However, the cable operator in my area continued to beam the Pakistani TV channel (PTV) in spite of repeated representations from jingoistic viewers to take it off.
One day, casually over lunch, I mention this to Ravan Singh and he flies into a rage. “How can you tolerate this,” Ravan thunders. “We have to put a stop to this nonsense immediately! The fellow should be put behind bars for treason!”
“It is futile,” I say. “The cable guy is an arrogant fellow with political connections and does pretty much as he chooses.”
“We will see about that,” glowers Ravan. He pulls a telephone directory off the rack, finds the number of the service provider, and starts dialling. A lady comes on the line and Ravan asks her to put him through to the owner immediately. When she enquires who she should say is calling, he says with ominous calm: “Tell him this is Inspector Parulkar from Palton Road police station.”
When the owner comes on line, Ravan starts slowly, almost gently: “I have received a complaint that you are beaming PTV programmes in your cable network. As you know very well, this is against the law. Your viewers have requested you not to telecast these programmes, but you continue to do so. What have you to say about this?”
Perhaps Ravan’s conciliatory tone lulls the owner into a false sense of security. He is rather nonchalant in his response, saying that PTV programmes are popular and he is only catering to customers’ needs and many cable operators are beaming them anyway, so what’s the big deal?
Ravan explodes from his chair, draws himself to his full height and unships a few choice epithets in Hindi and Marathi, outlining the cable owner’s doubtful paternity, his unsavoury relationship with his sister, and his abject inability to satisfy his wife in bed.
“Do you know who you are talking to?” Inspector Parulkar shouts. “Do you know I can come with a posse of policemen in the next fifteen minutes and put you inside so fast that no one will ever even know where you are for the next fifteen years? Or should I make it easier for you by arranging a police encounter where a carefully-aimed shot is all that it takes to put an end to your miserable life?”
I can see, like all great actors, Ravan has merged with the character he is playing. At this moment he believes himself to be the tough, angry cop bullying the stuffing out of the criminal who has had the effrontery to talk back to him.
After fifteen minutes of this tirade, at the other end of the line, the cable TV owner is an abject mass of quivering jelly, tripping over words, profusely apologetic, and declaring his undying loyalty to his motherland. “PTV will be taken off immediately sir,” says the broken man. “You will have no further cause for complaint.”
“I give you exactly one hour,” says Inspector Parulkar, back to his deep, soothing voice. “After that, I come for you.”
And sure enough, the owner kept his promise.