Speaker Bipasha, umpire Mallika

It’s time we discussed the phenomenon of Rakhi Sawant despite the fact this column doesn’t feature any photographs, and Rakhi has become the celebrity that she is now because of the simple fact that any news story about her gives a compelling excuse for publications to splatter her photo in lurid colours. The last piece of paper about her without any attached photo is perhaps her birth certificate!

There is also a great practical journalistic convenience in featuring Rakhi Sawant in news columns. It doesn’t matter even if the written copy says that Rakhi is from the Missionary of Charities, as the readers are inevitably bound to devout all the powers in their central nervous system on the accompanying photograph. If Rakhi were the Finance Minister of the country, and even if the budget papers said that the Fiscal Deficit is at 123%, the stock market will still zoom, as the nation will be focussed on what Rakhi is revealing and not what the budget revealed. One day, long after all the snaps of Rakhi are finished being feasted upon, and when the first ever word on her is actually read, it may turn out that the curvaceous lady had actually set out to become a nun.

It is not without reason that TV reality shows plump for those like Shilpa Shetty, Rakhi Sawant rather than individuals like, say Yeddyurappa or Pranab Mukherjee. Shilpa, Rakhi obviously have an arresting personality, as arresting personality in TV industryspeak means someone who has an attractive cleavage and is not afraid to flaunt it. To put things in easy perspective, just imagine a show titled, say, Arcot Veerasamy ka Swayamvar. Will you watch it? You can be sure that it will make television history by being the first ever show in the world to have TRP ratings in the negative, in that people will be queueing up to get outside.

There is a huge message in the saga of Rakhi and the huge success of her TV reality show, Rakhi ka Swayamvar. It underlined the basic premise of the TV industry, which is ——— pay close attention here — that no matter who the person is and no matter to which culture he or she belongs, there is always a part of him or her that can still be fooled easily.

In this decidedly man’s world, the trick is to find beautiful women to pass off every outlandish plan or outrageous idea as cutting-edge innovation and improvisation. This is the sole truth of this otherwise baffling universe of ours.

So if Rakhi becomes passe, then there is always Mallika Sherawat or Bipasha Basu. The challenge is to find proper use for them. I for one actually see plenty of possibilities in many hitherto unused avenues.

Cricket, for instance, can have huge space for Mallika Sherawat. Remember this is the country that stays up all night just to follow Mandira Bedi during cricket discussions in which her only meaningful and realistic contribution could be that with her understanding of the game she makes Charu Sharma seem less stupid than he is.

If Mandira with her noodle-straps can achieve this, imagine what all can someone like Mallika, who generally wears even less, can pull off if only we have the easy creativity to appoint her as an on-field umpire in an international match. There may be some practical difficulties with somebody like Yuvraj or Harbhajan Singh wanting to bat on even during the opposition’s innings, but these issues pale when you take the innumerable positives into account. With Mallika as the umpire, the game can continue even if it were pouring. Actually, it should as otherwise it wouldn’t make sense to have Mallika in the middle. Mallika’s presence will also be a great incentive to hit more sixers. The umpire’s signal to indicate a six is, by the way, to lift both the arms high and wide.

All this may sound a touch puerile, but cricket in general deals with the BCCI, whose mandarins have a collective IQ that is still far lesser than Bradman’s batting average. Cricket, if you get down to it, is in such a desperate situation that when a batsman slams a monstrous boundary —— mind you, this is technically a highpoint in the game —— the TV cameras are compelled to focus on the scantily-clad cheerleaders. So Mallika as an umpire on the field is not as silly as it might otherwise seem. And, at any rate, if Mallika cannot bring in the crowds, then cricket is more boring than we imagined it to be.

If Mallika can help salvage the sports channels, so too can Bipasha Basu or Deepika Padukone. They can be counted upon to whip up more magic into working of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. I can’t imagine people staying away from following Parliamentary proceedings if Bipasha Basu is in the Speaker’s chair.

Don’t try to ask me how Bipasha can become the Speaker when she is not even a Constitutionally elected member of the House. Well, burn the Constitution, if we need to. The simple point is the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha TV channels need more of Bipasha and less of Constitution to survive in the market. Why do you think Fashion TV is still in the business?

With Bipasha at the Chair, there will be surely less of absenteeism and walkouts. Even the perennially morose-looking CPI’s Raja will actually want to sport a smile. So amend the Constitution and usher in Bipasha as the Speaker.

This may seem shamelessly sexist in idea, but in my defence all I can say is that without Bipasha in the Chair I can’t imagine Mulayam or Lalu being orderly, and Parliament passing the Women’s Reservation Bill.