Sunday, July 1, 2012

Viva Italia! Viva Florence!








These are just a few of the countless images of Florence. Starting with the 17th century Palazzo Tolomei in the heart of the city, where we stayed. As you can tell, it's historic and beautiful. A perfect haven, presided over by Signora Daniela Agnelli ( that's her in black), who owns this magnificent property. I loved all the little touches - the towel basket in our gigantic room, the frescoes above our bed.... the Venetian glasses on the table at Reception. And the fact that the great artist Raphael once lived here....
There are more, many more lovely images.... of several other destinations like Corfu ( stunning!) and Dubronvik (breathtaking). Wanna see???
I'm off to Ahemedabad tomorrow to receive an, ahem , award. The other awardees are women I have the deepest admiration for - Mrinalini Sarabhai, Jaya Jaitley, Indira Parikh.
I hope I can make the flight in the morning.... if Italy wins tonight, and Balotelli scores, chances are I'll be up till dawn.
****************

This appeared in Asian Age yesterday....

Rajesh Khanna ki ‘Ámar’ Kahaani...

Rajesh Khanna’s life reads like a Greek tragedy.Some would say it was an act of abject cruelty on the part of ace director Balki to talk Rajesh Khanna into facing the cameras again after a break of a few decades only to make a mockery out of an icon who once ruled Bollywood. The Havell Fans’commercial underlined the frailty of superstardom and reminded audiences of their own fickleness. Who knows and who cares about ex-Superstars? It is all about the here and now in showbiz... and increasingly, in most other spheres of life ,too. I squirmed through the commercial that featured a man who, while sitting pretty on the pinnacle of fame, had graced the cover of Stardust’s virgin issue over forty years ago. It was an audacious decision by Nari Hira to launch his baby (which went on to become the numero uno fanzine in India), with an unflattering close-up of a pimple- faced actor the entire country had fallen in love with. Why did Nari Hira do it? Simple. It was a coup. The bold headline cheekily asked , “Ïs Rajesh Khanna Secretely Married?” Remember, this was at the height of the Rajesh Khanna madness, and there were besotted female fans out there ready to slash their wrists for the crinkly-eyed star. The scoop had been given to the magazine on a platter by seasoned actress Anju Mahendru’s mother, perhaps in the hope that such a sensational revelation would finally push Khanna into popping the question and making an honourable woman out of her daughter.Anju had been Khanna’s girl-friend for the longest time after her international link-up with cricket legend Gary Sobers. But guess what? Khanna promptly did the dirty on his lady love - he shocked the nation by dumping Anju overnight to marry an alarmingly young Dimple Kapadia in 1973, thereby making Dimpy Bollywood’s first real-life child bride. Balki’s intentions may have been perfectly noble, and for Khanna,the fee must have been impressive. But for two generations of movie fans growing up oblivious to the existence of ‘The Phenomenon’ ( a term coined by Stardust), this ad came as an anti-climax. Reactions ranged from, “ Who is this guy? Oh.... is he the same person who is Akshay Kumar’s father-in-law?” To, “ Was he really all that famous?” Yup. Same guy . And yes, he was hugely famous.

Pathetic as it sounds , this is the fate of exceedingly famous individuals who lose touch with reality. It may seem unfair at this delicate stage to bring in a comparison, but look at the ailing and frail Dilip Kumar and the dignity with which he continues to conduct his life.Dilip Kumar’s two main rivals( Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor) are both dead and gone after securing a permanent place for themselves in the movie pantheon. Rajesh Khanna came much later. Long after this triumvirates’ glory days had ended. And yet, today’s movie goer is more likely to know about the life and times of all three of them, but maybe totally blank about Rajesh Khanna’s. There’s an important lesson in this. Some of Rajesh Khanna’s contemporaries ( Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna) are also struggling with health issues. Amitabh Bachchan who arrived on the scene a few years after ‘’The Phenomenon’’ and smoothly usurped his throne, has battled life threatening medical conditions for years but continues to remain at the top of the pile. Fans have not forgotten any of these accomplished actors. But with Rajesh Khanna, the story is more complicated. Unwilling to come to terms with fading popularity, Khanna chose isolation. After retreating into his den, he stayed there, possibly licking his wounds and wondering what happened to his charmed existence. Nobody dared tell him that his old life was long over. That others had captured the hearts of fans. Bollywood had moved on . Khanna was left stuck in a time warp, a sad and bitter man, living inside a bottle, wallowing in self-pity, still clinging on to delusions of grandeur. But ask the women of my vintage and they’ll tell you a different story. For us, Rajesh Khanna is by far the biggest superstar India has ever seen. Nobody has ever come anywhere close to him – not any of the Khans, not the Kapoors, not even the Big B. Whether or not he had done that rather insensitive Havell Fans ad, for us he stays frozen forever as the ‘Ámar Prem’ lover boy, tilting his head, smiling rakishly and breaking our hearts with that adorable little boy look.

