THIS ABOVE ALL
The funny side of people
AT times I marvel
at my naivete. I read the morning papers carefully but find
nothing very amusing in the news items. But no sooner the same
items are reproduced in Private Eye of London in its
column ‘Funny Old World’, I see their funny side. This one
was on the prevalence of belief in numerology in India.
Numerology is one of those superstitions like astrology, Vastu,
Feng-shui, gemmology and many others which has several takers,
even among the highly educated.
They believe if
you change the number of your house, or add an extra letter or
two to your name, your fortunes will take an upward swing. I
have two names in mind— Jayalalitha added an extra ‘a’ to
her name to become Jayalalithaa; so did Shobha De to become
Shobhaa. There is no evidence of their benefitting by the
additional ‘a’. Perhaps it improved their digestion and
reduced gas in their bellies. Only they can tell.
But this news item
which appeared in The Hindustan Times of September 18
this year is about belief in numerology in Bollywood, which is
singularly asinine in its belief in the occult. It reads:
"It is true there is no scientific proof whatsoever that
numerology actually works", film producer Vipul Amrutlal
Shah admitted to reporters at a studio in Mumbai, "but it
is a vital science here in Bollywood. Every studio nowadays
employs numerologists to add, subtract, or rearrange the letters
in film titles, and in the names of actors, so that they are
astrologically sound, because this is a high-risk business with
millions of dollars at stake. That’s why I support plans for
Bollywood to open an official school of numerology to train
practitioners, just as we train our directors, actors and
Sanjay B. Jumaani then explained how the science works. "I
was recently asked to advise on the title of a film called Singh
is King, and told them to add an extra ‘n’ so the letters
added up to a lucky number. They did so, and Singh is Kinng
grossed $15 million in its opening week.
"I also had
success by adding an extra ‘r’ in Krrish and two
extra ‘ys’ in Heyy Babyy. So my record speaks for
itself. Yet, incredibly, there are no schools devoted to
numerology, and training currently all depends on personal
experience. So you see, it is not madness. My success rate with
movies is over 80 per cent, and while my scientific expertise
cannot turn a bad film into a box office hit, I can at least
guarantee to reduce losses".
Noted Bharatnatyam dancer Pratibha Prahlad has re-emerged on the scene as the organiser of the Delhi International Arts Festival
About seven years
ago R.K. Hegde asked me over for dinner in his MP’s bungalow
in Delhi. I had enjoyed his hospitality in Bangalore when he was
the Chief Minister of Karnataka. I held him in high esteem and
felt that he would one day be the Prime Minister of India. I was
eager to keep up with him.
We were having our
first drink when a young lady with two-year twins glided in. The
boys seemed to know their way around the house and trotted off
indoors. Hegde introduced me to the lady, Pratibha Prahlad,
Bharatnatyam dancer. I had seen her pictures in the papers and
read about her performances in India and abroad. Hegde didn’t
have to say anything more about her. I got the unspoken message.
He wanted me to write about her in my columns.
I saw Pratibha
dance in the India International Centre. She was part of a
troupe. So I could not gauge the quality of her performance.
Thereafter, I saw her a few times with her sons in Lodhi
Gardens. When age made me home bound, I lost track of her. Now
she has re-emerged on my horizon as the organiser of the Delhi
International Arts Festival.
She is the
founder-president of Prasiddha, which will coordinate dance,
music and stage performances for three weeks in December in
different venues of the city. She has managed to get about 50
countries to send artistes to participate in the celebrations.
It is a huge
undertaking needing a staff of coordinators, cooperation of
state governments, Ministry of Tourism, cultural organisations
like the ICCR, various akademies, foreign embassies, hotels and
patrons of arts. And lots of money.
It is sad to see
that though India has taken giant strides in developing its
economy and has advanced in scientific research, it does not
have a modern theatre exclusively meant to stage plays or
orchestral performances, which need the latest acoustic
equipment. We have to make do with auditoria meant for lectures
and showing films. I hope Pratibha Prahlad will also become the
pioneer of permanent theatres in the country.
Power of prayer
In a small town in
India, a person decided to open up his bar business, which was
right opposite to a temple. The temple and its congregation
started a campaign to block the bar from opening with petitions
and prayed daily against his business. Work progressed. However,
when it was almost complete and was about to open a few days
later, a strong lightning struck the bar and it was burnt to the
The temple folks
were rather smug in their outlook after that, till the bar owner
sued the temple authorities on the grounds that the temple,
through its congregation and prayers, was ultimately responsible
for the demise of his bar shop, either through direct or
indirect actions or means. In its reply to the court, the temple
vehemently denied all responsibility, or any connection that
their prayers were reasons to the bar shop’s demise.
As the case made
its way into the court, the judge looked over the paper work at
the hearing and commented: "I don’t know how I am going
to decide this case, but it appears from the paper work that we
have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer, and we
have an entire temple and its devotees that don’t ".
— (Contributed by
Vipin Buckshey, New Delhi)