Friday, October 19, 2012

Murder at Farrukhabad: This is NOT about Arvind Kejriwal, Anna Hazare, Robert Vadra, Salman Khurshid etc . . .

Inspired by current affairs and needing a change from the boring realities of Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, Anjali Damania, YP Singh, Robert Vadra, Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Arun Jaitley, Salman Khurshid, Beni Prasad, Laloo Prasad and Nitin Gadkari, Clearway wanted to produce an apolitical movie of a different genre. 

It had to be a horror movie, but should also have humour in it. It should be absurd, but should also be realistic. It should have no hero - but the audience should keep guessing who the hero is. And there should be many characters who may turn out to be positive or negative. There are no heroines, but there are many female characters. There are many comedians, and finally, lots and lots of bad guys - the villains.

Clearway approached some of the popular personalities in the Indian film industry with this mandate. Here is how the discussion took place.

(Disclaimer: All characters in this post are fictitious. Resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental)

Name of the Film: "Who wants to be a Multi-Billionaire! (Kaun banega Multi-crorepati!)" or, "Murder at Farrukhabad"

Directed by: Arvind Bejri Lal
Producer: Anna Hazaar
Music composed by: YP Sing 
Dialogues: Samman Furshid
Lyrics: Samman Furshid
Locations: Farrukhabad; New Delhi, Haryana
Female Lead: Soni Aandhi
Female Character: Anjali D' Mania
Editor (and comedian): Man Mahaan Sinha
Villain 1: Rob Varda
Villain 2: Samman Furshid 
Comedian 1: Nitin Adhikari
Comedian 2: Aalo Prasad
Comedian 3: Veni Prasaar
Character Artist: Adun Jet Lee
Promotion Partners: India Tomorrow

Arvind Bejri Lal: Samman Furshid, I want a comical dialogue for a serious situation.
Samman Furshid: Is that a question or a statement? There is no substance in what you say.

Arvind Bejri Lal: No, it is an instruction. I want a dialogue before 1st of November, 2012. We will reach the location (Farrukhabad) by then.
Samman Furshid: Okay, shall I arrange for the shooting at Farrukhabad? I know some men in the street there.

Arvind Bejri Lal: No. You are the actor and dialogue writer. How can you arrange for shooting? It's so unbecoming of you and your designation to arrange for shooting.
Samman Furshid: You speak with much disrespect, Arvind Bejri Lal. I think you need to learn a lesson or two.

Man Mahaan Sinha: Why this mindless negativity?
Arvind Bejri Lal: There is no negativity. My wife is in God's hands, so I can go to Farrukhabad and work peacefully.

Samman Furshid: You can go to Farrukhabad. But how will you come back?
Adun Jet Lee: I strongly object. We should focus on the movie and complete the picture. The producer, Anna Hazaar, already seems uninterested in the film. How can Samman Furshid ask such questions?

Man Mahaan Sinha: Why this mindless negativity?
Anna Hazaar: You see, Arvind Bejri Lal, I already told you I do not want to produce this movie. You convinced me. When you print posters, please do not use my name as Producer.

Samman Furshid: Why should I give you the answer you want? What I say is the answer. You have no right to ask me. And I will repeat this 71 lakh times.
Veni Prasaar: 71 lakh times is too small for a dialogue writer. I do not believe you.

Arvind Bejri Lal: I will go to Farrukhabad and come back the same way. And Samman Furshid, isn't your home there? We will start the film's publicity from your home town.
Samman Furshid: You do whatever you want. I will write my own story. Since this is a horror story, I will fill my pen with blood and write it. 

Anjali D' Mania: I think we should also have a scene where the villains take away my land.
Aalo Prasad: Take away? Why can't we eat in?

Arvind Bejri Lal: Anjali, you be with me. We will work on the movie. Samman Furshid is more interested in shooting rather than writing. He has no idea about the legal formalities involved in the movie.
Rob Varda: Hey Mango People, why don't you eat some bananas before you work?

Arvind Bejri Lal: Rob, the whole movie is about you and your banana. We will finish the movie before we eat.
Rob Varda: Okay, if you have problems going to Farrukhabad, why don't you change the location to Haryana? I have some ancestral properties there which I bought two years back. I sold it again, but I have some remaining land also. May be you could use it for your film location? I also know some people in DLF Film City. Or you could go to Himachal. My wife has some properties there too.

