Off the record

Identity crisis for Bihar’s NTR
One person who is far from the madding crowd of wannabe politicians is our own Bihari Babu. After the BJP star campaigner (of yesteryears!) Shatrughan Sinha found his name missing from the list of campaigners for the BJP in the Assembly polls, he opted for the next best thing — he returned to the world of arc lights and grease paints.

Armed with renowned producer-director Ram Gopal Verma and actor Vivek Oberoi, Shatru landed at Patna to showcase his forthcoming venture ‘Rakhta Charitra’, a movie based on veteran Telugu actor and Telugu Desam founder N T Ramarao.

The movie, in which Shatru plays NTR, has been made in Hindi, Telugu and Tamil. “When Ramu (as RGV is fondly known) came with the script and proposal that I enact NTR’s role, he also insisted that the movie would be shelved if I said ‘No’,” averred Shotgun. “The script required me to be clean shaven. One fine morning, instead of saying no to Ramu, I shaved off my moustache of 35 years,” reminisced Shatru, the BJP MP.

But that’s not the end of the story. Once clean shaven, Shatru’s security guards also failed to recognise him and refused him entry. “When I told them that I am their employer, they looked amused and cut a sorry figure,” said Bihari Babu, facing an identity crisis in his home state too.
Abhay Kumar, Patna


Literary illiterates
The Kovalam Literary Festival held last week in Thiruvananthapuram managed to get that extra attention only because of the presence of prime minister’s daughter Daman Singh and Karachi-based writer Mohammed Haneef. Daman presented her second book ‘Sacred Grove’ while Haneef’s debut work ‘A Case of Exploding Mangoes’ on the assassination of Gen Zia-ul-Haq was also discussed.

Though the festival gave an opportunity to Kerala-born English writers like Mridula Koshy and Manu Joseph to impress the local literary buffs, the vernacular press ignored them. This cannot be blamed solely on the shoddy manner in which the organisers handled the local media but also on the fact that both the writers could hardly read or write Malayalam.

Mridula was in the US and Delhi while Manu moved to Chennai very early and then shifted to Delhi to become a journalist and then a writer.

Mridula’s memories about Kerala were limited to her occasional holidays in Thiruvananthapuram that there is very little native touch in her writings. Manu admitted that his imagination was more fired by his years in Chennai rather than his short stint in Kerala. No wonder then that the local media went after Chinese and South African writers other than Daman and Haneef.
R Gopakumar, Thiru’puram

Clean up act
One may not take Bangalore City Police Commissioner Shankar Bidari too seriously when he says the cops are ‘cleaning’ up their act and they too care for the society. However, there are policemen who care and such ones do not ‘exactly’ need the cleaning up act.

Have you ever heard of a constable gifting a ‘birthday boy’ Rs 50 to celebrate and also pardon him for drinking in public? You have to be that boy to believe it and Manish was.

“We were a group of nine, sitting and drinking on the stairs on Tuesday (5th) when the constable came up to us...” Manish (named changed) said, adding that the cop asked them to leave as it is not ‘right’ to consume alcohol in the public.

But, when Manish explained to the policeman that he was financially ill-equipped and was treating his friend on his birthday, the policeman, took him aside, pressed a Rs 50 note into his palm and said: “Enjoy, but don’t make too much noise or create a scene as I am answerable to my superiors...”

So who is this ‘wonder cop’?

Chethan Kumar, Bangalore

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