A disease has gripped the entire nation. Never has been there such an epidemic in the country. One that would tame many and perhaps it has no cure. No it isn’t the fantastic Swine flu, or even the infamous Plague. The most ridiculously amazing of them all, Page 3 syndrome is here.
No one knows how it crept in. All that can be said is that the old uncle next door opened the third page of his morning daily to find it filled with news seen never before. It astounded him to see photos of a silver-spoon-at-birth second generation entrepreneur dressed in his best with a young maiden , perhaps his wife, or maybe not, smiling away to glory. Uncle scratched his head in a puzzled manner wondering whether by mistake he was reading his wife’s entertainment magazine. But surely, the name of the newspaper was the same as it had been since the past years that he had been reading it. Uncle tried putting together the logic of devoting an entire page in the print media to putting up photos of children of rich fathers partying or of a film star changing the shade of her nail polish.
When one evening he recounted his bizarre experience to me, I shook my head sadly and told him that he wasn’t the only one in such a fix. People all over the country were waking up each morning with the third page of their favorite newspaper filled with stuff they wouldn’t usually care for at all.
The release of the iconic movie ‘Page 3’ starring Konkana Sen Sharma gave the common man a new glimpse of stardom. Well, on the brighter side it also showcased the dark sides of that glamorous life celebrities and businessman lead. Every man says that he cares a penny for what’s published on Page 3, but every morning he looks up to Page 3 wishing he led a life like that.
Months after that strange morning, Uncle told me another hilarious incident. One of his office colleagues was at a function littered with the paparazzi. And as it happens, the lad cared a tad for what it took but he wanted his million dollar smile in the next day’s newspaper. He tried to sidle close to a well known businessman’s wife in the hope that the photographer clicking pictures of her pretty face may include him in the snap.
Fifteen minutes later he was regretting that he went just too close as he ended up spilling his drink on the lady’s sparkling dress. He regretted it because everyone watching laughed at him as if watching a jester at work. He regretted being in such an embarrassing situation that a couple of security guards had to be called to escort him out.
Uncle laughed as he finished telling his tale. Page 3 eats into people’s minds, taking the place of news items which
speak of the distressing situations people face in the country. An entire page for a person who did no more than spent money at a pub makes up a case for argument that even a small child could easily counter.
We live in a country with two different countries in itself. One is the real India consisting of the small towns and villages engrossed in earning their daily wages. Our rulers turn to them once in five years during the elections. Apart from that, they lay forgotten. The other India is the India of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Calcutta, Chennai, Pune and many cities such. This India is scattered with hypocrites who know that their country needs a lot but will worship actors, celebrities and money makers.
From this country has come the Page 3 syndrome. A disease which threatens to devastate the entire population if it isn’t brought under check soon. We will surely be a nation which accepts the truth when my neighbor wakes up to a newspaper with its ‘Page 3’ missing.
The author is Executive Editor, Intellectual Post