Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Barkhagate-The revenge of Mallus

The sensational expose the Nadia Radia tapes have brought to light the worst kept secret. That of the media-corporate-politician nexus.

In its wake it left two of the most widely recognized faces in the world of Indian television news red faced. Barkha Dutt & Vir Sanghvi are a harried lot, Especially with the stinging criticism on social network media, which has given a lot of their critics an opportunity to tear into the flesh of their reputations. Terms like Barkhagate and Sanghvigate have almost become a clarion call for the “enlightened public” of India, which gets orgasmic pleasure out of Schadenfreude of celebrities.

Even after writing a column and a carefully orchestrated TV show on her own channel. Vir & Barkha have still not been able to make much head way in clearing their name and are still an anxious lot.

Hence they decided to go the Zen Master himself, the true champion of handling controversies, the emperor of slyness, and the czar of cunning who shows how to smile even in the face of the most damning proof. Ladies & Gentleman I present to you none other than his highness Suresh Kalmadi himself.

Suresh Kalmadi, holding centre chair, is surrounded by Barkha Dutt,Vir Sanghvi, Prabhu Chawla, Arnab Goswami, ,Rajdeep Sardesai & B S Lalli [PRASAR BHARTI/ DOORDARSHAN], all reclining on comfortable sofas in a large room. Deepak Chaurasia is missing though. A sign on the door reads “Kalmadis how to Save Yourself Session[SYS]."

Kalmadi: Hello everyone.

[Every one -hello sir, he chuckles] Despite you guys doing everything to destroy me in the wake of CWG. I Have decided to share my wisdom with you’ll, in your hour of distress. But before I can teach you’ll the various tricks of trade called S.Y.S [save your self] I think this is a good time to voice our thoughts to each other which will help me ideas to get you out of this mess…

So, who wants to get the ball rolling and tell Sir S.K what's going on?

Arnab & Rajdeep [in hushed whispers “since when did he get knighted?” and start giggling]

Kalmadi: boys I think I should call this session off, I will not stand for anymore insults. You know how priceless my time is right? Today I was supposed to meet the toilet paper supplier for the Olympics 2020 which by the way India is going to host

[Everybody looks at him in stunned silence; there is a mischievous smile on Kalmadi’s face, exaggerated by his diamond studded front tooth. This leads to an even bigger expression of surprise from those present.]

BDutt shoos everybody down, with a hushed murmur which roughly sounds like “guys we are paying him on per second basis”

BDutt: Oh yes, I guess I can start. Well, even after my show which I held according your advice nothing seems to have changed.

Kalmadi: Okay... and how does that make you feel?

Bdutt: Like I'm a bloody politician, man. It's so depressing. Everyone seems to want to put their buck on me, hell I am the creator of bucks here. You won’t believe yesterday on twitter somebody was blaming me for the sorry state of NBA team Milwaukee Bucks, farcically ridiculous.

Kalmadi:[chuckles] Hmmm. Milwaukee Bucks. That is pretty grim. Maybe we should move on to someone else. I'm sure Arnab has plenty of concerns to talk about?

Arnab: Nothing to report on my end, sir. No one is saying anything to “your channel” we only give what India wants. India has no interest in this issue, because we are the sole ones who decide what India wants at Times Now. Which is why we chose to completely block out this issue. India is not interested in this issue. We are the voice of India. (Everybody clasp their hands firmly to their ears, to avoid permanent loss of hearing due to this decibel explosion).

Rajdeep: Oh please, Arnab, you cant be representative of India’s voice. In fact my own voice is so much better than your shrill wolf howl! Your channel is not watched by any one.

Arnab: Hey, we are the one who gave the exclusive Adarsh scam expose;

Rajdeep: yes after filed the RTI in Adarsh case.

Suddenly there is inaudible cacophony. And a fight breaks out between Rajdeep and Arnab. Eventually they separated from each other after much difficulty by others...

Somehow everything looks settled now, although the snarling looks on Rajdeep & Arnabs faces seem to show everything is far from ok.

