Life's Like That

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Jai Karnataka

About 6 years ago, the dreaded sandalwood smuggler Veerappan kidnapped an actor called Dr. Rajkumar. Till that morning, I had never really heard of Dr. Rajkumar even though I had been living in Bangalore for 2/3 years. But that morning, I knew all there was to know about Annavru; knew enough to make me desperate to get home, before someone attacked me for not knowing. The 15 minute journey from college to home took more than 3 hours that day, and I saw first hand, the kind of mob frenzy that anything associated with this veteran actor whips up in this city. I got home safe and sound and stayed at home for the next 15 days because everything was shut. Schools colleges offices etc opened after a fortnight but movie theatres, pubs, pool parlours...anything associated with fun and entertainment remained closed for almost a month, if not more...we, as a city, were expected to be grieving collectively.

My brush with Dr. Rajkumar's fans that day, six years ago, is the reason, why, the moment I heard about his death, I immediately packed up for the day, bought bread, eggs and milk and called Rahul to pick me up (no autos..those guys dont need an excuse to refuse a fare in the best of times, this was tragedy and emergency rolled into one and multiplied several times over). I refused to go to office the next day, even before we got word from our branch head that we were shut. My house is 10 minutes away from Kanteerava Stadium you see, I have to pass by that road on my way back from work. I stayed at home the entire day, alone (Rahul chose that day to go out of town for work) and bored to death because all non Kannada entertainment channels were blocked. So I spent the day sleeping, cooking and watching the same damn news clips 1st on CNN IBN, then on NDTV, then on Aaj Tak and then on Times Now.

What I saw on all these news channels left me profoundly relieved for having stayed at home. It was bloody insane!! My friend G called up from Hyderabad, and the only thing we could say was , "If these guys are going beserk when he died of a heart attack (and old age), can you even imagine what would have happened if Veerappan had killed him!?" My god! Can you?? I dont know how many people would have been killed. Would a Mumbai behave like this when Amitabh Bachchan dies? I am pretty sure Calcutta didnt behave in this ridiculous fashion when Uttam Kumar died. What is it about South India and superstars? im told there were similar scenes of violent grieving (if one can call it that) when NTR and MGR died. I mean really!! Are they expected to somehow defy the laws of nature and live forever? Whats with the violence? Specially at the passing away of a man like Dr. Rajkumar, who by all accounts was a peace loving indiviual. Shameful.

Just as shameful was the way that certain news channels chose to report the news. Having spent the day watching one news channel after the other I must say that CNN IBN presented the most exaggerated, sensationalised, immature and irresponsible reporting on the Bangalore riots. Yes, there was violence, yes mobs threw rocks and destroyed stuff, yes they attacked the cops, yes they burnt buses, yes they did all of that. But you know what? The rioting was mostly concentrated in and around Kanteerava Stadium (Residency Road, Richmond Road, St. Marks Road and bits of Lavelle Road). Living 10 mins away from the place, I didnt even hear anything. There were no mobs in front of my house, there was no mob frenzy , no burning vehicles and certainly no cops being attacked. The major tension happened around 11.30 / 12 in the morning and lasted for about an hour or so. The cops did manage to bring things under control...and no it was NOT the lull before the storm. How can journalists go on air and say such completely irresponsible nonsense? People watch your channel for the facts, not your bloody speculations. People in other cities get bloody freaked out when they see these exaggerated reports, because to them, thats the truth and they have near and dear ones living in that city. While NDTV and Aaj Tak repeatedly mentioned that the situation was under control and the images they were showing were taken during the rioting that happened earlier, CNN IBN and Times Now chose to say things like "Authorities say that the situation is under control, but this is just the lull before the storm." The reporters went on saying how people were throwing stones at parked cars outside their office. Guess what? The CNN IBN office is on St. Marks Road, kinda close to Kanteerava Stadium...of course they will be throwing stones in that area...have you seen the number of glass fronted expensive shops and offices on that road?? Did it occur to any of the reporters to mention this fact on air? Of course not. That would ruined the dramatic effect. (not to mention the glamour...kinda like war reporting....we are coming to you live from riot stricken Benguluru even as angry mobs attack our very dedicated of us). Ridiculous!!!!!!

