>> Are we the only ones who found ourselves chuckling over the recently concluded debate by NDTV on the new Pakistani animated TV series the Burka Avenger (Note to self: how come Pakistani television serials are so much better than ours?) For those who came in late, the debate was fueled by the controversy over the film’s protagonist, a Taliban fighting female schoolteacher who dons a burqa when on her mission.
The controversy erupted over the fact that many felt depicting her in a burqa was regressive. Well, anchoring the debate in her superb style with two extremely articulate Pakistani female commentators was our very own Barkha Dutt who as we know has been called Burqa Dutt by many a twitter troll. Irony is so delicious when it’s unselfconscious.
Real life Chak De!
>> Our attention was brought to this incredible story a real life Chak De if ever there was one. It concerns the victory of a team of tribal girls from Rukka village near Ranchi who triumphed over all odds to return home with a trophy they won at the Gasteiz Cup, known to be the world’s best testing ground for teenager football in Victoria Gastiez, Spain, during their maiden entry in a football tournament. According to reports, these were the same girls who had been verbally and physically abused by bureaucrats in Jharkhand when they’d applied for their birth certificates and other documents to get their passports.
An American who intervened and managed to get them the necessary documentation, which got them to the tournament eventually, had championed their cause. In Gastiez, they were instantly nicknamed the Supergoats because of their penchant for practicing their game barefoot. They did this to preserve their precious footwear that were so hard to come by for the actual tournament. As the story goes they were intimidated by the international teams in the first tournament but came into their own in the second tournament.
Their sheer grit enthusiasm and spirit won them a consolation prize – a formality in the larger scheme of things. But for the girls, it was validation and victory. Hailing from one of the poorest regions of India and the world’s epicentres of child marriage and human trafficking the cup they held aloft was one of triumph and hope. Which is why when they went to receive their cup they rushed into their dressing room wearing red-bordered white saris, their traditional festive with flowers in their hair. Many were weeping inconsolably because the road to where they had reached had seemed so impossible. “How the hell is this not big news to be proud of, how did it go under the radar? Instead of this we have news of Salman and Shah Rukh hugging,” wrote our friend Faredoon (Dodo) Bhujwala who posted the story on his Timeline.
How indeed we ask!
Airborne in Mumbai
>> So how many hands up for the $279,000 Terrafugia Transition drive yourself plane that transforms from an airborne into a land vehicle by automatically folding its wings in traffic?
We know at least a dozen captains of industry who find it cumbersome to board their helicopters at the Race Course each morning to get to their offices in the far-flung suburbs ever since the bad municipal authorities have cancelled permission for their rooftop helipads. For a $10,000 reserve fee this could be their answer as early as 2015 or 2016. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a Terrafugia!
Lucky in Leh
>> One of the most enigmatic personalities we have known is Lucky Ali, the singer songwriter, composer and actor. Whereas it is well known that his father was the legendary comedian Mehmood, what is less known is that Lucky is the nephew of Meena Kumari. With genes such as his this Mumbai and Mussourie educated boy could have joined the ranks of Bollywood’s star sons and gone on to a career of respectable mediocrity. But Ali was cut from a different cloth.
Eschewing his early introduction in front of the camera he chose music as his career branching out into other areas where his free and unhindered spirit led him. At different times of his life he has bred horses, sold carpets and been an organic farmer. We still recall him strumming his guitar and singing his soulful compositions at friends’ homes in the mid ’80s. By the ’90s when his first album Sunoh was released to acclaim those of us who knew his talent thought it had been long overdue. This week sees a resurrection of that early success, Ali has teamed up with Mahesh Mathai to shoot a video version of Sunoh in Leh in which he will be featured accompanied by chanting Buddhist Monks and local musicians. “This is
going to be fun!” says the maverick.
>> Only a few years back when hacks like us planned stories on the New Restaurateurs or the Young F&B Turks or some such, along with AD Singh, Rahul Akerkar and Moshe Shek, the name of Sanjay Narang would feature prominently. After all, the putative restaurant mogul, a graduate of hotel management from Cornell had already segued his family holdings in the Ambassador Hotel and the Talk of the Town into new age well-oiled conglomerates in step with India’s post reform environment.
His experience with Ambassador Sky Chef – the air catering division of the Ambassador Group of Hotels – landed him a job as head of the air catering division of Taj Group and his own company MARS set up with his sister Richa heralded Mumbai’s fast food boom. Besides his business activities, Sanjay had a high-profile personal life, dating and being engaged to actresses and TV hosts like Raageshwari Loomba and Sushmita Sen and his photographs would appear in the city’s party pages regularly. And then whoosh: he disappeared into thin air after around the time his last venture Tendulkar’s did not do as well as hoped for. Friends said he was living the life of a retired country squire in Mussourie overseeing his businesses by remote control. Others said that he was ill and seeking rest. This picture we are pleased to see, shows him looking well and happy and back to old form at a nightclub. Interestingly, the attractive lady with him is Richa Sethia, daughter of the erstwhile swashbuckling London millionaire Nirmal Sethia whose son was reported to be squiring some high profile Mumbai socialites recently. Nice!