July 7, 2013
Kal ki baat hai, my phone rang just as I had gone to sleep and was galloping on a white horse…
Tring tring. Tringgg tringgg.
Me: Hello? Hellooo? Hell-o!
A deep, sexy voice: As-salaam-alaikum
Me (Some hot begum sahiba was calling me. So I instantly slipped into my dream role of Sahib Jaan, from Pakeezah yaar, did a graceful salaam gesture in slo-mo and said): Wa-alaikum-salaam
Sexy: Hum, Mrs Jalal ud-Din bol rahi haain
Sexy: (slightly irritated) Mariam-uz-Zamani
Me: Hain? (dimag ke ghode racing idhar-udhar)
Sexy: (now more irritated) Hira Kunwari. Wife of Akbar, mother of Jehangir.
Me: Jehangir? Woh hamara crime reporter?
Sexy: (now very sexy) Uff tauba! Khatoon, hum Jodha, of Jodha Akbar bol rahi hain.
Me: (dimag ke ghode now standing still and staring at me) Aishwarya Rai?
Sexy: Ya Khuda! Nahin, bewakoof ladki! Hum original Jodha bol rahi hain.
Me: Durga Khote ji?
Sexy (now needlessly sarcastic): Ms Sharma, this is a trunk call from Swarglok. And I am Jodha Bai, wife of emperor Akbar. And if you try to get your head around this small fact quickly, we can get on with our conversation.
Suddenly, a lady, apparently from the Swarglok Telephone Nigam Limited, piped up, “Teen minute ho gaya. Teen minute aur?”
Jodhaji: Yes, please. This will take a while.
Jodhaji (to me): Hello?
Me (very excited and confused): Yes. Ma’am. I mean, aunty. I mean, Mrs Jodha.
Jodhaji: Just Jodha will do, though I really prefer J.
Me: Jodhaji, aren’t you, like, you know, dead? I mean, if you ever did exist, now toh you are pucca dead.
Jodhaji: Are you telling me that or asking me?
Me (dimag ke ghode looking the other way, sniggering): Silence
Jodhaji: Anyway, yes, I am dead. But I’m not calling you to confirm that. I’m calling because I’m really p***** off. After trying all the decent TV columnists in India, whose phones were constantly busy, I had no choice but to call you. Your phone is never engaged.
Me: #%*^@*# 😦
Me: Nothing ji. Boliye. What can I do for you?
Jodhaji: I want you to write that Mughaliya Sultanat ke Shahanshah ki first wife wants this new TV show, Jodha Akbar (Zee), to stop showing these wrong-wrong things.
Me: What wrong-wrong things?
Jodhaji: This nonsense between me and Suryabhan. They are showing that we used to prance around at night together, go on dates and all.
Me: Oh-ho ma’am, it’s just a TV serial. Don’t take it so seriously. That’s what TV serials do.
Jodhaji: You mean they lie?
Me: Ummm, ya. Sometimes. For TRPs.
Jodhaji (royally angry): Whatever Mr TRPs may want, I want this nonsense to stop.
Me: But why do you care? You are dead.
Jodhaji (conspiratorial whisper): Because Zille Illahi has been sulking since the day this nonsense began. And every time I try to explain, he takes out his insaf ka tarazu, and hollers, ‘Ye teri bekhof mohabbat, ye raksh, ye dilchasp andaze bayaan, yakinan daal mein kuch kala hai’. And then asks me for details about my “scene with Suryabhan”.
Me: You mean, Shahenshah Akbar is with you?
Jodhaji: Is everyone so slow in Hindustan these days?
Me: Ma’am it’s India now, and I am not slow. How do you expect me to react when a dead queen calls me and rants about a silly TV show? Achcha, by the way, of the three Jodhas, which one do you like the most: Durga Khote, Aishwarya Rai, or this TV girl?
Jodhaji: I hate, hate, hate Aishwarya Rai. Since Mahabali watched that film, he looks at me, looks at her and starts laughing.
Me: Well, I’m sure he’s no Hrithik. Is he? Is he?
Jodhaji: Listen to me. Please write that I had no scene-shene with Suryabhan. We weren’t even pen pals. He was just daddy’s friend.
Me: Isn’t Suryabhan there, in heaven? Can’t you get him to talk to Mr Jalal ud-Din?
Jodhaji: Ya, ya, he’s here. But the Rajputs lost na. So every time I mention Akbar, he takes out his sword and slits his throat. It’s really irritating and messy. And Suryabhan is not the only issue. What are they showing me wearing? Why do I look decked up like a ceremonial haathi? And Maham Anga, Badi Ammi looks like Lawrence of Arabia in drag. I’m also very upset that they are showing us planning johar all the time.
Me: Isn’t that what you Rajput girls did, mostly?
Jodhaji: No. We had a life.
Me: Ma’am, isn’t there anything else to watch in Swarglok? Must you watch Ekta Kapoor’s serials.
Me: She is this tele diva. She made Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi…, Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki…, Bade Achche Lagte…
Jodhaji: Oh! Those shows! Kyunki… ke do episodes ke baad the Swarglok Central Committee called an emergency meeting and decided that these shows will be telecast only in Naraklok. They were looking for a less polluting alternative to those boiling oil kadhais and this came along. Only Narkis watch these shows, gagged and bound to chairs.
Me: Arre, so then, how come this one is playing in Swarglok? Jodha Akbar is made by Ekta Kapoor only.
Jodhaji: What? Really? Great! (away from the phone: Kaneez, get me the SCC chairman)
Me: Hello! Ma’am, hello? So does Akbarji look like Hrithik? Or does he look like the TV piddi?
Jodhaji: Gotta go. Prithvi’s on the other line. Khuda hafiz..