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M/s Popatlal Patel & Sons Parodies, Inc.

 Proud moments for honest Gujaratis and bigots alike.

Unbeknownst to many, there is an entire industry that actively engages itself in making fun of pop artists who churn out chartbusters. And yes, they proliferate professional parodies. Oxymoronic, much? Well, for the more erudite readers, the same concept may be called a ‘pastiche’ or a ‘quodlibet’.  For the less pretentious ones, simply saying ‘mashup’ would suffice.
Anyway, the point is, there are certain very well known artists, such as Weird Al Yankovic and Jim Carrey (or the entire cast of Saturday Night Live, for that matter), who have been entertaining us since the 80s.

And, as is always the case, India just had to follow in America’s footsteps, albeit at least a decade later. For once, the ever-so-zestful Gujarati community sprang forth with unrestrained vigor.  Enter Devang Patel, the not-so-loved love-child of Mr. Bean and a newt. In the early to mid-90s, as India was barely breaking out of its bubble and gaining exposure to Western culture – when mommies and daddies could no longer hold back their children from the viles of MTV and Channel V – Mr. Patel singlehandedly unleashed upon the Indian public a proverbial cornucopia of comedy, unparalleled in class (crass?).

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Though it may be hard to overlook the astounding awesomeness of Mr. Patel’s Gujju accent, the actual humor lies in his precipitous poetry – it takes some serious creativity to come up with such parallel rhymes, while keeping the context in perspective.  
Spurred by his newfound popularity, Devang Patel decided to pursue things on a larger scale, thus spawning Patel Scope I, II and III over the next decade.

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Granted that us Indians and originality don’t necessarily go together, for once, one has to acknowledge the finesse of Patel Scope’s production quality. Considering the music videos, replete with visual parodies of all elements, especially the costumes in
‘Challu Girl’ (an ode to Aqua’s ‘Barbie Girl’) and the dance moves in ‘Aye Raju’ (an obvious diss to Wes’ ‘Alane’) as well as the background beats, it is a real wonder why the original composers haven’t filed lawsuits against Mr. Patel.  

On the not so bright side, Patel may have irked the ire of his kith and kin, by openly divulging the materialistic mentality of Gujjus in ‘Bamboo No. 5’ (a nod to Lou Bega’s ‘Mambo No. 5).  Just as there is the American Dream, there exists an equally grand Gujju Dream. Until the advent of this parody, Gujjus could strut around with poise (another oxymoron?), patting their prosperous bellies contentedly, but upon public disclosure of all their aspirations in one innocent song, gone was all that self-confidence. And despite that, Mr. Patel didn’t stop there. He just had to glamorize Gujju etiquette.
Clearly, the Gujarati culture in general doesn’t maintain any regard for subtlety. On the other side, I ought not to create a perception bias for the readers’ community at large, simply on the basis of one such jester. Why don’t we look at another contemporary treasure trove of epic rhymes, in Gujarati itself?

[youtube_video id=T6VFFFMXe-E]

This particular rendition is very dear to me for numerous reasons. I have never seen such dexterity, such sincerity, and of course, the unavoidable mentions of food, all at once, in a woo-worthy number.  One can imagine how this song would be really popular during Navratri, the much-celebrated courting season for Gujjus, with entire arenas dedicated to clapping, stick-fighting and hip thrusting dance moves. 

But hey, lets not bash the entire community for a few instances of iconoclastic idiocy. Gujaratis have made many, MANY positive contributions to the Indian music industry as well. Himesh Reshammiya, anyone?

Cyd The Squyd is vehemently verbose and immensely proud of his own Gujarati heritage. You can hunt him down Here, though.

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