Mumbai Diary: Monday Dossier

Apr 16, 2018, 13:00 IST | Team mid-day

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

The balancing act
Alia Bhatt

Actor Alia Bhatt was in a playful mood when she was spotted at a production office in Andheri over the weekend. Pic/satej Shinde

A Ray of controversy
Satyajit Ray was undoubtedly one of the greatest directors to have graced the world of cinema, and we are not just talking about India here. His contribution to filmmaking has been such that every big-name contemporary of his, be it Akira Kurosawa or Ingmar Bergman, have only had words of praise for him (Kurosawa, in fact, once said, "Not to have seen [Ray's] films is like living without seeing the sun or the moon").

Satyajit Ray

Now, Ray has never been controversy's poster child. But if there is one point of conflict in his career, it is with regard to a screenplay he wrote in the 1960s, for a film that he wanted to call The Alien. Prompted by Arthur C Clarke, Ray sent the screenplay to Columbia Pictures, who agreed to back it. Later, however, they backtracked. So, the film was never made. Or, not by Ray at least. For, about 15 years later, Ray was shocked to see the uncanny resemblances The Alien had with Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and then with E.T. Naturally, he was miffed. And now, a new book, Travails with The Alien (Harper Collins), explores this episode, apart from delving into some more of Ray's science-fiction interests. Pick it up to find out what the whole story actually was.

Raising a toast to folk art
It is not often that one sees Indian folk and tribal art go under the hammer. But what's even more uncommon is to see art collectors not only exploring this terrain but also acquiring pieces from within these categories through record-setting bids.

Lot 24 - Sita Devi - Untitled (Baghai Devata), Circa 1970s. Pic/Saffronart
Lot 24 - Sita Devi - Untitled (Baghai Devata), Circa 1970s. Pic/Saffronart

That's what happened at Saffronart's recent Classical Indian Art and Folk and Tribal Art Auctions held in the city, where Sita Devi's Untitled (Baghai Devata) (lot 24) sold for '9 lakh, more than doubling its lower estimate of '4 lakh, and in the process, also setting a record for a work by a Mithila artist sold at auction.

For this shutterbug, age is just a number
Runil Sonawane's first photograph was a mistake. During a picnic in the Konkan, the then two-year-old shot his father and grandmother's feet instead of their faces. "The photo was sharp and well composed, so I gave him my Canon Powershot G12 and began taking him along for early morning photo walks," says proud father and photojournalist Nitin Sonawane.

Runil Sonawane at his show at the Photography Society of India, Fort. Pic/Atul Kamble
Runil Sonawane at his show at the Photography Society of India, Fort. Pic/Atul Kamble

The six-year-old is now exhibiting his first solo, titled Beauty of Nimdari, in Mumbai. "He doesn't understand exposure, aperture or shutter speed, but he has an intuitive sense of composition and understands the subject," says Sonawane.

When Gul set a challenge
The feisty Gul Panag loves to take up a challenge, whether it's training to become a licensed pilot or earning the title of India's first woman to race in Formula E. The actor-model is also a known fitness enthusiast, so when it came to kick-starting her exercise regimen after a break, she decided to go all out.

Gul Panag
Gul Panag

On April 1, she took to social media to announce that she was going on a 14-day fitness challenge, and in the following days, we saw her run, swim, jog and cycle, the dizzying heat notwithstanding. On day 12, she confessed to her followers that she didn't feel like exercising. But did it anyway because of her commitment on social media, and also completed the challenge. We like your source of motivation, Gul!

Stage set for Memon community
Theatre has the ability to turn the spotlight on matters of importance in a way no speech can. On World Memon Day celebrated last week, the prosperous Memon community of Mumbai was treated to a satirical play, Numaish, directed by veteran theatre personality Iqbal Niyazi. An initiative of the All India Memon Jamat Federation (AIMJF) and Kirdaar Art Academy, the play highlighted the tendency among the Memons to blow up large sums on lavish weddings.

Memon Community

"We wanted to drive home the point that if one has the money, a better way to spend it would be to help get lesser fortunate couples from the community married. The response was extremely encouraging," informs Niyazi. Adds AIMJF president Iqbal Memon, "The idea is to celebrate the day in a way that helps the disadvantaged, and to promote brotherhood and unity across faiths."

Also Read: Mumbai Diary: Sunday Dossier

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