It was pouring horses, camels and elephants last night, but I was determined to catch 'New York' at a theatre closest to me ( Inox - best popcorn in the world). I ran into the multiplex looking like a wet rat... but then, everybody around me was drenched , too. At least I was wearing my favourite jumbo fake pearls and looking posh! From the very first opening sequence of the film, it was established that this was a class act. Some films manage to convey their superior content instantly with frame one itself. But even I wasn't prepared for what unfolded thereafter. Let's hand it to Kabir Khan - the guy's got it. In spades. He makes most of the other acclaimed Bollywood directors look like bumbling amateurs. Khan's movie is in a league of its own - what a terrific script, for starters. And what inspired casting. Who but Khan would have thought of John Abraham for that role AND extracted such a convincing performance out of the guy one associates with a tree stump?Katrina Kaif actually EMOTES in the movie - this is a miracle. Neil is good, but then Neil is an actor not a log of wood. However it is Irrfan Khan who beats all these stars hollow with his polished and superbly understated performance as an FBI agent with a difficult job to do, post 9\11 and the Twin Towers tragedy.
While on Irrfan, I remember him coming home to meet me with a dvd of his film 'The Warrior'. He was an unknown actor at the time, and I had seen him in a small budget hindi movie (forget the name) in which his performance had greatly impressed me. I had mentioned as much in a column, and he had called to thank me for recognising his effort. Over tea at the dining table, we had discussed movies - and our respective spouses - both Bongs!! That was years ago. Today, Irrfan is a star with several prestigious international projects. Like Om Puri, Anupam Kher and now Anil Kapoor, Irrfan will continue to get steady work overseas. These guys are professionals minus starry airs and silly egoes. They choose their projects well, make serious money, and move on. 'New York' is Irrfan's film all the way. And with its success two more Khans join the club of Bollywood superstars - take a bow, you guys - Kabir and Irrfan.
Aditya Chopra's taaras as producer are definitely changing. First 'New York', and now a charming film starring his lady love Rani Mukherjee ( playing a Sikh cricketer, turban- beard et al, believe it or not). Going by the teaser trailer, this one looks a winner, too. If only Shahid Kapoor would change his floppy hair!! Rani appears in terrific form and is looking barfi-sweet. Can't wait !
It's been a great homecoming . I had three books waiting for me. One is from a BLOGDOST! Onyeka Nwelue's 'Abyssinian Boy' looks promising. I was so touched by the message. It reads : " Shobhaaji, your bravery transcends continents. I'm writing to you with love from Nigeria, West Africa, Africa, The World." Onyeka has been described by 'The Guardian' as a ''teenager with a steaming pen."
Margaret Mascarenhas is a friend who lives in Goa. This is her second book ( I loved 'Skin', her first). She is an American citizen of Goan origin who grew up in Venezuela. Her new book, " The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos'' starts with a quotation: " It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." That sums up Margaret. She too has written a really affectionate message to me. It reads : " For Shobhaa, who has so often pulled me from the brink of becoming boringly earnest." Excuse me, while I weep.....
The third book is from Sai Paranjpye ( love this woman!). 'Rigmarole' is a set of three satirical plays set in contemporary India. She descibes them as " feel good plays."
I shall take all three books with me to Poland next week.
That is my way of letting you guys know I'll be on the move - yes, again!
I know, I know.... but hold the scolding. It's all for a good cause. More on that later.