Chawla: haha, but we are the real winners we were the ones who did the exclusive on Coca Cola drinking Nagin.

Lalli: (smirking) Yeah, but we are way ahead.

Chawla: What?

Lalli: Nothing.

Kalmadi: [shooshing everyone] Rajdeep, Arnab behave yourself I don’t think any of you can qualify for Indian idol with voices like that. Prabhu this is not the right time to show off your TRP’s. Lalli, I know you haven't been completely honest with me about sharing the spoils of CWG broadcast, but we will discuss that matter in private [again that sly smile appears on his face].

Everyone turns and looks as couple of the security guards enter with Deepak Chaurasia between them .

Kalmadi: Who is that? Is that... Deeeeeepak? Where were you?

Security: sir he was snooping around the gate with a mini camera and a collar microphone, in a very suspicious manner.

[Security exit]

Kalamdi: it’s ok, he is here on invitation, and you can leave him.

Deepak: (bashfully) Oh... heeeyy guuuuys. I'm here for the ermm... I was at the gate.

Vir: Deepak, you were supposed to be here an hour ago! What were you doing at the gate?

Deepak: Oh, I just thought. Since... this all about the gate why not do an exclusive on the gate. And look what I found. I have an exclusive theory, this gate has “made in china” mark. Hence, I suspect all this is part of Chinese dictatorship design to undermine our free media. I have even thought of the exclusive story “sansannnnnnnnnnnni sonewalon jaaga jaao, dekho cheen kaise humari media ko khokla karne ka shadyantra rach raha hai”

Kalmadi: hmmmmm you might have a point here. But we can’t anger the Chinese now, I have just returned from there and have already started negotiations with suppliers there for supply of building materials for Olympics 2020, in fact I have even taken advance. Btw fyi this advance is strictly off the record. [Winks at the gathering, again showing of his diamond studded teeth]

BDutt: [looking disgustingly @ Deepak] what more can you expect from this, IQ deficient, over the top sensationalizing cantankerous vernacular media.

This flips off Chawla & Deepak in particular. Again there is commotion with a shouting match between all participants except for Lalli who unperturbed with the whole situation, is in a state of utopia enjoying the delectable Reshmi Kebabs.

Kalmadi: Right. Well. I can see we are getting nowhere with this therapy thing. Perhaps it's best to call it a night. Just make sure you all continue to attend my coaching classes on how to face the public in the wake of outright public humiliation as I call it SYS. And yeah! Kindly note all payments will by visa-to-visa transfer in my Cayman a/c.

[Just than out of nowhere Amitabh Revi of NDTV steps out of the shadows behind the sofa taking everybody by surprise]

BDUTT- Revi!!!!!!! What are you doing here you blundering foooool!, this is an editors only meet. You Mallu’s will never learn that you don’t need to be omnipresent everywhere. As if we don’t have enough Mallu’s cornering the world. That you have even found a way to sneak into this extremely exclusive group therapy session.

Revi: but but….

BDUTT: you you you…the buck stops here..leave from here now….I say did you hear me?

Revi: but but…

Kalmadi [cuts in]- Barkha Barkha…its ok…lets give the poor fellow a chance to explain himself…

Revi: [with an accusatory look towards Barkha Dutt] this is all because of her attitude towards the Mallu people that this situation has arisen. She has always had a step motherly attitude towards Mallu people, the proof of it is right here in front of you people [starts sobbing]

Kalmadi: Revi control yourself. Go on son, please elaborate further, be quick.

BDUTT: [muttering under her breath] what a ridiculous waste of time.

Vir Sanghvi:

Revi: [with a look of gratitude towards kalmadi] thank you sir. As I was saying, did you notice the medium of expose of this tape?????

Vir Sanghvi: [suddenly with a voice of great interest] Ya it’s that Open magazine, such a nondescript entity. The name “Open” itself reflects a great amount of antipathy for the aesthetic. How can a literary medium with an external locus standi be called “Open”. … [And he wants to go on & on, but Kalmadi gestures him to shut up, which he obliges but not without a whimper]

Revi: as I was saying. Before I was interrupted by his Royal highness [shoots a disgusted look at Sanghvi]. It was the “Open” magazine & pray who is its chief editor???

