>> On Friday evening, we had the pleasure of meeting one of the BJP’s most erudite (and charming) leaders: former finance minister Yashwant Sinha, who is very much the man in the news these days thanks to his dogged persistence in establishing the PM’s complicity in the 2G scam.
The occasion was the fiftieth birthday of his son Jayant which friends and family celebrated at a High Tea in one of Cumballa Hill’s private gardens.
The Sinhas are an exceptional family. Prior to entering politics Yashwant distinguished himself as a brilliant bureaucrat, finally making his mark as Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Surface Transport, GOI before a career in politics claimed him.
Married to Nilima Sinha, a noted writer of children’s books, the couple’s children followed in their footsteps. Sons Jayant and Sumant are products of IIT, IIM and Harvard and daughter Sharmilla is a writer.
The tea organised by Jayant’s wife Punita (herself a banker of formidable repute) had an easy elegance to it, with chaat stalls, fruit-based mocktails and a formal cake cutting over which some of the city’s most eminent personalities exchanged pleasantries.
We cornered Yashwant Sinha for a private insight in to the dismal state of affairs in the country, over a robust round of pani puri.
Have things ever seemed so hopeless?
The handsome politician paused, “No,” he said gravely flipping through the vast Rolodex of his experience, “Never so bad!”
Even during the Emergency?
“Yes, because at least during the Emergency…” and we both completed the chilling cliché, ‘Trains ran on time’.”
So when will things improve then, we asked the once (and in all likelihood future) Finance Minister? “Eighteen months,” he replied with an intriguing certainty. “And our GDP will return to its 8 per cent mark.”
So there you have it gentle reader, some hope, a date for turnaround and a GDP prediction. And all this over Pani Puri at Cumballa Hill!
Tara Alisha’s Bollywood Debut
>> Notwithstanding the unfortunate turn of events after the passing of her father, our friend Gautam Berry, his pretty daughter Tara Alisha has much to look forward to as she makes her Bollywood debut in Mastram, directed by the talented Akhilesh Jaiswal, co-writer of Gangs of Wasseypur.
“Mastram which is the pseudonym of one of North India’s most popular writers of porn is a fictional biography,” says Jaiswal.
“It is my take on how he became the writer Mastram. Every adolescent young male has at one time or the other read him, but no one knows who he really was or if he even existed,” says the noted director. “We have imagined him as a sensitive littérateur with the aspirations to be a Premchand but who ends up as the king of porn.”
Actor Rahul Bagga, who plays Mastram, says the creators of the film brought to it a keen sensibility. “We were determined not to depict Mastram as a purveyor of sleaze,” he said. “If you’ve read his novels the detailing and the descriptive passages of the environment are far more vivid and enjoyable than the sexual content.”
Given the talent of its crew and the actors involved we look forward to watching Mastram, especially since its young Tara Alisha’s much-awaited Bollywood debut.
>> And for those surprised by the alacrity and depth with which our normally reticent PM has come out to defend Ashwini Kumar, here’s an absolutely insider’s POV from the circles that matter in ‘saddi Dilli’.
Apparently the PM’s spirited defense off Kumar was to be expected because ‘he’s part of the ‘Kaur’ group in the Congress leadership.’
Note that’s ‘Kaur’ and not ‘Core.’
Nice when wit emanates from usually wit- deprived Dilli.
Of Begums and ballads
>> On hearing of the passing of Shamshad Begum we immediately thought of the beautiful love song she had sung for Mehboob Khan’s Anokhi Ada.
Picturised on legendary actors Naseem Banu and Surendranath it had a mellow vibe to it. Surendranath’s son Kailash, the noted ad filmmaker, evoked the days when music and creativity were what made Bollywood go round.
“I remember Shamshad Begum coming to our Walkeshwar home. There was always a mehfil. Harmoniums, tablas, singers, musicians, Riaz and music happening all day. And my mother feeding everybody.” He said nostalgically. Their famous Anokhi Ada deserves to be revived, he said.
And for readers who want to relive the magic here’s the link: http://youtu.be/Pzf0RN4bJYs
>> And then there comes a time when certain neighbourhoods in the city only speak of the absence of the people they once housed.
And so it is with us when we pass a building known as Bank House near Sachivalaya. For in that fairly anonymous building lived one of its feistiest poets-the late great Kamala Das, poet, short story writer, and cultural instigator, under whose benign eye and impish encouragement blossomed a motley group of young writers and poets who went by the name of ‘Bahutantrika’ a lively cultural soiree.
Those were heady days. Pritish Nandy would fling love couplets at the feet of beautiful women in the audience. Saleem Peeradina whose wonderful poem Bandra best defines the suburb would audition his latest work and once we even ran in to a very shy and inarticulate AK Anthony (something’s don’t change).
Now of course, Kamala is no more and the poets have become older and wiser
But each time when we pass Bank House and catch a glimpse of the riotous flower filled trees outside it, we know her spirit is alive and we recall a stanza of her poem Words.
‘All round me are words, and words and words/They grow on me like leaves, they never/Seem to stop their slow growing/From within.’