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Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Fighting the good fight

mumbai Updated: Jun 21, 2018 12:50 IST
Malavika Sangghvi
Malavika Sangghvi
Hindustan Times
Malavika’s Mumbaistan,Mumbai,Malavika Sangghvi

(LtoR) Deepika Padukone and Anupam Kher.

“The video is an attempt by me to spread awareness about the most silent and perhaps, the biggest disease spreading at an alarming speed in the world today – DEPRESSION,” Anupam Kher had texted. “Please make it reach out to people and help.” The two-minute clip that followed featured the thespian, bringing the full force of his emotive powers, to deliver a powerful speech on the silent, deadly killer. “I have watched it destroy too many lives,” said Kher, emotionally, when we spoke yesterday. “It was important to reach out. All of us have been there at some point in our lives. Something had to be done,” he said. Kher was in Delhi for the shoot of Accidental Prime Minister, in which he reprises the role of former PM Dr Manmohan Singh. Did he plan to use the impact the video had (it had gone viral, with his Twitter timeline inundated with appreciation from the famous and anonymous alike)? “You know something’s had an impact when people forward your own videos to you,” Kher remarked dryly, as an aside. But yes, he did have plans to engage with the subject in a deeper way. After all, stars like Kher, who have an enormous following and the empathy their profession has afforded them, make natural thought leaders on such issues. By her courageous act, of speaking of her own tryst with depression, Deepika Padukone had done yeoman service to sensitising people to the subject. With Kher adding his heft, it further opens up the dialogue. Nice.

NOT A BARBIE GIRL

Having been born, not only in the same year, but also month as Mattel’s wildly successful ‘fashion doll’ Barbie (there the similarities end, though), it is with some interest, that we have been following the curious case of the ‘Frida Kahlo Barbie’ released this spring, by the beleaguered company, in a bid to be more inclusive and embrace wider constituencies. In fact, the opposite appears to have occurred. ‘Kahlo by Barbie’ has attracted scorn for reducing the Mexican artist, whose art was borne out of considerable pain, both physical and emotional, to a cartoon. “Light eyes and omitting her wheelchair and the unibrow and moustache,” went one report. Of course, the irony of tortured artist rendered into an airbrushed caricature has been made more fetid by the tragedy occurring with the US State Department’s current treatment of immigrant children, many of them from Mexico. Perhaps, because her mother is a poet, London-based actor Ayesha Dharker captured the widespread outrage most succinctly. “Build your wall,” she posted on social media this week. “Make Frida into a Barbie and settle back on a cushion with her art on it. Consume it all. Her country. Her children. From the other side of the wall you have built, you will hear the sound of children’s laughter, music and smell flowers in women’s hair. You will ask yourself ‘what is that?’ Keep that thing called freedom on the other side. You’re safer that way. And greater.”

TRUE LIES

And even as the country’s top institutional banker quits his job, to move back to the USA, citing ‘pressing family commitments’, months before his term ends, the conspiracy theorists in Lutyens’ Delhi are already casting aspersions on the real motive. But, our no-nonsense, well-weathered, long-time source takes a more practical (and cynical) view: “There’s no ‘real’ story,” he said yesterday. “Like Raghuram Rajan, all these NRI-types keep their job abroad, to which they have to return. Also, there’s genuine family requirements. Their kids are in schools and colleges in the US and their need for dollars rise. So, after boosting their CVs with prestigious government positions, they fly back,” he said, adding, “So, he’s off.... simple!”And to think, that in earlier times, there were men like Dr Manmohan Singh, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Rakesh Mohan, who moved back home to join the government and stayed back to serve the country.

WEDDING BELLS

(LtoR) NCP leader Praful Patel and his wife Varsha; Patel’s daughter Poorna with her fiancé Namit Soni.

Word comes in that Poorna Patel, the pretty daughter of former civil aviation minister, NCP leader and industrialist Praful Patel, whose recent engagement to industrialist Namit Soni was first reported on these pages, is all set for a July wedding. “There will be a youngster weekend getaway hosted in Bali for about 100 of the couple’s friends in the first week of July,” says a source. “The following week, some of her friends will be hosting a bash in Mumbai to celebrate the happy occasion. And the wedding ceremonies and reception will follow soon, around the twentieth.” And of course, given that the Patels have a vast and eclectic group of friends, drawn from politics, industry, Bollywood and sports, a galaxy of famous faces are expected to come from all corners of the country and abroad, to attend.

First Published: Jun 21, 2018 12:50 IST