>> And this from Rushdie: “Great news. Midnight’s Children went through the Indian censor board today without a single cut being asked for. So, now we can fix the opening.
End of January: India here we come! So thrilled to be returning to the town of my birth, home of the Indian movie industry, with our movie, based on a book that was inspired by that town.”
And so, the city that never sleeps will get to embrace its very own Midnight’s Children!
The former Mrs Ravi Shankar
>> Our only two bits to add to the Ravi Shankar legend is a tangential one: we reside in the same building as his first wife Annapurna Devi, in fact, have been doing so for the past three decades.
And though the great musician and music teacher (said to be more talented than her famous husband) is a famous recluse and hardly ventures out, we remember seeing her many years ago in the lift — a slight, extremely shy, beautiful lady who like all great artists — cared naught for material and social niceties. And so, when we heard of her former husband’s passing we contemplated dropping in to offer our condolences. But then we thought better of it. Respect for another’s choice is more important than any thing else we felt. So we send our condolences in this manner.
>> For all those fascinated by producer-director Aditya Chopra’s extreme need for privacy (the word Garboesque suggests itself) here’s a valuable insight. “He wants to be anonymous because above all he values his freedom,” said someone who knows the family well.
“At one time, one of India’s largest conglomerates wanted to invest Rs 500 million in Yash Raj Films and after much consultation the offer was turned down by Aditya on one ground, he’d lose his independence!” says our source. “That’s how important it is to him!” We like!
>> As parties go, this one promises to be one of the splashier ones Mumbai is priming itself for. Glam hostess Anu Dewan, one half of Mumbai’s beautiful couple (she’s wife of HDIL’s Sunny) will be hosting a party on Christmas Eve at her sumptuous home in Pali Hill.
And given the couple’s wide circle of friends in Bollywood and society, invitees are wondering who will play Santa, what will be in the stockings and who’ll be kissing under the mistletoe!
Obviously, we all look alike
>> Hoo boy, however, many billionaires we spawn and missiles we launch, there’s no getting around the fact that not only does the West think Rahul Gandhi is the grandson of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi but that all Indians worship cows and do yoga.
And now to add insult to injury, on the sad occasion of the demise of sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, more than one TV channel abroad has carried the news accompanied with pictures of a certain longhaired guru from Bangalore! Can’t you just hear them in the newsrooms: “Sitar? Friend of the Beatles? Must be that bloke with the psychedelic eyes and hippy threads!”
Nandy’s motorcycle diaries
>> Who can forget the Bangladesh war, the frenzy and fervour it fostered in India, (like the rumours of an American fleet parked in the Bay of Bengal, waiting to strike); the concert it inspired, the protests it generated and, of course, the poetry that got written along the way? And this week after 40 years and much ilish flowing down the Padma, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the liberation struggle, the Government of Bangladesh is going to honour a few people who had supported its independence movement — and one of them happens to be our very own Pritish Nandy — film producer, poet, former Shiv Sena MP in the upper House, human rights activist editor and all round maverick.
“Nandy, barely entering his 20s then, was one of the most ardent campaigners for a free Bangladesh,” we are informed. “He reported first hand on the war for freedom, translated the works of the then little known poets of the Bangladesh movement and collaborated with British painter Feliks Topolski to bring out poems from Bangladesh.” “What’s more all the leaders of the freedom struggle were his personal friends, including Sheikh Mujibur Rehman who became the first Prime Minister of Bangladesh and interestingly, (this is a very Nandy twist) the man who subsequently assassinated him, Major Dalim!” says our source. And if all this sounds a bit far fetched we present a portrait of the man himself in his revolutionary poet days to prove that Rajya Sabha MPs also rocked it at one time!
Overheard at a Mumbai party
“Arrey why don’t you tell your father to pass the banking regulation yaar?”
(Note to self: What on earth are we doing at parties like this?)
Dancing on the street
>> Twenty-five years ago we recall writing one of the first articles on the then soon to be launched haute couture store Ensemble. It was for a magazine called Libaas and we remember meeting all of its seven designers (Sunita, Anil Kapoor’s wife was one of them) and being particularly impressed by the young Abu-Sandeep and their crushed silk skirts!
So it was only fitting that on Wednesday night we begged off some other sterling events to make it to the Tahiliani siblings’ 25th anniversary of the store that started the whole fashion fever in India in the first place! And it was every thing we expected and more. Stylish, edgy fashionable and fun. But what’s best was how the guests led by Tarun in their LBDs and gowns spilled out on to the pavement outside with flutes of bubbly in hand — reminiscent of Paris in the 50s! More! We want more on the street and in your face!