Amazing, isn't it? The so-called tell-all 'interview of the decade' (woh wala - Meghan Markle and Prince Harry), graciously granted to the empress of interviews (Oprah Winfrey), turned out to be a full-on rona-dhona Bollywood style saga, complete with smarmy dialogue-baazi that would make our most gifted script writers proud! A popular meme showed the tawdry Brit Royals (before the split) dressed like the cast of Karan Johar's mega hit, "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham." And I thought to myself: Oprah should definitely have borrowed the haunting title track of the movie for the show watched by zillions across the world. "Aaa aa aa aaah ...."
It's really most ajeeb that even in faraway India, so many people I know were hanging on to every line, eyebrow twitch and tear during the televised interview, as if nothing else mattered. Forget the Covid jab statistics, Hiran controversy, it was Meghan's accusations against her in-laws that had the chattering classes....well, chattering! For hours! I received so many messages from unlikely people, asking whether I 'sympathised' with Meghan and believed her. I wanted to say, "Since I am not her saas (thank God!), I really don't give a damn." To put it crudely and in delectable 'Indian-ese' - what goes of my father if Meghan felt she had been ill-treated by her in-laws? This is the story of most desi joint families in our country. Ekta Kapoor has minted millions exploiting the saas-bahu angle from all perspectives. Meghan was stating nothing we aren't familiar with - so, I really was not about to give up on my precious free time on this - that too on International Women's Day. Come on, Meghan! You are a big girl! Deal with your problems like a big girl. The sort of privileges and wealth these two still enjoy hardly make them credible candidates for victimhood.
Harry came across as a pathetic 'joru ka ghulam', making fans wonder: whatever happened to the charming bad boy of the tight-assed Royal family? He is now a sad shadow of his former dashing self. No wonder nobody wants to hang with him - saala bore ban gaya! Meghan, on the other hand, sounds like a woman with a plan, an all-American biz lady, pouring over her spreadsheets, strategizing her future and planning an IPO. When she simpered that she had never googled Harry before marrying him, women across the world shook their heads and said, "Chal, jhooti kahin ki!" I mean, that's the first thing people do when they meet a future spouse! She also claims she had no idea about her royal duties as his wife! That's called slipshod homework, honey! Not buying this one. The rest of her charges are equally disingenuous. The only one I kinda believed was about members of The Firm discussing the colour of the unborn bachcha. I suspect that must have been Camilla Parker Bowles - her step mother-in-law. Listen - we are equally racist in India, okay? A nasty saas will not only worry about her grandchild's complexion, she may go further and doubt the baby's paternity! Hota hai!
Meghan has pulled out every conceivable hate card in the American market - race, cruelty, put downs, prejudice, discrimination, financial blackmail, deprivation, the entire half-cooked khichdi. Enough to give collective indigestion across continents. Meghan talks of feeling suicidal. Ask any bahu here if she has escaped that feeling, even if she is married to Hari and not Harry. Meghan wants her jalebi and to eat it, too - the title, the money, the security. But no responsibility! Wah! Every bahu would want the same - does it happen? And that wimp Harry doesn't feel shy about confessing that he is living off Mummy's money! Bechari Diana! Get off your royal butt, Harry Baba, and earn your own dosh! But some royals believe it is their birthright to sponge off subjects. And Meghan is calculating enough to milk her sob story while the going is good. Ms. Markle wished for an upgrade when she married a Prince. Look at her today - from a life in Buckingham Palace as a royal prisoner (her words) to a tacky existence as a Desperate Housewife from Beverly Hills. Meghan Markle ka share price crash ho gaya, Harshadbhai. Satyanaash! Khalasssss!
(Shobhaa De is an established writer, columnist, opinion shaper and social commentator, who is considered an authority on popular culture.)
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