RRGwrites

On life…and learning

A Clown Is Not Always A Fool…

with 4 comments

satirequoteClown; one of the most notable characters that featured in almost all of Shakespeare’s comedies. Renaissance history tells us that many noble households during those days kept a clown, and Shakespeare’s comedies usually feature at least one. Arguably, this Clown was the wisest of all characters; however, he was often addressed as a ‘Fool’ and was often chided by all and sundry. He’d amuse his masters – the nobility, by making pointed jokes, singing loud songs, being generally funny. And amidst this amusement, he’d speak the hard truth in the sharpest possible manner. This character was master of pretense – playing both naïve and highly intelligent with the same intensity.

I am reminded of this Clown more than ever as today some of us would celebrate the life of Late Jaspal Bhatti; it being his birthday today. Who would forget his satirical takes on the issues of a common man? In 1980’s and ’90s, as a school-going child, I used to wake up in mornings to a five-minute, hard-hitting, ‘Ulta-Pulta’ on Doordarshan. Right since then, this genial Sardar was a big hit amongst both the middle class homes and the intelligentsia.

Often, many of us mistook him for a ‘Fool’, a ‘comedian without an intent’. For those who didn’t know, he was a qualified electrical engineer from the prestigious Punjab Engineering College (PEC, as it is commonly referred to). Even before he became famous on TV for his satirical show ‘Flop Show’, who in Chandigarh and around would have missed his cartoons published in The Tribune?

A master of political satires, he was splendid in his exploits of launching political parties – Hawala Party, Suitcase Party and Recession Party, to name a few. He used to float these parties during general elections in order to bring to the foray the problems faced by the commoners.

His style was warm and comic, loud and understated at the same time. With his acts, he exposed not only corruption around us; he also poked his nose in the bitter truths of our homes, our neighbourhood, and our society. His performances brought smiles to our faces and yet, forced us to introspect. People liked the way he used to highlight the issues; his disarming smile was infectious and struck instant cord with his viewers.

In his death late last year, we lost a master satirist. I am not sure how many would know that he was awarded Padma Bhushan posthumously this Republic Day for his outstanding contribution to arts.

Twelfth Night; or, What You Will, a famous Shakespearean comedy, gives a new high to the character of Clown. In this brilliant play, clown is named Feste; you’d find him making witty puns most of the time; yet he also demonstrates a sharp sense of professionalism and self-worth. In an Act, When Olivia, a central character of the play, orders him out, he says,

“Lady, ‘Cucullus non facit monachum’—that’s as much to say as I wear not motley in my brain.”

All through his life, Jaspal Bhatti, just like Feste, may have chosen to adorn motley – a brightly coloured gown, appearing jovial and unsophisticated to the world. However, that did not inhibit his wit, his intelligence and depth of learning. Just like this Clown, he kept offering to all of us valuable advice cloaked under a layer of foolishness.

Speaking about this ‘Ulta Pulta’ man, a page on his website reads:

“Once upon a time I was a household name. Times have changed and people have sold their houses, moved to new localities or redone their houses. In the process some people might have misplaced my name…”

Dear Ulta Pulta Man, I wish you a very happy birthday. May you rest in laughter & peace. I am sure some of us would never forget you…

_________________________________

Photo-credit: searchquotes.com

* ‘Cucullus non facit monachum’ is a Latin phrase. It means ‘The hood doesn’t make the monk’, i.e. what appears to be true is not always in harmony with what is true. 

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4 Responses

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  1. This also reminds me of the cartoons of R K Laxman’s “Common Man”….but as opposed to Jaspal Bhatti, the “Common Man” was more of a silent witness, confronting daily issues with a kind of wry resignation..be it scheming politicians, bureaucrats or just gossip…the cartoons came everyday in a column called “You said it” in TOI…and were one of my favourites, even though I didn’t understand the deeper meaning always!!

    Rubina Aman

    March 7, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    • Rubina, this is brilliantly put, as always! The “Common Man” was true depiction of daily life and issues of us commoners. Amidst the thick of the things, he were the face of us all.

      RRGwrites

      March 7, 2013 at 7:46 PM

  2. On a slightly different note, quoting Hullad Muradabadi – मसखरा मशहूर है आंसू बहाने के लिए, बांटता है वो हंसी सारे ज़माने के लिए..

    Neha

    March 8, 2013 at 6:52 PM


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