Malavika’s Mumbaistan: The Best Mistakes of His Life

Published on Oct 25, 2018 12:42 AM IST
Reading through his autobiography ‘The Best Mistakes of My Life’, one comes across actor-producer-director Sanjay Khan’s extraordinary life
Sanjay Khan with wife Zarine.
Sanjay Khan with wife Zarine.
Hindustan Times | ByMalavika Sangghvi

It is true that film stars lead far more interesting lives than us ordinary mortals, their fame and popularity casting a wide net as far as the experiences, travels and individuals life places before them. But, even by these standards, actor-producer-director Sanjay Khan’s life appears extraordinary, and reading through his autobiography ‘The Best Mistakes of My Life’ (Penguin) — to be launched later this week — in the presence of chief guest Farooq Abdullah, one comes across a staggering range of prime ministers and princes, industrialists and intellectuals, race horse owners and rulers, and hair-raising incidents that are strewn across Khan’s remarkable life. Known as the Jubilee Star of Bollywood in the sixties and seventies, Khan was born into an exceptionally good-looking and bright Pathan family, which had relocated from Bangalore to a sleepy colony in Juhu, not too far from our childhood home. Then a lanky teenager given to reading Tolstoy and Satre, Khan had fallen in love with, and won the hand of the area’s prettiest girl, Zarine Katrak, who’d grown into one of India’s most successful models. By the time we ourselves grew to be teenagers, their romance, conducted against the backdrop of the beach and sea, was legend. This six-year courtship had culminated into one of the most glamorous weddings of its time. All this came back to us as we read through Khan’s chapters: his instant and endearing bond with the late Raj Kapoor, his friendship with some of Pakistan’s leading politicians such as Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan, his trysts with the Maharajah of Jaipur, the King Mohammed VI of Morocco and Sheikh Nasser Al Sabah of Kuwait, his buying of the Derby-winning race horse Prince Khartoum on a whim (thus passing up the chance to buy an apartment in Usha Kiran, then the abode of Adi Godrej and Dhirubhai Ambani), amongst others. Bristling with anecdotes and insights, the book is also a testament to Khan’s spectacular grit, defying death on two occasions — once when a massive fire engulfed the film set of The Sword of Tipu Sultan, destroying life and limb and rendering him gravely injured and given up by his doctors. The book is packed with the highs and lows of an exceptional life that straddled so many worlds. But, it is Khan’s words in the last chapter that appear to sum it all up: “I do believe that the experience of overcoming adversity can teach us truths which give us strength,” he writes.
Indeed.

True Lies

The art world, generally riven with factionalism and dissent, appears to have, for once, found consensus on something. And, it happens to be its unshakeable belief that an upcoming auction of prized Indian Moderns, supposed to be painted by some of the country’s most celebrated artists, contains up to “40% of fakes”. Celebrated collectors, gallerists and even those close to the artists whose works are being auctioned have been heard pointing out to what they swear are obvious (and often poorly executed) reproductions going under the hammer soon. “You can forge someone’s signature,” said a hyperventilating second-generation gallerist about the alleged rip-off. “But you cannot forge an entire canvass and think you can get away with it,” she said referring to one particular work in the catalogue, priced between 1.5 crore and 2.4 crore, that even to the naked eye appears dodgy. So, there you have it. Much like Marquez’s masterpiece ‘A Chronicle of a Death Foretold’, where an entire village is aware of an impending murder, this week, the art community awaits with bated breath the opening of an auction said to be filled with a sizeable collection of fakes. And, who will bid for them? “Most likely, it will be the lot of arriviste new buyers in the field who don’t know their Husain from their Raza and are happy to hang anything on their wall, as long as it’s expensive and gets them social currency,” says an insider.
Oh dear…

Overheard

“Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone are finally getting married. The Pandit will be Sanjay Leela Bhansali”

--- Tweet doing the rounds on social media recently

Sparkles and Style

Karishma Swali, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Monica Shah.
Karishma Swali, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Monica Shah.

From all accounts, the tenth anniversary celebrations of JADE, the couture design label fronted by sisters-in-law Monica Shah and Karishma Swali in the presence of chief guest Maria Grazia Chiuri, Christian Dior’s new artistic director, on Tuesday night at the Taj’s Crystal Room was full of sparklers. From the presence of Chiuri herself — who burst upon the fashion scene with her first collection based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s famous line “We Should All Be Feminists” — who had flown in from Paris in spite of a leg injury, to what is being described as an exemplary display of rare, archival pieces of handcrafted masterpieces by Indian artisans, handpicked by the designers that adorned the room, to the futuristic ramp that occupied the length of the room which featured Jacqueline Fernandes as the show-stopper, to the guest list featuring the likes of Ananya Birla, Gayatri Ruia, Sangita Jindal, Gayatri Oberoi, Schuana Chauhan, Chhaya Momaya, Roohi Jaikishan, Farah Oomerbhoy, Zeenia Lawyer, Haseena Jethmalani and Dia and Devaunshi Mehta, it was an evening that few would forget for its elegance and style. As for Chiuri, having spoken passionately about her love for Indian textiles and crafts, and her long association with the Shah family on the occasion, no sooner was she done with Mumbai’s swan-necked fashionistas than she was off to continue her love affair with Indian textiles and crafts. “Today, she visited an embroidery school and textile research centre in Byculla” said a source on Wednesday. “She was there all afternoon, meeting the artisans.”

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