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My Friend Sancho

My first novel, My Friend Sancho, is now on the stands across India. It is a contemporary love story set in Mumbai, and was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2008. To learn more about the book, click here.


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And ah, my posts on India Uncut about My Friend Sancho can be found here.


Bastiat Prize 2007 Winner

Category Archives: Purplocity/Verniness

Phul Singh vs State of Haryana (and the State of Indian English)

Oh boy, this Supreme Court judgment, excerpted on his blog by Imam Wapsoro, is masterful. Presenting Phul Singh vs State of Haryana, AIR 1980 SC 249:

A philanderer of 22, appellant Phul Singh, overpowered by sex stress in excess, hoisted himself into his cousin’s house next door, and in broad day-light, overpowered the temptingly lonely prosecutrix of twenty four, Pushpa, raped her in hurried heat and made an urgent exit having fulfilled his erotic sortie.

[...]

A hyper-sexed homo sapiens cannot be habilitated by humiliating or harsh treatment, but that is precisely the perversion of unreformed Jail Justice which some criminologists have described as the crime of punishment.

It may be marginally extenuatory to mention that modern Indian conditions are drifting into societal permissiveness on the carnal front promoting proneness to pornos in life, what with libidinous ‘brahmacharis’, womanising public men, lascivious dating and mating by unwed students, sex explosion in celluloid and book stalls and corrupt morals reaching a new ‘high’ in high places. The unconvicted deviants in society are demoralisingly large and the State has, as yet, no convincing national policy on female flesh and sex sanity. We hope, at this belated hour, the Central Government will defend Indian Womanhood by stamping out voluptuous meat markets by merciless criminal action.

The gentleman who wrote this is Justice Krishna Iyer. One can only assume that he proposed to his wife in some other language. Or maybe he spoke like this, and she went, Enough, enough, I’ll marry you, but please don’t go on and on in English. You libidinous brahmachari, you!

*

The larger issue here is why Justice Iyer waxed so purplacious. I blame colonialism. Even after the Brits left, English remained a marker of class in India. The better your English, the more highly you were regarded (even by yourself). This led to a tendency of showing off how fluent you were in the language, and from there, to this kind of overkill. For Justice Iyer, the language he used was as much a signal as a tool: It signalled his sophistication and his class. Or so the poor fellow thought.

I believe this is also partly responsible for why style overwhelms content in so much Indian writing in English. As kids, we’re too used to parents and teachers and peers telling us, Wow, this is so well-written, your English is so good. (As opposed to Wow, your narrative was compelling, I lost myself in the story, I couldn’t put it down.) So they end up giving more importance to the language they use rather than the narrative they’re building, while the former should really be slave to the latter. Pity.

And we also see this a lot in our local trains. Two random people will be arguing over something, and then one of them will break into bad English, as if to say, I"m superior to you, I know English. You lout! And then the other guy will say something to the effect of Hey, I know English too. Only you can speak or what? Bastard! And so on.

I’d like to see Justice Iyer get into one those local train fights, actually…

Posted by Amit Varma on 01 October, 2009 in Arts and entertainment | India | Old memes | Purplocity/Verniness | Small thoughts | WTF


God Doesn’t Like Salwar Kameez?

The WTF news of the day comes from Kerala’s Sree Krishna Guruvayoor temple:

Speaking to IANS, temple manager Vijayan Nambiar said that astrologer Padmanabha Sharma while conducting the ashtamangalaya devaprasanam (astrological consultations) Sunday said that the deity was unhappy over the entry of women in salwar-kameez.

[...]

Since Oct 31, a team of nine people, including the temple priests, has been engaged in the rituals and prayers to find out whether the Gods are happy or not. The ritual is being held in Guruvayoor temple after 17 years.

‘The rituals began 31st and these priests give out their opinions as and when they go ahead with their rituals. These are all preliminary findings and when their entire rituals get over in another 10 days’ time, they would come out with a full fledged report on what are all the changes required to make the deity happy,’ said Nambiar.

I think God should simply provide an RSS feed of His wishes. Anyway, if God has started frowning on salwar-kameez, then I am clearly headed for an extravagantly Godless land in a few hours: Chandigarh. Queenie Dhody writes about her recent visit there:

The Patiala salwar reigns [in Chandigarh]. As the culture of going for evening walks by the lake is dominant, one sees a lot of women wearing Patiala salwars with sneakers.

Sneaky. And if you thought that was poor sentence construction, be warned that her article also contains the WTF line of the day:

In the Sikhs, by and large, the women are treated equal to the men and are thoroughly respected.

