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Literary muses and models

"I did a 'literary figure'-inspired shoot today with Pallavi Datta's 'Style Diaries' blog," says Lisa Ray. "Amrita Pritam was my inspiration and I was struck by something Pallavi shared with me about her: she created with passion, even when the world wasn't ready for her passion…we shot in Chikki Doshi's warehouse, surrounded by dusty wardrobes and books to express the fact that while she poured her emotions into words, the world had moved on..."

Lisa Ray
Lisa Ray

The shoot had obviously taken its toll on the green-eyed model-actress. It resulted in these sallow, moody images and her tweet: 'In an #AmritaPritam state of mind.'

Perhaps the only occasion when the highbrow author's name would be preceded by a hash tag!

MAJOR! DRAMA!
"We first met him when we'd gone to Nottingham to do a shoot with Aishwarya and Abhishek for L'Officiel," says Sandeep Khosla. in his characteristic drawl. He was talking about his friend, the London-based fashion photographer Ram Shergill whose stunning exhibition 'Kaleidoscope' organised by Tasveer in partnership with Vacheron Constantin opened at Story Limited, the Saffron Art gallery in Prabhadevi on Tuesday night.

(from left) Rishab Suresh, Sandeep Khosla, Ram Shergill and Abu Jani
(from left) Rishab Suresh, Sandeep Khosla, Ram Shergill and Abu Jani

Depicting his in-your-face art and photographic oeuvre, the exhibition features the arc, high camp, Alexander McQueen-inspired glamour world of artsy-fashiony London. "The first words we heard him say were 'MAJOR' followed by 'DRAMA'," laughs Sandeep, recalling Shergill's famous bon mots. "We liked him instantly and we've stayed friends ever since."

In fact, the first time we set eyes on the Glamazon photographer who wears his Punjabi hinterland antecedents like an exotic cuff around his sleeve was at Antillia when Abu and Sandeep had released their fashion tomes (shot brilliantly by Shergill).

Then too, the first two words which had come to mind when we'd been introduced to the photographer were. 'Major' and 'Drama'. In capitals.

"On Tuesday, he wore a black with real mirror work zardozi jacket that we'd specially made for him last year," says Khosla.

Major. Drama. Word.

On his lady's secret service
OK so which dapper middle-aged Delhi-based minister from the earlier regime had a thing or two for bestowing staggeringly drop dead jewels on his er lady friends? A well-heeled Mumbai diva's almond eyes turned even more sparkling, when she described a necklace she was shown by a reputed Sobo jeweller recently, which had been ordered by the Minister.

Katrina KaifAmrita Sher-Gil. Pic/Government Museum and Art Gallery, ChandigarhZafar Hai
Katrina Kaif, Amrita Sher-Gil. Pic/Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh and Zafar Hai

"The stones were as big as pigeons' eggs," she said in awe.

No, we do not know if delivery was taken before or after the recent national elections though.

Who'll make the best Amrita Sher-Gil?
For as long as we can recall, someone or the other has expressed a long cherished wish to make a film on the Indo-European artist Amrita Sher-Gil. A stunning femme fatale born to a Indian Sikh father and a Hungarian Jewish mother, who carved a dazzling career in art, lived a bohemian and free-spirited life and died tragically young, Sher-Gil's life has all the ingredients of a hauntingly beautiful movie.

Throw in a couple of famous suitors (Pandit Nehru was rumoured to be one) rumours of her bisexuality and an unmatched cache in Indian's modernist movement, and it's a wrap!

Over the years, various actresses have hoped to bring the actress to life: Deepti Naval was allegedly working on a biopic of the actress, Zeenat Aman was rumoured to be have been considered for the role in her heyday, Simi's name used to come up with predictable regularity (her sister Amrita (Gugi) is supposed to have been named after the painter), and so on and so forth.

But all these projects never seemed to get off the ground and one heard unsubstantiated stories that the reason was, Sher-Gil's nephew, the Baroda-based artist Vivan Sundaram, keeper of her estate, was a tad possessive about his aunt's legacy.

Be that as it may, we recall a conversation we had not too long ago with the dashing director Zafar Hai, whose film on the 100 years of the Taj had won notice, when he told us he was working on a film on Sher-Gil.
Who, we enquired, amongst the new crop of actresses would do the role (that calls for an Indo-West appearance) justice?

Hai hadn't elaborated.

So now, unsolicited, we offer him our own two bits on the subject. Who amongst the new crop of stars would make the best Amrita Sher-Gil?

Why, who else but the Indo-Western sultry and very saleable Katrina Kaif, who given her drought in the awards stakes might just jump at an offer to show off her acting chops?

So will the film on one of India's most enigmatic artists ever get made? Fingers crossed. Meanwhile, we are pondering on why the Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Ismail Merchant-James Ivory triumvirate hadn't got round to making a film on Amrita Sher-Gil. It was so up there, Laura Ashley, shot through an Argyle sock kind of film.

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