As for the pompous, full- of- themselves Bangalore celebrities who went on air with their "invaulable" opinions...what a bunch of publicity hungry opportunists man!! How easily Girish Karnad blamed the authorities for not having planned it better ( according to him the authorities should have planned the funeral while Dr. Rajkumar was alive and kicking. While it sounds like a good idea, its quite impractical...I dont think anyone anywhere does that.), and then contradicted himself saying they were doing a good job in controlling the crowds. He blamed the authorities for everything, yet when the reporter asked him what he would have done in their place, he blithely said, "Thats not my area of expertise, I am not the right person to comment on that". What made him the right person to comment on the situation then? When asked if the film fraternity was doing addressing the crowds etc, the man went on to say "Of course not, calming the crowds is not our job". No of course it isnt, as one of the few pathetic celebrities this one horse town can boast of, of course its not your job to leave your safe comfortable home to try and help the hopeless authorities, its your job to sit on your sofa, sip coffee, go live on national television and say inflammatory stuff that will add fuel to fire and then expect someone else to control the mess. Thats responsible. Thats the stuff that role models do.

Everything about the day-when-Bangalore-went-mad was disgusting, alarming and completely ridiculous. From the incidents that unfolded during those 2 days( thank god he didnt die in hospital, all the doctors would have been killed), to the violence to the irresponsible sensationalising of news to the idiotic Bangalore was disgusting alarming and ridiculous!!


  • Firstly, very nice post, enjoyed reading it. And yes, I totally agree with u... Sitting here in Hyderabad n watching CNN IBN, I can tell u that it was totally misguiding. Infact I then switched over to ETV Kannada (the only Kannada channel we get here), n realised that a Kannada channel did not have as much to show as CNN IBN did! I even called home, u and some other people in Blore to understand what exactly was happening.

    And yes, it's shameful that the fans reacted the way they did. An actor dies of natural death n his fans go around causing utter nuisance! Unbelievable!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:42 AM  

  • What you said on my blog -- your mother's theory about this being the "local way of making their clout and importance clear to non kannadigas in the city" makes perfect sense to me. This definitely has something to do with a deep-rooted and mass attention problem, take it from me. It's a certain class of society's way of saying 'look at me, I also exist'.

    By Blogger The Marauder's Map, at 5:23 AM  

  • Wonderful post Ron - enjoyed reading the first hand experiences (I was in Bangalore when Annavru was kidnapped!). While I agree with you that fans expect these actors to live forever yada yada yada ... I think the problem lies elsewhere - I think its more to do with the settings for a civil war that exist in that one-horse town or for that matter - in any other "booming" city in India-shining. You're looking at cities where the lower-middle-class and the poor people have stayed where they are but the others (mostly outsiders) have become rich and richer - Heck I remember back in 1996 - you couldn't see 4-wheelers in Bangalore! Coming from Bombay we would always be amazed at the "serence and lazy" feel of Bangalore-town! forward 4 years to 2000 - and theres traffic jams EVERYWHERE in the city!
    Look at the oldest part of the city - Majestic, Malleshwaram etc. theres no glam there - its still the same - people just aren't able to afford the soaring prices thanks to the IT firms and the govt. which is focused on making the rich richer! Look at what happened in Guwahati a couple of weeks ago over a cricket match. People don;t have jobs and then they see these others thinking about their second and third cars!
    We need to be cognizant of this ... nobody riots for the love of their actor/religion/sportsmen/country/mother! - you get a chance to break into shops and steal stuff ... why not!


    By Blogger Venky, at 11:22 AM  

  • ron!!
    ok..hope will get the time to catch up..its gonna be a crazy week...loads to do!
    id is

    By Blogger Ekta, at 7:15 PM  

  • @gauri: i know what you mean, my mom freaked and called up asking me if there was widespread rioting everywhere. the least thatc hannel could have done was make it clear that rioting was in and arnd the stadium and on the route of the funeral procession. they made it seem like the whole city was under seige.

