Malavika's Mumbaistan: Freedom, By Another Name

Updated on Aug 15, 2019 12:37 AM IST
Ashok Rao Kavi
Ashok Rao Kavi
Hindustan Times | ByMalavika Sangghvi

“Our dark world has now suddenly been lit up in the bright lights of azadi,” said Ashok Row Kavi, founder and chairman of Humsafar Trust, the NGO at the forefront of India’s LGBTQIA+ movement. He was referring to the outstanding, goosebump-inducing LGBTQIA+ national anthem, stand with pride which we had just seen. It will release across PVR multiplexes in eight metros today, in honour of Independence Day. Produced by Srija Barua, it features some of the iconic men, women and transgenders who fought so valiantly and selflessly against the criminalisation of homosexuality ensconced in Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code, and who had ultimately triumphed when it had been struck down by the Supreme Court last year. “It is the first year after the Supreme Court read down Article 377 and it is like our national Azadi day,” said Row Kavi, who had dedicated his life to the cause of bringing justice for his people. We had first met Kavi in the early 1980s, when he’d been a journalist with an impish sense of humour, who loved nothing more than to shock and provoke people. Since then, he’d mellowed in to a much revered elder of the community. “In the one year since Article 377 was read down, my world, like the worlds of many like me, has changed exponentially,” says Apurva Menaka, the award-winning editor and script writer of films like Satya and Aligarh. “The discussion about homosexuality no longer happens in hushed tones, but openly on dinner tables and in living rooms. The media has totally embraced same sex imagery, and LGBTQ couples and individuals are now selling furniture and soap in primetime ad films,” he says, adding, “Mainstream actors don’t fear playing gay characters and corporates woo us to match steps with their international counterparts.” In this overwhelming atmosphere, Menaka says he received a call from the good people at the Humsafar Trust asking him to take part in the shoot of a national anthem, that would feature many brave individuals from the LGBTQIA+ community. “I was to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with change-makers who had lived their lives openly, with dignity and courage. Just standing among such stalwarts like Ashok Row Kavi and Anjali Gopalan, who have devoted their lives to the gay rights movement, left me moved and teary-eyed,” he said, adding, “The filming was a beautiful experience, because we all exchanged stories of the years gone by, of closets that were left behind and of a new dawn that awaited us on the eve of the first anniversary of the iconic Supreme Court judgment.” So today, across hundreds of theatres, audiences will be witness to one of the most moving renditions of the national anthem that they have seen. It is very likely that witnessing the expressions of relief, poignancy, pride and patriotism on the faces of the LGBTQIA+ personalities featured, will move many to tears. As we were too.

Designs On You

Rajeev Sethi and Sangita Jindal.
Rajeev Sethi and Sangita Jindal.

It was a high-powered table yesterday when jury members met up at the iconic Jindal mansion on Peddar Road to judge the newly-instituted JSW Prize for Contemporary Craftsmanship. “The prize seeks out individuals, organisations, schools or even entire villages that are contributing to a new conversation on craftsmanship in India. Paying equal attention to the work of the karigar, the material they work with, the prize also looks at where design intersects their work,” said a spokesperson. The award itself, which consists of a sum of 11 lakh, will be given out by the Jindal group to the winning entry at a design show next year, informs Mumbai’s starchitect Ashiesh Shah, one of the jury members. Along with Shah, the event saw other champions of the design art and crafts worlds like Rajeev Sethi, Mallika Sagar, Alex Kuruvilla, Sangita and Tarini Jindal, and Simran Lal confer over matters design.

What They Say:
“The selection of Sonia Gandhi was convenient for the Congress in more ways than one. Outside Sonia Gandhi’s room, one can now see her old nameplates, naming her as the party’s president. No changes have been necessary, except perhaps dusting.”
- A recent media report.

What They Mean:
“May be she was chosen as a cost-cutting measure. Perhaps, the party is so broke, it knew it couldn’t afford to get fresh name plates for a new appointee.”

Flirting With Fashion

Anandita De
Anandita De

Word comes in that woman around town, fashionista and youngest daughter of Shobhaa and Dilip De, Anandita De, has launched her personal shopping, makeovers and styling advisory recently. “Whilst all and sundry headed to sunny London for exciting events like the Wimbledon or the Cricket World Cup, I was working my way through a taxing but exciting fashion course at the prestigious Regent’s Business School,” she says, adding, “The portal is called Koket, a twist on Coquette which means ‘Flirt’ in French.” With an assemblage of celebrities such as Yash Birla, Kanika Kapoor, Ira Dube, Chhaya Momaya and her Mum endorsing her talent as a fashion maven, one with a unique and original eye and knowledge of her subject; and an attractive portal in eye-popping colours which encourages interaction and one-on-one consultation, De says her venture is targeted towards anyone and everyone and aspires to make fashion accessible, boost one’s confidence and understand it. “It hopes to make every day folk feel like celebrities,” she says.

Bring on the red carpet!

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