Friday, October 6, 2017

Moochhein ho to Nathulalji jaisi

Not many would have heard of Ram Singh Chauhan. Well, he holds the Guiness record for having the longest moustache which was measured to be 4.29 metres ( To understand the scale of achievement, the tallest Indian is just 2.42 metres in height.

Moustaches have been dear to Indian men since ages. In fact, Wikipedia informs that a traditional Indian belief is that a man's facial hair is a sign of his virility”! And the clean shaven British army officers had to grow a moustache to stamp their authority on Indian soldiers. I now believe this was the 1st psychological victory that ultimately led to our independence. And an end to British imperialism globally.

While on moustaches, can we forget the loveable Bhavani Shankar of Golmaal, played by Utpal Dutt, who considered men without moustaches as lacking in character? Poor Amol Palekar was busy the entire length of film attaching & removing his false moustache. It was only at the end of this hilarious film that Bhavani Shankar realized a moustache does not make a man, but we had good fun during those two hours & a half.

Then we had the funny guy with a funny moustache, Charlie Chaplin. His moustache complemented his comic mannerisms & the over/under sized clothes he wore. But the same mustache was also worn by Hitler, who was the opposite of Chaplin. Now, Hitler was a great dictator. But I have always wondered how he grew to be so powerful without being able to twirl his moustache. As the dacoits did in the good old black-and-white days of Bollywood. Maybe, it was because he never had the good fortune to stay in India & observe the diversity of facial hair styles.

But not all men like a moustache. Take Jeeves, for example. In “Jeeves & the Feudal Spirit”, he manages (in his inimitable style) to get Bertie Wooster to shave off the moustache.

Off late, this feudal spirit has been on display in Gujarat too where the dominant community has not taken kindly to Dalits sporting moustaches. But the means are different. These include physical assaults, stabbing, etc.

Bertie had no choice, but the Dalits think otherwise. They have started a social media campaign, posting selfies featuring Dalits with moustaches (#RightToMoustache). What one would call a Gandhian protest, or Gandhigiri in action. But I am not convinced this will work. No, I don’t think a smooch can ever replace the moochh & upset the prevailing social equilibrium. I think this Dalit response will only escalate tensions, especially as the election fever hots up. I suggest the Dalits ditch Sanjay Dutt of Munnabhai & follow Amitabh Bachchan of Sharaabi. They should start chanting “Moochhein ho to Nathulalji jaisi, varna na ho” online & offline. This will shame most of the Darbars to shave off their facial hair, for how many can stand up to Nathulalji when it comes to a moustache?

P.S.: Another Indian to hold the Guiness record for longest moustache earlier, Karni Bheel, was killed with the attackers going away with his head ( Fortunately, nothing of the sort has happened to the Dalits. Yet.

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