Not An ‘Aam’ Charcha, ‘Mann Ki Baat’ Was The Hidden Motive

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Akshay Kumar’s interview of the Prime Minister has certainly added a lot of colour in the otherwise drab election season, which seems to be stretching on till eternity. When everything else failed (the stay on the release of the film ‘PM Narendra Modi) this was one smart media strategy to re-invent his image as the quintessential people’s man (of course we know better after five years).

We are anyway an emotional lot as a nation, easily swayed by sob stories, the ‘bechara’ and ‘bechari’ factor. Just play upon our emotional chords and we are floored. The TRPs of popular TV programmes and the way news is presented on different channels is evidence of how easily we let emotions cloud our vision and opinion; and of course, in the election season, which button we press on the EVM.

Modi managed to sway a whole nation in his favour in 2014 by making sure that ‘bachcha-bachcha’ in the country knows about his humble background. He did a ‘rewind’ of his tape for five years and now this ‘action replay’? Eta Cholbe Na Modiji! (It doesn’t work Modiji!) Pehle aapne hamein chai pilayi ab aam khilayenge? (You served us tea first and now you will give us mangoes?) Policies, promises, missions and strategies be damned!

The interview, held on the well-manicured lawns of Modi’s 7, Lok Kalyan Marg residence reminded one of the many ‘Chai pe Charchas’ he had with foreign dignitaries through his prime ministerial term, serving them tea and playing the ever-affable host. He did that for the visibly overwhelmed Akshay Kumar too.

Modiji, one question, Karan Thapar ko kyun nahi bulaya interview ke liye? (Why didn’t you invite Karan Thapar for the interview?) You had promised him a meal in Delhi more than 11 years back?

Between the postmortem and dissection of the mango, Narendra Modi very casually and with self-satisfaction written large on his face mentioned what a great friend Barack Obama is and how they addressed each other as “Tu”. Pray what is the English word for “Tu”? Flashback to the December 2017 interview of Karan Thapar with Barack Obama at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in Delhi in which Thapar asked him about his proximity to Modi. The former President responded, “I was friends with Dr Singh too”. What followed was an eulogy of Dr Manmohan Singh’s economic policies. So?!

Now I want to ask Akshay Kumar. Why did you have to fall into this trap? You are better off revelling in your image of the ultimate patriot, the do-gooder, the family man, the khiladi, the philanthropist, the loving husband, doting father, fitness freak, National Award winner. Why traverse an unchartered territory and reveal to your fans the side of your personality they need not know? I hate to say it but you know you come across as really, well, ‘Duh’ in this whole episode, absolutely politically unaware? You really expect people to buy the argument that this was an apolitical interview? It was almost like, “Uncle, uncle, mele ko batao!” And man, he made that rather sexist jibe at your wife!

The third figure in this whole interview was the mango. Now I am certain of one thing that mango is indeed our national fruit. If the mango could speak, what would it say to such an illustrious discussion on it? Would it be humbled? Dumbstruck? Overwhelmed? Elated? Or would it have said,“Sardar khush hua!”