Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Shahid Kapoor would present what according to us, is his finest performance, on the weekend preceding his wedding to Mira Rajput, the girl his family found for him (making all the maidens in India cry).
Kapoor is not only profoundly talented as an actor, but he employs dance as part of his performance arsenal in the way that someone like Alec Guinness employed intonation and voice.
Shahid Kapoor and Mira Rajput
This Sunday, Kapoor's performance at the IIFA 2015 held in Malaysia and brought to us by Colors, which saw him enter the stage on a flying, flame-throwing ATV, and dancing to rousing numbers from Haider, stood out from the rest of the fluff like a diamond in the coal.
India's stars have an astonishing physicality when they dance, and the best of them, like Hrithik, Salman, and even Govinda, have mesmerized us over the years.
But Kapoor's performance transcended dance, or the film it alluded to, or even the occasion, and took us into the realms of opera, poetry, and even installation art, as he displayed controlled anger, unspoken violence and rugged beauty in what must be the most unique boy's night out in the run up to his betrothal.
There is much about Kapoor that is unique. There is his talent, his refusal to play the industry games but above all there is his grace. Because to know that one is infinitely more gifted than most of one's contemporaries as Kapoor must and yet to display no frustration or rancour when their success is denied to one is, according to us, a state of immense grace.
But all this is irrelevant in the week that Kapoor has taken a performance at a schlock film awards night to something that resembles high art; certainly irrelevant on a day when he is getting married to a girl 13 years younger, who his parents chose for him and when all the maidens in India, including this one, are crying.
When the stars descended
"I remember, as a child, being taken to the homes of family and friends for iftaar roza-breaking parties," said popular politician Baba Siddiqui, who along with son Zeeshan, (back after completing his business degree from London's Regents Business School) hosted the mother of all iftaar bashes at Taj Lands End, Bandra on Sunday.
Salman Khan, Huma Qureshi, Mini Mathur, Kabir Khan and others at the party
"This year's dinner though, was even more special, as it was for the first time ever that women from the field of business, films and politics graced the occasion," he said. Seen partaking of the festivities were film industry personalities such as Salman Khan and his family, including father Salim and sisters Alvira Agnihotri and Arpita Khan with their husbands, Varun Dhawan, Shatrughan Sinha, Jacqueline Fernandez, Sajid Nadiadwala, Sushant Singh Rajput, Huma Qureshi and Sonu Sood among others.
Salman Khan with Baba Siddique and Varun Dhawan
"We also had four former Maharashtra CMs, including Prithviraj Chavan and Ashok Chavan, and a large presence of top lawyers and doctors," said the host. And even though we could not attend the occasion, just hearing about the traditional iftaar cuisine which started off with fruits, dates and dry fruits, and went on to a sumptuous banquet that included two kinds of biryani, kheema mutton samosas, chicken tikka, mutton kebab followed by malpua, rabdi, falooda and kesar phirni, makes us drool.
And when the guests were not partaking of this banquet, there was much bonding: Salman Khan's table included his father Salim along with Kabir Khan and wife Mini Mathur, Varun Dhawan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Huma Qureshi, Elli Avram, Sangeeta Bijlani, Suniel Shetty and Esha Gupta. In fact, it was noticed that the superstar got up and gallantly offered his seat to his attractive Kick co-star when he noticed her standing without a seat, said a guest. On such tiny gestures, rumours are built.
Lit debut of the year
"It's called Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War (Fourth Estate) and is an astonishing story, movingly told, about the strands of forgotten family, military and Indian history," said our friend, the Delhi-based bibliophile Sunil Sethi, about author-playwright Girish Karnad's son, Raghu's first offering. "It's one of the great literary debuts of 2015."
Raghu Karnad at the launch. Pic/Ram Rahman
And this weekend, in what is described as 'a jam-packed and electrifying launch' at the British Council, to hear Karnad engage with author Patrick French and military historian Rana Chhina was a juicy slice of Delhi's culturati, including publisher Chiki Sarkar, with husband Alex Travelli of the Economist, photographer Ram Rahman, lawyer Karuna Nundy, and Meru Gokhale.
"The story is of the author's maternal grandfather Bobby, a Parsi from Calicut, and his brothers-in-law who all perished in World War II as young men," said Sunil. "It's had major reviews in the West in the Guardian, FT, and historian Simon Schama has given it a rave."
Of course, it helps that Karnad who is based in Bangalore, and who previously worked at Outlook and Time Out, has inherited not only his father's famous intellect but his good looks as well. "Interesting it seems scores of young women are really, really interested in an Indian history of the Second World War," commented a bemused observer about Karnad's mobbing by female fans.
Of book lovers and stars
"Trust Mahesh to do everything differently!" said Anil Dharker about his next Literature Live! evening later this month, which features the prolific film producer and director and the man who perhaps singlehandedly invented the TV soundbyte Mahesh Bhatt, about the book he co-authored, All That Could Have Been, which arose out of his movie, Hamari Adhuri Kahani, starring Vidya Balan and Emran Hashmi.
Anil Dharker, Vidya Balan and Mahesh Bhatt
"Will Vidya Balan and other actors be there? Possibly," said Dharker, adding, "But that shouldn't matter to you book lovers, who will surely come purely to hear how the written word and the visual world complement each other from one of our most provocative auteurs."