Sunday, July 26, 2009

To tell you the truth

by Indrajit Hazra.

Let me be honestly brutal. The only way I can negotiate with this world without majorly losing out on what it has to offer is by dropping a little lie here and mixing a bit of facts with fiction there. I just have to ensure that I’m not branded a liar.

But what if I’m being told to be in a situation where lying is no longer an option? What if everything I say are fact-checked and then played back to me for my reaction? What if I am made to undergo a psychophysiological detection of deception (PDD) examination — what in my grandma’s generation was known as a polygraph test?

Well, for starters, I just won’t agree to undergo the test, would I? But that refusal itself is bound to send out a message that will travel faster than it takes a text message to reach from a Vasant Vihar mobile to a mobile in Vasant Kunj. Like a man running away from the cops, I will be considered ‘guilty’ even before it’s established that I have been fibbing. So the only way out is to hone one’s lying skills.

Which is why Yudhisthirs petitioning the Delhi High Court and howling against the prime time game show Sach Ka Saamna should chill. Participants on the programme are not Guantanamo Bay orange-suited residents who have been pumped with temazepam and forced to listen to Amitabh Bachchan reading Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s poetry. These are people who, lusting after filthy lucre (a perfectly reasonable human endeavour), agree to come and sit on the hot seat after a polygraph test to answer questions such as ‘Did you, after your marriage, sleep with your driver while returning from a Gurgaon party that involved throwing in car keys in a big salad bowl?’

As you can gather by the line of that question — and I’m only exaggerating a bit — Sach Ka Saamna’s big ticket questions are overwhelmingly family-wrecking in nature. Which brings us to the real issue that’s made people howl against the show “promoting obscenity” and — here we go again — “propagating values against Indian culture”.
Telling the truth is not an Indian tradition. Lies have thrived among humans simply because in the long run they work. The scary bit is being caught lying, and worse, being caught lying in public. Imagine a Congress MP being asked by Sach Ka Saamna host Rajeev Khandelwal the jackpot Rs 1 crore question: “Would you trade your mother for Soniaji?” Even being truthful here would be very tricky.