>> “Down the years, I’ve seen that interviews for print and TV are strictly constrained,” says writer, journalist, filmmaker and raconteur Khalid Mohamed about Faction: Short Stories by 22 Film Personalities (OM Books), which he has edited. “Like all of us , film people keep a large part of themselves hidden,” says the man who has managed to achieve the impossible: coaxing the most intimate, revelatory, moving, and often heart-wrenching stories out of a galaxy of film people as diverse as Akshay Kumar, Arjun Rampal, Shyam Benegal and Bobby Deol.
Mohamed, a pioneer of film writing, (his weekly critiques of films in the TOI and the influence they wielded were the stuff of legend) has always been a skilled writer.
But what comes as a surprise is the sensitivity and honesty revealed in these stories. Did the personalities really write these? “Inevitably there will be the accusation: ‘You must have written them all yourself. Film people cannot narrate stories from their lives’,” he writes, preempting the critics, “But sorry to break the bubble, they do, once that essential degree of intimacy and trust have been struck.”
The outcome is one of the most un-putdownable books we’ve had the pleasure to read in recent times.
From Karan Johar’s poignant account of his relationship with the Pinto couple in Colaba who mentored him to manhood, to Arjun Rampal’s touching recollection of a down-and-out model’s tribulations in New York to Sonam’s candid coming-of-age account in Singapore.
And our favourite? Farah Khan’s hilarious portrait of her mega-eccentric grandma, Perin Irani, who saw Jesus in a passing hippy.
The book is slated to be released at the upcoming Taj Lit Fest and we predict a winner.
Romeo and Juliet Rising
>> “The play takes Romeo and Juliet as the starting point, set in a fictional elite school in Delhi, and uses Shakespeare’s genius to reflect what India is today vis-a-vis our politics, corruption and false moralities,” says theatre director Kaizad Kotwal about Romeo, Juliet Rising, the play he co-wrote and directed for the Cathedral School recently.
“It involved over 200 students, 300 costumes, 500 cues, a choir of 80, a dance troupe of 20 and a live band of students who composed original music and played throughout the show,” he says. And the result? “It was overwhelming. The kids have so much love to give, even though I was very, very hard on them.
But only because I saw what their potential was.” “It is a night I will remember for the sheer unaffected, uninhibited, raw yet utterly precise performances,” says Manasi Scott, who along with Kunal Roy Kapur, Sonali Sachdev, Rohan Sippy was one of the judges.
Empowering their daughters
>> They have always been known to be a dynamic community at the forefront of business, philanthropy and the patronage of the arts, but in one aspect the Marwaris of Mumbai are way ahead of the others: empowering their daughters by giving them their own apartments on the occasion of their marriages.
And leading the group are the Birlas: Kumar Mangalam’s sister Vasavadatta, married into the Bajaj family, resides in a family given apartment at Swapnalok; Sangita and Sajjan Jindal’s lovely daughter Tarini Jindal Handa was also a recipient of one such at Napean Sea road.
And now word comes in that publisher Smriti Kanoria, daughter of Ravikant (Essar) Ruia, whose doting family bought and furnished one of the city’s most stunning penthouses at Worli’s famous Eden Hall for her to reside in (insiders say it has an almost 360-degree view of the city) has opted to move in to an even better one in Worli.
The result? The Eden Hall apartment is on the block and is said to be the topic of frenzied enquiry from prospective buyers!
A writer, once at rest
>> She’s been a writer noted for her fine prose and insightful world view and now as a recently appointed member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times, senior Fulbright Scholar, the Paris-based Mira Kamdar’s words are available to a large and influential audience; but this picture posted recently on her timeline, shot in the pre-attack, heritage wing of the Taj Hotel in 2008, a few months before 26/11 brings back many memories.
Taken for a photo shoot for an article in Verve to coincide with the Mumbai launch of her book Planet India (for which we moderated a discussion for the Asia Society), it shows the writer in a far more relaxed mood, something that her new role must have put paid to. Ah well, in the life of a writer, every season’s different.
Salaam Mumbai: Life’s big mysteries
And like most other Mumbaikars who read the papers, I too am confused about some of life’s great mysteries these days, namely:
1. Why does it appear that there are more Hollywood stars in Mumbai than in Hollywood?
2. How come there are better political debates taking place in TV studios than in the Parliament?
3. Why are there more wannabe authors in the audience at literature fests than readers?
4. And why are cricket stadiums filled with more celebrities than cricket lovers ?
And, of course, the biggest mystery:
Why are the models wearing such few clothes when it’s supposed to be a fashion show?