The Kashish Magic

For the past two weeks we have been immersed in Kashish 2015, South Asia’s biggest international LGBT film festival as a member of its jury.

This has meant watching 45 movies, like the Dutch coming of age film Boys directed by Mischa Kamp, which won the Best Narrative Feature, to Stealth for which trans* actor Kristina Hernandez won the award for the Best Performance in a Lead Role.

Drag queens at Kashish
Drag queens at Kashish

It has meant being ensconced all day at the iconic and peerlessly glamorous art deco jewel, the Liberty Theatre, with fellow jurors: filmmakers Anubhav Sinha and Chitra Palekar, National Award winning filmmaker and actor Aamir Bashir, and actor Meghna Malik seeing film after film. It has been tiring, challenging, demanding, but above all, enriching and yes, even edifying.

Choir singing at the finale
Choir singing at the finale

From its scintillating opening ceremony, with its kick ass dance and music performances for a celebrity packed hall of film makers and buffs, gay icons and activists, assorted progressives and left leaning intellects and pillars of society — to the moving finale, it’s been a revelation and a heart-warming experience:

Sridhar Raghavan, Shaina NC and Maya Lisa Shankar
Sridhar Rangayan, Shaina NC and Maya Lisa Shankar

To witness the Kashish team’s commitment to excellence under limited resources, the genuine warmth and inclusivity of the houseful audience, the support from big brands like IBM, The Reliance Foundation and MAC is to get a measure of how far the LGBT community has travelled.

Seated besides Shaina NC, chief guest at the moving awards ceremony, replete with an especially soul stirring one group of exquisite men (one in orange stilettos) singing the anthem of the oppressed, ‘We shall overcome’ it was easy to see that we were not alone in thinking that unlike so many other events held in the city — Kashish was very special.

“The leadership of this country needs to come to events like these to realize what being progressive and being inclusive really mean,” said the leading BJP leader and fashion designer. But of course, one wildly successful festival does not mean the LGBT community’s challenges are over.

“To the Kashish family, I would like to say that the road ahead will not be easy. You will meet resistance. But on my part I will assure you that I will stand for you, I will stand with you whether we may succeed or not. More than proving a point, it is about expressing to society that genuine unity starts when we accept each other with all our differences,” said Shaina NC.

Noted actor Dalip Tahil was the guest of honour and presented the Best Narrative Feature Film award. “I am a bit overwhelmed to be here. I must say that being here has been very meaningful and a fantastic experience. The atmosphere is wonderful” said Tahil.

“Please let us know at least a month before Kashish 2016,” we said to festival director the indefatigable Sridhar Rangayan - we would like to tell the rest of Mumbai to attend. “They don’t know what they’re missing.” Kashish 2016. Be there - or be square.

Mr Big wants to play ball
Whoa, this one’s a biggie. Our cricketing source called with a cracker of a scoop. It seems a top line political big wig is eyeing the top cricketing post in the country. Now, since the person in question is already powerful we were a tad incredulous.

“He’s had a history of administration in the cricket world before and until recently has been the head of a state cricket board,” we were informed. What is it with politicians and cricket in India? Why is the sport largely run by them? Is it the power that comes from controlling India’s favorite sport or other considerations we wonder.

Mid town Playground
We love it when society seeks street cred. Speak easies, word of mouth and only by invitation clubs within clubs and pop ups, which exude an edgy, ersatz feel, are grist to this recent mill.

Yash Birla, Farhad Taraporevala, Virat Kohli. Pic/AFP and Yuvraj Singh
Yash Birla, Farhad Taraporevala, Virat Kohli. Pic/AFP and Yuvraj Singh

Which is why, we were not surprised to learn that all roads led to the Four Seasons hotel for the latest installment of the jam packed ‘underground’ pop up party, that takes place at the ballroom, every few months. This time around the party labelled ‘playground’ was even more crowded as the young and restless and dare we say it well heeled showed up in large numbers and partied till the wee hours.

With two separate areas offering different genres of music, spotted letting their hair down in the midst of many PYTs in LBDs were the likes of Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Ayan Mukerjee, and the usual suspects including Ashish Raheja, Shailendra Singh, Yash Birla, Farhad Taraporevala and Raj Kundra. Oh boy!

Saffron Art
“Hugo joining Saffron Art is a very significant step, not only for the company, but will also impact the overall Indian art auction market.” It was Saffron Art’s dapper Dinesh Vazirani calling from London about news that has riveted the Indian art community: that Hugo Weihe, former International Director of Asian Art, is coming aboard as the auction house’s CEO.

Hugo Weihe is to be Saffron Art’s CEO. Pic/AFP
Hugo Weihe is to be Saffron Art’s CEO. Pic/AFP

“He is one of the foremost experts in the world for Indian art and antiquities, and is a fantastic person to work with,” said Vazirani. Meanwhile coming up next week is the company’s annual summer online auction of Modern and Contemporary Indian Art with works by leading artists like Tagore, Husain and Souza. Masterpieces at the click of a mouse. Who woulda thunk!

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