Sigh! And sigh again. Rajesh Khanna’s decline and descent, depressing as it is, serves us well. All of us. Fame and fortune are fickle lovers, ready to be courted by the next suitor – someone younger, richer, more accomplished.Nobody is spared. Not Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings and Queens. Look around you....check out the latest Louis Vuitton ad that features Muhammed Ali. It will make you weep. The same way the Havell Fans commercial made me weep. As much for Rajesh Khanna as myself. Toh bhi, Kaka can certainly count me in as a ‘Fan Forever’.

14 comments:

sundar said...

It is heights stupidity (whoever behind the scene) to make a mockery on the stardom of the All Time Super star of Indian Cinema by pulling him into this Havells Fan Ad.

Really saddening ..

NAT said...

There is a 50/50 chance of Italy beating the world champs. Hope Mario is in the same form as when he played against the Germans.
He should also refrain from removing his shirt if and when he shoots a goal.

As for Rajesh, Yes he is still The Super Star. Zindagi ek safar hi suhana...
and those other greats from Anand...

Cheers!

Tsomo85 said...

"An art of impermanent" can be cruel I must say. Rajesh Khanna ki amar kahani tho srif film world ki buniyad par hai na, but out in the real world people from various profession and background gets stuck at many different angle. All due to their personal fable, refusing to face the reality. SAD! These people always believed in only good things should be revolved around them, never to accept the nature of reality. SAD. I have many male and female friends who live their life in the name of their dead fortune and not having a single valuable person and things to be proud of, these are mostly men. Human mind is crazy I tell yeah. The sooner we are #aware of Lord Buddha's teaching, the better. And for that we don't have to be monk or nun as well. In fact, anybody can be next Hema Malini and still remain pretty and happy like her. LOL jk

Trisha said...

The post is not displaying well ..the words on the left are eaten up :( Could you kindly repost if possible? I am not sure if others are experiencing this too...

I love reading your work so much, I still read every word...! Thanks for the lovely post and blog. Glad you had a nice time in Italy!

Tsomo85 said...

Read it from Asian age.

Tsomo85 said...

Hope the Mediterranean didn't change you and your families fashion sense. Cuz my bro came back with Mini Nice_Fashionestaaaaa avatar. Still remember those long hairs, skinny jeans, & blazer coat. Uffff

Dreamlike said...

love all Rajesh khanna movies...such ctories, such songs, such acting...made us drool though we don't belong to that generation...but I guess too much pride in oneself can destroy anyone.

Arjun said...

Dear Ms De, the fall of Rajesh Khanna can find other parallels as well. There was Suraiya, who was the highest paid star of the late 1940s and yet passed away unmourned. Meena Kumari ruled the 1960s and died friendless. Rajesh Khanna is at least in the limelight and has people around him now.

Pooja Rathore said...

lovely photos De!
More pic please.
congrats for the award(in recognition of ?),hope you put a pic of that too.
it feels good when your blog is active.
i couldnt read the post on Rajesh Khanna clearly but got the gist- feel sad for him but wish him well!

Pooja Rathore said...

i loved the pic with purple cot ..so beautiful...awesome!

mridula pradhan said...

images of Florence......awesome!

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Aditya said...

Lovely Artwork
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