Monday, December 24, 2018

Priyanka, you pretty, little, flaky fake thing!

Picture courtesy - India Today

First the disclaimer - Not every criticism is a sign of envy or jealousy or racism. It is many times a differing opinion, a statement anti yours, and a comment from the other side of the fence. Grow up, Priyanka!

You’ve got to believe me when I tell you that there was a time, almost till recently, when I really liked Priyanka Chopra. I thought here is a smart, intelligent, good-looking career woman, whose ambition knows no bounds and whose heart is in the right place with all the causes she wishes to espouse.

I opined what a fantastic example and trajectory Priyanka has set for her fellow actors and for the young ones around. If you can dream it, you can achieve it. I felt my chest swell with pride in how our desi girl bridged the divide between the east and the west.

I said aloud what a role model she is becoming to both the millennial jet set and the aspiring youth that resides in the small towns and the hinterland, watching her every move to pick up valuable goals.

To be fair, for some time she did impart those YouTube-worthy lessons. I could hear the background voice saying, ‘This is Priyanka Chopra and this is her Masterclass’ followed by her annoying, girlish chuckle.

But with what she has done with her marriage-related celebrations, on more scores than one, she has rung the death knell along with the wedding bells on the sense of adulation I accorded her. Of course, the storm has been brewing in my little cup for some time but with the most recent spate of things, the final nail has been jammed.

Let me explain!

Priyanka Chopra has finally revealed her true self to us showing to us how deeply pseudo and how terribly fake she is. She hid behind a veneer of acts she pulled around ‘I am a hapless, little, brown girl making it big in the Wild West against all the odds.’ She pulled over the thick blanket of instant fame with stories about how she had now become a Hollywood A-lister and was being feted by celebrity interviewers from Fallon to Kimmel, with the exception of the stern Ellen Degeneres.

Priyanka made us believe that perhaps it was Ellen who had been unkind, unwelcoming, rude, biased and maybe, just maybe racial towards the brightest star from the subcontinent to shine over the western sky. But on hindsight, I think Ellen Degeneres caught on to Priyanka’s cunning much before we have.

The Hypocrite

On Diwali, she made the environment-uncaring folks feel very bad about themselves. She exhorted the virtues of going green and cracker free to the mass air raiders. And for greater measure and effect, she coughed into our screens, told the world how she is asthmatic and how the said climate boors should not burst any firecrackers, if not for themselves and their loved one then at least for her sake.

But, come her big, fat Indian wedding, and what does she do! Yup, light up the Jodhpur sky with such intensity and gusto as if she wanted the noise and the spectacle to reach LA.

The Animal Antagonist

When she acquired a pet, Priyanka went to town telling all how she loved her pooch and how much of an animal lover she was.

I guess she was and not is anymore. Wanting to show off the Indianness to her firang beau, Priyanka made one of her biggest blunders. She fattened up her wedding drill enlisting elephants and horses, which actually throws her back into the dark ages; given that every informed person is shunning the use of animals for such activities including personal circuses.

In fact, people within India, even a handful of those from traditional backgrounds, are banning use of the ritualistic “Ghur-savari” grasping how traumatizing and troubling it is for the horse with all that noise and clamour.

But Priyanka gave two hoots to it all and to make matters worse, brought in even the “gajraj” to do the song and dance. PETA is absolutely right in calling her out and must follow through with the slapping of a stringent case against the offending heroine.

The Fashion Victim

Despite getting her act right most of the times, Priyanka got her style quotient so hugely wrong on the biggest days of her life. The powder blue, sequined suit she wore for one of the earlier functions was so commonplace that even a girl from an isolated island would refuse to wear.

And what can I say about the aqua green sari with cat eye glares she is seen wearing in her post-wedding pictures! She is dressed up like the Indian maiden of the 40s going to a game of Bridge with the bored wives of the English officers in a British-ruled cantonment.

She has made similar faux pas in some of her other appearances, chiefly among them – the b**b flashing jacket at a Kimmel show, or the checkered, sleepwear she wore when she showed aamchi Mumbai to Nick for the first time, or the grey metallic dress she put on at the Global Education & Skills Forum in Dubai and the extra balloony light blue pants and shirt she put on for one of her recent air travels and so many more.

This is a lesser crime, but since Priyanka is in showbiz and boasts a big and renowned international team of stylists and buyers whose sole business is to ensure that the actress is always turned up to her nines, it takes major proportions.

