Wednesday, August 03, 2005

My first Parnab Quiz

(Mirrored in Interrobang, the Quiz Blog.)

Parnab Mukherjee (you can see a picture here). That one name is guaranteed to make any serious quizzers blood boil. In his many years of conducting quizzes, he has chalked up a reputation for many things. He's been accused of embellishing his resume, lying about his education, unfairly influencing the outcome of quizzes and having a 6-year old alter ego. In fact, as the saying in quizzing circles goes, the "b" in his name (pronounced "Por-nob" in Bengali) should be left out, because his quizzes are so obscene. But all that is hearsay. I am now in a position to give you the dope on Parnabda first hand because today, I have had the infinite pleasure of actually attending a genuine 24-karat Parnab quiz.

When Salil told me that Parnab was conducting the SCIT Business Quiz, I knew I just had to go. Yes, the quiz was in a remote corner of Pune, and that the organisers were charging an obscene 100 bucks per participant*, but how often do you get to see India's best bad quizmaster perform? I found me an equally enthusiastic partner, and after spending a lot of money on petrol and the exorbitant entry fee, we were there. The quiz, as usual started late (I suspect this was Parnab's fault more than the organisers'). Almost an hour after the indicated time, in walked the great man himself. He then proceeded to conduct the elimination round without referring to any notes whatsoever. In fact, the questions were so off-the-top-of-his-head that he asked a volunteer to write them down so that they would remember them when it was time to check the answers. In theory, such paperless quizzing is what makes him (theoretically) great quizmaster. In theory. Communism works, in theory. But I digress. The elims were extremely so-so. Many of the questions were only tenuously related to business. We didn't do very well at all. We calculated we scored 6 out of 25, and there were many teams who said they'd scored 7s and 8s. We reconciled ourselves to watching the finals fromthe audience seats, and partook of a (really good) repast at the SCIT cafeteria.

We got back to the auditorium 15 mintes late, when they were just announcing the qualifiers, and we found that Ganesh and Salil had qualified for the finals. To our great surprise, so had we. We took our seats on stage, and the long (and allegedly false) introduction of the quizmaster began. This time, they left out the bit about him attending Penn State and Princeton (where he studied Econometrics under John Nash, no less). This may be because of the aforementioned schools' unreasonable reluctance to acknowledge their association with Mr. Mukherjee, but we'll let that pass for now. We will let the fact that several other unsubstantiated claims were made pass. We will even let the fact that Parnabda has really long, scary fingernails pass, and get on to the point of this article, the quiz.

The quiz was, in a word, weird. The questions, as in the elims, were asked without reference to any notes. The answers, too, were given without reference to notes. This rather unfortunate coincidence has led to uncomfortable questions about some of Parnabda's facts. However, since many of the questions were on topics that no one present had ever heard of, we were not in a position of actually challenging the great man. The only complaint I have to make about his four normal rounds is that they were either extremely arbitrary or extremely easy.

The two Parnab Special rounds, of course, were a different story. I call them "Parnab Special"s because I am sure no other quizmaster in the world has either the pizaz or the maaz to attempt them. The first of these Parnab Specials was the newspaper round. The gist of the newspaper round is that you get a newspaper, you choose you a page, and Parnab asks you a question that appears on the page. We chose the front page of the newspaper assigned to us (the 9th July issue of The Hindu). Parnab agreed, and began giving us a lot of gas about couriers, Meghdhoot and the Indian Postal Department. Then, changing subjects with aplomb (and leaving us wondering about the necessity of the aforementioned gas) he asked us the name of the two leading characters in Whatchamacallit, a book by Kalidas. Confused by the explanation of the round given us by Parnab, we mumbled some answer. Parnab smiled and told us that the correct anwer, Shiva and someone else. And how did he link it to our assigned newspaper? Very simple. In a obscure corner of our page, was a tiny 2 sq cm ad for Neelkanth Jewellers. And Neelkanth, as any idiot knows, is one of Lord Shiva's names. Simple, no? The outsatnding brilliance of this question left me stunned, and I didn't really listen to the questions asked the others, but my partner assured me that they were equally astounding.

But the showcase round, as in any other Parnab quiz, was the speciality round. Speciality rounds feature in many Indian quizzes, but the twist in Parnab's version is that you can choose a topic of your choice, off the top of your head, and he asks you a question off the top of his. Your topic can be as obscure as you wish, in fact, he encourages obscurity. However, having been warned that Parnab punishes obscurity, I chose the most general topic I could think of, History. On being prodded to narrow my speciality, I chose Western History. He smiled, and asked me the British Prime Minister who preceded Margaret Thatcher. He gave several clues, saying that the man in question was a Tory, an ex-businessman, and a founder of the New Labour tradition that Tony Blair belongs to. I answered James Callaghan, because although his biodata did not correspond with what Parnab gave in his clues (he was a Labour Party member who used to be a civil servant), he was Thatcher's predecessor**, and that was the question. Parnab disagreed, and said that the answer was Edward Heath. Now Heath, although a Tory, was not Thatcher's predecessor as PM. Nor was he ever a businessman. But such is Parnab's amazing stage presence, his supreme self-confidence, and his extreme pig-headedness that I did not attempt to dispute the answer. He went to the other teams, who had chosen such amazing topics as Heinz and Campbell Soup. Parnab rose to the occaison and asked superlative question, which of course we were unable to answer. Afetr this round, the quiz finished (to the great relief of all involved) and to our greta surprise, we finished third. Due to extreme mental anguish, I fail to recall the names of the winners and runners up, but they did well, and I do not grudge them their extra prize money. I was just glad that the ordeal was over, and ran home.

