Wherein I Witness Literary Idiocy

Read this article by Preity Zinta, Bollywood superstar, who also moonlights as a columnist on the BBC.

The article is about Preity’s recent brushes with death – a bomb at a Bollywood concert where she is the finale act, and the tragic tsunami.

Scenario One: Preity is about to go on-stage (after Shah Ruhk Khan) when the dancers disappear (because of the bomb? Preity’s descriptive skils do not provide this information) and everyone discovers that a bomb has detonated in the front row seats (ie amongst the rich). Preity, like any good Indian superstar, runs from the stage and witnesses a woman with a terrible injury screaming for help. Upon which she starts to “run for her life”. One wonders what she was running from – the woman with one arm? In case the blood got on her red sequined cat suit (Preity, blood is red too)? In the chaos somebody gropes her. Perhaps it is the missing arm, seeking attention. A pity it groped the wrong person. Preity would only have slapped it.

Instead of staying to see what she might do to help – a superstar, if nothing else, has to have some ability at crowd control – Preity instead runs for Mumbai, confused and a total wreck. Then she finds a friend to talk about “what a close shave it had been” even though it would appear she knew nothing about the bomb or who had put it there. Wake up, Preity! It was the IQ Police out to weed out the trash!

Lucky bitch escaped harm that once.

Scenario Two: After the terrible incident, which would have had most of us thinking about how precious life is and how we should spend more time on our loved ones, Preity decides to dump her family and go off to Phuket for Christmas break. Of course, we all know what happened December 2004, and for once Preity managed to catch up on current affairs, even though she “slept through the tsunami that has killed nearly 6,000 people on Thailand’s coast, mostly in Phuket.” Awww. Maybe it would have been somewhat better for us if you’d never woken up, Preity. Average human IQ might have gone up. The second terrible event in the short space of a month must have shaken Preity up a little, because she calls her mother the very next day to tell her she’ll be home immediately.

But is she? Ah, our favourite intrepid heroine decides instead to stay on in the “war zone”, where “all the parties are off”. Good for you, Preity! Sacrificing your time to help others! … But what is this? Preity is not helping the thousands of injured and helpless? Oh phoey. Instead, she takes kick-boxing lessons. I suppose they’ll come in useful when someone tries to grope her again in a place where 6,000 are freshly dead.

And then Preity does the “unthinkable”. Yes, she goes… diving (gigantic sigh from audience). After witnessing death, destruction and dead bodies floating in the ocean, she goes off and “spends four nights in a yacht near Similan island close to Burma.” The trip was to reaffirm her life and help her get over her fear of water, and god forbid that the random and unexpected deaths of thousands by water should give her any fear of it. But it turns out she hates water because she almost drowned as a child (unlike the tsunami victims who drowned completely), not from the newly-drowned. Our Preity has nerves of steel, she does.

Now, normally I don’t make fun of people like this, but Preity is not writing for the Bollywood Tabloid Daily. She’s bloody writing for Bloody BBC! I can imagine the online-content-editor’s face as he read her submission (“okay, maybe if we put a really big picture of her face and trim the stupider parts off?”). The thought that this article was most likely editted by some poor sod at BBC makes me even angrier – it was worse before! And hell, I’d kill (her) for an opportunity to be a columnist for BBC and she gets it because… she’s pretty and her standard of English is slightly higher than the standard Bollywood star.

And spare yourself not the readers’ comments, my friends. Many Preity fans, of course (I wouldn’t have bothered reading drivel by some Bollywood star if I hadn’t been out of Six-Feet-Under to watch), who laud her (selfish) actions as being “true to herself” and “normal actions for humans”. So ladies and gentlemen, the next time a tsunami washes your home away, kills 6,000 of your people and destroys the local economy, don’t expect a Preity fan to help you IF HE IS STANDING THERE BESIDE YOU AT THE MOMENT. Don’t worry – even though you may drown, die form lack of supplies, bleed to death from a wound or catch some deadly disease from the poor hygiene conditions, take heart that Preity will dance and sing in a charity concert for you later on and donate up to 10 lakh (about US$230,000, S$380,000). Incidentally she has earnt upwards of 25 lakh for a single role, so god forbid that we criticize her for not donating enough.

Of course, I’m not the only one who sees Preity’s actions as cowardly, pathetic, and thoroughly discouraging. Our argument is not that these actions are wrong per se, but that they should be held up by an organization like the BBC for readers to see is just uncomfortable. It seems to tell us that it is alright to be cowardly and unhelpful in situations like this, which it ISN’T. People do it, of course, and if you did then you shouldn’t berate yourself too much for it, but you should aspire to be better than that, shouldn’t you?

Of course, it may be that the article is meant to be satirical in nature, as some colonialist superiority thing about the selfishness and inferiority of Indians (it is is British Broadcasting Corporation), but I find that unlikely. As far as I’m concerned, this bimbo doesn not deserve to air her view. She gets on screen as an actress because of her looks – surely she and her fans understand that ugly shouldn’t be allowed to air?

And if this article’s anything to go by, Preity’s pretty ugly.

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