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Mumbai Diary: Friday Dossier

Updated on: 01 March,2024 06:50 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Team mid-day |

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

Mumbai Diary: Friday Dossier

Pic/Sameer Markande

Egg-cellent Control

With egg crates tied to his bicycle, a delivery man weaves through the traffic on Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg at Ghatkopar West. 

Tum jiyo hazaaron saal

Ustad Zakir Hussain drooled over yakhni pulao from the Kapoor kitchen; Sabir Khan made eyes at Taufiq Qureshi for drowning out the strains of his sarangi with the djembe, and double Grammy Award-winning Rakesh Chaurasia shushed excited voices in the wings, finger on lips; his legs crossed under a rose quartz silk kurta.

(From left) Zubin Balaporia, Zahan Kapoor, Kunal Kapoor, Karl Peters (seated behind), Taufiq Qureshi, Rakesh Chaurasia and Zakir Hussain on stage during the performance
(From left) Zubin Balaporia, Zahan Kapoor, Kunal Kapoor, Sheldon D'Silva (seated behind), Taufiq Qureshi, Rakesh Chaurasia and Zakir Hussain on stage during the performance

Five feet away sat Jaya Bachchan with granddaughter Navya Naveli Nanda, sandwiched between average music lovers. They were lucky they got a seat. Ashutosh Gowariker squatted in a gangway for the first half hour of what was the zaniest classical music performance by maestros and rising stars in a long time.

Kunal and Zahan Kapoor were hosting Prithvi Theatre’s 40th Memorial Concert on Wednesday to mark the birth anniversary of its visionary founder and actor Jennifer Kendal Kapoor. Bowls of sheera to say Happy Birthday, had passed around a grateful audience waiting in the porch to enter the haloed crucible of theatre. In a first, the sons and shagirds of late pakhawaj player Pandit Bhavani Shankar, hosted a mini ‘porch performance’ with a dancer presenting tatkar (rhythmic kathak footwork) in perfect sync with the tala of the drum that’s the ancestor of the tabla. The evening was dedicated to Shankar, and Hindustani classical maestro late Ustad Rashid Khan.

(Left) Zahan Kapoor and Ustad Zakir Hussain
(Left) Zahan Kapoor and Ustad Zakir Hussain

When a guest walking in with Jayati Dogra laughed, “From here on, it’s a local!” he was being prophetic. No one snaking into the intimate audi with a capacity for 200 expected to see what they did. The seats were taken. The staircase treads were occupied. The pit in front of the stage, overflowing. “Squeeze” was the theme of the evening, and no one cared.

That’s the thing: there is something about Prithvi. When you manage a seat inside one of India’s most democratic, affordable and inclusive performance venues, you leave your privilege at the door. Even if you are a Bachchan. It’s perhaps the only public space where you won’t see Bollywood stars chaperoned by security and media teams, and experience the curious joy of standing at the buffet with Vishal and Rekha Bhardwaj, waiting for your car alongside Neetu Kapoor or sharing a restroom mirror with Divya Dutta. And the ticket-paying enthusiast doesn’t care if he made it to A1. Every seat is the best seat in the house as long as you get in.

Volunteers ushering audience members to find a seat

The remarkably modest Hussain, fresh from his triple Grammy win, put it wonderfully when he explained how he managed to make it year after year despite a crazy schedule. He called it “doing seva” for an institution that had kept the honest spirit of the arts alive. And seva, he did, playing almost continuously for over two hours with a host of musicians, including brothers Taufiq and Fazal, Zubin Balaporia, Sabir Khan and Vijay Prakash. His playful and magical jugalbandi with Chaurasia and Khan (Yaad piya ki aaye… aah!) spoke of a comfort that comes from having jammed with and mentored next gen talent. 
And the applause came pouring in not just from fans but contemporaries too. Gino and father Louiz Banks, and Ranjit Barot sat on a choc-a-bloc second row, enjoying the celebration of percussion.

Outside, we missed tripping over a guest as she darted over the café seats to envelope Makarand Deshpande in a buddy embrace. It took us a wobbly-knee five-minute hobble before we could stand straight on our feet after being in padmasana through the evening. Someone called out our name.


A 10-second bear hug in a patio swarming with people spoke of a time long, long ago at a boarding school when this diarist wasn’t editor, and Quasar Thakore-Padamsee, not one of Mumbai’s most influential young director-producer-arts managers.

There’s something about Prithvi.

Namaste, Japan

Japanese influencer Koki Shishido (below), who had found a home in Mumbai for the past two years, is now back in Japan. “I returned to Japan after three years. I feel like I am re-exploring it from a foreigner’s perspective; it feels refreshing!” he shared with this diarist via text messages from Tokyo. The content creator, fully adapted to ways of a Mumbaikar, is now working on two series for his social media platform that will document an Indian’s life in Japan. “I miss [Mumbai’s] warm people, and the vada pav!” The idea behind the series, he says, is to encourage more Indians to head to Japan. Each series will have at least 24 episodes, one interviewing Indians and the other spending a day with an Indian in Japan. He has a special note for his fans in Mumbai, “I am aiming to come back towards the end of April, and I will be bringing the ramen culture along with me. Stay tuned for an exciting event featuring new [Japanese] ramen!”

Let’s find some poetry

(From left) Bahuguna and a young participant at work on a poem; children at an earlier workshop
(From left) Bahuguna and a young participant at work on a poem; children at an earlier workshop

If you thought poetry was not for the kids, author and novelist Neha Bahuguna would disagree. “People often think poetry is complicated, but there are ways to learn,” she admitted to this diarist. Her workshop this Sunday at Madh Island, aims to introduce children from eight years onwards to the art of Found poetry. “Found poetry is the practice of picking up words and letters from magazines or newspapers, and cutting them to create poems. You can pick and choose as your emotions or instinct strikes you,” the author suggested, adding that children love it because of its hands-on practice. “They like to use new words, and work with their hands. Sometimes, the adults enjoy it more than the kids,” she laughed. Those interested in trying it out might drop a line at @bol.collective on Instagram.

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