Anna Hazaar: Arvind Bejri Lal, I told you movie is scum. Whatever you do, do not use my name as Producer when you print posters for the film.
Man Mahaan Sinha: Why this mindless negativity?

Samman Furshid: I think we should hold a press conference. I will conduct a reverse sting.
Nitin Adhikari: Reverse swing only Manoj Prabhakar can do. I do not know anything about it. I'm not even a businessman. I find it laughable. 

Anjali D' Mania: Nitin Adhikari, you should first give me my land before you give compensation to Adi Vasis, That's the first scene in the movie.
Arvind Bejri Lal: You hold all the responsibility, Nitin. You are the comedian, do not act like a villain.

Adun Jet Lee: Look Arvind Bejri Lal, we should get a U Certificate for the film, not an A Certificate or a Parental Guidance Certificate. So, whomever you expose, be responsible in the exposure. 
Anna Hazaar: Before talking of exposure, first bring an impartial Censor Board. I will fast till the Censor Board is ready. My path is different from Arvind.

YP Sing: Arvind Bejri Lal, we both planned the movie together two years back. But you started directing and left me to be the music director. I want to ask you, why are you giving such a huge role to a Comedian like Nitin Adhikari? You should focus on the main villain, Sarda Power.
Man Mahaan Sinha: Why this mindless negativity?

Soni Aandhi: Man Mahaan Sinha, you shut up. You can't say anything more than that. Now onwards, you don't say that too. It's only because of my efforts that the film has come to this stage. 
Rob Varda: Everyone is forgetting me. This Samman Furshid came up with stupid dialogues and stole the show. For once, I was in the news. Now, no one is talking about me. Should I go back to Haryana?

Samman Furshid: I can show you photos of my previous works. My wife maintains the complete report and records.
Veni Prasaar: Samman Furshid, I will believe you if you say that 71 crore times. 71 lakh times is small change for you.

Nitin Adhikari: I agree. Small change.
Arvind Bejri Lal: I object. It may be small change for you. But for me, this movie is a big change. After Farrukhabad, I want to go to Delhi.

Samman Furshid: You can go to Farrukhabad. But how will you come back?
Soni Aandhi: Samman Furshid, you go ahead and arrange for murder at Farrukhabad, er, I mean, shooting at Farrukhabad. I have asked Man Mahaan Sinha to keep quiet from now onwards. If possible, finish the shooting at Farrukhabad itself. 

Arvind Bejri Lal: My wife is in God's hands. And there will be a hundred Arvind Bejri Lal's after me.
YP Sing: I am one of them. But I will expose more than what you can, even if the film gets A Certificate. Where is Sarda Power?

Rob Varda: Soni Aandhi, shall I go ahead with my call sheet? I had only fifty films two years back, but now, I have 500. I have to increase it to 5000 films.
Soni Aandhi: Samman Furshid, you take care of Arvind Bejri Lal and YP Sing. Do you have enough blood, er, ink in your pen for two?

Samman Furshid: Why not? I can get more if I need. I can import from Oxford. You go ahead, I will finish the shooting at Farrukhabad.
Anna Hazaar: Arvind Bejri Lal, I told you not to start the film. Whatever happens, do not put my name in any poster. I'm going to fast from tomorrow for a proper Censor Board. Vande Mataram!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mind Your Negativity: From Bofors to Robert Vadra, All is Well!

Sorry Prime Minister, it's our selfishness to blame, not your incapacity!

The national mood has not slumped to such negativity in recent memories. Clouds of gloom have descended on the sensitive citizen who is aware, on the responsible person who cares. When the Prime Minister talks of mindless negativity, he does have a point. 

India against corruption has become larger than life. And the nation is beleaguered, if the Government were deemed to represent the nation. But then, it's been a long while since the government assumed responsibility for the nation. At least, that's the popular belief, and the message that goes out to the common man. Corruption in India has long been an issue, with publications accounting for corruption in British India. But that was perhaps because the state was in a state of flux, with changes rampant and things transient at their best - the British rule was challenged by Indian patriots who were determined at winning freedom at any cost. Friction creates room for negativity. When the rule of autocracy is established, there would be forces that undermine the rule, and there would be insiders who would indulge in profiteering from the resultant friction.

