Thursday, June 24, 2010

Once Upon a Time with Shobhaa

Friends, I shall be writing these blogs as a part of a promotional campaign for a movie titled, "Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai." These are the first two....
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Mumbai is reeling once more from what is being described as ‘Another era of Gangwars,” after the brutal murder of Farid Tanasha earlier this month.Seven men arrived at the gangster’s house where he was relaxing after dinner, getting a foot massage from his second wife Reshma, as their toddler daughter played close by. Eight rounds were fired out of which five hit the gangster, killing him instantly. The police declared it was a 7.65mm bullet that killed the person believed to be Chhota Rajan’s main hitman.
The report generated a distinct sense of déjà vu for those of us who have lived through the fierce gangwars of the ‘70’s when Bombay was still Bombay, and the underworld ruled. From matka dens to gold, silver and currency smuggling on a scale that might have embarrassed Al Capone, Bombay was run by ruthless mafia bosses, who unlike the gangsters from the 80’s and 90’s, didn’t bother to remain in the shadows. Or play coy with the press and public. They were very visible public figures who ran their various ‘dhandas’ brazenly and openly. But most interestingly, they were an accepted part of Bollywood society – coveted trophy ‘mehmaans’ who’d show up at premieres and mahurats and mingle freely with all the top stars, producers and directors, even posing nonchalantly for pictures which were subsequently published by popular magazines and trade papers of the time.Nobody thought this open show of bonhomie as either odd or even indiscreet. Perhaps the filmwallahs dared not snub or shun those shadey men in shining white polyester, who called the shots – not just in Bollywood, but Bombay. Violence had become a way of life…. and death, a familiar companion.
Here’s a teaser trailer from me to you – one of those much feared men who controlled this teeming, volatile, corrupt and venal metropolis was the dreaded Don called Haji Mastaan.
And I’d met him!
More in my next post.
The Sensational ‘Seventies sizzled and seethed.
There was blood on the streets…. but nobody willing to mop it up.
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Men in White….


What is it about men in white that startles the unwary? Is there a rule somewhere that says ‘White Not Allowed’ if you’re a guy? Bollywood Baddies have always had a penchant for the colour one generally associates with vestal virgins. Pran frequently wore white for his villainous roles, and I’m pretty sure Amrish Puri growled, “ Mogambo khush hua ,” clad in pristine white breeches. It was , of course, Jumping Jack Jeetendra who patented the all-white (down to the pointy, shiney shoes) look in Bollywood… and he wasn’t even a baddie ( though Hema Malini’s mother wasn’t entirely convinced about that when she broke up their sizzling romance). Sanjeev Kumar liked his whites. So did Dilip Kumar. Even that loveable eccentric Raaj Kumar was often spotted in white ( so what if it clashed with his flaming orange wig?). Raj Kapoor liked his ladies in white, and wore a lot of white himself. As did his devastatingly handsome younger brother Shashi ( strictly kurta-pajamas, please). That was then. Let’s cut to now - soon we are going to see Ajay Devgun sporting strictly white for his role as ‘Sultan’ in a forthcoming film. And (wink-wink) we all know where that wardrobe inspiration is coming from. The notorious ‘Seventies don of dons, Haji Mastan, invariably wore white. And if advance reports about the film are to be believed, Ajay’s character is based on Hajibhai’s ( never mind what publicists and Haji Mastan’s family have to say about this ‘resemblance’!).

Frankly, I do think Ajay is the only Bollywood actor who can pull off this role – he even looks the part. If anything, Ajay appears far more menacing than the original. How do I know? Well, I had the dubious pleasure of meeting Haji Mastan a couple of times under rather strange circumstances and in very unlikely company. It was during Sanjay Gandhi’s very short reign ( post the ignominious Emergency – surely the most disgraceful period of our history?) as India’s absolute supremo. Sanjay Gandhi’s henchwoman at the time was a feisty, attractive and ambitious person called Rukhsana Sultan ( mother of Amrita ‘Dingy’ Singh, Saif’s ex ). I was researching a cover story on Rukhsana, during the course of which she asked me to come over to her plush suite in the Taj Mahal Hotel (Mumbai), to meet some of her business associates. Ha!! Little did I know then that one of those associates would be the dreaded don – Hajibhai himself!
More about that meeting in my next post.
After all…. the fact that I am still alive to tell the tale is in itself a major feat!

