>> The more things change, the more they stay the same. Many years ago, we recall the hushed whispers of outrage at home regarding the unfair treatment meted out to the reigning superstar of the day Dilip Kumar (Yusuf Khan).
As we recall it the state was casting aspersions about his patriotism on the grounds that a suspected Pakistani ‘spy’ had been found to possess an address book with his phone number (along with that of many others, mind you.)
On this slight evidence, the star’s house was raided and he was on the verge of being arrested. That a man like Dilip Kumar whose commitment to his country could be under suspicion had hurt not only the legendary actor but his legion of friends and fans as well.
History seems to be repeating itself in the case of Shah Rukh Khan. When will demagogues from both sides of the border realise that both countries want to move away from communal biases and embrace economic growth? It’s incidents like this that make people angry and bitter.
>> This year’s list of Republic Day honours seems to have been drawn up with considerable thought: all manner of constituents, communities and interest groups being acknowledged through the honour bestowed in their leaders. One such awardee is the noted playback singer Sudha Malhotra’s (Motwane) whose presence in a certain well-heeled slice of Mumbai society has also been substantial.
Discovered by Ghulam Haider at the age of 11 she attracted accolades from her debut playback engagement in Arzoo itself. Many critically acclaimed movies like Dhool Ka Phool, Barsat Ki Raat, Didi and Kala Paani followed with her crowning achievement being lending her voice for the musically fastidious director Raj Kapoor’s Prem Rog.
This and her marriage to the swashbuckling late Girdhar Motwane of the famed Chicago Radio family, one of Mumbai’s prominent society clans afforded the petite singer who graduated in music from Agra University a significant position in the city’s social life.
>> His stature as a leader of the country’s business community is unchallenged. With his suave and statesmanlike conduct that combines gravitas with style, the Padma Bhushan conferred on Adi Godrej, chairman of the Godrej group, has been well overdue. A Master’s graduate in Management from MIT, Godrej is also an outspoken and erudite speaker on matters of policy and governance.
Incidentally, as the current president of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Godrej joins a long and respected list of former presidents of the august body on whom similar honours have been conferred. Heavyweights like S Gopalakrishnan, B Muthuraman, K V Kamath, Sunil Bharti, Mittal, Y C Diweshwar and Rahul Bajaj. Which brings us to that familiar Indian green-eyed beast-jealousy. “Members of other august business bodies are saying that leadership of the CII is an asset when it comes to receiving the Padma Bhushan,” our source informed us. A question of sour grapes surely?
Trouble in paradise
îSometimes, as a diary writer one holds on to a piece of news — hoping it will change! For a few months now, we have known of the breakdown of the marriage of one of the city’s award winning architects (with the reputation of being something of an enfant terrible) with the daughter from a prominent family.
For a while, the two who’d created an idyllic life for themselves away from the madding crowd appeared to be resolving their differences and their friends and well-wishers had their fingers crossed.
But sadly their breakup has become common knowledge and with heavy heart we report that one more of the city’s beautiful couples has parted ways. Sigh!
>> Cruelty and kindness, violence and altruism often seem to be two sides of the same coin in this heaving metropolis. Our attention was drawn to the senseless attack on a Colaba octogenarian and animal activist on Sunday. “I’ve been seeing Narayan uncle since I was a little girl. We all called him the Colaba ‘Billiwala’,” writes in Malika Bhavnani. “He is a homeless man who lives in Colaba and has been religiously feeding the stray animals of Colaba ever since I can recall,” says the PR manager, animal lover who works with the NGO World for all active in the homing of street animals.
“He has no family and has adopted the strays of the streets as his own. Sometimes he goes hungry in order to feed them. He sits at the stairwell near the bus depot opposite the Piccadilly Restaurant at Electric House.”
And now for the horror. “At 10 pm on Sunday, Narayan uncle was sitting at his usual spot with his favourite four-legged friends when a young boy of about 18-20, along with his mother were seen walking past him. The young boy kicked one of uncle’s cats with a dirty look to which uncle requested him to desist from harming any of the animals. Uncle has a bamboo stick with him, which he often uses for support to sit and get up. This young chap snatched the stick from his hand and hit him vigorously until he dropped to the ground. First his left arm, then his right and he also hit him on his head.
The boy’s mother was yelling and asking him to stop but he did not listen. Finally, after he let go of all his anger, he walked away as though nothing had happened.” Horrified at the senseless violence we asked after the old man’s condition. “Uncle was then rushed to St George Hospital for an X-ray which showed broken bones. He is also lodging a police complaint.” And here’s the most shocking part of all: “Uncle says it was a random attack and he has never seen the boy before.”
Makes one’s hair rise. But then for every random attacker there’s a Malika Bhavnani. And a Narayan Uncle