DailyOh! How Indira Gandhi used Rishi Kapoor’s Bobby to keep India home

The movie was to Emergency what Ramayan and Mahabharat are to the lockdown.

 |  6-minute read |   30-04-2020
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Waking up in the morning was never easy, but is now getting scarier with the kind of news that two consecutive mornings have brought along. Yesterday, Irrfan. Today, Rishi Kapoor.


We all knew Rishi Kapoor was battling leukemia for some time, but those who knew him well say he looked so well upon his return from the US, where he had gone for treatment, that they thought he was fine. The body can hide what ails it, you see, till it actually fails it. Much like asymptomatic coronavirus patients. We will talk about coronavirus later, because we must first talk about Rishi Kapoor’s legacy. 

But before we talk about Kapoor's legacy let us also tell you about the legacy of another great man who we lost today. Seems to be the season of losses. 

Legendary former India footballer Chuni Goswami, who captained the 1962 Asian Games gold-winning team, died today due to a cardiac arrest.

pele_043020063927.jpgPele and Chuni Goswami. (Photo: Twitter)

He wasn't just a footballer, but also a cricketer. Goswami played first-class cricket for Bengal. He was 82.

Rishis was 67. The man loved his life and liquor. A month before he died, he actually requested that liquor vends be opened – for some time in the evening.

That was Rishi tweeting asking for liquor (vends to be opened), but his close ones claim, he did have moments of tweeting after having a glass or two of liquor. If he was a drunk uncle in his evenings, we say add adorable to that.

But the actor will be terribly missed for his work off Twitter, the Romance King of the 1980s, Rishi proved, he may have entered Bollywood because of his legendary father Raj Kapoor, but he stayed and prospered on his own merit. Lovingly called Chintu, Kapoor made his first appearance in Mera Naam Joker (1970) as the young Raj Kapoor. That performance was easy to miss but he compelled people to take note of him three years later in Bobby (1973). That’s a note people take even today. So popular was the movie that Indira Gandhi attempted a ‘Bobby trap’ on India during the Emergency. Much like Ramayan and Mahabharat are being used today to ensure people stay at home now, Doordarshan telecast Bobby so that people would stay at home instead of joining the Opposition’s call for protest in 1977.


That must have been a difficult choice to make. There were no options to record your favourite shows and movies then; no Netflix and Amazon to bank upon to watch ‘good stuff’ later.

But yes, there was no death threats like that of corona, waiting outside. You could have missed a movie if you stepped out, but that is nothing compared to the cost of stepping out in current times. That is why everyone’s repeating the three magic words on loop – Stay at Home.

If we step out for anything apart from buying groceries or providing essential services, and violate lockdown rules, we naturally qualify as Covidiots. Our Covidiot(s) Of The Day are, however, people who failed to manage social distancing at the Ernakulam General Hospital in Kerala. There are hotspots and there are hospitals that are all hotspots because Covid-19 patients come and get treated here. Chances of infection, perhaps, are the highest in hospitals. And still, this hospital administration in Kerala showed scant regard for social distancing. Remember, there is no scope for stupidity in battling the virus.

Talking of battling the virus, you know this battle has been especially difficult because the enemy is invisible. But can it be sniffed? Dogs are being trained in the US and the UK to sniff out this coronavirus. Coronavirus can take away from us our ability to smell, and these dogs may just help give it right back to us. That’s because dogs can smell layers upon layers of scents even when we can smell nothing. That's the nose we want.

But how does a dog's nose work? Alexandra Horowitz, a dog-cognition researcher at Columbia University, says it’s like seeing a painting. When you see it from one corner of the room, you appreciate it, and as you walk closer, you see it from a different perspective. If you do not understand paintings or poetry, chill. Not everyone has to appreciate everything. But let’s not digress. Let’s talk about dogs. It is not wrong to say that dogs see through their noses and their eyes are just a back-up. Wondering how?


In an experiment, police tracker dogs were given a scent trail that ran in the opposite direction to a set of footprints on the ground. You guessed it right; dogs followed their noses and ignored the visual cues. If dogs can sniff corona, they could well replace Aarogya Setu to tell us whether we are safe or not.

That’s some good news, though we are still some time way from knowing if this would really work. As they say, all good news is a promise, all bad news living reality. Many have been cursing the year for bringing in all bad news. Some suggest deleting the year, though they can’t say how. But we get their emotion. What they don’t get is that it isn’t about the year.

Years are our creation to make the concept of time more tangible. Are we confusing you? See, we say this in January and that is March to simplify when we party and when we get down to year-end account-closing. But incidents like birth and death do not follow our plans. They happen when they happen. Irrfan didn’t die because it was 2020, nor did Rishi Kapoor. Corona did not strike this year because it liked a leap year, a perfect divisible of four. So, when we turn the calendar to 2021, the corona may or not be there. But deaths will continue. As will births.

Year, our Word Of The Day, pleads ‘not guilty’. The word originates from the Greek word hōra, which meant season. Change of season may not bring in a change of fortunes. Change of season may bring in a change of fortunes. Same with year. The fact is that the two factors are independent of each other.

We know you know this. But we are all so helplessly holed up inside homes that we may be looking for someone to pin the blame on. In this case, it is 2020.

But let’s just calm down because we may be in for some good news on the virus spread. An internal mail sent by Air India to its operations staff and crew hints at a mid-May opening of air travel.

“Dear All concerned,

There is a probability to commence 25 per cent to 30 per cent operations post lock-down in mid-May 2020...”

Now, that is the kind of news we are all waiting for. Being the national carrier, maybe Air India would be the first one to take off. Maybe others will join in too. We do not have clarity on that yet. But this Air India mail does remind us of the great work done by the airline in 1990.

Air India jets performed the biggest evacuation operation in the history to rescue one lakh-plus Indians from Kuwait when Saddam Hussein’s guards took over the city in three days. Akshay Kumar’s Airlift is based on the same rescue operation.

Can’t wait to wish and be wished, bon voyage!

That will be all for today.

We will leave with this as a tribute to Bollywood’s Chintu.

See you tomorrow.

Also read: DailyOh! Why Irrfan 'turned down' Christopher Nolan’s offer, to the tumour he fought


Vandana Vandana @vsinghhere

Author is Assistant Editor, DailyO.

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