Of the many things Karan did (he more or less invented the big fat Punjabi wedding; he brought fashion awareness to Bollywood; he broke down the barriers between SoBo and NoBo, and society and Bollywood), one of the most significant is that he taught his industry colleagues the importance of networking.
Because of his affable personality and the regard his parents commanded, KJo found he had friends in all kinds of camps, from the Bachchans to SRK, from YRF to the Kapoors, Johar was welcome into the homes and hearts of everyone who mattered.
Kiran Rao and Aamir Khan
And not only did this cross pollination enrich his films, it also resulted in many barriers being broken between the various Bollywood camps, thanks to the common affection they held the producer-director in. And few appear to have picked up the art of making friends and influencing Bollywood as well as KJo’s protégé and friend Ayan Mukherjee, who appears to have taken a leaf out of his mentor’s book.
Not only is the talented young director a close friend and confidante of Ranbir Kapoor (and through him, of his mother Neetu), but his circle of friends also includes such hitherto aloof denizens as Kiran Rao, and through her, Aamir Khan.
(from left) Ranbir Kapoor and Ayan Mukherjee
And what is even more interesting that just like in his wake, KJo had brought together unlikely personalities, Ayan’s rapport with Kiran and Aamir has encouraged a deepening of friendship between Aamir and KJo, whose world views and films until now could hardly be called convergent. They often spend evenings at Aamir’s home, amongst friends.
India’s most successful director and its most saleable actor? Will their rapport fructify into a film? And which Khan will sulk into his coffee cups as a result? Just saying...
Aamir's 'Me time'
And on the subject of Aamir, word comes in that he’s resolutely enjoying some ‘me time’, a departure from his usual driven and intense approach to life. “He’s allowing himself that extra helping of food and drink,” says an insider.
“And it’s doing him a world of good. Except...” Except what? “Well, there’s still a song sequence left to be shot for Peekay, and the perfectionist says he needs another four months before he can face the camera to be in shape again!”
It’s a trope that’s been shared only by those in the inner circles of this upper crust Sobo’s gang of friends. It harks back to the time when this long limbed Bollywood star was dating the scion of an aviation and spirits empire, and he’d made the mistake of admitting to his star girlfriend that the glamour-struck wife of a high-flying businessman had propositioned him.
Angered by the woman’s indiscretion, the actress is said to have publicly confronted the husband of the woman in question and warned him to tell his wife to keep ‘her hands off my guy’ while on a Far East jaunt. The ensuing awkwardness was papered over hastily, and when the scion and his Bollywood star broke up and went their separate ways, the incident was all but forgotten.
Until last week at the IPL in Dubai, when members of the group were stunned to see that not only were the actress and the husband partying together as if they were the best of friends, but they all also posed happily for a series of cosy pictures together! “How star struck can you get,” said one onlooker. It’s called social expediency darlings, grow up and smell the espresso!
Guha and Stewart
They are both icons of the liberal set, respected for their wisdom, wit and ability to call a spade a bloody shovel. So last Thursday, when noted Indian historian, writer, and social commentator, Ramchandra Guha, appeared on Comedy Central’s Daily Show with its popular host, stand-up comedian and acerbic critic of all that’s wrong with the American Right, Jon Stewart, the expected sparks did fly.
Ramachandra Guha and Jon Stewart
Guha, who spoke about his new book, ‘Gandhi Before India’ made a compelling case for failure when he said that the history of India’s independence might not have been written at all if the young barrister had succeeded in passing his law school exams To which Stewart put on his ‘droll face’ and said, “let this be a lesson for all Jewish mothers... if your son does not make it as lawyer or doctor...” Nice!
Colours of Life
And this weekend, we had the opportunity to re-enter the world of poetry again, thanks to our friend, the Chennai-based beauteous Anita R Ratnam, dancer and scholar, who asked that we read a few of our poems along with those of other poets we admired, for her creation ‘Circles of Love’ as part of the NCPA’s Dance Festival.
Anita R Ratnam
We say ‘re-enter’, because poetry has been our first calling. Before we even knew to read and write, we were hearing the works of the Great Romantics read to us by our father, and by the time we were ten, had already been on stage reciting our own ‘pomes’.
The poetry scene in those days was lively: Nissim Ezekiel was its godfather and committed mentor, Adil Jussawalla had published his anthology of Indian poets and had set up Clearing House to champion the cause of good local poets, Kamala Das, marooned on her settee at Bank House, was writing her beautiful verse under a canopy of trees and hosting Bahutantrika, a salon for poets to which the likes of Pritish Nandy would occasionally show up and recite his love poems to attractive women in the audience. And every now and then, a bright young poet would combust into brilliance.
Alas, those days have long past gone and poets have got better things to do, like write award- winning novels (yes Jeet?) or make advertising shorts. So, when Ratnam asked us to read a few poems, we responded with enthusiasm. We chose three of our own, one of Ezekiel’s (The Night of the Scorpion) and four of Ramanujan’s translations of classical Tamil works.
The performance included Ratnam’s ethereal dancing and narration, evocative music by the talented Vedanth Bharadwaj and our verse. Will we participate in more such proceedings? We hope so. We could do with some poetry in our lives. Poetry does not have a 56-inch chest or indulge in shady land deals in Haryana or shout during TV talks shows. Bring it!