Take that Bollywood

Exactly a year ago, we had the privilege of being on the jury of the 6th Kashish Film Festival, South Asia’s biggest queer film festival, and the first Indian LGBT festival to be held with approval by the I&B Ministry, GOI. Held over held over 5 days at three venues with its headquarters at the Mumbai’s landmark Liberty Cinema, it afforded us the opportunity of watching a multitude of films from all over the world and to meet a plethora of people from all walks of life, who supported the LGBTQ cause.

Ian McKellan
Ian McKellan

However, even then we had wondered why Bollywood and its stars were so conspicuously absent from Kashish, and we recall bringing this up with the festival’s indefatigable director, Sridhar Rangayan. Given that the presence of Bollywood ensures instant publicity, why didn’t they attempt to invite some of its stars to participate in Kashish? After all, it was about films, took place in Mumbai and frankly so many of Bollywood’s stars attended far less worthy events at the drop of a hat. Rangayan replied saying it was not from want of trying, and that they had been knocking each year at Bollywood’s door for some involvement with little luck.

Well, in what appears to be cosmic irony, Bollywood’s loss is Hollywood’s gain. No less than Sir Ian Mckellan, one of most successful British stars, Sir Ian (Lord of the Rings) Mckellan, will inaugurate the 7th edition of Kashish later this month. He is the recipient of six Laurence Olivier Awards, a Tony Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors’ Guild Award, a BIFA Award, two Saturn Awards, four Drama Desk Awards and two Critics’ Choice Awards. “On my first visit to Mumbai, I am very pleased to attend the opening night of the KASHISH 2016 Festival,” said Mckellan, who is being brought to India by the British Council as part of Shakespeare Lives on Film, on the occasion of the Bard’s 400th death anniversary. Take that Bollywood.

Goa Goan Gone
Word comes in that the Goa-based designer, Wendell Rodericks, will be selling off two of his beautiful homes in Goa in Altinho, Panjim. What’s more, he will be also moving out of his spacious old Goa mansion in Colvale, which has been the subject of many of his posts on social network. All this to start work on his pet project the Moda Goa Museum. “I’m working on a new home to move into,” said the designer not without a tinge of remorse. “And selling our artwork via Pundole. Catalogue shoot in progress...”

Wendell Rodericks
Wendell Rodericks

And given the rush in Goa, especially from denizens of Delhi, there’s little doubt that the lovingly created spaces and carefully picked art works will find many takers.

Vaswani vindicated
Perhaps it’s a sign of times to come, but Viveck Vaswani, the man who played a part in helping SRK launch his career, way back when the star was fresh off the train from Delhi, has turned decidedly anti-star.

Viveck Vaswani and Anant Mahadevan
Viveck Vaswani and Anant Mahadevan

His latest film, Rough Book, directed by Anant Mahadevan and made on a modest budget, and helped along by crowd funding, is a testimony to this filmmaker’s conviction that the star system is just not viable any more.

And what’s more, word comes in that Vaswani, who has struggled to get his film distributed through mainstream sources, has been vindicated by its success abroad “America loved #RoughBook, Dallas, NewYork, Washington, Houston, San Francisco film festivals, awards and standing ovations,” he posted recently about its reception. A few months ago when we’d met the producer, he’d been eloquent about how the numbers in mainstream star led films just don’t add up any more. The standing ovations must be music to his ears.

Look who came to dinner in 1986
Somehow, Bal Thackeray has assumed such a larger than life status, what with his visage painted on humongous hoardings looking sternly out at hapless Mumbaikars, that it’s hard to think of him as a mere mortal, who’d once dropped into people’s homes for dinner.

Vinod Dua and Bal Thackeray
Vinod Dua and Bal Thackeray 

Which is why this picture of his with Delhi-based newsman Vinod Dua, shot at none other than veteran thespian Dolly Thakore’s well-appointed apartment at Pedder Road, caught our attention. “Bal Thackeray and me at Dolly Thakore’s in 1986. I chose the venue and he came,” said Dua.

“Till his last days he remained fond of me. My last interaction with him was when I went to Bombay for iconic Dev Anand’s book, Romancing with life. I called him for a one-to-one interview. He invited me for lunch but refused an interview. I refused the lunch and didn’t go to meet him. I requested NDTV’s Prasad Kathey to convey my refusal. Now that he is no more, I wish I had shed my puny little vanity and gone to meet an elder,” Dua added. To which an aghast friend of his, the artist and writer Gautam Benegal remarked, “Bal Thackeray at Dolly Thakore’s apartment. My uncle lived next door.” And by the uncle he meant none other than the celebrated director, screenwriter, progressive, secular Shyam Benegal – you can understand his shock/horror.

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