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How does India lure global icons? Read on...

mumbai Updated: Dec 01, 2009 02:27 IST
Purva Mehra
Purva Mehra
Hindustan Times
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Paparazzi in pursuit of high profile celebrities never let us in on what lures them to India.

To India With Love: From New York to Mumbai lets readers in on the many compelling reasons that bring global icons to the subcontinent.

The coffee table book comprises 90 epistles presented in a stylised, scrapbook kitsch format. The book has been compiled by Tina Bhojwani, Waris Ahluwalia and Mortimer Singer, co-founders of We Got Your Back, an organisation founded to garner support for areas affected by traumatic events.

“We wanted to show solidarity and raise awareness on Mumbai and India post 26/11 because we knew the pain as New Yorkers who had been through September 11,” said Bhojwani, a New York based fashion executive.

The book’s impressive list of contributors include actors Owen Wilson, Natalie Portman, Adrian Brody and Elizabeth Hurley, director Wes Anderson and James Ivory, designers Kenneth Cole and Sylvia Venturini Fendi and photographer Steve McCurry. Indian notables include Mukesh Ambani, Harsh Goenka, Ratan Tata, Anuradha and Anand Mahindra, MF Hussain, Saif Ali Khan and Anil Kapoor.

“The contributors are friends that love India and know it as a place of magic. We wanted to communicate that someone on the other side of the world is thinking about you and caring,” said Ahluwalia, a renowned New York jeweller who owns the eponymous House of Waris.

The tome’s appeal is entirely visual as coloured and black and white photographs of an India past and present crowd the pages. The text is poignant and extols this diverse country. “...I had been born again, into another life. It was these five people, over the many decades of our friendship, who turned me into that man called James Ivory,” writes Ivory of his constant companions Shashi Kapoor, Ismail Merchant, Satyajit Ray and Ruth Jhabvala.

While Owen Wilson likens the whole country to a “movie set”, Ambani shares his early memories growing up in the “cradle of Indian entrepreneurship”.

The project is not merely an exchange of letters between the two megacities of hope, 100 per cent of the proceeds from the book will go to the Taj Public Service Welfare Trust, set up to help individuals and their families who were directly affected by 26/11.