Sunday, November 29, 2009

Why Aamchi Mumbai is like Rani Mukherjee

The first anniversary of 26\11 is behind us.The tears have dried. Candles snuffed out. Flowers, wilted. Speeches and parades done with. Mumbai is back to ‘normal’. There will be post-mortems and more. Some will focus on the city’s cynicism. Others will laud its optimism. Television anchors will nurse their sore throats and sigh, “ Thank God, it’s over.” Yes. Truly. Thank God, it is over. And can we please get on with our lives?? Change the subject and move on… just like everybody else?
Mumbai needs a makeover. At the moment, it is resembling Rani Mukherjee at her worst. Rani is one of our most talented actresses. I totally adore her. But somewhere down the line, Rani lost the plot. Well, so has Mumbai.This disgustingly huge , monster-metropolis no longer knows what it is. Rani faced a similar dilemma a while ago. She did what a lot of actresses do in similar situations – she lost weight and climbed into a bikini. The film tanked nevertheless. Or perhaps, because of the bikini. The ‘new’, ‘toned’ Rani failed to impress audiences, even though the movie was constructed for and around her.The bikini did her in. Mumbai is also stuck in the same sort of groove – it desperately wants to reinvent itself and show the rest of India that it is still the sexiest, most desirable city in the country. Unfortunately for Mumbai, the rest of India has moved on. It just ain’t interested! As they’d say in Bollywood parlance, “ Weekend opening bekaar hai, boss.” This is an alarming scenario for a destination that has always fancied itself. But you know how it is in showbiz – the box office is always right. Mumbai has been declared an official flop.
Rani is at a crossroad in terms of her rapidly dwindling career, Mumbai too is wondering which direction to take. Its showing at the box office has been dismal, the collections are depressingly low, and investors are busy looking for the next big thing.Fading actresses try several gimmicks to hang on to their positions – new hairstyles, fresh make-up, hot boy friends, controversies and scandals. What does a fading city do?? Accept its wrinkles and carry on??
There was a time, not so long ago, when being identified as a Mumbaikar gave a special edge to a person. It meant something.Chest-thumping came naturally to those who called Mumbai their home. Today, the connotation is different and Mumbaikars are only too aware of changed perceptions.All that made Mumbai such a powerful magnet has disappeared, or is fast eroding. Money has moved to other cities ( hello, Hyderabad!), and with that, so have several related businesses that once made Mumbai glamourous and seductive. Fashion has fled North.So has talent in other spheres. Today, a Bharti Mittal gets as many eyeballs as the Ambanis. Plus, he is cuter. Power in Mumbai, was never about politics ( sorry, Sharad Bhau). It had to do with the billions in your bank. Now, even those billions are relocating. Not a single politician from this city has the clout of a Pranab, Chidambaram or Rahul. And that is pretty much the current Mumbai story.
The prevalent feeling amongst Mumbaikars post 26\11, is that Mumbai has become marginalized and no longer counts. The indifference shown by Delhi was the first sign that Mumbai, its safety and survival, are low priority for the Big Boys in the Capital.The macabre anniversary of the terror attacks was marked by tokenism and not much more.This may sound like petty carping, but somehow the visuals of Obamaji saying ‘namastey’ to Manmohanji and clinking glasses at a grand sit-down dinner around the same date, seemed a little insensitive. As did the timing of our Prezzie flying high in a Sukhoi while Mumbai was in mourning. Sure, Chidambaram showed up in the city to hold hands, light a torch, make soothing noises and so on. But in real terms, whether fairly or otherwise, Mumbaikars felt short changed and quite cross. As it is , what was equally hard to swallow was the finger- pointing, blame game going on between our top cops, with several innocents caught in the cross- fire, leaving shell- shocked Mumbaikars demanding, “ But… what about us?”
Really. What about us? Right now, we are feeling marooned , abandoned, and pretty unloved. There is an exaggerated emotionalism at work here, combined with a dollop of martyrdom. It happens. Mumbaikars are melodramatic.It is inevitable given our proximity to the movie world. Everything in our lives is exaggerated, and that includes anger. 26\11 has been the tipping point. No doubt about that. Something snapped during those 62 hours, and nothing is going to be the same again. That’s too bad, given Mumbai’s unique position in our imagination. Maybe Mumbai was never really all that ‘different’ or ‘special’. Maybe it was always a dump. Maybe squalor consistently scored over glamour. But it was good while it lasted. The illusion, I mean. It’s time to get real. No retakes, this time. Same as for Rani.
Whoever said Sunday is a day of rest was lying. I've had the busiest one. But I am feeling on top of the world right now, so who's cribbing? Not me. My tween novel titled
'S's Secret' will be launched by the publishers tomorrow. The Sunday Times of India carried a half pager on the book, and an interview avec moi, which you can catch online. This afternoon, I did the tv interview for Times Now with a lively, dimpled reporter called Janice. This will go out at prime time tonight. Even though I've been there, done that, sixteen times over ( 'S's Secret' is my 16th book), I still feel deliciously nervous on the eve of a book launch. This one marks my foray into new territory - from writing adult fiction to writing for young adults. It's a sweet, innocent, uncomplicated story about Sandhya, a 14 year-old Mumbai girl. I am looking forward to reactions from an entirely different age group. Fingers crossed. Wish me luck. And watch the interview !


