The Two Faced Indian!

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the following word?


That was a question I asked on my Facebook Page couple of days back. The people that follow my page belong to multiple demographics and since there is no right or wrong answer for this question the answers were many, ranging from Dhirubhai, Ambanis, Profits, Gujjus, Suits, Money, Cheat, Trade, Profit, Loss, etc, etc. Most of the answers were universal and could be understood by everyone but there were a couple of answers that I am sure baffled the rest of the people and made no sense whatsoever. The answers were Puri Jagannath & Mahesh Babu.

Now who the hell are Puri Jagannath and Mahesh Babu and what do they have to do with the word Business Man?

Ask any Telugu person worldwide or anyone living in Andhra Pradesh; he or she would instantly identify the names and chances are, before this weekend ends would have at least tried to watch the latest Telugu flick releasing today ‘BUSINESS MAN’ starring Mahesh Babu, directed by Puri Jagannath. I say “at least tried” because as per reports every single show of the film is sold out for next few days.

In the city of Hyderabad it has released in a maddening 110 cinema halls with one multiplex playing 34 shows of the same movie on day one and every single show is SOLD OUT, yes every single show. Yet, interestingly most of the rest of India is ignorant about the existence of a film called BUSINESS MAN as is evident from the comments on my page and otherwise too.

Crazy isn’t it?

Ok, if that wasn’t crazy enough, consider this.

Idiots or what?

The legendary film ‘3 Idiots’ holds the distinction of being the highest grossing Indian film ever (200cr Domestic Box Office). Wouldn’t it be safe to assume that anyone who calls himself an Indian and watches movies would have in all probability seen this film. Right?

To know the answer let’s shift base to Chennai /Tamil Nadu for some time. A movie released there yesterday and is running to packed houses and a particular multiplex which is supposed to be the largest multiplex of the country is running 60+ shows of the film per day, and almost all the tickets are again SOLD OUT.

This movie is directed by perhaps the most successful commercial director that Indian films have ever known, the director of ROBO and many such mega blockbusters, Shankar. The film stars Vijay (Touted as the closest replacement to Rajinikanth) and Ileana - the heartthrob of millions down south. Now don’t ask me who Ileana is, just Google her if you have never heard of her.

Ok, so what is the connection with the Hindi film 3 Idiots?

For those who are not aware, the movie I was talking about is called ‘Nanban’ and is the Tamil remake of the film ‘3 Idiots’.

Think about it. The most successful Bollywood film ever is remade into a regional language by a renowned director with a popular star and sets the cash registers ringing once again. There is a huge audience that has either not seen the original or wants to relive the experience once again in a culture that is dearer or rather more familiar to them.

Same is the case with the movie Bodyguard too, first made in Malayalam then Tamil then Hindi then Kannada and now releasing in Telugu tomorrow. Interestingly the 4 south Indian languages it was made in is for states that share borders and are closer than Mumbai is to Delhi.

It is exactly these people that I call the TWO FACED INDIANS. The ones who revel in not just their National Identity but also carry a strong Regional Identity, in simple terms they enjoy the best of both worlds.

Uncovering more faces!

The above examples (Business Man & Nanban) are for two specific states that I am more familiar with, I have no clue what is driving people in West Bengal or Kerala crazy right now, or for that instance Karnataka, Gujarat or Punjab or any other Indian state. This is a countrywide phenomenon. There exist Two Faced Indians everywhere.

If you are active on Twitter I am sure you can recollect the #BeingMallu #BeingTelugu #BeingKannadiga, etc hash tags gaining popularity off late. If you were a part of it, then my friend you are the perfect TWO FACED INDIAN.

One might argue that movies are no barometer to gauge culture. The most basic things that define any culture are Food, Clothing, Architecture, Language, Music and Dance along with a few other things. Interestingly most of the above are getting standardised across the country. We wear similar clothes (Jeans, T-Shirts, etc), build similar buildings (Apartments- 2BHK, 3BHK, etc), and eat similar foods (Panner Butter Masala to Idly Dosa and Burgers to Pizzas. Think of the restaurants that you go to), Music and Dance is again mostly Bollywood based and the only thing we seem to be doing differently is speak different languages at home. So where is the real difference?  It is in our regional movies which form the bulk of the popular conversations and Television content generated.

Just try flipping TV channels on Tata Sky or whichever cable subscription you have and try to watch the programmes of any other state other than yours (Regional TV Channels). Chances are you will be rolling on the floor laughing within a few minutes. Trust me, try it and see for yourself. The faces you see don’t appeal to you, the language and antics on screen seem even more hilarious especially since everything seems so alien. However amongst us Indians there are millions who can identify with what is on screen, just that we don’t realize it seems extremely odd to our neighbours in the next state and vice versa.

I need to point out another category of Indians at this point. They are the Unfortunate Indians, no; I am not talking about the underprivileged or poor people. Let me explain.

