Although she’s ensured her future with at least two new releases and in desperation even an item number in Dabangg 2, it is very doubtful that after that she is going to get any meaty roles.” But, never underestimate the power of a woman, especially someone as talented as Kareena. We are sure there are some enlightened directors and producers who would give her a good role. The Indian film industry certainly cannot afford to lose such a talented actor.
According to latest reports, Skyfall has collected £ 50 million from its worldwide collections. That works out roughly to ` 440 crores. Compare that to our movies. When we hit ` 100 crores, there is jubilation, and at ` 200 crores, the actors go berserk. In fact, the 100-crore club is counted as a feather in every actor’s hat. Reaching that great mark seems to be the ultimate. Now, with Hollywood hitting ` 440 crores, our goal seems to be miles ahead. Shah Rukh Khan’s Jab Tak Hai Jaan crossed the ` 125 crore mark and it is supposed to be one of the major successes of the year. But, does this make us losers when it comes to Hollywood? We don’t think so. Because our films have heart, emotions, feelings. They are not just sci-fi and technical brilliance. When Shah Rukh Khan emotes, every woman who looks deep into his eyes sheds a tear. We may not earn that many crores but we touch many more hearts. In the short term, Hollywood may rake in the dollars but when it comes to matters of love, Bollywood wins with pots of gold.
The Gandhi Connection
“Mahatma Gandhi, your grandfather, must be very proud of you,” said Auckland Mayor Len Brown, who was visibly impressed with Gopalkrishna Gandhi’s heartfelt speech at the Inter Faith meet in Auckland, New Zealand. Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson had a magnetic sway over the audience with his powerful words and oratory skills.
“A sinner stands before you,” began the self-effacing Gandhi scion. With an opening line that grabbed everyone’s attention at the Inter Faith meeting held at Christ the King Catholic Church, Auckland, the Guest of Honour, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, had all the politician’s men and leaders of the Inter Faith meet hanging on to every word that followed. “I call myself a sinner not because I have broken the Ten Commandments. I may have done that, of course, breaking not all 10 of them perhaps, but some of them,” he confessed. “I call myself a sinner for a very different reason. I have no authority, really, no moral right, to speak on Mother Teresa, or in her name. This is because I have never given until it hurts. I have not even given until it begins to scratch the skin. I have not even given till it tickles one into a night’s good sleep—a reason why many ‘give’,” he said with all honesty.
Mayor Len Brown, who thoroughly enjoyed the intellectual giant’s words of wisdom, said that he lived every day of his life by Gandhi’s quote: ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ The following evening, the Mayor expressed surprise when Goplakrishna Gandhi addressed the 800-plus audience at the glittering Indian Newslink Business Awards function at the Skycity Convention Centre. “After yesterday’s speech, I was wondering how Gandhiji (he thought it was fitting to address him so) was going to beat that record and he just did,” he acknowledged on stage.
It is a rare feat when the UK Attorney General (AG) praises lawyers from the Indian subcontinent. Dominic Grieve did just that on the occasion of the 30th anniversary reception of Zaiwalla & Co Solicitors, in London. The reception was held in the Cholmondeley Room at the House of Lords, no less, and hosted by Lord Dholakia, CBE. Sarosh Zaiwalla, the man of the moment, took all the compliments showered on him and his firm by the Attorney General with élan. Grieve acknowledged that Zaiwalla was a pioneer in opening up the legal profession to diversity at a time when there were many racial hurdles. “Even 100 years from now, history will continue to remember this achievement,” he said, praising the international reputation that the firm has gained for its legal services. Not just that, Grieve also added that Zaiwalla’s contribution has made ties between the UK and India stronger.
When it was Zaiwalla’s turn to speak, he recalled a time when he employed a young Tony Blair as counsel in a case for the Government of India, which was also the first case India had won in the House of Lords. He and Blair remain friends to this day. The lawyer then referred to the Bofors case in which he represented Amitabh Bachchan in a libel case that his firm had successfully handled—the success of which had a profound influence on the political landscape in India. The elated Zaiwalla continued to recall acting personally for Sonia Gandhi to stop an Italian producer from making a movie on her life and acting for Benazir Bhutto when Nawaz Sharif was in power in Pakistan.
