Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Outspoken And FearlessUpdated: Jun 12, 2019 08:54 IST
The late Girish Karnad(File Photo )
It was not surprising that thespian Sabira Merchant’s dinner at her Malabar Hill apartment on Monday evening was replete with references and tributes to towering theatre and film personality and humanist Girish Karnad, who had passed away earlier in the day. Theatre producer and drama coach Raell Padamsee – who had produced her father Alyque Padamsee’s staging of Karnad’s ‘Broken Images’ starring Shabana Azmi – shared how shocked she was, as she had just spoken to the litterateur to fix at a meeting in Bengaluru earlier in the week, to update the play. He had given no indication that he was so ill.
“I had acted in Karnad’s Tughlaq, starring Kabir Bedi, in the 1970s, when I’d been in my late 20s,” said leading advertising, film-maker Zafar Hai, who, like Karnad, had been a student at Oxford, albeit at a different time.
But it was Literature Live’s Anil Dharker who brought out what had perhaps been the celebrated intellectual’s most admired quality: his outspoken fearlessness and commitment to his principles.
“In 2012, we had awarded VS Naipaul with a Lifetime Achievement Award and imagine my surprise, when two days later, while I was seated in the auditorium, from the same platform, Karnad, who had been slated to deliver a masterclass on ‘his life in theatre’, chose to deliver a scathing critique of not only Naipaul, but of me, the festival’s organiser, too,” said Dharker with obvious fondness.
“Why is Naipaul being honoured?” Karnad had thundered, citing instances of what he described as Naipaul’s bigotry and communalism in his books, especially against India’s minorities.
“The people who have given him this award owe a responsibility to explain to us where exactly they stand with regards to Naipaul’s remarks. If the givers of this award are deliberately keeping silent about their opinion of this outsider’s criminalisation of a whole section of the Indian population as rapists and murders, then let me say, the silence is more than irresponsible. It is shocking,” Karnad had said, unmindful of any feathers he would be ruffling. But such were those times and people, that in keeping with Voltaire’s celebrated axiom ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’, no offence had been taken. A few years later, Dharker and his cultural body had awarded the highly-decorated Karnad with his own, much deserved Lifetime Achievement award, which he had graciously accepted.
Move over destination weddings, people have realised that they can have twice as much fun without the hassles of band, baaja and baraat, by taking their family and friends abroad for destination birthdays! And last week was the turn of Bijal and Hital Meswani, who celebrated the latter’s 50th birthday with a party for their loved ones in Amsterdam. The soft-spoken, Wharton-educated younger son of Rasiklal Meswani, a cousin of Dhirubhai Ambani, who is executive director of RIL and sits on its board, Hital is a familiar figure at cultural and social events in Mumbai. His interest in Indian classical music is a by-product of his musician sons Harsh and Aryaman’s passion for the same. No surprises then that besides including industrialists, business folk, the guest list also featured members of the creative community.
Incidentally, Hital’s wife Bijal is a prominent philanthropist and one of the driving forces behind fund-raising activities for NGOs.
“Bengal is not a toy. You cannot play with it.”
-TMC leader Mamata Banerjee yesterday while unveiling a new statue of Bengal reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar that was vandalised earlier
We cannot help thinking that Sunaina Roshan’s current problems with the media have been self-inflicted. For the uninitiated, here’s the story, briefly: Hritik Roshan’s sister had alarmed followers and friends on Sunday when she’d posted a message on social media alluding to the fact that she was experiencing ‘hell’.
Now of course, besides eliciting a flood of concern and support from her friends, the post had also caught the attention of the media and soon followed a report that the lady was gravely ill, in hospital under supervised observation and suffering from mental health issues.
On her part, Sunaina had tried to quell this PR debacle by a subsequent post saying she was horrified to read such rumours, when in fact; she’d been out partying with her friends. But of course, once released, the genie refused to get inside the bottle again and the story gained momentum. Roshan herself has not helped matters either when in her attempt to clarify things, she offered in a subsequent interview to an online site that she’d been in rehab for alcohol dependence and that she’d been living out of her family home for the past few weeks and that though she’d moved back home currently, she was estranged from her family. “Nobody has spoken to me. Nobody is in touch with me… It’s sad but they are not even supporting me,” she said.
What can one say about this instance? The collateral damage of celebrity is perhaps heaviest on the families of stars, and compounded with the phenomena of letting it all out on social media, makes for a deadly cocktail.
We hope her loved ones and responsible professionals intervene and save her from further distress and embarrassment.
First Published: Jun 12, 2019 00:05 IST