Dilli Badnaam Hui…

Amit Sengupta

A thousand subversive flowers and rainbows of brilliant caricature and genius irony are blooming in the subaltern commonwealth of dissent as proof of the spoof across the ravaged landscape of the nation. And, like perverse helplessness and vicarious pleasure, silent anger and open rebellion, it has become collective anti-catharsis, the incredible wealth of the commons, in the face of the open loot and plunder of both, the nation's wealth, and its conscience and pride. 

They can't just degrade, defame, destroy patriotism, render it corrupt and full of slime and sleaze, and sell it as a seductive commonwealth package deal also, can they? No wonder, even AR Rahman's five-crore damp squib, nothing but a ding dong dot in this multi-million whodunnit scam of all scams, seems to be sounding like the choked, gurgling sound of an open gutter with its lid stolen. So what do they want from us, sing the commonwealth anthem in chorus, floating on national pride, and feel buoyant and beautiful about it?

If you have read Mikhail Bakhtin, you would understand this dark irony. During oppressive and suffocating times, as in Tsarist Russia, (or later, under Stalin's totalitarianism) when dissent could lead to instant death and people simply disappeared, what would the poorest do on a cold night? They would enter a funeral ceremony, a humble marriage, a festival, or a circular formation of shared spaces. They would then enact a subtle, subterranean, subversive spoof, crying crocodile tears, hiding real tears, dissecting the false from the many layers of deception, fine-tuning the sharp edges, camouflaging the undisclosed, smelling and licking the unsmelt and the unlicked, suckers of hope, reminding themselves all the time how good faith eludes and how precious it is all. 

The village idiot, or the fool in the market, as must the uncanny puppeteer of wily, diabolical, dazzling emotions, they all become the symbolic expression of dirty dissent - drawing graffiti with black humour on an empty canvas of anti-establishment narrative. 

Ask the 3,00,000 poor whose homes were demolished, they shunted out of the city into the distant, sub-human ghettos of the suburbs. Ask the underpaid migrant workers who slept on the pavements, their children under the open sky of rain and sun, in filth, hunger and disease, those who actually 'built' the Games. Ask the vendors, hawkers, streetcart food sellers, rickshaw pullers, beggars and homeless who have been banished from the streets. The prime minister is so proud, he says Delhi's skyline is changing - so has he totally missed the city's sociological bottomline?

That's what's happening with the Commonwealth Games. And the entire sickened country and the city of Delhi is laughing its guts out at this self-styled apocalypse which has hit the Games. Serves them right - these damned, mediocre, cold-blooded crooks, usurping, wasting, degrading millions of taxpayers' money. They deserve their own disaster. 

This is anger, disgust and infinite rage. Also, angst, atrophy, helplessness.

As I write this, a genius and his friends have crafted a Hitler spoof on You Tube, with the 'Great Murderer' in an astounding display of histrionics, actually wanting to come visit the Games and is being persuaded by his pissing-in-their-pants Nazi flunkeys to avoid it. Watch this incredible work of cinematic irony, 'Hitler reacts on the Commonwealth Fiasco'. 

Even while you choke on your intestines, a fully synthesised, studio-recorded raunchy song hits the networks: Dilli badnaam hui, Commonwealth tere liye... Ceiling mein hole hua, Kalmadi tere liye... lifted straight from an equally raunchy number from yet another mindless Salman Khan flick. The song lifts your senses, and you wish that tens of thousands of Indian citizens could hit the streets and dance on the song. Cocking a snook at Lady Gaga, Silly Gilly, Calamity Kalmadi, and those who protect them. So what does the NAC and its chairperson think of the Games?

And this is just the icing on the spice. A million SMSs, dark jokes, breaking news, tweets, cartoons, picture games are flooding the mindspace of harassed and ashamed Indians, even while others sing a parody of eternal hope, hoping that the sewage waters of the Yamuna would one day cleanse the souls of Kalmadi and his soulmates: all of them sinking sinking drinking water. Because the proof of the spoof lies in this grand commonwealth of goof-ups. 

As the joke doing the rounds goes: Congress ne apne pair pe Kalmadi maar li...

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: OCTOBER 2010