Arnab: [unable to control himself, howls] your channel says, no no no India says it’s Manu Joseph.

Revi:[initially startled, but eventually composing himself] errr…..yeah! He is right. Did you notice the fact that he is a Mallu?

[A loud guffaw! Across the room]

BDUtt: but why is he targeting me???? Why me? I want to know why am I singled out. Blurt out low life..

Kalmadi: Barkha calm down. Go on Revi

Revi:[in an angry retort] that’s because you were at the forefront of the smear campaign to malign the great mallu son mr. Shashi Tharoor, not only that you were chiefly responsible for him losing his ministry. Add to it you were also in tow with our arch nemesis-the Tams: helping them get the coveted telecom ministry.

Vir Sanghvi [interjecting] and pray what have I done to your Malabari brethren. The way I have been targeted is totally inappropriate. It's lewd, lascivious, salacious, outrageous, egregious, preposterous." "

Revi: oh! You………. You are worse than her. In one of shows in which you act as a food critic you severely criticized our Keralite specialty Appam. Hell!! you even had the cheek to call it poor mans pancake????? How can the fraternity ever forgive you for that? Wasn’t it enough to collude with that blogger Fake IPL player in bringing down our hero Sreeshant. That you guys went ahead to wound the Mallu pride like never before. You guys are deservedly paying for what you have done.

As they famously say in Malayalam “if you plant a coconut tree, don’t expect that tree to grow bananas”

Chawla:[in a very thoughtful tone] I knew this, this is a Dravidian conspiracy aimed at maligning the pre dominantly mainstream Aryan media. If you notice the tapes have selectively tried to target only Aryans.

Again there is a lot of commotion and people jumping, punching, scratching biting each other like street mongrels.

[Kalmadi orders the security to step in and separate all the participants, physically]

[Again everybody returns to the state uneasy calm]

Kalmadi: Listen everyone. In this hour we need to put up a united stand to thwart our enemy supreme ‘enlightened public’. We need to do this now. Revi …go on son, tell us if there is any way out of this.

Revi: yes there is a solution…we have a list of demands which if fulfilled will ensure that this issue dies a silent & prompt death, and then everything will be back as it is.

Kalmadi: on behalf of everybody I urge you to put those in front of us. [All present throw a look of disgust but TINA{there is no alternative} kicks in]. Okay guys?????

Chorus ok sir….

Revi: to present our list of demands I would like to invite, super beautiful, super intelligent, super talented and of course Mallu- Superrrrrr! Smitha Nair.

[Smitha Nair from CNN-IBN, suddenly slides in from behind the sofa holding a fairly sinister looking sheet of paper in her hand, this sends look of immense surprise on all the participants face, none more so visible than on her very own editor Rajdeeps face]

Smitha:[ignoring the chatter and the sniggering looks]: Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your coir ropes..ah! a personal touch I have replaced chains with coir ropes. Because in gods own country they are stringer than chains [She seems like wanting to go on but is brutally cut short by Kalmadi]

Kalmadi: Smitha we know that your state is ruled by communists, but there is no need for you to do a Karl Marx impersonation

[This results in the biggest gasp of the evening, with a resultant murmur sounding like “he,he,he…..knows it???”]. Kalmadi says to himself “ah! The china trip sure helped me to show these buggers that I know communism. Although, this is about the only thing I learnt there due to being constantly hammered with this nonsense”

Smitha [composes herself and shoots a meaningful glance at Revi, who showers her with a smile of encouragement]. Here is our charter of demand.

1st and foremost 60% of all channel staff has to be mallu.

Chawla: but most of them don’t know hindi

Revi: then change all hindi programs to Malayalam.

Chawla: but how?

Revi: you are the editor. That’s your headache

Continue Smitha

2nd Shashi Tharoor has to be reinstated as the foreign minister responsibility, BDutt, use your famed congress connections here now.