If Priyanka did not make such a hu-hah about her appearances, her burgeoning and expensive wardrobe, the celeb-stylists on her payroll and so on, then her ho-hum moments would have been absolutely fine just like for the rest of us.   

The clay Goddess of Gracelessness

On one hand, Priyanka puts on an act of being really mature and responsible and on the other shows how deplorably debased she can be.

While still wanting to appear overboard, she will drop canny hints in her media outings, which have the propensity to snowball and create more news around her. It may be a clever ploy that she has got onto but it lacks grace, manners, and principles.

Take for instance the insta video she released of her singing in the rain with cousin Parineeti when she first brought Nick Jonas to India.

There are scores and scores of great rain-inspired songs that she could have sung while getting drenched in the drizzle but guess which one she chose – “Tip, tip barsa paani,” replete with risqué moves; in a possible throwback to her days with Akshay Kumar.

On The Dirty Laundry show, she brought along a jacket of an ex-boyfriend that she has held on to and kicked up a huge speculatory storm in India, literally having dragged a piece of her dirty linen in public.

On an episode of Koffee with Karan, she opens up about another, now married ex-boyfriend.

The thing is, whether it is the east or the west, it is okay to talk about your past, but you must be mindful that it does not have ill ramifications for others involved, especially when you are a public figure and everything you say or do is recorded and played back by eager fans.

You cannot drag people from your past only for the shock value or for spinning your PR wheel. In matters such as this, the high road is always the better path to take.

But not for Priyanka Chopra! She will use anything or anybody to keep the media mills running. Perhaps, not a cougar, but Priyanka has definitely been abominably catty in all this.

Legally Brown 

Priyanka has played the brown card to her benefit umpteen times.

On good days, she calls herself the Brown Barbie. She even does an Elle Woods replay complete with a toy pooch, telling the western world what a blonde can do, a black-haired, brown-skinned beauty can do better.

Because Priyanka is aping what the American celebrities do on their turf, the western media seems to lap it all up as thus far, Indian-International celebrities have just been themselves when out there and not put on a cloak and a charade.

To my mind, it is a silly way to try and assimilate in a different culture. When you reach a certain stage of eminence, you hold on to your roots while imbibing the new influences with open arms. You amalgamate; you do not ape.

On bad days, Priyanka uses her brown card to show how a poor, little, hapless, traumatized, bullied, racially discriminated brown girl has won the western world, in spite of all that she has endured.

I have a problem with this; as it really belittles and minimizes the real issues faced by people who have really suffered, yet made it big.

Priyanka’s version of Me Too

I cannot get out of my head the image of Priyanka in her starchy mauve, school-marmish outfit and Japanese World War torture shoes when she attended the Royal wedding. I have already ranted about how she missed one great opportunity to do so many right things in one stroke instead of trudging uncomfortably in a funny looking fascinator and her strait-jacketed look (

Watch her innumerable America videos and you see her behaving like an American Millennial or actually a starry-eyed teenager. “Oh, the ‘raench’ life!” “I luurve cheeseburrrgers.” “I kaen’t even make tea.”

Oh, look at me I am a Disney princess. And then she gets dissed by Ellen for not getting the royal wave right. Phew!!!

In her quest, Priyanka is fast losing grace and gravitas. Look at how Anushka and Deepika have conducted themselves. Priyanka is in such an evolving/devolving transformational mode that she is losing touch with her real self.

Priyanka just seems to be posing and getting her acting right even for her personal moments even if they are shot and photographed. The other two star couples have been more candid and kept the individual element alive despite being big names. For Priyanka, the world is her stage and she must role-play with newly acquired mannerisms, laugh, body language et al.

Here’s my reco to you, Priyanka, for major Me Too goals – get a star named after you, or even an orchid. Get Nick Jonas to buy you a symbolic piece of precious land on the Moon. Get countries like France, Germany and England to decorate you with medals for your significant contribution to the world of Arts and Literature. Better still; get the Queen to confer on you the female equivalent of knighthood.

Yes, all these have been done with your industry colleagues – past and present – but these will certainly be higher goals for you to aspire to.

Priyanka seems to have shifted her fond superlative from best to biggest……

If one friend had a fairy tale, real-world royal wedding, Priyanka wanted it too. She went ahead and created a make-believe one for herself aping Lady Diana’s appearance when she walked down towards the altar.

