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Sunday Lunch Box

>> A lady accustomed to Sunday brunches of excess, informs that Asia Society’s Sunday repast of another kind in the company of Irrfan Khan and his Lunch Box was unusually nourishing.

The film, directed by Ritesh Batra, is a rare serving of familiar Mumbai: dabbawallas, railway platforms and Malad — and a soufflé — soft plot, told ever so quietly. But hang on, for the noise may now start: after the showing, Irrfan was talking Oscars, a target our filmy friends miss with alarming consistency.


Irrfan Khan with the Slumdog Millionaire team at the Oscar Awards in California in February 2009 

Irrfan confessed he “doesn’t know how these things are done” (we will let that pass for the star of Slumdog Millionaire), because, he says, “10-12 people control these things in India.” Time to create some noise, Irrfan, says our lady friend.

More birthday couplings
>> As we have said on many an occasion, nothing fascinates us more than people trivia. And to add to our compendium of trifles, here’s one more: Ashok Advani, the Sindhi stalwart legal luminary, who branched out into media by founding the Business India group, it turns out, is born on the same day as Ram Jethmalani, the Sindhi stalwart legal luminary, who branched out into politics.


Ashok Advani

There are other similarities. Both men hail from the same Shikharpur community, have an interest in education and are no strangers to controversy. And so as a nod in the direction of Linda Goodman, we can add the Advani-Jethmalani combine to our list of other seemingly similar people who share their birthdays: Zeenat Aman and Indira Gandhi (November 19), Ratan Tata and Dhirubhai Ambani (December 28), Aishwarya Rai and Nita Ambani (November 1) and Rupert Murdoch and Samir Jain (March 11).


Indira Gandhi and Zeenat Aman share the same birthday

Readers who share our interest for the profoundly shallow are welcome to send in their own fascinating birthday couplings.

Happy birthday Shahab
>> His prose is obviously as elegant as his designs; so, when Shahab Durazi, India’s most accomplished designer, wrote yesterday on the occasion of his birthday: “One crisp September morning in 1962, a heavily pregnant woman, walked to Masina Hospital, Byculla, a day prior to her due date, to have herself admitted to the maternity ward.”


Shahab Durazi

We were instantly delighted by his recounting of his own birth and that of his twin Shakeel. “Having had two daughters already, she was hoping for a son. Being her third pregnancy and the toughest one, she was alarmed by her sudden weight gain.


A young Shahab with his twin brother Shakeel and his mom

On a routine check to her doctor in her seventh month, she had discovered she was pregnant with twins! Overjoyed, frightened and anxious all at once, when the time was near, she walked to Masina Hospital to check in for her delivery.” Mercifully, there was a happy ending: “Finally, after almost nine hours, she delivered her first, sans any C-section or epidural… It was another hour and 45 minutes before the second twin was born, a breach baby at that, born blue and feared still born… until Doctor Masina finally got the second twin, (also a boy and born almost two hours after the first) to cry his lungs out… Although she passed on almost 16 years ago, (he writes of his mother) “She left behind a legacy of sorts.” A story of courage and love recounted with such lyricism.

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Salaam Mumbai: A nation of dancers
In response to my column yesterday on the challenges of making small talk at Mumbai parties, my friend Kavita Advani wrote that she agreed and the problem had not arisen earlier because, “When we were younger, we danced the night away, and did not need to talk.” How true. Our generation needed no persuasion to get on the floor and demonstrate the courage of our convulsions.

The first numbers I danced to were by Cliff Richard and the Beatles. We were too young to be taken to discotheques; in any case, there weren’t any in those days, but even the afternoon jam sessions, which our elder siblings went to, were off limits. Hence, I danced alone in front of my parents’ Godrej cupboard’s mirror. Till date, it is my favourite form of dancing. Alone and in the confines of my own room. But I have had many interesting dancing partners nevertheless.

The two most curious ones have been the star Govinda (at the Bombay Times’ party, many moons ago) and the late King Gyanendra, (the one who met with such a tragic end, a few years later.) What can I say of Govinda? In many ways dancing with him was the ultimate dream come true. A man so given to rhythm and music and so unselfconscious about moving his otherwise stocky awkward limbs. King Gyanendra, of course, was a different kettle of fish. It was at the late Madhavrao Scindia’s verandah, an evening to celebrate his son Jyotiraditya Scindia’s wedding.

Even Maharajahs and Kings make party crocodiles and like to boogie, I learnt. But when a friend tried to take a picture of us on the floor he was instantly surrounded by a posse of bodyguards. “Sir there is a rule that our King cannot be photographed dancing,” they bluffed. It was a specious argument, but who cared enough to challenge it? A few years later, when the King fell to a spray of bullets I thought it would have been nice to preserve his memory — dancing.

Over the years, I have danced to all kinds of odd numbers: Harry Belafonte’s Angelina, Jennifer Rush’s The power of love and everything by Santana. But best of all, I love dancing to Bollywood. Nothing captures the crazy soul of India as the Bollywood beat. I switch on the TV and I am amazed at the amount of dancing we do. Sometimes it seems that we will dance to our graves. Perhaps, that’s the way it’s meant to be. 

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