3rd Vir sanghvi to host an exclusive cookery show which only praises the malabari cuisine

4th As the year end approaches and you channels start choosing the Indian of the year. The event of the year has to go to tharoor/pushkar wedding, team of the year to kochi ipl team

Rajdeep: but it has not even been constituted

Revi:[interjecting] but still the award has to go there, we could have settled for kerala police football team but that is no longer in existence hence the award has to go to kochi ipl team, and yeah also the 2020 Olympics have to be held in Kochi . Continue Smitha.

Smitha: Sportsman of the year award has to go to our golden hero Sreeshant while entertainer of the year award has to be split between Mamoothy and Mohanlal,

[Suddenly the title track of Kaminey “dhan te Nen” starts bellowing in the background and as if out of thin air apparates a puny man wearing an oversized sweater and thick jacket]

Deepak: who are you? What are you doing here? How did you get in?

Sameer Phal [in a disarmingly cool manner]: I am the celebrity event crasher; I specialize in crashing any celebrity wedding, meeting, funeral etc.

To be continued

Monday, October 18, 2010


To understand this saga we have to go to TWITTER the extremely popular micro blogging site.

@gulpanag tweets -Now to the beach. #goa 9:28 AM Oct 8th via Echofon

gulpanag@rajivamagi Soutth Goa! Far from the maddening crowd:)9:32 AM Oct 8th via Echofon in reply to rajivamagi

@sameerphal replies via twitter mobile- @gulpanag- which beach in south goa u r running on? i will schedule my appts in margao & beyond.10:40 AM Oct 8th via web in reply to gulpanag

No reply....:(

gulpanag tweets-Ok please suggest place to have lunch in south #goa . In the vicinity of #leela . Thanks11:53 AM Oct 8th via Echofon

sameerphal@gulpanag-try mike's place authentic goan/ fishermans wharf all time fav. btw it's my birthday tdy so i can treat u :D 12:49 PM Oct 8th via web in reply to gulpanag

gulpanag@sameerphal-happy budday!12:55 AM Oct 8th via Echofon

Sameer Phal to himself “whoa! Gul Panag replies to me,la! la! la!

I need to retweet this…wait wait wait..no no no…what have I done. I have deleted this. Bloody I am never gonna use twitter on my phone ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Sameer Phal to himself ”bloody stupid git, it’s not the problem with the phone it’s u”. I narrate this whole saga to honorable friend of mine Mr. Vikas Krishnia who suggests we should do something about it. I call him insane… Thus I thought the topic ends

Meanwhile….on twitter

Gulpanag tweets-Martin's Corner it is. Thanks folks :)1:01 PM Oct 8th via Echofon

gulpanag tweets-Looking for a petrol pump in #goa is like looking 4 an island in the ocean. Similarly , driving a 2003 Qualis is like steering a ship.1:07AM Oct 8th via Echofon

On Sunday... I gave my birthday treat to my closest bugs namely [in alphabetical order] – Alivio Faria, Dr. Manjit Singh, Vikas Krishnia & Yogesh Umarye. The idea of treat this time was a novel brunch @ Alila’s. It was an awesome experience and I recommend it highly to all those interested.Post the treat when only vikas and I are left I just checked my twitter account, upon vikas’s insistence.

Gulpanag tweets#InOtherNews waiting for bridezilla to arrive at the venue for her#Goa beach (#bikini) wedding. Thank God for the clouds.4:29 PM Oct 10th via Echofon

Vikas ” lets go and check out Gul, what say?”, Sameer “are u you mad, oh! you think she is waiting with a garland in her hand just for us?”. Vikas “abey! Eternal pessimist. There is a good 99% chance that she won’t meet us, but there is still a 1% chance of us getting to meet her”. Sameer “ya, anyways we are not doing anything now, and I haven’t been to that part in a long time, so let’s go”

So the conquest starts…..

