Tuesday, August 28, 2012

SRK and other familiar charms in Srinagar

Kashmir has been hot as a thousand devils this year. Yasin Malik, with his trademark grim grin, thinks that it is due to our sins and the unresolved ‘Maslay Kashmir’. In absence of any metrological connection between sin and the sun, many would say that it could be about the ‘core issue’ only. As both parties – India and Pakistan – get busy with other non-essential stuff, where is the time to follow through on Kashmir? Alas Manmohan Singh, that clean fellow, always spotted in spotless white cotton Kurta Pajamas, turned out to be a coal dealer. Coal, of all the things. No class. Any which way, in Pakistan, the Supreme Court continues to play a game of dumb charades with prime minister’s office and the presidency. Ergo, the stalemate on Kashmir and the unseasonal heat-wave.

Into the sinning little valley of ours, strides the 46-year old heartthrob of India and baadshah of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan. Local papers are totally g-spaced. ‘The King is here’, the biggest English daily in Kashmir screams in a somewhat excitified headline. Since he can play a college kid no more, SRK is playing the next best option, an armyman. So our superstar takes a chopper and all, rappels down in Pahalgam, by the Lidder, gives one of his politically correct quotes (my grandmom is Kashmiri; eh, explains the looks) and lo presto. Peace returns. The Kashmir of Raj Kapoor and Nargis in Barsaat reappears. Where peaches hang on low-lying boughs in orchards and Shammi Kapoor runs furiously in meadows (no, no dogs chasing him). The romance is back in our lives. Everyone should clap.

Since this is the season of returns, there is another ‘Return of the Jedi’. The interlocutors, too, are back: Radha, not a day older than last year with her hair nimbly argentate along with Padgoankar, French in his tastes and Indian by temperament. Since the government of India has decided not to implement anything that the interlocutors painstakingly suggested in their high-profile report ‘A new compact with the people of Kashmir’, another talk-shop will be opened. Only the duo understands the futility of this new exercise. Everyone else has moved on. Chidambaram has since given way to Shinde in the North block. Omar’s Twitter handle has been taken over by his uncle who perhaps forgot the password. Kamal is currently in viva voce mode.

Back in Pahalgam, Yash Chopra is busy filming. A crew of 100 has turned the woods into an extended outdoor film set. Everyone is twinkle-toed. Security is reportedly fool-proof, leaving loads of SRK fanboys, in scores of Tata Sumos, very heart-broken. It is, sort of, tragic that a middle-aged Muslim star with a local grandmom should not be allowed to meet his well-wishers. There might be a secret agency hand involved in this step-motherly treatment meted out to the valleyites. Not everyday do people get to climb on top of a bus in Kashmir to catch fleeting glimpse of a star who plays an armyman (whether or not the character enjoys immunity under AFSPA being wholly immaterial here).

In related news, an eleven-year-old student was arrested -- and subsequently let off on bail -- in Srinagar for indulging in violence against cops on the eve of Eid. By law anyone under 18 is a minor. One thing is sure: 11 is the first number which cannot be counted with a human's ten fingers. Why the spectacle? India’s own Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act states that publication of a child’s name or picture in any newspaper, magazine, news-sheet or visual media that may lead to the identification of the juvenile is not allowed. Clearly someone is not following the law.

Law is for the lawless, the Bible says. For the time being hoteliers and hawkers near Dal lake are planning to get their act together and write to Yashji to film on the famed Boulevard with SRK for a few minutes, atleast.

Everyone deserves a chunk of the peace pie.