This is the season of " Ratings" when all kinds of agencies come out with their ratings and the govt. cherry picks which ones to accept and which to slam. It was all kicked off by the World Bank which breathlessly revealed that India had jumped 30 places to a rank of 100 in the "Ease of Doing Business" index. This was, of course, the same Bank which had showered encomiums on the USA in 2008-09 just before its economy collapsed in the sub-prime disaster. The index is not based on hard facts or figures but on the "expectations" of its team, the primary expectation being that the BJP will win in Gujarat and HP and therefore the Bank should ensure that its own ease of doing business is not adversely effected by a sulking govt. As is the practice with its five star hotel consultants it did not bother to consult anyone who is not on the Forbes list of Indian dollar millionaires. It also does not appear to have consulted Mr. Sanjay Leela Bhansali who is encountering quite a few problems these days in doing his business.
Next off the block was Moody's, an eponymous name whose origins which we hope doesn't colour its assessments. It upgraded India from BAA3 to BAA2 ( in layman's language , from Junk to Trash status - can you spot the difference?), making hasty reparations for its adverse report on the economy just a few months ago. This did not, of course, have anything to do with helping out the BJP in the Gujarat elections but was presumably the result of a well timed epiphany. Thereafter Forbes came out with its by now boring revelation that Mr. Mukesh Ambani is the richest man in India, a position he will continue to occupy for the next ten years thanks to a cooperative TRAI. And on the 23rd of November we were greeted with the QS World University Rankings for BRICS countries, in which only two Indian universities feature in the top 20 ( quite pathetic, you would say, but I would disagree- given that our Universities are being slowly converted to RSS shakhas, having even two in the list is welcome). And, finally, our very own Ms. Chillar was rated as the most beautiful woman in the world: if only our Sikkas had not been demonetised we'd have bagged the second and third spots too. So as you can see, its quite a mixed bag of ratings, somewhat like the bag of trash you throw out of your house everyday- bio-degradable and recycled.
But the real churning is currently going on in the world of film making and distribution, where the rating system has been completely revised in the last three years. Earlier the Censor Board rated films as A, U and A/U- patently a defective process as there was far too much emphasis on vowels, making the certification sound like a diphthong. It also did not take into account what the govt. and/or the mobs wanted. So the Board has now decided to abdicate its role and await the views of the mobs, or the results of impending elections, whichever comes first. In order to facilitate this it has just ruled that all films should be submitted 67 days in advance- enough time to break a few heads, vandalize a few theatres, cut off some noses and impose multi state bans.
There was a time when film critics used to review films and award them Stars- from one to five. This too was confusing, because this is how ACs and hotels are also rated, and readers were left wondering whether the stars denoted the energy saving values of the film or the decor and ambience of the theatre. For example, if a Salman Khan film got 5 stars did it mean that he was expending too much energy on beating up the baddies, or that the multi- plex provided reclining seats and complimentary pop-corn? Our rent-a-mob types, who in any case never read anything other than VHP or Bajrang Dal posters, were particularly unhappy with this protocol and desired a change. It has taken three years for this change to materialise, but it has finally arrived with the movie PADMAVATI. In true democratic fashion the rabble ( ably supported by politicians, the police, the royals and actors of the Swacchh Bharat sponsoring breed), have now come out with their own system of rating films. It is simple, based not on the "put in the vowel" principle but on the "throw in the towel" policy and can be comprehended by any stick wielding simian. And best of all, one doesn't even have to see a film to give it a rating ! It has just four categories: A, B, C, and D. Here is what they denote:
[i] A-- -----Agitate.
[ii] B( 1 )-- Burn.
[iii] B( 2)-- Ban.
[iv] B( 3)-- Behead.
[v] C( 1)-- Consult.
[vi] C(2)-- Censor.
[vii] D----- Discard
As you can see, its a very simple and progressive roster, progressing in an ascending order of violence in which, as in the Kaun Banega Crorepati quiz, the Director is offered an exit clause at every stage. Even the sturdiest of them will usually lose his head and exit by B(3), at which point he is invited to go in for consultations/counselling in the manner of a dying man being counselled by a priest. The mechanism for this is under the active consideration of the govt.: the VHP ( Vishwa Hindu Parishad) has already demanded that a committee with their representatives be set up for the purpose and no film be released without its consent. Of course, consultations with other stake holders of Indian culture and nationalism will also be necessary- the Bajrang Dal, Ram Sena, Shiv Sena, Karni Sena, All India Gau Rakshak Sena, and others of a similar ilk already in the pipe-sorry-sewer line. Its only after this stage that the film will go to the Censor Board ( C(2)) which by then is also busy consulting historians, pesphologists, shamams, soothsayers and the four witches in Macbeth. By this time, naturally, the film will have to be discarded ( D) since by then it will have more cuts than the Rajasthan Canal during a prolonged drought. All film production will cease, Sunny Leone will regrettably go back to Canada, Amitav Bachhan will become Baba Ramdev's brand ambassador, Salman Khan will resume a different kind of shooting- black bucks and chinkaras- which is a far safer occupation in India these days than shooting films. As for the rest of us, the more committed ones will devote themselves to re-writing history, and the rest will sing the national anthem or bhajans during weekends. Best of all, Moody's will give us a new rating- LOL.
This story was first published on Hill Post, a website that offers news and views from the northern hills of India
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