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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

Malavika’s Mumbaistan: A Difficult Game

The piece bristles with delightful sentences: Bushra Bibi Pakistan’s First Lady, Khan’s clairvoyant wife and spiritual mentor is described as “a character who would stretch the limits of Salman Rushdie’s imagination”

mumbai Updated: Sep 18, 2019 08:10 IST
Malavika Sangghvi
Malavika Sangghvi
Author Aatish Taseer’s recent profile of Imran Khan (“He is trying to play a very difficult game”: The Once and future Imran Khan) in Vanity Fair, traverses so many disparate facets of the writer’s own personal life that it seems something he was born to pen.
Author Aatish Taseer’s recent profile of Imran Khan (“He is trying to play a very difficult game”: The Once and future Imran Khan) in Vanity Fair, traverses so many disparate facets of the writer’s own personal life that it seems something he was born to pen.(HT)
         

In arguably his finest piece of journalism so far, author Aatish Taseer’s recent profile of Imran Khan (“He is trying to play a very difficult game”: The Once and future Imran Khan) in Vanity Fair, traverses so many disparate facets of the writer’s own personal life that it seems something he was born to pen. Taseer, the son of slain Pakistani politician Salman Taseer and Indian author and journalist Tavleen Singh, both members of the power elite of their countries, offers a ringside view of the cricketer-turned-politician’s professional and personal journey so far. The article focusses mainly on Khan’s latest incarnation: that of someone “who remains torn between his years as an Oxford-educated playboy and his growing role as a critic of Western decadence”. According to Taseer, this schism “closely reflects the moral and cultural schizophrenia of the (Pakistani) society”.

The piece bristles with delightful sentences: Bushra Bibi Pakistan’s First Lady, Khan’s clairvoyant wife and spiritual mentor is described as “a character who would stretch the limits of Salman Rushdie’s imagination”. His early impression of Khan as “a man who had dealt so little in ideas that every idea he had now struck him as a good one” is one of the most stylish putdowns we’ve read in a while.

We asked Taseer if his article on Khan, coming as it did on the heels of his polarising pre-election result cover story on Narendra Modi (Time Magazine : ‘India’s Divider In Chief’) would counter the charges critics of the piece had made of him being a Pakistani stooge? And also, serendipitously lay him equidistant from his critics in both countries? “Ha! I guess so: (un)popular opinion.” Taseer responded from an early New York morning. “I’d just finished writing it when the Modi piece broke, and the fear was very much that I would manage to alienate both the motherland and fatherland in one summer.” “Dono darvaze bandh,” as my mother kept saying.

Taseer had been a neighbour of ours in Delhi in the days when five-time Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik had lived down the road and been a frequent visitor to both our households. Did he see any similarities between the two? “Interesting,” said Taseer. “Certainly, no two South Asians are as much at home in the West as Naveen and Imran. The difference is that I don’t think Naveen has had a coming-to-Jesus moment. He may not have time for cafe society any more, but he’s intellectually and philosophically able to deal with the different lives he’s led, the different people he’s been. In Imran’s, it’s more A schizophrenic case, for one person to live, the other person must be renounced.”

Tweet talk

Bollywood stars ka offsite aka IIFA is happening in Mumbai and if that’s not a sign of the Indian economy slowing down then I don’t know what is .

—Tweeted by Sapan Verma

WTMWTS

WHAT THEY SAY

“Now that I have you all the way up at the space station, let’s talk about me,”

Actor Brad Pitt in conversation with an ISS astronaut as part of a movie promotion

WHAT THEY MEAN

“ I guess that’s why Angelina left me.”

The Last Tango

As a name ‘The Last Tango’ held on Monday evening at Cafe Zoe for one last time before the restaurant downed its shutters at the end of the month, held a frisson of Brando-like charm. The eatery had ridden the crest of the restaurant and lifestyle boom in its area. “For the past three or four years, there used to be a tango Milonga at the end of each month at Zoe. Monday was the last,” said lawyer, actor and tango enthusiast Darius Shroff, the event’s appointed DJ, when we spoke yesterday. The Milonga had started as always at 8pm and the music Shroff had chosen, he says, had been from ‘the golden period 1920-1950’ and consisted of three ‘sets’ (each made up of three-four songs played from a single composer or orchestra) which couples danced to.

The team that performed at Cafe Zoe.
The team that performed at Cafe Zoe. ( HT )

“The famous orchestras are that of Carlos di Sarli, Juan D’Arienzo, Miguel Calo and Osvaldo Pugliese,” said Shroff, whose latest theatre offering a comedy on Indian politics ‘The Devil Wears Bata’ will be retuning early next month at the Tata auditorium.

With the Tango-friendly Zoe shutting down at the end of the month, Shroff says he does not know what it will be replaced by and if the new owners would be as encouraging of the dance form which had originated in Argentina in the 1880s. “For some reason, the theme was white,” said Shroff about the last tango’s dress code. “I would have thought it would be black, as it’s a time of mourning.”

First Published: Sep 18, 2019 00:20 IST

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