Rahul baba was getting ready to make the big speech.
Along with his mother and a speech writer, an executive from the recently hired advertising agency to spruce up his image, was also present in the war room.
“I am so proud of you beta,” said the mother. “You are finally behaving like a grown up. Taking the bull by its horns.”
“Bull?” asked Rahul. “I thought we called him the feku.”
“Feku is the old term for him sir,” said the executive from the advertising agency. “These days we are calling him the chaiwallah in all our internal communication.”
“Yeah, how does an upstart like him, a chaiwallah‘s son, dare to challenge you Rahul baba,” said the speech writer, who was an old family hand. “India’s next leader has to be you. In fact, we should ask feku to run a tea stall at our conclave.”
“Okay, okay, that is enough,” replied a slightly irritated Rahul. “Have you got the speech ready?”
“Yes sir,” said the speech writer, handing over a few sheets to Rahul.
Rahul went through the pages very quickly and had a slightly miffed look on his face.
“Arre this is the same speech I made last month!” exclaimed Rahul.
“No sir. This is a totally new speech. I just wrote this just today morning,” replied the speech writer. “I stopped copy pasting after what happened to Shah Rukh Khan.”
“But then why does it read the same?”
“What to do,” said the speech writer. “All speeches written for Congress leaders sound the same since the 1960s. It’s all about roti, kapda aur makan. How many different speeches can one write on the same theme?”
“Oh that’s fine,” interjected the advertising executive. “You can fool some of the people all the time. Also, these kind of speeches go well with the brand positioning of the Congress. But we need to add some points about the economic growth to it as well.”
“Economic growth?” asked the speech writer. “
“Yes. Now its about roti, kapda, makan aur economic growth.”
“Arre par what happened to garibi hatao then?” asked the confused speech writer.
“Oh, we have removed garibi already through our flagship schemes like food security and NREGA,” said Rahul.
“When did that happen?” wondered the speech writer. “What will I do now?”
“Shutup,” said Rahul. “So Ma when do I get to make this speech?”
“Oh, right at the end of the conclave.”
“At the end?” asked Rahul. “Why Ma?”
“You are the show stopper beta.”
“I don’t like this. It sounds like the Hindi films of the sixties and the seventies, wherein the actor Pran’s name used to come right at the end of the casting. It always used to be And Pran.”
“So?” asked the perplexed mother.
“I am not a villain Ma.”
“No no beta. You are the show stopper like in the fashion shows. The biggest star always comes at the end. You are the hero. With your speech being scheduled right at the end the workers will wait to listen to you and that way we will have a stadium full of people. Other leaders can also have an audience while they speak.”
“No Ma. Sheila aunty got me to speak right at the end and people started to leave as soon as I started to speak.”
“Oh that was the general public Sir,” the advertising executive interrupted. “These are members of your party. Rest assured they won’t leave. And I will ensure that the doors are locked from the outside till your speech is over.”
“Haan that sounds like a plan,” said Rahul. “Good we hired you guys.”
“Always at your service sir,” replied the advertising executive.
“You know I was thinking of using some Urdu poetry that I have been reading lately,” said Rahul. “Ah, like mauni baba,” said the speech writer.
“So how is this?”
“Wah Wah,” said the advertising executive.
“Arre first let me complete the couplet,” said Rahul.
“Oh, but what is that we have to say when someone starts reciting a couplet?” asked the advertising executive, who happened to be a Bengali.
“Irshad, irshad, Rahul baba,” the speech writer chipped in.
“Ke arz kiya hai,” started Rahul.
“Bolo beta,” said the mother.
“Galat bazar ki janib chale aaye hain hum shayad,
chalo Sansad main chalte hain wahan bhi sale lagti hai.
Koi bhi androoni gandagi bahar nahi hoti,
humme to is hukumat ki bhi kidney fail lagti hai.”
(janib = towards. Sansad = Parliament. androoni = inside. Gandagi = dirt. hukumat = rule)
“Wah wah beta,” said the excited mother. “I didn’t know there was a poet inside you.”
“Oh, I didn’t write it Ma. This is by a poet called Munnawar Rana,” replied Rahul.
“Sir, there two problems with this couplet,” said the advertising executive.
“Two?” asked Rahul.
“Actually three. As a politician when you quote an Urdu couplet it has to be from Ghalib because he is the only Urdu poet we Indians have heard of.”
“You are going against your own government with this couplet.”
“That I do all the time. Mauni baba does not mind. And that’s my style”
“Yes. But that is not correct. The party and the government should be seen to be saying the same things,” explained the advertising executive. “This is a fundamental rule of communication.”
“And what is the third thing?”
“Oh, Dedh Ishqiya, a fantastic film which was high on Urdu, did not do as well as it was expected to.”
“So?” asked Rahul.
“I think you should stick to English and Hindi.”
“Hmmm,” said Rahul. “I so wanted to speak some Urdu. People sound so intelligent when they speak in Urdu.”
“What else have you thought of?” asked the speech writer.
“You know I have been reading this management book Fen Zu and the Art of War. And inspired by that I have written something.”
“I am so proud of you beta,” said the beaming mother.
“We will go into this battle as warriors with our heads held high. We will not look back. We will go into this battle knowing who we are and what we stand for. We will fight with all that we have within us. We will not rest. We will not lose courage. And we will not stop till the battle is won,” said Rahul.
“Now that sounds like a speech,” said the advertising executive. “Absolutely kick-ass. You are The Last Action Hero.”
“And I will have to look for a job,” said the speech writer.
“Now only if you had got me a bahu (daughter-in-law),” said the mother.
And Rahul wondered “Agar Joker chala gaya to Batman kya karega? (If the Joker goes away what will Batman do?)”
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek)
The article originally appeared in January 18, 2014
Disclosure: The last line of the piece, “Agar Joker chala gaya to Batman kya karega!,” has been borrowed from a similar line from the recently released Dedh Ishqiya