1st stop The Leela. We are about to enter and the security

guard asks us why we are here. We say we have come to attend a wedding; they tell us there is no wedding there & suggest that we should check out Alila. We say ”damn!” we were just there. We decide to head back. But just as an after thought…

2nd stop- We go and enquire at Holiday Inn. Enter reception area. We are told over there that although there is no wedding there, but ya, Donna Sylvia is hosting a celebrity wedding.

Final stop- we are about to enter Donna Sylvia and the security guard asks why we are here. Pat comes the reply from Sameer “we are photojournalists who have come here to cover the event”.

Thus we gain the entry. We spot the afore mentioned Gul Panag’s Qualis, and we are overjoyed.

We decide to go and have a drink at the garden restaurant. And lo…sitting next to us a celebrity group consisting of Shiv Kapur [of the F.I.R & IPL fame], Vir Das [badmaash co.amongst many] & Imran Khan [aamir khan nephew & heartthrob of I Hate Luv Storys] with his fiancĂ©e. Now I am nervous and excited. While Vikas was insisting that I play cool.

Playing cool/also read as act like celebrities. I don’t really have a hang of it. Hence the worst act in the history of obvious ignoring takes place. Imran got up and just gave a friendly smile to us, which of course we dismissed summarily. Upon experiencing this strange phenomenon, Imran gave a warmer smile, this time we went to the extent of turning our faces away from him. From the quizzical look which followed on his face after that, I can hardly hazard a guess to what his thoughts were at that time.

Now waiting for the star of the evening, pretty long wait I say. Just then step in the real photographers, with fancy shooting equipment and all. And I am like f**** “vikas lets go home, before we are caught”. Vikas dismisses my suggestion categorically and strikes up a conversation with the photograper

[the actual one]. He now finds out that diva Deepika Padukone is present there too.

Now both-anticipation as well as nervousness are at its summit. Enter Deepika with Siddharth Mallya in the tow. Followed by Gul Panag, Kunal Kohli etc.

Sameer “I want to pose with Deepika….” .

Vikas “shhh!!!!!!! We are photographers we are not supposed to pose” ok.

Finally as photographers we manage the charade of serious event photography. Hell we even manage to get Mallya and Kohli to pose. After some time…

Sameer “Vikas I think we should get going”,

Vikas “yaar! its such a boring party & they are not even dancing”.

Me “WTF”.

Vikas “you think I should ask Gul for a dance”,

Sameer “all these people are sitting formally and you want a dance???”

Vikas “why not?”

Sameer “but that guy sitting with her looks like her BF, more importantly there is no dance music and nobody is dancing”

Just then... enter a hotel staff. “Sir, may I know which publication are you representing?”. Vikas tongue tied, I swoop in “we are from the Goan Observer”, the guy gives a very skeptical look.

Sameer “that’s a real paper; here type it on my phone in google, if you don’t believe me”.

Manager “that’s ok, sir. Let me just check and get back to you”.

Sameer “let’s run from here, as fast as we can”. Vikas looks pretty unperturbed though. Just then there is an announcement. That the bride will be here and everybody stands up from their places.

Vikas “anyways Gul seems to be pretty occupied, I guess we should allow her a breather”.

I say “ya! Precisely with -guffaw ”.

Vikas “wait the bride is here, we need to click her pics otherwise it will too damn obvious btw who is the bride?”.

Sameer “f*** we don’t know that”,

Vikas “how do we find out? Should I ask the waiter?”

Sameer “no that would be way too suspicious” …think…… “Ok! Let me check on twitter to see if there is any update”

Gulpanag tweets And @Sethshruti is now married to

@dan1shaslam !!! Beautiful#Goa beach wedding with perfect sunset:))))Sun Oct 10 2010 18:13:49 (India Standard Time) via Echofon

Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks Gul.

Vikas” abbey! What’s the name of this bride?”

Sameer “dude she is Shruti Seth”.

We go up to her and suddenly from nowhere, after clicking some pics. Vikas leans forward and plants a kiss on Shruti’s cheek . Following that... he literally shoves a stunned me in her face. Left with no choice I follow his lead. In my defence, it happens in such a lightening instant that I hardly have any time to react.

