Why so many former pinups in the Indian parliament?

Jason Overdorf writes in his column On India in the globalpost:

Doordarshan, kept showing Jaya Bachchan’s face during the induction of fellow former Bollywood starlet Rekha. Rekha was always rumored to have a thing going with Jaya’s husband Amitabh back when they were all stars.

India has the world’s worst famous people. They want all the adulation (and perks like unmerited posts in the government), but none of the “baseless” rumors, malicious gossip and catty remarks. But this has been a particularly good spring for schadenfreude.  

First, there was a long-running bit of journalistic comedy (yes!) after the Indian Express devoted the entire front page to a non-existent coup.  (I know, I know: “We never used the C word!”… tell it to your lawyer).  

Then everybody piled on to attack a rather clever, 60-year-old political cartoon in a stunning show of solidarity with India’s otherwise-mostly-still-despised erstwhile untouchables, the Dalits. (It shows B.R. Ambedkar, the Dalit politician who wrote India’s constitution, riding on a snail labeled “Constitution” while then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru urges the beast onward with a whip.  The trouble is now it’s in the school textbooks, and people have decided it looks like Nehru is whipping Ambedkar, even though the Dalit leader is also holding a whip).

And, finally, today Bollywood queen bee and member of parliament Jaya Bachchan (wife of Amitabh Bachchan, mother of Abhishek Bachchan, mother-in-law of Aishwarya Rai, and an actress in her own right) reportedly blew a gasket because the state-run television channel, Doordarshan, kept showing her face during the induction of fellow former Bollywood starlet Rekha into the Rajya Sabha as well.  (The honorable members of India’s version of the House of Lords later denied that Jaya made a fuss).

….The subtext here was that Rekha was always rumored to have a thing going with Jaya’s husband back when they were all stars. In all likelihood there was nothing to it, since Bollywood’s idea of PR is to leak rumors of such “link-ups” between the stars of upcoming releases.  

Tell it to Shekhar Gupta, the once respected editor-in-chief of the Indian Express, who also seems determined to trash his own reputation. … For awhile some folks tried valiantly ….. But in the end it all turned into a big joke, which long-time Outlook magazine editor Vinod Mehta described as “the mother of all mistakes”…

Are Indians oversensitive? Was Nehru really that skinny? Why are there so many former pinups in the Indian parliament? Why are Bollywood rumors always “baseless”? ..And, of course, should newspaper editors really be fighting against free speech?

Read the full column in globalpost: Oversensitive Indians: From Jaya Bachchan to Shekhar Gupta, everybody is aggrieved

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Silsila sequel in Rajyasabha, minus AB!

With the Rajya Sabha nomination, Rekha now has the option to share a very public platform with Jaya for the next six years. Jaya, who recently won a nomination from the Samajwadi Party, was sworn in for a fresh term in the Rajya Sabha earlier this week.

The heady Bollywood years and the attention that swirled around Silsila have ensured that many are seeing in Sonia’s initiative to get Rekha a berth in the upper House a deft move to keep Jaya in check.

Given their star status, comparisons are certain to be made on every move the two make and unsparing glare will fall on their attire, style and performance — where some foresee an edge to Rekha.

Rekha has spoken extensively about fellow actor Amitabh. In an interview, she had said:

“It’s so easy to gush about someone who has been an inexorable part of my life for over three decades now. Amitji has been a part of my consciousness ever since I saw him create magic on screen in Parwana playing the intense, silent, yet obsessive lover opposite Yogeeta Bali. Incidentally, Yogeeta was the one who introduced us at Madras airport.”

Bollywood actors sympathetic to Jaya say she spent her entire life making concessions for her husband. She had probably thought that the political arena would be one area where she would have the spotlight to herself and come into her own after years of putting her career on hold.

Now Jaya may have to share that space with Rekha.

Indian (Bofors) investigators planted the Bachchan angle

“I knew what I was doing when I leaked the documents to you. I could not count on my government or Bofors or the government of India to get to the bottom of this.” 

STEN LINDSTROM explains why he chose to turn whistleblower to CHITRA SUBRAMANIAM-DUELLA  in The Hoot (http://www.thehoot.org).Sten Lindstrom is the former head of Swedish police who led the investigations into the Bofors-India gun deal.

Q– What was your experience with the Indian investigators?
 
– The only team I met in early 1990 damaged the seriousness of my work and the media investigation. I met them on a courtesy call. They were in the process of filing a letter-rogatory (LR) in Switzerland. Without an official request from Switzerland, Sweden could not intervene. They gave me a list of names to pursue including the name of Amitabh Bachchan. They also told me they did not trust you entirely because you had refused to link the Bachchans to the kickbacks. During that trip to Sweden, the Indian investigators planted the Bachchan angle on DN. The Bachchan’s took them to court in the UK and won. DN had to apologise and they said the story had come from Indian investigators. I was disappointed with the role of many senior journalists and politicians during that period. They muddied the waters.
Q – Any final thoughts?
 
A – There cannot be final thoughts on something like this. False closures of corruption bleed the system. Every day has to matter. When something like the scale and violence of Bofors happens, you begin to question your own faith as a professional and a human being. When you start losing faith, you begin to lose hope. When hope is lost, everything is lost. We cannot afford to let that happen. Maybe we will get nowhere, but silence cannot be the answer.