I love the holy month of Shraavan and have been observing certain rituals for years. The tough part is fasting on every Monday . This year, the first Shraavan Monday saw me on a long flight from Heathrow to Mumbai. It wasn't easy... but I managed. For someone who enjoys food as much as I do, staying away from most of my favourite dishes for as long a period is the hardest part. Which is probably why my naughty daughter Anandita sent me the image you see on top. Sadistic! The one below was taken at my other daughter Avantikka's super glam Hello! event a couple of weeks ago, where, as I had mentioned earlier, one needed brollies... not for the monsoon but the Moet. P.S. I was the only person clad in a saree... everybody else chose LBDs.
We have a brand new President in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. All eyes on Pranabda as he assumes his new role. Nobody could possibly do worse than Pratibha Patil.... a reliable cop-friend told me her relatives were charging 50 lakhs per appearance.... and booking her for several all across the country. So....it's not just Bollywood stars who make a fortune from appearance fees!!!!
This appeared in the Sunday Times
Read my lips....” No more cameos....”
This has been a strange week for Superstars. The original ,Rajesh Khanna, died.... and millions of women across India mourned the death of a man who, at one time was the absolute and adored sweetheart of the nation. An original. He came into Bollywood as a nobody. As a struggler who had won a talent contest. He was arrogant enough not to copy any of the reigning greats. He didn’t want to be the next Dilip Kumar or Dev Anand. He wasn’t competing with Dharmendra or Jeetendra. He was Kaka – take it or leave it. In movie after movie, he monotonously continued to play the vulnerable Lover Boy. It was his immense good fortune that terrifically catchy songs fell into his lap. But it is a bit unfair to suggest he became The Phenomenon, only because of those unforgettable hits. Or that Kishore Kumar and R.D.Burman should be given half the credit for Rajesh Khanna’s mind-boggling success. The fact of the matter is that nobody can actually deconstruct another’s success ( failure is far easier to explain). Success comes with its own baggage. Success generates enormous resentment. If the truth be told... and told bluntly... success sucks. Others in the orbit of a successful person start hating him or her, even if that feeling is carefully camouflaged. Highly successful people are often the loneliest in the world. Also, the craziest. And they don’t have to be movie stars for that. The amazing thing about Rajesh Khanna’s meteoric career was the realisation by admirers and critics alike that this was no larger than life demi-God. Rajesh in reality and on screen was defined by his ordinariness. Perhaps, this was exactly the quality that made him so endearing. Fans identified with him easily and completely. It actually helped that he wasn’t a star son and did not belong to any of Bollywood’s revered families. As an outsider with zero connections and influence ( unlike an Amitabh Bachchan, who didn’t exactly shy away from flashing his close relationship with the Gandhi family), Rajesh let his movies do all the talking. IImagine , he even conquered the animal world with the mega box office hit, ‘Haathi Mere Saathi’. No actor in the world can manufacture something like this. Nobody has so far discovered a way to duplicate and then manipulate charisma.
Which is why, it is amusing to see the near hysterical reaction to the stray – and very expensive – comment, made by Salman Khurshid when he referred to Rahul Gandhi’s ‘cameo’. It was as if the man had committed a serious crime by that throwaway observation. Loyalists and chamchas jumped down Khurshid’s throat for having the gall to say something as daring.. as ... as accurate. Overnight, Khurshid’s stock within the party crashed, as people speculated about his future. Off with his head, was the general consensus. Party acolytes held their breaths waiting for Madam’s response. Would Khurshid be permanently banished? Shunned and alienated? What sort of a penance would follow? Political vanvas.... for sure.... but for how long? Was Khurshid totally insane? What made him say something as outrageous about the Anointed One? The only political Superstar in India? The man with a destiny to lead us out of the wilderness into a fabulously sexy future? Seriously.... what was Salman on when he made that remark? What was he thinking? Well... the fact of the matter is that even after the initial shock and awe, the sky has not fallen down... not yet. We are all waiting for the wrath of God to deliver the verdict. Till such time, our Rahul Baba is doing what he does best – dimpling and staying away from the heat. This is good thinking. For, like Rajesh Khanna, perhaps even Rahul Gandhi has woken up to the truth about mass popularity – mediocrity is often a virtue in this arena. Mediocrity comforts the masses. Mediocrity is a likeable attribute. In a way, Salman Khurshid may have done us all a favour. One big difference though, A superstar cannot build his career on cameos alone. A superstar is obliged to deliver hit after hit. The way Rajesh Khanna did. It’s time for Rahul to deliver his virgin hit at the political box office. The audience is impatient and panting .... cameos can wait!