Archive for the ‘Psuedo’ Category

News From the Trenches

Herald, 4 January 2010,
Journo Jaunts

By Pedro Naik

That time of the month once again, full of pain and agony, when I get my heavy mining machinery out and try to extract my rightful dues from ye olde paper. So there I was, before the beloved crumbling edifice, ready to ascend to the rarefied climes inhabited by the editor. But as I stepped in, I was accosted by a burly guard and, before I could get a word in edgeways, violently shoved against a wall and frisked. Then followed a half-hour interrogation during which I was quizzed about whether my intentions were honourable or in accordance with my appearance. Only then was I permitted to rise upwards.
Sneaking into the editor’s den, I stood there with mouth agape, confronted by a room that resembled a nuclear bomb shelter. Behind a row of sandbags I could see a combat helmet, from below which two eyes viewed me balefully. Satisfied with the scrutiny, a Rambo-like apparition in bulletproof vest and combat fatigues rose into view. Peering at this frightful spectacle in the dim light, I perceived it was none other than the editor.
“What’s with the fancy dress?” I gasped. “Last time I was here, you were dressed and perfumed like a gigolo from a B-movie, and now you seem to be preparing for Armageddon!” The editor was not amused, “Okay, okay, enough of the wisecracks. I told you that we are now competing with the national daily down the road. So first we renumbered our entire paper from page 3a to page 3r. And now we are beefing up our security. All incoming and outgoing will be monitored. Big Brother will watch you all the time,” he snapped, gesturing at an ellipsoid object, resembling an octopus eye, that dangled above my head.
“Yeah, okay, next time I visit I’ll leave my AK-47 at home,” I said soothingly as I sank into a chair. “But tell me,” I continued, “apart from security, what’s with all this? It’s hardly like ye olde paper’s at the top of Al-Qaeda’s hit list…”
“Productivity, that’s the ticket,” he responded, sounding like a superannuated British Colonel Blimp settled in Goa, where foreign pensions go that much further. “We are sweeping ye olde paper with a new broom. As part of this drive, we have installed CCTV to watch every move, and ensure that everybody is keeping their nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel. And then we will become the meanest, leanest paper in all of Goa, and blow the opposition apart.”
“Well, you could start by paying poor contributors like me on time. Maybe you could even raise the payment to basic minimum subsistence level? And give the building a lick of paint? All this would be better than imitating those crypto-capitalists down the road…”
“Pedro, when will give up your utopian fantasies? We’re not running a charity. Anyway, we probably won’t need your articles for too much longer – the best papers are now printing only advertisements, and ye olde paper too is inching steadily closer to that goal. Also, I have been studying the latest management manuals, and have visited all the best facilities to learn how to run things. I’m just back from a study tour to Alcatraz prison. Before that I went to the old Gestapo offices in Berlin. And I’m currently reading Orwell’s 1984. Before long, we’ll have those upstarts licked…”
“Well, I’ll leave you to your brave new world of journalism,” I mumbled, stumbling to my feet. “I’ll just send my articles in by email henceforth.” He nodded, “That’s wise. But just fill in the 26-page personal details form, and go through the fingerprinting and retinal image routine. It’s mandatory for everybody who has the slightest association with us. As for staffers, we’re installing microchips in their brains to monitor their every thought. And now let me study this staff training manual,” he said, dismissing me with a wave and opening a book containing illustrations that seemed to have been taken from one of the nastier bits of the Inquisition.
Avoiding the security guard, I managed to slip out of the office with the virginity of my fingerprints and retina unsullied. As I disconsolately started my scooter, I mused over what I should do now that the brave new journalism is clearly not my cup of feni. Move into the entertainment industry, and work on producing super-hit CDs on politicians and priests, maybe? If I’m lucky, they’ll even be banned, and my fortune will be made.


