided enough was enough. Undeterred by defeat in a lower court, Kareem approached the SC which not only agreed with him but slammed the State for caving in so easily.

Everywoman’s Beau Peep
When he has the shirt on, the girls go crazy; when he takes it off, the boys go green. At 6’ 2” and 180 pounds, the year saw Hrithik Roshan emerge as Bollywood’s most wanted, in more ways than one. The treacly Kaho Na Pyaar Hai launched what everybody agrees is the next superstar. Now all India is in love with the nifty actor with dreamy eyes. But success didn’t come easy: Hrithik, a self-confessed shy guy in school and college, overcame a stammer and worked hard to build those biceps. Add Elvis sideburns and Lennon-style glasses, and bingo!



Best Books:

Romila Thapar: sage prose

The Agrarian System
of Mughal India

Irfan Habib
The 1962 classic, reissued

Interpreter of

Jhumpa Lahiri
A trip down memory lane, between Bengal and America...

Something Barely

Susan Vishwanathan
...and between Kerala
and Britain

Cultural Pasts
Romila Thapar
Seminal essays on ancient
Indian history

Savaging the
Verrier Elwin,
His Tribals and India

Ramachandra Guha
Biography of an anthropologist

Former Chief Editor, Orient Longman; Macmillan

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