I really do. Love Kokilaben, I mean. I have been attending a "Gopi Geet' organised by this remarkable lady at the Ambani residence, and marvelling at her composure ( nothing put on about it), as the Ambani spiritual guru, Bhaishriji mesmerises Sreenathji devotees and other invitees with his spell-binding discourses on love and bhakti ( interspersed by his melodious singing). Kokilaben presides over the grand proceedings with enviable dignity and calm. Her sons, the two warring brothers, deftly avoid one another, while their heavily bedecked wives play perfect bahus without treading on each other's toes. It is as well- synchonised as any ballet - not a false move or note. Kokilaben's expression remains impassive and regal, as she micro- manages every little detail, from the splendid shringar ( it changes daily), to the aarti thalis that are lovingly decorated by Rajan,a faithful family retainer.
Hema Malini was Radha personified on the first night as she performed the divine ras leela with a handsome Krishna played by Rahul DeSouza ( well done, Rahul ). Equally impressive was the dance troupe called Prince, two nights later - these are tribal boys from Behrampur who won some dance reality show and have since procured some great gigs, like this one at 'Seawind'.But beyond the grandeur and dazzle, it is the quietly assertive presence of Kokilaben that keeps the five day festival going.
It will be Kokilaben's birthday two days from now. I am sure, nothing will please her more , nor give her as much joy as her sons announcing a reconciliation.... as a special gift for their wonderful mother. It is my sincere prayer that this should happen. Like I said.... I love Kokilaben.
This is a column I wrote for Bombay Times.......
"Ever since those horrific images of Qasab with the infamous backpack and that insolent expression on his face, strolling through the CST, casually gunning down innocents, I have developed a strong aversion to that ugly contraption – the backpack. And now after the tragic Pune blasts, the anti- feelings towards this particular piece of luggage have been doubly reinforced. I loathe backpacks – always have. They alter posture, are ugly and ungainly, and most people who prefer them over regular carry- alls, resemble over burdened coolies. What’s worse, since the ‘bhoj’ is strapped to their backs, leaving their hands free, they are often oblivious to the inconvenience that enormous, bulging bag causes to people behind them. I have nearly had my head knocked sideways on aircrafts with the passenger right ahead of me swinging around abruptly without thinking about the potential impact of that ruddy backpack hitting someone right across the face.I wish someone ( P. Chidambaram – are you listening?) would ban the bloody backpack. Chids has already exonerated his own chaps over the ghastly Pune blasts by saying it isn’t possible to check every backpack floating around …. or even those left unattended in public spaces! Forget the audacity of such a remark or the fact that India had received sufficient warnings about the imminent attacks, it was the lethal backpack that once again ripped a place apart. Mujhey backpacks se sakat nafrat hai.
After watching George Clooney delivering several fascinating discourses on backpacks in the hugely entertaining and clever film, “ Up in the Air’’ ( well deserved Oscar nominations for two terrific performances), I was forced to meditate on the subject yet again. Ryan’s character in the movie is far from likeable, but entirely identifiable. He is the Pink Slip guy, whose job it is to fire people – as unenviable a job as any. He is also a motivational speaker whose talks centre around backpacks! He uses an empty backpack as a prop and a symbol to push his audience into rethinking their lives and priorities. That hateful backpack becomes a metaphor for failure and frustration as he graphically demonstrates how it strains shoulders and generally weighs people down. He urges his listeners to review what they stuff into the imaginary backpack without thinking….do we really need all those things? He then pushes them to empty that over- stuffed backpack and lighten their lives. His audience invariably hangs on to every word in rapt attention…. till one fine day Ryan’s own backpack does him in!
Watching Clooney deliver his lines seamlessly, smoothly and with just the right touch of sardonic humour, I wondered when and if any of our celebrated young directors will be able to reach this level of cinematic sophistication. Or even if even one of those big ticket Bollywood producers would have the confidence to back such a project. ‘Up in the Air’ is a fairly depressing and very realistic film about how the aam aadmi in America is dealing with the staggering recession and loss of jobs. Clooney’s character is far from heroic – would any of our top heroes have the guts to attempt something similar? We constantly hanker for international recognition, and while our technicians and musicians are the best in the world, just look at the embarrassing content of our blockbusters! What is the point of boasting about how many crores a film has made, when the film itself is so mediocre? Thank God for regional cinema. Never mind the fate of ‘Harishchandrachhi Factory’ at the Oscar’s. It is still a far, far better film than anything Bollywood has come up with recently – including ‘3 Idiots’ and ‘My Name is Khan.’
Oh come on, Tiger Woods. Stop being such a wimp!! Save those apologies for your wife and kids ( where were they when you addressed the world?). What a shame about Woods and his sex addiction. The man had to go public and crawl in front of the media, when the whole fracas should have ended in private and he should have let his golf do all the talking at this critical point. His fans really don’t give a damn about anything else. Is he out of the woods yet?? I think not.He’ll need more than a superior swing to get him out of this mess.True celebrity means never having to say you’re sorry. Tiger’s agents\minders obviously forgot to tell him that."