If her industry compatriots were staging magnificent wedding ceremonies, she went ahead and planned out a fatter one, leaving no stone unturned and upturning several serious things along the way in a thoughtless fashion.

“I wanted the longest veil.”

“People will need vacations after this wedding.”

“I have been on some of the most prolific stages.” I think she meant prestigious.

She will have us told that she likes to spoil herself. That she has one of the biggest apartment in NYC or the fanciest wardrobe or the most elite team of 25 “around the world” managing her and her affairs.

Never before have successful people been such shameless show-offs. Not even the Ambanis and never the Rockefellers.

It appears she has earmarked some of the episodes that have stood out in the lives of the rich and famous and has assiduously tried to repaint it for herself. From selling her wedding photos to People magazine for a record figure to wearing a big rock that Nick shut down a Tiffany store for.

Before you start your favourite rant Priyanka, please know that ambition is not bad at all. In fact, it is very good and so much better when women are as ambitious. But overambition laced with envy and greed is abysmal.

Friends with Benefits

I am surprised Priyanka has not claimed Michelle Obama or Indra Nooyi or Hillary Clinton or Oprah to be her bosom buddies; yet!

But she has milked the Markle cow rather well, all the while as Meghan Markle has maintained class and elegance around the whole thing. It’s been a few days after the wedding, I am still waiting to see or hear about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s personal congratulatory note to Priyanka and Nick.

Likewise with the Prime Minister of India. She turned up in a pretty frock when she met the PM in Berlin. I wonder where her dress sense was and where were her famed stylists. For covering up her attire faux pas she made it appear that she had just stumbled on the Indian Prime Minister and had been asked to join him for tea. Now really?

At her Delhi reception, when the PM came to greet the newly-weds, Priyanka’s loud laughter and flailing gestures are a class on incorrect deportment; but all in the way to show that she is on personal terms with PM Modi. All the while, her mother and brother looked quite at sea and on the fringes.

Incidentally, PM Modi attended the reception of Anushka and Virat too and one must watch how Anushka conducted herself to know how grace and decorum look on a public platform.

The King’s, err, the Queen’s Speech

In her early Quantico days, and when she had a grip on her sensibility, Priyanka had stated in one of her interviews how she had to employ a speech trainer and work hard on getting the American accent right for her show and public appearances. It was fascinating to see her learn to roll her R’s and eat up some syllables astonishingly well.

In those years, when she gave interviews in India or spoke Hindi in the US, she spoke like an Indian. And one admired her so much more for that.

But now the lines have blurred. She is letting her wannabe persona take over her completely. So, it is ‘mherridge’ she was busy with ‘def’nt’ly’ and that her choice of dresses came from a very ‘purrsnal place.’

Has Priyanka heard giants like Ismail Merchant, Mira Nair, Indra Nooyi speak? Some of them are from her industry, but none of them wanted to be something other than themselves in any manner. It is of special attention because Merchant went off to the States in the late 50s to live and work there for the next 40 years of his life. Nooyi, with whom Chopra has shared a stage, is a Yale graduate and relocated to the US in the early 80s. Finally, Mira Nair, a Harvard alumnus, shifted base in mid-70s. Yet all have kept their essence in place, including their diction refusing to fake an accent.

False claims to be the first and the best

Priyanka sealed her fakeness with her appearance on Vogue’s 73 questions and played up to the American gallery to the hilt; with dozens of stereotypical answers and affectations thrown in.

I have also watched other actors and celebrities appear on 73 questions and guess what, Nicole Kidman was as Aussie as one can be, Gisele Bündchen held on to her Brazilian roots and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley remained quintessentially English; but for our little Miss Muffet who was anything but.

There has been a big clutch of Indians who have made it astoundingly big on the global map in different walks of life. Once again the name of Indra Nooyi comes to mind. Then there have been Vikas Khanna, the irresistibly delish Chef, the uber sexy Shashi Kapoor, the powerhouse actor Om Puri, the raw charm-oozing Kabir Bedi, and the world’s most beautiful woman Aishwarya Rai; but they all have been steadfastly rooted and far less flighty about their international fame.

In fact, Aishwarya has been much more feted. She appeared on The Oprah Show twice. Did you notice how magnificently Oprah introduced Aishwarya to the western world? Now that should truly be aspirational for Priyanka.

