Wednesday, August 17, 2011

To shift from the last rites of a loved one to entertaining an entire nation at the start of a game show

Jalsa , Mumbai        Aug  15,  2011     Mon 11 : 35 PM
To shift from the last rites of a loved one to entertaining an entire nation at the start of a game show for television, must be termed as one of the most psychologically draining experiences ever. There may be more examples, but today for me was one such day.
The last rites at the burning ‘ghat’ of BaanGanga for Shammi ji began early in the morning and went on till the afternoon. I needed to tear myself away from it to get to the first day of KBC - a live event ! One does not know whether to live in the spirit of the moment, mourn and not work. Or, follow what we have been taught - to consider and execute a commitment to its fullest. I did follow and I did complete, but not without my share of anxiety and confusion in the mind. It is difficult to be by death in the morning and be in cheer by the evening. There shall be some percolation of emotions and thought. My thoughts ran through all those years of having spent good times with Shammi ji. And today as we sit in that very same ambience of his house, where his presence and charisma burst out in the open in free and open abandon, I find him motionless, unable to move, wrapped in cloth and rope and flower, ready to be carried on our shoulders to the cremation site. We do as do many others. And along the street to the site the people that line the route sling baskets of flower petals from home to home and through an ingenious device of the strings used, flip the basket in the air to allow the petals to fall on the body as it is driven by.
Occasions such as this introduce to us at times the other side of life. Not all that show sympathy and empathy for the moment are necessarily genuine. Positioning for the camera is a deft pastime, in order to ensure that their picture appears the next morning in the papers. Some in order to show familiarity will try to involve you in conversation that has no bearing whatsoever to the rituals that are being conducted. It is disgusting. Others try to position themselves in a manner so that what they are manufacturing or selling will become the conversation piece, right in the middle of this solemn moment. Where do these people learn basic social protocol ?
And worse still are the crowds that gather around on occasions such as this. They cheer and scream as though the celebrity was attending another premiere of one of his films. And the media ! Shoving their microphones right into our faces demanding a response for the occasion. Do they really think they shall be able to get it out of me ? Do they understand ethics at all. Is this the moment when anyone from the deceased shall be in a mood to talk to anyone. I slink away on moments like this head down. It is most awkward for me and I breathe only when I am away from the media onslaught, secure inside the car. But till then it is …..
KBC started today and we went on live ! This was something of an experience, since it had never been tried before. I wonder now how the results shall be ..
I intend to be more rested by the morrow .. and more vocal perhaps and maybe a bit ‘golden’ !!
Amitabh Bachchan

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