Spit Take Life & Style

How not to be a leader

Sreejith R Kumar

Sreejith R Kumar

Some of these young men (and by that I mean men in their 50s like me) who are aspiring to be leaders, really need to be able to read the room. And by room, I mean our entire political nation. They ought to know by now that they can’t just go to a party or wedding and be caught on camera with unsanskari Nehruvian celebration happening in the background.

That’s not how great leaders do it. Great leaders prep for their role.

Well, for whatever it’s worth, here’s a ready reckoner while operating in our ancient culture.

Firstly, they have to stop being seen in jeans/tees. That’s not how leaders dress. That’s the gear worn by the offspring of our leaders currently studying in the US and UK. Impeccably tailored desi gear with vests in a variety of colours (except green!) is what lends gravitas to the aspiring leader. Exotic headgear – ranging from the war bonnet of Chief Sitting Bull to a Viking helmet and everything in between – takes things to the next level.

The importance of personal grooming cannot be stressed enough. What’s with the scruffy stubbles some of these men are sporting? Grow them out into full-fledged beards, for Bhishma’s sake! A well-groomed beard, constantly varying in length and shape, depending on whether one hopes to invoke Periyar or Otto the Great, is a Great Leader must-have. Glowing skin is a prerequisite, too. Thanga bhasmam twice a day helps, I hear.

Coming to accessories, Indian gear paired with high-end imported accessories is the trend.

Before I forget, keep a bow and a quiver full of arrows on call, young sirs. Didn’t you see how Ram Charan’s stock went through the roof after he was seen with a bow and arrow? It’s all about subliminal messaging.

Furthermore, please stop predicting what’s going to happen to our country in the near future on account of the pandemic, our borders, economy and suchlike. When you get that right, it makes us look bad to people like Rihanna, WHO and TIME magazine. Leave that kind of thing to the god men. Stick to predictions about the distant future. Like how we will have pushpaka vimanams coming and picking up driverless cars when they breakdown on the superhighways of UP in 2036. It’s called vision.

A great gait makes for great entrances and exits. Young leaders need to develop a proper, deliberate statesmanlike gait if they are to be worshipped by this country. They need to know when to pause dramatically, when to turn around, when to stop midway on a gangway. Observe other great leaders and learn, bhaiyon.

Also, it’s important where one is seen. If you must celebrate, don’t go to the weddings of old friends in obscure lands, for god’s sake. Seek Bollywood. Try and wangle an invite to any of Kanganaji’s parties. She’s apparently having a Hindi Bulldozer Diwas and an ashwamedha yaga for her wooden horse. Sneak in. Be seen at karva chauths, grihapraveshams and manjal neerattu vizhas. No disco lights in the background. Unless there’s a holy river in the foreground.

Be more musical, doston. Nifty stick work on dhols, bodhráns, breketes and guatacas is what the public wants. The headgear, the bow and arrow, and the pulsating rhythm of drums – that’s the unbeatable troika.

And finally, never be caught unawares. Pretend friends with camera phones can make the innocent look culpable. Strut in with your own camera crew wherever you go. Publish, post and tweet your outings before anyone else does. That’s our time-honoured way.

Krishna Shastri Devulapalli is a satirist. He has written four books and edited an anthology


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Printable version | May 14, 2022 4:58:09 am | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/how-not-to-be-a-leader/article65406737.ece