Requiem of a Dream

It’s a deadly, addictive, I-love-my-hangover cocktail of new capitalism in If-I-were-a-rich-man India. Superpower India floating in a quagmire of sleaze and seductions, like a donkey with wings. Every time they hit a four or sixer in this heady quick-fix-mix of IPL, it’s both, a national anti-catharsis and anti-orgasm, a repressed society’s collective salvation and tryst with destiny. For the six, the sky is the limit. Or else, it’s Apocalypse Now.

This is the synthetic inner being and nothingness of our backward, post-modern, mercenary, crony capitalism in stunning synthesis, surrounded by vast, fragmented, sepiatoned patches of abysmal deprivations and starvations and suicides and malnourishment and the infinite twilights of absolute despair which not even the armpit-bombing cheer girls can elevate in a sexy art form of profound white-skinned kitsch. Oh, how we drool upon and fantasise the inaccessible white skin, and how we look down at it also as so ‘loose’, so loose, like loose character in our high moral ground, sex starved constipations. But this is part of the new boom boom of outsourced, boom boom India, so just do it. To do is to be, so, as the song goes: Dobedobedobedobe… dobedobedum…

If hunger and life on the eternal threshold of the faceless margins could be sexy, then they would sell that also, like some superbly original designers and miscellaneous models have been doing at black and grey railway stations with coolies in red, or roadside hawkers in faceless white; so why not a photo-op with exiled beggars and farmers about to commit suicide next to a skimpy saree with no blouse or inner wear? Art for art’s sake is never a bad deal when it comes to a bit of skin show. Exactly similar to how one ball bowled gets you perhaps Rs 1.5 lakh or more, or posing half naked next to a car launch, butts jutting out, or the millions which cricketers play for, overground, underhand, with or without sting, 20-20. Truly, if this is not great social contribution, or nation building, what is?

It all signifies a new political economy of both high art and high culture: stereotyped bloated tycoons (some of them in heavy debt of millions, celebrating half-nude babes in exotic calendars, looking for official bail-outs at public expense, and those who don’t pay salaries to their staffers), and their intoxicated, illiterate phoren-returned kids with their ill-gotten money and instant girlfriends; ageing, flipflop box office dud film stars and their buy-me-my-instant fame business partners, sundry socialites, up-swinging female models, half-drunk, coked up, hung-over hanger-ons and upwardly mobile kids of the brave new unethical world; trained pimps and betting and spot-fixing specialists and entrenched, monopolistic ex-cricketers, repeating the same thing on television, with half-aspiring cricketers (one young lollypop surrounded by adult chicks – driving a Mercedez Benz, and where does he get the money from?).

Champagne bottles rolling down gutters of five star hotels and lounges in ‘unofficial parties’ booked by guttery tycoons with all kinds of macho/feminine floaters floating like fallen flowers deflowered by their own flowery fantasies. Oh, what a lovely, lascivious, lecherous super flower, the nuclear family of the great nuclear super power, celebrating the magnificent underbelly of the great affluent zone, stupefied by its own infinite hallucinations, rolling on infinite wealth, trapped by the deadly drug of capitalism, corporate cricket and corporate media, sexy sleaze and fixed, fixated eyeballs?

If I were a rich man… that’s the song everyone is singing these days in this collective catharsis, vicarious or real, tangible or titillating, doing or undone: Dobedobedobedobedum.

It’s just that the high morality political and corporate class, across the political party spectrum in this country just refuse to see the falling wickets in the woods, so coked up is this drugged out cocky cocktail – the IPL. It’s been happening like a long playing record stuck up in its own froth of sucked up adrenaline, the more you push it up the veins, the more it spills over into dirty pools of rotten, etherised liquid, like alcohol in control shift vomit mode. Th e annual, relentless IPL underbelly is starkly raving with this non-stop rave party, but no one wants to disturb the cooked up status quo, all those who control the big stakes are the masters of the new political economy, the maestros of the new high culture, the masterminds of good manners, the angels of aesthetics who tread on glittering highways of big money where only angels dare to go.

So don’t even ask them about the other underbellies or bloated bellies or sunk bellies or flattened bellies across the Vidharbha, Medinipur, Anantapur landscape of ravaged lands and cricket pitches where a fast bowler can only bowl at the speed of a thirsty buffalo, and he doesn’t get paid for that. Don’t even mention the cost of living in contemporary times or the price of choosing to live in this fated country where the poverty line and below the underbelly line expands into time and space where only sky is the limit, like a six costing Rs 1 crore or perhaps more. Poverty is not a blessing despite the curse. And the curse is not a blessing, in this heat and white sunshine, when you can go raving mad.

So what should we do? So what should the nation-state do? Join the IPL bunga bunga romp within six days of the cricket World Cup victory, like multi-millionaire gladiators with the crowd baying for blood? Do athletes or footballers in any part of the world do that aft er the Olympics or the football World Club? So should we switch on the TV and join the chorus and move our bodies like the cheer girls in white skin, or wave the flag like that flop actress does on the boundary line, once literally jumping inside the field in protest against an umpiring decision and going scot free after that? Or get drunk and abuse and fight the security guards defending the right of kids to jump up and down inside the ground, simply because you sit on piles and piles of money and don’t know what to do with that? Or jump up and down every time a four or sixer flies on an invisible space shuttle to the super powers’ big, cosy, happy, cathartic nuclear power family?

Or simply choose to get deflowered by a carnivorous, flowering economy, and enjoy it while it lasts?

Amit Sengupta started journalism when he was 19, even while he was working in the relief camps as a student of JNU after the State sponsored genocide of Sikhs in Delhi in 1984. Since then, he has been an independent president of the JNU Students' Union, writer, activist and editor, closely involved with multiple people's movements and conflict zones in contemporary India. He was Executive Editor, Hardnews magazine, South Asian partner of Le Monde Diplomatique, Paris. He has earlier worked as a senior editor and journalist with Tehelka, Outlook, The Hindustan Times, Asian Age, The Pioneer, The Economic Times and Financial Chronicle. Till recently he has been a professor at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi.

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