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Celeb diaries

education Updated: Sep 22, 2011 11:15 IST
Pankti Mehta

Mumbai University’s celebrity alumni share their thoughts about their colleges, and how their alma maters helped them reach where they are.

Shaina NC, politician and fashion designer
Studied political science at St Xavier’s college

“If it weren’t for St. Xavier’s, I would never have come into public life. It’s such a well-rounded college, and when I say extra-curriculars are given utmost importance, I don’t just mean Malhar. I participated in inter-college debates, in class discussions – you were always encouraged to stand up for what you believed in.

While I was a different case in the sense that I was working while I was in college, so I’m one of the few that can’t speak much about the college canteen. I had to head to work straight after classes.”

Favourite teachers: Nandini Sardesai is my all-time favourite teacher. She made sociology so interesting, making this amazing connect with our lives, with past and present sociology. Prof. Matthews, too, played an important part in drawing my attention to politics and public life.

Shreyas Talpade, actor
Studied commerce at Mithibai College

“I’m not putting on any embellishments when I say that my college years were the best days of my life – both on and off campus. All my training and grueling with respect to acting happenend in college – I was a very active member of the dramatics society. Arun and Mukesh, the directors of the dramatics club, remain my gurus even today. They have taught me everything I know about acting.

I think the environment in Mithibai is conducive to hone talents. I was really surprised how supportive the teachers were of my drama addiction, even when I had to skip classes for rehearsals or shows. They also helped me get notes from other students, and I never flunked a class. The best part was that they never made me feel guilty about wanting to seriously pursue acting. I did enjoy the academics too, and was especially fascinated by industrial psychology and economics. I would categorically recommend the college to anyone considering it.”

Favourite facts: I think Mithibai has one of the best canteens in the city. My mouth still waters when I think of the veg pulao and the Punjabi samosas and post-rehearsal dahi batata puri. The drama room, although demolished now, will always remain my temple.

Cyrus Broacha, VJ, comedian, columnist
Studied political science at St. Xavier’s college

“I have great memories from college, where I studied political science, how to dress badly and how not to get girls. I remember joining Russian classes because I was in love with this girl (while I was struggling even with Hindi). I did my best to try to sit next to her but I was so bad that the teacher made me sit next to the smartest girl in class so that she could help me! Needless to say, the girl never looked at me, I did very badly and switched back to Hindi.

Seriously though, I think the architecture at Xavier’s has a lot of character, having housed an eclectic mix of free thinkers who have gone on to become movers and shakers. I somehow still remember my political science, which is great for party conversation. I can speak for hours about the fall of the Soviet Union, Marxist philosophy or of parliamentary proceedings.”

How it helped: Malhar was my first ever VJ gig! I hosted the show all the five years that I was at Xavier’s. I honestly believe that Malhar is the toughest crowd I’ve ever hosted – students are so free with hurling criticism at you! It’s hardened me for all future crowds.

Luke Kenny, actor and musician
Studied Arts at Elphinstone college

“Elphinstone has a rich history, manufacturing greats like Lokmanya Tilak, but it has gone through a tough time recently, in the last couple of decades. Even so, I thoroughly enjoyed my college days. My teachers were very supportive when I wanted to participate in extra-curricular activities like acting and dancing, and they were as thrilled as me when we won the trophy for dance in Malhar!

The canteen has really good South Indian food – be sure to try it if you’re around. We would also hop over to the Samovar Café at the Jehangir Art Gallery across the road when we had time to kill.”

Best part about the college was definitely the library. I was very interested in the Arts, and if I wasn’t in the mood to hang out with my friends, you would find me poring over rare texts in the library. I do hope it’s being taken care of well.

Tina and Husein Kuwajerwala, fashion designer and actor respectively
Studied commerce at Jai Hind college

“Jai Hind will always be especially special to me, not just because that’s where I met Husein, but because I don’t think he would have been where he is today without the college. I remember Husein in FYJC, a shy, awkward boy with glasses who didn’t know he could act or dance. It was only because Jai Hind has such a buzzing campus with so many activities that he started to take part in fests and the crowd gave him all the encouragement that he needed. He was always on stage after that. I, too, took part in everything – especially all the fashion shows and other dressing up events.

What I love about Jai Hind is that the teacher-student relationship is never condescending. You’re allowed to voice your opinion and treated as equals.”