Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie!

Cat chases mouse. Mouse outsmarts cat. Mouse slips away. Always and EVERY time! Cat never ever catches mouse.

Substitute Elmer Fudd for Cat. Replace mouse with rabbit. And lo and behold, the story line is the same.

How long can you stretch this theme? Apparently, forever! Tom & Jerry and Bugs Bunny have been among the most successful cartoon franchises for longer than I care to remember.

My brother, all of 67 years, still watches them, still guffaws in glee! Me, I stopped watching cartoons even before I grew facial hair! Ok, they’re now called Animated Films, and, along with my brother, Pixar and Disney are also laughing – all the way to the bank!

Ok, so what makes a good cartoon?

The first requirement of a cartoon, the sin qua non of course, is that it evoke mirth. It be funny. Even if you don’t actually guffaw or ROFLOL, it simply MUST raise an odd chuckle, or at the very least, bring a smile to your lips. Right?

The next requirement is that it be subtle. It should poke fun with the delicate touch of a rapier, rather than a sledgehammer. No place for slapstick or tomfoolery. None at all!

Also, it should be in good taste. Lavatory humour should stay in the lavatory.

Lastly, it should not be offensive. Of course this is totally subjective, in that one man’s food is another man’s poison etc, what is offensive to me may be side splittingly funny to you. But suffice it to say that all grey areas must be avoided. There’s plenty to poke fun at without stepping on anyone’s toes!

Viewed in the light of the above, do Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons pass the test? An emphatic NO, the more emphatic the better! They are downright vulgar, in pathetically poor taste, extremely offensive and evoke only disgust – with nary a trace of humour anywhere!

I could point out the link where one can view them, but believe me, they’re disgusting and SO not worth the effort! 

Believe me, I have seen graffiti on the toilet walls at Fergusson College that was more artistic, had better taste and was way more hilarious! My favourite being the one-liner some genius had scribbled  `Yahaan jo bhi aaya, gaya haath mal ke’.

Michael Angelo's David
Of course there have been geniuses who have caused offence. Michael Angelo’s nude David, or his fresco The Last Judgement in the Sistine Chappel raised a lot of hackles, and even brought the nature of his own sexuality into question.

Nearer home, Hussain’s depiction of Hindu Goddesses in the nude caused the sort of reaction that exiled him to Dubai.

But these are works of genius. I am tempted to include Rushdie’s `Satanic Verses’ in that category, but good friend Samina will wring my neck and hang me out to dry!

Charlie Hebdo’s nonsensical `satire’, on the other hand, never rises above gutter level. Along with the abominable YouTube movie `The Innocence of Muslims’ it ranks as the most asinine piece of garbage ever churned out in the name of free speech.

But would I kill the cartoonists for their rank bad taste? No matter how offensive I find them? Most certainly not! At best, I’d dump the magazine in the trash can where it belongs.

Free speech is a myth, and all the brouhaha surrounding it is pure bunkum! No freedom can ever be absolute. Will free speech allow a man to yell `Fire!’ in a crowded theatre, and cause a stampede? With freedom comes responsibility.

So the groundswell of outrage and protest world wide, the million strong rally at Paris, that had over 40 heads of state in attendance, was basically a protest to allow people to print the vilest of garbage without fear of life and limb!

Or is it a protest against any form of radicalisation, a cry for reform within organised religion, particularly Islam? That I can agree with, but not at the cost of basic decency and good taste.
The latest cover

As if to remove any lingering doubt from any of our minds, the very next issue of the magazine again had a terrible caricature of the prophet Mohammed on its cover!

So no, as the title of this piece says, I am NOT Charlie!

It was Voltaire who said `I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it!’

He probably hadn’t seen Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons!

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Frankly, My Dear..

I don’t do New Year Resolutions. I don’t do Resolutions, period. I made an exception on 8th August 2011, the day I officially turned senile, the day I `sathiaoed’.

I had spent six decades, `giving a damn’ to people/things I shouldn’t have bothered about, while overlooking people/things that I should have. It was time for some course correction.

I wrote my first post `Resolutions at 60’ on `Mitti Pao!’. Basically, the now senile Harish Puri resolved to:-

·      Stop believing that the world revolved around his magnificent aura
·      Accept that life didn’t have an Undo key
·      Junk all unequal relationships
·      Make his days count

Now, three years later, I realise that I had not verbalised the most important of them all – to stop giving a damn. The world is full of idiots, and most people are not worth the trouble.

The problem is we spend our lives `giving a damn’ about far too many issues, and then feel outraged, angry or cheated when things don’t go the way we want them to.

Reserve your `damns’ only for things that really matter. Family. Friends. Purpose. The New York Cheesecake. The occasional heated argument or two.

But that’s easier said than done. Life has far too many trivialities and unimportant dramas that suck us in, and steamroll us into becoming inveterate `damn givers’. And boy, are we screwed!

So-and-so said such-and-such about you. Really? Aisa bola?? Salay ki toh main.. Your BP sky rockets, you picture dark and forbidding scenarios involving Mr so-and-so, and if he has really pissed you off, his mother and his sisters as well..

We live and die by the side notes and the distractions and the vicissitudes of life that simply don’t matter. We must learn to shrug. Learn to say `I don’t give a damn!’ Or a rat’s ass, Or a f@$k. Take your pick.

By no means am I saying `Be indifferent’. Indifference is bad. The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Just know who are the people you really care about, and who care about you.

The rest? Just stop bothering about whose toes you’re stepping on, or who you’re pissing off, as long as you’re convinced you’re right.

If you find yourself consistently `giving a damn’ about the trivial shit that life is so full of – a silly pique at one of your posts, how quickly the battery dies out on your new iPhone, how Homeland-4 ended in a damp squib, chances are there’s not much in your life worth a real damn anyway.

And that’s your real problem. Not her pique, not your iPhone, and certainly not Homeland-4! (An aside here. Are all ISI agents as hot as Nimrat Kaur??)

When you’re young, you have the energy and the gusto to really give a damn about any and everything. Did that hottie at the other end of the room return your `look’? Why has that PYT replied to your ardent sms with just a smilie? Is she into you or not??

With age come weariness, if not wisdom. You care less and less. Ok, even a smlilie is a response after all.

And once you’re past 60, you probably won’t even look at the phone. It’s probably an equally weary spouse reminding you to pick up the Toilet Rolls from the Canteen.


Lovers, friends or family, I have been `unfriended’ by all at some time or another - people I care about, mind you - for the silliest of reasons. Back in the day, I would have apologised abjectly, if not actually grovelled. No longer. Now, I shrug it off. I don’t give a damn. The loss, I say, is theirs! And it is!

Unequal relationships have been truly junked. Love me, and I’ll love you back. Intensely. Anything else, and I’ll be Rhett Butler to your Scarlet O’Hara. Remember moviedom’s greatest comeback line ever – Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!