Mumbai Diary: Sunday Dossier
The city - sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce
He's still got it
Actor Amitabh Bachchan waves to fans as they turn out in hoardes at an event in Kalyan on Saturday. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
He might have taught acting to the likes of Varun Dhawan, Arjun Kapoor and Richa Chadda, but coach Saurabh Sachdeva knows that it's only theatre that can be liberating for an actor. Which is why he has launched Antarang, an anthology of two 30-minute plays that will be showcased in Andheri this month. While Mugalatein is a story of a prostitute, Papa Elsewhere offers a glimpse into the mind of an acclaimed writer. "Directing plays is vastly different from directing films or acting. Here, every script reading or rehearsal is crucial and the importance of each day is an exponential curve. The process keeps me on the edge," he says.
Banker's first international epic
Here's some big fat news for fans of author Ashok Banker, who is most known for his mythological retellings. Banker, who has long moved to the US, recently took to social media to announce the release of his "first Indian epic fantasy to be published internationally". Titled Upon A Burning Throne, the book, will be a hardcover priced at $26 (R1,900 appox) and will be released in April next year, by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the US, Canada and worldwide, the author said, of the book. He will be announcing the India release soon. "With Upon a Burning Throne, I wanted to write a book inspired by our myths, but also a totally original fantasy. It took a long time and a lot of hard work - almost 20 years and several dozen versions - but I finally nailed it," the writer told this diarist. Giving us a sneak peak of the cover, Banker says, "Think Mahabharata-inspired Indian fantasy meets the Mughal empire in a fantastical world and you have a tiny glimpse of what lies within these beautiful covers."
Remember that telegram in Oz, Vishy?
Since the Indian team are getting ready to tour Australia, our in-house cricket nut decided to relate an anecdote from the 1980-81 series held Down Under. He says it was mentioned by Sandeep Patil in his book, Sandy Storm. In another era, when there was no email, there was mail. Cricketers on tour used to get all sorts of letters - some encouraging, others scathing. At times, there were telegrams as well.
Gundappa Viswanath, one of the team's main batsmen in 1980-81, could manage only 69 runs in the first two Tests at Sydney and Adelaide. Before the final Test, he received a telegram from India, urging him to return home in the wake of his poor form. Not known to react angrily, Vishy just smiled at the communication and carried on trying his best. He ended the Test series with a splendid, match-winning hundred at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and claimed the man-of-the-match award just like he did after the fifth and final Test of the previous tour to Australia in 1977-78 at Adelaide where India lost the series 2-3.
India will need a batsman who can display Vishy-like poise and class if the Aussies are to be beaten for the first time in a series by the Indians on their soil. There will be no letters and telegrams, but there's social media that can be hard to ignore sometimes. Good luck, boys.
Prithviraj Kapoor must be smiling
As Prithvi Theatre Festival starts today, with celebrations across the city at Royal Opera House, G5A, and the Juhu venue itself, we caught up with the man behind it, Kunal Kapoor. While discussing why Prithvi is special, he said, "You don't have to build a five-star for it to work. I don't need to have golden chandeliers. I have a better atmosphere here and people come out with a better experience than they do with the gilded, golden chandeliers, and the plush carpets, and exotic, imported marble. We don't need that." He feels that Mumbai can absorb another 30 Prithvi Theatres easily. "We don't want 1,000 seaters. We want simple, but well-equipped, 300-seaters that will run every day. And which can stand up against political pressure. You cannot rent this theatre. We have no sangeets, no weddings, no religious discourses, no private shows. Only theatre happens here every day throughout the year. We average about 640 shows and we don't rent it out by the hour. You can come at six in the morning. Please come. Do your riyaaz. Lie on the stage. Get inspired. Experiment. Work. Don't treat it like a brothel hotel. It's not what we are." Happy birthday, Prithvi. Here's to another 40.
Discussing women of Bombay
Spanish journalist and celebrated author Jaume Sanllorente released his latest book, Women of Bombay, which discusses harsh realities that women in the island city face. During a book reading on Friday, He said that the book recounts instances of discrimination suffered by women in India, that he has witnessed himself. Interestingly, Jaume also revealed how a trip to Mumbai gave birth to Mumbai Smiles Foundation a decade ago as the spirit of the people living in the slums moved him. The NGO works with underprivileged communities in Mumbai, specifically in the neighbourhoods of Andheri East.
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