aniketh_375 said...

Sorry Shobhaa but your methapors,sarcasm are now getting predictable and monotnous..comparing Rani to Mumbai??

However,my earnest best of luck for your new book.

kala said...

Best of luck for your new book, shobhaa.

kala said...

Advance congratulations also.

cmpershad said...

Story of Sandhya by Shobha in Sixteenth book S's Secret..... SSSSSSSSSSSo many wishes for the Successful launch. Congrats.

ZB said...

But when was Mumbai the sexiest, most desirable city in the country.For me it was always the dreaded, overcrowded and polluted city.

But i dont think that its like Rani Mukharjee, or any fading actress. Its importance as financial capital will continue along with terrorist threats and slum and poverty. atleast for the next 50 years.

Sussi said...

It is illogical..
Why are you bringing Rani in comparison to Mumbai's current state ?

Rani got the talent which can not be evaluated with amount of hit & flop.Flops will not make her bad actress to many.

I also think ,Mumbaikar will keep on adapting to whatever they are thrust to..
So please be reasonable & don't bring unmatched comparison..

Sandipan Mitra said...

Good luck for your book. I will try to get a copy asap.

However, I didn't like your take on Manmohan and President. Though both were fruitless acts but lighting candles or mourning over something is even more fruitless.

An anniversary of such things is a good time for reality check which I think we have successfully done but to cancel plans for an anniversary is simply ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Good wishes.

Sidhusaaheb said...

There have been terrorist attacks in Mumbai before November 26, 2008, some of which led to a comparable death toll. So, how is it supposed to be any more or less of a subject of national mourning than any other such tragic incident that occurred previously?

BTW, did you happen to notice what various public figures were or were not up to on November 1-2, 2009, which marked the 25th anniversary of the slaughter of nearly 4000 innocent Indians, in different parts of the country, by their own country-men? Perhaps their kith and kin feel "marooned, abandoned, and pretty unloved" too.

Renuka said...

'Rani is one of our most talented actresses. I totally adore her.'

This is how you adore someone?? Give Rani a break and give us a break as well...

kala said...

The massacre of sikhs was much more shameful because it was done by fellow Indians to fellow Indians. And similar acts of terrorism by fellow Indians to fellow Indians are many. . But certain things like that must be forgotten in the best interests of the country. If we live in the past, we can never build up our future. We must move on while we must do everything so that the guilty cannot hide and prosper. even 26/11 will be forgotten and actually it is forgotten by the common people who commute on a daily basis. It is only the trp hungry media and the chattering classes that are keeping it alive blaming everyone else except themselves.

Sema said...

Wow. I can't believe I bought your book "Socialite Evenings" despite the horrible reviews it received on Amazon. Good thing I didn't get a chance to read it because now it's going right in the garbage. If you write crap like this, not to mention how stupid the comparison really is, you shouldn't be writing books at all. You want people to buy your books, you better learn how to write, not alienate people in the process.

Sameer said...

Looking forward to reading your book. Honestly I did not find the comaprison between Rani and Mumbai much appealing. It felt stretched. Hope to catch you on TV shows when I am in India.

Sam said...

Are you still in a High School Shobhaa? Try to act your age not your shoe size.. What Rani has done in this male dominant industry is beyond amazing. Have some dignity and try supporting the same gender you blong to.. Your claim of fame is quite cheap & low!

Chirag Patel said...

I always wondered why we never lite DIYAA in such occassions! DIYAAs are traditionally part of our religion.

Sam said...

lol.. typical of you to be jealous of someone who is much richer, successful and talented than you.. you women will never stick together.. always sulking and burning with envy.. Nonetheless, Rani was, is and will always be a Rani.. and you were, are and will always be a nobody!

Ketaki... said...