But it's been 65 years since India got its freedom from colonialism. And democracy is no autocracy. It is supposed to be representative of every citizen, give shape to every dream, and provide a common vision for progress. Did the Indian state achieve such lofty ideals in a period of over six decades? Forget lofty ideals, now it is a question of mere ideas. Does the state have ideas? Does the government have a plan? Is the system functional at all?

To be able to run a government and manage a country is not a joke. It becomes an even more serious affair, when the country in question is India, with its tremendous population and population density, enormous languages, diverse religions, various philosophies, and intense politics. Any issue that is discussed in the parliament has the potential of turning into a sensitive issue. And any party that dreams of forming power at the centre has to be 'mindful' of this reality. Is the government mindful of it, or is it mindless?

While it is difficult to manage a coalition of partners who have their own individual agendas, and their own personalities, what could be said of a government that is relegated to a minority and is literally held to ransom by its allies? With the queen from West Bengal, a former ally, having openly declared war against the ruling coalition, you would expect a skilful politician at the helm to manage the deteriorating state of affairs. Is there any hope left at all?


Surprise! The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was branded an underachiever, well before things turned this bad. "How does it matter?" ask the Congress. "We would brand Obama an underachiever", retaliates the Indian media. The immediate question that arises is, "Does it really matter? Why this mindless negativity?"

Dr Manmohan Singh is an academician, a bureaucrat, but not a politician by any stretch of imagination; and far less is he a leader by any standards. Are we a leaderless country?

"That's fine", some may say. "There are advisers to the Prime Minister, who would guide him through". An article refers to the "Chanakya", Ahmed Patel, personal adviser to the Congress President, Sonia Gandhi. When a country is whacked badly from all sides, eaten by the pests within, rotten by the "mindless negativity", and well in the process of going to the dogs, who is on the lookout for a Chanakya who could help the politicians cover their back sides? We need a warrior who could fight for the nation, not for the politicians. It's War!

And that's what Arvind Kejriwal and Company are up to. When the system is corrupt to the core, when the leadership is drained of its intellect and resolve, when the allies have all but deserted, when the government has been a victim of its own making, all that we could look up to are people like Arvind Kejriwal and his "India against corruption" movement to become the saviour - somehow. This is not the time to measure Mr Kejriwal, to study his personal ambitions, to reflect on his credentials. Salman Khurshid may be more interested in knowing what Arvind Kejriwal's background is, and how he gets his funding. However, that, in reality, would be "mindless negativity".


The ruling coalition once looked like a pack of buffoons. Now, they look like ominous forces in sheep's garb. The list of corruption cases never seems to end, making even Bofors look dwarfed. (By the way, does anyone know Ottavio Quattrochi's whereabouts?) One scam after the other keeps pouring out of the closet. If 2G Scam was huge, the mining scam was monumental, the alleged nexus between Robert Vadra and DLF is phenomenal, the entire "politician-bureaucrat-real estate industry" network that seems to be unravelling in Haryana is only picking up steam, and the alleged wrongdoings of the law minister, Salman Khurshid, is out of this world! Kejriwal did pull a coup in the Robert Vadra episode, what with "Mango People Banana Republic" having become iconic. Would the Congress use the slogan for its election campaign? But then, hey, are we not verging on mindless negativity again? 

Sorry, Prime Minister, but looks like we have been conditioned into negativity. It's not your fault; it's just that we have not been fortunate enough to have a strong leader who could reign in the negative forces. We have not been savvy enough to elect an honest government. We have not been educated enough to read the differences among the good, the bad and the ugly. We have not been responsible enough to say no to corruption. And we have been too busy with our own lives, being so naive to believe that elected representatives would look to our interests, not theirs! It's our selfishness to blame, not your incapacity.

Finally, the Robert Vadra saga seems to have taken a back seat for now, with Salman Khurshid's scandal coming into the limelight. But hey, wait! Is it indeed a scandal, or it is a spectacular display of Salman Khurshid's loyalty to Congress and its President? The law minister has said he was ready to die for the Congress President. So, perhaps, Salman Khurshid and his wife decided to distract attention from the on-going all-out attack on the Sonia family by manufacturing irregularities in their NGO accounts so that the media could take its eyes off Robert Vadra! Should the CAG focus his investigation from such an angle and probe if the irregularities were intentional? Bravo, Salman Khurshid, you have passed the test of loyalty, and your services to Congress would stand the test of time. 

For once, Mr Prime Minister, we have been able to see the positive side of a scandal, and get done with our mindless negativity!