>> How strange life is. The late director Rituparno Ghosh had been a colleague of ours during our Kolkata days in the 80s while we toiled as a humble copywriter at Ram Ray’s hot and creative ad agency Response. The other colleague had been Suhel Seth.
Even though we worked in different departments — Ritu in film, Seth as an accounts executive and us in creative — for some reason we were drawn to each other and had kept tabs on each other’s progress over the decades. And whereas Seth who went on to be one of the country’s celebrated marketing gurus never gave an indication of his talent it was Ritu who had always struck as some one born to succeed. Heavily influenced by Ray and Tagore (through their books and movie) while we lived in Bengal we always knew that Ghosh would follow in their footsteps. He shared their deep passion for Bengal and their creative genius for bringing it alive.
RIP Ritu, you went too early but have left a body of work that does you justice. As Yeats said: ‘Perfection of the life or of the work...’
>> And since we are here for a graduation ceremony in Montreal and everywhere we turn there are whoops of joy and hats in the air, as families celebrate the success of their progeny, let us ponder on the phenomena a bit. Full of ceremony and solemnity and the graduation ceremony is a Western concept and regarded as rites of passage for the young adult, a kind of modern initiation ceremony in to the world. And some of the wisest words we have heard in recent times have been spoken at grad ceremonies. Of course, there is the legendary Steve Jobs’s commencement address at Stanford in 2005 in which he invoked students to ‘Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish’ that has achieved cult status.
Now as profound and counter intuitive comes the grad speech made by pop culture guru TV and film writer Joss Whedon at Wesleyan this year in which he advised students to embrace the contradictions and tensions of their lives and personalities. Worth watching! As for us, graduate we did, from Mumbai University many decades ago, and not only was there no ceremony or gown or speech but come to think of it — we never did get around to collecting our college degree which even as we write this must be gathering dust in some governmental office. (Note to self: Pick up that degree ASAP!)
Empire state of mind
>> From this weekend on we shall be in a New York state of mind: with the latest issue of the New Yorker tucked under our arm, we shall wear all black and sensible walking shoes and pound the pavements looking for bagel shops at the West Village, drop in at Broadway and off Broadway shows, pop into jazz clubs and bookshops, idle afternoons away in Tribeca, hunt down Strawberry fields in Central Park and listen to John Lennon on our iPod while lying on the grass there.
If we are lucky, there will be some great new exhibitions to see while we gallery hop in the Meat Packing district and many new restaurants all the way from China Town to Fifth Avenue to discover.
Ah New York! We already feel like Alicia Keys as she belts out Jay Z’s immortal lyrics: ‘New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of/There’s nothin’ you can’t do/Now you’re in New York/These streets will make you feel brand new/Big lights will inspire you/Let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York.’
Our Fellow Almodovarian Mallika
>> And for all those who are baying for her blood because of all manner of supposed transgressions (clothes, accent, views, existence) we would like to say that on the few occasions we met Mallika Sherawat — not only were we charmed and impressed by the Haryanvi motormouth but she struck us as a bright young woman who knew exactly where she was going and what she wanted. That and the fact that she shared our love for Pedro Almodovar movies is more relevant than her accent as far as we are concerned.