Best of mid-day Guide's Lunchbox series from 2017
The Guide's Lunchbox series saw the best in the business break bread over stimulating conversations. On its first anniversary, we recap of some of the backroom chatter
When it comes to carving a way in their respective fields, fashion designer Anavila Misra and filmmaker Gauri Shinde have beaten the odds by treading the road less travelled. The duo bonded over not bending under pressure and keeping their voice and signature intact.
Gauri: Who will have the b***s to make this film was the question with english Vinglish. The protagonist was a mature housewife, in a saree. everything was against me. Someone suggested that since Sridevi is in the film, I need to have her dance! It's why I also produced it. either I make the film my way or I don't make it all. The same people who doubted me, chased me to produce Dear Zindagi, but I said no.
Anavila: As in your film, my father, who is a scientist, faced a similar language problem when he was studying as he didn't know english. He was one of the first two people to leave his village in UP. He went to NDRI [National Dairy
Research Institute] to study where his classmates were mostly South Indians or Bengalis who were fluent in english. Today, he is a PhD and has published so many journals. He is the hero of the family. In spite of being a Jaat from UP, he pushed us to just be ourselves.
Cooking up stories
Fellow foodies and good friends Maria Goretti and Kunal Vijayakar bonded over shared love for Good Luck Cafe's kheema pao, and Kashmiri wazwan over lunch at a restaurant in Bandra.
Kunal: One of our first meetings was for Alyque Padamsee's play, Roshni (1995). Maria and Arshad [Warsi] were dancing; Boman [Irani] was acting for the first time. Arshad had a trident and he had to throw it in the wings...
Maria: Yes! Boman was standing in the wings and the trident hit his head. He still has a mark. Kunal would also invite us over for these lovely dinners. Why did you stop hosting them?
Kunal: I'm single, and live alone. I've almost shut my kitchen since my trusted, old domestic help passed away. She was with me for 41 years. But I remember enjoying some great biryani at your house, back when Arshad was just about to sign his first film. Does he still cook?
Maria: Oh yes. He makes an awesome slow-cooked raan biryani.
Not just desserts
Dessert and pastry gurus, Pooja Dhingra and Conrad D'Souza kick-started the Lunchbox series with a warm session over savoury parmesan waffles, sandwiches and luscious desserts at a Colaba cafe. Though they hadn't met in a while, their camaraderie was evident. Here's what followed when asked to share one thing they'd like to know about each other:
Pooja Dhingra and Conrad D'Souza
Conrad: When are you making your own wedding cake?
Pooja: What sort of a question is that! even my mother doesn't ask me this [laughs]. Initially, every year, my team used to decide what cake they'd make for my wedding. Then, they stopped. Find me a boy.
Sense and censorship
Censorship often evokes a strong response from creative people. It was no different when Sooni Taraporevala and Anand Gandhi met over a Japanese lunch. While Anand had to navigate a minefield of censorship issues before his recent film, An Insignificant Man, could hit screens, Sooni, with decades of work as filmmaker, screenwriter and photographer, was no stranger to obstacles to creative freedom either. "How do you see censorship in the country?" was the question, and here's how the conversation went:
Anand Gandhi and Sooni Taraporevala
Anand: Irrelevant. It's a certification board and it should remain so. It's job is to recommend people the kind of light in which they should watch a film. They should look into the Shyam Benegal committee's recommendations, which they haven't yet. If they really want censorship, because they seem to like it, they should have it for political speeches. The difference between the two is that political speeches incite immediate action. Films,
Sooni: I ran into problems with censorship when I wrote Such a Long Journey . The film, such an innocuous one, was sent to a revising committee and went through 26 cuts. It's a way of hanging on to power. Political parties won't let go of it so easily.
Anand: The beauty of it is they have no control. Because now we have the Internet. If they don't allow a film [to release] we'll put it up on YouTube. They may come across as better human beings, and may earn some empathy, if they accept this.
Write is right
The camaraderie between authors Jerry Pinto and Kiran Nagarkar is testament to their deep friendship. They don't think twice about making outrageous comments about each other. So much that the writer felt like she was on the sidelines watching two friends catch up after a long time, and grill each other about their lives.
Jerry Pinto and Kiran Nagarkar
Jerry: every woman I know freaks out at the part in Cuckold [Nagarkar's book] where the male protagonist paints himself blue, naked.
Kiran: Jerry, what are you saying! We are decent people! Tell me, did you always plan to write?
Jerry: I had no idea. Till the age of 14, I was on autopilot. After my tenth, I told my father I want to do medicine. I went to medical college for three months…
Kiran (interrupts): Jerry, if you had continued, I could've been treated by you.
Jerry: For free, no? And I could've also easily killed you.
Kiran: How can you be so clever? I failed at everything.
Jerry: Look at who you are now! You are Kiran Nagarkar, you're the man.
Kiran: He is very famous.
Jerry: And he was very famous.
Dhara Vora Sabhnani, Krutika Behrawala, Snigdha Hasan, Joanna Lobo
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