Everyone, but everyone, has been “vaxxing” eloquent since March 1. The “Jab” has become the biggest status symbol of the season. If you have taken the shot before anybody else in your circle -- your bhav goes up instantly! The moment you roll up your sleeve and flash a victory smile for the camera, you feel that you have arrived! You start working the cellphone and messaging all the groups you are on, to brag that you’ve done it! Scored! Sure enough, half a dozen others will text back in a flash -- “Oh … we got ours earlier!” Game on!
Our beloved leader -- arrey baba, why are you acting thick and asking, “Which one?” … There is only one beloved leader in our vast country, get it? Anyway, we were most impressed to note Prime Minister Narendra Modi had opted for the “Made in India” vaccine (Covaxin, indigenously developed by Bharat Biotech). It established his “Atma Nirbhar” convictions and sent out a powerful message to the watching world. Good move. Well played! Besides, by opting for the Dr Krishna Ella-led Covaxin, the PM boosted the image and confidence of the makers and became the ninth world leader to get the jab, which was administered at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences by nurse P. Niveda from Puducherry. Adar Poonawala, the dynamic CEO of the Serum Institute of India (the makers of Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine) was quick to congratulate the Prime Minister, in a generously worded tweet which was widely appreciated by the pharma industry. Soon after, Adar’s fetching and gorgeous wife Natasha (who could give many movie stars a run for their money), posted a yummy picture of herself getting “vaxxed”. She was, as always, impeccably dressed for the important occasion, in pristine white.
A close friend came back from a public hospital after the deed was done. She was in a euphoric state, as she recounted the super-efficient procedure at Mumbai’s Sion Hospital, which was handling the huge number of vaccination seekers very briskly. I asked her for the historic “vaxxie” (selfie while taking the vaccine), and she sheepishly confessed that she didn’t click one! I was surprised, given her vast following on Instagram -- no pic of a bared arm! Hai! Wasted photo-op! Look at how aggressively some veteran cricketers and other semi-famous folks have been publicising their jabs! The only thing missing in the pics is a winner’s cup. Or a medal. People are so focused on beating everyone else to the shot, we have happily forgotten minor irritations like petrol prices zooming to a hundred bucks a litre. Or key Assembly elections that are taking place in five states/UTs, with all eyes on West Bengal, where, for the moment, Mamata Didi seems to be having an edge -- despite her crazy stunts and tantrums. The sight of her being carried down the street astride a two-wheeler was almost as hilarious as the sight of Rahul Gandhi jumping into the sea for a quick swim with Kerala fisherfolk! Both performed stunts for the cameras -- but Rahul looked cuter -- sorry Didi! The things that politicians do! Now if only someone could persuade Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to take the plunge into shark-infested waters, voters would instantly perk up and take more interest in the outcome of the state elections.
We are waiting for the Sonia jab. Unless, of course, she has already taken it, chhup chaap se! Given the severe style of her saree blouses, with fitted, elbow-touching sleeves, we are curious to know how exactly the jab will be administered, when and where. This whole jab thingie has developed an independent life of its own, with people obsessing over their own vaccination schedule and even more so about which stranger will get it next and be in the news for beating rivals to it. Such a silly race of one upmanship, na? But sooooo entertaining!
Meanwhile, Bollywood is all a-flutter dealing with the income tax raids on handpicked filmwallahs. Don’t be silly! They are not being targeted for speaking up on the farmers’ protests and other national issues even if 90 per cent of Indians have a problem with the same issues! Bollywood is not being targeted or harassed, okay? That is just an assumption. Didn’t you read what the good minister had to say about the raids? He assured everybody that these were routine raids on movie people who had been on the radar of the agencies for months. Tax evasion is a serious concern! They must be investigated and punished in case they have failed in their duty to pay up -- that’s called cheating the exchequer. Naughty! Prakash Javadekar, the information and broadcasting minister, thundered: “This is too much! Probe agencies undertake investigations based on credible information and the matter later goes to the courts as well.”
Egg-xactly! Anurag Kashyap and Taapsee Pannu should rest assured that they are not being victimised for their political views, theek hai? 20 crore ka tax evasion is no joke! As for the much bigger economic offenders who may have evaded 200 crores in taxes and have not been subjected to raids --do keep up the good work of being loyal spokespeople. The cutlery tray in India never falls short of chamchas, that’s for sure. Besides, raids on movie people receive the sort of publicity for our agencies that most marketing gurus would compute at millions of rupees worth of prime-time coverage. Why not maximise the publicity value of the great work done by these wonderful people by thoroughly probing the tax returns of the Anurag-Taapsee type of people? Which type? Don’t act dumb, yaar. Meaning, high-profile, well-known showbiz names. Of course, there are many others on the list -- but aaram se! No hurry. This is just the trailer, bhai. Picture abhi baaki hai.