Hey Shobha,

Congratulations on the new book. Of course I will catch your interview online and I will also read the book. I have read everything you have written so far and that includes snapshots, sultry days and starry nights.. No comments there. :)
But I have my own copy of Speedpost and that is one of my favorite books. I liked Spouse too. Superstar India remains unread but that's because I haven't been to India in 1.5 yrs and here we cannot lay hands on Indian authors that often. But I promise to make time for these soon.
By the way I am 24 so I hope I am a part of your target age group.. :)
~Loads of love and luck

AJ-Rox said...

Hello Shobhaa,
I am visiting your blog for the first time. This is not the right place to add my comment, but I have to do it...

I didnt know about you until today, when I read your S's secret extract in TOI. Man, it was fun. I am like really excited for this book (as I am a teenager). I have never read any text from you, but I have to get my hands on your new book.

So I checked out the Internet to see whether there is any info about your new book and Voila! Not even a single site, except the TOI site has any info about your forthcoming book.

I wanted to know, when is this book releasing. And will you make some efforts to make in available in Kota, which is a 5 hour drive from Jaipur, Rajasthan.

Please tell me when this novel of yours is releasing, and please make it into an affordable price...Okay, I am done. BTW, I blog too!
check out: (My personal blog) (My professional blog, where I blog about my hobby, that's technology)

Some suggestions. You can make your blog a lot more beautiful with some basic and easy HTML coding. If interested contact me @

Bye Shobhaa...You Rock

S said...

Hi.. I find ur blog interesting and read it, don't agree with it sometimes, but must admit that u offer an interesting read (well so does reality TV). when the boundary is stretched to the point, that it bears no relation to the context, then you need to rethink ur strategy. Your strategy of getting attention by getting very personal, won't work always. I am not Rani's fan, but by no means do I think that you wrote a fair article (NOW you might say, don't expect fairness???)

All the best.........

Kapil More said...

Hi Shobha,
My comment is not about this blogpost.
Earlier as a teenager i was rebuffed by seeing your name as De and said to myself that if someone is has shortened her name from deshpande to De make it more glamorous then that person is not worth i would never bother to seriously read your articles in TOI...I admit i was wrong and judgemental without have full knowledge about you.

Recently i saw your interview in devils advocate , then you taking raj's interview , and then your open letter to raj and and i feel that you are not someone the way i imagined you to be ...and i found you to be interesting personality...thats why i am here now to follow your blogs...lets see what comes up...
btw good luck with your book

pissed with politics!! said...

hey there shobha, since you are against raj thackeray please see this fantastic blog really controversial!!

kala said...

Dear Shobhaa, I will compare Mumbai with Shobhaa de in a positive way. Just like Mumbai, you also care for the underdogs in your own way and also glitter in all the high profile events. Thats why I love you inspite of being critical most of the time.

Teju said...

why dont you just shut up n stop writing nonsense. you r too cheep. and as sonam kapoor said, a 60 something porn writer. chee. aren't your so callld children ashamed of you?

Maddy said...

Congrats on your next book release.

Is it possible for you do to something......None of your books are available in bookshops( Borders,Magrudy's,Jashanmal,bookplus,Bookcorner) here in Dubai.

During my last visit to India, I picked your book "Spouse", but again gifted to a friend. If you know any books shops in Dubai that sells your book,plz let me know.

Vinay. said...

Hi sobhaa,
even an incorrigible fan like me is starting to get disappointed with your recent write ups like- showers and cell phones and the current one. Did you expect the whole world to come to a halt on 26/11? your take on Manmohan Singh and President is ridiculous. see the writing on the wall. Take a break and come back with your original fire and fervour.Don't take me amiss. I adore you as much as you adore Rani Mukherjee.

najmal said...

read your article on sunday..comparing mumbai with rani....are you trying to make rani bigger like mumbai or making mumbai smaller like rani...i think there is no comparision at all...mumbai is too big to take thousands of far development of mumbai is concern,it is not 26/11..but lack of interest in political people[regardless of any party]...if you see,last decade,take other states compare to maharashtra..have any party has done anything in information technology,managment..i am sorry to say but only interest of political party is reality and film business...please let me know if anything else they have done in last ten years...i feel their personal interest comes first than the state...NAJMAL

EAIFL said...

Hi Maddy,

Magrudy's here. We have ordered a good number of Shobaa De titles, in anticipation of her visit to Dubai. Please check with us in another week or two.

Shobaa will be attending the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature (!

See you there!


Magrudy's / The Lit Fest

Pooja said...

