You’re fat. So?

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Body shaming. The malignant cancer that pervades every stratum of our society, destroying lives, spoiling careers, breaking hearts, driving victims to suicide.

You’re fat, you’re bald, you’re short, you’re old, you’re dark, your butt is big, your chest is flat. The abuse is relentless. The humiliation endless.

Fat shaming is a particularly cruel form of body-shaming.

Who will marry you, the fat girl’s mother screams at her everyday. Get off your fat ass, yells that fat girl’s father. Give me twenty minutes on the treadmill, bellows her gym instructor.

Take my weight-loss challenge, says her “nutritionist”. Do my yoga program and get slim and sexy. Learn my secret breathing techniques, and watch the fat come pouring out of your nostrils.

Eat quinoa (Rs. 400 per kilo). And kale (Rs. 500 per kilo). Eat raw fruits and salads (and give yourself cholera or gastroenteritis). Eat red chillies (and crap your guts out). Guzzle green tea (and screw up your liver). No, no, green coffee is better. Actually, rotten apple vinegar is the best, since it will rot your teeth as well as your liver.

Run, swim, cycle, pump iron, sweat, grunt. No pain, no gain. Winners never quit, quitters never win. Lose weight, gain pride.

What a load of crap.

Our standards of beauty are defined for us by half-witted celebs and lifestyle gurus. These standards are physiologically unattainable, medically dangerous, and completely unnatural.

Don’t you get it? Body-shaming is an organised racket. Your irrational fear pays for your nutritionist’s Mercedes, your lifestyle guru’s condo, and your cosmetic surgeon’s holiday to Italy.

You are kept in a state of constant paranoia about your appearance. Do I look too old? Is my ass too fat? Does my head shine too much? Is everyone laughing at my paunch?

Eventually, you’ll end up as a genuine nutcase. Either you will get an eating disorder like anorexia nervosa or bulimia, or you will develop an anxiety disorder or clinical depression. I’m not kidding. I’ve seen it happen, right before my eyes.

So.

Here is the question you should be asking yourself, every day- Why the eff should somebody else decide if I am beautiful or not?

The day you get the right answer to this question, your life will be yours again.

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, you’re a few kilos above “normal”, as defined by the above-mentioned half-witted lifestyle gurus and celebs.

This is what you need to do. First, visit your doctor and get a thorough check-up. If your vital signs and health parameters are normal, and you are at no risk for an ailment like diabetes or hypertension and assuming you do not have a hormonal imbalance, then do not bother about your weight.

Yes, it is not a bad idea to practise healthy eating and regular exercise, if you are not already doing so. But, do them only for your health, and not for your physical appearance. Otherwise, you will get into the clutches of expensive gyms, self-styled “nutritionists”, and similar societal parasites who thrive on human misery. And one fine morning, you will either be bankrupt or on a shrink’s couch.

Believe me, if you pursue perfection in your physical appearance, you will never attain it. Never.

So don’t bother. You are as beautiful as you say. Be nice to yourself. Enjoy a pizza. Or a sundae. Or a nice evening out (with a mask, of course). If no one wants to join you, so much the better. Solitude is preferable in these disease-ridden times anyway.

By the way, if you learn how to make healthy pizzas and sundaes at home, you needn’t waste money on those fattening and unhealthy home-delivered ones. The homemade ones taste so much better, cost much less and are much healthier.

If your friends do not accept you as you are, then screw them. Just get yourself new friends. That’s exactly what I did.

So. Are you beautiful? You decide.

When you realise the difference between the container and the content, you will have knowledge. Idries Shah, in his Book of the Book.

Cheers … Srini.

Yugpurush … Goodbye Balu gaaru.

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Prolific? That adjective is grossly inadequate for this man.

SP Balasubrahmanyam was a phenomenon. An unbelievable phenomenon.

I do not think any other playback singer in Indian film history has influenced the industry to the extent that SPB has.

Jovial and portly with a humble, endearing personality and awe-inspiring talent, SPB was one of India’s great sons.

His list of awards and honors is quite literally as long as my arm. So is his huge repertoire of over 40,000 (that’s forty thousand) songs recorded in five different languages, including Hindi. That’s a Guinness world record.

About the only thing I can boast of is that SPB and I were born in the same town, Nellore. I was born much later of course.

When he made his debut in Telugu cinema in 1966, he was considered a clone of the legendary Ghantasala. But SP rapidly made his own identity in the industry, and became the most sought-after playback singer in south India. Recording 10-15 songs in a day became a routine with him.

SP’s debut song in the Telugu movie, Sri Sri Sri Maryada Ramanna, in 1966.

In spite of his immense success, I’d say SP’s real moment came with his performance in Shankarabharanam, in 1981. This landmark Telugu film is one of the best Indian movies ever made, and was instrumental in the revival of traditional Carnatic music in the film industry.

Shankara naadasarira para, SP’s award-winning song, from Shankarbharanam, 1981.

I’m a hyperglot, and that allows me to enjoy movies and music in eight different languages. Shankarabharanam was a pleasure to watch, for connoisseurs and laymen alike, and was a hit even among non-Telugu speakers all across the country.

SP’s playback singing in the movie was electrifying, to say the least. What surprised music critics and Carnatic musicians was that SP had no classical training in the traditional sense. No wonder he bagged his first National award for Shankarabharanam.

