The monsoon arrived in Mumbai with more fanfare than usual - with a dramatic ( even scarey )thunder and lightning show. This morning I woke up to spectacular lashings of heavy rain against my windows.... and I wisely decided not to jump out of bed but snuggle into my Jaipur razai and make the most of the magical moment. I adore the monsoons in the city. I know, I know.... there will be howls of protest from those who say, " It's all very well for you.... when was the last time you waited for a bus with the water rising and swirling around your knees?' Fair question.
But please...let me romanticise my favourite season without having to offer apologies or explanations.
I noticed the number of weddings during this (to some) dismal season has gone up and most of my daughters' nubile girl friends are ready to tie the knot in the next few weeks. Here's to wet and wild nuptials and bheegi bheegi raatein.
Watched 'Gladiator -2' .... err, I mean 'Robinhood'. Russell Crowe and Robinhood??? Even Kevin Costner was better!!
This appeared in Bombay Times....
Secret Lives of Bollywood Stars…
There are hardly any secrets left in Bollywood these days – what a pity! Everything but everything is out there – what the stars don’t reveal themselves, their publicists do ( with the stars’ absolute compliance, of course). This is the Hollywood pattern, but comparatively new to India. Stars have minders who micro manage every tiny aspect of their lives. Based on that efficient handling ( sometimes mishandling , too!) of that precious notion called the ‘image’, stars negotiate fat endorsement deals. One small slip and poof! There go the millions. This is such a huge shift from the time our mega stars conducted their affairs chhupke chhupke and most liaisons took place in one or two hotels on Juhu beach.Oh…. how can I forget those steamy affairs on location shoots that rarely went beyond Ooty or Gulmarg ? Forget Mykanos and Marrakech, stars used to be overjoyed shooting at Lonavala or Khandala. Shielded from the prying eyes of the wicked film press and before the birth of that most intrusive weapon – Breaking News – our Bollywood wallahs were left to indulge their fancies in peace across assorted hill stations dotting India. Whispers about their link ups rarely traveled beyond the boundaries of the close showbiz community that defended and protected its own. Some of those juicy scoops would make even the most brazen contemporary romeos and romance raanis blush. Yup. They were that sizzling hot.
Such a pity the veil of secrecy and the thrill of uncovering clandestine jodis has been replaced by the new breed of bold players who really don’t bother to hide a thing – be it a married lover or a forbidden substance. What the world may not even want to know is right there - in your face and upfront. Blog it or Twitter it – but for God’s sake, don’t conceal it. That’s the mantra in a publicity driven industry where being in the news 24x7 is as crucial as delivering a mega hit on a friday. Chalo – so be it. Readers\viewers feed off the new khulam khula mood ruling in ‘show- all- biz’ and stars themselves are only too happy to receive reams and reams of revved up publicity, updated on an hourly basis.
Two outstanding Mumbaikars will be launching their books this week. Let start with our ‘Sheriff for Life” ( my fond nickname for him) Nana Chudasama whose book, ‘History on a Banner’ will hit the stores in grand style at an impressive function held inside the magnificent Convocation Hall. It has been organized by his proud family members, with wife Munira spearheading the initiative. Nana himself seems detached and amused… but that’s him. What’s all the fuss about? he must be wondering, even as his countless friends and admirers gear up to make sure the function is a huge success – what with L.K.Advani and Amitabh Bachchan doing the honours. Nana’s banners have become a weekly habit for the city… but more than that , his pithy messages remain a barometre for what citizens think and feel – from Sonia to ‘satta’. Soon, readers will be able to buy a piece of history for their bookshelves.
Then comes the launch of my favourite cousin Gautam Rajadhyaksha’s splendid book ‘Chehere’ ( the Marathi avatar of ‘Faces’) at the poshest hotel in Juhu. Yes, us thoroughly spoilt South Mumbaikars constantly crib about the distance and joke that we need to apply for visas when invited to the ‘burbs. I often exaggerate wildly and claim I have to pack enough food , water and a change of clothes before embarking on the long journey, besides leaving home on a Friday afternoon to make it for an event on Saturday night! But for Gautam, I would have gladly undertaken this tedious trip… had I not committed to a fund raiser in town earlier. Gautam remains supreme in what he does – other ‘fancier’ hot shot photographers have emerged during the past few years. But show me even one who makes a woman look more beautiful or a man more handsome. All this, without photo-shop, mind you! Gautam’s lens is pure magic. He has mastered lighting… but more than that, he has mastered human psychology. He captures the very essence of his subjects ….to be photographed by him is both an honour and a privilege, as most of Bollywood ( from current hottie Ranbir Kapoor to Evergreen Dev Anand) will readily confirm.
I am lucky – I can take full advantage of my relationship and bully him to photograph me each time I need a new portrait for a book jacket. Like I say about India’s best portraitist, “ He can make the backside of a B.E.S.T. bus look gorgeous!” Good luck, Gautam. Here’s to you and beauty.