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Home Sweet Second Home

Journo Jaunts

By Pedro Naik

These celebrity bashes are tiresome. But after you’ve finished clicking the toothpaste-ad snaps and dutifully noted the celebs’ inane remarks, there’s a flow of free food and booze. And if you can get enough of the latter flowing down your gullet, you can survive anything. The joys of being a journo: ink and booze galore!
Anyway, at one of these dos, I headed for a corner table where a heavily begoggled lady was drinking steadily, parked myself on a chair, and followed her excellent example. Peering at her in the dim light, I recognised Neha Chupayya. Time to get a minor-celeb interview and pay my household bills. And in Goa, when chatting with celebs, minor or otherwise, there’s only one topic. “Could you tell me more about your home in Goa, loved your interview about your second home here,” I began. Much to my surprise, she burst into tears. “Bloody over-rated con the whole thing,” she snarled.
“But you said in an earlier interview how you loved your beachside house.” She continued to sniffle into her scented hanky. “One has to say these things, sponsors and all that. But yesterday on my way to the beach, I was cursed by goonish security guards. After I navigated through the garbage, I stepped in a pile of dog poo. And then came the worst moment.” I waited with bated breath for the denouement. “Despite wearing my teeniest bikini, nobody looked at me. They were all ogling some Ukrainian tourists,” and bursting into a fresh round of tears, she subsided into her second hanky of the evening.
No story there, but I was determined to follow the matter, what with the comperes at IFFI functions babbling more about celebrity second homes in Goa than films, making this a must-write story. So off to Moira, the Beverly Hills of the brave new Goa. Rajesh Bar was its cosy self, and there was Uncle Augie in his usual corner. “Hi, Uncle, how’s things,” I said as I took my first sip of life-giving feni. To my horror, he too burst into tears. “Things are going totally down the drain here,” he sobbed into his feni. “I’m going to leave Moira.”
“But this is the most desired celeb village,” I objected. “Aw, forget it,” he said, “what shelebs-welebs? We’ve only got that minor Bollywood bimbo Melina Lately, and she’s hiring all kinds of perverts on her staff. As if things were not bad enough! For some time now, we have a Bollywood hack-diva who delivers sermons on saving Goa at the drop of a false eyelash, and a yellow journalist turned corporate shill who tells us how being Goan is all about eating faux Goan junk and getting drunk on feni. I’m out of here,” he concluded firmly.
And so was I – the vale of tears that good ole Rajesh Bar had become was too much for me to handle. As I started my scooter, I got a massive thump on the back. Turning around, I gaped into the grinning visage of a gorilla bedecked in enough gold to have met India’s bullion purchase requirements without bothering to go to the IMF. “What men, Pedro, it’s Jojo,” this ape beamed at me. “Jojo!?” I looked carefully, and sure enough, under all the gold and the new layers of fat was a familiar face, last seen about 2 years ago, adorning one of Moira’s world-renowned gutters. “Hey man, what’s up?” I queried, bemused by the transformation from a scrawny alcoholic layabout to this vision from a Bollywood gangster movie.
“I’ve discovered the celeb property market,” he chortled, “and it’s hot, baby! I’ve sold houses to every Bollywood wannabe star around, and business has never been better.” I was all ears. “I’ve got the whole package together. Old ‘Portuguese’ houses, an architect who leads morchas to save Goa by day and cuts hills by night, so no questions asked, and all permissions fixed. Yeah, men, some time ago I netted a real A-1 client – Akshay baba, who wanted a birthday present for wife Twinkle.”
“That’s great. And they’re happy?” I asked. “What do you think I am, a marriage counsellor?” he responded. “About the house, they’re thrilled, except that Twinkie dear wants to buy the beach too. Given the legal problems, Akki Baba in true khiladi style has decided to purchase the entire government and fix things. Negotiations are at an advanced stage and the deal should be sealed soon. Nothing’s too good for Twinkle. Devoted husband,” Jojo nodded wisely.
Then he leaned over and whispered, “But that’s nothing. I’m now on the verge of netting the biggest one of them all. The Big B! He wants to buy an entire village…” As Jojo prattled on, I drove off. Curse be on the celebs! If only they would stop buying second homes in Goa, maybe I could afford to buy my first one…