    @marauders map: hmmm,i think it also has a lot to do with anti social elements making the most of the opportunity to loot and vandalise. but yeah, the kannada bit of it also seems plausible.

    @venky:i agree with your comment about the great divide between the rich and poor being one of the main reasons behind the violence. if you go past the affected roads evebn today, you will see that most of the places that have broken glass fronts/ windows etc are the posh expensive ones. also the fact that these people got the opportunity to vent out their frustrations at a passive government. to just attribute the whole violence to the fact that Dr. Rajkumar died and people were not allowed to view the body is rather simplistic.

    PS: your comment on there being no cars in bangalore in 1996 didnt quite go down well with bangaloreans who read (and write)this blog :) it wasnt a bustling metropolis like mumbai definitely (thank god for that) but it was certainly not a village with no cars. it was a quiet sleepy little place, but believe me, the rich were rich and the poor were poor even then. the gap between the 2 segments of society has widened in the last few years not just in bangalore but everywhere in india.

    @ekta: ess!! will definitely meet up. i shall mail you my number. do gimme a call when ur in town and we shall coordinate the finer detaiols such as date time and venue.

    By Blogger Ron, at 10:38 PM  

  • It is quite unfortunate, Ron, to think that the image of a quaint, peaceful city like Bangalore could be so badly maligned. But somehow, the pro-Kannada activis do not realise ts always seemed to have that militant streak in them.

    What the idiots do not realise is that anything about Bangalore now makes news, good or bad, the world over. I remember checking out the net the following day...and reports of the rampage were splashed on newspapers from as far as Australia. Really a bit of publicity we could have done without.

    By Blogger Deep, at 12:55 AM  

  • During my two years stay in Bangalore I had always found the Kannadigas as soft,gentle people except for the auto drivers who are a different race altogether.
    But who were these people that created such a furore? Were they protesting against Yamraj himself? Or if I am to quote Rajiv Gandhi "When a big tree falls,earth is bound to shake" ?

    By Blogger Bishu, at 6:08 AM  

  • Loved this post. I get extremely pissed off at the shoddy sort of jounalism on TV these days. Seriously, every channel is owrse than the other. Yearn for the days of Prannoy Roy and 'The World This Week' when news actually meant 'news' and not 'Screwball publicity stunts to grab airtime'.

    About Bangalore. No comments. Much as the city has gone to the dogs in the last 10 years, I still have a soft corner for my janmasthan.

    By Blogger Soham Pablo, at 6:11 AM  

  • Gosh that sounds terrible, absolute mayhem and it sounds almost funny when you say that thank god he didn't die in hospital - the doctors would have been killed, I have this eerie sense of horror that you're probably right.

    By Blogger Dreamcatcher, at 11:16 AM  

  • I guess its all about the money making business and have spent 3 yrs in bangalore as well and relate exactlly to what ur saying!

    Its sad that the media is converting the ever so peaceful city of bangalore into a mayhem city!

    By Blogger Anand, at 7:26 PM  

  • My apologies if I hurt the sentiments of Bangaloreans. For the record I have been a regular visitor of Bangalore since 1985 - almost once a year if not more - and honestly I was always amazed at how few (as compared to Bombay) 4-wheelers could be seen in the city - my view of which was limited to Majestic, Malleshwaram, RajajiNagar, Ulsoor Lake, MG Road and the vicinity of the airport!
    And I loved that ... in fact that was one of the reasons we would hop on a train/bus to Bangalore :) I loved the town/hillstation feel that Bangalore had ... lazy, cool(er) and sleepy.
    But yes I still don't get to make light of the city :)
    pps - I stayed in the city for 4 of my working years.

