This appeared in Bombay Times on monday...
Trust Aamir Khan to ask the most provocative question with a totally straight face ( he isn’t the sub-continent’s most accomplished thinker-actor for nothing!). As the star moderator at the Yale educated Dr.Firuza Parikh’s book launch held at the historic Convocation Hall last week. Aamir kicked off the session wanting to know whether it will be possible for a man to get pregnant in the near future ( “ Could a man become a mother?”). Unflapped and cool, Firuza, one of the world’s top fertility experts , smiled and said, “Why not? Given the strides in technology, anything is possible.” Before, Aamir could ask the next question, Farah Khan who was also on the panel, asked Aamir whether he’d like to carry a baby, adding, “knowing what a perfectionist Aamir is, he won’t deliver in nine months but stay pregnant for nineteen months till the baby is fully grown inside… and meets with his approval.” She then read out a wonderful passage from the book ( her triplets are Firuza’s ‘babies’) about her own IVF experience. Farah was 42 when she conceived, and bang in the middle of directing, “Om Shanti Om’. She shared the jokes made by members of her unit when they found out she was carrying triplets. “She can call her babies Om Shanti Om.” Farah wondered exasperatedly why any mother would give the same name (“Om”) to two of her kids . The male members of her crew also asked her teasingly whether she’d grow a third breast to feed her three babies.
After a really, really long time, I attended a book launch that was perfectly orchestrated . Firuza lavishly praised her husband Dr.Rajesh Parikh, a renowned neuropsychiatrist , who had put the high profile function together, and pulled off a feat of sorts by installing air conditioning just for the evening, in this high vaulted building, besides making his wife rewrite several times and run throughfive drafts of the manuscript before submitting it to the publisher. It was wonderful to see the hall filled to capacity with genuine well wishers and admirers of the couple…. from old college professors, school friends, colleagues and relatives, to just enormously grateful men and women whose lives had been transformed by the miracle of birth, when all hope of becoming parents had been abandoned. Firuza spoke passionately about her work, especially in the Kashmir Valley, which she visits regularly since there is such a high incidence of premature menopause in the troubled region. Besides stress ( an important cause ), it is one of the ‘x’ genes that’s responsible for the condition that affects even young brides in their early twenties! That both Rajesh and Firuza choose to devote their time to the welfare of these women is admirable. As Firuza’s best friend for decades ( and the chief guest for the evening), Nita Ambani paid rich tributes to Firuza ( who is the godmother of Nita and Mukesh’s three children ), there were several moist eyes in the hall, including those of humble parents who had traveled long distances to show their appreciation for the gentle, sweet, kind woman responsible for bringing boundless joy into their lives. Well done, Firuza!
Madhuri Dixit could well become the female Amitabh Bachchan, going by her career moves. If she pulls off such a feat, she’ll be the only Bollywood woman to keep rocking at 50, 60 and who knows…. perhaps beyond that as well. She has re-established her credentials on television – much like Bachchan with KBC. And if her strategy works, this mega success could also translate into screen roles especially scripted for her (again, like it happened with Bachchan). If Madhuri succeeds in her second shot at a movie comeback, she will make history. And who knows, that may also open doors for other actresses who get written off when they hit 30. Our Maharashtrian Mulgi turned out to be quite a ‘shaani’. Good for her.