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Flim-Flam Festival

Herald, 23 Nov 2009

By Pedro Naik
Well, it’s that time of year once again, and IFFI’s here. Time to spend ten days gorging on some great films. Tingling with anticipation, I hurried along to the ESG to collect my delegate pass. That chore done, I asked for the schedule of films. “Never heard of any such thing,” shrugged the pretty young thing at the counter, “but I can give you a listing of red-carpet events.”
Disappointed, I pondered what to do. With IFFI beginning on Monday, I needed to plan out which films to see each day, and a list of films and a schedule was essential. When in doubt, go to the very top – and so I went to meet ESG CEO Manoj Srivastava in his swanky office in the Marquinez Palace complex. The great man himself arrived in a few minutes, suited and booted, obviously pleased as punch.
“Hi, Pedro,” he said, as he sank into his plush revolving executive chair, and spun himself round a few times. “Great meeting that. Got some things sorted out, kicked some butt. The Big S – Sunil Shetty – is coming for the festival, and the Queen of Indian cinema Sameera Reddy will be there too. They’ve already signed up for our T20 event,” he smirked. I was puzzled, “Sameera who? And Sunil what? And they’re going to play cricket at INOX?” I enquired. He sighed, “Still out of touch with things, I see. How the hell are you going to report on IFFI?” “I’m not,” I replied, “I offered to do some film reviews, but the editor was not interested. He wants only celebrity pictures and gossip, and I wanted to see films. So I applied for leave. And that’s why I’m here – could I have the schedule of films?”
“Films, yeah, this is going to be best IFFI ever, you’ll love it,” beamed Srivastava. “Our T20 of Indian cinema – not quite cricket, but a competition nonetheless – is already a blockbuster. And guess what?” he leaned forward confidingly, “there’s going to be a shopping festival. ‘Shop till you drop’, that’s the ticket. I’m sure your wife would like some nice sarees. Our partner establishments are offering fantastic discounts.”
“Yes, but I want the film schedule. Could you at least tell me which are the opening and closing films?” I persisted. Srivastava was clearly thrilled, “It’s good you asked. We’re going to have a spectacular opening ceremony – Waheeda Rehman is attending. And the closing ceremony will be an extravaganza to remember, Mammooty will be the chief guest. And we’ll have the best and brightest of Bollywood for the red-carpet events – Rakhi Sawant and Sambhavana Seth!”
“Yes, but which films…” but the ringing of the phone interrupted me as the CEO grabbed the phone. “Arre yaar,” he trilled into the phone, “Corniche is all set. Goan culture for the cognoscenti! And of course your troupe will get a huge contract to perform fugdi – and mando too if you want. And don’t worry about that politician who’s complaining about cyclone relief – next time they’re making him Art and Culture Minister, and he’ll be on board the gravy train too. We’ll have a full ODI instead of a T20!” Giving up, I pushed off, hoping to get the information from somebody else.
Luckily I ran into Raju Chalak as he entered into the building with a bulging briefcase full of funding proposals. “Arre, can you tell me which films they’re showing?” I began. He pouted, “Film, film! What kind of a film festival is this? There’s a conspiracy in the DFF and they’re not inviting Amitabh Bachchan for the opening ceremony. How can we showcase my proposals if we don’t have an A-1 celebrity around?” This sounded interesting. “What film are you making?” I asked. “Oh, I’m not making any film. I’m just getting funding for the seventeenth time for ‘Ayesha’…”
Meanwhile, Augie D’Mello had joined us, and I turned to him hopefully. “Which films are they showing?” I asked. “Not mine,” he snapped in chagrin. “This is a conspiracy against Goa. They’re encouraging bhaillos, and neglecting niz Goenkars. They rejected my documentary. Ghantis are making hay at the expense of Goans. We must save Goa from migrants! I will go to court…” he raged.
I hurriedly moved away, and disconsolately started my scooter. Back home, I drew up my plans for IFFI. Watch a fugdi show, buy a saree for wifey dear, rent a DVD of ‘Pather Panchali’ – and watch it at home! At least there’s a film in there somewhere …

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Welcome to Page 3!

