Best-known for her last novel, Unlikely Hero: Om Puri, which released in 2009 amid much controversy, for its expicit detailing of the sexual adventures of her husband Om Puri, Nandita Puri isn’t one to give in. The author has now released her next book, Two Worlds. Following two strong-willed women and spanning centuries and cities, the novel explores everything from Bengal’s nationalist movement and the murky Hindi film industry, to the nexus between the media and glamorous Bollywood.
‘Kya Mannuji! Tell your boss to portray me positively. Any mess-ups and I will castrate the two of you!’
Anand was smitten by Loveena. It was lust at first sight for him. Loveena did not mind. She latched onto Anand thinking he would do wonders for her career, and happily moved in with him.
Meanwhile, Anand produced a film with one of Bollywood’s hotshot directors: a hard-hitting film on the underworld, based on real-life characters, and called B for Bhai. One night during the filming, Mannuji got a call at midnight from Dubai. It was the don’s right-hand man, Kasim. ‘Kya Mannuji! Tell your boss to portray me positively. Any mess-ups and I will castrate the two of you!’
‘Yes, Kasimbhai . . . yes . . . sir . . . ’ Mannuji had peed in his pants. How had Kasim got his home number?
B for Bhai was the year’s blockbuster. Anand got the Filmdust award for Best Film. He had always coveted the lolly during his days as a struggling actor. And today he had won it, though as a producer. Anand Khanna was definitely making it in Bollywood. Stars and financiers were queuing up at his doorstep.
Kasimbhai had called to say he liked the film. ‘Saala, your boss did a good job. Hey Mannuji, what about my cut? After all, your boss is making money at my boss’s expense. What do you say?’ ‘But Kasimbhai . . . he is still recovering from debts. ’
‘Then tell him to host my niece’s birthday party at Dubai. Will send you two tickets. No fees,’ Kasim said. ‘But Kasimbhai, no dates available . . . .’
‘Stop c*****e, unless you two want to be castrated.’ And Kasim hung up.
Anand did go to Dubai. Later, he asked for twenty-four-hour police protection due to extortion calls. This further increased his market value. One day Kasim called again. ‘Mannuji, tell your boss there is Bhai’s family wedding in Dubai. He must get stars to perform some dance numbers. Some hot item number types. Also he must get that r***i of his. Bhai will pay well.’ The word ‘Bhai’ was enough to get Mannuji to say yes; he felt a moisture in his pants.
‘We can always change the dog’s name. What do you have in mind?’
‘Beta, aa, aa, aaja. Come baby, come to mamma,’ Kulvinder gestured to the pup.
‘Your dog?’ Anand asked Kulvinder. She nodded. ‘But now she is yours ji. She’s part of the litter my dog just delivered. I have just gifted her to Oonaji. For your anniversaryji. Happy belated anniversary.’
‘What the f**k,’ Anand began, but Oona interrupted, ‘Please jaan, please. Don’t say no. You know how I like dogs. I’ve always wanted one. Can I please keep her?’
‘But you know I am not very fond of dogs. There will be fur all over the place.’
‘Anand, please. It’s a dachshund. Hardly any fur. Besides, I will potty train her myself. Just trust me. Please, Anand.’
‘Well, okay,’ he grinned suddenly. ‘But on one condition. I will decide its name.’
‘But Kul has already named her Kitty,’ Oona began, then stopped. ‘We can always change the name. She is anyway too little to recognise her name. What do you have in mind?’ ‘Sridevi.’ Kulvinder laughed, ‘Very goodji. You have a great sense of humour ji.’
‘Send my tea in,’ Anand told Oona as he went off to his room. Oona was a little shocked. Sridevi was the reigning Bollywood heroine and had refused Anand’s recent projects. ‘I don’t want to spoil my reputation working with low-budget producers,’ she was heard telling people. It was a small revenge for Anand. Oona suddenly burst out laughing, wondering how Sridevi would react if she ever found out.
—The excerpts are from Nandita Puri’s Two Worlds.