Guest post by author Radhika Maira Tabrez: Say ‘yes’ to Satire

Please welcome author Radhika Maira Tabrez to share her views on ‘Say ‘yes’ to Satire.

Take it away, Radhika.

When one first watches the movie ‘Wag The Dog’, it is easy to shrug it off as a completely outlandish story. And I’m sure a lot of people would have done just that, had it not been for all that happened shortly after the movie was released in 1997. A few months after it came out, the Clinton administration got embroiled in the Monica Lewinsky scandal and shortly after that the Al Shifa Pharmaceutical Company in Sudan was bombed. It all bore an uncanny resemblance to the plot of the movie wherein the President of the U.S. hires a spin doctor (Robert DeNiro) to distract the voters from the fact that he has been accused of sexual misconduct. DeNiro in turn hires a big shot Hollywood producer (Dustin Hoffman) and together they create a fake war on Albania and feed it to the media. The media laps it up. It is a ‘perfect’ war production after all – replete with all the essential elements – a message ‘to bring peace and freedom to a distraught nation’, a hero who is ‘left behind the enemy lines’ when the war ceases abruptly, a theme song ‘to bring the hero home’ and the resultant public show of outrage in the form of ‘leaving shoes hanging from every single tree and lamp post in America’. 

I remember, I was just out of school, when I first saw it. So I did have my share of disbelief as well over the movie. Of course, I was yet to see and learn a lot. 9/11 was yet to happen and Building No. 7 was yet to go down with all its mysteries. The whole fake war in search of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ was yet to happen too. Like I said, I was yet to see and learn a lot.

In the post-Wikileaks and Edward Snowden world that we live in, it is hard not to learn the truth. The truth is out there. Available at the click of a button should we really wish to know it. And once we know the truth, we also learn to see movies like ‘Wag The Dog’ or books like ‘Animal Farm’ or ‘Catch 22’ not just as a piece of art or literature, but as a mirror that the society desperately needs. Because otherwise, we would never know how ugly things have gotten. We sense the power and intensity of the voice that they raise. And how that voice is somehow the only thing, which pushes an otherwise pathologically complacent society, towards a possible change.  Wrapped in its saccharine humor and seemingly over the top ironies are the bitter pills we all need. 

The world is what it is. And it became that way because a majority of us are too bogged down with trying to deal with the rut of a life we are in. In the Bermuda Triangle of bills and taxes, everything else gets sucked in – all that we should be aware of, all that we should be concerned about, all that we should fight for and change.

But an artist’s view of the ocean is clear and calm. One can make an argument that that’s because a true artist barely makes enough money to worry about taxes or hardly ever expects to pay the bills on time – so no Bermuda Triangle in his ocean, you see! What the artists see in the reflection of those calm waters is then converted into art which makes the truth more accessible and also in some cases palatable to people. I mean, who would believe that the highest office in the country can pull a stunt like that. But put that truth in a movie and make DeNiro and Hoffman say it instead, and you may have a shot at people buying it.

The book Mock, Stock and Quarrel is an attempt just like that. It’s a collection of stories which show the hideous face behind the amply decked up countenance of our society. Of the fault lines which we all know exist, and yet happily ignore until the next big earthquake. These are the stories we all need to read, to know ourselves a little more. 

And once we do, perhaps even try and change for the better.

BLURB

Mock, Stalk & Quarrel – a collection of satirical tales – emanated from a nationwide contest conducted by Readomania to identify powerful voices that could wage an ideological war against issues that matter. Twenty- nine voices – indulgent, tolerant, amusing and witty -for part of this collection.

Each narrative in this anthology is a silent scream, a way to remind the reader of the stark realities of our times, of the hollowness, the empty promises and the increasing nepotism, corruption, and banal priorities of the modern life. From domestic violence, to red-tapism, from reservation to religious fundamentalism, from scams to godmen, our authors have captured it all, creating stories that prick the conscience and challenge the powerful, gently ridicule absurdities and follies of fellow humans, not to enrage the reader but to bring on a wry smile. 

Eventually, they take lexical pot-shots at the well-heeled establishment that does not think twice before taking people for granted. Sprinkled with liberal doses of humour and wit that will make the readers laugh, cry, rage and think.

