Wednesday, January 02, 2008


The quintessential ‘Material Girl’ is in India….and guess what the paparazzi are rubbing their hands in glee…Its their best chance to rake in the pounds…after all, its not often that you have a Hollywood personality of Madonna’s stature on India darshan… And clearly going after our rather ‘political correct’ film stars isn’t enough to keep all the tabloids in good business…

So there was the golden egg laying goose…or rather atleast a golden opportunity….Madonna with her adopted and biological brood and husband in tow…roaming in the sandy dunes of Rajasthan… Perfect ‘back-of-the-book’ piece for a story-starved media…after all Indian media might not totally shut itself during the looong Xmas-New Year break, but the stories tend to dry up totally along with your skin in the chilly Indian winter.. So there were headlines screaming “ Where the hell has Madonna disappeared to?” Well, the read between the line is…. just how the hell do you, Madonna, think that you can come to our rather populous country…where in every inch of space, you have atleast two noses bumping into each other.. and expect to just disappear without a trace? Just how dare you?

We make a lot of money selling our country as a nation of freaks, all the foreign agencies we happily accommodate here, with the generosity that only a huge hearted democratic nation can show, and look the other way, when the only way we are portrayed to the rest of the world, is as the biggest third world nation, constantly looking for any and every form of aid…For that we show our snotty, malformed children in dusty villages without water or electricity that dot our map, talk of the mosquitoes and flies that cannot be kept under control and constantly give statistics about how this India needs the world to get on the fast track to development… Ok, now that slight deviation apart…we get back to the headline….

If Madame Madonna had come to India in search of yoga, half naked sadhus and her new found Jewish rediscovery path….she would have been in for a shock.. She would have had a shock when she realized that far from the rather under-developed country, she had to tackle little wannabe paparazzi cameramen popping their flashbulbs in her face…while she tried to get to some non-descript, unheard of village some 150km away from Jodhpur….

So much so that the shock, I imagine, sent her, with family in tow into the swirling sanddunes, to hide like a little ostrich family, eyes tight shut, with their heads deep in the sand, hoping that the camouflage worked when the foreign paparazzi led by their Indian counterparts working as their ‘friend- pocket pop-philosophers and guide’ all rolled into one…trooped behind them on camels hired at the rate of xxx pounds per hour… Well, she would have thought she had mastered the ‘Great Indian Vanishing Act’ to a T (that is if she knew how desperately she was being tracked using western GPS systems and our indigenous human and astral trackers) BUT she thought wrong!

One enterprising cameraman with his little handy cam caught a fleeting glimpse of a fleeing Madonna…I mean…her skinny butt was caught in a slight blur… But he would have known he had managed to reel in a prizewinning catch… After all, one glimpse would warrant atleast a five minute chunk on a one hour bulletin…and even if the foreign media haggled over its quality, the Indian market was large enough to keep him fed and clothed for a month…For even regional hindi channels here want to let their loyal viewers have an update on Rani Madonna’s Indian Daura…. So to each channel that he was ‘exclusively’ catering to, he would have peddled his less than ‘half minute’ that they could all ‘simultaneously’ broadcast the pictures with competing bands of EXCLUSIVE splashed all across the screen in differing sizes and shapes…and still insist that their anchors claim rather cockily that their channel alone knows about Madonna’s whereabouts…

Wonder how gullible our TV viewing janta actually is….and do they really give a damn about what madonna’s Indian schedule was really like? But on second thoughts maybe they do…atleast that’s what the ratings guys would have us believe….There apparently was a spike in the viewing of all those channels (English, Hindi and other regional media that did cover such stuff) which had unending footage of Elizabeth Hurley’s numerous visits to India leading up to her by now famous the Grand Indian Marriage circus, where even a really really long shot of Liz in a boat somewhere on Lake Pichaula, if I remember right, was treated as BREAKING NEWS, EXCLUSIVE FIRST PICTURES…and those, who didn’t have it within the first five minutes of the other, had their reporters running helter skelter to ‘arrange for the visuals’… Ditto with the Brangelina visit during the shooting of “The Mighty Heart”…How we reported their every move, followed them so much that in running away from us, they nearly ran over many….

So do the antics of Madonnas, Brangelinas and the Liz Hurleys of the world really excite a true Indian hearts beating in the wheat fields of Punjab or the dust bowls of MP or even the backwaters of Kerala? I doubt it, I doubt if they even knew who we were so excitedly talking about…But just at the times when we think the interesting story is the one that has the potential to reach out to the masses of India…the rural Indian heart…our media moguls decide that the urban Indian is the decider…the point one percent who follows Western films, music or even fashion trends is the King of the TRPs..

So spend a king’s fortune on tracking their skinny butts as they ‘explore’ the VIBRANT INDIA…the ratings will keep the show going…and the Indian paparazzi growing….It rhymes, doesn’t it?

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