Thus ended my first Parnab quiz. Will I ever attend another, given the opportunity? Of course I will! This was the most entertaining quiz I ever went to. Parnab truly lives up to his reputation of being overconfident, obnoxious, and the best bad quizmaster in India. What a guy!

PS: I have an idea about an interesting meme. I have included links to every previous anti-Parab article I could find. How about, every time anyopne writes about Parnab, they include links to all the previous articles, so that we have all the relevant opinions and evidence in one place? The next person to write about Parnab, please try it out.

* Before I get any hate mail form SCIT junta, I'll just clarify this. The fee was for all ten-twelve events in the fest, and so wasn't all that exorbitant. We felt it was bad because we had to fork out that much for just one event. I'm sure the guys who took part in multiple events found it reasonable.

** See the list of British PMs here.

Posted in Quizzing, College Fests and other Crap.


Anonymous Aadisht Khanna said...

By the way, the invitation to the thing said "Mr. Parnab Mukherjee is the only quizmaster in the country to conduct without holding a paper in his hand."

What arbit crap. Everyone in Bangalore does it without paper. But then we have LCD projectors.

5:24 AM  
Blogger Kunal said...

Perhaps it should have said "without notes". Though it would still be the most arbit quiz ever. Maybe they should include that in his biodata.

12:47 AM  
Anonymous Souvik said...

You should've just slapped him when he said Heath preceded Thatcher.

4:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone in Bangalore does it without paper. Thats because all the paper is needed to clean up porno's shit


2:52 AM  
Anonymous Anshul Punetha said...

Another feather in Porno's cap...he's been conducting the annual quiz at our college fest since the past five years. Yesterday, he asked a question about a movie called 2046. His question was - who was the cinematographer? since no one got it,he said it was a guy called Roddy Doyle. As far as I could recall, that guy was a prize winning author. So I checked out IMDB. The guy in question was called Christopher Doyle. So a friend and I stopped him in the middle of the quiz and asked him to confirm the previous answer. I was pretty sure I had him under the screw..but the son of a bachelor said Christopher Doyle was overall incharge of the cinematography..Roddy Doyle was the guy who actually held the camera...!! For the record, I have not been able to come across such a Doyle...I truly commend Porno's histrionic abilities, and believe that he would have made a much better lawyer than he is a quiz master.

I firmly believe that this guy should not be allowed on any college campus.He is a trickster, a cheat, who passes himself off as some Bhadralok intellectual. Let us please spread the word and stop him from spreading more such trash around.

Anshul Punetha
MBA -2007
NMIMS - Mumbai

11:39 AM  
Anonymous darkgemz said...

I totally agreee with you that yes he is a obnoxiouslly bad quizmaster! I can understand that he ticked off college students but get this..he has been conducting quizzes in darjeeling for schools for the past ten years..imagine the agony of the school students, they were bucthered!! I just hope that there is a ban Parnab campaign soon... especially for school quizzes. and soon we shall have to face him again!! HELP!

11:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This guy is simply a bugger. A hopeless creature who doesnt even understand the meaning of "education". Having a photographic memory doesnt make one an educated and knowledgable person...

6:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If anyone ever starts up a an anti-parnab community then I'll surely join up. But I wonder if a shitty guy like that deserves even that effort and time.

6:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am quite surprised to read your anti views on parnab sir. You might have experienced a supersonic quiz without accuracy and preciseness. Does that mean that he has no worth or only the worth of the kind you have felt. I found in him a passionate Gandhian preacher, an excellent deal of english language with a rare acumen and of course a good educationist who relentlessly speak on the ills of the education system.
For me he is good and even great to a large extent.
K V Atriya Freelancer journalist (Gold-Medalist)

3:02 PM  
Anonymous K V Atriya said...

I am quite surprised to read your anti views on parnab sir. You might have experienced a supersonic quiz without accuracy and preciseness. Does that mean that he has no worth or only the worth of the kind you have felt. I found in him a passionate Gandhian preacher, an excellent deal of english language with a rare acumen and of course a good educationist who relentlessly speak on the ills of the education system.
For me he is good and even great to a large extent.
K V Atriya Freelancer journalist (Gold-Medalist)

3:02 PM

3:11 PM  
Blogger roerich said...

