Phul Singh vs State of Haryana (and the State of Indian English)

Oh boy, this Supreme Court judgment, excerpted on his blog by Imam Wapsoro, is masterful. Presenting Phul Singh vs State of Haryana, AIR 1980 SC 249:

A philanderer of 22, appellant Phul Singh, overpowered by sex stress in excess, hoisted himself into his cousin’s house next door, and in broad day-light, overpowered the temptingly lonely prosecutrix of twenty four, Pushpa, raped her in hurried heat and made an urgent exit having fulfilled his erotic sortie.


A hyper-sexed homo sapiens cannot be habilitated by humiliating or harsh treatment, but that is precisely the perversion of unreformed Jail Justice which some criminologists have described as the crime of punishment.

It may be marginally extenuatory to mention that modern Indian conditions are drifting into societal permissiveness on the carnal front promoting proneness to pornos in life, what with libidinous ‘brahmacharis’, womanising public men, lascivious dating and mating by unwed students, sex explosion in celluloid and book stalls and corrupt morals reaching a new ‘high’ in high places. The unconvicted deviants in society are demoralisingly large and the State has, as yet, no convincing national policy on female flesh and sex sanity. We hope, at this belated hour, the Central Government will defend Indian Womanhood by stamping out voluptuous meat markets by merciless criminal action.

The gentleman who wrote this is Justice Krishna Iyer. One can only assume that he proposed to his wife in some other language. Or maybe he spoke like this, and she went, Enough, enough, I’ll marry you, but please don’t go on and on in English. You libidinous brahmachari, you!


The larger issue here is why Justice Iyer waxed so purplacious. I blame colonialism. Even after the Brits left, English remained a marker of class in India. The better your English, the more highly you were regarded (even by yourself). This led to a tendency of showing off how fluent you were in the language, and from there, to this kind of overkill. For Justice Iyer, the language he used was as much a signal as a tool: It signalled his sophistication and his class. Or so the poor fellow thought.

I believe this is also partly responsible for why style overwhelms content in so much Indian writing in English. As kids, we’re too used to parents and teachers and peers telling us, Wow, this is so well-written, your English is so good. (As opposed to Wow, your narrative was compelling, I lost myself in the story, I couldn’t put it down.) So they end up giving more importance to the language they use rather than the narrative they’re building, while the former should really be slave to the latter. Pity.

And we also see this a lot in our local trains. Two random people will be arguing over something, and then one of them will break into bad English, as if to say, I”m superior to you, I know English. You lout! And then the other guy will say something to the effect of Hey, I know English too. Only you can speak or what? Bastard! And so on.

I’d like to see Justice Iyer get into one those local train fights, actually…

Celina Jaitley’s bedsheet

I have concluded that the only way for the Hindustan Times to beat the Times of India is to publish HT Tabloid, a section on their website, in their print edition. Millions will instantly subscribe for the joy of reading such prose early in the morning:

Despite delivering a dud like Red at Box Office, sultry Celina is enjoying a sound sleep at home these days. The lady has apparently found solace in her favourite bed sheet and rolls into her bed whenever she gets time just to get the feel of it.

The actress accepts that she is obsessed with a particular brand of bed sheet. Says the siren- “I can compromise with anything but not my bed sheets”.

Capacious! We are also told that “she even goes to the extent of carrying her favourite bed sheets wherever she goes.” Her bedsheets aren’t the only thing she carries, though. She is quoted as saying:

Yes, it has to be my puppy whom I carry everywhere. I think he gives me the best company. I can’t carry a big dog so I have chosen a puppy who keeps me busy when I am free.

I protest. It is my right as a citizen of India to see Celina Jaitley carry a big dog. A really big dog. A dog bigger than herself, with glasses and manicured paw-nails. Please organise.

(Previous posts with Purplocity/Verniness: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36.)

The “capri-clad stems” of Katrina Kaif

The colour of the day is purple. I find it hard to believe that the prose below could have been published in all seriousness. It is so monstrous that it is beyond parody.

Today, Katrina Kaif looks like a horse.

No, not a nag but a fine, stunning thoroughbred, of equine grace and striking stature as she perches down from leggy heights and yawns.

It’s been a long, tiring press day, and the gorgeous Katrina canters around to keep herself awake, and insists she must leave. She wraps her plain white shirt tighter around herself, sits down casually crossing those magnificent capri-clad stems, and tosses me a smile. Ah, she’s finally deigned to let me pester. [Link.]

I suppose it takes a special skill to write like this. Perhaps they have tuition classes in the small towns of India for it, conducted in various vernacular languages. Shudder!

But I can imagine why the writer felt the need to go beyond ordinary prose. Katrina Kaif is stunning, in my opinion the hottest lady in Bollywood today. I am utterly baffled why, when she had reportedly begun going around with Salman Khan, Salman was reportedly running after Aishwarya Rai. Dude, there is no comparison. Pah!

(Link via email from reader Annette.

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Nikhat Kazmi redefines Verniness

I’ve written before on the mediocrity of the film reviewers of India’s broadsheets, and Nikhat Kazmi illustrates that better than anyone. It’s a pity, in a way, that Jai Arjun Singh busted her for plagiarism: we’re stuck with her original stuff now, and it is monstrous. Consider these lines from her review of 300:

In case your appetite for bloody violence failed to find satisfaction with Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, just go for 300. You won’t be disappointed because the level of violence, once again, reaches an all new high in this Hollywood flick which transforms war into unadulterated gore. And it does it without losing its aesthetics. So that, you get to see heads being decapitated and flying on screen and humans being impaled, chopped and chutnified in palettes that have been specially tinted to create a canvas where the colour of blood is black and the body count is beyond cognition.

Is a worse sentence possible than that last one, which careens beyond redemption from that first misplaced comma onwards, as if in a parallel universe where grammar and simple writing are vices, not virtues? To top it up, she then writes: “The tale is pre-history.” Pre-history? Hello?

This kind of a review would be understandable from a seventh-standard schoolgirl trying badly to impress with her knowledge of English (probably her second or third language), and her contrived insights. It is sad that our country’s most-read English paper should carry such writing. Why are the editorial standards of our newspapers so terribly low?

(Link via email from Rahul Bhatia.

Previous posts with Purplocity/Verniness: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34.)