The Tarun, the Tejpals, the Tehelka and my suspicions.


What was he thinking? No really. If you have read the original mails that brought the Tehelka scandal to light, you would be hard pressed to side with Mr. Tarun Tejpal, just because of his profusely gurgitatory English. Also, because he admittedly assaulted the victim TWICE and yet wants us to believe it was a lapse in judgement. Now seriously Mr. Tejpal, who do you think you are? MS Dhoni handing the ball in the last over to Ashish Nehra? No sir, nobody is allowed a mistake twice.

The first time you do it, it is a mistake. The second time is a choice. Except, well, when you are America...

The first time you do it, it is a mistake. The second time is a choice. Except, well, when you are America…

By the way, the above link to the mails is the entire mails chain, in the now famous Tehelka scandal. Sometimes, people who break news, break louder than the news they break.

Tehelka had come into the limelight with the match fixing scandal that shook up the entire cricketing world and made Ajay Jadeja into a reality show participant. Poor Hansie Cronje died shortly after this and whenever India won or lost, it was supposed to be the fault of match-fixing. Obviously, Sreesanth was too young when this happened in 2000; which is why he got caught for the same thing in 2013; which was pretty stupid, if you ask me.

The other thing Tehelka introduced to Indian media, were Sting Operations. Suddenly, anybody with a camera and a news channel was out to catch others red-handed. After being a web magazine and then a tabloid and finally a magazine, Tehelka gave alternative and many-a-times, refreshingly objective views on many popular and under-the-radar stories. For anybody who has read more than a Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey and Facebook walls, Tehelka is a spark in the dark publication. Or should we say, was?

Because, today it finds itself in the dumps. Its Managing Editor, Shoma Chaudhary resigned after 6 other senior journalists resigned. For those of you who remember anything apart from the fact that sex was involved in this whole case, everything started at the ThinkFest, which, people like Robert DeNiro and Amitabh Bacchan had attended.

From left to right: AB, RD, TT. TT saying, "I held her in the elevator like this!"

From left to right: AB, RD, TT.
TT saying, “I held her in the elevator like this!”

For a festival titled the ThinkFest, it was very poor thinking by Mr. Tarun Tejpal to lose all his fortunes essentially because he couldn’t keep his pants on.

Tarun, in Marathi means young. In accordance with the fallacies of youth, Mr. Tejpal got his family’s recently earned fortunes to come crashing down. While the fateful elevator scaled up, fate was smiling upon him, planning his downfall and that of the magazine, Tehelka.

Soon after the sex scandal broke out, news starting pouring in of how there had been alleged blackmailing of various corporates to fund ThinkFest 2013. A few days in, there are massive allegations of briefcase companies, insider trading, illegal funding and whatnot. This report alleges that the entire Tejpal family profited by selling individual shares worth Rs.10 at Rs.13,189 to make massive profits for themselves. Shoma Chaudhary, was also involved in this.

While Tehelka started as a robust investigative journalism portal, it soon ran into the practical obstacle of funding itself. Advertisers were reluctant to come in, the government was obviously against it. Tehelka turned to donations from celebrities like Aamir Khan, government officials like Kapil Sibal, Shashi Tharoor. Funded by the people, it enjoyed a long but frugal run. While employees sometimes had their salaries delayed by 2 months at a time, the Tejpals and Shoma Chaudhury were enjoying profits in crores.

Straight out of a Gulzar film. With an Abbas-Mustan supertwist!

Straight out of a Gulzar film. With an Abbas-Mustan supertwist!

And imagine losing all these crores earned over so many years, just because Mr. Tejpal was too Tarun to keep his pants on!

Which brings me to my point. I smell something fishy. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but there seems to be something engineered about this entire scandal. Before you read on ahead, let me jump gun and assuage your doubt. No, I am not saying Mr. Tarun Tejpal should be let off for sexual misconduct.

Now, to the point. I think, the sexual scandal was the feeder for the more explosive news about the Tehelka financial scandals. Today, news is no longer its own marketing. Today, even great news has to bundled into a neat package if it has to be believably consumed by the populace and if it has to have a long run in the media. Vested interests also try to give their own angles to the story. In such a scenario, how could one expose the Tehelka financials in a way that the public does not soon forgive and forget? Using a woman to stir up already burning fires of the pain of crimes against women seems to be a good way of making a story stick.

Am I saying the woman who got molested was a planted spy to catch Mr. Tejpal off guard and then make false accusations against him? No. I do not. For a woman of her standing, there would hardly be any motivation to allow herself to get embroiled in such a scandal.

