Guys, I was actually looking for something else - and found this! I thought it was fun. Hope you'll think so , too.
It has been another wretchedly hot day. I react very badly to the heat and feel like crawling into the nearest refrigerator. My daughter Arundhati skyped me from Paris to ask whether Feroz Khan had died! I must say I was surprised she'd even heard of him. That's how cruel Bollywood\showbiz is. And Feroz had retired into the shadows about the time Arundhati was born. Well... I guess all those rich tributes from his contemporaries must mean something. But it is Fardeen who broke my heart. Whatever his other sins ( remember, he is still battling that old drug charge), Fardeen proved to be a loving and devoted son right till the very end. I'm sure Allah will shower his choicest blessings on the young actor and help him pick up his own derailed career.
Mumbai's bars have run dry from today. This is an old fashioned , pre-election day rule that I find as ludicrous as it is charming! The natives are supposed to stay sober and behave themselves till the voting gets over on the 30th. So... how will Mumbai vote this time? The countdown has begun.Last night on the ndtv discussion, Milind Deora walked in seconds before we went live. Poor guy looked bleary- eyed and drained. He was on auto pilot as he answered Sonia Singh's friendly but firm questions on how Mumbai will vote, post 26\11. For once Vir Sanghvi and I were not on the same page on this one. Vir felt Mumbai had moved on... I feel 26\11 is the single most important issue in this election. What is a city if it isn't safe??
This evening, I stopped by to have chai with Hasmukh, my silversmith at Colaba. Hasmukh is quite a character, and I have known him from the time he was a toddler. I used to buy all my chunky silver trinkets from his father. Trinkets , that are pretty invaluable today - not in monetary terms , but because of how unique they are. Well, I asked Hasmukh about the mood in the market ( he lives a stone's throw away from Nariman House where the young Jewish couple was killed by the terrorists). He answered Hasmukh-style in Gujarati ( which I speak fluently), " Ae vakhtey Milind nu doubtful lagechh." Oops. Though , I personally think Milind will sail through, given all the various 'settings'. Milind did go out of his way to assure me at ndtv's spiffy new studios that Arun Gawli was not his friend , and that he had never asked Gawli to endorse him. " What can I do if he went to the press expressing his support?'' said Milind petulantly.Milind has certainly learnt all the ropes from his canny and experienced elders. Bechara Milind - it's true - what could he do if Mumbai's most notorious gangster went to town declaring his support for him - disown the guy? Distance himself? Deny he knows him? Naah. That's way too amateurish. Milind's a real pro now, remember?Big boys stay mum.
The Book ‘Superstar India’ seems to be probably more personal than any other book you have ever written before. Tell us more about it? What was the inspiration?
Ans It struck me like lightning. I was meant to be writing a novel for Penguin , but at the nth minute, I changed my mind, because this new, exciting idea was exploding out of my head and demanding to get written ! I junked the previous contract and began writing ‘Superstar India ….” like a woman possessed
Would you say the book is in some aspects a reflection of yourself and your journey through life?
Ans Most definitely. It is a parallel story, as much about me as about India. The two are intertwined. There was no other way to write it.
It almost feels like you are drawing similarities between yourself and India. I remarked that you just turned 60, the same age as India. Do you see yourself as a daughter of this nation?
Ans I am very much the daughter of India…I am who I am, for better or worse, because of India.
The title ‘Superstar India’ could be interpreted that you see India as a nation who has over the years evolved into something very talented and celebrated. Would you agree?
Ans India is poised to make a huge impact on the global scene. For too many years India was placed on the back burner by the other superpowers. Well…. India’s time has come, and it is overdue. The book chronicles this dramatic change in perception, but not before pointing out a few harsh realities too!
If you draw these parallels between yourself and the book would that mean that you would see yourself as a Superstar of the Nation as well?
Ans Not at all ! That would be so horribly presumptuous! I am very proud of my country and happy to be just an involved citizen.
It is such an exciting idea to actually turn a book into a music album! Was this a long planned idea or something very spontaneous?
Ans It was a dream!! The idea was mine, I felt a music album would complete the book and close the circle. Music doesn’t always need words…. But sometimes words need music!
How did you choose the artists?
I sought the help of Kaushik Roy, who is a very creative individual. I explained my idea to him and he found the perfect talent in Neal Adhikari. Kaushik was also the person to script and shoot the music video.
I would picture it extremely hard to put a book content into a music album. How did you know that the songs do tell the story? Ans : When I kept listening to the tracks, and dubbing my own lines, it was obvious as to which tracks suited the mood of the specific passages. Instinct is everything!
By which criteria did you select the artists for the album?
Ans The idea was to not use commercial voices but provide a platform to those who rarely get one – our itinerant folk singers, who for generations have carried the tradition forward.
What about the instruments and styles of music?
The Bauls of West Bengal, and the Langas of Rajasthan have magnificent voices…. They are so gifted, and yet so unacknowledged. The ektara can produce the most surprising sounds with a single string!
The songs on the album are very traditional. Is that a reflection of the soul of India?
The songs are timeless….. in that sense, yes, they do represent the soul of India.
You are a writer very popular also abroad. However the album is presented as an album for the soul of India and from the soul of India. Would you say foreign listeners would not really understand the essence of the album?
Ans This is world music at its richest! It is universal in its appeal. Of course, this album will appeal to music lovers in any corner of the globe, because what it is saying is so powerful.
It is very honorable that the entire profit of this album is donated to the Cancer Patients Aid Association (CPAA). Since when are you involved in this association? There are so many charities in India why this one?
Ans I have been working with the CPAA for over 20 years. I value the association and contribute towards this cause in whichever way I can. The proceeds from this album have been earmarked for the treatment of breast cancer.
As a music magazine editor I have to ask you this final question - What is your favorite song, Indian and Western?
Ans That changes every day…. It depends on the mood and situation.
Questions by Managing Editor Julia Holtz