>>"Davos is brilliantly well-attended this year and amongst the Indians here are P Chidambaram, Kamal Nath, Prithviraj Chavan, Anand Sharma, Prannoy Roy, Pawan Munjal, Sunil Mittal, N Chandrashekaran of TCS, Naina Lal Kidwai, Cyrus Mistry and yours truly!" said the irrepressible Suhel Seth from the mandatory Swiss annual power conclave for sundry Masters of the Universe.
(‘Davos wallahs’ as Vinod Mehta had sneeringly dismissed them!)
But there’s other news emanating from Davos besides that of the stratospheric cross-pollination of business interests and government policy.
"Tina Brown and I travelled together from London to Zurich," said Seth, "And she was deeply anguished over the Tejpal saga! Am having dinner with her tonight at an event she is hosting to celebrate ‘Women in Power’ and I will hear more" he said.
When asked what exactly the celebrated media maven Brown had to say about Tejpal, whose magazine and writings she’d once been a big champion of, Seth said, "She was shocked and pained by all that had transpired and especially concerned about Shoma."
How this will play against the heightened support and concern for the feisty victim of Tejpal’s assault, God only knows, but we agree with Seth when he prefixed his recount of the conversation with Brown as ‘the big scoop’…
The poet and the photographer
>> For us, they were two of a kind. A brilliant poet and a brilliant photojournalist, both from similar backgrounds and communities whose oeuvre is imbued with their peerless empathy and humanity. Which is why on hearing of the passing of Dalit poet Namdeo Dhasal last week we requested Sudharak Olwe, the international award winning photographer, to send us a portrait of his friend and mentor.
"Not only me, but millions have lost a true friend," said Olwe when he sent in these photo tributes. "Even to the unknown he was a saviour. I was touched that he came to publish my books from his hospital bed. It would be my endeavour to follow his advice to continue to depict the problems of the deprived and the downtrodden through my photography," said Olwe, adding, "He was himself a good artist apart from being a poet and writer."
Debuting with Fireflies
>> "I’m going to be screening my feature film Fireflies end of this month and would like you to see it! Would you be keen?" messaged Sabal Shekhawat, the dishy ad film maker and our erstwhile neighbour about his maiden feature offering Fireflies which debuted last year at New York Indian Film Festival in May. Starring Rahul Khanna and Monica Dogra and Arjun Mathur, Fireflies is the story of two brothers Shiv and Rana reprised by Rahul and Arjun who don’t get along.
Their different life choices and personalities render them on opposite sides of life’s coin. Shiv, embodies the life of a successful banker embracing with elan the sparkling universe that his career affords him while Rana, a law school dropout gets by on his wits.
The film shot primarily in English examines themes of growing up family, brotherhood and love according to its liner notes.
Shekhawat, the son of a tea planter who began life as a copywriter and then worked with legendary ad filmmaker Shantanu Sheorey before branching out on his own, has more than 18 years of experience making ad films.
But now it seems the feature bug has got him good and proper. Not only does the trailer of Fireflies demonstrate a deft directorial hand but also we hear Shekhawat’s second feature project is already in the pipeline.
As for our response to his enquiry whether we’d like to watch Fireflies at the forthcoming screening, given our fondness for intense emotional dramas shot on small budgets — it was: "Definitely! Thanks!"
Pot calling kettle department
>> Two middle-aged SoBo women known for their peroxide hair, age inappropriate dressing and their ubiquitous social presence. Both with eligible sons of a marriageable age with slightly wild reputations.
The older of these women has opposed the pairing of her progeny with a foreign model on the grounds that she wouldn’t fit in with the traditional family values.
The younger, famous for her loud booming voice and sharp tongue is known to gossip about the going ons of every other kid in town.
Both were in for some drubbing when they came up as the subject of conversation amongst Gen Next. "If our friend’s mom is not allowing him to marry the woman he loves on the grounds of her daring dresses etc what about the lady’s own sartorial choices, which given her size and age — are an affront on the eye," said one critic. "As for her younger friend’s penchant of carrying tales to parents of kids — how come the misdemeanours of her own are swept under the Persian?" asked another.
Ways of seeing
A valuable lesson learnt at a friend’s apartment the other day. She sweeps open the curtains of her sea facing Cuffe Parade apartment to show me the view.
"Look," she says, "A view of Mumbai’s historic growth laid out in front of us: its endless skyline, its famous sea and sea faring life, Nariman Point’s iconic buildings, many of them recognisable as the engines of India’s economic growth, its two premier hotels the Taj and the Oberoi, in the distance, the High Court, the stock exchange and a fishing — vibrant and alive village — home to the city’s original inhabitants…"
And to be sure, laid out in front of me is a composite of much of Mumbai’s character, a dazzling overview.
But I am equally struck by my friends way of seeing: a few evenings ago, at another friend’s apartment in the same vicinity, I’d heard the host say to his guests, "I’ve boarded up the windows on this side, as they looked right out on to a ‘slum’.
The same fishing village, lovingly described by my friend as ‘a vibrant and alive fishing village — home to the city’s original inhabitants’ in this man’s words ‘a slum’, something to be shunned.’
Ways of seeing. Something of significance, history and beauty through the eyes of one person can become an eyesore in another’s. An important lesson learnt. As important as the view from one's balcony.