I’m a huge fan of thoroughly respecting women, in the Sikhs or elsewhere. And hey, while on Queenie Dhody, she just happens to be the subject of the WTF headline of the day, in the venerable Times of India:

Queenie Dhody throws a party

Or maybe that’s a typo, and ‘party’ is really…

(IANS link via email from Nandan Pandit. Previous posts on salwars et al: 1, , 2, 3, 4, 5.

Previous posts with Purplocity/Verniness: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41.)

Posted by Amit Varma on 05 November, 2007 in India | Journalism | Media | News | Old memes | Purplocity/Verniness | WTF


Paling Sing Songs

The first email I opened this morning said: “Whatever happened to your Purplocity/Verniness series? Do you think we come to your blog to read your fine English? No we don’t! Give us Purplocity! Give us Verniness!”

Well, you know me, I gotta respond to the market. Reader Rajat Gulati has sent me a mail pointing me to a feature by IndiaGlitz on Manorama 6 Feet Under, in which an unnamed person—presumably Abhay Deol, who plays the lead in the film—is quoted explaining what his character is all about:

I am paling an amateur detective’s character in this movie, who wife usually suspects him for no reasons. I write a book on famous detective’s life and the incidents occurred in his life, a reader of that book, that it Sarika who is playing Manorama in this movie, get impress with my book as she appoints me as her private detective to explore more about her husband’s affair with a lady. While the investigation Sarika dies and I get stuck in to unwanted circumstances.

Abhay Deol happens to be an actor I think quite highly of, as much for his choice of films as for his acting. And there is no freaking way he could have, um, used the words above. This is why journalism is such a creative art. Anyway, later in the piece, Raima Sen is quoted as saying:

Though the music in this movie is not a Sing Song, I like song ’ Woh Mere Pal’.

I’m a huge fan of Sing Song films. I like paling Sing Songs. I am very impress.

(Previous posts with Purplocity/Verniness: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40.)

Posted by Amit Varma on 19 September, 2007 in Arts and entertainment | Old memes | Purplocity/Verniness


Bonding Over Electrical Goods

HT Tabloid makes me weep. In a story headlined “Bips, John make an ‘electric’ statement!” they write:

Even as the lovebirds John Abraham and Bipasha Basu continue to be under constant scanner of media for whether they are still an item or not, the couple were spotted looking at a range of electrical household goods.. and were even holding hands at Lower P. Cuuuute.

First line, reportage. Second line, analysis. If galaxies are being jolted out of place somewhere, it is only because God is guffawing at Her own sense of humour. Sigh.

(Previous posts with Purplocity/Verniness: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39.)

Posted by Amit Varma on 28 August, 2007 in Arts and entertainment | Old memes | Purplocity/Verniness


Shamita Shetty likes papayas

If anyone denies that the following excerpt is newsworthy, I will sit on him or her. Here goes:

Shamita ki sexiness ka raaz kya hain?

If a bee from Cash’s unit is to be believed, it is papayas or papitas as we call them.

One fine day, Shamita wanted papitas. Not one. Not five. Not ten, but 21 of them!

Since the shooting was in Cape Town and not in Film City, spot boys, assistant directors and production assistants went scurrying around the South African city.

After much heartburn, the crew finally found 21 papayas and gave it to madam. My bee has no idea what Shamita did with them. Meanwhile, mama Shetty, who was also at the shoot, asked for sambar powder one day. The action on the sets was ditto.

“The action on the sets was ditto,” it seems! Somebody please explain why I want to wrap barbed wire around myself.

(Previous posts with Purplocity/Verniness: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38.)

Posted by Amit Varma on 05 August, 2007 in Arts and entertainment | Journalism | Old memes | Purplocity/Verniness | WTF


Nisha Kothari likes steamy steps

It’s been a while, but I haven’t forgotten about Purplocity/Verniness. How could I? Is there anything else in this world that is joyful?

HT Tabloid quotes Nisha Kothari on Ajay Devgan:

Though I have exposed a bit in a steamy song with him, yet he is looking sexier than me. I find him quite hot. I like his body when he takes off his shirt. He looks quite enticing when he exposes his torso. I have enjoyed the steamy steps on the set.

I feel that he is the kind of actor I can vibe well with.

