Monday, May 16, 2011

Jaya Akka, Mamata Di and Silly Simi

The ladies are back with a bang. They have trounced their rivals and sent them scurrying. Time for the two lovely lasses to preen and pose in front of the cameras. Although I have never met either of them, I feel I have known them all my life. And this is true you know. I have known them for most of my life.

Take Dr J Jayalalithaa. I first set my eyes on her as a little boy when she acted in a Hindi film called Izzat. The film had Dharmendra in a double role. The two avatars were brothers but the dark Dharmendra was the illegitimate and the fair Dharmendra the legitimate son of a rich man. Fair Dharmendra had Jayalalithaa wooing him while Tanuja was cast opposite the Kaala Dharmendra. I remember Jayalalithaa being very coquettish and singing a song that went ‘Ruk ja zara, kidhar ko chala.’ The men in the audience went crazy flinging coins at the screen with every naughty gyration of the plump beauty. I was at a pre adolescent stage and couldn’t figure out what the fuss was all about. All I understood was the woman making all those funny moves was a very important person to be greeted with all those coins.

The years passed and a lot of good and bad things happened to Jayalalithaa and I kept on reading about her in the newspapers. She had aged but her eyes could still dance like the old days. Then Simi Garewal had her on her show. Now for some reason I find Simi Garewal incredibly sophisticated and incredibly stupid. She works herself and the person she is interviewing into some kind of strange sentimental frenzy and the results are hilarious. Only two of her guests have seen through her. One is the wily Shahrukh Khan who made her do a quawali with him and the other is Jayalalitha who refused to do any rhona dhona on Simi’s show and instead sang a song, completely overshadowing the bland and anorexic Ms Garewal.

Simi is not likely to invite Mamata di for any of her shows. I don’t think they will be able to communicate with each other. Simi speaks in what she imagines to be the queen’s accent and Mamata di has her own style. After her victory, she declared to the media ‘I am a simple man.’ I am not sure whether the gender mix-up was accidental. Think about it. Bengali men wear all these intricate kurtas that are almost effete in their ornamental glory. And here is this woman who shows a marked preference for the dullest of saris. Going by gender stereotypes Mamata di is the only man left in the West Bengal political arena while the bhadrolok left leaders hang their heads in lojja.

Mamata di has always been macho. She made incredible sacrifices to emerge as the political force she is today. When I was working in Kolkata, almost two decades ago, the grapevine had it that she got her own party men to beat her up so that she could blame the left parties and turn into a martyr. I wonder how many men would be brave enough to get beaten black and blue for their political ambitions.

But whatever be the idiosyncrasies afflicting them, they are both women of grit and a thousand times better than the rivals they have beaten fair and square in the elections.

We need women like Jaya akka and Mamata di and not that silly Simi.

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