    By Blogger Venky, at 9:11 PM  

  • @deep:australia?? my goodness! how do you think the aussies would have pronounced rajkumar and bangalore?? but seriously, the whole thing was absolutely disgraceful. on a slightly irrelevant note,janish, ei shob jhamelar modhdhe my plumber vanished. i called his home to ask him to come on saturday and his father told me that he gone to The Funeral and not come back. what will happen to my taps now ? :(

    @bishu: ooooh dont even get me started on bangalore autos!!! like my dear friend marauders map said,the idea of carrying a gun around to threaten them (maybe even shoot them) when they refuse to go places, is damn tempting. as for the riots...i think they were expressing their sorrow at the fact that now with annavru gone we will never have any opportunity for a bangalore unexpected unplanned holidays in the middle of the week, no nothing. *overcome by grief at the thought, punches colleague*

    @soham: shotti!! the old players are still better as compared to the newer ones, like i said ndtv and aaj tak were reasonably sensible and responsible, cnn ibn and times now were absolutely amount of loyalty to my friends who work with cnn ibn can make me watch that channel again.

    @dreamcatcher: oh i meant that comment very very seriously. the doctors who treated him must be thanking their stars that he didnt die in hospital. and u know what? the hospital he was in, is on the same road as my office (how coincidental is that? office or home i cant get away from his funeral march)...we were just discussing that in case he had died in hospital, theres a high possibility that we would have had to stay in office for a couple of days...if they didnt beat us up and kill us before that i.e

    @anand: i dont know how long you have been away, but when you come to bangalore next month you will definitely realize that bangalore is not the wonderful place it used to be.peaceful is not the adjective that comes to mind when you are stuck in a neverending traffic jam on a sweltering hot summer afternoon!

    @venky: no offense taken :) was just stating a fact that bangalore wasnt quite the village like place that your comment seemed to make it out to be. but yes, compared to a big city like bombay or delhi it was queit and peaceful and unpolluted and sooooooo cool. all that has changed now, its rapidly becoming this nightmarishly horrible place to live in....even the weather has changed. its soo bloody HOT!!! :(

    By Blogger Ron, at 10:51 PM  

  • hey nice post... sorry if iam intruding..but,having my newly wedded sis gone to banglore a month n a half back.... the news jus got my mom stay jus bside the phone... and my jeeju had a tough time bringing back my sis from her office...they r stuck in the traffic jam for 4 hrs..
    even though i dont know the place much, excepting FORUM n sister had a tuf time settling in banglore with her house totally looted as she joined her new branch in the first week itself..then the reshifting of house..n then MR.raj kumar...
    i heard the place became very unsafe with the amount of burglary taking place in the city...

    By Blogger Rama Deepthi Muddu, at 7:54 PM  

  • @josh: ya bangalore has changed a lot over the last few years...for the worse unfortunately. but its not thaaaaat bad either, i guess your sister just had a really bad time. im sure things will improve.
    welcome to my blog btw.

    By Blogger Ron, at 10:25 PM  

  • Hey Ron,

    Just stumbled upon ur Blog.. A good piece of writing... It may be that our role in this planet is not to worship god, but to create him... I would say bangalore has lost its charm.. I feel that the people here just need a reason to explode... The problem is actually that people unduly promote these actors to the state of demigods and thatz where the root cause of all these problems is hidden.

    What’s the use of building world-class buildings if we don’t have the respect and attitude to preserve public and private property? If I read correctly, five civilians and one policeman lost their lives in this meaningless and misguided violence that also brought shame to Bangalore and made Rajkumar fans a laughing stock in front of the rest of the country.

    Newayz a very debatable post.. keep 'em coming...

    By Blogger Prasanna Ramachandran, at 1:42 AM  

  • Long post, will read and comment later.
    Maybe you lived in the wrong area at the time of his kidnapping - there are some 'known' trouble areas? My college and uni dint deem the event significant enough to cancel our lab exams and we had to take them up - 2/3 days after the kidnapping.

    Oh, and I put up a post here

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:30 AM  

  • Well said ron ! I totally agree with the media people who exploit the moments. Opportunists, they are and so are auto wallahs and BMTC's. I have shared some of my views here ... .

