The Page Three Principle

This article was written in the inaugural (and perhaps only) issue of Total Perspective Vortex, the ?other magazine? of IIT Madras. It was my first ever piece of non-slanderous writing, and surprisingly, even two years down the line I?m fairly proud of it. And I believe Madhur Bhandarkar got his inspiration for his movie after reading this article of mine.

Found the magazine while cleaning up my shelf yesterday, and am now going to painstakingly type out the article, so that you can read it. I begin.
Pick up any modern day Indian newspaper and look at the supplement. The leading articles, accompanied by pictures of middle-aged ladies in ridiculous clothes sipping wine, usually talk about a certain party organized by a certain somebody. They will make you feel as if you are the biggest loser in the world because you didn?t attend the party. Welcome to the world of page three parties.

For the typical Indian, ?page three? would bring to mind crime diaries and city news, for these are what most Indian papers carry on their page three. Butt thanks to the British tabloids (notably the Sun), page three is where all the stuff on parties and gossip is. But thanks to the Indian conservative mindset, this page has been banished to the supplements of most newspapers.

A typical ?page three? report usually has a catchy headline, with enough GRE words so that no one understands what the article is really all about (which is what makes a lot of people read it). It?s sometimes necessary to convey the pointlessness of the article and the joblessness of the writer. The article itself has three paragraphs, with the first making a mention of the occasion, which can range from a farewell party for someone going on vacation to the naming ceremony of somebody?s pet cat.

The second paragraph contains a list of people who attended the party, with careful attention given to what each one was wearing and who he/she was seen talking to. Also, it is customary to describe someone?s attire as resplendent irrespective of how outrageous or gaudy it is (some old page 3ers have let me in on this). It must also be mentioned that missing out the name of the person who designed the clothes is a cardinal sin and can put the career of the journalist in jeopardy.

The third paragraph, as in most essays, is used for the summing up as well as to indicate the brand of champagne that was served (here too, the more incomprehensible and fancy, foreign sounding the name, the better). And the last line is usually, ?everyone had a good time?. Who won?t, if given free booze and a chance to appear in the next morning?s papers?

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but it is worth ten thousand when it accompanies a page three article. Each picture typically has two to three people, holding a glass of wine in one hand with the other wrapped around the adjacent person. These are famous people, famous because they are famous. Most of them belong to a class of people called socialites.

Socialites (not to be confused with socialists) are people with lots of time (to attend parties) and money (to buy new clothes for each party they attend). Initially this group used to consist of film stars, businessmen and their families, with Nehruvian socialism keeping most politicians at bay. But nowadays, even politicians seem to have joined the bandwagon. The status of a page three party and the space it receives in print is proportional to the number and ?reputation? of socialites in attendance.

Now, if you are already feeling like an idiot that you are not a member of the ?circuit?, do not despair, it?s not too tough to crash the party (!!). Organize a small party at home (or fi you are rich enough, in a hotel (5-star, nothing else counts). Arrange for some wine (a ?good brand) and inanely exorbitant hors d?ouevres (this was the editor?s insertion, I still don?t know what the Latin phrase means ? author). Add on some hard liquor too, for good measure. This may seem expensive, but then, nothing in life comes for cheap. Get out that music system and some old tapes/CDs. And you are ready!

Invite a few friends and relatives and friends? friends (carefully keeping the maami types at bay). Chances are a socialite will be your friend?s friend?s friend?s best friend. Have a blast. The first time round the papers may not cover your event. Repeat the process for a few iterations (until enough socialites turn up for your party to have ?importance?) and you?ll soon have your share of newsprint. Soon people will start inviting you back and you?ll be a part of the clique.

So much so for page three parties. They are one of the things that are making India Shine. Everyone is a part of it, right from the old fogies in the Union Cabinet to the guy who combs Govinda?s hair. Even the Leftists and self-proclaimed ?intellectuals? (artists, playwrights and the like) are embracing such parties these days. Probably they have realized that socialites are their only source of income. These parties have also spawned a whole new industry of dress designers, winemakers, ?event managers? and (how can we forget) page three journalists.

End of story. Thanks to the Total Perspective Vortex and its editors for initially publishing it, and now letting me steal my own article without permission. There are quiet a few things I would?ve written differently now, but I still like the overall feel of the piece. Even after two years. Considering that most of my blogposts appear so silly and badly written a week after I write them!

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