Rahul da Cunha Column: Popcorn patriotism

And as the year is winding down, I feel a sharp nip in the air — in contrast to the warmth exhibited in the new-found Narendra/Nawaz bromance, in the lobby of a Paris hotel.

There was much speculation over the nature of their conversation and many theories floated around. It’s been that kind of week — with our PM bonding with many of his arch enemies, including Senorita Sonia and Shri MM Singh.

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

A nosey parker French concierge who overheard snippets of the NaMo and NaSh chat, revealed:

‘Both Monsieurs, Modi and Sharif, were discussing, how you say in English…when your stomach makes the rumbling sound…you need le food? Ah, they were ‘hangry’… They were very ‘hangry’ as neither of them enjoys our French cuisine.”

Apparently Modi whispered to Sharif, “Yeh French khana...bilkul ‘fine dining’ type….mujhe sheekh kebab chahiye.”

Sharif agreed, “Haan janaab…chalo ek shwarma bhi khaate hain.”

In local news, the debate over getting up for the national anthem in cinemas raised its ugly head again. Opinions on ‘whether it’s patriotic/unpatriotic/ illegal/respectful?’ filled the screens of social media. Much ‘Tamasha’ happened in PVR Kurla with a family refusing to stand and other patrons raising a hue and ‘who do you think you are’ over it. Of course, it was assumed that the stubborn family was Muslim, and they were threatened with a slap, but thankfully, not a demand to return to Pakistan. It’s like Jana Gana Mana suddenly became ‘Jana gana baithna mana hai’.

I myself have no issue standing up for Tagore’s masterpiece. Occasionally, I feel inspired even to sing. But here’s my ‘grievance’. Tell me dear reader, that you’ve also experienced this — You’ve staggered into a multiplex, armed to the teeth with a variety of junk food, barely found your seat in the darkness (where are those lovely ushers with the torches?), and settled into a plush velvet seat. At that exact same moment, the screen announces it is the moment to rise. So you stagger up, your mouth filled with popcorn, a tray of momos in your left hand and a cardboard glass of Pepsi in the other, trying hard to be patriotic, while Sonam Kapoor takes inordinately long to complete one sentence — ‘Punjab Sind Gujarat Maratha’.

If you’re unlucky, you’re in the theatre where the Mangeshkar sisters sing a longer, slower version that takes half the length of the film.

So my problem is all about placement. Why not have our national anthem screened at the end of the film. You’ve stood up to leave in any case. If I’ve sat through 140 minutes of a film, another 52 seconds won’t hurt, right? Just suggesting.

In other news, Mark Zuckerberg has donated 99 per cent of 45 billion to charitable organisations. Arun Jaitley hopes that organisation is called India. Chennai received 55 mm of rainfall, enough to cripple the city, while an NRI businessmen spent R55 crore on his daughter’s wedding in Kerala.

And Rhythm House, my favourite music store is downing its shutters in an era of downloading. I feel the Blues.

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62@gmail.com

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