Herald, 12 Oct 2009
By Pedro Naik
After a year-long break from writing my column, I decided it was time to get back to journalism – well, journalism of a kind, anyway. With this objective in mind, I dropped in at the office of Ye Olde Rag for a chinwag with the editor. Wrong office, obviously – instead of the old dingy, smoky den, I was in a snazzy air-conditioned cabin. And instead of the Tomcat, who usually himself looked like something that a tomcat had dragged in after a particularly wild night out, there was a changeling, wearing a hideous suit and tie, with horrendous gold-rimmed goggles. “Sorry,” I mumbled, as I backed out of the room.
“Pedro, it’s me,” he said, with his usual execrable grammar. And when I looked carefully, sure enough, it was the same old Tomcat, though now looking like he had an image makeover done by Wendell Rodricks. “What’s wrong, going round incognito? Cops after you?” I gasped as I sank into a chair. “No, Pedro, it’s the new journalism. We’re moving with the times,” said the editor. “The competition from that new national daily down the road means no business as usual, so we’re refurbishing Ye Olde Rag from the bottom up.”
“Okay, whatever,” I responded, too confused to try any wisecracks. “But should I resume my middles? I have some ideas regarding the sea link nonsense and the latest ‘charitable’ initiative by our industrial lobby. And then there’s that fashion show by our local celebs – khadi kaxttis and all – in aid of saving Goa. That should be good for some laughs…”
“Pedro, Pedro,” interrupted the editor, looking at me pityingly. “You are out of sync with the demands of modern journalism. We can’t have fun at the expense of these people – instead we need lavish photo-spreads showcasing them having a good time. And none of your cheap digs either. We are now moving into Page-3 journalism, and I can give you a slot there. Here, have a look at the dummy of tomorrow’s paper,” he said, shoving a lurid multi-hued set of papers towards me.
“But this is a mess,” I said, hurriedly averting my eyes from the psychedelic nightmare that shimmered before my befuddled eyes. “And you’ve got the page numbering wrong. See, instead of page 1, you have numbered it page 3.”
“Look carefully,” interrupted editor saab, “it says page 3a. The next page is page 3b, and so on. In fact, the entire paper is page 3. And that’s our focus. People don’t want depressing news about calamities and murders and politics and all that. They hanker for feel-good stuff that gives them a glimpse of a better life. And that’s what we’re giving them. Here’s our main news story.”
‘Digambar dazzles Canaconkars’ was the headline. I read on: ‘Dressed in a cream sherwani-achkan from Nita Lulla’s latest signature line, CM Digambar Kamat was spotted getting into his brand-new Lexus. On his way to Canacona to distribute cheques to some people who had faced some problems due to a little rain, he was joined by PWD Minister Churchill Alemao, dressed in a grey safari suit that drew admiring glances from female passers-by…’ “Forget it, I can’t cope with politics. I’ll do your cultural beat,” I said. “Great,” beamed the editor. “Go and cover the premiere of ‘Taking Woodstock’ tonight.”
“Yeah, Woodstock was a landmark event to remember, and this film is directed by Ang Lee. Should be good,” I was enthusiastic, but not so the editor. “Pedro, once again you’re on the wrong track. Who gives a damn about Woodstock and who the hell is Danglee anyway? Forget all that! I want a juicy story on who attended, and what they wore. Here, have a look at our report of a concert.”
‘The recent concert by Kishori Amonkar was cute. It drew a select audience from the A-list of Goa. Seen exchanging notes with Christabelle was Shrikant K. Christabelle looked fetching in a red gown with golden stiletto-heeled sandals, and Shrikant had gone in for some power-dressing with a pin-striped suit by Digjam, underlining his status as a captain of Goan industry. Also enjoying the music were Nita and Jonlyn, as they exchanged tips on the latest designer wear from Tommy Hilfiger. Demo had Reema in splits with a ribald tale, as they tucked into scrumpilicious caviar between sips of Dom Perignon.”
“But what about the concert?” I spluttered. “Oh, that doesn’t matter; Kishori Amonkar walked out in disgust anyway. Just put in this kind of stuff along with a few photos of the beautiful people,” said the editor. “Beautiful people?” I interrupted him. That Shrikant’s mug looks like he lost an argument with a speeding train, and Christabelle seems to be posing for a toothpaste ad, apart from the fact that her so-called gown is more of a bikini.”
“Pedro, let’s just forget it, okay,” said the exasperated editor. “Change with the times, and if you can see things our way, maybe we can work something out.”
I stumbled out of the office, desperately trying to fit into this brave new world of journalism. Let me try again. ‘I dropped in at the city office of the grooviest newspaper in sunny Goa, edited by the dashing, dynamic Tomcat, who was looking resplendent in Emporio Armani goggles and a Savile Row suit that …’

