Happy Teacher’s Day, Whether You Like It Or Not

It was Teacher’s Day this week, or as I like to call it, “Ashish, get out of the class.” Every year, around this time, I get nostalgic about all the fun I had in school, especially the part where I wasn’t forced to sit around and listen to Prime Minister Modi’s speech about how I was the future of the nation and how I should respect my elders and floss every night and stop doing the awesome thing that I had just discovered because it was against our culture.

Mind you, this has nothing to do with my political beliefs. It’s just that if you make a kid stick around in school for longer than absolutely necessary, he’s bound to hate you with an intensity otherwise reserved for tinday ki sabzi. If Modi wants the students of today to grow up and vote for him, he should save his speechwriters the trouble and just give the brats a free period. (Throw in a Shin Chan catchphrase and you’d have those kids begging their parents for a lotus tattoo.)

In the run-up to 5th September, there seemed to be a lot of confusion about whether or not it was mandatory for schools to telecast his address. The truth depended on how much coffee the fact-checkers had had, but for me, the most striking image was one that had been going around on social media. It was a photo of a classroom full of kids, say about eight to ten years old, watching Modi’s address, except one boy was standing in the foreground doing the little finger “May I go pee?” gesture, with a teacher pointing at him to sit down while also giving him a death stare, like he’d asked to pee on her foot or something.

I’m not sure if that photo will get shared a lot, but if it becomes big enough, these are the headlines you can expect to see:

NitiCentral: PM SPEECH STRENGTHENS YOUNG BLADDERS ACROSS THE NATION, THEREBY REDUCING THE RISK OF CANCER BY 832%

Sagarika Tweet: The boy’s pained expression proves that he is from the minority community. This is a dangerous precedent!!. Should we start communal fires that our pee can’t extinguish?!!!

Buzzfeed: 16 Hilarious Indian Gestures That Signify Susu

Instagram: <High-saturation Photo Of Lower-Middle Class Man Peeing On A Wall That Says Something Rustic Like ‘Gadhe Ke Poot, Yahaan Mat Moot’>

Firstpost: A 6000-Word Piece On Why Indian Girls Don’t Have The Confidence To Stand Up And Do The Finger Pee Gesture #Misogyny #Patriarchy #NobodyWillReadThis

And finally, Chetan Bhagat would announce his new book: a story about a boy from middle-class India, with a middle-class driver-type name like Sunil or Ramesh, whose English is not very goodly speaking because of full middle-classness only. After having middle-class water from a middle-class hotel (which is what middle-class people call restaurants) the boy would rush to empty his middle-class bladder in the toilet of his MBA college, which he joined to rise above his middle-classness, even though he really wanted to pursue his passion for MMS film-making.

But Sunil-slash-Ramesh would enter the girls loo by mistake, where he’d meet and fall in love with a rich girl, who pees wherever she wants to because she’s rich. The movie rights would be snapped up for a hundred crores, while “real” Indian authors – people who know that Whitbread is not a source of carbs – would sit around weeping tears of blood into their manuscripts featuring a poor brown man contemplating the nature of karma while trapped in a quagmire of Naxalism and also an actual quagmire, because that’s where all poor people live. (This man would be Bengali because, c’mon, when was the last time you saw somebody write stuff like this about Noida guys?)

Overall, the PM’s address appears to have been a success. The Prime Minister said all the right things, like blahblahblahblahblah thank you for listening, go home and chill now. Or at least that’s how the kids must’ve heard it. Jokes aside, I’m sure many of those kids will grow up to vote for the BJP. Years from now, you’ll see them at polling booths, fervently looking for the tinday ki sabzi symbol.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 7th Sep 2014.)

We Are The Youth of The Nation. Like, Totally.

So ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ made a 100+ crores this week, of which 98.3 came from Ranbir fans who have heartgasms every time he does something awesome, such as appear on screen. The rest came from the coffers of The Gentleman’s Society For Appreciation of Slow-Mo Champagne Spray On Deepika.

YJHD is the story of Kabir aka Bunny, who sets out to forge his own path, makes mistakes and discovers true love in the end. This is different from Ranbir in Wake Up Sid, where he sets out to forge his own path, makes mistakes and discovers true love in the end, and of course, that was nothing like Rockstar, where he sets out to forge his own path and then puts Nargis Fakhri in a coma by having sex with her. (Although with her range of expressions, it’s hard to tell exactly when she went comatose.)

This isn’t to say that YJHD is a terrible film. It’s not. It’s basic “dal-chawal”, except it’s being described in the way five-star hotels do it, i.e. “Steamed fine long grain white rice hand-picked in the emerald green lap of the Vindhyas, accompanied by a golden lentil soup that was gently simmered over the smouldering kisses of angels.”

It says a lot when, in a youth film, the only character that makes a mark is the father (played endearingly by Farooque Shaikh.) I just wanted to reach out and give the poor man a hug. The last time I felt so bad for Farooque Shaikh was when David Dhawan dropped a giant, steaming Pile No.1 on Chashme Buddoor.

There are currently two major entities that try and define the youth of India. One is Chetan Bhagat, whose characters exist in easily marketable groups and talk in the most badly grammar you will finding anywhere Orkut roxxx. The second is Bollywood, which, on occasion, does a great job, and on another occasion, tried to convince us that Shahrukh was a college student by dressing him up in a blue-green Polo Sport condom.

One film that worked for my generation was Dil Chahta Hai, which was slick and funny enough for us to ignore the fact that Aamir Khan had been celebrating the end of college since QSQT in 1988. Then there was Lakshya, where Hrithik Roshan did a fine job of portraying angst, especially when his jiggly facial muscles kicked in. Seriously, just look at any Hrithik film. At some point during intense emotional scenes, a continuous wave of ripples starts dancing across his face, as if he just swallowed a vibrator.

There are some tropes that Bollywood loves to use. For example, the modern-yet-sufficiently-pious-for-family-crowd heroine, who loves going to the temple. Deepika is super religious for the first half of YJHD, only to have that trait disappear in the second half, probably because she realised that she was a hottie and did not want to be godblocked by religion. Kajol sang bhajans to impress Amrish Puri in DDLJ, which was weird:

Kajol: Dad, I want to travel around Europe with my girlfriends.

Dad: That’s crazy. Now go spend the rest of your life with some gaonwala that you’ve never met.

Kajol: <insert bhajan>

Dad: Aww. Mogambo melt hua. Okay, go. Just don’t sleep with strangers. That’s what arranged marriages are for.

Then there’s the concept of eternal, undying love, which young characters in Bollywood seem to possess in copious amounts. We fell for it as kids, but it doesn’t hold up now. Again, take DDLJ – one of the most romantic films ever, about an aimless rich kid who falls for Ms. Goody Two Chappals even though he barely knows her, chases her across continents, befriends her family and finally, some blood and punches later, asks for her hand. This is also the story of Darr.

And hey, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai fans, if you stay hung up on your college friend for ten years, then you should just marry your basketball. Even during YJHD, when the rest of the theatre was ooh-ing and aah-ing over Ranbir’s decision to put the brakes on his dream to marry Deepika, people like me were thinking, “OK, so they’re happy now, but soon enough, he’ll start resenting her. He’ll feel stifled, they’ll grow distant, one or both of them will have affairs and then end up battling each other over curtains and shared lip gloss.”

Then again, people like me aren’t really the target audience for such films. YJHD will end up being DCH-meets-DDLJ for a lot of people, which is natural. Meanwhile, we’ll be judging silently in the corner. It’s easy to spot us. We’re the ones in Polo Sport.

(Note: This is my HT humour column dated 9th June 2013.)