Dear SD,
The sunday news paper was more about you starting from paris hilton to your article mumbai and rani mukherjee to news about your novel for teens.
I agree Rani mukerjee needs a makeover i was not happy to see her as a judge in a reality show DPL(dance premier league) i thought she is planning to retire or planning to settle down or cutdown on her work or not getting good work but this girl knows her craft well and i understand when you say she is talented she is , she should get real because i feel she can continue for good 2or 3yrs or more her time is still not over until she herself puts a full stop.
My intuition says your 16th novel should do well hey! 16=7 your lucky number and the year is 2009=11=2 again your lucky number 2 is friendly to 7 (check out important events in your life and you will know what iam trying to say) complete your important work by december end try to keep important works on dates adding to 7 (primarily and 2 secondarily ex 7th,16th,20th,29th25th2nd,11th)after december for jan and feb practice serenity dont get perturbed and from march 7th 2010 you will see fantastic results All the best!

*Aham* said...

Hey De,
Great going.. i know you must be feeling like a solaah baras ki chokri waiting for the book launch.

:) nice nice.

i thought ud write a book called "blogdost" (see it rhymes with speedpost...)

go.. we no talking with you. Kattttttiiii!!!!!

lol. :)

on a serious note. looking forward to reading your book and wish you all the luck and love for the book.

Mumbai will emerge. She will. The city is what happens to you when you are busy doing other things...

funny to note, rani in her jabardast days, when she used to rule the box office, actually looked like a box... or say... a round bottomed flask.

Now finally when she is sleek and sexy.. she fails to create magic.

she ends up in some new soup again and again...
from being someones biwi to dancing in tv.. she has been giving masala to film scribes and herself getting deprived and pheeka. Such is our rani.

hai hai!
rani and pareshani are mirrors of each others.

Rani and Pareshaani are sisters of each other.

Mrinalini said...

Shobha, YOU epitomise Mumbai you know.

Totally(a)fake..your voice quivered with 'emotion', screaming & shouting on the 26/11 anniversary TV interviews.Switched off and dry eyed the minute after. A day or two later? All forgotten. You're already onto Other Things. Its called 'The Spirit of Mumbai'
(b)unnecessarily aggressive-theres a thin line between you and Uma Bharti in her hey-day(she didnt take voice modulation classes, you did, i bet)
(c)you show your fear of street thugs either on your face,or by turning the other way;therefore allowed them to reach where they are today: (Raj & Bal have the Mumbaikars to thank for their rise).
(c)entertaining (so is a circus).

Like someone said before, youre getting lame. And boring.


numerounity said...

Rani Mukherji and mumbai...interesting concept and analogy!

Wish you luck for ur book...Hope to read it soon, may be an autographed version for Kolkatans like me:)

PS: even digital signatures over ebook can play second fiddle;)

numerounity said...

@ All detractors who could not gulp the interesting take:

Pl note its a creative outlet and an interesting one too. request to take humor kindly. If Rani is such a stalwart in an industry of fridays then such comparison may not affect her. She may take it with pinch of salt being the sporting person she is...So, simply enjoy the post:)

Saby said...

Not a good comparison Shobha,Mumbai is Mumbai and will remain a top class financial capital of the country,business hub and home to Bollywood!
How could you compare this massive thriving city to an actress.Yes,she is a good actress but too small to be compared to our city.
Wish you luck with the new book. I am a big fan of your writing but like a true fan I do tend to disagree to certain things you say now and then.

Saby said...

Not a good comparison Shobha,Mumbai is Mumbai and will remain a top class financial capital of the country,business hub and home to Bollywood!
How could you compare this massive thriving city to an actress.Yes,she is a good actress but too small to be compared to our city.
Wish you luck with the new book. I am a big fan of your writing but like a true fan I do tend to disagree to certain things you say now and then.

Shachi said...

good luck on the new book! can you tell me which is your favorite one out of the 16 you have written so far? i'd like to read that one first!

Mrinalini said...

@numerounity: problem is, its not even an 'interesting take'...if it were, im sure it would be taken as such, cos readers instinctively KNOW. Im not a great fan of Rani or anything, but it irritates, this connectionless-connection shes created out of nowhere! Looks like the lady has lost the plot & doesnt know what on earth to say anymore..

Sonam Kapoor has HER number allright! Shobha De is just a pompous know-it-all who writes porn. & has straggly hair(lol)

Bala said...

Total crap ... !!!!!! Completely illogical article.

gb said...

your writing skill is remarkably appreciative but your choice of subject is sometimes beyond logic.

Theyoginme said...

All the best on your book launch. How do we see the times now online. There is nothing on their website. Can you post links..

pissed with politics!! said...

i dare you to visit and comment on this site. its more controversial than ever

♪♪HARINI♪♪ said...

