“What is the Opposite of I.I.T.?” asks a photo of ChetanBhagat and Alia Bhat responds by stating “U.U. Coffee”
This is the meme that pokes fun at Alia Bhatt. First of all, I was astounded at the stupidity of the question. What kind of an idiot asks for the opposite of I.I.T, which is an abbreviation of the name of an institution? Abbreviations, for the sake of clarity, are shortened forms of words or phrases and are not intended to convey any meaning on their own. If we concede that abbreviations do not carry meaning by themselves, the question of an opposite should not arise. Therefore, the question being so fundamentally ill conceived, the purported answer of Alia Bhatt can actually be a sarcastic dig at the interrogator.
That’s not the point. When I dwelled into the background of these memes, I came to know that Alia Bhatt fared poorly on the General Knowledge Quiz in a popular talk show, therefore becoming branded as someone with less than admirable I.Q. After all in school, the test of a child’s intelligence always has been his ability to memorise concepts and reproduce it on paper, while original thinking is rewarded with lesser scores wherever it conflicts with the evaluator’s own thoughts. I suppose in a culture that has strongly rooted its education system in rote learning, the ability to know and remember trivia as an indicator of a person’s intelligence doesn’t surprise me. But we have to recognize the shallowness in this school of thought.
When I dug deeper into Alia Bhatt’s profile (I confess I have never watched a movie of hers), I found out that her performance in the movie “Highway” was widely applauded. The critics were generous in their praise of her and concluded that she is an actor of great potential. Having seen my fair share of bad acting, both in our heroes and heroines, to find a Female Actor with such recognised acting talents was pleasantly surprising. In her chosen line of work, Alia Bhatt appears to have distinguished herself.
Yet, we have this tendency to view her intelligence from the framework of our talents. What if Alia Bhatt were to look at me and say, “Oh he is stupid because he doesn’t have killer good looks and cannot act if his life depended on it!”. Even Albert Einstein would be considered guilty of the same brand of stupidity perhaps, given he was not a male supermodel nor could he act. If Alia Bhatt were to be admonished for her criticism of Einstein’s intelligence because he couldn’t act, then we have to admonish ourselves for judging her intelligence by her lack of general knowledge. There is a fundamental flaw in our inclinations to judge a person’s intelligence, not by their aptitude in a chosen field, but by their aptitude in a field that they wish to have nothing to do with.
So the joke is really on the makers of the Alia Bhatt meme, because their understanding of intelligence lacks intelligence. Not only do I find it unfair, but it also shows just how much our kids have to put up with when they are unable to be good at what the majority are good at. We need to celebrate diversity of intelligence, not condemn it. So next time you see Alia Bhatt responding by saying “U.U. Coffee”, ask yourself who you should laugh at?
By Ashok G.V.
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