High time we stopped being such ‘junglees’…

Remember folks… acting junglee was and remains Shammi Kapoor’s sole prerogative — that too, only on screen. For lesser mortals, bellowing ‘Yahooooooo…’ and rolling down a snowy slope to impress a local chica, as Kapoor famously did (Junglee, 1961) is just an innocuous shade of junglee conduct. Annoying, at best, but not half as harmful as the atrocious public conduct we are witnessing during these hard-hit pandemic times. Let me give you just two recent examples: The accusations aimed at the Zomato delivery guy in Bengaluru by a female customer. And another, absolutely abhorrent story from Dubai, involving one of our most adored top stars partying with uncouth desis in a posh restaurant.

The Zomato story is being investigated by the right agencies, so in all fairness, let’s wait and see what they unearth about this sorry episode. At the moment, the outrage on social media is directed at the woman (Hitesha Chandranee) who screeched assault and blamed the delivery person (Kamraj). Well, this self-styled make-up ‘influencer’ (hate that word) has fled the city and Bengaluru police have threatened arrest if she doesn’t show up soon. Kamraj, the sole breadwinner in his family, is all set to fight for the truth, and fortunately, Zomato has his back.

In India, our attitude towards blue collar workers and service industry people is shockingly insensitive, to say the least. Not only do we openly disrespect them, but we are unspeakably rude and abusive thereby displaying our own revoltingly low level of appropriate conduct towards those we see as ‘inferior’. This crass attitude is seen in the ‘best’ of homes, mind you! The wealthier the person, the worst the abuse of power. See the way our street marshals are being insulted by idiots who refuse to wear masks in public and attack the marshals for imposing fines! This is how we treat house help, building security staff, chowkidars, drivers, waiters, salespeople, airline attendants, shop keepers — well, practically anybody who does not belong to a certain social strata. It is a loathsome way to assert ones ‘superiority’, and the Zomato incident underlines all that is wrong with the social structure in our society. The delivery man faces a serious charge, and his job/ livelihood is on the line. The woman who has posed on social media with a tape across her nose, faces… what?

The Dubai story is equally puke-making. A leaked video shows a bunch of loud, aggressive NRIs bullying and humiliating an obviously inebriated Bollywood star, at a glittering bar, while ghastly, over-dressed women titter at an adjoining table. One man, holding a cordless mic is ordering the star to sing! “Gaana ga… gaana ga…” he shouts aggressively at the man, who can barely focus. The lout then taunts him by saying, “ If you cannot remember a single song from any one of your films, sing your pitaji’s songs!” The star’s father was an actor-politician, loved and respected by all. By this time, the poor star being mercilessly badgered by this ugly bully, looks ready to weep into his glass. Meanwhile, those hideous women are giggling away and egging on the tyrant who is still shouting, “Chal… tu gaana ga…”

Whosoever shot this sadistic video and circulated it, did us all a huge favour by holding up a mirror to what’s going on out there. Nobody is spared in these junglee times — not a delivery man, not even a successful, troubled mega star who has lived through terrible times. People who have made money (no matter how!) feel entitled enough to insult fellow human beings, not realising how pathetic that makes them! Bullies remain bullies — and rarely take on anybody their own size. Taking advantage of a delivery man or browbeating a drunk celebrity — it is the same awful story of privilege and power. By any definition, this qualifies as junglee conduct which must be condemned, and if possible, punished.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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