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Saturday, April 21, 2012

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(Published in on 19 April, 2012, retrieved from

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In a less prudish world, where people are less likely to be arrested for suggesting it, the Congress might as well thumb its nose at the BJP. “You guys only watch it, we do it!”
I mean, there was Narayan Dutt Tiwari’s sex scandal, and it hit our screens when he was – shudder – 84. Now, there’s Abhishek Manu Singhvi’s CD. Naturally, it was “doctored”.
And these “doctored” tapes were disseminated by a former driver, who was reportedly cheesed off because (a) the Singhvis didn’t pay him in proportion to their own earnings (b) his wife was allegedly slapped by his employers when she was pregnant, and he believes this caused his child to be mentally challenged.
Next, the driver, Mukesh Kumar Lal, was reported to have filed a statement before the Delhi High Court saying he had bought four “distorted” CDs from a shopkeeper in Bihar – yes, Bihar – to distribute to media houses.
Meanwhile, Twitter went crazy, with one woman claiming to know the woman in the CD – well enough to place her age accurately in the “40s to 50s” bracket. Wow. And apparently, she is influential enough to become a judge without Mr. Singhvi’s help. Wow again. I’m pretty sure my school Civics textbook made judgeship out to be a rather tedious process that didn’t involve sex.
But leave all that aside. This business of the doctored CD. Honestly, WHAT are we supposed to believe? That this shopkeeper in Darbhanga has a “guy” who films random people fornicating, another “guy” who Photoshops the likes of Abhishek Manu Singhvi into it, and another “guy” who brings it to his store, where he can sell these godawful tapes? Who’s his target audience – disgruntled domestic help? What does he sort them by – age, party, profession, attractiveness?
All right, let’s leave him to his indices. So, we’re supposed to believe it so happens that this shopkeeper had a doctored CD of Abhishek Manu Singhvi lying in wait for his annoyed driver, who happens to be passing through Darbhanga, just in case Mr. Lal feels like releasing these “fake” images to the media?
No wonder he was feeling unwell at the thought of the press conference for the party briefing. I’d feel pretty sick too. I mean, all those journalists with their accusatory questions and unwavering eyes and polished shoe-missiles. You never know, right.
I was quite unaffected by all this until a friend decided to send me this sneak peek into the dirty laundry – or lack thereof – of Mr. Singhvi. Oh, dear God. Of course I clicked. And I find myself wondering what there is in men that makes them want to dispose of their trousers for television.
Remember that infamous interview where Karan Thapar made Kapil Dev cry? And then the camera zoomed out to show us he was wearing boxers under that crisp blue formal shirt, as if to complete his humiliation on TV?
Those of us who are still interested in finding out how Ted Mosby met his children’s mother will know that Robin had a co-anchor who was prone to leaving his trousers behind for the early morning show. Hence, I was paranoid when I began to anchor an early morning show myself. Thankfully, the inclement weather in our Noida studio and, perhaps, good grooming ensured that my male co-anchors always kept their trousers on.
So, was it the balmy summer evening that made Mr. Singhvi drop his pants for television? Was it a subtly obscene gesture aimed at television, as if to say “See, I care so little for your channel, I couldn’t even be bothered with pyjamas. I dare you to look below the surface and figure out whether I’ve got my chaddis on”? Or did he simply forget to wear them?
Thing is, we women can’t really think of an equivalent. We wouldn’t dream of doing the same thing, of course. And it isn’t so much out of modesty, as pragmatic concerns. Men’s legs are always good to go. For us, there’s that ritual of waxing and moisturising and toning and manicuring and nail-polishing. We like to pretend we’re made that way, but really, it’s a lot of effort.
The closest I can think of to undermining one’s top half with the bottom half has to do with slippers. Like most women, I have secretly-worn ugly car-driving slippers and power heels that I claim to be comfortable driving in. There’s been one occasion when I walked into an event wearing an LBD and horrific black sandals with red piping. Naturally, I excused myself to go to the restroom, and returned four inches taller.
But would I go pyjama-less to make a statement on television? Well, I have no occasion to, so let’s put someone else in that place. Would Mayawati have? Hell, no, even her statues needed pyjamas. Not a good one for austerity, that lady.
There’s Didi with her Spartan image. If she were to appear with a sari like the one Lady Gaga made famous, and cycling shorts, it would get our attention, yes – like her combed and oiled hair did when she presented her last rail budget. And chances are, she’ll turn into a style icon.
All of this leads me to think it’s the ironic incongruity between the options men have – shorts, boxers, briefs – and the lack of scope for anything but ridicule that makes them rebel. And then, one feels rather sorry for this subdivision of humankind that spends the first third of its life exaggerating its sexual exploits, and the rest denying them.


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