This was definitely a week of shock and awe. And one which gave me much reason to be so proud to be part of a permissive and progressive India. The troika of newsmakers — Mallya, Manu Sharma and Mummy Bachchan —bamboozled the moral, financial and judicial fibre of the country and the media.
So the week began with Manu Sharma singing 'It's the time to disco" now that he's received his second vacation from his prison term for murdering Jessica Lal. Thanks to our lovely judicial system, he's off to romp around the hills of Karnal and Ambala for his little brother's wedding. Why someone who has been convicted of shooting dead another person, and that too because she refused to serve him a drink after closing hours, is even eligible for parole is beyond my understanding. I thought the constitution states that parole is considered in case of life convicts only after the first 14 years of their term.
And this isn’t the first time that Manu has received parole. Last year he'd claimed that he needed to visit his ailing mother, only to be arrested for getting into a drunken brawl while dancing the night away at one of Chandigarh's nightclubs. Of course, none of us, nor the courts would have been the wiser if only Manu had chosen his opponent a little more judiciously. While Manu was visiting his allegedly ailing mother at the disco, he picked a fight with a top cop's son, who immediately made sure Manu was carted right back to prison. If you kill someone and take away their right to attend any family gatherings ever, I would think it's only fair that you shouldn’t be allowed to do the same either. But when you know people in high places, the law can be bent to suit your social obligations. His jail-buddy and Nitish Katara's murderer, Vikas Yadav who's been holed up in an 'A' category luxury room in AIIMS for the last few weeks must be wanting to shake a leg in a pub as well and should really ask the enterprising Manu for some tips on how he can get out for a bit of R&R. That's the least Manu who apparently has a leaning for social work (he has a charitable trust which saves the lives of children — or so it claims), should do for his friend.
So now that Manu's out again, despite his last parole transgression, I'd just like to advise the bartenders and damsels of Karnal and Ambala to keep a low profile and wear bullet-proof helmets this weekend. I for one am staying far, far away from any discotheque or pub in the entire region.
Manu's little legal travesty was of course over-shadowed in the media by our very own desi Richard Branson, Vijay Mallya. I was utterly distraught to hear that I might no longer have the joy of seeing Vijay Mallya strolling towards me through the clouds and welcoming me to live life kingsize at Kingfisher Airlines. So we've all known that his airline is up shit-creek, and they've been in the red as a result of which Kingfisher Red was being guillotined first and multiple flights were being cancelled by the airline since they couldn't pay staff salaries, let alone buy fuel for their flights.
But King Mallya pulled a coup of sorts this week, and all the news channels danced attendance dutifully. After getting lambasted in the press for talk about wanting the government's largesse to bail his airline out with taxpayer's money, Mallya decided to call a press conference. He delivered all the government's key messages — regulations need to be changed at the state-level, he would never ask the government to bail him out, and so on and on and on. I have to give it to him, he had his best oratorical skills on display and looked very much the business magnate that he is. And while he might have a failed airline under his wing, Mallya's press conference was broadcast uninterrupted across all news channels for nearly an hour. Last time there was such uninterrupted coverage of a press conference or speech, was when Rahul Gandhi read out his speech in Parliament. Hail to the King! If you're going out, you might as well go out with a bang.
But no one has the media kow-towed to in the last week as much as it has to the needs and feelings of the first family of Bollywood — the Bachchans. The littlest Bachchan hadn't even entered the world, and she'd already made it a better place. In deference to the coming of the prodigal one, the Broadcast Editors' Association (BEA) circulated a ten-point guideline to the media banning any invasion of privacy of the whelping of baby Bachhan. No OB Vans, no astrological programmes around the birth of the chosen one, no breaking news story. Basically, they took all the fun out of the birth. So while Big B and Not So Big B tweeted right from the OT, the poor media was reduced to reporting on the birth by screenshots of the tweets which had appeared pre-and post-delivery. Was this a media revolution? Or an exercise in privacy by the House of Bachchan? Or does this simply mean that we will be seeing a Vogue spread of Baby, Baba, Mummy and Dada a la the Pitt-Jolie clan a month down the line? Hmm!
So will next week manage to live up to this week of stunners? Or will we have to resign ourselves to reading banal news on whether Kani cried in court and why Sachin will never score that 100th century in our lifetime and how Rahul Gandhi has once again forced a Dalit villager to share their meal with him?
Rajyasree Sen is a bona fide foodie, TV connoisseur and unsolicited opinion-giver. You can read about her adventures with food and life in Delhi on her blog www.brownsahiba.blogspot.com or follow her on Twitter at @rajyasree
Updated Date: Nov 18, 2011 14:57:05 IST