April 18, 2014

Amitabh Bachchan could once have been India's PM! Will Namo make him India's next President?

Last Friday, I saw what some people are calling Bhoothnath Returns: The Election Special! Whatever you call it, this Bhoothnath has grossed an unbelievable Rs.18 crore in the first three days at the box office! Unbelievable, because it was a small budget film with no heroine or young hero; and to top it all, the film was good, but not really a masala entertainer! Well, that’s the power of the stellar Big B at 72! What a man nonpareil! Having made a film with him – The Last Lear, which went on to win the National Award – many beautiful memories of sublime moments spent with and around the matchless personality during the shoot and the promotions zipped past my mind... And similar to the film Boothnath Returns, which ended with the reel Big B – Bhoothnath – winning the elections, I believe that if he wanted to, the peerless Big B was also a man who could have been our Prime Minister, and perhaps been a good one at that. I will give you five reasons.

The first reason stems from my memories of how the inimitable legend (then about 65) would be there on the film sets without a fuss early in the morning, before time, and would mostly wait patiently for other lesser ranked stars to arrive, who mostly used to arrive a couple of hours late! Not just that. While everyone else would be wasting time frivolously between shots, the superlative Mr Bachchan would be sitting in one corner actually practising his lines, and therefore, most often would give shots in one take while all others would waste valuable film rolls with retakes aplenty. Be it this, or getting up early morning and finishing his gym session before we all could even reach the gym (I remember how, after getting down at the Toronto airport, he was the one walking fastest on the long route to the exit – and to imagine we were all almost half his age), it showed why he reached such heights of success – non negotiable discipline and sustained sincerity! Qualities we need in our leaders!

The second reason is his kind heart. I remember when we were having this press conference in Kolkata, I saw a man entering and showing his gratitude to Mr Bachchan for saving his daughter Mita Mondol’s life. The poor tea stall owner’s daughter had been detected with a rare heart disease and it was the preeminent Big B’s generous gift of Rs. 2.5 lakh rupees that made a complicated operation possible and helped save her life. That showed that Mr Bachchan’s heart was that of an altruistically benevolent man, something that people across India have felt time and again from his bounteously loving, fatherly/grandfatherly handling of his participants in Kaun Banega Crorepati – a reason why every time that I see him speak on the show, I feel like touching his feet! You know that it’s a nice and beneficent human being out there. How often have we felt the same way about any of our politicians?

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April 11, 2014

Almost 100 on Honesty, But Zero On Vision and Leadership... Now Kejriwal Needs to Learn The Theory of 10,000 Hours of Practice

AAP came up like no party had earlier! And is now on its way down as fast. But, has AAP lost its entire support base? Not at all! The poorer sections of the society, who are relatively less on education and understanding, are still firmly with them. AAP's non-stop claim about being an honest party has caught the fancy of these sections. And rightly so. This is a claim that is almost true. There are stray cases where people with a criminal background have gotten tickets; but by and large, I still believe AAP's intent is to remain non-corrupt. Compared to all others, they are the true "pavitra ganga jal" in this department. The lesser educated classes don't understand governance, vision, development, growth, stability and negatives of fascism; but they do understand honesty. It's a simple non-complicated term.

These classes are seeing social workers, who have been tirelessly working for them, getting tickets; people from their own fraternity getting tickets; and minus a few cases of people like Kumar Vishwas – who have been seen wearing designer shoes, jackets and gold chains – most AAP members look one of them, including Arvind Kejriwal with his muffler and regular bouts of coughing. So these sections do believe AAP is honest. And thus, when you go to a "Som bazaar" (a Monday market that is put up every Monday by roaming traders), you see all of them out there wearing AAP caps. The name Aam Aadmi has worked with this segment. This most awful and visionless symbol has worked with these classes, and the cap has worked too. Yes, this is largely Delhi based, but if AAP tomorrow gets resources and starts getting seen more often in other cities, it will work there too; but amongst the city poor only, at least as of now.

But is that good enough to win elections? Well, perhaps not. My gut analysis is that the wave is always created by the so-called middle class. They are the teachers, journalists, employers of maids and drivers. The city poor work at their homes and hear them on radio and see them on TV and get influenced by their choices. During the previous assembly election in Delhi, this class was supporting AAP. Being fed up by corruption, they got swayed by Kejriwal's promises and the residue of the Anna effect. Thus, they went out en masse and voted for AAP, and the result was for all to see. All areas with middle class majority are where AAP won. All outer Delhi seats with poorer sections were not won by AAP. Poor votes were divided; middle class votes were united.

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