The book is available on Amazon – http://amzn.in/74PIHxP and at leading bookstores across the country.

About the Author: Radhika Maira Tabrez

Radhika Maira Tabrez is a hustling mother by day and a writer by night. When she isn’t dancing to the tunes of her four-year-old son Daneyaal, or experimenting in the kitchen for her husband Mujtaba; she loves to read, watch movies, drool on Lonelyplanet.com and engage in DIY home décor projects. Of all the years she had spent trying to muzzle the writer inside her, two were spent earning an MBA from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM), Pune and over twelve in building a career in Learning and Development. Her stories have been features in many anthologies namely: Sankaarak, UnBound, Defiant Dreams and When They Spoke. Her debut novel In The Light Of Darkness (Readomania) was released in August 2016 and has been receiving critical acclaim and rave reviews ever since. She is also an active member of the Kalam Library Project. She was recently awarded the Muse India – Satish Verma Young Writer Award, 2016 for Fiction for her debut novel, In The Light of Darkness.

Spotlight: A Thousand Unspoken Words by Paulami Duttagupta

Book Spotlight

 

A Thousand Unspoken Words 
By 
Paulami Duttagupta 
Publisher: Readomania 

Blurb 

A hero, a person who displays great courage for the greater good, can also fall. But what happens to a fallen hero? A Thousand Unspoken Words is the unique journey of a hero who falls.
The champion of the underdogs, the writer who uses the nom de plume Musafir is famous in Kolkata. His incisive criticism of the injustices around him earn him many enemies but he holds his ideals above all else. Scathing attacks at his books and a night of hide and seek from political goons leads Musafir unto a path he never liked, faraway from his ideals. He runs away and chooses the comforts of money over the travails of following one’s ideals. The hero falls.
But Tilottama, passionate fan’s hopes don’t. When he comes back after many years, emotions, love and lust take charge and an affair brews. Will she bring back her hero? Will he rise again? Or will the thousand untold words, the many stories of the ideal writer be lost forever?
Buy @
 
Excerpt
 
Wahan kaun hai tera, Musafir jaayega kaha’, the retro radio show played the SD Burman classic. Tilottama looked at her radio once and tears blurred her vision.
 
‘O Sachin karta this song reminds me of him.’
Tilotamma quickly wiped her eyes and turned the radio off. The day had been taxing enough. She needed to unwind, get Musafir out of her mind. How crazy could some people get? He had just written a fictional piece. How could fiction humiliate a government in power with an absolute majority? Wasn’t this a democracy? How could the supporters of a faith or political party get all insecure and burn his books?
The object of Tilottama’s despair, Musafir, was a writer supposedly based out of Kolkata. He wrote books at irregular intervals, and hid behind the veil of anonymity. His pieces were mostly social commentaries and satires on the state of Bengal. They were all fictional but had come under severe criticism in the past few months. Little paperbacks in funny covers, his books were available in old, rambling, bookstores across the city. Some were also available with the book vendors on the footpaths of the city.
When the news of the pulping of Musafir’s books had reached her a couple of days ago, Tilottama hadn’t thought things would go beyond a protest or two. The people of the city wouldn’t let go of things without a sign of protest. They got agitated at trivial things like who was included in a cricket team, and burned effigies and tyres in protest. They took out processions for Vietnam and Gaza. They could protest against him; but there would also be scores who would come out for her Musafir. They did when Firaz was hounded for his paintings of Goddesses.
‘And when they come out in large numbers, these goons will realize what it feels like standing before a civil society. They just can’t stifle Musafir’, she had confidently told her friends. What she did not realize was Musafir wasn’t exactly popular with the masses. His works were mostly literary and catered to niche readers. Her admiration for him had made her assume he was more popular than he really was.
Things had happened much faster than expected and spiralled out of control. Musafir’s printing press was vandalized and set on fire. Even as she and other Musafir fans watched, his books were dumped into that raging fire; words and hopes lost. The hundred odd fans tried to put up a bravefight, sang songs of freedom and stood with placards. But nothing worked. A couple of local channels had tried to stand by them in solidarity. The protest ended as a camera was smashed by the hoodlums on the road. People started fleeing fearing more violence.
 
