I watched,mesmerised,as did the rest of India as Mamata di and her band of merry men kicked up a dust storm at Eden Gardens celebrating the epic victory of the Kolkata Knight Riders at the IPL finals in Chennai. It was pure tamasha,a jatra,if you will,celebrating the triumph of the indefatigable Bengali spirit.
The heroine of this energetic street performance was undoubtedly the doughty Chief Minister who essayed multiple roles with enormous bravura that day. She was at once referee,crowd-controller,emcee and class monitor as she grabbed both the mike and centre stage with a riveting performance that had the nation enthralled. Poor Shahrukh Khan,merely a Bollywood superstar and co-owner of KKR,was unceremoniously sidelined in his finest hour by this consummate thespian,who did not let the spotlight waver from her for even a moment as she gloated,giggled,preened and screamed through a riveting hour long act,which culminated with a good old-fashioned lathi charge,signifying the curtain had finally fallen on the days histrionics.
My erudite Bengali friends,and I am blessed to have many,squirmed with embarassment at what they thought was a vulgar and self-aggrandizing show of strength. They felt the recently anointed Chief Minister had no business appropriating this victory as her own and should have shown greater decorum,what with being a senior politician and all that. Besides,doling out gold medallions to this fund-flushed team,whilst screaming herself hoarse that Bengal was hugely impoverished,seemed rather ill timed and excessive.
Pritish Nandy tweeted KKR was a Mumbai-based commercial entity and as such had no connect with Kolkata. And whilst he has a point it is also true that rank outsiders own some of the most popular sporting clubs in the world. The Russian billionaire,Roman Abramovich,of course,famously owns Chelsea. Closer home,the poultry farming Rao brothers from Pune have shown they are no chicken-hearts when it comes to running the Blackburn Rovers.
And lets not forget SRK has been officially anointed brand ambassador of this great state and so his teams victory should be viewed as a legitimate triumph of brand Bengal.
The beleaguered government of Mamata di has had little reason to cheer since it came into power. Her persecution of cartoonists and those that dared flash a sense of humour has been her greatest talking point since assuming office. The fact she is a renaissance woman who can persecute,prosecute,agitate,cogitate,sing and dance at the same time is truly admirable. Okay,we dont really know if she can dance-but SRK has promised she will the next time KKR clinches the IPL final. The nation waits with bated breath for Didi to finally strut her stuff.
Meanwhile,in the midst of the IPL din,a tiny jewel of a film,called Love,Wrinkle Free somehow found its way into cinema halls. With sterling performances by Ash Chandler,Shernaz Patel and Sohrab Ardeshir,it is heartwarming to note that small,independent cinema can still make a mark in this age when multi-crore behemoths rule the silver screen. Do try and catch this little nugget if its still running in your city-it will be well worth the effort
Fahad Samar is a filmmaker, inveterate traveller and intrepid chronicler of society