Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Drawing rooms or drawing blood?

One can be a legitimate voice of dissent with constructive criticism, both must be accepted and disagreed upon, Shaina NC said.
Shaina NC(HT File)
Shaina NC(HT File)
Updated on Sep 05, 2018 12:57 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByMalavika Sangghvi

Asia Society’s panel discussion this evening on Media & Democracy: A Political Play, centered around Rajdeep Sardesai’s newest book, promises to be interesting. Featuring member of the BJP’s national executive council and its spokesperson in Maharashtra, Shaina NC; Congress leader and former Union Minister of State, Milind Deora, along with the author; and Naresh Fernandes, editor of a digital news portal, even a 5-year-old could tell that Shaina appears to be hopelessly outnumbered and it’s not on account of her gender alone. With her party’s recent record, with media attracting widespread outrage, coupled with the known left liberal views of the other three panellists, would the BJP spokesperson even manage to get a word in edgeways? When we’d lobbed the question to Asia Society’s Bunty Chand, she’d conceded that the line-up appeared to be a tad imbalanced. “We are reaching out to other BJP spokespersons to participate too, in the interest of having a healthy debate,” she’d said. Shaina, at the fag-end of her Janmashtami rounds, had been sanguine. “In a democracy, every opinion has a counter opinion. One can be a legitimate voice of dissent with constructive criticism, both must be accepted and disagreed upon, both within the current dispensation and in the opposition,” said the lady, whose appetite for a good fight can be seen on her regular appearances on primetime TV. Both politicians on this evening’s panel hail from old SoBo clans, where political argument and discourse used to be conducted in genteel drawing room settings, in civil tones. But, given the current climate of fevered polarisation and lynch mobs, is such a thing possible anymore? Have drawing room debates turned into drawing blood wars? As we were saying, the panel discussion on Media & Democracy: A Political Play, this evening, promises to be interesting.

Amar Rahe

Amar Singh and Amitabh Bachchan (HT Photo)
Amar Singh and Amitabh Bachchan (HT Photo)

Not many in public life have seen the highs and lows of power like Amar Singh, who has, in his long and illustrious political career, even played kingmaker in the Manmohan Singh cabinet during the Nuclear deal! Once a close friend of the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Anil Ambani, Subroto Roy and Mulayam Singh, it is said that at one stage, both the Ambani and Bachchan households, at the two far flung ends of Mumbai, held a permanent room for him, symbolising the parenthesis of his celebrated hold on the city. But, Singh seems to have fallen out with his former friends and is now seen as something of a lone soldier. Except on social media, where he posts daily, and where his famous wit has found expression. To his long-time rival, Samajwadi Party politician Azam Khan, he recently tweeted: “My silence should not be misunder- stood. Fight is yet to begin.” Also on the radar has been former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who has been in the news for his strong criticism of the PM’s economic policies. “You live in Lutyen’s Delhi, so does Arun Jaitley. Will it not be better that instead of tweeting, you personally meet & enrich him with your pearl of economic wisdom,” was yesterday’s volley. Chidambaram has yet to tweet back to Singh. Maybe, he’ll prefer to ‘personally meet & enrich him’ now?

Wts Wtm
What They Say :
“Today, airfare is less than that of an autorickshaw.”
— Jayant Sinha, MoS Civil Aviation

What They Mean :
“Besides, flying on our airlines is just as comfortable.”

The Sixties Revolution Doc

Ian La Frenais (extreme left) with Ringo Starr (centre) and his wife. (HT Photo)
Ian La Frenais (extreme left) with Ringo Starr (centre) and his wife. (HT Photo)

It’s been called ‘a sloppy wet kiss to Michael Caine and British youth culture of the 1960s’, and been widely appreciated for its archival and nostalgic value. Last week, we had the pleasure of watching ‘My Generation’, the docu-ode to the 60s, creating a buzz, in company of one of its writer-producers Ian La Frenais, on his visit to the city. The co-writer of such cult British series as Likely Lads and HBO’s Emmy- winning show Tracey Takes On, along with his artist-wife Doris Vartan, live in LA, at the epicentre of its creative Hollywood-Rock- and-Roll heart, but they lead transcontinental lives and their spiritual journey has led them to Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and his Isha ashram. My Generation is narrated by Michael Caine, one of the best examples of working class culture made good, and contains drool-worthy footage of stars of that era — Twiggy, Marianne Faithfull, Paul McCartney, David Bailey, Penelope Tree and Mary Quant. It’s a paean to a time when Britain’s youth explosion coupled with its class uprising resulted in that happy burst of creativity, psychedelia, pop art and rock music that were the 60s. LA Frenais is also co-writer of Across the Universe, the 2007 musical wittily centered around 34 comp- ositions, originally written by The Beatles, a personal favourite of ours. “Did you know The Beatles enjoyed unprecedented burst of creativity in India and wrote over a dozen songs at the Rishikesh ashram?” he had said. We are not surprised. It probably was the ashram air. Perhaps, that’s why the couple too spend so much time in India.

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