Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Kali and the serial kkiller

As anyone who follows these things would know, Heidi Klum dressed up as the Goddess Kali for a Halloween party a few days ago, in a costume that was remarkable for its attention to detail: the many blue arms carefully in place, skulls and shrunken heads dangling from the Goddess’s hips as accessories, and Klum’s husband Seal as the finger-collecting bandit Angulimaal. My first darshan of this Kali was on the pages of Delhi Times, the photo caption memorably stating that “this proves Klum has respect for the Hindu goddess”. Because apparently that’s what Halloween is all about – dressing up as people you respect.

Even so, various Hindu groups in the US say their sentiments have been hurt by Klum’s masquerade. These people should stop worrying and take a cue from Ekta Kapoor’s recent pronouncement at a Dahi Handi celebration. "Anyone who dresses up as a God is God for me," said the creative head of Balaji Telefilms, shortly after she bent to touch the feet of Mrunal Jain, the young actor who plays Krishna in Kahaani Hamaaray Mahabharat Ki.

Ekta's remark leads me to wonder what might happen if she were to encounter a Halloween Kali.

K3, a tale of the apocalypse

Dressed as the Goddess Kali, the Jabberwock enters Ekta Kapoor’s office in the Balaji headquarters, whereupon Ekta emits a squeal of delight, then assumes a pious stance and throws herself at my feet.

“I am pleased and will grant you a boon,” I tell her, “but make it quick, I have a Halloween party to get to and you know what traffic is like these days.”

“I’m torn,” Ekta replies, “On the one hand I need better TRPs for all my K-serials, but on the other hand I want my brother Tusshar’s career to reach grand heights. What to ask for?”

“Let me be the one to worry about multiple hands,” I say. “We Gods like to keep everyone happy but your wishes are so malignant that if both of them were granted they would unleash a destructive force which would promptly end this kalpa of the world. Hence I can grant only one at this time.”

Having spoken thus, I hold forth two bowls containing liquids of an indeterminate colour. “If you imbibe the contents of this one here, TRPs will shoot up and Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi will carry on for another 300 years, but Tusshar will continue to appear on pet shows for eternity. If you drink the other one, your brother will shine with the luminosity of a thousand Shah Rukh Khans
but your K-serials will soon be cancelled. Now choose quickly – Angulimaal is waiting for me outside.”

Unfortunately TV honchos have never been known for their restraint, and barely have I finished speaking when Ekta snatches both bowls out of my hands and gulps them down noisily. The sound of a distant rumbling is heard and I briefly wonder if the scion of Balaji is suffering from indigestion. But then Lord Kalki appears on a large white horse, and the world ends as promised. An extra K will do that.

[Earlier posts on Ekta and her serials here, here and here]


  1. Seriously, Hindus need to lighten up a bit. I am a right-wing-supporting Hindu but this doesn't seem worth noticing. I attended a Halloween party where my Catholic host was dressed like Jesus and did a lot of "blessing of the sacremental wine". The Brits got away with Life of Brian in 1979. The right to laugh at our Gods is sacred and must be protected. Otherwise we sound just like the fatwa-spewing mullahs.

  2. Ekta should completely take suggestions from Jabberwock :D.

    On a different note, did Religulous get released in India? It is hilarious and provocative inquiry into madness of Religion.

  3. Hey,

    does that mean if I dress up as a cop I have the right to arrest him? :)

  4. I was wondering how people accepted it and then I read your line - "Even so, various Hindu groups in the US say their sentiments have been hurt by Klum’s masquerade"

    Who dresses up as God is God? What about demons? And what about all those female villains?

  5. Why did you even want to grant her one boon? Bad idea, going there. Please take your Halloween costume elsewhere.

  6. Brilliant Jai, However ,I do not believe you will go as Grotesquely dressed to meet the 'Tyrant of Balaji', even to grant a boon. Interpretation of her 'Mahabharata' is a better activity . This great cinematic achievement has so many layers that viewers and critics have been confounded as to who is more Profound, The Serial or Ekta?

    The Whole episode of Heidi Klum dressing up as Kali was least newsworthy. It makes me Wonder who the **** edits Delhi Times?

  7. I keenly await next Halloween, when debates will break out between all right-thinking people over whether Paris Hilton was dressed as Hanuman, or simply as Obama's good luck charm.

  8. the distant rumbling was saying that at least 2 of the important K serials have died a natural death and the Bombay High Court laughed in Ekta's face when she asked for an injunction.

  9. Well what Ekta did was no doubt amusing but if we ponder over it a bit idol worshipping is all about praying to a God look like and not God himself. As they say God is formless and we humans are not advanced enough to grasp such an abstract idea of a higher power we give them a human form so that we can relate to that power better!!

  10. Kanika: that's true - touching Mrunal Jain's feet is no odder than praying to idols or imputing special sacredness to temples/mosques etc. But speaking as an unbeliever in both formless and formed Gods, I find the "abstract higher power" thing just as amusing in its own special way.

    daily poppycock: no, Religulous is unlikely to get commercial release here - not so much because of the subject matter but because it isn't mainstream enough. Only the most commercial Hollywood films make it to our multiplexes, except for a week or so around Oscar time.

