The long and winding road

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The first person we thought of, when we heard CM Devendra Fadnavis' proposal for a coastal road across the western length of Mumbai to ease its traffic woes, was architect Hafeez Contractor. After all, it was the architect who'd first drawn up a somewhat similar plan in the mid-nineties.

Contractor had advocated the reclamation of a few acres of the sea across the length of Mumbai's western swathe for a green belt, which could act as the city's lungs, and to which Mumbaikars could flock after work for their evening walks, for leisure, even while having a thoroughfare on which they could traverse the entire city.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Hafeez Contractor
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Hafeez Contractor

But the plan had met with scepticism from environmentalists for the ecological impact it could have, as well as from conspiracy theorists, who suspected it would be abused by greedy builders. What did the architect feel about the CM's proposal now? “The green belt is critical to the coastal road.

It should have been created 20 years ago and the city will lose a lifetime opportunity if it isn't, this time around. But, without the green belt the coastal road would be (of) no use,” he said. So wot say, CM? A long and dense forest flanking the entire length of your coastal road as Mumbai's very own Central Park? Idea pasand hai?

Changing the subject, Chopra-style
One of the best things about Dream With Your Eyes Open, Ronnie Screwvala's excellent tome, which we finished overnight, is the amount of time he spends talking about his failures.

Ronnie Screwvala and Yash Chopra
Ronnie Screwvala and Yash Chopra

Show us someone who is confident to do that and we shall show you a winner. After all, the baring of wounds is only done by those possessing immense confidence. And in a book replete with many instances of his missteps, one of the most charming, according to us, is the one in which Screwvala, then a relative outsider, recounts how he sought a partnership with Bollywood's ultimate insider the late Yash Chopra.

According to him, whereas Chopra met him immediately and heard him with patience, every time the talk veered towards business, the producer would politely, but nimbly, steer the conversation to greener pastures.“Yashji, too respectful to tell me outright that I just wasn't getting his message, dived straight into the details of a great four-day trip he had recently taken to Australia...” writes Screwvala.

A woman in her prime
Could anything be more emblematic of the old and graceful Mumbai crumbling away at the onslaught of the ersatz and flashy — than the matter of yesteryear Bollywood actress Sadhana, and her travails with her landlords over her Santacruz home?

Actress Sadhana with BJP leader Shaina N C and (below) in her heyday
Actress Sadhana with BJP leader Shaina N C and (below) in her heyday

Yesterday's papers were full of pictures of the iconic star, now in her seventies, accompanied by BJP leader Shaina N C, on her way to file a police complaint for harassment against them. When we spoke to the actress, who in her heyday had given her fans such memorable hits as Love in Simla, and Waqt, she sounded frail but feisty.

Actress Sadhana
Actress Sadhana

We enquired about her fractured hip, a result of alleged landlord negligence. “It was … my thigh actually,” said the veteran star demurely, making us deduce that she'd been a little coy about sharing the exact location of her injury in something as public, and hot and cramped, as a local police station.

After all, Garbo-like it was known, the legend had stopped making public appearances many decades ago, so that her fans would remember her in the first flush of her beauty. In fact the whole affair sounded like a film script. A grand old actress now in her autumnal years, living alone in a crumbling bungalow with only the delightfully named Baby Naaz for a neighbour.

Both who had been victims of harassment by eager beaver builders... “They keep saying that they want to build on the second floor, for their own use,” said Sadhana. “But it looks like they are only interested in harassing us, so we get fed up and leave,” she said.

“But you know what? I'm going nowhere! As compensation for this 3,000 square- foot ground floor flat, they say they will give me a one-bedroom apartment in Vasai!” she added with a slight shudder in her voice. “Vasai! Can you imagine that?!” And to be honest, we couldn't.

Shahid Kapoor performs at the IPL opening ceremony
Shahid Kapoor performs at the IPL opening ceremony

All fall down
So Shahid Kapoor had his Madonna moment when he tumbled off the stage while performing during the IPL opening ceremony, and like the virtually indestructible rocker, he too bounced back with elan, adding his name to the list of famous on- stage trippers like Varun Dhawan, Rihanna, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. “Banged the bike, broke the stage. Felt the love. Amaze,” he said with an admirable dash of self-deprecation. Nice!

Thumbs Up for AIB
Fans of AIB should take cheer from the fact that the talented but beleaguered comic artists have been making all the right moves, as far as reaching out to policy makers is concerned. Just last week, we reported that they were engaging with BJP MP Poonam Mahajan, at an event later this month.

Milind Deora, Tanmay Bhat and Gursimran Khamba of AIB
Milind Deora, Tanmay Bhat and Gursimran Khamba of AIB

And yesterday, we heard that the four had lunch with none other than Congressman and former South Mumbai MP Milind Deora at a Sobo Club. “When they'd got into trouble with their Roast, I had publicly supported their right to free speech,” said Deora, curiously unsurprised that we'd got wind of his luncheon dates. “We'd promised to keep in touch and we made good on that yesterday, “ said the weekend blues guitarist.

“Besides their right to free speech, which is an issue close to my heart, I also love that young people can have viable professions and become viral sensations through the Internet. When I was minister for IT, my biggest thrill was the empowerment it would give young people,” he added.

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