>> What is it about alpha male superstars that bring out the worst in people? In the past too, we have pointed out the bloody-minded cussedness unleashed by various arms of the state that has dogged the three preeminent superstars of Bollywood over time: Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan. We have had personal insight into the travails of the first two.
How censors, whose nitpicking over scenes in the seminal 60s hit Ganga Jamuna, harassed Dilip Kumar at the height of his success. Produced by him and featuring Kumar and his brother Nasir Khan as siblings on either side of the law, people in the know felt their behaviour was unduly vindictive. That and his bizarre indictment by state authorities as a Pakistani spy on the flimsiest basis had dismayed Kumar’s fans as much as it had broken the actor’s heart.
And no one needs to chronicle the debilitating saga of Amitabh Bachchan’s battle to clear his name of the Bofors smear, which was later revealed to be motivated. Finally after moving court and wasting a good part of the ’90s mounting a fight to establish his innocence, Bachchan was offered an apology. But what he had lost in the process was unrecoverable.
Now, sitting in faraway Paris we fear the same overzealous mentality of the little men is at work to harass Shah Rukh Khan. No one is above the law and yes, fetal determination is a very serious issue and God knows there has been enough abuse of the issue. But for God’s sake, a bit of sensibility and sensitivity can be applied in this case. SRK is not the kind of man who would discriminate against a girl child. His love for his own daughter is legendary. That he and Gauri have taken the courageous step of going in for a surrogate child knowing full well the attention and gossip it would attract speaks of their determination and yearning.
Does anyone really imagine that they would reject a girl child under these circumstances? And could not the issue have been treated with a modicum of dignity for all concerned? The birth of a child for most couples is one of the most sensitive, delicate and private issues. One that is fraught with hopes and dreams and fears. The fact that our authorities turn a blind eye to much greater offences and spend time and money on SRK’s alleged gender discrimination makes us wonder if the famous Indian crab mentality is not up to its old tricks again. There are other ways to prove your potency and power guys: leave SRK and his children alone!
‘Kitne aadmi the?’
>> Sascha Sippy, grandson of the legendary GP, who produced Sholay, and nephew of Ramesh writes in from Mumbai to announce the imminent launch of Sholay in three-dimensional, 64-track stereophonic glory this week.
“When are you back,” writes the charming young man, “I would love you to be among the first to see it,” he says. Gabbar Singh’s hair-raising dialogues, Dharmendra’s drunken courtship of Hema, Sanjeev Kumar’s seething vendetta, Amitabh and Jaya’s unspoken attraction and Helen’s scintillating moves in 3D! Nice!
>> We recall sitting in London outside its precincts, savouring its many splendored dim sum delights over flutes of bubbly not so long ago. Which is why the news that Ping Pong, the trendy chain of eateries (‘Fun Sun and Dim Sum’) that’s put the steam back into culinary adventure (with some great cocktail intervention) will be opening soon in Mumbai, has got us elated.
Finally, a dim sum place that understands that most people have begun to view those heavenly savory parcels not just as a prelude to a Chinese meal but as the meal itself!
Hurrah! Mumbai gets its own Ping Pong diplomacy!
Luxury’s big client
>> So, we finally met the dark and mysterious Mr Singh. It took a meeting all the way in Paris at (what else?) the launch of a luxury fashion store in the company of Hollywood and fashion royalty to meet the Delhi-based gent who is known to be one of the largest customers of luxury goods in the world.
“He buys not one, but 50 luxe bags at a shot,” says an insider. “And he gifts 10 a piece to his special friends on his list.” Er, what exactly does the young man do,” we enquired gently. “Liaison work,” came the response.
>> His name had been linked with some interesting young women from Bollywood with names as enigmatic as Mink, but those who know Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, the youngest custodian of the Royal Mewar dynasty of Udaipur, say that his colourful days are well behind him and he’s displaying every sign of following in his father Arvind Singh — the hardworking and socially committed Maharana of Udaipur’s — mojri-clad footsteps.
Listed as no 1 among the top five royal bachelors recently by iDiva, an indication of the Prince’s coming of age could be his recent choice of companion. Eschewing his earlier penchant for Bollywood and society glamour girls, Lakshyaraj has been dating a sophisticated and attractive editor of a fashion glossy. And though the relationship is over according to her friends, his choice of a well-heeled and confident professional lady with international credibility speaks of his maturity in seeking a life companion.
But will he be allowed to choose his own partner for marriage? Unlikely. “Even when they were dating, the lady always knew that marriage was not on the cards. After all, in the grand tradition of royal families, he will be married off to some one from his own background.” But no hard feelings, according to our source, the savvy lady has wasted no time nursing a broken heart and has gone back to work with a vengeance!
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Photos: Deepika Padukone, Sushmita Sen with daughters at Mumbai airport