Monday, January 21, 2008

Less Culture, More Vulture and a Whole Lot of Bong

When I was a little girl, my Ma sat me down and said:

"TM, we Bengalis are very cultured people. Everyone looks up to us because of our culture"

TM nodded her head, and then thought:

Ma, if we are so cultured, how do you explain the metaphysical paradox that is Bappi Lahiri?

How do you explain the cultured boys in your village who aspire to the hairstyle of a Disco Dancer Mithun and the moves of a Street Dancer Govinda?

And so began a lifetime of contrarianism, starting with the resolve to take the piss out of Bong pomposity.

Of course Mithun-da is culture and so is Bappi-da (Kreeeeeshna euuu aaaaar thaaaa gretesst musiciaaaaaaan obh theeeeees bhaarld). But that's not what the average Bong middle class person thinks when they think culture. They think Tagore, Shantiniketan, and perhaps Uday and Ravi Shankar.

My Ma, when faced with Bappi-da's crooning away with unmitigated joy on TV with all his jiggly bits and a king's ransom worth of bling on his body would make a face and say - "Bangalir Bodnaam" (a disgrace to Bengalis). Since I take especial perverse pleasure in the discomfiture of prudish, self-righteous middle class Bengalis over anything that they perceive as an embarrassment to Bengali culture, I decided to assemble an entire rogues gallery of such characters.

So let's go forth and revel in the glory of these assorted Bangalir Bodnaam -

Exhibit A: Bappi-da

Image Courtesy:

Bappi-da is cool (shut up - any resemblance between "Karma Chameleon" and "Tera Mera Pehla Yaraana" is purely coincidental). The man's probably single-handedly responsible for the recent upswing in gold prices - Bappi-da is updating his wardrobe.

His chashma may be Versace, his gold may be haggled from the souks of Dubai, but you know Bappi-da is a true-blue Bong because his "roshogolla" accent has never changed one bit since the day he landed in "Bombaaai nogoria" (his lateshht song).

Exhibit B: Sahara-Shri

Image Courtesy:

Ah, how the mighty have fallen. Yukta Mookhey? O Tempora, O Mores. Sahara Shri, we did not expect this from you. Where are those days of glory when you were danced with our Ms. Plastic Fantastic at your son's wedding? When all of Bollywood was at your beck and call?

When you wouldn't have had to suffer the ignominy of being fed burfi by the most has been of all has beens. You sir, were a role model for countless Bong men - now do you think any of them would consider a career in wheeling-dealing knowing that there's a Yukta Mookhey waiting at the end of it all?

Exhibit C: Ponytail

Image Courtesy:

What can I possibly say about Ponytail that has not been said already in hundreds of blog posts over the last couple of years?

Well, his suits are hideous (Arindam baby, you spend so much money on PR, perhaps a splurge on a couple of Savile Row suits may not be a bad idea).

He probably wasn't a very imaginative kid, otherwise he wouldn't have named his film "Rok Sako to Rok Lo" - Stop Me if You Dare (renamed instantly by the punters as "Thok Sako to Thok Lo" - Fuck if You Can)

Exhibit D: Koena Mitra

Image Courtesy:

O my fucking goodness! She still denies she's had plastic surgery! (even after featuring on the Awful Plastic Surgery blog) When will she admit to it - when she morphs into Jocelyn Wildenstein? Look honey, my Ma probably still has a few old issues of Sananda lying about. Now do you really want me to pull out one of those magazines, do a side by side comparison and have you looking like a complete idiot denying the extensive modifications you've done to your nose? And no, this is not pre-plastic surgery Koena, not even close, because this is after she had the first of her many surgeries.


Blogger Aparna said...

Couldn't agree more with the post.

Bong pomposity irks me no end and i am guilty of deriving sadistic pleasure by pointing out all kinds of Bong-flaws to my unsuspecting parents. Ma-baba shake their heads thinking of how far removed i am from all things Bong (thats blasphemy considering one has been brought up soaked in Bong culture).

Not true. I do have a soft spot for Mithunda, notwithstanding the disco dancer hairstyle of yore! :P

But seriously, i think Mithun is perhaps one the finest actors we have had, who has never really got his due partly because he never really did much good work...

7:09 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

i'm very disappointed not to see a couple of dozen hate comments here. where's desipundit when you need them? i would have thought there's full cause for serious effigy burning -- i hope you didn't pre-order too many (to capitalize on the market that should have emerged).

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

gee...hope greatbong doesn't fret

4:57 AM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Aparna - who can resist Mithun da's charms hei salaaaaa! He is an amazing actor, and I love both his commercial and non-mainstream oeuvre.

TR: Here I am, desperately trying to bait the trolls, and I seem to have been forsaken even by them. As some nameless shayar once said:

Badnaami mein bhi naam hai. I remain in anticipation of my first ever effigy burning party.

Anon: Au contraire, Greatbong is one of rare few Bongs who can write about Bong absurdities, such as they are.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Szerelem said...

You know, my first thought on seeing Koena's picture - even before I read your comments - was "WOW, I can't believe she still denies plastic surgery!".