Aishwarya has appeared with great élan on the David Letterman show, The Tyra Banks show, L’Oreal’s Worth It show together with Dame Helen Mirren, and has had Sir David Frost interview her at length.

Even in her Hollywood films. Aishwarya starred with A-listers like Steve Martin, Andy Garcia and other notables like Lily Tomlin, John Cleese, Emily Mortimer and Jean Reno. That is in just one film and she had more screen time than Priyanka’s three films put together, with lesser acting chops.

Yet, Aishwarya is far less flaky though much more irritatingly giggly than Prreee; and that is such a pity because Priyanka gives far more intelligent interviews.

When Priyanka gives her power speeches, she regurgitates what has already been said so well by the likes of Robin Sharma, Paulo Coelho, Maya Angelou and her namesake Deepak Chopra but she will have the star-struck young minds believe that it is her who is gifting them with such novel wisdom.

At one time when she first began tasting international acclaim, Priyanka showed more class, and control and appeared much more cultured but now it is a free run with no grasp on values, sobriety, poise and temperance.

And that is the sorest point of all.

Priyanka’s bio reads that she is also a philanthropist. But she was the most unkind to the animals of Jodhpur and to the air of Rajasthan’s most air-polluted city. Besides, while she had Amazon donate to UNICEF, we are yet to hear of any personal charity by Priyanka and Nick on one of their best, “most emotional” and biggest day of their lives.

Strangely, Priyanka looks like a spinoff of Olivia Culpo in Nick’s picking of her. And that looks worrisome to me.

Yet, I wish her and them well. It would be great if Priyanka strives to get a hold on her greed and insatiability and become the finest role model she is so well positioned to become.

Priyanka do not get carried away with the current media circus around you. In today’s time and age of bastardized basics and washed down values, even Rakhi Sawant – with her queerest antics – becomes the flavour of the season and rides the trend for a length of time.

In craving to be on the crest of popular culture and pop entertainment, you are forgetting that pop goes the weasel. The public has a short memory and what is popular today may fade out even before we reach tomorrow.

When we look back at the annals of cinema history, there will be several luminaries who will continue to inspire and influence. Where will you want to be then Priyanka? A performer par excellence or a wannabe who tried striding two continents but sadly allowed her ship to sail into oblivion!

There is no doubt that you are talented, good at your job and hard-working. But I am also constantly told that your PR machinery is better and works much harder.

Finally, put your troll army to rest. As we know, trolls and fans are a reflection of the personality they follow. And yours are the second worst only to Salman. All other celebrities know how to take it on the chin being in show business and seldom do their followers get downright nasty vitriolic and threatening. So choose your followers well.

Do not fake tears at the hint of criticism. Keep the brown Barbie smiling!


Picture courtesy - NDTV

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Romancing around Ibaadat!

A few days back there was romance in the air at Ibaadat.

So the Indian Grey Hornbill couple came swooping in, preened about themselves, perched on a terrace railing on the higher floor, looked at their reflection in the window panes, sat on two parallel branches on the giant Neem tree in the Cinpash Garden, chatted to their heart's content and flew off.

I notice that the Rufous Treepies also come in pairs - sometimes two, sometimes four.

And then there were these delightful Koels, singing the sweetest song, quenching their thirst, checking out bowls of grains, finding a sweet spot atop the tree to sing some more.

I think they chose one of the Neem trees for their short, summer home-stay - just a few days, before flying back home.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, are the male and female Koels, the Rufouses and the Hornbills.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Blabbering with a Babbler!

I had the privilege of having a rare conversation with a  very pretty Babbler.

There was direct eye contact, as you can see; which we know is the basic etiquette amongst the civilized.

The dialogue carried on for the better part of the afternoon. He seemed to say things that must have been truly important.

A lesser being, me, failed to grasp most of it. It is at times like this when I wonder why is the man on top of the food chain!!

I am told that this yellow-eyed Babbler is indeed a rare bird, not spotted easily!

Thursday, August 02, 2018

A Monsoon Brunch, eh!!!

There is something about the charms of comfort food, especially when it rains. Our perspicacity to enjoy the greasy goodness increases on these wet days when at other times we would ban them from our diets and dining tables.

Here's a Monsoon Brunch with Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue!

With one recipe invented and the other given a twist!!

