Tuesday, March 16, 2010

REVIEW: May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss!

May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss!
Arnab Ray
HarperCollins India
Rs. 199
Pp 237
ISBN: 9788172239374

The wave of liberalization in the 1990s changed forever the face of India. It bolstered the economy. It raised the stock index. It raised hem lines of skirts even more. It led to the growth of the fashion police And also the moral police. Numbered items became item numbers. To the twenty-two scheduled languages were added C, Cobol, Java. You were either watching sitcoms or starting dotcoms. News became entertainment. Entertainment became news. Terror struck the country – sometimes in the form of gunmen from across the border and sometimes in the form of Bollywood movies.

To SMS-ize – ‘It wuz da best of tyms, it wuz da wrst of tyms’

Having been a part of this chaotic revolution in popular culture, blogger Arnab Ray of greatbong.net takes a funny, sarcastic, politically incorrect and totally irreverent look at assorted random stuff including Bollywood C-grade revenge masalas, ribald songs of the people, movie punching, fake educational institutes, stubborn bathroom flushes, unreal reality shows, the benefits of corruption, opulent weddings, brains in toaster ovens, seedy theatres and pompous non-resident Indians.Nothing here is off-limits and no cow too holy. We guarantee it.

Satirical takes on Indian pop culture DNA
Very rarely does one come across Indian writing in English which can be categorised as satire. Writing in Hindi has had its share of brilliant satirists over the years. There is Srilal Shukla who wrote Raag Darbari, a tremendously funny take on the Indian village. Harishankar Parsai, who has written essays which will make you smile over and over again. And of course, there was Sharad Joshi who among other things also wrote the superhit serial Ye Jo Hai Zindagi.

Sadly, Indian writers in English have stayed away from writing good satire. But this is set to change, with blogger-turned-author Arnab Ray’s May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss, whose satirical take on a variety of issues, from terrorism to Mithun Chakraborty (or Prabhuji, as Ray likes to calls him), is highly entertaining.

The book is worth buying just for the two chapters on the sexual frustration of Indian teens growing up in the 1990s. From the days when sex in films used to be limited to the heroine falling through ice and the hero saying “ab isse jism ki garmi deni padegi,”(Manmohan Desai’s last directorial venture Ganga Jamuna Saraswati released in 1988 featured Amitabh Bachchan and Meenakshi Sheshadri in such a scene), to Indian males collectively discovering desibaba.com in the late 1990s, to the Friday late night flicks on Star Movies (Lake Consequence and Summer Lovers being the most repeated ones), to movie theatres displaying the poster of one movie outside and screening a totally different adult movie inside, Ray captures it all.

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