See the thing is na, for us Punjabis, scolding and being scolded is routine. No scolding means no love. We spend our holidays dodging tonguelashings from strong scary aunts, and ducking the displeasure of sundry baojis and tayajis. Even better than escaping this, is if some other cousin can get scolded for a shenanigan you have jointly carried out, while you escape scot free to chortle in the wings.
If caught in any act, the scoldings will always involve some melodramatic utterances such as, “bade par nikal aaye hain tumhare”, “tum hotay kaun ho?” “yeh mat samjho ke tum bade sayane ho gaye ho”, etc.
Thus the upstartishness of young people is underlined by older folks who are basically saying -- don’t try to act too smart because you think you are of the time. I may be old but I still know a few things.
Girls often cry on discovery. Boys become sullen. They stand around silently while they are scolded post apprehension. The air is full of the frustration of one who has thought he could get away with something, and the satisfaction of the one who has prevented him. Some canny older folks start by lulling you with praise and then give you a fatka when you think you’ve got away. This is what is meant by a double whammy.
The moment has an inherent comedy. The older person is asserting an authority which is fast slipping, and sometimes, the younger person is letting them. There’s some love here, and a feeling of being cared for that feels safe and makes us feel like children again even though adulthood sucks and growing older isn’t easy. Just for a minute both parties entertain the notion that things haven’t really changed. At the same time the older party does know something the younger party doesn’t and the sullenness is a silent acknowledgement of that. For a minute, two dots on two parallel lines, come into an equal space before spinning off into their separate orbits.
I am saying all this only to console Chetan Bhagat who recently got a scolding from writer and filmmaker Gulzar.
Hua aise, ki Chetan bhaiya was the emcee at an event where Gulzar baoji was a panelist. At some point Chetan bhaiya praised baoji’s song, Kajra Re, saying ki it was a very good piece of poetry.
Bas, then Gulzar baoji took the microphone and gave Chetan bhaiya the tum-hotay-kaun-ho treatment. “Chetan, I am glad that an author like you has liked the song (i.e. lulling you with praise). But I don’t think you have understood the poetry that you are trying to talk about here. If you still insist, I will recite two lines from the song. Tell me the meaning of those?” “Teri baaton main kimam ki khusbu hain/ Tera aana bhi garmiyon ki lu hain. Tell me the meaning (the fatka, the fatka!).”
Like all cousins who thought they have gotten away with breaking the pickle jar while stealing the pickles that have not yet ripened, Chetan bhaiya froze. He demonstrated a blank look while Baoji continued to chide him for passing ‘expert comments’ on things he knows nothing about (i.e. bade par nikal aaye hain tumhare).
Thing is Chetan bhaiya appears to think, lately, that because his stuff “works” -- which is apparently the only index of validity nowadays -- he gets to decide what’s good.
But Gulzar baoji’s stuff ‘works’ and is often ‘good’ also. And baoji was kind of reminding bhaiya of that. Bura mat maan-na Chetan bhaiya, sometimes elders do know a thing or two.
Paromita Vohra is an award-winning Mumbai-based filmmaker, writer and curator working with fiction and non-fiction. Reach her at www.parodevi.com.
The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.