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Nothing Iffy about IFFI

Herald, 20 Nov 2008
By Pedro Naik
The meeting was getting stormy. Producer Bobbie Bebi bristled with anger as he glared at Nicky DeSa, erstwhile head honcho of the Entertainmoney Society of Goa. "What the hell do you mean, no item number by Liya Khan at the opening ceremony? You know how much demand she's in since her Lolita act? And I signed her on to do an item number for just a crore. And you said Goa would assume control over IFFI, getting rid of those Delhi babus, making it easier for it to be turned over to Bollywood."
Nicky wiped his sweating brow. "Don't put all the blame on me – you promised to get rid of Neelima Cooper, but she's still a power in the I&B ministry. And now she's cooked up a plan to sabotage the entire binge. Serious cinema, I hear! No item numbers, and we can't spend a meagre Rs 10 crore to get Amitabh Bachchan for the closing ceremony," Nicky said.
"This is what happens when you hand over a festival to babus, instead of leaving it to Bollywood. What's Indian film without the Big B? What IFFI are you going to have without him and without an item number or ten? And what about the premiere of my upcoming blockbuster Hot in Goa, for which an entire day of IFFI was to be exclusively devoted? After the stink about the premiere of that masterpiece Musafir, I decided to make a film with Goa in the title, and now you tell me that's off too. "
"Musafir was also set in Goa, fat lot of good that did," Nicky grumbled. "And your Hot in Goa posters have all those women with hardly any clothes on." Bebi looked at him in disbelief. "Don't you fellas get it? Bollywood has decided to promote breast cancer awareness in a big way. This film is creating awareness about the first bit; later on, I'll make a film on cancer. You are always complaining, even when we're doing something positive and socially committed."
Nicky looked ashamed, "Anyway, let's move on. My wife is fuming because AB isn't coming, and my son is making my life hell because Liya's not coming. So let's think of the future. Look at this," said Nicky, pushing forward an IFFI 2008 programme. "For 2009 we'll replace this year's tribute to that Bengali chappie – whatsisname Roy or Ray or something – and have a Govinda tribute instead. And they've got some cruddy Iranian director called Kyaro-Pastrami or something. No class. We'll get Pamela Anderson…"
"Okay," said Bebi, "we'll write this one off, but next time you better get your act together, or it's IFFI bye-bye Goa. You should see the package Narendra Modi's offering."
"What's Modi got to do with this?" Nicky stuttered. "Haven't you heard of Nano and Singur and Sanand?" smirked Bebi. Well, Modi's made us an offer for Ahmedabad as the permanent venue of IFFI. Yash Chopra NRI-Punjabi Soaps Ltd will be in charge of film selection, and my company will be event manager in charge of the full thing – no babus. And don't tell me about Goa's sun and sand – Modi's promised to set up a special Swiss-type 'winter' venue with artificial snow, and to set aside Rs 200 crore to fly Bollywood stars in and pay their appearance money."
Nicky looked at the door worriedly, and, just in time, his ace in the hole popped up. "Look who's here, better than Modi," he said, as Manohar Porrikar, the dapper ex-CM, entered, exuding his usual aura of efficiency and good governance. "And once you hear him, you'll have no further issues."
"Bl@$#& damp squib this year," said Porrikar, cutting out small talk, as is his wont. "But we'll be back in power by the next edition, and we'll bring back the glory days of 2004.
"We'll get rid of that bhaillo currently heading ESG and get Nicky back. Half the state budget will be devoted to IFFI. Those whiners in Campal are to be permanently relocated to Canacona. Remo will be externed. We're shutting down the whole of Panjim, and transporting the population to Pernem for the duration. In all talukas we'll lay on entertainment for the people – carnivals, ferris wheels, roundabouts, clown acts, and item numbers galore on the beaches and in all heritage spots. That'll keep them happy.
"Nobody can stand in the way of my glorious vision. I'm going to level the whole of Campal and build the biggest auditorium in the world, where we'll premiere Shahrukh's next film 'Main NRI Hoon Na'. Now that's IFFI! And then..."
The tension of the past hour forgotten, the other two listened raptly as the great man laid out his vision for the greatest IFFI ever...

