>> This weekend we had the opportunity to visit Prithvi Theatre again, and sit sipping tea under its flowering trees while admiring the late Jennifer Kapoor’s brainchild — so ably shepherded by her daughter Sanjana. When decades ago, the lovely Jennifer conceived of a theatre movement and auditorium at Janki Kutir in Juhu at the site of her legendary father in-law’s home, who would have imagined that it would grow into the success that it has? Presenting suburbanites with the best of theatre, nurturing important talent and giving a whole slew of culture vultures a place to hang out and call their own, Prithvi became not so much a destination, but a way of life. Aptly Sanjana is all set to take the Prithvi experience to a whole new level with the recently launched Junoon, a movement that intends to ‘seed and nurture the arts across India, with workshops, performances seminars and readings’.
Already the first signs of a growing trend are evident. About her son’s takeaway from one of Junoon’s first workshops in Mumbai, Jaimini Pathak’s ‘Speak the speech I pray you!’, a mother writes, “My son really enjoyed the workshop besides learning a lot, Sanjana was right. It was a process, something did get unlocked in his personality. He has come back with much more confident. You have eased his introduction to Shakespeare through Hamlet’s speech ... am so grateful. Do let me know when the next workshop is ... he is in!”
Restless in Mumbai
>> Pratish Motwane, the hunky harmonica player, composer and scion of one of Mumbai’s erstwhile leading business houses (Chicago Radio was a pioneer in its day), informs us that the first release from his home studio Restless Mumbai Blues is creating waves in the US, where it was aired last Sunday on public radio. “The idea was to have a driving Indian percussion based groove upon which one could layer different types of harmonica sounds and leads,” he told us. “The tune begins with a tenor chromatic harmonica laying down a hypnotic bass line, accompanied only by ghatam and tanpura. The rhythm section picks up the groove with a diatonic harmonica in the lead — flourishing some cool Indian scale patterns along with a dotara and live bass guitar. It’s a piece that brings together various influences in my life — from old Bollywood jazz, Indian classical to the blues — the true love of my life.”
The New York radio jockey who aired this piece last weekend described this as “funky Indian meets Louisiana bayou.”
>> A little bird tells us that Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, the Kafka-reading, golf-playing, motorbike riding uber cool mystic savant and spiritual guru celebrated for his ‘inner transformational’ workshops, made a motorbike trip to the Himalayas along with a handful of his close devotees, including the lovely Mitali Kakkar, wife of the maverick ad film maker and bon vivant Prahlad, who is one of Sadhguru’s closest devotees.
Some trip that must have been!
Wish we were there!
Of mothers and daughters
>> Nandinii Sen, the beautiful former model, and erstwhile Art of Living teacher is back in Mumbai after a stint at the AOL ashram in Bangalore, exactly where she belongs: in the heart of showbiz and the entertainment world. After reprising a role in Zoya Akhtar’s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara last year as Abhay Deol’s mother, for which she won accolades and a couple of other films, Sen has begun working on Ektaa Kapoor’s serial Kya Hua Tera Vaada on Sony, a role which has been universally praised.
Incidentally, Nandinii is also shepherding her gorgeous daughter Tasha Berry’s entry in to Bollywood. Tasha, who began her career with two Telegu films, has just finished a one-month schedule in Manali with a talented group of artists.
“My daughter is the best thing that happened to me. I would be happy no matter what career path she chose. She’s a very steady and mature person,” says the proud mother whose career is on the upswing too. And about her return to Mumbai she says, “Mumbai is in my blood. It’s part of my heart! There was not a single day that I did not miss it. I am thrilled to be back where I belong!”
The Merchants of Malabar Hill
>> For many years Sabira and Chottu Merchant have epitomised all that was good and gorgeous in the upper echelons of Mumbai society. From their exquisitely decorated Malabar hill duplex apartment to Sabira’s virtuoso theatre performances to the couple’s elegant demeanour and endearing devotion to each other, they have our vote. How many of today’s young and restless know for instance that they ran Mumbai’s hottest discothèque Studio 29 in the early ’80s? Or that behind Chottu’s laid-back facade is a hardworking industrialist? When we dropped in recently for a Sunday morning cuppa with the Merchants we were privileged to share a few moments of quality time with them — away from the bustle of social engagements.
Chottu who’d had a fall and a consequent recent surgery was propped up in bed, surrounded with flowers, listening to his favourite music (Bach, Vivaldi, Opera), with the best of reading material and DVDs strewn around him, Sabira freshly returned from a prayer meet was fussing over him arranging coffee and comfort.
We spoke about how soon Chottu would be back to the social whirl.
“Once he’s able to stand, he’ll be up and about on his walker,” said Sabira who’s joie de vivre is infectious!
Here’s to that thought!