OPINION | Smitten by Tollywood Actors, Mamata Doesn't Have Much to Offer Than Moonmoon's 'Sen-sibility'
Moon Moon Sen, the Trinamool Congress candidate, said she 'hadn't heard' sounds of violence in Asansol because she had woken up late.
Mamata Banerjee speaks with TMC candidate from Asansol seat Moonmoon Sen during an election rally for Lok Sabha polls, in Asansol, Friday, April 26, 2019. (PTI Photo)
My maternal grandmother, a paragon of beauty and aesthetics in large, unwieldy Kayastha joint family was often compared to the legendary Tollywood actress, the deceased Suchitra Sen. They shared an unlikely alikeness, to be honest. However, the family joke was that anyone in our generation who smoked, wore short skirts, flashed too much skin and were ever caught dead snogging a man were branded ‘Moonmoon Sen’.
I honestly had no idea who she was, except that she supposedly had been my mother’s classmate in our alma mater, Loreto House, and I think rumor had it that she was a dud in academics and finally after flunking, landed in a younger aunt’s class, in the same school.
My introduction to the actor’s histrionics I think every Bengali is accustomed to – from having heard it being impersonated on radio chat shows to comedians on stage during Durga Puja evening pada (neighborhood) functions, impersonating her, biting their lower lip, suggestively, or, during an act of mimicry, dropping off their imaginary pallu, suggestively, moaning the phrase, ‘issh,’ the way it was supposed to sound, before Bhansali usurped the way generations of Bengali youngsters had attributed sounding like a purring sex kitten to the only daughter of the one and only Bengali superstar – Suchitra Sen.
The daughter's back then bold image of herself in a skimpy two piece bikini, sitting with her knees demurely crossed, remains the most searched for picture, on a magazine cover. Think it was Stardust. Think it was the time we were fantasizing about Sen again.
The time she was said to be cuddling up with Imran Khan – a demi god for girls who were raised prudishly and who had to make a critical choice – Ravi Shastri or Khan.
I clearly wasn’t patriotic enough, as you may have guessed by now!
If you think I just fabricated the part about Khan and Sen, just four days ago, Sen herself was recorded on news channels expressing sheer disgust over the issue of nationalism and Pakistan being played up during the ongoing election campaign.
As Trinamool Congress candidate from Asansol, Sen, vehemently declared, if needed, she would again talk to her old ‘friend’ Imran Khan, the Pakistan prime minister. She however declined to speak to Khan on bilateral issues, saying with ‘several astute politicians’ in the country, she would never be given the responsibility. “Imran is a friend of mine. We are not involved in any way. But the kind of divisive politics that is going on (over nationalism with reference to Pakistan) is very dangerous,” she’s quoted as saying.
Is the PM listening? Has anyone fathomed the kind of impact Sen would have on bilateral relations between our two nations? Or on women of both countries?
No, I don’t mean sexually emancipating us?
Sample this interview published in Stardust magazine.
“A married woman who goes around humping from one bed to another, changing men as fast as she gets in and out of clothes, is not emancipated.
Yes, it could in a twisted, complexed way, be a sexual liberation for her, from which she may be releasing many childhood hang ups, or trying to assert herself as a woman in a very frivolous manner.
She may think that if I’m accepted by twenty men, I’m equal to them. Or that it makes me a very desirable woman. But that has got nothing to do with emancipation.
Again, wearing skimpy swim-suits and posing for pictures the way I do or talking mindlessly without thinking what I’m saying, passing silly statements all because I’m in a frivolous mood is not being liberated either. So if you think that I’m the most liberated woman in this industry only because you’ve read about my various affairs or have seen me daring and baring on screen and magazine covers.
I’m sorry you’re on the wrong track. Yes, I’m actually saying what you do not want to hear, and that is, that I haven’t had an affair after my marriage to Habi. And I don’t want to have one either. I do not deny the possibility of being terribly attracted to a man, or that my husband could be attracted to another woman.
But I only hope that we can keep these attractions in their place and do not break up everything else in the process. It’s very important to try and control relationships and realise where your priorities lie. My top priorities are husband and children today.”
Now if only Sen would demonstrate the same ‘sensibility’ (sorry poor pun) in speaking on prevalent and pertinent political issues, we may as well have granted her the Lifetime Achievement award for being the most badass, and yet, the most ‘sanskari’, ‘nyaka chandi,’ epithet.
A true qualification for her being chosen as the ruling party, TMC’s candidate, pitted against BJP’s Babul Supriyo. As the State woke up to news of gory clashes in Sen’s constituency, and the vehicle of BJP candidate and Union Minister Babul Supriyo too was vandalised outside a polling station in Barabani when a fight erupted between workers of the BJP and the state's ruling Trinamool Congress, Sen was caught snoring.
I said snoring.
And, before you try and visualise Sen, in your naughty heads, here’s what the yesteryear actor said when asked about the violence during the fourth round of voting today for the national election. “I hadn't heard anything” because she had woken up late. “They gave me my bed tea very late so I woke up very late. What can I say? I really don’t know!”
Is this for real?
Dubbed the “giant-killer” in the last election, when Sen defeated a nine-time Left lawmaker in Bankura, are we, the people of West Bengal, to blame the TMC for their superficial, senseless, star struck choice in Sen or are we left with barely any choice, then – given that the ‘honourable’ chief minister of the state is clearly smitten with Tollywood stars – Dev, Mimi Chakraborty, Nusrat Jahan, Satabdi Ray, and, Sen, possibly to prove that she wields the kind of muscle power that sees her shaking a leg with ‘Saruk’...ala, SRK, who is the State anointed divine demi god of a brand ambassador for a community that produced Netaji, Tagore, Jagadish Chandra Bose, amongst others.
But, just when your culturally superior Bong genes are gone bheja fry, let me bring back your much needed mojo, with Sen’s statement, seeti blowing, best one liner, from last season. ‘It’s very difficult to look glamorous in summer, but I’ll see what I can do.’
Just make sure Sen is served in bed.
(Sreemoyee Piu Kundu is a noted columnist on gender and sexuality. She lives between Delhi and Kolkata and is the author of five novels. Views expressed are personal.)
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