Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Monday, Feb 09, 2004
Columns - Errors & Omissions Expected
Who is Arjun's father?
THIS is not from a GK quiz, but who is Arjun's father? You would well turn to the big Mahabharat tome to find an answer to the question, and say that Kunti gave birth to Arjun by invoking Indra, the king of gods, using the art of tele-conception, something which many are waiting to happen on the Internet.
But that is not the question. Because the top question in the city right now is, "Who is Arjun's mother?" And we are not talking about an epic, but a product promo that is staring from bus-behinds and billboards, and screaming from radios and TV spots. It is quite probable that the suspense would end soon, so as not to make people feel too frustrated at their ignorance that they ultimately give up.
This Arjun is a whiz kid who gets all the prizes and wins every competition, saves a cricket match for his team and troubleshoots computer problems that daunt his classmates. Now, everybody is curious to know not where Arjun is but who his mom is.
What is the secret of her success? Is she giving him extra doses of nourishment through a diet supplement?
Or, is she doing his homework faster with a particular brand of stationery, washing his clothes using a powerful detergent brand, or cooking the food he eats with gingili oil, or illuminates his study with an energy-efficient bulb, or... ?
"One Friday my son returned from school saying that his friend Arjun's mother had taken two notebooks with the promise that she would return the same by evening," writes Rohini Renganathan in www.chennaionline.com. "He had a test on the subject on Monday, which was covered in those notebooks. He didn't have Arjun's contact number or address, so the possibility of getting the notebooks was ruled out." Ultimately, he didn't get good marks in that test but learnt a valuable lesson, Rohini concludes.
I agree, that Arjun's mother should not have done so, but first we have to find who she is and where she is.
But, the ongoing media hype makes me believe that this is a different Arjun. Similarly, there is yet another Arjun in Annavru, a Kannada movie, which I learn, "Just like the original film Dalapathi depicts complex human relations."
How complex? Such as: "Arjun's father comes once to give evidence but backs off when he comes to know that Surya's mother is his wife." Ah, that can make you want to look for the `exit' in the movie hall to get some fresh air.
But is it not queer that nobody is interested, actually, in knowing who Arjun's father is? It would have raised eyebrows, for different reasons, however, if only the ads had asked a different question, "Who is Arjun's father?"
Now, let's face it: most fathers know they are no good, at least by others' reckoning.
But to have been sidelined by an ad so blatantly is a tremendous case of gender injustice, if only all the pops take it up as a class action suit.
Do they have no role to play in the achievements of their kids, and can they not claim some miniscule part of the credit for the medals and prizes won by their wards in school? Or, is it that Arjun's mother is a single parent, a phenomenon that could be catching on?
Else, the only redemption would be to have, after the initial question has been answered, another series of ads that tease the consumers with the query: "Who is Arjun's mother's husband?"
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