Bollywood's season of Schadenfreude

If you want to know the meaning of the German word 'schadenfreude,' you only have to look at the response to Anurag Kashyap's Bombay Velvet to see it demonstrated in action.

Described as 'the feeling of joy or pleasure when one sees another fail or suffer misfortune,' the word amply describes the reviewer's freshly sharpened knives and the smug gloating that followed the film's release.

Why so many people had it in for Kashyap, a man who not only is one of cinema's most visionary and impassioned practitioners, but also has taken the industry to new heights is puzzling.

Anurag Kashyap, A scene from Bombay Velvet and Zoya Akhtar
Anurag Kashyap, A scene from Bombay Velvet and Zoya Akhtar

But through all of the heat and noise that followed BV's tailwind, the one ray of light was the evident display of solidarity and respect for Kashyap from fellow director Zoya Akhtar, whose posts on social media showed her empathy and support for the beleaguered auteur.

'It's Bombay Velvet Day' she'd posted sweetly on Facebook on the day of the film's release. And she'd followed that up by posting a favourable review : 'Read this - watch the film - decide for yourself' she'd said. Such camaraderie between two rival directors in Bollywood is rare.

Now, it only remains to be seen how Kashyap will reciprocate when Akhtar's own magnum opus Dil Dhadakne Do will release, especially if God forbid- the season of schadenfreude continues.

Lisa Love
"No matter how much I love her, her love will always exceed anything a human is capable of," says actor Boman Irani about Lisa, the four-legged object of his ardour.

Boman Irani with Lisa
Boman Irani with Lisa

"For me Lisa is a substitute for any intoxicant, medicine, medicine man, yoga, workout or anything that invigorates the soul. Lisa was named by all of us. All claim credit though. And she sleeps with me. Snug. Like a romantic. I truly feel that if society loves dogs; then they will learn to love humans better," he adds.

Woof!

Girl Uninterrupted
"My completed projects slated to release this year are Chokher Bali a Hindi tele-film, directed by Anurag Basu which will air on the Epic channel in July; Gun Pe Done a Hindi feature film directed by Abhik Bhanu opposite Jimmy Shergill; Moreechika a Bengali short film and The Perfect Girl, another feature film," says Tara Alisha Berry about the spate of her forthcoming releases this year.

Tara Alisha Berry
Tara Alisha Berry

What was it like, we asked the young actress, who after her debut in Mastram last year hasn't been seen on screen lately. The most enjoyable were Gun Pe Done and Chokher Bali. Gun Pe Done because the team was amazing and it is an inherently light film.

I had the chance to work with all these amazing senior actors like Jimmy Shergill, Vijay Raaz etc and learnt a lot. Chokher Bali because Dada (Anurag Basu) is brilliant! I was very nervous at the time but I learnt a lot from him and am dying to work with him again," she said.

And what's next? "A Hindi feature film, VAS... Love Excluded, which is a coming of age story about a small town girl, Priyanka, which we will shoot in the second half of this year. And Ringtone Ki Love Story, a love story directed by Abhik Bhanu which will be going on floors soon," said the actress.

The NCPA Member's Only Glare.
Bequeathed by the Tatas and Jamshyd Bhabha to Mumbai in 1986, this sprawl of 340,000 sq ft represents the city's grandest and most high-minded arts initiative.

With five theatres, including India's only Opera House and many arts and crafts institutions, it comes as no surprise that the NCPA's membership attracts some of the highest brows amongst the city's culturati: Parsi dowagers with blue rinsed hair and fiercely posh Oxbridge dons for whom the front rows of all performances are reserved.

And God help any lesser mortals who for any reason violate basic theatre codes such as forgetting to switch off their phones during a performance. They receive that 'NCPA Member's Only Glare': an ever so slight sideways glance of withering contempt and unbridled exasperation, which can slice more effectively than a knife.

Matters of Grave Import
"I'm working on my next book, Letters to the Dead and the Imagined. Among the many correspondences is a series of letters I'm writing to Souza. That's why I went to visit his grave at the Sewri cemetery." It was our friend the Delhi-based writer, Rosalyn D'Mello responding to our enquiry about her recent visit to the late artist Francis Newton Souza's grave.

F N Souza
F N Souza

Known to undertake wildly romantic literary adventures (the latest being a marathon group reading aloud of Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway in Delhi) this latest act appeared extreme even by D'Mello's standards. But as usual the attractive lass whose first novel has been snapped up by celebrated literary agent David Godwin, captured the poetic essence of the enterprise vividly.

Rosalyn D’Mello
Rosalyn D'Mello

"Souza's grave seemed abandoned and unvisited," she said. "A caretaker approached me thinking I'd come to visit family and asked if I wanted her to clean the grave. At first I said no, it didn't seem like something he would have wanted," said D'Mello, adding, "I don't know why I changed my mind.

Souza’s grave at the Sewri cemetery
Souza's grave at the Sewri cemetery

Once she was done, the black slab gleamed, reflecting moments of collision, when overhead branches swayed into each other, enunciating the one-line epitaph: 'Nature is the sole principle'." That was not all. Recalling that the Sewri cemetery also housed the other great Goan, litterateur Dom Moraes, D'Mello decided to check on her fellow wordsmith's resting place.

"I asked the record keeper for the address to Dom's grave, he took a few seconds to process the name. "You mean the unbeliever?" I said yes. The last and only time I saw Dom was at a reading at Oxford Bookstore, Bombay, and months before he died. His grave seemed like a jagged book, dog-eared, well-thumbed..."

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