The climax of the ‘Thriller` is out…Michael Jackson dies of a ‘Bad` & ‘Dangerous` heart attack and becomes ‘History.` I loved the guy. He was my hero for almost seven years – from 1985 to 1992.
Ikroop Singh, my fifth standard class mate in Kendriya Vidhyalaya, BallyGunge Military Camp, Calcutta in 1985 introduced me to Michael Jackson. Unable to handle the class, the teacher who had stepped in for our absent class teacher, asked if anybody could entertain the whole class. That`s when Ikroop Singh stepped out and said he could dance like Michael Jackson.
You know…I don`t think all that controversy about Michael Jackson & young boys is true…for back then I was a handsome ten-year-old and still a virgin.
The moment Ikroop Singh was done with the MoonWalk, the Glass Wall Trick and the Pulling at the Rope Trick….I wanted to see more of Michael. Back then, we didn`t have TV…leave alone a VCR. Ikroop Singh being a top Army man`s son had the video cassette of Michael Jackson`s ‘Thriller.` I visited his house in Fort Williams just to see Michael Jackson perform.
Ikroop was right…this guy did dance like a melted piece of butter falling off a spoon. But I wasn’t the only guy who had been inspired by Michael Jackson. A Telugu movie director made his own Indian version of ‘Thriller’ and the video on Youtube has got 15,741,543 views (as on June 28, 2009).
On my return from Fort Williams, I told my parents about Michael Jackson.
My father asked: “Does he dance like Rajinikanth?”
My father asked: “Can he dance Bharatanatyam like Kamal Hassan?”
“Then, don`t waste your time behind him.” My father was serious.
For the next seven years, I wanted to be a singer-dancer like him. Not like my father stupid….like Michael Jackson. My parents didn`t know.
In 1996, I came to know that he would be visiting India. Back then, there weren`t many contests like how we have now-a-days….contests where one collects 50 crowns of Coke and stands a chance to meet the celebrity. Or use your credit card five times in a month and see the T20 World Cup final. No sire, back then you could meet the celebrity if you wanted it hard enough. I didn`t.
Michael performed at Andheri Sports Complex, Mumbai in 1996 as part of his History tour and left without meeting me.
Maybe rushes of this Andheri Sports Complex performance were shown on MTV…and that is when my father saw Michael Jackson perform. Remember, it was 1996 and we had an ECTV TV. (Suggested Reading – Television, my new friend, philosopher & guide)
What is important is the fact that my father became his fan. Rakinikath & Kamal were at the peak of their careers, but they could wait. MJ was in. MJ was cool.
He walked up to me and said: ‘Hey, I think you should try and become a performer like Michael.”
“Papa, but now my hero is Milkha Singh. I want to be an athlete and get India an Olympic Gold.”
“Are you sure? You are dark, you are frail, you have clumsy hair…now all you got to do is learn to sing and dance. That`s it!”
A week later, my father had forgotten. I was on my way to get India its first Olympic Gold.
May be, my reason to move to Milkha Singh was due to some of the jokes I was hearing about Michael. Today, if a Michael Jackson jokes originates in the US of A, it takes less than 24 hours to reach India – via mail forwards, of course. But back then, it took us ages. (Suggested Reading – When I wanted to be Milkha Singh)
Apparently, in the late 80s the comedians the World over had started to target Michael Jackson. He was an easy butt-end for various jokes…what with skin color, skin condition, child molestation controversies, his pet monkey which used to sleep in a crib inside his bedroom, his Peter Pan pretensions, his ranch called Neverland, his military clothes, etc.
The first Michael Jackson joke I heard was:
Question: “How does Michael Jackson pick his nose?”
Answer: From a catalog.
I laughed when I first heard. But deep down, I was hurt. Somebody was trying to malign my hero of seven years.
Over the next couple of years, I was told that Michael Jackson`s favorite Chinese dish was “Sum Yung Boy” and that he would have loved to work on a ship because there were so many “bouys”. Surprisingly, I didn`t mind the jokes this time. How people change.
I remember, after I got married to Rekha…Michael Jackson did make it to our conversation once. We were getting ready to go to a party and were fighting for space in front of the mirror.
“Why do men need mirrors? Don`t worry …its only the girls who get stared at and not the men!” Rekha was forcing her opinion on me.
“You should be happy you aren`t married to Michael Jackson….he would have been in front of the mirror all the time.”
“Yeah but if I was married to him, he would have gotten me a bigger, better mirror and got another one for himself.”
Our conversation ended there. I was glad she didn`t insult him. Being a die hard fan, I have every right to crack jokes on my Michael but not others.
Now that Michael is dead, I am sure he will be accepted in heaven. They accept plastic, don`t they?
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