Under her wing

With her mane of white hair, her feisty championing of good causes, her legendary loyalty to her friends and her dignified demeanor, Jaya Bachchan has rightly become the matriarch of the film industry. Many years ago, Krishna Kapoor, Raj Kapoor’s graceful wife had occupied the same position: someone who could be counted on for being fair, above it all and stately at all times. And insiders say that the protective arm that she was seen to place around Gauri Khan when they posed for shutterbugson Diwali night outside the Bachchan mansion, was no accident. The elder superstar’s wife has taken the younger under her protective wing and sources speak of a growing friendship and a mutual admiration society between the two that’s blossomed recently.  Good to know when genuine friendships cut across the board and blossom in the film industry!

Jaya Bachchan with Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Gauri.

Krishna Kapoor

Women in arms
Individually they were two of advertising’s most powerful women, legends in their own fields and the mistresses of their own universe, and together they constitute a pair of talents so formidable that a whole new collective noun might have to be invented to describe them. Lynn de Souza, formerly chairman & CEO, Lintas Media Group and Meenakshi Menon, who set up Carat India, the first media independent in the country and who later launched Spatial Access Solutions, had joined forces with two other colleagues, earlier this year to launch Social Access, the first agency of its kind that works purely to fuel social change. “Our vision is to help build a more equitable society with informed and involved participation from key constituents -- NGOs, corporates, government and society,” says their mission statement. Look at their picture. Do you doubt that change is in on the horizon?

Lynn de Souza with Meenakshi Menon

Cadbury house
>> And even as the country is buzzing about the sale of the iconic Cadbury House to diamond merchant Dilip Lakhi for the staggering amount of
Rs 350 crore, the man himself appears to be someone with his feet firmly on the ground. “I am not celebrating this Cadbury deal in a grand manner because I feel one needs to maintain self control at all times,” said the man who once had the distinction of being the country’s highest tax payer and who hails from a wealthy Sindhi clan. The Lakhi insouciance has other facets too: a long time neighbour of one of Lakhi’s brothers in a SoBo building says that the family has been known to live an extremely simple and grounded life for years.  “You would never guess even for once that they are wealthy,” says our source. Nice!

Cadbury House

Stalking in allegory
>> And from the talented Peter Griffin, poet and Editor at Forbes (and not related in any way whatsoever to Peter Löwenbräu Griffin, the main character in the American animated sitcom Family Guy) come two gems, both about a certain stout and powerful stalker. ‘Madhuri had a little cam That followed where’er she’d go Everywhere that Madhuri went Sahib was sure to know’
-- is the first; followed by the more florid:

‘I’m a little despot  Short and stout This is my hashtag These are my touts When your daughter’s foiling Your efforts to keep her in check Just call Saheb
And the ATS will take over, by heck!’

And whereas, we were not able to get the poet’s explanation about the meter, form and inspiration for these delightful allegories, suffice it is to say: we like!

Salaam Mumbai
Thinking out loud

It started as a buzzing of the grapevine. Then a flurry of text messages, which led to a frenzied surfing for information on the net and on TV. Soon, social networks were turned to for more sourcing. And by this morning, notwithstanding the sparseness of reportage on it in the dailies, there was an explosion of news, views, jeers, exclamations, back stories, condemnations, and intense soul searching amongst the media over Tarun Tejpal’s sexual assault of a young female reporter at the THINK festival earlier this month. Loudest were the fears that the media would gloss over the ignominious act committed by one of their own, and the demands for more appropriate punishment.

So how should we in the media, especially those of us who have known Tejpal as a colleague and who have attended his Thinkfests respond? How do we, especially those of us who happen to be women, react? Are there any words of explanation or remorse or anger that could salve the huge wound of dismay and indignation that the incident has caused?

For whatever it’s worth, here’s my two bits: first: for those of us who look for the glass half full, there’s a small sliver of hope. Three decades ago, incidents like these that might have occurred would have been swiftly swept under the carpet, or worse still, the victim might have been complicit in the crime, using it to vault the ladder of success. Today, a young woman feels empowered enough to complain, fight back and demand justice. Small cheer, but a huge step forward.  

Second: and this goes to the root of the malaise: can someone get to the bottom of why a man -- any man -- forces himself onto a woman in the first place? Is it a sense of power?  Or just malformed emotions? Or the feeling that he will get away with it?  When we understand the answer to that, we can begin the journey to solving the problem. As for the media -- suffice it is to say that this incident has been one of the most damning for its credibility and perhaps one from which it might never recover.

I believe it starts with a vivid description of her first night  in Tihar jail and spares no one -- not the notorious Chandraswami, not Ram Jethmalani, nor the Delhi socialites who let her down during the Jessica Lal murder investigation.

-- A member of the audience at the discussion and soft launch of Bina Ramani's soon-to-be-released memoir Bird in a Banyan tree at the Tata LitFest recently. 

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