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The rise of democratised form of information and media has given rise to the ‘expert’ in India’s twenty-four-hour news channels. There is airtime to be filled, and there are always people like Shobhaa De and Chetan Bhagat who step up to the plate. In this article, we look at some of the funnier moments involving these two.

They say a society gets the intellectuals it deserves. In India, with the rise of twenty-four-hour news as entertainment, there has been an unprecedented rise of the ‘expert’, the armchair critic who has cast off his armchair and is now trolling the television screens of the country, spouting off an opinion or a ‘point of view’ on just about any topic on the planet.

How to identify an expert:

  • They will have an opinion about everything. From fashion to art to politics to science, you could ask them any question and they will have an answer.
  • They are usually famous for being famous; after a certain point, no one really knows why they’re on a panel and why their opinions matter.
  • They are usually popular fiction writers who want to use their fame to ‘change society’.

Now, in the current Indian climate, we have two such experts: Shobhaa De and Chetan Bhagat. The rest of this article is just going to be a list of things they said. We will leave the analysing to your discerning minds.

First, a few gems from Shobhaa De’s bottomless pit of faux pas

  • When Deepika Padukone was named Maxim Sexiest Woman on Earth (which is an admittedly hyperbolic title, if you ask us), Shobhaa had this to say: ‘Deepika P is the sexiest woman on Earth? Are you kidding me? She would not win a Miss Dombivali contest. I mean, look at her closely.’ No, you look at her closely, Ms De. We agree she may not be the sexiest woman on Earth, but you clearly think too highly of Dombivali.
  • Speaking up on the contentious Mumbai-Maharashtra issue, she said, ‘Maharashtra and Mumbai? Why not? Mumbai has always considered itself an independent entity anyway.’ Er, not sure which Mumbai she was referring to, but the city has always considered itself an integral part of Maharashtra, the state to which it is the capital. Raj Thackeray, in response, said, ‘It’s not as easy as getting a divorce.’ Ah. Touche.
  • Shobhaa De and Sonam Kapoor have often locked horns over Twitter. Sample this. Reviewing her movie, ‘I hate Luv Stories’, Shobhaa Dee signed off a scathing review with the line, ‘I hate dumb stories.’ To which Sonam Kapoor came back with an equally witty and oh-so-subtle: ‘Guys, please ignore Shobhaa De. She is a fossil and going through menopause.’ Way to insult both fossils and menopausal women in the same sentence, Sonam.

And now for some gems from Chetan Bhagat, he of the ‘I write to change society’ fame

  • During the ‘award vapasi’ movement of last year when several Sahitya Akademi award winning writers returned their awards as protest, Bhagat tweeted: ‘Oh, so am I also supposed to return my Sahitya Akademi award? Oh wait, haven’t got it yet.’ To which a man responded: ‘If you get a Sahitya Akademi award I will return my ration card in protest.’
  • When Pakistan lost to India in the recently concluded Cricket World T20 tournament, Bhagat took to twitter to say this: ‘See Pakistan if your forefathers hadn’t insisted on partition, you wouldn’t have to see this day. Good Night Pak. Happens. Sorry.’ The reply from a Pakistani Twitter user was so great that nothing needs to be added. ‘If our forefathers hadn’t asked for partition,’ she said, ‘we would have had to live in a country with you. Which is unacceptable. Thanks.’ We love how she ended with ‘thanks’.
  • And to top it all, combining arrogance, blitheness and shameless ignorance all into one tweet, again on the occasion of the award-returning controversy of a few months ago, Chetan Bhagat said, ‘What do historians do? I am genuinely curious. This happened. Then this happened. Then this. Okay, work done for the day.’ Do we even need to tell you what kind of backlash that received?

It is to the great misfortune of India that we have to suffer such experts, who not only ram their opinions down our throats, but stay wedded to every controversy that raises its head just to be in the news.

The upside to all this? At least they’re entertaining.

Jenn Patrick

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