July 3, 2008

Ek Cutting Wine

Malay Desai

Ten truths about the ubiquitous tabloid, cut for you

(A tabloid is a small newspaper, like the Midday, or the famous Sun from UK)

1. There is nothing which cannot be packed in boxes
Boxes, FYI, are those rectangular, circular, small and large enclosures which sprout out of news articles to simplify its profundities. Such as a 'What is VAT?' box tagging along a piece shouting 'VAT lag gayi !'; or, a 'Who was Lal Bahadur Shastri?' box germinating out of an Independence Day feature. We love boxes, and we manufacture them in abundance.

2. Everything is short. Everything
Words. Sentences. Articles. Headlines. Paper size. Our attention spans. Our deadlines. They're sane and profitable only when they're short. ('snappy' and 'crisp' are other euphemisms). The figure sitting besides 'Cost To Company ' in our offer letters isn't too long either. After all, life's short yaar.

3. Masala garnishings are mandatory
Like the incorrigible cook at a dhaba or the bhuttawala at Juhu, we add masala to whatever we produce, involuntarily. There are many varieties to choose from though: spicy, extra spicy and oh-my-god-wtf spicy. So what if we're dishing out a Robin Uthappa or Condoleeza Rice, a little masala always makes 'em palatable, right?

4. BBC is an inspiration
Big Bosoms and Cleavage, that is. Tank tops and bell bottoms may go in and out, but skin is always in.

5. No discrimination against Dial-a-Quote services
Since the Mahesh Bhatts, Prahlad Kakkars, Pritams and Alyque Padamsees of the world contribute so much to society by being available to comment on anything from global warming to Stephen Hawking, it is imperative to splash their inputs regularly. Else they will be underemployed and hamper India's GDP.

6. You should hear Page 1 screaming. Every morning
…even if it tells you a dog-bites-man tale which was shifted from page 23 because there was no man-bites-dog tale. Whatever space remains on the front page after giving the masthead, pizza coupons and the VLCC ads their due, has to SHRIEK loudly. You'll really believe the man-dog was unique.

7. Blood boosts circulation
There should be a free and uninterrupted flow of blood, shit and severed limbs over our pages, especially during Page 1s like 7/11. If, on off days, there are no housewives raped or boyfriends chopped in 300 pieces, shit will have to be manufactured.

8. Little birdies are the best things on Planet Earth
And why not? They confide everything to us – how else do we know crucial happenings like how many times Abhishek picked his nose during the IIFA awards? Flamingoes and pelicans may go extinct, but little birdies are here to stay.

9.The Nuke deal fallout is not news. Kareena Kapoor's nails losing their sheen is.
A triple murder in Bandra East is a City Brief. Old couple at Malabar Hill robbed is Page 1. Water woes in Mira road is a box. Your sun sign determines your sexual style is centrespread.

10. There are 10 ways of doing everything
Ten ways of winning over your boss, running the marathon, seducing your partner, making dosa or fighting inflation. Everything. Period. If a story falls short by just one way, it's crucial to manufacture a new way. Just to make a perfect 10. If this new way is banal, it should be camouflaged wisely into the story (point 6 for example).

About the Author: Malay Desai is a Journalist with the Times Group. Not just a nose for news, he's a nose for the hilarious and the ridiculous!