Right. I yearn for the day when Devgan can say such things about Kothari. Anyway, young Ms Kothari is then asked how she managed to play the role of an autorickshaw driver without any preparation. She replies:

Ramu ji wanted me to do most of the scenes spontaneously on the set. So I didn’t really have to learn how to drive an auto-rickshaw. That way, it looks more realistic. Besides that, I always have a bidi in my mouth.

God is in the details, they say. God is a bidi.

(Previous posts with Purplocity/Verniness: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37.)

Posted by Amit Varma on 19 July, 2007 in Arts and entertainment | Old memes | Purplocity/Verniness


Celina Jaitley’s bedsheet

I have concluded that the only way for the Hindustan Times to beat the Times of India is to publish HT Tabloid, a section on their website, in their print edition. Millions will instantly subscribe for the joy of reading such prose early in the morning:

Despite delivering a dud like Red at Box Office, sultry Celina is enjoying a sound sleep at home these days. The lady has apparently found solace in her favourite bed sheet and rolls into her bed whenever she gets time just to get the feel of it.

The actress accepts that she is obsessed with a particular brand of bed sheet. Says the siren- “I can compromise with anything but not my bed sheets”.

Capacious! We are also told that “she even goes to the extent of carrying her favourite bed sheets wherever she goes.” Her bedsheets aren’t the only thing she carries, though. She is quoted as saying:

Yes, it has to be my puppy whom I carry everywhere. I think he gives me the best company. I can’t carry a big dog so I have chosen a puppy who keeps me busy when I am free.

I protest. It is my right as a citizen of India to see Celina Jaitley carry a big dog. A really big dog. A dog bigger than herself, with glasses and manicured paw-nails. Please organise.

(Previous posts with Purplocity/Verniness: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36.)

Posted by Amit Varma on 26 March, 2007 in Arts and entertainment | Old memes | Purplocity/Verniness


The “capri-clad stems” of Katrina Kaif

The colour of the day is purple. I find it hard to believe that the prose below could have been published in all seriousness. It is so monstrous that it is beyond parody.

Today, Katrina Kaif looks like a horse.

No, not a nag but a fine, stunning thoroughbred, of equine grace and striking stature as she perches down from leggy heights and yawns.

It’s been a long, tiring press day, and the gorgeous Katrina canters around to keep herself awake, and insists she must leave. She wraps her plain white shirt tighter around herself, sits down casually crossing those magnificent capri-clad stems, and tosses me a smile. Ah, she’s finally deigned to let me pester. [Link.]

I suppose it takes a special skill to write like this. Perhaps they have tuition classes in the small towns of India for it, conducted in various vernacular languages. Shudder!

But I can imagine why the writer felt the need to go beyond ordinary prose. Katrina Kaif is stunning, in my opinion the hottest lady in Bollywood today. I am utterly baffled why, when she had reportedly begun going around with Salman Khan, Salman was reportedly running after Aishwarya Rai. Dude, there is no comparison. Pah!

(Link via email from reader Annette.

Previous posts with Purplocity/Verniness: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35.)

Posted by Amit Varma on 22 March, 2007 in Arts and entertainment | Old memes | Purplocity/Verniness


Nikhat Kazmi redefines Verniness

I’ve written before on the mediocrity of the film reviewers of India’s broadsheets, and Nikhat Kazmi illustrates that better than anyone. It’s a pity, in a way, that Jai Arjun Singh busted her for plagiarism: we’re stuck with her original stuff now, and it is monstrous. Consider these lines from her review of 300:

In case your appetite for bloody violence failed to find satisfaction with Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, just go for 300. You won’t be disappointed because the level of violence, once again, reaches an all new high in this Hollywood flick which transforms war into unadulterated gore. And it does it without losing its aesthetics. So that, you get to see heads being decapitated and flying on screen and humans being impaled, chopped and chutnified in palettes that have been specially tinted to create a canvas where the colour of blood is black and the body count is beyond cognition.

Is a worse sentence possible than that last one, which careens beyond redemption from that first misplaced comma onwards, as if in a parallel universe where grammar and simple writing are vices, not virtues? To top it up, she then writes: “The tale is pre-history.” Pre-history? Hello?

This kind of a review would be understandable from a seventh-standard schoolgirl trying badly to impress with her knowledge of English (probably her second or third language), and her contrived insights. It is sad that our country’s most-read English paper should carry such writing. Why are the editorial standards of our newspapers so terribly low?

(Link via email from Rahul Bhatia.

Previous posts with Purplocity/Verniness: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34.)

Posted by Amit Varma on 19 March, 2007 in Journalism | Old memes | Purplocity/Verniness


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