From student to chairman

Oct 13, 2017, 06:00 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

"I had spent six months as a 20-year-old student at FTII while I was on an exchange programme from NSD," says Anupam Kher who was appointed chairman of the institute this week

"I had spent six months as a 20-year-old student at FTII while I was on an exchange programme from NSD," says Anupam Kher who was appointed chairman of the institute this week.

"Coming from theatre, and that too after training with giants like Alkazi Saab, FTII opened up the world of cinema and its huge possibilities to me," he said. "I remember I had butterflies in my stomach while entering the campus of an institution that had given the industry such a wealth of talent before." Any nostalgia, we enquired.

"Of course the 'wisdom tree' and the canteen tea," he laughed, adding, "But I spent all my time there, hungry to absorb the teachings imparted, watching 3 to 4 movies a day and participating in over 30 student projects at that time."

Anupam Kher
Anupam Kher

"Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Brando, Gautam Ghosh! Imagine having access to all their films!"

We recall meeting Kher shortly after his stint at FTII, when he was struggling to make it in films, a thin-as-a-reed, haunted-eyed newcomer, rehearsing for a production of Brecht at the Prithvi.

What does he plan to bring to the place now that he is in the hot seat?
"Nothing," says the man who has acted in more than 500 movies, many of them award-winning ones. "I want to go there with a sense of learning. Today's students don't need me to tell them how to do things. If at all I can help, I can do that by first understanding what is needed," he said. "I can also share what it is like being a struggling newcomer and later a veteran. After 40 years of working in the industry, I want to give back somehow."

Has he been back to the FTII since his appointment? "No," says Kher, "I have been busy with my production Ranchi Diaries, which opens today. But I know, when I enter those hallowed corridors again, I will have a - butterflies in the stomach - moment again."

 Masaba GuptaMasaba Gupta

Handled like a boss
"Handled like a boss," we said to Masaba Gupta, referring to her masterly response to Twitter trolls who had taken her on, for her pro-firecracker ban statement recently. Sinking to hitherto unheard of lows, the trolls had made uncalled for references to Gupta's personal life, which do not merit repeating, but which she had handled with kickass class. "I don't want to say much more about it as I said what I had to in the post. Just that there is no reason to not respond to bullies. Ignorance is bliss but we live in a time when you must fight," she said.

And true to form, shrugging off the spurious controversy like water off a duck's back, the designer is already onto her next big design project "A House of Masaba cafe + bridal store in Hyderabad by November-end" Why Hyderabad, we asked. "Hyderabad is a huge market for us. And the perfect place to kick start bridal," she says.

Dr Yusuf Hamied (in grey jacket) at the concert with Khushroo Suntook and Mr and Mrs Laimonas Talat-Kelpsa
Dr Yusuf Hamied (in grey jacket) at the concert with Khushroo Suntook and Mr and Mrs Laimonas Talat-Kelpsa

Much applause
"The project was conceived in 2014 when Zubin Mehta conducted the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra in Vilnius. The person who runs the orchestra, Gintautas Kevisas, informed Ambassador Laimonas that he was planning a visit to SouthEast Asia with the Lithuanian Symphony Orchestra, and was wondering whether they could give a couple of concerts in Mumbai. The ambassador approached Khushroo Suntook and the two dates 10th and 11th were finalised," says a spokesperson about the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, which performed to great acclaim at the NCPA this week, and which we had the pleasure of attending on Wednesday evening. "Dr Yusuf K Hamied, chairman of CIPLA, whose mother was Lithuanian and who was born in Lithuania, came forward to make it happen."

As was to be expected, the presence of this international group of acclaimed musicians was highly applauded, and the packed-to-the rafters Jamshed Bhabha auditorium was witness to many shouts of 'encore' and 'bravo', especially when the dapper resident conductor and violinist of the Symphony Orchestra of India, Marat Bisengaliev participated as a solo violinist. And what's more, we noted, it wasn't just the usual suspects of well-heeled Parsis savouring the fare. Lithuania's ambassador to India Laimonas Talat-Kelpsa, with Linas Antanas Linkevicius, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Lithuania, along with the Consul Generals of Spain, Hungary, Argentina and Holland, and Minister of External Affairs M J Akbar were in the audience.

Nandan Nilekani with Satya Nadella
Nandan Nilekani with Satya Nadella

Nandan on Satya
"It was taken in his office in Redmond on Tuesday," said Nandan Nilekani, co-founder and non-executive chairman of Infosys, and the man who gave India its Unique Identification programme, about this picture with Satya Nadella CEO of Microsoft, and his newly launched 'Hit Refresh,' which he had tweeted yesterday with the words, "Fine book, on the remarkable transformation he is bringing. A must read!"

Nilekani, who is currently on a packed trip in Washington DC, says though he has only known Microsoft's head honcho since the past one year, he is a terrific guy and they get along very well. "The book is a case study on changing the culture of a large successful corporation when the environment changes," said Nilekanni whose words on books, especially books on cutting edge IT, we would take seriously. After all, he is the man credited by author Thomas Friedman for giving him the name for his bestselling 'The World Is Flat'. Apparently, Nilekani had introduced him to the phrase when Freidman had visited him on the Infosys Campus in Bangalore!

Sunaina Roshan with Dr Muffazal Lakdawala
Sunaina Roshan with Dr Muffazal Lakdawala

A weight off her chest
"We shot the clip yesterday," says Sunaina Roshan about her outing in front of camera with bariatric surgeon Dr Muffazal Lakdawala, to promote a campaign against obesity that she has launched, since she lost 60 kilos after her own surgery by him. In the clip, Roshan speaks candidly about the numerous health issues she'd suffered, including debilitating depression, which she successfully vanquished through her courage and determination. Were you nervous while talking in front of camera, we enquired, was it your first time? After all, unlike her family, Sunaina has been low-key and behind the scenes. Not the first time, she said, "but it was my first time live."

As for her new-found health and confidence, Sunaina is intent on spreading the good word. "I want to tell people that they do not and should not suffer in silence. I want to motivate them to conquer their vulnerabilities. If I can do it, with so many different ailments, anyone can."

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