Parsis in Bollywood

Jun 08, 2012, 07:45 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

>> Now that the vivacious Farah Khan is making her acting debut in Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi, opposite Boman Irani, it would do well to recall the great contribution that Parsis have made to Bollywood. Farah’s mother, after all is a Parsi, which makes her and her brother Sajid half-Parsi like their cousins Zoya and Farhan Akhtar.

(They are related through their mothers). Other half Parsis are John Abraham and Zayed Khan (again through their mothers). Then there are Parsis like Mickey Contractor and Shiamak Davar who have made a huge contribution to multiplex cinema through make up and choreography.

Boman Irani and Farah Khan

Avan Contractor responsible for styling Hrithik’s hair in Lakshya and Aamir’s in every movie since Dil Chahta Hain. Erstwhile actresses like Daisy, Honey and Aruna Irani, Persis Khambatta, Perizad Zorabian, Tanaaz Currim, directors of offbeat films like Sooni Taroporewala, Kaizad Gustad, Homi Adajania, and of course Parsis like Ronnie Screwvala and Zarina Mehta of UTV who are some of the most powerful and influential producers in the industry.

 Zoya Akhtar

So from Sorab Modi, Nadia Hunterwalli to Boman Irani, and Farah Khan, we salute Parsis. We are sure we have left out many worthy members of the community — which readers are welcome to point out — but suffice to say that like in every other profession they enter — their contribution to Bollywood is substantial and profound.

All quiet at Wasabi — dining with the stars
>>  Such has been the impact of the Saif Ali Khan-Iqbal Sharma brawl at the Wasabi at the Taj, that a visit to the restaurant always gives us a delicious sense of frisson when we dine there.

Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan

Which member of Bollywood’s brat pack will we run in to? Who’ll trade the first insult? What will we tell the cops when we file the FIR have been thoughts that have crossed our mind more often than we should admit. Therefore, on Wednesday night while we were eating our white fish Carpaccio at the premier Japanese eatery and in walked two of Bollywood’s hottest stars (whose affair a much speculated one has never been confirmed) we were naturally ready for any thing.

Wasabi at the Taj

The couple was led politely to the restaurant’s PDR and we are happy to report they carried out this exercise in a civil manner, ordered their dinner courteously, sipped their drinks in an orderly fashion, and conducted themselves with the utmost civility and grace. No one spoke loudly, no harsh words or blows were called for and nothing whatsoever was exchanged between our two tables except some slices of excellent birthday cake. And who was the couple you will ask? Ah gentle reader, besides telling you that he wore a baseball cap and looked bright eyed and bushy tailed and she wore a LBD, which showed, off her lissome long legs to perfection, we believe in allowing fellow diners their privacy. We’ll leave the FIRs and the press statements to other people.

There goes the neighbourhood!
>>  Talk about power by association. It seems there’s no end to the Congress party’s attempts to co-opt the likes of Sachin Tendulkar to boost its waning popularity.

Not only has it tried to make the Little Master the Congress’ weapon of mass seduction with his induction in to the Upper House, but now its making sure that no one misses out its proximity to the Indian icon: Guess who Tendulkar’s official MP residence on Tughlaq road in Delhi adjoins?

None other than Rahul Gandhi’s! Obviously this is what the party spin doctors think being ‘street smart’ refers to.

He’s got the Mercedes bends 
>>  What is it about Vijay Mallya that brings out the wit in people? We’ve all heard the jokes about flying Kingfisher on beer, keeping his pilots flying and son grounded or personally laying off his airhostesses.

Vijay Mallya

There’s something about the beer barrel, er, baron and his larger than life persona that fascinates people. So now, here’s some news that’s sure to get the jokesters going: Apparently the flamboyant industrialist’s latest acquisition is a vintage Mercedes car, which he purchased in London for close to a million dollars! Wonder what this latest snippet will unleash in the form of SMS humour. 

When we met Vishy
>>  Watching Viswanathan Anand receive the accolades and appreciation that come his way with his characteristic humility and grace we could not help remembering the weekend we had spent with the legend judging an international men’s pageant in Jodhpur together. 

Maharajah of Jodhpur

Viswanathan Anand

As unlikely as we were to judge such a contest, the choice of our other judges was equally curious: there was Prabhu Deva (whose film Rowdy Rathore is breaking box office records), Sanjay Leela Bhansali, (whose sister Bela’s film Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi,) is keenly awaited, Raveena Tandon and Mallika Sarabhai and the Maharajah of Jodhpur.

Prabhu Deva

Mallika Sarabhai

For many hours, our motley group was required to sit in one of the Jodhpur palace’s windy ballrooms and interview semi nude men who’d come in from all over the world to win the title. There was much rolling of eyeballs and laconic remarks between us as we went through the motions and I do not know what the Grandmaster made of this assignment, but I recall Mallika Sarabhai commenting to me sotto voce about the nubile men we were judging : “Why on earth are they doing this?” To which we responded, “No Mallika, the question is: why on earth are we doing this?” 

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