The Incorrigibles ft. Chanta Laga
"Now the police is doing karyavahi on us because we recorded our video without masks. What we did was very wrong, we are very sorry. Please follow rules." They end with masks in place
Have you seen the new superhit lockdown college movie? The Incorrigibles, featuring the dhamakedar item number, Chanta Laga?
The movie begins with two young men, Mohammed and Asif, sauntering down a Dongri street, engaged in the essential service of making TikTok videos. Playing with their TikTok boy hair, yaniki the onion domes of Moscow, yaniki khopdi codpiece hairstyle they say, "My friend told me don't go, there's a cop ahead and I was like, haah, police don't stop us, because we're celebrities boss, got it?"
Cut to: The two, hair combed down in a paani mein gaya sara style, looking as sincere as front benchers, in a video made by the cops who didn't take kindly to their swag. Artist ko koi nahin samjhta milaad. "Now the police is doing karyavahi on us because we recorded our video without masks. What we did was very wrong, we are very sorry. Please follow rules." They end with masks in place.
Even those who think they're too cool for school, eventually get caught by the vigilant Sanskrit teacher and have to write 500 words on Hamari Sanskriti, in Sanskrit, after class. Cut to Shefali Jariwala entering club and going "chaaanta laga! Hai laga".
Enter the type who normally gets away: Class topper, whom all teachers love, and implicitly believe, when they deny extra-curricular activities—"we were not passing love-notes, we were clearing our doubts ma'am!" Anita Raj, former actor allegedly had a party. Neighbours complained. She said, husband is a doctor, it wasn't a party, but medical emergency! Police said, ok, ok, don't do again, ok?
But, Shefali Jariwala blinked her basilisk blink as she watched bangle ke neeche, teri beri ke peechhe, oh piya.
The climax. Enter, teacher's pet and class bully. In 2015, Tejaswi Surya, BJP MLA, chiefly famous for anti-Muslim hate speech, tweeted sexually disrespectful remarks about Arab women. In 2020, many like him, who love India so much, they live in the Gulf, are also tweeting Islamphobic things, because got bullies, have posses.
Unfortunately, they're doing it in the wrong place, so some have been sacked under the UAE's hate speech and anti-discrimination law. Tejaswi's old tweet resurfaced, and earned a glacial ticking off from a royal princess of the UAE among others. Indian Islamophobia is now a topic of international diplomacy. Millions of Indians work in the Gulf. Usually Hindutva hate speech earns a "ladka shararti hai" response from teachers, but suddenly the ambassador to the UAE and the Prime Minister himself made statements about India's communal harmony. Middle benchers suffering from favouritism are going khi khi khi as if they are in a Danish Sait video. Shefali Jariwala boogies from right to left, going chanta laga.
Are Indians incorrigible, just coz we so shararti? The mark of privilege is that the rules don't apply to you. Kill someone driving drunk, or driven by hate, sexually harass employees—if you're privileged, the rules are lowered for you, like silk ropes at expensive clubs. When the civic system, doesn't treat all citizens equally, of course everyone tries to jump the queue and experience privilege. Chanta laga moments may be cathartic, but it's the item song, not the whole movie.
Roll credits, with rap from Urnub Uncorrigible: "laga mujhpe FIR, made a video 'bout my car, it's a Toyota Corolla yaar, TV pe dekh-loonga baar baar."
Paromita Vohra is an award-winning Mumbai-based filmmaker, writer and curator working with fiction and non-fiction. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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