It started with lynching of men where lives were cut out of those not following the social practices of the majority. The vocal urbanites lost no time in decrying this new practice but in the absence of candle light marches this fad has only gained in strength. We are fortunate that only beef eaters are the victims & those of us who savour other animal food (or even garlic & onion) can continue to do so.
Next, we had Pahlaj Nihalani, as Censor Board chief, playing Alok Nath in his sanskari avatar. He is the same person whose films, long back, filled up the front rows in movie halls. He may not be acclaimed for his technical skills or cinematic vision. But credit to him for cult songs like “Sarkaye Lo Khatiya…”, to name one. Most of us believed movie going would again be a pleasure it once was, with Mr. Nihalani heading the august body instituted with the task of regulating films being made. However, this was no beginning of Achhe Din for fans of masala movie (or even those who like the good ones). Pahlaj Nihalani ver 2.0 is adept at chopping scenes not in sync with our sanskaar. Yes, we are yet to watch a film with a blank screen & no dialogue, which indicates he has other means of occupying his time. Though very fine, this still is a silver lining.
Now such things usually happen only to a specific class of people, like film makers & meat sellers (Ok, dalits too). Or, do they? A couple of days back, pausing to see my whatsapp notification while surfing channels, I happened to stop at Aaj Tak. And realized that this penchant for hacking down anyone & anything is getting out of hand. As you know (but cannot believe), Aaj Tak has been rated by Brand Trust Report as the most trusted media brand (http://aajtak.intoday.in/story/aajtak-and-india-today-most-trusted-brands-1-922002.html). Thus, one is forced to take Aaj Tak seriously even if anchors of other news channels (not just newly launched English ones) can shout much, much louder.
Coming back to the news item, it was about spate of incidents in/around Delhi where women’s hair were being cut by unknown persons. (Visit http://aajtak.intoday.in/crime/story/police-lodged-fir-against-unknown-person-who-cut-woman-hair-delhi-1-944157.html & you will know how scary this is.) As you know, her hair is very dear to a woman, next only to gossip & golgappas. Thus, the guys behind snipping off women’s hair have dared to go beyond Nihalani or the anti-beef brigade. And this is not bound by class, caste, etc. It could happen to your wife or your neighbour’s. And you will not like it one bit!! Do you now realize how serious this is? Maybe they may turn out better in short, cropped hair but is it worth the risk? Granted, her visits to the saloon will become less frequent & the expenses come down. But will this get her to spend less time getting ready?
Coming back to the topic, is this a new trend or is it a localized fad that would soon disappear? Had it been limited to Delhi, one would have assumed the latter, believing this to be the job of someone who has not yet been able to recover from the impact of demonetization, odd-even & now, GST. But this is happening in UP too, where the anti-Romeo squads target only couples. And rural Rajasthan, where it is so difficult to see the shape of a woman’s eyebrow, let alone the length of her hair, with the pallu doing as good a job as the burqa. And Haryana, where they just do not dishonor their women (so what if they kill them?).
Now, all these states have BJP governments in power. This could be a conspiracy by the opposition (should we say, marginal?) parties to malign the administration. Well, no again. Some of these opposition guys are too busy preparing for the visit by the not-so-friendly authorities looking for cash & jewelry lying about their homes. While some others are worried about the land holdings that can be linked to them. Even Mamta Banerjee & Arvind Kejriwal have been unusually quiet for some time now. Of course, NDTV 24x7 has also picked up this story but I still won’t believe this is a congress ploy. A party that can’t keep its prince safe from stone pelters in a flood affected area can hardly be trusted to plan a mass hair cutting programme.
But is this something to really worry about? I don’t think so, for we have lived our entire lives with this in one form or the other. Haven’t we all grown up with our teachers cutting our marks for the silliest of reasons? Growing up, we ended up with the government slicing away a good portion of our earnings as tax (but that’s lawful, unlike the cut a “Bhai” takes). Of what was saved from the government, the banks slice wee bits (which add up significantly) in the form of numerous charges we do not even know about. And many companies now routinely cut down their headcount for reasons of austerity.
Long back, the cricket administrators cut down the game from five days to one & from one day to 3 hours. Which has made it watchable to more viewers. And the film makers (perhaps inspired by Pahlaj Nihalani’s success) have been cutting down what actresses wear, which has brought in more viewers than those who left. And those who couldn’t become actresses even after wearing these stripped down dresses joined the 3-hour cricket, which made it even more watchable! Those of you who are salivating at the thought that this could potentially lead to something similar happening to the players too (the grapevine is also talking about a women’s IPL), let me remind you that long back Soviets were sent back from the field because they came down to play in shorts. They haven’t been seen since.
So, keep you fantasies in control & watch the men in blue defeat the men in darker blue in the 2nd test too. All these stories about women’s hair being cut by some unknown “forces” will die down soon. Remember, the tests will be followed by one days & a T-20. As they say, patience pays!