I've always been a huge rani mukherji and mumbai lover.. it wasn't until you pointed it out that i realised that no one felt the same about the place any longer. People around me talk about Mumbai as "just another city" too..
And I'm looking forward to reading the new book.. Hoping it is different from the usual Indian author stuff..

mahatru said...

Congrats for the new book
Read this blog post in Sunday Times too...looks as if you are quite a fan of Rani. But honestly speaking didn't like the idea of comparing Mumbai and Rani...

Tried to find the link for your interview but no gains. Could you plz share it with us...

entertainment events in Pune
entertainment events in Hyderabad
entertainment events in Mumbai

Latha said...

Will someone pleaaaase Youtube the interviews. I always seem to miss them

krutika said...

Bombay cannot prosper like cities in the south because population of the southern states is declining, population growth is negative.
Raj Thackerey has a point, you cannot improve a city that has soo many outsiders coming in everyday.
as far as the north goes, safety of girls is still a problem...haha who cares what fashion they adopt.
Rahul gandhi.....being poular shows how servile Indians are. He cannot seak hindi or english fluetnly for most purposes he is Italian.
and one more thing rani was always always considered an averge looking girl, whose success shocked a lot of people. we all know indian movies is not about acting skills but beauty(Tabu). rani is short not very attractive physique and a plain jane.
have you ever heard of the survival of the fittest, if you cannot adapt, you are out of the competition same for Rani and Mumbai

Anonymous said...

What was that?
And by the way 'madam socialite', Rani Mukherji is a stupendously talented actor (read "actor"). Ya okay, she got slimmer and wore a bikini, so what? In bollywood where actors are making money by shedding clothes (remember Kareena? Priyanka?), why shouldn't she have tried to survive?
Come to think of it, what if people stopped buying your silly books to read another author's even sillier books? Won't you try such gimmicks?
The dumb audience is more interested in the actor's looks than his/her talent. "How does a zero size Kareena look in a movie? How did Aamir get a six pack ab? And now Shahid - the eight pack dude.". And the dumber audience emulates them.
Rani is not the one who can be looked down upon. (Oh I forgot you "adore" her. You and your ways!!)
Your take on 26/11 is callow too. And so is your idea of having the whole India come to a halt on 26/11 anniversary. The world didn't come to an end when there were serial blasts in Jaipur and Delhi.
Although the analogy is humorous, something more serious and allusive is expected from someone your age (I just learned you are 60). Phew! And I thought only the notorious and proclaimed gen-next is hopeless ;-)

aditya said...

HAHAHA comparing rani to mumbai.
i mean please this not at all a fine display of your rather so called 'aesthetic' sense of humor.
i have never really come across something so absurd, i dont really get what are you're trying to say. People like Rani Mukerji have done thing wrong to get such rude and obnoxious comments thrown at them. ok everyone has their lows but this does not mean that people like you and the foolish and money minded media take away what she has done. She demands much more respect and acknowledgement than these so called 'in' size zero nothings who have zero acting skills and nothing except 'godfathers' in the industry who help them.
Also people like karan Johar and Sanjay Leela Bhansali also have proved that they weren't real friends of rani in the first place, by not signing her for new films.

And please spare this Mumbai Bashing.
if Mumbai is so bad please go on your world cruise to the french riveria and settle somewhere where there is no poverty.
instead of doing anything constructive, 'socialites' can only criticize India. or go to cocktail parties and get free botox treatments done.
i have nothing against you ma'am but please don't include Respected personalities like Rani Mukerji in your superficial blogs

vijay assudani said...

Both Rani and Mumbai do not figure in the list of my fovourites, so I can not be sure about the comparision. However, I do concur that after one year of 26/11 the surest feeling that comes to us is that we are unsure. We are lost. We are not sure who will attack us next, where will they attack us or what methods would they use. We are not sure how prepared we are, or that how much effort have we put in preparing ourselves. Not to add that we are absolutely clueless how are we going to respond to it. The surest feeling that comes to us is that we are unsure. I have myself blogged about the 26/11 anniversary. The following is the link, if in case some one is interested in reading:


Sneha Jha said...

unimpressive. you prove SRK's words right every time you write such articles.He correctly said that you are cynicism clad in a designer Sari.

Come on Shobhaa!!
U can do better than that!

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RIYA said...
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RIYA said...

mam i m a fan of ur writinzz u r my inspiration.......i also read ur buk s's secret n again i got a chance to read a gud piece of wrk by u....
i hav also strtd writin blog as i 2 luv to write so mam itz a rqust 4rm my deep heart core 2 c it n i wuld luv it if u wil tel me hw 2 improve!!.

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