  11. Jai I really wish that you get cursed with a Prahlad like daughter/son!! LOL!!

    P.s In case you didn't understand the nature of my curse:

  12. Kanika: oh, I'm better acquainted with/more interested in religious myths than most believers I know. And the curse wasn't really required - most people around me are quite Prahlada-like already. ( might be worth putting some of them through the fire test, just to check!)

  13. How about your going through the Fire test first just to put some sense into us "less enlightened" God fearing folks and prove that all those fire tests were just shoddy special effects!!

  14. Imagine, what happens after the Jabberwock grants a boon to Ekta and invokes the Kalki Avataar on earth? There is thunder and lightning and one of Ekta's Mahabharata characters probably her 'Krishna' appears as 'Narsimha' to purge the world of this evil being .

    Don't worry the Jabberwock would survive and live another day with the costume of 'Kali' protecting him from the sharp nails of the 'Man Lion'.

  15. Kanika: Heh - no thanks! Fire tests are reserved for the pious, as the Prahlada story makes clear.

    Shwet: Krishna battling Narsimha?! Now there's a rich idea for a comic strip series. Definitely better than Superman-vs-Batman.

  16. That reminds me: didn't Parashuram have his butt kicked by Ram at some stage? I think it was meant to be an allegorical story about the Changing of the Guard.

  17. I believe it was in some way reflective of the changing of guard . Parshuram was humbled when Ram broke Shiva's bow in the Swayambara. Parshuram came to kill Ram but realised that this was Vishnu's eigth Avtaar. However Parshuram is considered as one of the Immortals in Hindu Mythology so probably his goal was to terrorise anyone he took a fancy to by wielding his axe.

    Your changing of guard theory is interesting but the whole Indian mythology is quite confusing. Ravana was defeated by a bloke called 'Kritivirya Arjuna' , somebody who had a thousand arms and this guy lost his head and arms to Parshuram.Now Parshuram was already roaming the earth with his axe for thousands of years when he confronted Ram. That means that Ravana must have fought Kritivirya Arjuna some thousand years back much before that guy fell foul of the Axe-wielder.

    The amazing part is that after so many years our testosterone charged demon is still considering of marrying Sita. Who needs the concept of time machine? These people knew it already.

  18. ...the whole Indian mythology is quite confusing

    Well, that's quite natural when you consider how widely the old stories vary as you travel from one part of the country to another (and often even within the same region, depending on which storytelling tradition you're listening to).

    If I recall right, Kritivirya Arjuna (the chap who was bathing in the river with his wives, right?) isn't mentioned in the Ramayana at all - he's one of the characters in the many autonomous regional stories about Ravana and his exploits. So it's pointless to look for any chronological consistency between his story and the Ramayana.

    But yes, Parashuram is quite a problematic chap even by these confused standards. Keeps popping up all over the place, long past his sell-by date (in the Mahabharata, which is dated thousands of years after the Ramayana, he plays guru to Bheeshma, Drona and Karna).

    Nitpicking: Ram was the 7th avatar, not the 8th.

  19. Thanks for correcting me , your nitpicking is much appreciated.I had forgotten a lot about mythology which gets refreshed periodically at Jabberwock. I remember this episode about 'Kritivirya Arjuna' from my 'Amar Chitra Katha' days . There was a title by the name of Parshuram and I read it then to see a many armed king being mutilated and savaged by Parshuram's axe. I was grossed out at seeing such savagery (That edition had a lot of bloodshed). Ironically it was deemed appropriate for nine or ten year olds to read such stuff.Also Ravana meeting this Arjuna gentleman was an episode I read in another of the ACK's , though I don't remember the title.

    All this mythology behind'Avataars' again comes from somebody with a rich imagination. It is proven that 'Ravana' was by no means invincible in 'Ramayana' also. Why would Lord Vishnu be bothered to again come down on earth when there is already 'Parshuram' running amok with his Axe.Ravana was defeated by Bali if we leave out the Kirtivirya episode. The guy fell out of his chariot when Hanuman punches him in the Ramayana battle. Hanuman is stopped by Ram saying that he has come to earth to destroy this idiot.This episode is vividly captured in some verions of Ramayana. OK, so we can discount Hanuman since he too was an Avtaar of Lord Shiva.(The gods wanted to have a nice vacation on earth and indulge in some good banter on how Parvati has been paying a lot of attention to the children and Lakshmi is tired of Vishnu consistently doing nothing but sleeping on the sheshnaga).

    This was I believe the reason for Vishnu to take another Avtaar , it would have given a welcome break from 'Baikunth'. Otherwise logic dictates that somebody who defeated 'Kirtivirya' who in turn subdued Ravana was strong enough to turn up one day at the demon's court and proceed to mutilate his ten heads one by one with his axe.

    This would have offended the censor board at Swarg and therefore Vishnu promised to come to earth to annihilate Ravan with a sedate arrow. The tab has been picked by Obama who has come to end recession. No doubt inspired by Indian mythology and its many twists.