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Stupid, stupid me.

I’m feeling foolish and stupid. Not that I feel any different any other time of the day (or for that matter month or year, too) but I’m feeling particularly foolish. I was watching television the other day, randomly pressing buttons according to my whims and fancies when I stopped inadvertently at Doordarshan. The quintessential waviness of the channel was now a thing of the past and one could actually see the people without lines dancing up and down the bodies of the actors, which took me back to my childhood (which isn’t too far behind). And all the stupid things I’d done. And I’m going to top it all up by publicly revealing all those things.

When I was in the fifth grade, Saif Ali Khan had more hair than Kareena Kapoor and Aamir Khan perfected the art of flops with Mela. And it was good. Rani Mukherjee’s thighs spanned the entire screen. And, Subhash Ghai made movies like Pardes. It was an innocent time when Karan Johar made a campus movie (*shudder*) with a signature move (remember the claps and the short touching on the nose?).
The gorilla-like gestures in KKHH were a rage among youngsters.

I still remember a girl in my class got a haircut exactly like Kajol, and all the boys expecting her to turn up in short skirts next, only to our utter dismay, she turned up in school uniform
and beat the hell out of us inthe mid- terms.

I remember when I had gone to watch KKHH in Ganesh Theatre (yes, you may laugh), the power went off and one particular guy referred to the theatre owner’s sister and ordered him to start the movie or face dire consequences (something related
to bamboo going somewhere not very nice).

Film names were complete sentences (Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega, Hum Toh Mohabbat Karega). We didn’t have the near-perfect Deepika Padukone or the hunk-like Ranbir Kapoor then. We grew up on the Suniel Shetty (with his sinusoidal dialogue delivery), Jackie Shroff (who wasn’t prehistoric), Govinda (who occupied a single seat) and the Khan brigade (without the appendixes like Zayed and Fardeen, etc).

Hrithik Roshan had just burst on to the scene and his extra thumb was the talk among the girls: “Did you see his extra finger? Wow na!” At a camp, a guy had given me a random number and told me that it was Hrithik’s number, and out of sheer curiosity, I had dialled the number not once, not twice but nine times! I demanded to speak to Hrithik every time and I wouldn’t listen to any explanation whatsoever from the man who had tried telling me that the number belonged to a certain army officer. Only when he threatened to drop in home with an AK-47 (I knew it was a gun which went ‘dhadhadhadhadhadha’ thanks to Bollywood) did I stop bothering him. That was a close one.

TV was simpler. I remember Star Sports showing WWF (nay, WWE). Somewhere around 2001 was the peak for the single biggest fraud to have ever graced television. ‘Stone Cold Steve Austin’ was my role model, and Stacy Kiebler my fantasy. We used to wait for the Diva Specials just for the brief glimpse of the heavenly bodies. Broadband Internet was yet another fantasy and we would have had to sell ourselves to afford live streaming of, ahem, educational videos. In fact, I actually thought live streaming was impossible. I’d argued with my friend once saying, “Pagal hai kya? 25 MB ka video online kaise dekhega?” Of course, we also watched Undertaker vs. Mankind in the cage match where Mankind was thrown off the cage. But then there was Trish Status. Sigh. Ambling between the two was all we did during school lunch.

MTV and Channel V showed music videos, where Sameera Reddy was a demure girl, and John Abraham a simple biker in Pankaj Udhas (!) videos. Little did we know that Sameera Reddy would gyrate right into our faces a few years later, or that John Abraham’s butt would take biology to an altogether different level. The Aryans brayed like donkeys but we still listened to their songs. Boy bands and Britney were in fashion.

While listening to Backstreet Boys, my friend and I would listen to two lines, look at each others’ faces, and ask, “Kya bola yeh? Samjha kya?” Only a few months back did I realise that the second line to ‘Show Me The Meaning’ was not “Is this the meaning I need to wanted”. I knew there was something wrong with my version, but then I’d never dared to question the wis-dom of the Backstreet Boys.

The only nudity on TV was Sourav Ganguly’s hairy chest after India won the Natwest Trophy. And that was perhaps the only moment in history when the sight of a man baring his chest was met with countrywide approval and glee from men and women didn’t give two hoots about it. The only reality on TV was that Baa was immortal and Tulsi was responsible for population explosion. Her children were scattered around the country (perhaps one for each state?).

Our knowledge of politics too was limited to Advani’s croaking and Vajpayee’s 0.25X-speed speeches. I distinctly remember myself asking my father during the PM’s speech, “Iske pehle wala word kya tha?” There were no blogs, Facebook, no webcomics. If we had to express our opinion to someone, we had to speak our minds. Kids these days are smart though. Just a few days back, when conversation veered uncomfortably towards youth escapades, my stories elicited more than their fair share of laughter from my 13-year old cousin. He asked me, “Bachpan mein you were really
dumb, na?”

I still am, dear cousin. I still am. And it’s public knowledge now.

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