From Bollywood’s perspective, SP’s big break in Hindi cinema came in Ek Duje Keliye, in 1983. This Hindi remake of the Telugu movie Marocharitram, was also Kamalahaasan’s debut in Bollywood. Ek duje was a big-time hit, and so were SP and Kamal.

After that came Salman Khan’s Maine Pyar Kiya, another mega-hit. And SP became the voice of Salman as he provided playback in most Salman-starrers during 1990’s. Especially that ultra-hit, Hum aapke hai kaun.

SP just went on and on after his stint in Bollywood, becoming the foremost male playback singer across the country. Awards, honors, records, accolades just kept increasing with time and age. There was no stopping the man.

SP was still going strong, and very much in the public eye, until that blasted virus brought everything to an end. SP contracted Covid-19 in August, but he seemed to have recovered. Sadly, his health took a bad turn, and SPB lost his fight today, on Sept 25.

His death comes as a very nasty shock. It’s impossible to accept that a person so full of life could simply cease to be.

What a blow to the Indian film industry and what a blow to us, his devotees. When a great person dies, it is a cliche to say that the gap left by his passing cannot be replaced, but in the case of SP Balasubrahmanyam, that statement is utterly true.

SP sings for Salman.

SP just cannot be replaced. That’s because there has not been, nor will there be, another like him.

Rest in peace, naada sharira para.

Srini.

Bevda Bollywood!

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In the end, they’re just boozards, cokeheads and stoners, aren’t they? Those heroes and heroines you worshipped over the years, those great icons of the visual arts, those self-styled champions of free speech.

Charsis and bevdas. Dopeheads and drunkards. Nothing more.

Drug addiction, alcoholism, adultery, debauchery and all the other deadly sins are not new to the film industry.

Cannabis sativa, known as ganja, charas or bhang, depending on which part of the plant is used, has been used in India since three thousand years. So has alcohol. Even the Gods happily guzzled somaras, a hallucinogenic extract of the Soma plant (believed to be from the Ephedra genus of psychoactive herbs).

No wonder then, that drug addiction and alcoholism in Bollywood are as old as the film industry itself. Poor guys, they need creative inspiration, they need brain-altering chemicals to remember their dialogs, they need relief from the stress of being paid Rs.6 crores per movie, they need to relax after those strenuous trips to Switzerland and Monte Carlo.

The list of Bollywood stars who died from drinking, is long and illustrious. The legendary KL Saigal, considered India’s first superstar and playback singer, couldn’t act or sing without a few stiff drinks inside him. His total dependence on alcohol resulted in his death at the young age of 42, way back in 1947.

KL Saigal sings for himself, in Shahjahan, 1946. His last song before death.

Meena Kumari, one of the finest actresses of the Golden era of Bollywood, literally drank herself to death at the age of 38. Rehman was another yesteryear star who committed suicide by booze. So was Guru Dutt.

Meena Kumari and Rehman, both alcoholics. Seen here in Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam.

The Kapoor clan was well known for its love for the bottle. And one by one, they fell prey to that bottle. Dharmendra was notorious for his drunken brawls, as were Feroz Khan and siblings.

And of course, in more recent times we have our own Munnabhai and his trigger-happy buddies who shoot deer for fun and drive their cars over homeless people.

Why should the “empowered” women of Bollywood be left behind? Do a google search for modern-day female alcoholics in Bollywood, and you”ll be surprised by the names that spring up.

I was frankly astonished to learn that Vidya Balan, a nice, home-grown Iyer chokri from Chedda Nagar in my own Chembur, is allegedly a raging alcoholic. Allegedly, mind you, “allegedly”.

Nowadays, alcoholism is considered old school. A bottle of booze a day is just ho-hum. The modern Bolly folk, we learn from the media, have graduated to cutting edge, designer drugs.

The list just goes on and on. If the NCB’s on-going investigation discovers that almost every celeb is dependent on banned, psychoactive drugs, I would not be surprised.

Remember, these are the same people who portray all those award-winning, sensitive roles on-screen. Like that chocolate-faced hero who played the lead in a stirring film about drugs in Punjab, or that sweet, dimple-cheeked actress who took on that bold lead role in that period movie about a Rajput princess. And then we see them on TV, prominently featured in a rave party, cavorting with other Bolly stalwarts.

Remember, these are the same people who rant about their freedom of expression, about intolerance, about poetic license, and threaten to leave the country, when their movies hurt people’s sentiments and people take offense.

If you don’t like my movie, don’t watch it, they say.

And they’re right. Who creates these boozards and cokeheads, these charsis and bevadas of Bollywood?

You do.

You stand in a queue to buy tickets to their movies. You crowd the malls and cinemas. You give your hard-earned money to OTT providers for the right to binge-watch Dabang 1, 2 and 3 on your laptop. You are the millions of their followers on Insta and Twitter.

You know they are criminals, and you still slavishly follow them. Each time you buy a ticket or click on their movie, you enable, pay for and reinforce their criminal behaviour.

I am hopeful that the NCB and other government agencies that are now asking tough questions to these cokeheads of Bollywood, will bring at least some of them to justice, and put the fear of God into the rest.

But finally, there’s one simple way to bring down these bevadas and charsis of Bollywood.

Stop watching their movies. You know that it’s all fake anyway.

So. Simply stop watching their movies. And I for one, will stop writing about them.

Srini.