Just when you thought you knew what the most significant news of the day was – West Bengal Chief Minister's rejection of the Teesta water sharing deal - the only agreement most Bangladeshis were really interested in to be honest, you are bombarded by something much more momentous. The sudden revelations of actress Apu Biswas regarding her secret husband Shakib Khan who had apparently been keeping his wife and baby boy hidden from the world and had refused to acknowledge them in public. Please don't pretend you don't know who these individuals are if you don't want to be labelled 'unpatriotic' or 'elite' by – well – whoever. Shakib is impossible not to know, no matter how superior you may like to feel. He is practically in any Bangladeshi channel you switch to – flashing his shiny ear stud and pearly white skin - traits that have left many a Bangladeshi damsel swooning. Dancing, albeit a tad ungainly (seriously, who is his choreographer?), with various silver screen beauties (including the lovely Apu), he is hard to not remember. Hence the jaw-dropping crowds accumulating in front of the TV screens in every office or home in town, to watch with shock and awe, the melodrama of a pretty actress tearfully declaring how she and her cherubic son had been wronged by the heartthrob of Bangladeshi filmdom.
If you are conspiracy obsessed, no doubt you would think that somehow this whole Apu Biswas-Shakib Khan saga, which, after oceans of tears, ended on a happy note (just like in the movies), was to distract public attention from the disappointing outcome of the Bangladesh-India summit that has so far promised some vague goodies to our country despite all the hoopla surrounding the meeting of the two leaders that included hilsa, roshogolla and kalo jaam diplomacy, among other things. "After all," the conspiracy theorists may say, "Apu Biswas had been living in a neighbouring country where the child was born – she could easily have been 'influenced' by certain quarters to break this story at this particular time."
But whether it was by pure coincidence or some highly complex manipulation, the whole episode indicates the ease with which people move on to the next juicy thing. And celebrity saga is way more important to the public than treaties with neighbours that will have significant long-term impacts on the country's development.
Now that this highly charged real life drama has ended with a good dose of uncharitable comments made by the public, what do you think has the public or rather social media networks, going? This time it's a pond in Khansama, Dinajpur that is spewing out what smells like diesel to some eye witnesses. Has Bangladesh struck oil? Will we become an oil rich country, dishing out dollars to foreign consultants and workers to build massive highways, malls and paving our footpaths with gold? Will we start planting date trees and importing camels to fulfil the dream of many, to become a miniature of the land of the blessed and free-flowing oil? Or is this another ploy by the powers that be to divert our attention from all those friendly deals, the benefits of which are as hard to grasp as the mirage of an oasis in an unforgiving desert?
Oh sorry the 'oil in the pond' story is just so yesterday – Apu and Shakib are still stealing the show with their 180 degree turnaround from their stance only three days ago. While Shakib now says he said he wouldn't accept Apu as his wife because he was angry and of course they will now be together forever, Apu has suddenly decided that her errant, irresponsible husband is actually her hero, that she always knew he would come around (within seven days to be specific) and that they would live happily ever after (even though her sweetheart has not called her yet at the time of this breaking news). Some people may say this was a publicity gimmick like the time Ananta Jalil and Barsha announced their divorce with the 'Dhakar Pola' going public with nasty stories of his wife's alleged infidelity. Maybe now the thousands of Shakib Khan fans will be dying to see him with his off-screen love Apu without the characteristic movie-goer's boredom of seeing real life married couples doing those excruciating dance moves that depict the euphoria of young things in love for the first time.
Oh meanwhile, in less important news, the government will from now on recognise the Dawra degree of Qawmi madrasa as equivalent to a master's degree, and public officials, who represent a whopping five percent of the working population, will get a festival bonus on the occasion of Pahela Baishakh. So what if the majority of the working population and their families will not be benefitted by this generous gesture and will be the ones paying for this new perk as taxpayers? We can always be happy for others and nothing is going to stop us from wearing our Baishakhi gear to brave the suffocating heat and overflowing streets to celebrate the Bengali New Year.
Which brings us back to more vital concerns: Wonder what Apu Biswas, Shakib Khan and Baby Khan will be wearing this Noboborsho…
The writer is Deputy Editor, Opinion & Editorial, The Daily Star.