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Monalisa Das | The News Minute | June 28, 2014 | 05:20 pm IST  Salman Rushdie is not just an eminent and inspiring author; he is also a subject of equal admiration and loathing, debates and discussions across the world. A discussion is also what gave rise to his double, @RushdieExplainsIndia, a parody account on micro-blogging site Twitter. The person credited behind the 11,000 followers on Twitter in over just 5 weeks however, doesn’t want to reveal his identity. In an interview through email, The News Minute got to know him a little and why he does what he does. Who is he? A professor of media studies in the US; he is someone who “grew up in pre-liberalization India, so my sensibility was formed in the consumer wasteland of the 1980s. I suppose you could say I am dwindling into middle age. I am at the age now where I eagerly await Pottery Barn and assorted gardening catalogs in the mail.” He chooses to be incognito, believing that the popularity of his parodies derives from its anonymity. We do not prod him further on that. Discussion An essay in The Guardian about the Indian elections led to a discussion between the professor and his friends. Wondering how Rushdie would comment on a similar situation, he voiced his opinions. His friends liked what he said, and suggested that he create a parody account on Rushdie. The rest, as they say, is history. “The parody account is a form of tribute to-in my view-one of the greatest writers in the world”, he writes. “Additionally, as a prominent public figure his personality lends itself to a parody account”. Salman Rushdie vs Professor Rushdie The author and the professor do not know each other personally. However the latter has attended several of his talks and even owns autographed copies of Midnight’s Children and The Moor’s Last Sigh, which he considers are prized possessions. He also claims to have read most of his books, fiction and non-fiction alike. A “tadipaar kutta” who could use some meditation: Opposition, advice and clarifications galore When you are Rushdie, opposition is part of the parcel. The professor however, seems to be an optimist. A very few people have taken offence to his words and every advice or criticism he has taken in his stride. “Some of the more, shall we say, extremist Hindus and Muslims have expressed uncharitable sentiments. One gentleman, who, interestingly, also trolled the real @SalmanRushdie account called me a "tadipaar kutta," which, if lacking in grace, at least speaks of a certain imaginative prowess. Others have very solemnly offered clarifications in response to what they think is my folly and ignorance as Salman Rushdie. Others have offered advice-- one person asked me to take up meditation. Another pointed out that I should not be negative because India is number one in the world in remote sensing satellites. Barring the few very abusive responses-- which I block right away---all these types of responses have enriched the account”, he said. After Rushdie, who could be next? “I hold Shashi Tharoor in high regard, and it would (be) fun to do a Tharoor parody account, especially since he's a Twitter natural. He also keeps getting into Twitter controversies! There's Tharoor the urbane sophisticate from St. Stephens and there's Tharoor the man of the masses. Sometimes the two Tharoors clash in their opinions and that is a thing of beauty to behold! There is another category of public personalities who do not exactly inspire me, quite the contrary, in fact! This category includes people like Barkha Dutt, Arnab Goswami, Madhu Kishwar, and Subramanian Swamy, and doing a parody account on them would be good timepass. Then again, it would be hard for a parody account to top the original in most of these cases!” An account started for just a few close friends and family took off almost instantly. “I had no idea that it would take off. I'm very flattered that people have thought it worth their time”, he says. RushdieExplainsIndia looks like more than just another take-off. The professor is as intelligent as he is witty, and lets not forget he’s also crisp and bitingly sarcastic. Does he also wish to be an author like the one he pretends to be on the social forum? We didn’t get around on asking him that, but we sure are hopeful.
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