But, it does not allow me to think that a person of Mr. Tejpal’s standing, enterprise, intelligence and exposure could think that he could get away without consequence with a crime as severe. There has to be a more pressing explanation to that incident. One that does not involve exonerating the perpetrator or downplaying the pain of the victim. For nothing can take away from the fact that this was a shameful sexual assault by an older, more powerful person on another.

Follow me on twitter @squareandfair.


Long Copy Ad – Product: Writing


*Written for the Introduction to Writing Course held at Northpoint, Khandala for advertising students.*

“Aww! He’s learned to walk!”
“Oh my god! He’s grown so tall!”
“If I would have met you in the streets, I would not have recognized you at all! The last I saw you, you were a baby!”

Time and again, as we grow from a child to a teenager to a young adult, people around us, of course, except immediate family, notice how we have grown, how much we have changed. As a person standing inside the gigantic footprint of Godzilla, we keep looking at the ground and around, failing to see where it is.

“I want to get into client servicing!”
“I am so good at drawing, I will become an artist!”
“I can’t do maths! I am not going to take science!”

As we grow up, along the path, we keep stepping into chewing gum. Chewing gum of who we think we are, who others think we are, who we should be.

“But, boys should not wear nail paint!”
“All girls are mean!”
“I am who I am!”

And you know what happens when you step into chewing gum. It doesn’t go off! Imagine your entire body being covered in the chewing gum of what you think you are. And now imagine all sorts of dirty things sticking on to that. Runaway hair, flying sticky wrappers, dust, pebbles…eww! I wouldn’t want to be you!

Yet, we keep insisting we are what we are. By the time we are just about exiting our teen ages, most of our ideas have been formed for life. What you like, what you dislike, what you think you are capable of, how you think the world and people function. These ideas also shape how open we are to learning new things. And barring a few lucky individuals who go through ‘life changing’ incidences, we take these young ideas to our graves.

Except, when you leave markers all along your life path. Like photographs of the inside you. When you write. Maybe a poem. Maybe a story. Maybe just a daily or weekly diary. Something that pegs you down to who you were when you did that. Because writing is like that. A blog, a notebook, the back of your bus ticket, the notes on your phone, wherever you are writing, you are leaving an imprint of you for you to look back at 2, 10, 20, 40 years down the line.

And when you look back, you would be amazed to see how much you have grown, how much you have changed! You might even be embarrassed about how immature you were! This is true even of when you are writing as a 40 year old and reading 20 years later as a 60 year old!

But don’t be embarrassed. See the chewing gum for what it was. Get into the habit of cleaning it off regularly. Fall in love with the you who wrote what you are reading now. Because really, you are not who you are. You are much more. Just leave some milestones in writing to look back at. Because nothing else can capture the real you. The changing you.


Follow me on twitter @squareandfair

The Man Who Was Bigger Than The City


*This was written a year ago immediately after the announcement of Bal Thackeray’s death. I was on my way to stargaze that evening when we had to return home for fear of a citywide bandh.*

Most of us came to know of Balasaheb Thacekeray’s death via sms, whatsapp, fb. The first response was to get in touch with our loved ones – to confirm the news as well as to ask them to get home from wherever they were or to ask them to stay put if they were already home. As in life, so in death. Balasaheb might have almost breathed (?) a sigh of relief. He was dead. But he was still feared.

Fear was his most potent tool. From mill & labour politics to running the city, Balasaheb had managed most of his politics with a very aggressive mix of not-so-subtle fear and mesmerising oratory. Fear is easy to understand. And that will mostly be his legacy on a national front. On a smaller scale, in a deeper way, within the marathi community, his oratory will keep him alive.

While the city literally shut down at the news of Balasaheb’s death, a lot of families, politically related to Balasaheb, Shiv Sena’s voter base as well as most of the lower middle class in Mumbai and Maharashtra felt a sense of loss. Sometimes you don’t agree with a man and his methods. That doesn’t stop you from admiring, even respecting and sometimes idolising the person.

From looking forward to Shiv Sena declared bandhs when in school to growing up, understanding identity politics and the personal achievement of a cartoonist who became a politician, some of us have seen, some of us have heard about, some of us have even experienced the journey of a man who closed down the city so many times in his life and now even after he died. Some of us were inconvenienced. Some of us were angered. Some of us are looking forward to the probable bandh on Monday. Yet, these some were not part of the most in the city that mourned.

