Monday, June 29, 2009

MOONWALKING AMONG THE STARS


In the hit Hindi film, Chaalbaaz, there’s a scene where the heroine, Sridevi, does a few smooth, rubber-necked dance steps. And the hero, Rajnikanth, who plays a taxi-driver, comments, “Arrey, Michaeli Jacksoni lagti hai (You look like a female Michael Jackson)”.

That was the magic of MJ. Millions of people, across genders, across nations, across class or colour or creed, many who had never before or since shown any inclination for ‘English muzik’ knew him, knew his dance moves, knew his status as the ‘King of Pop’. Like my ‘bai’ (the lady who looks after my children and home). She has never heard of Madonna, or the Beatles, or Presley. She does not know English. But she has heard about MJ.

When we were schoolgirls, in the long ago 1980s, whenever we wore jeans in our Bengali backwater-suburb of Barrackpore, we risked being eve-teased by the local parar dadas (neighbourhood rowdies), who would catcall, “Oi jachchhe Michael Jackson sheje (There she goes, dressed as Michael Jackson)”. Jackson’s post-plastic-surgery androgynous looks and high-pitched signature ‘Aooww’ shriek had them confused about his gender. But they identified him with all that was posh and westernized. He was their reference point for American popular culture.

The first MJ-album that I saw was BAD, when Doordarshan aired the Grammy nominees for that particular year. I saw the THRILLER video long after 1982. The never-seen-before dance moves blew my mind, and I liked the foot-tapping music, although, not being too tuned to American accents, I could not make out much of the lyrics. It didn’t matter, actually. The dance, for me, made up for all that.

Over the years, as the newspapers and videos showcased the facial changes and the court cases and the weird lifestyle, I wondered. Why a man, who could make millions feel so happy just by performing his moves and music, would obviously be so unhappy about his self-image as to keep on attempting to obliterate and recreate his own face? Why a man who had the world at his feet since he was a kid, refuse resolutely to grow up? Why a man who sang ‘Heal the world’ continue to exhibit bizarre behaviour in public and private? Why a man who was so confident on stage, be so bewildered and confused off it?

In an interview with Martin Bashir, MJ had said, “All I know of people is the applause.” Just goes to reveal how completely lonely and cut off from reality he was. For him, the stage was the reality. And now, the show is over. The eulogies have been written, the net has crashed, fans have mourned, the songs are being re-played, the mystery of the debts and death is being discussed and debated. But the wide-eyed, lost-misunderstood, tragic-pathetic, vain-pained, talented-tormented Peter Pan has forever left his Neverland to go and moonwalk among the stars.

28 comments:

Nona said...

He did have an interesting life(style)!

Google thought there was a co-ordinated attack because of the searches for MJ!

lopamudra said...

You are so right! He transcended all barriers.His death was a total shocker.He craved to have a normal life since his childhood.It goes to show the COST of superstardom can be your LIFE.

Aparna said...

This is one of the best posts I have read on MJ till now. Lady, you have a way with words.

I grew up in the '80s and MJ was an icon. I remember watching the Grammys on Doordarshan. MJ blew our minds with his moves and dance was never the same again.

His bizarre life perhaps alienated a lot of his fans like me.But to know he died so suddenly was shocking. I felt I lost a part of my adolescence.

Pinku said...

beautiful heartfelt post.

U are so right whenevr i saw pics of him off-stage he looked like a lost soul.

Poor boy!!

tousands must have earned and lived in leisure thanks to brand MJ while the man himself was never at peace.

Hope he finds it now.

Read an article by his nurse who says all he wanted to do was sleep peacefully.

Jyothi said...

You know Sucharita, when I read your posts, I feel, if I had written this ,I would certainly say the same things. But the WAY you use your words...maaaan....too good.

I hope MJ finds peace(finally) moon walking among the stars.

Pradip Biswas said...

Gaan Phuralo Jalsa Ghare
Aandhar Ghare thekona.
For him the jalsaghar the stage was the life and everything else was dead cold dark. He never wanted to stay anywhere without creation. But not always so and then he wanted to run away from it. Perhaps He was the lonely soul who could have found the eternal ectassy only in meditation.

sujata said...

