Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What Does True Detective Mean to You?

While we wait for the next season of True Detective starring Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden as they spend eight episodes revealing details about the surveillance state, we realized that we needed to do something with our time. So we thought what better way to spend the time waiting for True Detective than to talk about True Detective. So we asked various news organizations, editors of respected publications, noted columnists, popular intellectuals, eminent bollywood personalities and Shobhaa De to tell us what they thought of the eponymous season of the greatest show on television.

We began by asking the dean on Indian columnists, Dr. Jug Suriya, to share his valued opinion with us. We found him living in a large refrigerator carton behind the old Times of India building at the appropriately named Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, muttering inaudible gibberish to himself. He was kind enough to give us a ten page summary of his thoughts about the show. We had to edit out the vivid descriptions of bestiality and a long anti-women rant to be able to publish one coherent paragraph:

One day, as I was sitting on the only throne we peasants are allowed to use, I had a bright idea. Influenced by a popular American television serial, I decided to make a detective show of my own. Called Bee Detective, it would feature the two Bs of my life, Bunny and the ghost of our pet, Brindle. I refer him as a pet, but he was more than that. He was . . . everything. But he died because Bunny couldn’t be bothered to feed him. Having a life threatening sickness is no excuse! Now, I realize that a column in a national newspaper isn’t the best place for passive misogyny and aggressive complaints about your significant other, but since I’ve been doing it for more than three decades, why stop now? Anyway, Bee Detective is a show in which a clever tramp and the ghost of a saintly dog who lived a full life and is still remembered by a certain someone whose heart he broke by dying but came back because the love that dare not speak its name is stronger than the cosmos (suck it Neil deGrasse Tyson), solve various mysteries. Actually, just one mystery. They try to find out what really turned the dog into a ghost. In the season finale it is revealed that the dog was killed because of the harlot’s negligence, and she is arrested and put in jail where she belongs, while the ghost and the tart’s husband walk off into the sunlight, living happily ever after. Check your local listings for time and availability.

Errr, okay then, Jug. Thank you, I think? Moving on!

Now, one couldn’t compile such a list and ignore India’s foremost chronicler of popular culture, Jai Arjun Singh. Since we didn’t have a contact for him or knew where he lived, we just said the name of his favourite movie three times and voila, a few seconds later he appeared outside our office! So we asked him to write us a small note sharing his insights about this gorgeous bite of television:

There are many ways for an artist to deal with the underlying darkness in all our lives. Some creators of art like to beat us in the head with the unseemly underbelly of human nature. Some like to be subtle and use a little humour, like a long scene in which two hapless men drag a dead corpse through the city, being chased by the bad guys, while hijinks ensues. One could even choose the route that True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto has chosen. Slowly revealing a small part of the story. Letting the onion unravel itself. If you’ve read any of his short stories or his novel, they carry the same dark, haunting themes as True Detective. In fact, in a coincidence that some might say feels like something that might happen in an episode of True Detective, the show reminds me of a little known 1980’s hindi movie starring Farooq Sheikh and Amol Palekar. Coincidently, both play detectives in the movie too. Talk about your odd pair! Directed by Vijay Anand, the movie was never released because it was considered too dark for Indian audiences! But I got a chance to see it in 2006 while I was working on a different project. Remind me to tell you the funny story attached to how I got to see the movie! Anyway, in the movie, Shiekh is the married family man forced to partner up with loose canon Palekar. Deepti Naval plays the victim, and her character is killed off in the first scene, a very unusual event for an Indian movie. However, after the supposed interval her twin sister shows up, and there is another strange twist to the end. You should catch the movie before it is lost to the vagaries of time.

Thanks for that, Jai! We can always count on you!

We also asked our good friends at the Caravan to send us something enchanting that would take our breath away! They were gracious enough to oblige, even though they were busy working on their ten thousand word cover story about the gentrification of a small neighbourhood in Kanpur. Since the passage was written in their patented house style, they didn’t feel the need to award anyone the byline for this piece. 

On a cold South Louisiana morning in 1995, Sheriff Tate wasn’t a happy man. He had barely had a wink of sleep last night, thanks to the lovely ladies of the bunny ranch. As any good Christian in Louisiana will tell you, a man who hasn’t had his sleep is waiting to possessed by the devil. The devil. That’s who was on his mind when he reached the scene of the strange event that had been called in earlier. As soon as he reached there, he told his men to back off. This thing, whatever it was, was above his paygrade. He’d need to call in a couple of those fancy boys at the CID.Or a priest at least. Looking at the thing surrounded by those strange objects, he said a prayer. That calmed him a little. Maybe, he thought, he’d even go to church this week.

He regretted calling the big guns in the minute he saw who they had sent. He had a bad feeling about this.

A really bad feeling.

Thanks, guys! Ain’t no party like a Caravan party because no one working at the Caravan ever gets to go home!

How could we ignore popular columnist and Strepsils spokesperson, Swapan Dasgupta? He usually doesn’t speak to small publications like ours, but we sent him a bust of Churchill and he was impressed enough to send us back his notes on True Detective:

These days it’s quite hard to find anything enjoyable to view on the old idiot box. Usually, I just entertain myself by visitng my home library and picking up one of the masters. My favourite is, of course, Dickens. Nothing warms the heart more in the freezing Delhi winter than sipping quality port whilst reading about some strong leaders who were principled enough to refuse greedy orphans extra grub. Stop asking for handouts, tubby. If only Oliver Twist had been able to get his hands on the works of Edmund Burke! He would understand that his creator wrote him into existence so as to subtly hint at the opportunities provided by the free market in Victorian England, and a lesson in how instead of letting government waste all that money in running orphanages, they should just leave these kind of ventures to private philanthropists. Anyway, I digress. What is clear from my limited viewing of True Detective is that neither of the protagonists have been to a college in the league of my alma mater, St. Stephens in Delhi. As I was telling my manservant Gungadin the other day, Mani and I used to solve such mysteries every week while we were in college. Sure, there weren't any murders for us to solve. But we had things just as grisly! I remember we had gone to Shimla once on a college field trip to stay in a sprawling ancient bungalow so that we could see where the wonderful perpetuators of the Raj went to escape from the claustrophobic presence of our non-Anglophile ancestors. So Mani and I set out at two a.m., to find a bottle of Sherry. Also, the whole town was closed but we roamed around the town singing old British war songs. Have the supposedly manly men of True Detective done something dangerous like that? We could’ve been abducted and held for ransom! Or worse, exposed to some ghastly waste of good air who didn’t even know or admire the House of Windsor. Long live the Queen! As they say in merry old Blighty, Tally ho!

Okay, then. Thank you for that, Mr. Dasgupta. Right ho!

This exercise would be incomplete without asking our self appointed media watchdog website, newslaundry, to send in a small contribution. Apparently, Ms. Trehan was still busy signing out of her latest facebook Q & A session and Abhinandan Sekri was occupied talking to his image in the mirror and laughing at his own they probably had one of their minions write and send this in:

There was a huge problem with True Detective that no one seem to have noticed. What was Ms.Lange doing with the Yellow King anyway? I haven’t watched beyond one and a half episodes because the misogyny of the show really made my stomach curl. Why was she a prostitute? Why didn’t she get a real job? Why did she let people treat her this way? What sort of bubblegum feminist lets people get away with having sex with her? Real feminists have ugly hairdos and never even think about sex because they can’t stand the sight of men. Wait, why are you putting me in a straightjacket and dragging me away. Don’t taze me, bro.

Alrighty, then. That was . . . well, a bunch of words stitched together to appear as if it is coherent? Anyway . . .

We also asked famed director and Emraan Hashmi enthusiast Mahesh Bhatt for his thoughts on what we assume has become everyone’s favourite show:

The meandering melancholy of the first episode of True Detective draws you in. The plains of Southern Louisiana are ripe for making anyone feel such existential angst, let alone a character like Detective Rust Cohle, who can barely keep up with his facade of sanity.  The mumbled dialogue adds to the whole experience instead of being a turn off. True Detective also doesn’t shy away from adult scenes, a thing I’ve tried to incorporate in some of my movies with various degrees of success. Sure, some people question my aesthetic, and refer to it as ‘soft porn’ and ‘voyeuristic,’ but I ask you, isn’t all art voyeuristic? Don’t we all carry that little voice inside ourselves? The one which wants us to bear witness to the intimate details of someone else’s life? Doesn’t the oversharing eagerness of the modern world make us all voyeuristic? I just put on screen what everyone wants to see. You need me to show you the unvarnished truth. You can call me names to make yourself feel better, but you know deep inside of you that I’m just the living embodiment of human need. Don’t you ever forget that.

Rrrrright. Thank you, Mahesh! Thank you for the magnificent monologue!

We also asked self-proclaimed culture critic and the loudest voice in every South Bombay party, Shobhaa De to share her opinion with us. Why did we do that? Well, because we probably hate ourselves and like to see us suffer, slowly dying a little everyday, because what else is there to do in this world. Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, Shobhaa De:

Bakwaas! That’s the first word that came into my mind when I watched the pilot episode of True Detective. These hollywood wallahs have so much to learn from the hindi movie industry. I couldn’t even try to watch another episode. Not even if someone paid me to. Maybe the creators of True Detective should learn from the creators of Dabang. Now that’s a movie (or two!) So much masala. So much entertainment. So much paisa wasool. I like my entertainment like I like my columns, without any trace of intelligence. Hey HBO, if I wanted to entertain myself by listening to some fool go on about the purposelessness of life, I’d have been a regular at Shekhar Kapur’s weekly brunch. Also, what was with all the nudity and objectification of women? Hollywood wallahs need to learn that women can be sexy with their clothes on too! I’d pick a Munni gyrating suggestively to lewd music than a naked hooker any day! Now please excuse me I’m late for a soiree at Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi’s house.

Thank you, Mrs. De. You keep doing you!

Now, as we were about to wrap this up and send it to print, an envelope was delivered to our offices by an old man in khaki shorts. He warned us that we need to run the following as it is or we would pay for our sins. When we opened the envelope, we were surprised to receive a note from the people at NitiCentral, even though we had never asked them for a contribution or even told them that we were seeking one. Even we’re not that into self-hatred. But we do want to live. So here is an unsigned contribution from NitiCentral:

HBO is every left-libber’s favourite network. They mostly like it because of the sex and the nudity and the violence, even though left-libbers claim to abhor all those things. They’re hypocrites, basically. Look at this True Detective shit they’re talking about these days. I haven’t seen an episode, but from what I gather it’s about two NGO workers needlessly harassing the king of the yellow people. Apparently, even though the Supreme Court and the SIT have given the yellow king a clean chit, the two NGO fame-seekers want to frame him for murder. Classic left-liberal conspiracy mongering. The needless insult to kind, god fearing people hasn’t gone unnoticed. If these liberals believe in their atheism so strongly, why do they feel the need to defend it from religious critics? Tells you everything, really.

So, whew, we’ve finally come to the end of our journey. If you’re still reading, then you’re much braver than we previously thought.

Now, what did you think of True Detective? Please send your thoughts and opinions to feedback at hbo dot com. Tell them we sent you.


Red said...

This is one of the funniest columns I've read in ages. You got Jai Arjun Singh's voice spot on!

Jenny Dsouza said...

It means alot coz they help us in solving our problems..
i have hire one detective from one the best detective agencies in delhi and i got good results