30 comments:

Sapna Anu B.George said...

Definitely interesting and wow, great to meet you greet you and comment.

ZB said...

wow, now this is what we come here for. Waiting anxiously for the next part. Loved this one.TC:)

yappyways said...

Fantastic build up. Great writing. Hope you will not dilute facts and narrate the chance meeting with Haji Mastaan as it is. Not sure if Ajay Devgn is the best guy to play Hajibhai. His only credential is that he perpetually looks to be brooding and caged with pent up anger.

siddhartha said...

your post is brilliant,as usual.no wonder,u r enriched by so many followers like me who admire ur cerebral beauty apart from the physical one!

riya manna said...

Send stunning Rakhi with us to United States and make a cherished memory to your special ones.
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Hobo ........ ........ ........ said...

I agree - Ajay Devgan indeed the best for the act but maybe too much of similar roles in recent years. I guess "Omkara" was the best And a break is required till continue to say: dham dham dharam dharaiya re, sabse bade ladaiya re omkara, hey omkara...

avidblogger said...

Awesome article. Very interesting. So looking forward to the next blog. You are one lucky woman to have met all these personalities and so many more in your life. Maybe you should write a book on your meetings with all these people. I'm sure you have a lot of such incidences to share.

Divya Virmani said...

As always amazing articles. Loved the way you narrate your real-life experiences. Would absolutely love to meet you one day.

Waiting for you next blog eagerly...

Another Kiran In NYC said...

Nail biting suspense. Jaldi likho please!!! Only you can write this ankhondekhahaal so colorfully and full of suspense and drama.

Shantanu said...

That is so interesting. U met Hajibhai. Waiting for the next part. N surely only Ajay bear that Shiv Dhanushya.

ROHAN kARKHANIS said...

wow... eagerly waiting for u r next blog and for the movie itself... havent watched a good bollywood gangster film for a long time!!!

krutika said...

you are very brave to be writing all this....arent you scared. random thought, rukhsana sultan is the wierdest name anyone can have....ever.

A.K.P said...

Waiting eagerly for ur next post. Agree with u completely. Ajay Devgan is the man for the role.

Pooja Rathore said...

Ajay Devgan will look good in white ( i remember a scene in a movie a remake of sholay, ajay was wearing white shirt he looked dashing) anyways white is lucky for Ajay as his sun sign is aries and white is one of the lucky colors for sun sign Aries.
waiting for your next post.........

Latha said...

Shobhaa, you have built up a hell of curiosity. Hope you have enough to match it !

Tan Ranter said...

digging the mogambo reference. just started following you after reading 'bollywood nights' and googling you to no end. i like your blog better, though aasha rani was a sultry and welcomed distraction on a recent travel. thank you for paving the way for provocative and edgy indian women writers. as are the masses, I am also aspiring. looking forward to Haji.

Peter said...

Wow Shobhaaa De you rock Shobhaaa De!! One day I hope to see you in movies Shobhaaa De..against Salman and I am sure you will rock and will give Aish, Rani and all other gals a run for their money! You rock Shobhaaa De and I mean it!! Jai Ho Shobhaaa De!!!

pankhuri said...

A typical Shoba ji's Pen!! Beautifullllll..Simply grt!! Even a blog on RAVAN was also great...Keep Posting Mam....THanks...Reagards...
KUNAL KAPINJAL VOHRA
AHMEDABAD-GUJARAT-INDIA
+91-9824648813

salu said...

a thrilling post !

Nehha said...

Enjoyed reading!

Latha said...

Why are you mum on the David Davidar scandal Shobhaa ? Is it because you were (are) associated with him professionally ?

佳燕 said...

死亡是悲哀的,但活得不快樂更悲哀。......................................................................

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Sidhusaaheb said...

So, finally your blog has become a money-spinner. Congratulations!

At least the content is completely original. Thank God for small mercies! :D

Peter said...

@Latha - Despite guruji's advise not to indulge in any kind of gossip, why are you still interested in David Davidhar scandal, Latha?

Latha said...

@ Peter, 'cause I'm not Guruji (a saint). I'm just an admirer who wonders how he is able to reach out even to Pak.

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