Puff and Prejudice
Columns, In Black & White

Puff and Prejudice

September 26, 2020

The Sushant Singh Rajput case has slid from being just a murder investigation to a drug bust.  One wonders if this investigation has ended up exposing middle-class India’s prejudice, hypocrisy and Victorian prudishness? 

To begin with Rhea Chakraborty, Sushant’s girlfriend, has been portrayed like a typical movie ‘Vampy-Villainess,’ the woman who drugged her lover to steal his money. Meanwhile her boyfriend, a grown man, who did not use his own phone to order drugs for his personal use so as to protect his reputation, has been portrayed as an innocent victim caught in the web spun by this ‘black-widow.’  That’s prejudice. 

We so easily blame women for the ills of men? A few years ago as I stood at the funeral of a middle-aged man in Saraswathipuram, I overheard his wife being blamed for not cooking tasty enough food, which supposedly forced her husband to eat out, leading him to have high BP and sugar! They said, “She killed him”! What they didn’t stop to consider is that the husband wanted mutton chops and 100 Pipers whiskey everyday and rejected the healthy food his wife cooked at home. 

Then we have Kangana Ranaut, who was addressed in a derogatory manner by a politician and we, the middle class Indians, rightfully got upset and supported her. But then, when Kangana started calling other women “soft porn star”, “sasti actress” or “mafia bimbo,” we forgive her and say she’s just a fierce feminist? So when a man is disrespectful towards a woman, it is wrong; but when a woman is, it is not?  

We have become a prejudiced lot who love it when bad things happen to people we envy. There is a word for it in German, Schadenfreude, pronounced, ‘shaa•duhn•froy•duh.’  This word is used to express the experience of pleasure or joy that comes from learning of, or witnessing the troubles, failures or humiliation of another. In short, one could call it “malicious joy.”  What is happening in Mumbai is the manifestation of collective Schadenfredue among the Indian middle class towards the rich and beautiful whom we envy and are jealous of.  It stopped being “all about” justice for Sushant long time ago. 

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Now as for drugs, the young actors have been summoned. Suddenly our Victorian prudishness is telling us that these girls are “bad girls”; they are “loose girls” and so they deserve what they’re getting. But why? Because these girls have had multiple boy friends, they wear skimpy clothes, they do item numbers, they speak their mind, they are aggressive and so it is no surprise they also do “drugs. They deserve to suffer. So it’s a moralistic judgement, not factual. 

The problem is even some of our law-makers and law-keepers think in moralistic terms instead of factual terms. They go by their prejudice, not evidence. By the way these girls seem to have consumed what many holy men consume at one of the largest holy gatherings in the world.  

We wish the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has the same enthusiasm to go after the big fish. These actors are just tiny guppy fish in a small self-loathing narcissistic aquarium called Bollywood and Sandalwood.  By the way, it is said criminalising of cannabis happened in 1985, when the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Law was legislated. Here is the interesting bit — It is said that this law got a push because Congressman Sunil Dutt was traumatised by his son Sanjay Dutt’s addiction. Ah! like a movie script, a Bollywood-induced law has come to bite Bollywood! 

But we must also remember that during the 1961 Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the US wanted cannabis declared a “hard drug” but India did not agree  but buckled in 1985. We went along with them back then because we needed them. Now that they have made cannabis legal, why must we be left stuck with a law they forced upon us? Also if bhaang is legal, why not cannabis? The effects are pretty much the same. 

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By the way, while the Americans forced us to ban cannabis, we Indians being Indians could not let the Americans suck the fun out of our much-loved Holi festival; so we added that magic “clause” that we add in all our documents to circumvent a problem. This clause said that while the use of the fruit and flower of cannabis is illegal, the leaves are not and so we continued to grind cannabis leaves and make a “happy paste” called bhaang.  

Intoxicants have always been part of human civilisation, especially soft drugs or natural hallucinogens. Be it bits of opium poppy found in the teeth of a male adult in a Neolithic site in Spain, be it charred Cannabis seeds in bowls found in Romania, or at the largest religious gathering in India, hallucinogens have always been used by humans if not for hedonistic purposes then for divine purposes. It cannot be stopped. But it can be regulated. 

Let’s also not forget cannabis has medicinal value too. No wonder that an Odisha-based startup HempCann Solutions opened India’s first cannabis clinic in Koramangala, Bengaluru, in February this year. Here at their “clinic” named Vedi Herbals they sell tablets and cannabis oils. And these prescribed oils and tablets can  help one with issues ranging from anxiety to improving sex life!

So we made cannabis illegal because of USA, but they have made it legal, so should we follow? This way the NCB can go after real dangerous “hard drug” dealers and producers rather than movie stars who enjoy a puff of cannabis, which is no more harmful than a “legal” gulp of alcohol? 

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ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Puff and Prejudice”

  1. Raj says:

    For the sake of completion, I can add a few more examples! A Navy veteran who was beaten up in the broad day light by the thugs of Shiv Sena and arrest of Reporters who tried to expose that story is a prejudice
    The goons who beat him was granted bail in a few hours is prejudice is another prejudice
    The Suicide theory of 2 people was readily flashed without any suspicion and people talking about depression without even have any regrets about 2 dead people under suspicion is prejudice. That too the shoddy investigation to only coverup the crimes and a well respected Member of Parliament try to protect Bollywood, That is prejudice!
    Anybody who expressed doubts about the suicide was viciously attacked and CBI was stopped under the pretext of Corona was prejudice
    Kananga was left all alone by the Bollywood gang, Liberals, so called rationalists who doubt even a minor accident in a remote village as a conspiracy by RSS now cold and silent is prejudice!
    Those whose heart cried for Afzal guru and should ‘Afzal Guru, hum Sharminda hai! Apka Kaatil Zinda Hai'(Kaatil here is supreme court as they gave the guilty verdict) were all silent! That is prejudice!
    Kananga was threatened of by Sanjay Raut, the Shiv sena chief, The government of Maharashtra, they were not threatening, They demolished her house in less than 24 hours with less than a day’s notice and Rejoiced that they ‘Ukhaad Diya’ — what do you call that?
    Never saw a state Government protecting a drug mafia, Hindering the investigation. So far we are used to calling Modi all kinds of names under the freedom of press! and We see a real crime, mafia syndicate and government machinery giving cover and our Press seems to be thinking , the
    government should overlook all these issue and focus on more important things(we know what it means)
    I am no fan of Kangana! But unlike Deepika, she refused to be the part of the system! What if she also made the compromise with the drug syndicate!
    Now we hear so many actors and actresses are paid 50-100 crores per movie! and I dont believe a people are lining up in front of theaters to watch the same move 10 or 20 times like in Rajakumar Rajanikanth or Amitabh prime days! So, How are they getting paid this huge sums! I suspect, what we are seeing may be the traces of the Bollywood’s main business seems to be heavily in to drug trafficking and now they dont care about if the movie makes any money or not!
    That explains why many of the Big stars of Bollywood are looking the other way and a few actively coming to defend Rhea and the drug nexus!

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