by Sandip Roy and Lakshmi Chaudhry
The Silsila headlines continue unabated as Rajya Sabha TV becomes the newest Bollywood channel to go on air. While pundits shake their heads disapprovingly at this cheap Bollywoodisation of our august upper house, we say: put aside the brickbats, and bring out the trophies! The Jaya-Rekha show unfolding on live television deserves not just one, but many awards for public service.
The Senior Achiever Award: Bbuddah hoga tera baap, indeed. The Rekha-Jaya-Amit troika are putting the sex back into the sexagenarian. OK, OK, so the actual sex likely happened decades ago, and Rekha admits to 57, but what’s a few years between friends and rivals? That we as a nation remain riveted by this outdated romantic triangle is a tribute to the evergreen appeal of our Bollywood seniors. Tina Ambani should give them one of those Harmony Foundation Silver Awards that honour seniors who still show “irresistible momentum” and prove that “ageing doesn’t mean slowing down.”
The Visual Excellence Award: What else are we going to look at in Parliament? Our favourite ex-minister Raja stages a smug comeback in the Lok Sabha? Honestly, the beautifully coiffed and well-preserved Rekha is a sight for eyes long made sore by the sight of our politicians getting away with murder. Best of all, the two ladies make a certain section of middle-aged India feel young again. And at a time when Pranab-da has told us the big liberalisation party is over. In the midst of this gloom and doom austerity, we need all the golden oldies nostalgia we can get for free. It’s like a giant dose of Chitrahaar.
The Civics Education Award: When Rekha took her oath, Derek O’Brien tweeted cheekily “Would you believe it ? Rajya Sabha TV is trending on Twitter.No it’s not for MS Swaminathan’s solid speech on food grain storage.” The dynamic duo have single-handedly made the oft-derided Rajya Sabha the talk of the town. And their rivalry may well give Indians a much needed civics lesson in how their government works.
“On Rekhaji’s stage, Jaya blazes” marveled the Telegraph. Mrs Bachchan read the agenda papers, kept raising her hand during Zero Hour. Never mind that she confused the discussion on Indians held captive in Angola with the Indians who died in a plane crash in Nepal, or that she was confused about the body’s arcane rules. But now the rest of us can learn right alongside Jaya-ji as she figures out how to raise a “point of order.”
The Creative Copy Award:This is a wonderful opportunity for all headline writers, reporters, and politicians to put themselves to the ultimate test: How many ways can you work Silsila into a sentence? Amar Singh, the estranged self-styled brother of Big B, is the man to beat in this particular contest.
“I don’t want to say anything on why Jaya Bachchan changed her seat. It’s her own silsila, her own business, her own affair. I don’t have any comment to make on it,” quipped Singh after the seat shuffle–kerfuffle. The media have been following suit. ‘Silsila in RS?’ asked the Mumbai Mirror. “That’s some Silsila!” exclaimed NY Daily News. We cannot wait for the Amul ad.
The Classy Affair Award: In an age where eighty-plus year old governors are caught in sex romps in Raj Bhavan and we are subjected to the bobbing bald head of a Congress spokesperson listlessly doing the dirty, this reminder of an old fashioned tinseltown affair comes as a breath of fresh air. In this piece of political intrigue, a look – albeit a sour grimace – is worth a thousand words, and a mere seat change speaks volumes. And all those Silsila references remind us that if you must conduct your extramarital affair in front of a camera, do it in style: with eye-popping fields of tulips, white saris flushed with gulal, poetic double entendres and an ecstatic background score by Hariprasad Chaurasia and Shiv Kumar Sharma. Now, that’s a class act of immorality.
Back from the Dead Award. Doordarshan? What’s that? The government channel, long discarded by cable-owning Indians, has risen like a phoenix from the ashes thanks to Jayaji and Rekhaji. The Rajya Sabha TV feed comes directly from Doordarshan cameras, which have have been in place since 1997 without attracting the least bit of interest. Now they are the hottest lens in town and everyone is talking about them. Were those lingering shots part of a vindictive Congress plot? “We did not edit the feed in any way “ protested an RS TV spokesman. Doordarshan’s director-general insists there was only a “three-second” shot of Jaya during Rekha’s oath. Either way, says the Telegraph, it shatters the myth that “Doordarshan does not have news sense.”
National Integration Award: Go ahead, just give it up for Rekha. At a time of political backbiting and vicious polarisation, most politicians can’t hide their excitement at having the yesteryear hottie in their midst. And it’s allowing our politicos to flash a rare glimpse of wink-wink nudge-nudge bonhomie. When Mulayam was asked if he would call Rekha to congratulate her, he deadpanned “Please give me the phone number.” Asked about seeing Rekha in Parliament, former railway minister Ram Vilas Paswan swooned, “She is more beautiful than what she appears on screen.”
The only caveat: All this sadbhavana may not extend to some of the ladies already in the houses. Najma Heptullah grumbled to reporters: “Fewer MPs thumped their desks when she took her oath today. More people cheered for me when I took my oath.”
Rehabilitating Amitabh Award: Finally, a story that involves Amitji without having to deal with Amitji himself. We can all rest assured that our nation’s favourite oversharer won’t tweet or blog about this silsila. Our most over exposed super celebrity plays a key role in this soap opera, but, thank the lord, it’s not a speaking part. And it’s an added relief that Sexy Sam Sr is finally making headlines in an age appropriate story.
The biggest bonus is this: Without the man in contention in sight, our lovely ladies already show signs of sublimating their rivalry toward more worthy causes. Of Mrs Bachchan’s unexpected and passionate advocacy of Angola captives, psychologist Madhumati Singh told The Telegraph, “One’s behaviour tends to show signs of restlessness, being edgy, or jittery in the presence of a person with whom one has had unresolved emotional upheavals or rivalry.”
We love this 21st century version of Silsila. where the ladies compete for the love of country and not of a man. For that reason alone, we say: lock kiya jaye.