I have been to porno`s quizzes for the last one year. I read abt his infamy on the blog. i dont know whether hes actualy a sheikchilli but his quizzes as of now r good and entertaining.i also like his style of paperless quizzng to the extent it is factual.

6:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Parnab Mukherjee isn't that bad.In fact he's surprisingly funny and yet passionate when it comes to quizzing.His questions are unbelievably difficult and he's extremely sarcastic yet I like that guy for the confidence he has and for his paperless quizzing technique.Now even all you Parnab haters will agree that that guy is bloody smart.

4:41 AM  
Blogger Abhijnan said...

My first quiz with Parnabda was an unqualified disaster, we came in 2nd to last in our own fest! While the result (and his sarcasm) stung, I couldn't help myself be impressed by the fact that he conducted the whole quiz sans notes.I had issues with a lot of his questions (yes, including the famous who's-the-cinematographer-of-the-movie-2046 bit)and the answers he provided,but still was ready to give him the benefit of doubt.
As a "remedy" for our dismal performance our school appointed him as a trainer for our quiz team and I remember spending the whole summer vacation of my 9th grade (ah, those were the days) going to school to "attend" Parnabda's "classes".While I might have reservations about his questions,he was really fun to interact with.Our whole group actually became pretty good friends with him and it wasn't too long before we were treating him to pizza (and this was the time when eating pizza in Kolkata was an event!).Sure, there were his outstanding qualifications,his up and coming job as a journalist for Reuters no less (under the pretext of which he quit training our team), but my favorite one was his story about spending a whole month in Baghdad with, yes you guessed it right - the elusive Saddam Hussein himself.He was supposed to publish a book based on his interactions with Saddam, titled "Inside Iraq" and in our innocence as little 15yo's, we actually believed him. That was 1998 and its 2010 now and we are yet to see the book! Still I'd say I kinda liked him; he had some charisma which made us brave the summer heat and turn up for his classes three days a week!
The last time I met him was in 2002 when he was directing a play for a school at a one act play contest and was rather surprised to see he still remembered me (I wasn't the best member of the quiz team at any rate). His questions have confused me, his sarcasm has irked me, but I still like the person Parnabda.He's better than Krishnendu Banik any day!

8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

guys no matter how much you hate him, you have to agree that he is a freakin genius! he used no cards or any other helping thing in the quiz. in the TTI debate he conducted it really well. earlier i was a really bad debator, but he gave me points and our team came in 2nd in this debate. so no matter what you say or share about him you have to realise that even if you are half as good as him you are awesome!

2:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I attended a quiz in 2002 as a part of my college. He asked me a question on South Indian Classical Carnatic music and coincidentally I had deep interests in Classical music and especially Carnatic and Hindustani.

Anyways, coming to brass stacks,
He asked me a question and the answer was MS Subhalakshmi and he arrogantly said that it was ML Vasantakumari. The pity is, I had the same recording he played and it was the great MSS.

The point is, he couldn't take the fact that someone could answer and question his genius.


1:31 AM  
Anonymous gaurav said...

well guys hea i am-speakin bout parnab da..!nd ya lemme tell u dis-i hv been on d winnin side of one of his quizzes(held in darj. in 2008,performing for my school-himali boarding school)nd (held in siliguri d runners up in 2010)...nd by far i've realised dat he is reali a genius....u p'pl challenging his ability dis 1nes 4 u-if u r so cnfident dat he's a jerk den plz visit him 1nce....parnab da rok'zz...!so gt a lyf u morons

6:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MR.Parnab sir is of such an observing nature, today he was at our school and as we were anchoring the program we were continuously observing him, he notices every small thing, least things go in-noticed by him. He is a straight forward person so that's the real reason why some people cannot tolerate him. He's an all rounder personality , quite inspiring. There's a lot to learn from him and please as much I noticed he's a confident person not an over-confident one.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This guy is a fraud. There is no other word to describe him. His quizzing contemporaries have moved on with their lives while this guy continues to defraud new converts.

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He is a fraud of the highest order and should be behind bars for what is left of his lifetime

8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

parnab recently conducted a quiz competition in Sawai man Singh school in jaipur(1August 2014)...It should have been 1April(fools day)..His knowledge is impeccable.I was escorting one of the teams. He said Angkor Wat temple is in INDONESIA. And sonal man singh is a BHARATNATYAM dancer!!!rather she specialises in it...!!What a buffoon who claims that he is based in VIETNAM...

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i guess you all will be interested in a video recording of parnab's quiz
check mistakewagon [dot] com

7:52 AM  
Anonymous Enchanted High said...

iam sure you guys will like this 1994
video recording of parnab

get to know the answers of ;)

what was unique in the première of 1960 Movie Dracula

Did you know that La Paz the highest capital in the world means Enchanted High ?

Lets dig up some past :)

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Shanaya said...

Excellent and helpful post.I am so glad to left comment on this. This has been a so interesting ..I appreciate your effort..

3:47 AM  

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