Mystery of the Double B
Soundtrack: Who Can It Be Now? by Men At Work
The potato grafting could be done and so it was — under such secrecy that even the rotweillers from the Hindi television channels usually busy carrying sting operations on homosexual college teachers or college girl doubling as call girls didn’t hear a word of it.
Only six people knew about Inder’s face being transformed into that of an older-looking Amitabh Bachchan’s, complete with white beard and orange hair. Inder and Jamshi knew, as did the two (ex?) IAS officers M. Morarji and C. Charan, and the farmer who serendipitiously banged into Jamshi-Inder’s car and happened to be one of the five growers of Bt potato in India, Satyen Dev also known as Satyen Mohan – whose new Nano mysteriously went up in flames two days after the accident. And Inder’s buddy Amar Singh.
[Satyen Dev/Mohan’s new Nano going up in flames]
Amar had been fidgeting ever since he had been thrown out of the party he had been a founder of. So when he saw the transformation in his friend, he realised that this was his moment for payback.
“Inder, come with me to Mumbai tomorrow,” he had said even as Inder was lying down in the secret ‘hospital’ bed.
“Mumbai? Why? I have to talk to Rick. He’s been wondering all these days what’s happened to me. The travel agency will be up and running next month and he hasn’t seen me since I went to Bangkok.”
“Arrey, listen to me. This will not only take care of the travel firm but also what we had planned…”
“Oh, no, no! I’m not doing any meat import any more. It’s too bloody dangerous as you may see!” Inder had sat up, but as soon as Amar started to talk again he didn’t interrupt. The next day, after being discharged from the secret ‘hospital’ somewhere behind an Airtel store in New Friends’ Colony, he was on board a plane hurtling its way towards Mumbai airport.
The penny dropped the moment he had got down from the hired car with Amar at the Delhi terminal. Everyone was looking at him with deference, with a difference. A few foreigners even. He looked like Amitabh Bachchan.
“He’s much shorter than I thought he would be,” said a fat salwar-kurta-clad lady to his fatter salwar-kurta-clad companion.
“And older,” the other woman added.
The same kind of reception was repeated at Mumbai airport, a senior airport authority official even ensuring that he got a tall glass of cold water the moment he passed the iron railing.
And then, not quite figuring what was happening with Amar constantly talking about how Sania Mirza’s scheduled marriage to Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik (yet to be announced to the media as Mirza was still feeling a bit bloated) wouldn’t last a year, the car stopped the mouth of a giant bridge overlooking the sea. There were crowds congregrated all around, but as soon as Inder and Amar started walking, they parted as if a comb was drawing two flaps of hair space away on both sides to reveal a strong, clean, straight line.
“Ashok-ji, how are you?” Amar exclaimed to a man wearing dark glasses and could, from certain angles, pass off as a deadringer for Dawood Ibrahim.
The Maharashtra Chief Minister looked up, furrowed his brow and was about to move away when his eyes caught the figure behind Amar. Inder was wearing a jacket that covered his still light pink flesh round his throat and long sleeves that covered his arms barring his heavily ringed fingers.
“Bachchan-ji, please come, please come,” Chavan spouted as if striking oil. “Thank you so much for coming.”
Inder pitched his voice an octave low and said that he was happy to be here and that the Worli Sea Link was going to be a boon for the people of this great city. It sounded fake so everyone was doubly pleased, especially the armada of media people (no journalist was covering the event) who thrust microphones and cellphones out the way Bipasha Basu, well, never mind.
Far away, Jamshi Narimanpointwalla, original girl from Bombay was witnessing a strange natural phenomenon in her office: a fight between a customer and one of her showroom colleagues over the worth of India’s freedom fighters. Everything was going well with the two, the latter showing the former the extra space in a new model and explaining how the retractable sideview mirrors could be controlled by the press of a button. Even the small difference over whether the door linings should have a colour exactly matching the body of the car was resolved (“Sir, it’s a complimentary colour that enhances the 3D effect of the doors when they’re opened.”).
Then, while going through the special payment scheme, the customer noticed the newspaper next to them on the table. It was folded to a page showing a government advertisement marking Martyrs’ Day. Picking up the paper cursorily, the customer said, “Look at these ! I mean Bhagat Singh was a youngster who we venerate as India’s most famous freedom fighter. But what was he? Just a youngster with nothing else on his hands playing ‘terrorist’. I mean he didn’t even get hanged for killing the person he had targeted.”
Jamshi’s colleague, a cut-Surd with a fiercely shrill voice, looked up.
“What did you say, sir?”
“That Bhagat Singh and all these freedom fighterwallas were incompetent boys. He was supposed to kill the police chief who had launched a fierce lathi-charge in Lahore. And who did Bhagat Singh kill? Some other white guy who had nothing to do with the police chief. Those Bengali freedom fighters were even worse, killing women and children instead of their intended targets.”
A chair screeched back against the showroom floor and as Jamshi chewed on her nails, no longer with boredom, she heard her colleague shriek, “I heard you the first time, you bastard! Get out you filthy nation-hater. You should be…”
Three people, including the man’s boss, rushed out of the adjoining glass cubicle and chaperoned the freedom-fighter mocking potential customer out.
Back in Mumbai, Amar was exceptionally pleased with himself so decided to take Inder and himself to Zenzi bar, that dim, cool-looking place visited by leggy ladies and gaunt gents, a place that may have once been a stable full of horses but now had a long, narrow bar with cocaine-users taking it easy.
After they had left the Worli Sea Link inauguration ceremony, unknown to both Amar and Inder, Amitabh Bachchan had walked in, said hello to Ashok Chavan who, this time turned, dropped a jaw and told his flunkeys that “This was bad! Bad! He’s embarrassing us and the party now. Take care of it.”
No words were exchanged between the real Amitabh Bachchan and Ashok Chavan. Once Chavan’s flunkeys got the order to give the returning-for-publicity Amitabh, they started telling the gathered media people (there weren’t any journalists around) about how Mr Bachchan had gatecrashed the event as he hadn’t been invited and how now as a brand ambassador to “Narendra Modi’s evil state”, with Modi back in the picture because of the Special Investigative Team investigations in his role during the 2002 Gujarat riots, Big B wanted to reposition himself.
Amitabh was a bit surprised to be snubbed by Chavan. But he figured that it was because he had come after the ceremony and he shouldn’t make too much of the incident.
Not far away at the Zenji bar, Inder had a stiff expensive whisky and realised that Rick and his travel agency may have just got a brand ambassador to start things off. India’s top brand ambassador at that.