MJ was an icon even to the small kids of today, who have not seen many of his videos. The day the news came on about his death, my 6 yr old son said "mamma the man who wore his undies over his pants and danced has died" In response to that my husband says,"He wore it that way because he was a super hero!! Havent you watched superman and phantom? All superheroes wear the undies over the pants!!" I guess my husband was the most affected in our family, I really am not a fan, never could get his lyrics apart from a few songs..ABBA is more my kind.

Swaram said...

MJ was n is a super hero. Its a total shock that he is gone. I too can't understand all those controversies around him. I mean he had everything from what it seemed to be. Y did he make such a mess of it then :(

Swaram said...

What is it with the news now that he faked his death?
Got to read it on here http://ibnlive.in.com/news/michael-jackson-faked-his-death-report/96146-8-18.html

magiceye said...

lovely tribute!
may his soul perform in the heavens!

Sumandebray said...

It is a very well written tribute to MJ. Yes he did introduce us to the world of POP Music. And it was the Grammy that you mentioned that I first had a glimpse of that man performing. He inspired millions of Indians if not directly but through Prabhu Deva and Mithun da and Govinda.
But he was also fighting to find a place for himself in a society which could have never imagined a Barak Obama while he was growing up.

Lilly said...

Oh its sad everything coming out about him in the media now. All these people tried to help him but he pushed them away and was in denail about his drug problems. So sad.

Babli said...

Thats true Sucharita that Australia is a very beautiful country and the place where I live is absolutely mind-blowing.
Nice post.I am a big fan of Michael Jackson and I was shattered hearing about his sudden tragic death.He was an amazing and outstanding performer.There will be nobody who can become like Michael Jackson as he was unique and was lovable.My tribute to Michael Jackson.

Priya said...

"M" of the word "Music " is gone and forever...and your writing truly depicts, how a person surrounded by millions when on stage, is deserted and lost in the confines of his personal realm.

theselfloveproject said...

great tribute...

Double-Dolphin said...

Great tribute!

Little Girl Lost said...

LOL!!!
Oi jachchhe Michael Jackson sheje :D

i loved this post. i have never been an MJ fan, but as you say, he never failed to shock.

you grew up in barrakpore? i spent a lot of time in barrakpore this summer... in a neighbourhood called green park. :) its a very special place for me... ( and it was a memorable experience clambering onto the Shantipur express at rush hour )
:)

Pesto Sauce said...

He was THE best...the benchmark for both music and dance

Santanu Sinha Chaudhuri said...

Like many in my generation, I might say that I was born a bit too early in the day to fall in love with MJ. I never took an interest in the phenomenon called Michael Jackson and I haven't been among the multitude who felt lost, and cried after he was gone.

Thanks, Sucharita, for this wonderfully balanced tribute. I am beginning to understand why people are crying for him. And I am beginning to feel sorry for this genius who couldn't handle himself at all.

nsiyer said...

May MJ's soul rest in peace.
Your thoughts are far reaching and compelling. I will delve into it and write a post.

SGD said...

A very well written tribute...
I never was an MJ fan...was rather apalled by his bizzare lifestyle and court cases...
but an immensely talented man he was indeed....and his sudden death has shocked the world. And made him more larger-than-life....

Sucharita Sarkar said...

@ Nona,
Why only Google, all media houses went into MJ-overdrive!

@Lopa,
That makes his success/failures all the more poignant.

@Aparna,
I, too, was blown away by his dancing! More than his singing, actually.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

@ Pinku and Jyothi and Pradipda,
Death was a release for him, it seems, out of disease, debt and disillusion.

@ Sujata,
What a sweet story. He was a superman in his impact on millions.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

@Swaram, Suman, Magiceye, Lilly,
He was controversy's child. Such a bizzarre life, so removed from reality.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

@ Babli, Priya, theselfloveproject, Double-D,
I actually have a lot of confused feelings about his entire career and life.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

@ Little Girl Lost,
I grew up and lived in Barrackpore for 24 years till I got married. I usually write about my childhood recollections in my other blog, http://pastcontinues.blogspot.com/

Sucharita Sarkar said...

@Santanuda, Pesto sauce, NSIyer and SGD,
Like him or not, his influence is undeniable.

Meira said...

Yes! He definitely was the King of Pop. But did you know he's led a lonely and abused childhood, and a painful life, post his accident while shooting for the pepsi ad? Oh yes, its all over the papers now!