Three Wise Men

We follow his annual visits to Mumbai, the city of his passion, with interest, as his unbounded enthusiasm for all things Mumbai never fails to unearth gems of nostalgia.

And so, when LA-based actor Keith Stevenson, on his yearly visit, dropped in to record the opening announcements for Bharat Dabholkar’s newest version of Bottoms Up (“an upcoming, brand-new, polished up, uniquely identical interpretation of the first show of BU”), in which he had acted in the mid-1980s, it was a barrel of laughs, we’re told.

(From left) Bharat Dabholkar, Louiz Banks and Keith Stevenson
(From left) Bharat Dabholkar, Louiz Banks and Keith Stevenson

“Sitting with Bharat and that musician extraordinaire, Louiz Banks, at his studio in Santacruz was a real nostalgia trip,” gushed Stevenson afterwards, adding, “I listened to tracks that I had recorded then and was transported back in time!”

As for the picture of the three swarthy gents, each an icon of stage and showbiz, given the onset of the Christmas season, it could well be captioned: the three wise men, ho ho ho!

Look what Times Litfest started
You know when something’s caught the public imagination, not only when it goes viral but also when it presents itself as humour (in this case, dark).

Gautam Benegal Tarun Tejpal
Gautam Benegal and Tarun Tejpal

‘Tarun Tejpal to inaugurate my book launch at Landmark bookstores, Andheri West, on December 9, 6 pm,’ wrote author, artist Gautam Benegal about the launch of his book ‘The Green of Bengal’. And after eliciting the expected attention, he followed it up with a strategically placed: ‘No, not really. Just using TOI Litfest strategy to create publicity’.

His tongue-in-cheek humour notwithstanding, the book excerpts of which we’ve read is a lyrical and elegant paean to Bengal and a fine sequel to ‘1/7 Bondel Road and other stories’. We particularly liked the title story, which recalls an early Amit Chaudhuri. So here’s to the book launch, with or without you-know-who.

Palace Coup?
Our Delhi jasoos informs that there’s likely to be some sort of Palace coup within the Congress high command. It seems three heavyweights, who have so far been very close to the powers that be, are planning to join forces and try and wrest power away from the first family.

Siddharth Mallya
Siddharth Mallya

What makes this report startling is that two out of the three have been so far appeared as staunch loyalists one defending his leaders at every juncture (until his personal issues caught up with him), the other serving as the silent power behind the throne.

As for the third, given how shabbily she’s been treated by the high command even though she’s won the party many accolades, her betrayal was only to be expected and according to many completely justified.

“At a recent event, it was obvious how she was being snubbed by the leader,” says the source. Oh dear. Palace intrigue at its worst.

Gift of the gab
Sid Mallya, VJM’s handsome son, is back with a bang. The Hollywood aspirant, who underwent a drastic weight-loss transformation and was a regular on the social circuit a few years ago (attending IPL matches mostly in the company of Bollywood bombshells), has been living in LA, trying to make it as a Hollywood actor (he had once famously said Bollywood would be ‘too easy’).

Medha Gujral Jalota
Medha Gujral Jalota

Towards this end, we hear the heir to the Kingfisher fortunes is living a far less luxurious life in Beverly Hills, where he spends his time going for movie auditions and taking acting classes.

But, even while he awaits the right break, Mallya has launched a new show ‘Sid Sessions’ on YouTube, in which he responds to questions from social media about his life and loves, and in which he demonstrates that he has acres of cool and quite the gift of the gab.

As everyone knows, celebrities are subjected to unending verbal abuse and riling from the junta on forums such as Twitter, mostly by people emboldened by the medium’s anonymity. To Sid’s credit, he is able to take it all in his stride, laugh it off and what’s best of all has turned it into a business venture.

The latest episode has him responding to a barrage of questions from his ‘fans’ on his sexual orientation, which he handles with an admirable insouciance and sophistication. And we particularly like his sign-off which drives home his devil-may-care attitude. “Peace out B*****s,” he hisses.

Nice!

Social media poignancy
The impact of social media on our lives has hardly received the attention and concern it deserves.

Consider this: adding to the tragedy surrounding the death of the beautiful and brave Medha Gujral Jalota, wife of ghazal singer Anup, after her second heart and first kidney transplant on Tuesday in America, was the fact that her loving sister, Eeda Gujral Chopra, had posted an exuberant message of hope and encouragement for her sister’s recovery before she’d boarded her flight in Delhi to meet her.

Imagine the poignancy and dread for all those who read the message during the long hours of the transatlantic flight, and knew that Medha had passed on even as her sister was winging her way with such hope in heart. Sometimes, life can be unbearably sad, and undoubtedly this was one of them.

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