Saturday, 21 July 2012


What makes the Indian police in general behave very much like the much despised cartoon strip character - the joker? The infamous joker lurks in the shadows ready to spring on and terrorize innocents. And by and large does not the average cop behave in the same way? He hides next to the turn under a tree to fine you for jumping a light and then demands a bribe; he takes a hockey stick and smashes property and puts innocent women behind bars on trafficking charges; and only yesterday he dragged a young women from her car in Andheri and slapped her and locked her on a charge of indecent behavior in public!
What really is outrageous in this rash of incidents occurring with alarming frequency all over the country is not the way the cops are behaving but rather our acquiescence and silence for their criminality. And in places like Mumbai these cops are egged on by an entire constituency of people which support this outrageous behavior and criminality. Many of these people have divested in these cops there warped ideas that these ‘jokers’ are our morality keepers and they have every right to go around slapping youngsters, abusing them, subjecting them to illegal blood tests and basically terrorizing them in so many different ways. Be that as it may I promise you that when the next terrorist attack occurs in Mumbai (God forbid!) these morality gatekeepers would have disappeared or would be in hiding from public view and accountability.
There are two important issues involved in this developing rash of criminal episodes. Many of these cops come from lumpen backgrounds and harbor deep resentment towards people who have risen in life due to hard work and entrepreneurial abilities. Then there is a sizeable middle class constituency which is terrified by the changing social order and divests in these cops their faith to keep their very own children in check. When cop resentment merges with skewed middle class aspiration an aberration develops where the trustees and guardians of law become the biggest predators who scrounge around for perverted sociological gratification. Many parents do not realize that a brush with a perverted cop could scar their children for life.
The second issue involved here is the real role of the police in our society. Honestly does any sane person feel safe or comfortable interacting with any policeman? Why have things come to such a pass? Perhaps the answer lies in a famous line from the film Ardh Satya, released many years back, in which Smita Patil tells the cop Om Puri that he is a victim of his own cop environment. If you stay in the muck then you will be covered with muck one day. Cops are authorized to uphold the law and not to create their own and impose on the people.
It is a useless and pointless debate, taken up by the bleeding hearts that cop aberrant behavior results due to politician diktat and interference. My point here is that no one forces a cop to join the police force in the first place. You join the force out of free will. And you are duty bound to uphold the law and if you step out of it then liberal arguments should not come in the way for taking these cops out of the system and making them pay with prison terms for their criminality.   

Thursday, 5 July 2012


One of the most hierarchical places on planet earth surely has to be the Television Soap opera industry. I will share with you some vignettes which I personally experienced during the days, a few years back, when I was trying out my luck as an actor in the big bad world of Bollywood and Television. I had a small role in that Mother-of-all-Serials, ‘Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki’ and here is an account of what all happened to me during the shooting of that serial.

I walked in freshly scrubbed, all keyed up for my role at Film city and near the Kahani set I saw Parvati Bhabi alias Sakshi Tanwar dab some powder on her nose and look at a hand held mirror held by what you call in Bambia lingo a ‘chappu’. So there I was with my manners and missionary school education and in the fitness of things I walked up to her and held my hand and said, “Hi Sakshi. My name is Juggi Bhasin. I think I have a small scene with you in today’s shoot. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

 Sakshi Tanwar looked at me as if I had touched her in the wrong place, then she rolled her eyes and stormed in her makeup van. A production assistant lounging nearby came running to me and adroitly guided me to another make up van which I had to share with three other people.

“Juggi Sir (the Sir bit added to all gents above 40 years of age) “it is best you stay in your make up van and uh…avoid…uh interacting with the big stars…you understand what I mean…your shot will be ready in five minutes, till then rehearse your lines…”

Fine. I had just learned my first lesson in the pecking order that I was at the bottom of the food chain. No problems. I could not become a Boman Irani or an Anupam Kher in just one day. But more revelations were to follow. Three other sidey actors like me walked into the makeup van and they looked at me as if I was sitting in the van smug just after having burgled their house. The senior most in that group of three called the harassed production assistant and let loose.

“My space is getting cramped…why don’t you put up newcomers in a separate place? Shift me to another van immediately.” The production assistant looked at me helplessly and I tried to make myself invisible in the van, but that not being successful, I went out of the van, pretending that I had gone out for a smoke.  I loitered out for some time and the five minutes turned in a five hour wait.

Scenes were shot not in continuity or according to a linear narrative but according to the convenience of the big stars on the set. But the pecking order did not end there. It extended to the makeup room and finally the lunch that was laid out for the crew. The air conditioned make up room was obviously reserved for Parvati Bhabi and her ilk while the lesser mortals like me had to do with a quick dab on the face in the blazing sun outside. For lunch Parvati Bhabi disappeared in her van and outside two tables were laid out and  it was amply clear to everyone that one table was reserved for the director and his cronies on the set and the other table was reserved for the likes of you know who… 

Finally late at night my scene, in which I had a bit of interaction with Parvati Bhabi, came up for the shoot. I keyed myself up; maybe it wasn’t so bad after all. Parvati Bhabi walked in like a queen and rattled of her lines in our so called interaction without me being present in front of her!

That’s right folks! The director substituted another person, Parvati Bhabi said her piece and walked away and the director at twelve in the night called me and took my cutaways and I spoke my lines to a wall!  “Don’t worry,” said the Director. “We will join them together later.”

I walked out early morning from the set and resolved to stick to the business of writing rather hope to become the next Boman Irani!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


There is something ghoulish the way we think about and treat women in India. Rumi Nath an MLA from Assam was beaten and nearly raped by a mob of over 100 people because she dared to leave her husband and marry a Muslim. Tennis macho stars Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati have fought over Sania Mirza in full public view as if she was some piece of real estate both had to acquire at any cost. And a television channel keeps reminding us 24x7 to save the tiger, forgetting that one half of the humanity in India is increasingly becoming endangered.
What makes the Indian male so vicious and so insecure that he will go out of his way to make and implement laws that choke the desire and aspirations of self respecting women? Take for instance the law of bigamy which is now being used against Rumi Nath to harass and intimidate her. We are not sure of the details in this case but my argument is that assuming that even if Rumi left her husband and has started living with another man, out of wedlock, why should it be held against her? Is marriage all about a legal contract where usually the scales are tilted against women from the very start? What goes on behind the four walls of a house is the business between a woman and a man. Does society like a tribal panchayat have any right to sit in judgment to tell a woman who she should be sleeping with or with whom she should be emotionally attached?
I can understand the need for legislation to protect individuals from financial wrong doing. But surely a woman or for that matter a man should have the free will to live with the person he or she chooses to live with. For heaven’s sake settle the financial issues but don’t sit on judgment on the morality of a woman? There is urgent need to amend this archaic law on bigamy.
What makes this entire issue so depressing is that both the major political parties in the country are all for enforcing the status quo. The BJP has always had its share of the loony right but Rumi’s party is the Congress and not one person from her party has stood up for her. Rather, according to reports elements from within her party carried out the attack on her.
In a deeply sociological sense the average Indian male even today is Mama’s boy who is utterly incapable of handling strong women with a mind of their own. Modernity and an embrace of western, modern values by itself does not guarantee the evolution of a modern mind. It takes enormous courage and inner strength to let go and not bind half of humanity in India by laws that should have been consigned long ago in the dustbin of history.