The Great Indian Pastime

In India there are several activities that people take up to pass their time, but only a few are practiced widely enough to don the mantle of the Great Indian Pastime. The most ubiquitous of these, however, is singing.

At every nook and corner and on every street you will find people humming their favourite tunes quite merrily. The crooning of the Indian male is accompanied by very suggestive facial expressions. These are further emphasized on catching sight of a female, who might react to his serenade in several ways.

She may ignore it and pretend to have heard nothing. She may, if she considers the ditty as a compliment to her nubile self, respond favourably. But on the other extreme she may well be one of those stouthearted females who will promptly take off their sandals to establish contact with the offending vocalist.

This reaction is most common in New Delhi, where such powerful women abound. For the majority of the masculine population, however, these violent tactics present no real obstacle. They will simply bear some blows with fortitude and fervently remember to avoid such fierce ladies henceforward. The song that they choose to baritone could well be a Golden Oldie, like Chura liya hai tumne jo dil ko, but is more likely to be one of the faster numbers, such as Kambaqth Ishq, Ishq Kameena, etc. (Ishq does not know what it has done to deserve being associated with such derogatory terms, but can do little about it)

The second activity that qualifies for the Great Indian Pastime is plagiarism. It is generally believed that Indians are plagiarising other people’s work during all their waking hours. But I hasten to clarify that this is not the case. It just so happens that when an Indian filmmaker comes across a wonderful Hollywood film, he feels that it would be a shame to deprive the Indian audience of an indigenous version of the same. This phenomenon is generally called “Deriving Inspiration”, and is prevalent, or should I say rampant, on the Indian film and music scene, and nowadays also extends to game shows on popular TV channels.

So Who wants to be a millionaire? becomes Kaun Banega Crorepati?, The Weakest Link becomes Kamzor Kadii Kaun and so on. As for the freely “inspired” Hindi films and songs, I can only say that the space accorded here or anywhere else is inadequate to cover this topic. But the wonderful thing to note about plagiarism is that there never will be an end to it, because when we are done lifting Western stuff, we will simply resort to our ample stock of Golden Oldies, and remix those in a way that mutilates their essence.

Images Courtesy Sify

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