Zaiwalla became nostalgic at the high profile event, attended by several English Judges, Queens Counsels, Members of the House of Lords and Ambassadors and High Commissioners from over 25 countries, when he remembered his father, Ratanshaw Zaiwalla, who was one of the first Indians to qualify as a solicitor in London. He had put on display his father’s qualifying certificate dated 1924. A proud moment for all Indians, indeed!
At the launch of the Bangalore Literature Festival (BLF), controversy’s favourite child, Chetan Bhagat, was called as a marquee writer for the first day’s penultimate session. As the MC herself admitted at the end of the session, they had hoped that Bhagat would create some headline grabbing statement that would launch Bangalore’s first Lit Fest into national consciousness. (Read, would be picked up by Delhi and Mumbai newspapers). Unfortunately, Bhagat didn’t oblige or the questions weren’t good enough to incite him.
So, the first question to Chetan Bhagat, unfortunately, was about his fondness for South Indian women and the discussion seemed to have got stuck at this point for an inordinately long time. Chetan Bhagat even seemed a little embarrassed and understandably so, as two women, one, from the BLF organising committee and another, the MC, continued to talk about South Indian women and Bhagat’s fondness for them. While this went on and some of us cringed and counted our toes for the 500th time, one wag whispered, ‘Do they know Gulzar is in the audience listening to this conversation?’ Gulzar and Pavan Verma had just finished a witty and lyrical session of poetry. Talk about intellectual paradoxes!
A Share of the Pi
Indian designers are truly the flavour of the season all across the globe. Designer duo Shivan and Narresh can’t stop gushing anymore, and why not? They have made their Hollywood debut with Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. Known for their stylish swimsuits, the designer duo has designed 81 vintage inspired swimsuits, recreating the famous Parisian ‘Piscine Molitor’ (it is an abandoned swimming pool complex in France. Known for its art deco design, it was declared as a historical monument after it closed down. The famous bikini by Louis Reard was introduced here in 1946. Also, the name Pi in the movie was derived from it) lifestyle from the 1950s. Silhouettes such as playsuit, apron-style maillot, high-waist bandeau bikinis, and floral swimsuits form a major part of the collection. “We are very excited about this project. Eighty-one different swimsuits were created for women and men without using fabrics such as elastane/lycra and no modern day closures like zips were used. With the success of Life of Pi, Shivan and Narresh are hopeful to get their hands on more international projects. Good going.
Tour De Force
While on Indians making waves in the international scenario, professor, artist and inventor Haresh Lalvani has changed the way 6th Avenue and 54th Street in Manhattan, New York, is going to look. An eight feet tall sculpture, in laser-cut folded stainless steel, has been installed in the same block as MoMA, across Hilton hotel. He is currently commissioned by MTA Arts and is working on a large wall sculpture for Pratt Institute’s Sculpture Garden. Lalvani has been creating unique sculptures while collaborating with renowned art metal fabricator, Milgo-Bufkin. The artist is inspired by nature’s designs and his titanium Alogrhythm Columns are a part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, NY. Besides this, his sculpture, Constellation II, was amongst the year’s highlight at the Design Miami exhibition, 2011. No wonder that great artists around the world have been heaping Lalvani with praises.
Ride to Change
Gaurav Jain is a graduate and has done journalism from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, but he is pulling a rickshaw these days. He realised that he needed to live the life of a poor man to understand and analyse the public policies the government is implementing for them. In an interview with a newspaper, he says, “On my first day, a man hired me at Pul Bangash to go to GB road (Delhi’s red light area). I did not know the fare, so I agreed for ` 25. However, the route was not just long, but overwhelmingly crowded. I struggled to keep my balance amidst vehicles scraping my rickshaw.”
In the process, he has made many friends in the area around the Delhi University where he plies his rickshaw which he hires for ` 40 a day. However, it has not been a smooth ride every time. His cover was blown off when the Delhi Police thrashed him up and the news was all over the daily papers. Now, he is a star rickshaw puller and fellow rickshawwallas come to him with their grievances. Not to mention, his family is not too happy about his decision. Meanwhile, his blog has more interesting stories about his experience.