And by Ms. Plastic Fantastic I gather you mean Ms. Rai??

11:47 PM  
Anonymous The Bombay Bitch said...

Love the post, you're quite the Bitch yourself!

The Bitch.

12:05 AM  
Blogger Rimi said...

You know the answer to this, don't you? Apart from 'exception proves the rule'? Our culture has been permeated and contaminated (and that's a propah 'theoretical' term too, these days). This is not 'true' Bong culture, but examples of those who have been lured away by filthy lucre from the pristine Bong ideals of intellectual oneupmanship.

And don't you ever forget it. Even when your jyathamoshai hires a filmi band party for his daughter's wedding instead of playing old tinny shanai records.

5:35 AM  
Blogger IR said...

funny, specially the one of sahara !

i think the problem is that we want to steryotype our cultural identities,

for ex in a hindi movie a sardar or a punjabi is always loud or fighting a war, a "south indian" is always a madrassi even if he is from andhra

what is they steryotype of bongs in bollywood, i think they are always shown as poets ?

7:14 AM  
Anonymous K said...

Sahara Shri stories, where can I start - I even attended the wedding (as extended family).. but my abiding memory is a picture carried in the long-lost Delhi tabloid called Today of SS with his hand around Anna K's waist and his pinky in her navel...
But TM you should needs have included India's #1 prude/football administrator supreme - Priya Ranjan Das Munshi in this list as well.
And Koena is... well.. actually she is worse than Riya so....

6:40 AM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Szerelem - Ms Rai it is. The Beeb even has a picture of her boogieing away with Saharashri.

Hey bitch, we learn from the best, don't we :)?

Rimi: I think Jyotibabu was a bit too fond of oposhonskriti - I remember a classic pic from the Hope 86 (or what was it) show that had Jyoti babu shaking his moneymaker with Mithun.

IR: Ah yes, Bongs and their poetry. That stereotype has more than a grain of truth in it - if you don't dabble in sappy poetry in your youth, you really aren't Bong enough.

K: The man goes places I would have never imagined - even Anna K? Priyo is in a category all by himself - the shining beacon of our moral kaalchaar.

10:37 AM  
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5:43 AM  
Anonymous HauJauBauRauLau said...

Really, don't understand the point of this post.

Bong and their pride in culture??? What's wrong in that?? Look around, go to different states of India and you will find almost everybody taking pride in their so-called culture. Can't we just let it be that way?

Mithunda and Bappi Lahiri. It has become very fashionable for bongs to mock them these days. Mithunda's work speaks for himself. He was not the best looking actor when he went to Bombay. His producers and directors found something that can make Mithunda popular and they have used it very sensibly. Mithunda then did numbers of successful b-grade movies. Money and fame are to be blamed. Why mithunda?

Same goes for Bappi Lahiri. Would you be more happy if he was clad in dhotis? Can't we just leave him alone with his wrong fashion statement? Is it really necessary to make him a topic of blog every other day? Can't we find something else?

Whether Koena did a plastic surgery is none of our business. She is in entertainment business and she gotta do what she's gotta do. As simple as that. And her denying of that fact does not make her a lier. Come on. It's plain and simple business.

Perhaps, bongs taking the pride in their culture and the lost civilization enables one write blogs on a gloomy day and flaunt the capability in English writing.

1:00 PM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Anon, thank you, most flattered, you're very kind. If you want to get in touch, do write to me at joi_devivre[at]

haujaubauraulau: Sigh! Ulto bujhli Ram! Now what would Sukumar Ray say?

5:40 PM  
Anonymous HauJauBauRauLau said...

Ulto bujhechi..bhul bujhechi ki?? Hmm?

8:30 PM  
Anonymous auJauBauRauLau said... said...

I am a layman...I apologize for my ulto understanding...

Just criticizing mithunda, bappi lahiri and Koena does not solve all the problems in the grand scheme of the universe...

hence the complain...complain of a layman..

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Jishu Mukherjee said...

I don't know why but I get irritated by the sight of arindam chaudhuri. Voyeurism to the highest extent. Sorry, ei pradham kono 'hate' comments korlam karur samparke.

11:03 PM  
Blogger Sourav said...

Where is the one and the Only Bipasha Basu [:x]

I protesht againsht this injushtice.
I will take to the shtreets in protesht.....

and what happen to momota didi. this is centre's conshpiracy only.

I now undershtand.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Zuma's colored balls said...

ha ha funny.... But another bubble burst. another niche stolen... Now i'm not even the only bong in LA who likes to take the piss out of middle class bong cultural superiority thing. Maybe i can specialize on how we bongs think we REALLY know soccer... dispite India's current rankings and manipur taking all the national honors and national line-up places last i checked. ... or is that taken too?

6:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aha! A Bong jingo-fest run by you-know-who.

Here is what the gawking idiot writes:

When I was a little girl, my Ma sat me down and said:

"TM, we Bengalis are very cultured people. Everyone looks up to us because of our culture"

TM nodded her head,

So blind jingoism is a family trait then, eh? Exactly who exactly "looks up to you" because of your "culture"?

2:45 PM  
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