Malavika’s Mumbaistan: A Healthy Dose of Nostalgia

Hindustan Times | ByMalavika Sangghvi
Oct 30, 2018 12:35 AM IST

This Sunday evening gave a brief insight into a different age in the film industry, when it appears to have been a gentler, easier and friendlier place all round

A few weeks ago, we’d written about how, at a city book launch, Dr Farooq Abdullah had kept an auditorium filled with Mumbai’s best and brightest, in his thrall by delivering a strong political statement couched in the most lyrical of words. “For God’s sake, wake up!” he’d said to the gathering of politicos, lawyers, industrialists and journalists, sounding like a poet – most likely Iqbal. “Look at what’s happening around you!” he’d urged while making an ardent pitch for secularism and tolerance. This Sunday evening, it was the turn of the irrepressible actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, who also chose to voice his critique, but the BJP member and former Union minister decided to do so using humour. He began his speech with “Mitron”, and announced he would share his “Mann Ki Baat”, which brought forth many guffaws from the audience. This was just one of the highlights of the well-attended launch of Sanjay Khan’s autobiography, on Sunday night, at a mid-town hotel. Hema Malini’s extempore speech about Khan, with the Bollywood icons exchanging on-stage, off-mike quips in earthy Tamil was another. “We used to speak in Tamil while shooting,” narrated the actress, who’d only had the opportunity to work with Khan in a single film. “The director used to get suspicious that we were talking about him,” she said, and added, “We were,” drawing a huge laugh. These off the cuff insights by icons, along with the Khan family’s spoken tributes — gave the audience, many drawn from younger generations, a brief insight into a different age in the industry, when it appears to have been a gentler, easier and friendlier place all round.

Hema Malini, Sanjay Khan, Farooq Abdullah and Shatrughan Sinha
Hema Malini, Sanjay Khan, Farooq Abdullah and Shatrughan Sinha

True Lies

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Everyone’s got a Diwali plan... or two, some taash-shaah, some kebab-sharab and some party-sharty. So, who will grudge this Delhi-based leading politico and all fired up opposition leader some festive cheer and down time too? The much anointed leader will be bringing in the festival of lights in London,” according to sources. How do they know? “Well, his booking has been made at the Taj Buckingham Gate in London,” said one. “The fact that it will be in the midst of the Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan elections might prove a problem,” said the purported know-it-all. Incidentally, we have always wondered why India’s political elite chooses to stay at this particular establishment. One of the Taj Group’s great overseas outposts, it appears to be the travelling Indian’s preferred London residence, and, on any day, the lobby is overrun with familiar, and often famous, Indians almost as if one were in the combined lobbies of the Taj Man Singh and the Taj Apollo Bunder! Would not high-profile leaders prefer a more anonymous hang out, where they could get some privacy and peace away from prying eyes, especially in this day of 24x7 media coverage? Obviously not. In the recent past, the hotel has seen the likes of one of the country’s tallest opposition strongmen, his high-profile and suave party member, a former union minister, and a powerful Mumbai Congress satrap, check-in and proceed to conduct their pow-wows in the hotel’s famous courtyard! All one can say is that perhaps, for longstanding patrons of the brand, old habits die hard and when abroad, it’s ‘Ah Taj’…

Back To The Future

Asha Puthli with the band, Madboy/Mink
Asha Puthli with the band, Madboy/Mink

We ran into our friend Asha Puthli, the iconic singer-songwriter, producer and actress who’d blazed a trail through some of the hippest international circles and record deals, in the sixties and who had been described by the New York Times as a “fusion pioneer”, and she had some exciting news. Having returned to Mumbai, the city of her youth , this one-time pillar of Andy Warhol’s underground collective, had recently performed live with a gen-next city band to an appreciative audience of Mumbai hipsters, albeit at a small, artsy venue. How the artist — now in her seventies, who had trained in Indian classical music and was once celebrated for her “masterpiece of snakey, spaced-out soul and pre-mainstream disco”, as a music critic had once written — came to perform after decades was a delightful story in itself. “A mutual friend told me about this young Mumbai musician , Imaad Shah, whose music icons apparently were Jimi Hendrix and myself,” Puthli said referring to Ratna and Naseeruddin Shah’s talented actor-musician son. “And, next thing you know, we’re performing together in front of an audience!” And, what’s more delightful is that this is just the first of her live gigs. Perhaps, the’ fusion pioneer’ is heralding a different kind of fusion now? One across generations?

Now You See ‘Em

Malaika Arora and Arjun Kapoor with friends.
Malaika Arora and Arjun Kapoor with friends.

Move over, Alia-Ranbir, Deepika-Ranveer and Priyanka-Nick, this hot new (old?) couple is attracting more attention than all of you currently. A picture of alleged couple, Malaika Arora with Arjun Kapoor, her sister Amrita Arora, Karisma and Kareena Kapoor, Natasha Poonawalla and Arvind Dubash, has attracted much interest, not as much for its striking aesthetic appeal, but for the proximity of the two together at a recent social setting. Until recently, the two had been denying any link-up, despite intense media speculation. Does this shed further light on a budding romance between the peerlessly attractive Arora with enough sass to launch many ships, and her younger beau? And, are younger men this season’s must have acquisition for any sassy and successful woman? Perhaps, PC can shed light on that one…

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