‘They would kill us if they could’, Tilottama angrily spat out. ‘We were just so outnumbered. These were organized cadres. Yes, they were. Their bosses just can’t pretend to be innocent.’
A handful of policemen stood by pretending as if nothing was happening. The printing press was in one of the dingier parts of North Kolkata. It mainly did odd jobs like printing leaflets and bills, a few little magazines etc. and would print Musafir’s books on the sly. That is where he gave shape to his voice. The place was reportedly registered in the name of a man long dead, and people were left guessing who Musafir was. Some said the owner was a refugee who was avenging years of discontent. Some said his son was murdered by members of the ruling party. Some said he was just a frustrated man using the medium to lend himself a voice. To some other the entire idea was amusing and fascinating.
 
Tilottama grimaced and wiped her face clean. She was cutting a very sorry picture indeed, covered in grime andtears. All she could think of was her Musafir. She fought back her tears wondering what could have happened to her hero. For the past couple of years a strong wind of incumbency was blowing and Musafir’s voice had become stronger. Everything came under Musafir’s attack; from Dhaniajhapi to the burning of monks, the ban on English in government run schools, the apathy in the use of computers and much more. However, recently he had become vocal against all forms of religious appeasement and challenged the special religious laws. He had also set the stage against land acquisition bills, mismanaged industrialization plans and pre-election harangues. Musafir wrote as many books as possible bringing the discrepancies to light. And that is what brought about his downfall.
Tilottama sat on her bed and hugged her knees to her chest and went over the events of the day. She bit back the memory of the man who had asked her to let go of her placard, but that face would just not fade. 
 
‘What had he called himself,’ she wondered, ‘Ayushmaan . . .no Riddhimaan.’
 
He was a photographer! How dispassionate could he be?He had watched the carnage, merrily taken snaps and asked her to throw away her placard. If even the press did not come out in support of Musafir, then who would? Weren’t both of them fighting to make the pen immortal? Why was the media silent now; because Musafir didn’t have international backing, or corporate sponsors? She was upset that Poltu had shamelessly praised the man. Riddhimaan and the likes of him would give importance to writers only if they had a South Block or Writers’ Building backing.
 
‘I wish this government goes down. They will go down. I promise you Musafir they will,’ she told herself.
The loud banging of her window pane broke her reverie. The rains had lashed Kolkata with all their fury that evening. 
 
‘Even Mother Nature is angry. Drown the city, drown all of us. Since we have nowhere to go and hide our shame,’ Tilottama said aloud.
 
She continued to rant as she shut the window. She had hurt her finger in the process. Then she walked into her bedroom looking for the first aid box. As she cleaned the cut, the antiseptic made her skin burn and her thoughts drifted to Musafir. There was no way to divert her mind. Maybe reading Musafir would help, or maybe writing. Musafir always said he wrote to look for answers. Maybe she could do that too. But nothing gave her peace; maybe she was obsessed with the writer. The gag on Musafir was beginning to become a personal loss to her.
 
About Paulami Duttagupta 
Paulami DuttaGupta is a novelist and screen writer. She shuttles between Kolkata and Shillong. She has worked as a radio artist, copy writer, journalist and a television analyst at various stages of her life, having been associated with AIR Shillong, The Times of India—Guwahati Shillong Plus, ETV Bangla, The Shillong Times, Akash Bangla and Sony Aath.As an author, her short stories have appeared in various anthologies and literary magazines. A Thousand Unspoken Words is her fourth book. Paulami also writes on politics, social issues and cinema. Her articles have appeared in Swarajya, The Forthright and NElive.
Paulami is associated with cinema and her first film, Ri-Homeland of Uncertainty received the National Award for the Best Khasi Film. Her second film Onaatah—Of the Earth is at post production stage and will release in 2016. She is currently working on her third screenplay. A short film tentatively titled ‘Patjhar’ is also in the pipeline.
Paulami is a complete foodie and is almost obsessed with watching one film every day. She also loves reading—political and social commentaries are her favourite genre. Literature classics and books on cricket are also a part of her library, apart from a huge collection of romances. Jane Austen’s fictional character Mr. Darcy is her lifelong companion. She is an ardent fan of Rahul Dravid and has been following all news about him for almost twenty years now.
Stalk her @
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