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Celebs for Goa!

Herald, 16 Sep 2008
By Pedro Naik

The invitation was an ornate affair, rather psychedelic in appearance. Illumination struck when I discovered it was an invitation for an event ‘Goan Celebrities for Goa’ at the Opulence Suprema-Deluxe in Panjim. “How did this come to me?” I mused.
But not one to look a gift horse in the mouth (or a Goan celebrity in his face-lift), and salivating at the thought of some free booze and fancy eats, I donned my best (such as it is) and trotted off. The guard was predictably dubious about letting me in, but the invitation turned the trick, providing the dazzle I so clearly lacked.

The grand ballroom had a stage rigged up to resemble a Goan balcao. Instead of dancing and dinner, we were going to be treated to an evening of speechifying. Signs of the times? Fortunately, ever-mindful of the needs of the audience (a generous selection of the page-3 wannabes of Goa), the organisers had laid on plenty of liquor and some nameless morsels, which, though minuscule, were certainly toothsome. Arming myself with a heaped plateful of said morsels and a few pegs of Ye Olde Scotch, I headed for the back benches.

The evening’s talkathon was launched by none other than a glittering Demo (short for Demosthenes) Ferns, popularly known as the ‘Troubadour of Goa’. His recent incarceration, along with the success of his ‘India Live’ tour had obviously sent his fame up a few more notches. He acknowledged the applause with his usual grace and, requesting silence, proceeded to enlighten us about the recent imbroglio.

“It was all an anti-Goa conspiracy – the whole world is out to get us! I was so disgusted with all that I was reading about the demise of Goa and Goenkarponn that I confronted the airhostess, some benighted ghanti from Jhar-somewhere. ‘Why is there no Goan air-hostess on this flight? I want to see the captain.’ Instead of acceding to my request, she tells me, ‘Capt. Verma cannot see you now, Sir. Please sit down and fasten your seat belt!’ She said that to ME, the greatest Goan celebrity ever! And all to protect the pilot, some fellow from Delhi!”

“I kicked up a row, I tell you! ‘Don’t you know who I am?’ I asked her. And then this air-marshal chappie from Bihar comes and arrests me. Things got worse in Goa. I was brought up before a non-Goan judge, some Gowda, who, instead of giving me a medal, sentenced me to a week’s imprisonment. This is the kind of injustice being heaped on us poor, simple Goans by these migrants. This must end! All planes into Goa must have only Goan staff, and all courts in Goa should have only Goan judges.”

The next speaker, noted designer Randall Rodrigues, was rather an anti-climax after this soul-stirring speech. “It is important to protect Goa and promote local talent. That is the only solution to the unemployment faced by our youth. To showcase our culture, I have organised, along with designers Ritu Merry and Paulo Italiano, a fashion show of our ethnic Goan costumes. I am glad to inform you that my good friends Maleeka Aurora and Neha Oomphia will model my recent ethnic Goan creations. And the show will be sponsored by Rita Bambani, for whom I have designed an exclusive gown to be worn at the housewarming of her 48-storey private mansion in Mumbai, built where there used to be unsightly slums.”

The pinnacle of the evening was certainly the stirring speech by Reema Taldesai, the rising nightingale of Goa. She took some time to rise on this occasion, though, as she had got stuck in her chair and had to be tugged out by four hefty waiters. Pausing only to take a bite of caviar, she crooned her latest hit ballad, “Goa, Reema will save you!”

Lurching into her speech, she told us about her latest threat to the government, “I told the CM that either you pass a law that no non-Goan may enter Goa, or I will go on a hunger strike. No breakfast for one whole day! My previous hunger strike was hugely successful – though the CM didn’t agree to my demands, I lost 100 grams!”

With the rapturous applause ringing in my ears, I wended my way home, only to bump into Lascar-bab, the activist-saviour of Goa. “Arre, you are not at that bash, are you non-Goan or anti-Goan or what?” I asked. All I got in return was a murderous look…

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