Remembering Rajni-bhai

Tomorrow marks the centennial anniversary of one of the city’s tallest citizens, the late great barrister Rajni Patel, who had been a dear friend of our family’s and of ours. In his life, Rajni bhai had worn many hats, that of a leftist, a legal luminary, a Congressman and close confidante of the Nehru family, and an avowed patriot.

He had been known for his progressive, secular and liberal views, and had done much to promote art, science and civic values in the city. And fittingly, tomorrow will see the launch of a slew of programmes and initiatives in his memory.

Bakul and Rajni Patel
Bakul and Rajni Patel

“Several projects by the Rajni Patel Memorial Foundation including a book on Rajni; Jail Reforms, a joint project with the Tata Memorial Hospital for cancer care, school education assistance projects and free legal aid, amongst others, will be implemented throughout the year,” said his doting wife Bakul, herself a student of the TISS, who has devoted her life to propagating the values that she shared with Rajni.

Soli Sorabjee
Soli Sorabjee

The day will start with tributes and garlanding of the striking statue at the Rajni Patel Memorial Garden of the statesman, as his admirers, in billowing legal robes, remember him, his head erect. And in the evening, eminent jurist & former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee, will speak on ‘Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties’ at the Rajni Patel Memorial Lecture at the Nehru Centre, to a hall filled with exactly the crowd Rajni bhai would have loved to engage with: lawyers, doctors, scientists, artists, journalists and intellectuals.

Of course, had he been alive, the discussion following the talk would have undoubtedly carried on late into the night on the verandah of his elegant apartment across the road, the scene of much electric intellectual discourse. But alas, in his absence, his friends and admirers will have only the stars in the sky to aim their questions to, the brightest one tomorrow undoubtedly being that of the late great Rajni bhai.

That magic moment
“I saw him enter the plane but I wasn’t exactly sure if it was P C Sorcar Jr, illusionist who had, in 2000, made the Taj Mahal disappear,” said noted photographer Chirodeep Chaudhuri about this striking portrait of the iconic Bengali illusionist and magician he had recently shot.

PC Sorcar Jr. PIC/Chirodeep Chaudhuri
PC Sorcar Jr. PIC/Chirodeep Chaudhuri

“There was no accompanying fanfare or even a minor flutter amongst the passengers, and so it took the matter-of-fact confirmation by my friend, who was travelling with us to settle the matter - it was P C Sorcar Jr.

Travelling with his family. My wife joked about his moustache and we speculated whether it was part of his make-up...one that is painted on,” said Chaudhuri who after delighting his many fans with his sensitive and elegiac portraits of suburban railway commuters is currently working on a series of pictures of air travellers.

What made him capture the effervescent and flamboyant Sorcar in such a startlingly still pose?
“In the tiredness of a 2.5-hour flight and the chaos of deplaning at Bombay, I forgot about Mr Sorcar,” says the photographer.

“And then I spotted him again, waiting behind two trolley loads of luggage outside the men’s washroom just below the face of a moustache sporting-turban wearing man drawn on the wall. I just had to shoot-photographer’s instinct, you could say!” says Chaudhuri.

Sheer magic is what we say.

Roasting Seth now
Those who were present can’t stop talking about the ultra glam no-holds-barred All-India Bakchod Roast of Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor held in Mumbai last month, featuring Karan Johar and Rajeev Masand.

Ranveer Singh Karan Johar
Ranveer Singh and Karan Johar

We hear it was strictly PG-18, with non-stop jokes about both the stars’ alleged girlfriends (who were in the audience) and even saw Ranveer planting a big kiss on KJo’s lips!

Suhel Seth Vir Das
Suhel Seth and Vir Das

Now word comes in that Delhi will also have its very own roast next month - where the none other than funny man Vir Das and his posse of roasters will have a go at the maverick Suhel Seth. To be held at Siri Fort on February 1, it promises to be another laugh-a-thon! Just hope Seth doesn’t insult any national sportspeople on stage this time though!

Another Shroff in films
“The documentary is called Black Sheep. The title was thought of by my director, Reshel Shah Kapoor. It basically identifies something, or in this case, someone different-someone who is seen as an outcast within society because they are different in some way,” says young Krishna Shroff, daughter of Ayesha-Jackie, and sister of teen heartthrob Tiger, about the 70-minute long feature length documentary she’s recently co-produced featuring Mumbai’s transgender community, which is already garnering raves from those who’ve seen it.

(From left) Ayesha Shroff, with son Tiger and daughter Krishna; The documentary by Reshel Shah Kapoor, Black Sheep. Pic/Divina Rikhye
(From left) Ayesha Shroff, with son Tiger and daughter Krishna; The documentary by Reshel Shah Kapoor, Black Sheep. Pic/Divina Rikhye

“We followed the lives of a group of transgender women for one month in order to portray them as the women that they are individual, powerful, and beautiful beings. We filmed this over the course of a month in October last year, and are planning to release it this year,” says the poised young woman, a student of cinema.

“It was a huge learning experience for me; And by the end of it, I began to view these women so differently and had formed great friendships with each and every one of them,” she says, adding, “This was my first official step into the world of film.”

And will the attractive lass follow her brother’s successful foray in to acting?

Watch this space.

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