The Woman Who Couldn’t Stop Eating
TLC’s new show documents the story of Dominique Lanoise—a woman weighing 285 kgs, from Miami, Florida—that tragically ended with her demise. She first hit the headlines during the Haiti earthquake when she was forced to stay in Haiti for three months because she was too heavy for commercial airlines. Eventually, a military cargo plane was called to take her back to the US. The doctors wanted her to drop to 226 kgs before they could do a weight loss surgery on her, and put her on a strict diet in 2011. She was successful in the first 10 months and lost almost 45 kgs but a weigh-in four months later revealed that she had become a staggering 312 kgs. The doctors still conducted the surgery and according to a UK based website, reduced her stomach to the size of an egg which eventually helped her control her weight. However, the rehab she was referred to wasn’t favoured by her and Lanoise checked out in just two days. Nine weeks post the check out, she died. Throughout her struggle, she was virtually housebound and restricted to her bed, while her daughters washed, fed and took care of her. Clothes did not fit her anymore and she was mostly seen covered in a bed sheet. According to Lanoise, her weight ballooned at the age of 16, after the birth of her first daughter. Commenting on her situation, Dr Oscar Hernandez from the Southern Bariatric Centre in Miami had said it was a systematic assassination of her weight loss programme. He had predicted that the bed would be her coffin if she didn’t control her appetite. But, at one point, when Lanoise was close to her weight for the surgery, she explained, ‘Sometimes, I feel so hungry.’
An All Rose Show
When the legendary music band, Guns N’ Roses hit the Indian shores, it was a dream come true for many. After a more than enthusiastic response in Bengaluru and Mumbai, they ended their maiden tour to India in Delhi. Around 7,000-odd fans thronged the dusty grounds of Leisure Valley in Gurgaon to watch them live. Mumbai saw Sanjay (a self confessed fan of the band) and Manyata Dutt enjoying the performance. Though he isn’t that young any more, Axl Rose was up to the mark with his trademark high pitch singing. In an emotional gesture, Guns N’ Roses dedicated the concert in Delhi to the late sitar virtuoso Pandit Ravi Shankar. “It is great for us to be here, playing in front of you beautiful people. It is an honour for us to be here. I just want to make sure that all of you are happy,” said Axl Rose. Meanwhile, even as the crowd went berserk when the band belted popular numbers like November Rain, Welcome to the Jungle, Sweet Child of Mine and Patience, one also got a glimpse of the only original member of the band, Axl Rose’s, hot temper. Just when he was getting into the groove, he was asked by the authorities to stop. While some said it was because the other band members had already taken a bow and others blamed the 10pm deadline, Axl Rose was in no mood to listen to any reason. In his inimitable style, he just threw the microphone and stormed off the stage. Well, what’s an Axl Rose concert without some drama?
Rahul Dravid’s Humorous Side
Rahul Dravid is known as a bit of a recluse and a ‘no-nonsense’ kind of person. He took the audience by surprise at the launch of Khalid AH Ansari’s book, Sachin: Born to Bat (edited by Clayton Murzello). As the Chief Guest for the evening, he arrived without much fuss or a big entourage of security personnel. On the dais, he lightly remarked that there are probably hundreds of books on Sachin Tendulkar and that he has contributed in the form of an article or a foreword or has been at the inauguration of about 30-40 per cent of them. Speaking of his association with Sachin, after heaping praises on his colleague, he recalled an incident narrated to him by Sanjay Manjrekar about a match between the West Zone and the South Zone that happened in Chennai many moons ago. “The wicket was a turning track and the West Zone hadn’t picked too many spinners in its team. Sanjay, Ravi (Shastri) and all were wondering what to do. And apparently, Sachin sort of overheard them, and in his squeaky voice, said, ‘Mein daalega’ (I will bowl). He was asked, ‘Kya dalega?’ (What will you bowl?). He said, ‘Kuch bhi… off spin bhi dalega, leg spin bhi dalega’. (Anything… I will bowl off spin and leg spin too). And, he went on to bowl 20-25 overs in that game.” Meanwhile, Rahul’s imitation of the master blaster delighted the audience, to say the least and they could hardly believe their ears that Mr Perfect had actually imitated Sachin so candidly. When Harsha Bhogle, the Master of Ceremonies for the event, took over the microphone again, he promptly gave an expert tip about the media to Dravid. “Your quote, ‘Mein daalega’, would be on Youtube in the next hour.” And, right he was! The video has been viewed over a lakh times already.