It is true that the city shut down today. It is also true that the city shut down because of fear. Yet, the man who inspired fear is no more. There are talks of Shiv Sena losing its identity with Balasaheb. In part also because the current generation has no clue of who he was. The urban yuppy whose identity is defined by an iPod, not voting and conversational environmentalism, has less extreme heroes. In life and in death, Balasaheb polarised. Today, there are people who have a profound sense of loss of a milestone of political leadership in Maharashtra and there are those who were inconvenienced. There are those who understand that the man who died wasn’t like you and me, he was much more, had done much more, had inspired much more, had touched much more, both good and bad. And there are those who are too rootless to even really understand the concept of identity politics.

I did not agree with most of Shiv Sena’s stands. Their stand against Valentine’s day, their thug antics, random bandhs, destruction of public property can hardly be justified. And yet, the Thackeray family has been involved in influential politics for at least 3 generations now. Balasaheb, his brother and their father were instrumental in the formation of Maharashtra as a state. There are those of us for who ourselves, our jobs and vehicle, maybe relationships are all that inspire, motivate and take up our time, material resources and emotional resources. For some, the world doesn’t end at themselves. In ways both good and bad, their circle of influence, their circle of need, their circle of what affects them goes beyond themselves.

Mill workers not getting their rights wrings someone’s heart. Their community getting left behind in a fast changing world, affects someone else. And they decide to take up arms. Sometimes alienating those very people they are fighting for. But the fighter fights. The world changes. After a while, only the damage remains visible. The hero becomes the villain. When he dies, a city stops. They say it stopped because of fear. And yet, the city remembers that it wouldn’t have been what it is without the man who died. It might not be a part of Maharashtra even. Whether good, whether bad, he was the father of the city in many ways. You owe it to the man who influenced the current avatar of this city, to deal with a little inconvenience. It is a mark of respect to a man who was greater than what most of us can even imagine to be.


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26 things that happen on the other side of 25


1 – Too many people around you are married.

2 – Nobody asks you what college you are in, anymore. You look older.

3 – That college chick in the mini-skirt doesn’t look sexy anymore. She looks like a kid.

4 – You are horrified that college kids are already drinking with their other kid friends at only 18!

5 – 18 year olds have started calling you Uncle.

6 – You thought you couldn’t grow any new hair on the body after 20. You realise you were wrong.

7 – You thought that the body you had at 22 was going to stay with you forever. It is still with you, but with a little extra paunch.

8 – Sports can no longer be indulged in without the preparatory warm-up.

9 – Carpal tunnel and spondylitis have started looking more real.

10 – Those 20 hour long sleep sessions that used to be once-a-week? The last one I think was 3 months ago.

11 – 8am actually seems late when you automatically get up at 6am everyday! No matter what time you sleep.

12 – Women in your friend list have become symbiotic organisms. Every social media post starts with, “Me and (spouse name) wish/think/congratulate…”

13 – Parties, road trips, dates no longer have the same zing and colour that they had at 21.

14 – The learning curve of the new phone is noticeably steeper. Yet, your younger siblings seem to take to it like monkeys to trees.

15 – Winning an fb argument or getting a friend request doesn’t light up the reward areas of the brain anymore.

16 – Relationships become functional. Hurt becomes the given. Happiness becomes the bonus. Total flip from 5 years ago.

17 – Personal and professional merge. That promise to yourself to not use friends for work? Guess what. Friends are now because of work.

18 – School friends, college friends, colony friends all have their own lives now. Meeting them becomes rarer but sweeter.

19 – You actually miss your teachers from school and college. Especially the ones that took the time to give you a hard time.

20 – You understand why family is so important. It is the only thing that remains constant while everything else changes.

21 – Making money takes up all of your time. But if that was taken away, there is nothing else to do.

22 – Your superb skin you had after college? It has a become a whole new palette. Age marks are real and now.

23 – You don’t feel like using your writing/art from days gone by. It seems like plagiarising from someone else.

24 – You realise you no longer are ok with shady hotels, cheap motels and plastic cups for alcohol. It comes as a shock.

25 – Your dreams and ideals become a luxury to indulge in when you have the time. You try and pass some of them onto the next generation.

26 – You realise that the world has changed a lot since you were a kid. You feel grown up not because of your paunch, your beard, your marriage, your promotion. You feel old because you no longer relate to the younger ones.


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Indian Superhero Films


This is not a post about movies I don’t like. This is a post about movies that I really wanted to like but they never let me do that.

Let me start with Krish 3. Or Krrish 3. Or Kkkrriisssshhhh 3. Whatever is the spelling of that. So much seems to have gone into the most beneficial spelling for the film, they didn’t have time to make an honest film.

