Author, The Sly Company of People Who Care
Revolutionary Road: Richard Yates’s harrowing, heartbreaking work of American realism troubled me for days after I’d finished it. It pierces with careful, vivid cruelty all our daily hopes that can be, but never are. If you haven’t watched the film already, don’t. Read the book.
A Sport and a Pastime: Famous as an erotic masterpiece, this slim, ravishing book by James Salter is in fact a masterpiece of the entire sensual world: light, colour, time, dream, experience and the ephemeral space between women and men. Salter writes the most gorgeous, truest sentences, and the most under-rated dialogue.
An Area of Darkness: I was going to choose VS Naipaul’s epic, A House for Mr Biswas, but I found myself instead picking Naipaul’s first encounter with India. This book is not so much provocative as without mercy. Pity being easier, I value its sense of revulsion at the degradation Indian society metes out to Indians.
The Murderer: This book is by Roy Heath, a Guyanese writer less known than he deserves. It is very close to my heart because it is perhaps the finest work I encountered about the country where my own novel is set. But my admiration of its invisible craftsmanship, its psychological acuity, is independent of geography.
Jazz drummer and composer
Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles): This was a multi-layered sonic experience. It’s dense and spectacular. This album paved the way for modern music production that the world has to offer today.
Natural Elements (Shakti): This album was the third in a series of Indo/West fusion albums, spearheaded by the great John McLaughlin. In fusion terms, I think it defined the oneness of both music forms. Another album with the perfect East meets West vision was AR Rahman’s Thiruda Thiruda.
Seal II (Seal): The genius of Trevor Horn. I take his name before Seal, whose second album it was, because it was Horn’s vision and Seal was the vehicle. This record is a producer’s handbook to modern music production.
The Seduction of Claude Debussy (Art Of Noise): It’s no mystery then that Trevor Horn was also a part of the Art Of Noise. This is a tribute to classical music’s modern visionary, who brought together classical, rap drum and bass, orchestral and pop music. A sound that is so British, and something any listener can be proud of.
Owner, Lotus Blossom
Royal China (Bandra): This is my absolute favourite. It is consistent, well priced and you can never go wrong with the food, no matter what you order from the menu! The Dim sums are awesome. This place is always a favourite with the family too. The food is
presentable and tasty, and the portions are good. Those serving you are attentive and take care of minor details. The restaurant is well set up, comfortable and classy.
The Table (Colaba): This new, cool restaurant has very refreshing European food and a great atmosphere! Besides I had something to do with its concept and set up. The crab cakes are yum and the place has an interesting European ambience with wooden furniture and window frames.
Trishna (Fort): They really know how to treat their seafood. The butter garlic crab is the best. This old time favourite has always been served fresh coastal food and has been consistent in its quality. It has also managed to combine North Indian cooking styles with seafood very well. Their Hyderabadi gravy is a must try, be it with any fish. We tried the rawas and it was perfect. The Tandoori Fish too was very well made.
Swati Snacks (Tardeo): This joint is great for hygienic, homely Gujarati street food and snacks. They’ve really got the formula right. Anything from pani puri, panki, fada ni khichdi or khichu is freaking yummy. Then of course, the paanwala outside Swati is a bonus.
Nayakan (1987): Kamal Haasan worked in this film by Mani Ratnam, when he was in his early 30s. Since it didn’t have any romancing or dancing in it, the film wasn’t considered commercial enough. Haasan played four generations so convincingly; his process of aging is shown so well. Nuances of his legs spread and how he held his stomach the way an old heavy weight man would, are shown so minutely.
A Beautiful Mind (2001): To show fear in someone’s mind so vividly, to convert a schizophrenia story into a romantic story at the end. I was watching the film with my wife and was moved to tears during the speech he gives towards the end. Everyone in the room was sharing tissues. I wish I could entertain someone like that.
Pushpak (1987): Singeetham Srinivasa Rao’s silent film featuring Kamal Haasan was a blockbuster. To create a silent film that became a hit in three languages without having a language of its own, must have been quite a challenge. The lead pair only held two fingers to show their chemistry; it had more eroticism than the passionate lip locks we see today.
Sagar Sangamam (1982): This Telugu and Tamil film by K Vishwanath, also stars Kamal Haasan as a dancer. Jaya Prada and he were meant for each other in terms of onscreen chemistry in this. Haasan performed the Rudra tandavan with such masculinity. There was so much testosterone and art in that film.