This time I invented the Golgappa salad. Chopped dices of cucumber, tomato and onion mixed with a few pomegranate arils, spiced with salt, pepper and red chilli powder and specially seasoned with a hint of freshly made saunth were stuffed into atta and sooji golgappas and placed on top of cucumber rings. Served with tomato flowers they made for a pretty picture and tasted wonderful too.   

Then I decided to give a twist to the classic Mint-coriander Paneer tikka. I skewed it with Aloo fry to give a different spin to it and served it with fresh coriander and kachche aam ki chutney. 

The main course was Punjabi chole, Bhature and homemade Dahi vada.

The meal was rounded off with the seasonal offering of Mango Ice cream served on a bed of mangoes with Mango wafers as edible scoops.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Expectation vs. Reality!

Picture courtesy - Google Images

I find it remarkable that in well-kept, clean, aesthetically maintained societies, a set of people keep their environs so clean and are obviously proud of what they have been bestowed by nature and what they have created themselves.

Of all the traits, I find my countrymen lacking in self-respect the most and that explains our callousness towards everything.

There are two things, well actually four.

First, for me to enjoy rights I must also perform my duties.

Secondly, I cannot contribute to the litter, mess, commotion, chaos if I want a clean, sane Country. It is not 'THEM.' It is always 'US.'

Thirdly, I cannot be selfish and take care of just my house. Even the surroundings are my responsibility. If we can do all three then let's start talking about what we want our Government and other bodies to do.

And fourth, we need a major shift in the Indian mindset, that of wanting others - Government, Civic bodies, servants, helpers, heck even scavenging animals - to pick after us.

"Blaming others is a National Pastime. And, people don’t know any better. Lastly, until poverty is eradicated, discipline instilled, clean Indians are a utopian dream. I see the same here in Canada. Indian neighbourhoods are ghettos," avers my Facebook friend Ash Basu.

But I don't think it is about poverty alone. Though poor economic backgrounds could be more prone, with Indians it has nothing to do with wealth or education sadly. 

It, I think, boils down to conditioning over generations, misplaced priorities and a larger lack of pride both in our roots and new homes we build upon migrating within the country. 

We seem to lack in a 'sense of belongingness' and a "sense of ownership' big time! 

                                               Picture courtesy - Google Images

Friday, July 20, 2018

Excellence comes with effort!

Picture courtesy - Google Images

"Intorrogate" Seriously Radhika Apte?? Apropos Sacred Games.

You know that you have a pronounced Maharashtrian accent and there is nothing wrong with it.

But when you play characters, you must embody those characters, including in their manner of speech and accent.

There are speech therapists, linguistic experts, language coaches who can be easily employed.

Just why don't our actors pay heed to this aspect? What stops them from giving it their best shot?

On the other hand, Swara Bhasker was really the Anarkali of Arah - body language, speech, accent, diction, flip-flops, attire et al. 

I think this is closest to getting into the skin of the character.

"Most Hollywood actors get speech training to pronounce words in accents appropriate to their roles. Why not in India? Or are the actors too high and mighty???" asked my Facebook friend Ash Basu.

I think there are several in Hollywood who do such an abysmal job too. Have you ever suffered an Ashton Kutcher for example! But any professional worth their salt would want to get this right.

"Most Bollywood actors, even the minor monkeys, are surrounded by Sycophants who make them believe they already know everything," thinks another friend Veeresh Malik.

"Audrey Hepburn took speech lessons to learn how to speak like both, a Cockney and an upper-class Englishwoman, for My Fair Lady. She also took singing lessons," says Bunny Suraiya.

"Meryl Streep took lessons for an Oz accent in Dingo and a European accent for Sophie's Choice. Dominic West learnt how to speak American for The Wire. 

There are many such examples of actors who take their profession seriously, " concluded Bunny Suraiya rather well.

Picture courtesy - Google Images

Monday, July 16, 2018

Blue Doors!

I think I have some old connection or pichle janam ka saath with White walls and Blue doors!

I didn't even know just how much I was inclined towards the blue colour till I got busy constructing Ibaadat, our Delhi home. Until then, I thought I liked Pink, or to be more precise Fuchsia, the Rani Pink shade.

But with Ibaadat, and to every passer-by's delight, I have introduced the distinctive Santorini blue that is delightfully offset by the white walls. It, indeed, is a sight to behold.

Besides the ones you see at Ibaadat, here's a rather nice picture of a blue door against a white wall, from the trove of my Facebook friend Goncalo Pombeiro!