Shorts In The Dark
My advice to Saif-Kareena about young Taimur Ali Khan
Please put Taimur in school right away. You’ve inadvertently killed his film career.
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When I first heard that Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor had named their son Taimur, I felt jealous. The reason being that when I was born my parents didn’t name me anything for a couple of years. I had to settle for Burp until they settled on Palash. This is why I’m always envious of people who start their lives with proper nomenclature. It lends concreteness to your existence. Otherwise, you’re just another cute ball of flatulence.
As time went by, I started school in Allahabad. I had a name by now but it wasn’t a familiar name in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. It would be many years later, when I had a Bengali girlfriend, that I realised that Polash was quite common in Calcutta. In Allahabad, no one could pronounce it and so it was corrupted to Kailash and Kailash I remained for the next sixteen years. But Taimur, he doesn’t have to wait. He’s Taimur from day one.
Indian names mean something. It always fascinates westerners who, over the centuries, have progressed from Tom, Dick and Harry to James, William and John. According to the American site Momjunction.com, "Every year, there’s a new trend in baby names based on the happenings in the entertainment sector or pop culture, including movies, television, fashion, books and the lives of celebrities."
Not sure if that’s the case here. If it were so, millions of Indians would have named their sons Taimur. That hasn’t happened. Though you might say that Taimur’s is an exceptional case. What about Amitabh? Or Shahrukh? It seems to me that there aren’t as many of these as there should be, considering Bachchan and Khan are superstars. Cricketers are a different matter. Rahul, Sachin, Sunil and Kapil had a good run. Mahendra didn’t take off. Virat? Only time will tell.
It seems to me that when it comes to names, unlike America, Indians chart their own path. "Isha" has been in vogue for a while now, even though there are no famous celebrities called "Isha".
Different parts of the country have their own name trends, but it’s true that names get old-fashioned. Every generation adds new ones to the pool. Not many name their daughters Nirmala or Pramila or Anila. Vikas was a name for post-Independence India; the child, like the nation, would progress in five-year-plans.
People all over the world draw names from religious texts. This is an evergreen source—these names are like classic five-pocket Levi’s; you can’t go too wrong. More interesting are names that are influenced by ideological trends. When communism took root in India, particularly some southern states, we had a surfeit of Lenins and Stalins but, surprisingly, Marx never really caught on for some reason.
In 1988, Rupa released a seminal book, a bestseller on the scale of Linda Goodman’s Star Signs. Authored by Vimla Patil, The Book of Indian Names was a game-changer, listing more than 4,000 names across communities. This remained the bible for middle class India for decades to come.
Celebrities have been known to name their children after the places they were conceived in. The Beckhams had Brooklyn who was conceived in Brooklyn. This is tricky because there is no scientific way of ascertaining that Brooklyn was actually conceived in Brooklyn. Country of birth—now that’s a different matter. Jonty Rhodes named his daughter India since she was born in Bombay. Brian Lara’s daughter was called Sydney, not because she was born there but because Lara scored his first century at the SCG.
Naming children after the place of conception in is not an Indian thing. We don’t have boys called Mussoorie Malhotra or girls called Shimla Sareen or Ooty Mathew.Please put Taimur in school right away. You’ve inadvertently killed his film career. [Photo: Indiatoday.in]
Parents should exercise caution when naming their children. Johnny Cash famously sang about a father giving a girl’s name to a boy: "Well, he must o' thought that is quite a joke/ And it got a lot of laughs from a' lots of folk/ It seems I had to fight my whole life through/ Some gal would giggle and I'd get red/ And some guy'd laugh and I'd bust his head/ I tell ya, life ain't easy for a boy named 'Sue'".
My parents not only delayed naming me, they also delayed sending me to school by a couple of years. A worried neighbour told my mother: ‘This means when he grows up and starts working, he will lose two years of provident fund.
This is something Saif and Kareena should think about too. The law of predictability states that Taimur will become an actor. But try as I might, I cannot picture opening credits that say: "Introducing Taimur Ali Khan". I get a fit of giggles when I think of it. Taimur Ali Khan in and as "Balwant". No.
Which means Taimur will have to do a job like the rest of us. He’ll have to work hard for a living. Here’s my advice for the proud parents. Please put Taimur in school right away. You’ve inadvertently killed his film career. Now please don’t kill his provident fund.