For The Enterprising Indian
Society recently met up with Chris Guillebeau, blogger, and author of The Art of Non-Conformity. In Mumbai to promote his recently launched book, The $ 100 Startup, he is confident that the book is relevant to Indian audiences “because entrepreneurship is in the DNA of India and so many people here are entrepreneurs, whether they use that word to describe themselves or not.” He goes on to say that doing something for yourself and being freedom minded is an Indian value. The $ 100 Startup contains case studies of startups from across the globe and Chris cites an Indian example of a certain Chandu who made a successful business out of tutoring people to make spreadsheets. “I think about people like the rickshaw drivers or even people in lower class circumstances like in Dharavi and the slums… They are recycling, making their own way from the lower level to the higher level,” he says.
At 32, Chris has already travelled to 190 countries around the world without ever having a ‘proper’ job as such. His love for travel first brought him to India around five years ago. He wasn’t a published writer back then and was travelling on a humble budget. “I was travelling in trains by third class and staying in hostels. I visited Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kolkata, had a lot of fun and made some friends. I was in Kolkata during the Holi festival so I remember walking outside and all these people were painting their faces. I was like, ‘What are they doing!’ Then, I participated too. It was fun, I took some pictures. I had just turned vegetarian a year before visiting India and Indian food was something I was really enjoying because there were a lot of options.” Giving a special message for the readers of Society, he says, “I hope you take action and really do something… Not just say, ‘I was inspired’, but go forward and do something.”
Fusing Pop and Feminism
Feminist writer, Camille Paglia, in her article for The Hollywood Reporter, has decided to slash out at the flourishing pop industry and blamed singers like Katy Perry and Taylor Swift of hacking society back to the ‘demure girly-girl days of the white bread 1950s’. According to Daily Mail, she thinks Swift portrays a ‘golly gee whiz persona of cultivated blandness and self-deprecation, which is completely at odds with her shrewd glam dress sense.’ Meanwhile, Katy Perry is a ‘manic cyborg cheerleader’ who is ‘stuck in wide-eyed teen-queen mode.’ She further writes that Katy Perry’s schizophrenia—‘good-girl mask over trash and flash’—is a symptom of what has gone wrong. She has an opinion on Lady Gaga too. She questions her eroticism as being simply ‘décor and surface’ and lacking any genuineness. Rihanna and Beyonce meanwhile earn brownie points from the writer for their ‘elemental erotic intensity’ and ‘emotional depths.’ Camille had hailed Madonna as the future of feminism 20 years ago. If the paparazzi weren’t enough, popstars now seem to be under the microscope for feminism as well. Guess that is what it takes to be a star.
It’s Polo Time
Business magnate Subrata Roy may be busy buying hotels all over the world, expanding his other businesses, and courageously battling controversies, but nothing deters him from being the promoter of all sports in India. This time, he has gone a step further by launching Sahara Warriors, a polo team. With the best in the sport—Arjuna Awardees Samir Suhag and Adhiraj Singh, George Meyrick, the youngest player to compete in a Senior England team along with Max Charlton, and Siddhant Sharma—in the team, they even made a winning debut by clinching the Indian Masters Polo trophy. They intend to participate in national and international games, raising the standard of polo in the country, besides generating an interest for the game amongst people. The dapper uniform for the team has been designed by Neeta Lulla. A true Indian at heart, Roy says, “We are proud to associate ourselves with this great game, which has created legends in the past. It has its roots in India and represents the glorious heritage of India.” More games are in the offing—the Mount Shivalik Trophy and Vodafone Sirmur Cup at Jaipur in January and the Scindia Gold Cup and Northern India Polo Trophy at Delhi. Polo enthusiasts couldn’t be more thrilled and they have to thank Roy for the Polo treat!