Unfortunate Indians!

While major states of India have this opportunity to enjoy an alternative pop culture there seem to be some places which are deprived of such joys. Notable among them is our capital city Delhi.

Apart from the Delhi winters and politics there is hardly any popular culture that exists here, whatever is the national culture (Bollywood) is also the local culture. Same problem afflicts few other states (Not naming them here, it is for you to introspect yourself), people of which have no idea what it is to be a Two Faced Indian. These are the unfortunate Indians.

The only glimpse they have is when a KOLAVERI from Chennai breaks barriers due to it clever lyrics in English aided by its catchy tune, simplicity and subtitles. Otherwise every other month there is a Kolaveri equivalent being generated in each of the regional languages enjoyed by the masses there. The Kolaveri equivalent need not be a song necessarily; it could be an entire film or just a film dialogue, an actor a dance step and so on. The Two Faced Indians would know what I am talking about.

The unfortunate Indian is really unfortunate not to be a witness and a part of an alternate culture. Imagine Satyajit Ray not reaching out of the boundaries of West Bengal, AR Rahman or a Mani Ratnam ever trying to venture out of Chennai, Ram Gopal Varma not moving out of Hyderabad and giving life to countless other creative people, the loss would have been immense. This reminds me of my childhood from the 80’s down south, Illayaraja was churning out one melodious masterpiece after another while Bollywood was at the depths of its mediocrity. It was a loss for an entire generation of Indians but a memorable phase for specific sections of India.

You are Lucky!

The idea of this blog post is not to demean any one region but instead to highlight the rich and thriving popular cultures that seem to be influencing vast sections of Indians. This uniqueness and blend of popular cultures is what makes India special and no nation in this world can come close to having a culture as rich and diverse as ours.

So next time you claim that you are a proud Indian, remember that this feeling emanates from two sides of your personality, the National and the Local. You are the true TWO FACED INDIAN. 

Oh, and with regards to BUSINESS MAN, don't worry, chances are Salman Khan might remake it just as he did with Mahesh Babu and Puri Jagannath's earlier Telugu blockbuster film POKIRI which became WANTED in Hindi. Or maybe brace yourself to see Mahesh Babu himself don the grease paint in the Hindi remake of BUSINESS MAN, that would be Kolaveri all over again!!!

Till then,
Kartik Dayanand Boddapati

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  1. Once again a master piece from Kartik. Agree to what you have said here. But i have to say something else, related to it, regarding "Regional" & "National" matters. I agree we have cultural & regional diversities which is not seen anywhere in the world, but my Q. is Do we really feel Proud of this thing? Are we united & feel proud for our National Language or anything related to National? No. Well who cares. This diversities has always created more problems & has divided India into many India. Only 1 eg i would like to give here is, We people fight for partition of state on basis of language, this is what have happened & will go on & on. Actually we are not "Two faced" but we are "Many faced Indian"

  2. Congratulations Kartik, very thoughtful and well articulated. Outside the purview of your article but one of my main gripes with most of these movies is too much emphasis on entertainment and a decline in emphasis on a good script and music. The female counterpart of the protagonist is almost always ornamental and the solution always points to one man beating the living daylights out of multiple hired goons. I long for for some thought provoking and script based stories from our culture.

  3. R. Kasthuri RenganJan 16, 2012, 8:55:00 AM

    Hello Kartik, I give my
    views, may be slightly on a different angle. Every one is 2 faced in
    some way or other in our life. For eg, a political person continues to
    remain and adore his party head, till he reaches a state that he can no
    longer continue because of differences.
    Once he comes out, he would reveal everything to the public, all that he
    stored as not acceptable to him. This is applicable even to retired
    Govt servants. They show obedience as long as they are in Govt and when
    once they come out, their language would be different. In functions/
    marriages etc, one could easily see 2 faces. As an Indian, we hail our
    victory in world cup, but when the scenario changes as IPL, different
    culture emerges as KKR/CSK/DD etc. The people of respective states find
    friendly with players from different states. Mrs. Ambani,Sachin,Bhajji
    all, hug and celebrate as Mumbai Indians. So we are definitely 2 faced
    according to circumstances. On 26th Jan or 15th Aug, we sing patriotic
    songs. but we fight against the neighbouring states for water or for any
    other purpose and that is life

  4. Awesome post Kartik, enjoyed it thoroughly.....and yes, it made me ponder whether i am a two-faced
    Indian or a multi-faced or simply...INDIAN to the core.Waiting for your next blog :)

  5. Nice piece of information, I had come to know about your
    internet site from my friend vinay, delhi,i have read at least 12 posts of
    yours by now, and let me tell you, your website gives the best and the most
    interesting information. This is just the kind of information that i had been
    looking for, i'm already your rss reader now and i would regularly watch out
    for the new post, once again hats off to you! Thanx a ton once again, Regards, plug and play office space for rent in himayathnagar


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