Chapter 1: The disliking
Yes, you heard it right! Santa and Banta are not fond of Pappu – our Rahul baba- at all.
In a very emotional interview, in front of Pappu’s house at 10, Janpath, New Delhi where the duo is doing Dharna without taking any food or water for last 3 days, Santa said, “Don’t take me wrong, I don’t despise Rahul baba. In fact, I like the innocence on his face, the dimples on his cheek stole our hearts when we first saw him on television”.
It was a hot day in Delhi. Looking at Santa’s teary eyes, Banta got agitated and interrupted, “Do you think we have a choice? He is a man born with a silver spoon in his lips, and iPhone in his right hand. Everything comes easy to him, while we Aam junta has to strive hard to earn onion for dinner and the name and the respect for our family”.
Santa was looking at Banta with a certain kind of content and pride on his face. He handed me over pamphlets, and asked me simply, “Tell me what do you think of this?”
I look at it and half smiled. Disgusted, Banta stares at me, and hands over a new pamphlet, “Tell me now what you think?” I was not able to smile at all.
Chapter 2: Disliking turns into hatred
At last, Banta lost his temper and thundered, “Don’t you see they have snatched away our identity, our brand, our existence. Those rich fuckers!”
Santa, the elder partner, snapped back, “Banta, stop this, I’ve told you not to use obscene words.” He looked at me and continued, “Please visit our Facebook page sometime. We have only 400k followers while Pappu and Alia have close to two million. Look at the kind of post, we are doing. It shames me. You’ll know what we are going through. Banta is no more the guy he used to be, his name comes with titillating content. What can we do we don’t get good jokes? Our brand is getting lost.We are ruined.”
He handed me two more additional pamphlets. It had same jokes word-by-word like last two – except two words, two names. Pappu was replaced with Santa and Alia was replaced with Banta.
Chapter 3: The business of the jokes
Santa and Banta were looking at me with eyes filled with expectation. Santa, in the tone of a savvy businessman, continued, “With the rise of Pappu and Alia, joke writers have started writing jokes on Pappu and Alia. All the jokes that Santa Banta franchise would have got 10 years back are now going to Pappu”, Banta fumed, “Pappu the rich kid. The kid born with iPhone in one hand.”
Santa took the cue that I was hooked and he kept going on, “You see it has always been a platform or marketplace. It’s like Airbnb, Uber, and Facebook. None of these companies own content or inventory. Users join and they create content or inventory and that’s how the platform grows. But then you have copycats!”
Banta added as if he too enjoyed this kind of conversation, “10 years back we had all the joke makers on our platform, now we have none. We get only those cheap teenagers who keep giggling on so-called ‘nonveg’ jokes.”
Santa has gone to the court also. But the law, even though blind, responds to the cha-ching of coins. He added challenging someone of Pappu’s stature on the legal ground was not possible in this country even when they were not in power.
Chapter 4: The resolution – Kejru has the solution
After hours of brainstorming sessions, and months of reflection, he got inspiration from the rise of his other competitor, Arvind Kejriwal. “Kejru has potential, and one day can rule our industry. In no time, you’ll see he will beat Pappu in getting all the jokes on him”, Santa gasped in awe.
Banta thundered, “I’m going to challenge the royal-born in front of public. The public will do justice. Do the name calling like Kejru. Do Dharna. Ask for dirty clothes, don it when the public is not watching. Get a makeup that makes you look sick. Get a photo done and post it on the Facebook, twitter, and Instagram.”
At the same time, Santa glanced furtively, and chuckled, “You know what, I’m sure Pappu is trying to take revenge against us minority Sikh for his grand mother’s assassination. He is trying to take away the identity of us Sikhs by attacking the cultural leaders of the Sikhs.”