Putting rights issues through the looking glass. Not seeking answers, just some food for thought to see whether things could be any different!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Shut up, will ya??

I often wonder and very seriously so, about the purpose of our lives in this world. Not all of us are expected to be good at everything, all of us have our specialties. What is Suhel Seth's speciality, for instance? A good ad film maker turned columnist turned agony uncle turned social commentator turned actor turned public speaker! Now that is an envious profile for anyone to flaunt! But it makes me doubt whether he is good at all these things or at none!

He is the CEO of one of the bigger ad agencies in India, Equus Advertising. I love good ads and sometimes, I prefer to watch good ads on television during commercial breaks rather than watch a crappy serial. One of Equus's famous advertisements that I remember was that "Bakwaas advertising, first class bread" campaign for Harvest Gold bread. I think it was one of the first campaigns that looked at a product for what it is and also spoofed other similar product campaigns for claiming to be what they aren't. In fact, the Sprite campaign of "bujhaaye only pyaas, baaki all bakwaas", to my mind is heavily inspired by that bread campaign, spearheading this successful trend in Indian advertising.
In the last two or three years, Suhel Seth has moved beyond just making intelligent ads. He began to be seen a lot on television, criticising and commenting on situations and persons that he was not known to have any expertise on. The visual media found in him a prolific speaker and began to haplessly promote him as an expert commentator on every goddamn situation. The print media gave him a lot of writing space to unleash his angst against almost everybody! And why not! come to think of it.....when you can create a figure that has an opinion on everything, is dressed well, speaks fluently and looks intelligent, then why look any further and invite different guest speakers or columnists each time. It is a good package deal, after all!
Worse still, he started writing an "agony uncle" (more like an agonising monster) column in the Sunday Telegraph Graphiti. While I laugh each time I read that column, the sensitive person in me feels nothing less than sorry for the people who write to him. The pessimist in me strongly believes that this column is all fake. Firstly, why would people write in to a totally unknown person, known as everything else but as an emotional counseller about their personal problems, (when they can share it with a close friend or family member or visit a shrink) only to be snubbed in the most brusque manner. Ok, I can understand when one is pestered with queries like "I am a 30 year old woman.. I have had sex with my boyfriend twice before. I am just wondering whether I am still a virgin?" .This is a question which can absolutely drive one nutts! Yeah, you are as much a virgin as Madonna was when she sang "Like a virgin!" Or, if you are serious, then the Hamletesque solution to your problem is to get thyself to a nunnery as you are too pure for the real world!! To rebuff such persons is acceptable to me!
But to suggest to someone who is having trouble in a marriage to walk out and find a new partner because the present one sucks and to someone who is closet gay but is being forced to marry a woman by his family to have it both ways is not always funny! Broadly assuming that these problems are real and that these people are stupid enough to share their problems with a callous wimp, then suffice it to say that their lives are not a joke while the stupid personal queries column may be one! I sincerely hope and wish that this is a hoax column because if it ain't, it might end up demoralising a lot of lost souls! And seriously people, trust your friends and family more with personal problems or at best, someone who is well equipped to dole out advice in the given area to you and donot rely on a "media myth" like Suhel Seth!
So... who is this guy? He is an ad man to begin with and not a bad one at that. He is rich as he runs one of the bigger ad agencies around and has amassed enough wealth to buy the equity stake at Media Content & Communications India Pvt Ltd, previously owned by Kumara Mangalam Birla. So, it is well established that he is a fairly successful guy. Beyond this identity, there is another Suhel Seth who is a social commentator, locking horns with the administration and system of governance, speaking out on issues ranging from the Birla-Lodha dispute to the Jessica Lal murder case. Also, an actor who made his Bollywood debut with the dream movie Rog ( from my fav Bhatt camp...now you know the connection!). He has also acted in a Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen movie a piece a which establishes his identity as an actor and thus, a Bollywood commentator. So, here's the man with conflicting identities. Doesn't he lose his real self somewhere while playing these multiple roles!
I am a total quotations person ...so will describe Suhel bhai with a quote from someone who has seen fame and knows what it is all about..... Lord Byron...."What is fame? The advantage of being known by people of whom you yourself know nothing, and for whom you care as little."
Here's one article that reflects my sentiments in a much more graceful manner...and this was published in the Telegraph (against their very own columnist) by Gouri Chatterjee and is called "How to become famous" at http://www.telegraphindia.com/1040729/asp/opinion/story_3552800.asp
To be fair to Suhel Seth as a fellow Calcuttan (regionalistic as I am), I will definitely post this link of an interview of his with the Hindu at http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/mp/2005/10/03/stories/2005100300220800.htm