    By Blogger Vijay, at 4:55 AM  

  • @prasanna: thanks for dropping by my blog :) i agree with you 100%. tomorrow is rajkumars birthday, i wonder what new natak will be enacted tomorrow. but, umm, you know what, i dont usually write very topical stuff on my blog, this is one of the few exceptions. most of my other posts are quite personal and trivial, do hope that wont stop you from visitng again :)

    @bangaloreguy: ya i read that post of yours sometime back. i lived in shantinagar when he was kidnapped (still do actually) and my college was on hosur road (christ college) and that entire dairy circle stretch was this unbelievable mess. took forever to get back home. and you know, try as i might, i just cannot justify the mindless violence that marked his funeral, they way i see it, it was not the fans or their problems with the administration and disorganisation at the stadium, it was opportunistic antisocial elements who exploited the situation to loot, riot etc. it was disgraceful.

    @vijay: dont even get me started on the media. sensationalisation seems to be the order of the day. the sad thing is, as viewers i think we also hv come to expect it of the news channels.

    welcome to my blog btw.

    By Blogger Ron, at 10:55 PM  

  • Thats cool.. I read a couple of your blogs..Pretty interesting... Well Rajkumar's B'day seem to be a peaceful day... Can't say.. Anything may happen...LOLz!!!yvfp

    By Blogger Prasanna Ramachandran, at 1:30 AM  

  • :-s
    such an unfortunate incident...
    the length and caustic comments of ur post shows ur concern !!
    I was wondering why we (media) shud talk abt b'lore per se? Its not abt b'lore. Those were some sad crooked cases, trigger-happy mongrels and they ARE everywhere... its the peer pressure around them that keeps them under control..
    may be b'lore case was a chain reaction which went out of hand. Could have happened anywhere I believe :|

    //"What is it about South India and superstars"
    Well... dont call this as my prejudice - I respect them as individuals and close frnds with some... but by and large I have a opinion that when it comes to entertainment media southies have some bitter tastes :| The sense of humour and overall showcasing is soo poor at times that it puts me to shame that people can actually watch SUCH stuff. Especially watch the videos titled "train" and "ultimate"!
    Oh boy! I got my intestines entangled while laughing my ass off at these one =))

    By Blogger Ashish Gupta, at 12:20 PM  

  • @prasanna: thats nice. the brithday passed by surprisingly peacefully thank goodness

    @ashish: hehe, i know what you mean! one definitely watches those south indian channels for the unintentional humour :)

    By Blogger Ron, at 10:01 PM  

  • hey,

    Me added u to my blogroll... Keep posting... Enjoy madi...

    By Blogger Prasanna Ramachandran, at 1:45 AM  

  • Was rather worried about you and a number of acquaintances who live in Bangalore at the scenes of "rampant rioting"...and as my mom is a fan of Rajdeep Sardesai, ended up watching CNN IBN. Feeling rather disgusted now that I read your blog and find out they were sensationalising. of course they are doing the same thing with the Mahajan case. The only channel that said he had been hit by 5 bullets. Really such things are not expected of responsible national channels.

    Tumi bhalo achcho to?

    By Blogger i dwell in possibility, at 10:21 AM  

  • @prasanna: why thank you. i will add you to mine when im feeling less lazy :)

    @gm,m: arrey!! where have u been? i am ekebaare fine, thank you. ekhaane gondogol theek i hoyechilo, but was not as severe as was reported, for the most parts if u stayed off the roads it was fine. ki aar and sensationalisation...sad!!

    By Blogger Ron, at 10:08 PM  

  • bloody insane is right. i was reeling when i first heard of it. and na calcutta would not react like this for anyone, not uttam not even for sourav. the mind boggles and then shuts down in horror :(
    but nice post, even if nice isn't an appropriate word in such a context.