The reaction on Shruti’s face following that can only be described as perplexed. And the one on mine was of bewilderment. After that everybody take cue from us and start greeting her [I didn’t dare to look at her husband Danish’s face at that moment].

Point to note: the wedding crashers are the 1st ones in greeting the bride at a party to which they were not invited at all.

After coolly walking out of that decorated pandal.

Vikas remarks “Betalal! act cool, be confident”

By now the whole chain of events has reduced me to a practical specimen for study in body language, of the expression which can only be described as phobic nervousness. But somehow having experienced it earlier [that’s a topic which has to be left for some other time]. I do manage to compose myself. Just then out of corner of my eye, I spot the hotel fellow followed by a guy who looks distinctly like his manager.

Sameer “vikas, that guy is coming back lets just get outta here before we are caught”.

Reluctantly and after some pleading Mr. Vikas heeds my request.

End of the story: We got out of there safely, that’s the

singular only reason I can recount our adventure.

Anyways before I say goodbye, I have to thank Gul Panag who inadvertently led us to this adventure

I think I am a great singer [although a vast majority will differ with my view]. So here it is.“khilte hai gul yahaan, khil ke bikharne ko”

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Our Internet Ghost

Your girlfriend is bored… and she has a job which involves free access to internet all day. Oh! How about checking my boyfriends e-mail account [the voyeur in her has already taken over]. She goes ahead as she knows your password- which the gullible you has given it to her on the platter. Surprise surprise there is a mail from your ex and it ends with a signature which goes- love you now and forever.

You are in an important work meeting and your phone starts buzzing like crazy. And lo! before you can blink your eyelids you have received 37 missed calls. You try to ignore it and focus back on work, by this time even your work people are disturbed by the continual vibrations. So after an elaborate facial expression of apology smileys & extreme irritation, you call your chhavvi's num. Just to confirm that no catastrophe has taken place. In time to be greeted with a volley of abuses and a promise “I  dont want to see your face again till I die”. 

At this point you are totally bewildered and the only thing you want to do is quickly wrap up the meeting and talk to your darling. And now you are left WONDERING........

Then there is a marathon one way calling session wherein your fingers go numb with repeated dialing of her number. After some time you lose that solace too, thanks in no small measure to the fact that she has switched of her cell. You try reaching on her landline, well it has to be her mom [she has never quite approved of you] who picks up the phone and adds a bit of choicest words from her side. The mildest one ranging from “I had always warned my daughter to not to go out with guys like, but what to do it is all our fault” to an outright threat to put you in jail or break your bones. 

WONDERING^2 some more.

You try to meet your girl, lure her with expensive gifts. Try to talk to her friends whose reaction ranges from a disgusting look to outright abuse. Finally some kind soul takes pity on you and finally the meeting is scheduled. And again you are trying to understand what lead to all this. 

Meanwhile your WONDER has risen to WONDER^3 now.

Finally the great meeting happens. There is a lot of heartburn, accusations, tears and a final bad bye with a curse that you shall never be happy in your life ever again. WONDER ends- culprit ……bloody email.

After that you vow that I will never share any of my passwords with any body. In fact you do an extensive research with reference material like DUMMIES GUIDE TO MAKING PASSWORDS STRONGER. It says ur password must contain an uppercase letter, a number, a haiku, a gang sign, a hieroglyph & a horn of an unborn unicorn

Kudos! Alas… you succeed in making a password which is even difficult for you to decipher.

Great END…..but that’s not the story I really wanted to tell.

My main point in writing this blog was what happens to all our email, Facebook profiles, Orkut profiles, Twitter Handles, LinkedIn profiles long after we are gone?
 We are extremely sensitive, secretive, in fact paranoid about our virtual identity e.g above serves to illustrate why?
Hence there is a very slim chance that somebody will know all our passwords or even know how to retrieve them.
Is it like a soul which continues to haunt the virtual world and never attains mukti?