Mumbai Diary: Thursday Dossier

19 June,2024 05:46 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Team mid-day

The city - sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce

Pic/Anurag Ahire

A close shave

A man gets a shave, while another takes a call on a road in Aarey Colony.

Curtain call for a diva

Suneeta Rao, Shweta Shetty; a photograph of Celia Lobo in costume for the opera, Rigoletto

While the city went on with its usual rhythm, Chembur mourned the passing of a star, a diva, in Celia Lobo. The soprano - India's first, and possibly only, opera star - passed away at her residence in Chembur on Tuesday. The mother of popular choreographer Ashley Lobo, Celia studied opera at the Guildhall School of Music in London before returning to be part of the city's iconic Bombay Madrigal Singers' Organisation (BMSO). Her pitch, tone and unique skill earned her lead roles in operas such as La Traviata and Rigoletto by Verdi, Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti and in Puccini's Tosca during her peak years. "I remember studying with her for three months while I was doing a musical in college called Best of Broadway. I was performing parts from The Man From La Mancha and Cabaret, and she was the only opera singer in the country," recalled desi pop artiste Shweta Shetty. Describing Celia as warm, but disciplined Shetty revealed, "She was extremely patient, but pushed me to the limits of my skill. She'd say ‘Use your gifts fully.'" It was not just about the music. Shetty added, "She was punctual. There were no passes given for latecomers, even though I lived in South Mumbai. ‘Leave early Shweta,' she would gently remind me sometimes." For singer Suneeta Rao, the veteran was more than just a teacher. A classmate of Ashley, Rao witnessed Celia's warmth as a mother to Ashley and her daughter, Deirdre. "She was directing and training us in Broadway and musical theatre. She was pitch perfect. I don't listen to opera much, but as a singer, I knew her technique had to be perfect. If not, you'd lose your voice singing opera. My heart truly goes out to Ashley and the family," Rao shared.

Celia with son, Ashley. Pics Courtesy/Instagram

Haikyu on

(From left) Rivika Khanna, Mihir Joshi and Virita Khanna

It was all smiles for anime fans as they caught a special screening of the film, Haikyu!! The Dumpster Battle last weekend in Kurla. "We had the podcaster Mihir Joshi turn up as well. It was also a celebration of the Mumbai Anime Corps (MAC), and our love for the genre," founder Rivika Khanna told this diarist.

For Ahmad

A still from the film, Ahmad Alive

"Hi, it's Ahmad, I'm alive." Gazan vlogger Ahmad Ghunaim's simple, yet poignant greeting will echo in Andheri this weekend. Ahmad Alive, the vlogger's first-person account of 126 days of the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict will be screened by film club Chhat Chitra Talkies. The film explores life in the war-ridden area following the October 7 attacks in 2023 that marked the beginning of the ongoing conflict. "The war has been going on for a while now, and given that the people in power are barely doing anything to stop it, we wanted to contribute by spreading awareness in any way that we could. When there was a call put out to take the film to as many people as possible, we knew we had to take the opportunity to play our part," shared founders Shubhika Sharma and Harshita Sabnis.

Harshita Sabni and Shubhika Sharma

The Mumbai divide

An overview of the skyline covering parts of South Bombay. Pic Courtesy/Sanjog Mhatre

Often called a SoBo-ite from his friends, the Lower Parel resident Sanjog Mhatre decided to share a clear demarcation of boundaries that marked South Mumbai for followers on social media. "The term SoBo comes from the fact that the city historically grew northwards. People often take Worli and Parel to be in South Mumbai. It is also a class thing, I feel, when people in other locations look down on less-affluent neighbourhoods," the photographer shared. Using a popular reel by Zervaan Bunshah, the story poked some fun by reminding people of the city. "It is good fun, but people tend to have a chip on their shoulder about South Bombay. I know that better than anyone," Bunshah added.

Zervaan Bunshah and Sanjog Mhatre

Winning with pride

In a refreshing bit of news for India's literary landscape, author Vaishali's Homeless: Growing up Lesbian and Dyslexic in India was recently conferred with the Yuva Puraskar, also known as the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar. This award is instituted by the Sahitya Akademi on young writers under 35 years, across 22 Indian languages. Co-published by Simon & Schuster and Yoda Press, the icing on the cake is that the prestigious win was announced during Pride Month. "While writing about my experiences of being marginalised, I often wondered if my story would be embraced by the mainstream. This award demonstrates that a compelling narrative transcends boundaries and truly connects with readers," Vaishali revealed. Arpita Das, founder-publisher of Yoda Press shared, "All of us at Yoda Press and S&S India are exhilarated at this recognition. For such an intersectional memoir to be awarded by the Sahitya Akademi is a win on so many fronts. For writers in the LGBTQiA+ community who want to write queer narratives, which are life-stories, and also for more such narratives which talk about living with dyslexia and other learning disabilities in a way which does not gloss over the difficulties, and is empowering and enabling at the same time." Das added that it is a huge win for narrative non-fiction that is only now coming into its own in our part of the world.

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