    By Blogger babelfish, at 10:23 AM  

  • @babelfish: it was really idiotic!! and welcome back *shonkhodhoni & pushpobrishti* :D

    By Blogger Ron, at 2:51 AM  

  • to celebrate your post, i would like to present this link here.

    see this, if you haven't already.

    By Blogger Dipanjan Das, at 3:37 AM  

  • u bet it was such irrational behaviour. pay tax n burn ur own money. crazy.
    n i also heard that the ones behind this was not actually his fans. they were just creating problems when they got a chance. it seems there is an rival party to this n they created the whole problem. anyway, it was beyond anybody's reasoning.
    how can u defy nature n live forever? imagine if that happened? people would go mad looking at them i guess. n create probs anyway.
    good to hear u were safe though. wat happened to ur pigeons? any difference? hope so/take care.

    By Blogger sonia, at 10:46 AM  

  • come on, TV needs to make money too :P

    Hello there, been a while.

    By Blogger 4wD, at 10:35 PM  

  • @dd: should i laugh or should i go "nahiiiiiiiii" in true hindi film style? :)

    @sonia: pigeons have finally learnt who's the boss around that house. their visits to my balcony are now rather infrequent.

    @4WD: yeah i know, but a) i have no time, back to back events and all and b) i havent the faintest clue what to blog about :(
    bear with me pliss.

    By Blogger Ron, at 5:44 AM  

  • This is to remind Ron that she has a blog and should therefore should post here bcos blogs are meant to have posts.
    thank you.

    By Blogger Dreamcatcher, at 11:04 AM  

  • hey ron it has been a long time. n its high time u came up with ur next post. we r all waiting.

    b/w. let me know if anybody wants to go on vacations. we have good packages to diff places. they can be customised too. jus drop in a mail at n i'll take it from there. thanx. take care. bye.
    p.s:we also have honeymoon packages k. so u plan in advance. haha

    By Blogger sonia, at 9:03 AM  


    By Blogger goldfluke, at 1:03 AM  

  • You have been very articulate in putting across your point of view. You don't have to teach a Bangalorean how to behave. You compared Mumbai to Bangalore. We all know the kind of stuff that the Shiv Sena does. As far as Kolkota is concerned evreybody knows the fanatic nature of the Bengalis.

    You wrote that even after livibg in Banaglore for over 2 years you had not heard of Rajkumar. Fine there is no necessity. But it does suggest that you didn't even try to know the different aspects of the city. When you don't show any respect to the place that gives you your bread and butter you don't deserve any repect either. I guess its all about basic human decency.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:39 AM  

  • Nobody has any any rights to comment on us and south indians...Just behave urself. Because of u people our bangalore paradise and its culture has lost....Its no longer as charming as it should have been & it was earlier....What can u know about the great soul....that departed us!! Whenever u write think twice about it.... Kannadigas are great with the maximum tolerance....Kannada is the most sweetest..... Jai Kasturi Kannada........Sirigannadam gelge....
    Sirigannadam Balge.......

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:00 AM  

  • And with one more bandh - wither goes the city and the state????

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:11 AM  

  • this is nothing but foolish ......
    we kannadigas know much about bombay,patna,culcutta......u think there will no riots in these cities.
    we proud to say that we accepted with friendly every one who comes to banglore.....i think every one has tasted it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:26 PM  

  • It's a nice blog Ron. It was mob frenzy at it's worst. However, I understand that the riots were caused by certain political outfits wishing to take advantage of the situation to destabilize the local government. Regarding other cities, well, what can we say. A mad didi in West Bengal opposes industrialization for her own petty gain and allows innocent people die. A 'tiger' in mumbai wants non-marathis to be thrown out of maharashtra. When Indira Gandhi died innocent sikhs were attacked on the streets of Delhi (ya she was killed by a sikh but that doesn't mean innocent people are responsible). U must understand and realize the fact that kannadigas are generally generous and peaceful and tolerant of other cultures. I don't think a kannadiga can live a similar life the way you do in Bangalore without even bothering to learn kannada in whichever city of North India u may be from.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 7:15 PM  

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