I have not seen the film. I do not plan to waste my money on it. I can tell you from watching the trailers that this is a gross Hollywood scenes and ideas copy film. Also, there are way too many unnecessary angles about Hrithik-Priyanka romance. Also, Rakesh Roshan is severely limiting Hrithik’s career by making films that could have been path-breaking but are instead, dung.

The Krish Poster

The Krish Poster

The Avengers Poster

The Avengers Poster

Let me give general pointer tips for Indian Superhero Films, including the Krish films and Ra One.

Tip 1 – We do NOT need to copy from Hollywood EVERY single time.
We CAN come up with good original stuff. If YOU cannot, I am ready to give you some ideas for FREE, just so that I don’t have to be ashamed of being an Indian because of our film industry.
>>This includes the missing father angle in Ra One – we simply do not have as many missing dad homes as the target audience of Hollywood.
>>This includes X-Men copying in Krish. The Clark Kent disguises. The Superman-Lois Lane flying above the city shot. (I haven’t even watched the film)

Superman Lane 4Superman Lane 3Superman Lane 2Superman Lane

Krish PriyankaTip 2 – Let Superhero films be about SUPERHEROES!
This one is so obvious, I think the film makers tend to miss this. Also, if you think a family entertainer cannot be made without unnecessary crap like romance and songs, you are WRONG! Just because nobody has the balls to make one, doesn’t mean it cannot be made. If you don’t have balls, don’t make superhero films. It is just dishonest. We like Hollywood superhero films so much because they are superhero films, not films made while thinking the audience is too RETARDED to come watch the film if it does not have a romance angle to it.
>>Do not tell me Krish needed a heroine. He did NOT.
>>Ra One scriptwriters and Shahrukh forgot the movie was about a robot trying to be human and put in way too much of skimpy clad Kareena in it.

Tip 3 – Superhero films do not need half-NAKED women.
Seriously. Ask your mother, if you don’t believe me. They also do not need Genital, Sex, Biology, Marriage related jokes, because your primary target audience is kids. KIDS. What are you smoking to make such blaring mistakes?!
>>What is with Priyanka’s outfits in the movie? Is Krish in love with her or her THIGHS?
>>Ra One had so much of innuendo, I could not figure out what kind of kids the movie was made for. And the Chammakchallo song, how did it pass the Censor board?



Tip 4 – Please leave out the shitty humour.
Really. What is with the awesomely bad humour especially for superhero films. If you cannot write humour for kids, leave it. You don’t have to bring in innuendo. You don’t have to have too much slapstick. You don’t have to TEACH the audience to laugh by making the main characters laugh at the jokes first.

Krish, I have given up on. Ra One, supremely disappointed me. Although I am not a fan of Shahrukh Khan movies, as a man, he comes across as very industrious and that is something I respect. During the making of Ra One, I had read an interview of the Khan where he said he had to wear that suit for 10 hours each day and even going to the loo was difficult. Couple that with the insanely high budget for the film and I was really looking forward to it. Till they thought they needed an ITEM number to promote it.

I watched the film at home. It was a bad film. The script was poor. The acting was bad. The action scenes were too few. Who was the film made for? There were too many sexual references. Kareena needed more clothes. Chammakchallo should have been cut out. The humour scenes could have done without sexual references. If you think I am mentioning sex too often, imagine how much of it the movie had.

Chandani Chowk to China. I am an Akshay Kumar fan. No, not the Rowdy Rathore and Boss kinds. Haven’t even watched those at home. Considering CCtoC this was going to be India’s first martial arts films, I was VERY excited. The movie sucked. It wasn’t about martial arts. It was a bad script with a little martial arts in it. Akshay Kumar was visibly upset over the film having flopped, but it was a bad film. Deepika Padukone had a double role. One of the twins was introduced as very good at martial arts. If a character is said to have a particular quality in a story, that quality needs to be USED. In a martial art film, if a character is said to be kickass at martial arts, the character needs to be part of a major fight scene! But she wasn’t! Why the fuck!?

She never fought apart from in her intro!

She never fought apart from in her intro!

Like I said in the beginning of this piece, this isn’t about film bashing. I am not trying to get laughs or trying to sound cool. We are the biggest film makers in the world. We have millions of good screen writers. We also have script doctors. If you are making a film, at least attempt to make a good one. PLEASE do not ass lick to Hollywood and copy from there. We are not that bad. We can do good. I swear.

Follow me on twitter @squareandfair