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Whatever happened to?

Perhaps it's a coincidence, but the trio of songstresses who dominated the pop sphere in India has all, more or less, disappeared from the scene.

Time was when the sultry Shweta Shetty, the sensuous Alisha Chinai and the attractive pint-size dynamo Jasmine Bharucha were making waves as they made their music in the late eighties and early nineties.

And whereas we knew Chinai had settled in nearby Alibaug after the break-up of her marriage, and we used to have glimpses of Shweta, who lives in Hamburg with her husband, when she visited Mumbai, it was Jasmine whom we had no clue about and often wondered about!

Jasmine Bharucha with Farhad Wadia Alisha Chinai Shweta Shetty
Jasmine Bharucha with Farhad Wadia, Alisha Chinai and Shweta Shetty

Whatever had happened to the attractive troubadour! Well, that mystery, too, has been solved this morning, when we chanced upon a picture of the songstress, alongside her visiting-from-Mumbai buddy Farhad Wadia on her boat in Vancouver, where she’s been settled since her marriage in 1992. So there you have it, the trio who paved the way for so many of today’s pop stars all sorted and accounted for, at last!

Together again, touch wood
And so, friends of this attractive and popular Sobo couple, who had been together for yonkers and then had split unfortunately and acrimoniously, are touching wood and keeping their fingers crossed that their getting back together recently will be for good this time. “She’s such a lovely girl,” they say, “and doing so well as a designer. And he’s just such a lovable character. Hope good sense prevails.”

The soul of a bungalow
“So basically, the argument is about whose soul the Bhabha house truly belonged to,” we found ourselves saying to Anil Dharker, writer, literary impresario and one of the keepers of Mumbai’s conscience. We love talking to Dharker; we can say any odd thing like the aforementioned statement and know he will understand.

Anil Dharker
Anil Dharker

He’d called about his recent activism, along with others, to oppose the BARC employees’ claims on the celebrated Bhabha bungalow that had recently been sold for a whopping Rs 372 crore to Smita Godrej and had attracted much media attention.

The sale had also attracted the interest of the good people of BARC, India’s nuclear institution, who said that a museum ought to be housed in it, in memory of Homi Bhabha. Dharker had another view. “There were two brothers,” he said, “one called Homi who lived in that home for not more than ten years.

The other, Jamshed, the great cultural philanthropist, who inhabited it for over 70 years, and died in it, bequeathing it to his beloved NCPA. The proceeds of the sale ought to go to this cultural body, which can do much with it.

”Two brothers. One a scientist. The other a cultural philanthropist. People weighing in on both their sides. You can see why we asked Dharker that oddly-worded question now.

The Maestro’s Sarod
“Thank God, it’s been found,” the well-rounded vowels in our dear friend Subbalakshmi Khan’s, wife of Padma Bhushan awardee Amjad Ali Khan, voice carried an ocean of relief. We had called her to enquire about Khan Saheb’s Sarod, which had been ‘misplaced’ by British Airways in London.

Amjad Ali Khan with family and Prannoy Roy (right)
Amjad Ali Khan with family and Prannoy Roy (right)

“When we’d checked it in, I had told the person that he had to be extra careful as Khan Saheb’s life revolved around it. ‘He can leave me behind,’ I’d joked, ‘but not this’,” said the lovely lady, herself a danseuse of considerable note. And then, she sighed, “Khan Saheb is so happy.”

Ramadan wishes
Of course, there are no coincidences in life. And so, the fact that we received this beautiful text message from our friend Haji Syed Salman Chishty of the Dargah Khwaja Saheb Ajmer Sharif in the same week that we had been listening all night and all day to one particular song of Begum Abida Parveen was only to be expected in this great wash of serendipity called Life.

Haji Syed Salman Chishty Abida Parveen
Haji Syed Salman Chishty and Abida Parveen

“There is hidden sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness,” wrote the Sufi mystic about the month of Ramadan that we are in. “If the brain and the belly are burning clean with fasting, every moment, a new song comes out of the fire. Be emptier and cry like reed instruments cry. Emptier, write secrets with the reed pen,” he’d quoted from the words of one of our favourite poets, Rumi.

We’d met Haji Chishty during a spiritual workshop in Goa, and had been struck by his words as much as by the silence he carried so attractively on his handsome six-foot frame. An impassioned Sufi teacher who has studied in the best American universities, he has travelled widely, representing the Chishty Sufi Order.

“Mashallah, it was so nice to speak with you, and that too in the auspicious and blessed month of Ramadan,” he wrote to us. “Inshallah, we look forward to hosting you soon in Ajmer Sharif, when the blessed calling from the revered Saint happens,” And the song we were listening to when we received this message? ‘Le Chala Jaan’ by Begum Abida Parveen.

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