Thursday, October 28, 2010

Light my fire

This appeared on today

“Ravana is in high demand” read headlines from a newspaper this morning. Today is Dussehra, a grand festival that marks the grand finale to the nine days of dandiya delight. It’s the day when thousands gather at various spots all over the country to watch Ravana effigies being burnt.

I’ve long held the presumption that every popular Indian face at some point must secretly wish for this deep down inside. Indian gods are very kind when it comes to granting chote-mote wishes. Nothing else can explain that every superstar has had the esteemed privilege of getting his or her effigy burnt.

Big B recently had his share along with Ram Gopal Verma, to see their effigies being burnt in public. This for the liberty RGV took to temper with the national anthem and include it as a song in his film Rann. These two join the list of celebrities who've had this distinct honor before: Madhuri got hers burnt for saying something controversial about Sita in Lajja, Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty got theirs burnt for the infamous peck on the cheek, Dhoni got his burnt when India lost to Bangladesh in the last World Cup, Varun Gandhi got his burnt for pushing his luck too far and making outrageous statements, Danny Boyle got his burnt for the usage of the term 'dog' in his movie title Slumdog Millionaire and Deepa Mehta is a veteran in this field.

Burning of effigies definitely takes the stardom a notch higher. It is nothing short of a movement and our media makes it imperative for the entire country to obsess about it for a short while. It's great free publicity for the popular face and since public memory is so short, there’s actually no harm done. Mutually beneficial innit. It's a whole different story that most protests are completely blown out of proportion but who cares. Burning effigies is like celebrating Dussehra on a random day. How fun! It unites people and gives them something to do: plan, execute and reminisce. Such a stress buster.

There’s something enormously empowering and liberating about watching the Ravana effigies being burnt. It’s probably got something to do with conquering the evil and watching it turn to ashes bit. If people could apply this concept for every boss or ex-boyfriend or landlord they detest, life would carry a lot less emotional baggage. If done the right way with the right company, it can trigger off an avalanche of muck raking and release all the bitterness and negativity. Imagine this: if you’ve harbored a slight resentment towards anyone which you aren’t able to shake, a little effigy and off it goes up in the air and out of your system. Bliss.

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