Question Answers (Day 1326)

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The process of question answers is the most interesting session of the day. How the students introduce themselves, how they pose their questions reflects a lot about the university and their teachers as to how they have been trained.

Most of them are reluctant to initiate the QA session, they are always shy to be the first one to ask the question but once somebody takes the lead, the other students muster confidence and ask you questions about cinema, reporting, writing and other mediums related to media.


I counter question them often because in their answers I am seeking what young India is thinking.


Students are inspiring (Day 1325)

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I never turn down an opportunity to interact with the students because they fill me with an energy I cannot find anywhere else.

Time and again I am invited by universities to deliver motivation talk in some city or the other and always I find that the students have more to offer me than the other way round. IMG_8971

They listen intently and have a fund of questions, about themselves, their lives and how to go about it. These are questions that cannot be answered by parents or by friends and have to be addressed to professionals.

Some of them write to me and stay in touch, some have worked as my interns and some, have become my friends and all this is possible because I agreed to deliver a lecture to the university.


JLU beckons (Day 1324)

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The Jagran Lake University is a long drive from the Bhopal Airport and by the time I reach the guest house it is almost dark. The campus is deserted but the attendant is waiting to serve me dinner if I am hungry. I am not, so after a tall glass of milk I go to sleep.


In the morning I am greeted by the volunteer and explained my schedule for the day which seems like a long day ahead.

Post breakfast I am escorted to the C Block of the campus and introduced to the faculty.

There are many faces and many handshakes but at the moment we have to rush for the reason I’m here, my talk with the students.



Cup of Tea (Day 1219)

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Jitendra Rai started with theatre legend Makarand Deshpande and has over the decade built a reputation for himself in the theatre world. He has worked extensively with NGOs related to children and frequently conducts workshops with Aseema, Dhai Akshar and Blind Association Center children in Mumbai.

In the film world, some know him as a casting director, some as a writer and some as an assistant director. His favourite filmmakers rely on his acumen for and the award-winning films are a result of them. Stanley Ka Dabba , Hawaa Hawaai with Amol Gupte and Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola with Vishal Bhardwaj were cast by Rai.

Of the many hats he adorns, Rai likes to think of himself as a visualizer, the first of his written directed film Cup Of Tea releases on 121 November online.

I shared a cup of tea with Rai and watched the film and loved it. So will you


Aruna Irani : Gunga Jamuna to television (Day 1158)

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Aruna Irani started her career as a child star in Gunga Jamuna and when she grew up she danced in the chorus or did brief roles till Mehmood spotted her in a crowd scene and launched her as his co-star. She was a good actor and did many powerful supporting roles in many films be it Upkaar, Naya Zamana or Carvaan.  It was Mehmood who launched her as a heroine opposite his prodigal Amitabh Bachchan in Bombay to Goa.

ArunaIrani g 90s partyRaj Kapoor launched her as a dancer in Bobby and there was no looking back for Aruna Irani recognized as a complete entertainer who could fit into any role or character in any film.

aruna cake 2In the 80s when the film offers reduced Aruna Irani got busy with Gujarati films not just as an actor but also as a producer and director. In the 90s she was back in Hindi films with her unforgettable role as Anil Kapoor’s mother in Beta.

2000 onward Aruna Irani became the most in demand actor on television starting with Desh Mein Nikla Hoga Chand to her latest offering as Sau Bhagyalaxami in 2016.

Wishing Aruna Irani a productive and creative year ahead…

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Mr Dhokla (Day 1134)

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Driving from the venue I realise I have not tasted the dhoklas brought for me because Parthiv Gohil’s musicians have finished them backstage. I feel deprived and call up Sohan Kalsariya. He promises to bring a parcel for me at the hotel in the morning and as promised arrives with neatly packed different types of dhoklas. Utpal Bhayani and I are tempted to carry the boxes with us to Mumbai and even though our bags have no space, Hitenbhai helps us to adjust the boxes amidst our clothes.

Over breakfast served at the hotel restaurant, we discuss the plus and the minuses of last night event. All good organisers must do this in order to retain the quality and content of the show. It is am and time for us to leave for the station. Hitenbhai cannot take the risk of me finding the bogey on my own and escorts me to the station. There is still time for the train to arrive and I am excited to notice coolies eating/ drinking/ washing face in exactly the same way that Manmohan Desai had projected Amitabh Bachchan in his film Coolie. Close to the bridge on the same platform I spot a shoeshine boy and think that so many years have gone by but Salim Javed’s Deewar but the character is still visible on the streets even today.

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My journey back home is as comfortable and I spend time observing people on the trains, most of them are either sleeping or reading, some are on the phone discussing GST what else. I am hungry but I will not open my dhokla box in front of strangers, so wait patiently to drive home…



Yours Sincerely (1133)

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The English publishers usually release their books without any fanfare but the Gujaratis have a culture to combine a literary event with entertainment and the audience loves it. All of them organise a new release with drama and music, some sher-o-shairis from the anchor and some terrific word flow from sparkling speakers. Image Publishers are a front runner in this genre and make a star of an author overnight. All their events are innovative and a house full, not surprising that their members eagerly look forward to all Image events.

11bToday, the auditorium is packed with the who’s who of the city and everyone is prepared for a larger than life release. A 6feet tall book cover is wheeled on stage which I am expected to unveil.  It is a mammoth task and I include author Ajita in the process, we open the cover together housing many copies books and present them to all on the dais. It is time for group pictures, more smiles and more poses.

Finally, it is time for the author to make her speech, to tell all of us what made her turn into a writer. “I have everything a woman can ask for but there was something missing, something I could not define but it is called an identity beyond the many roles I play in life and I was searching for an outlet when came this opportunity and I grabbed it”.

Ajita is nervous and has a prepared speech so that she does not make a mistake. Hesitantly, she begins to tell her story, how the idea of the book came about and how her friends encouraged her to share her thought process. She remembers to credit everyone who made this dream possible, her team, her immediate family, her friends and finally, then the speech is over, Ajita looks visibly relieved.  She can finally heave a sigh of relief and enjoy the concert performed by Parthiv Gohil and his team.


I don’t wait for the concert because I have food on my mind, more on this tomorrow…

Sanjeev Kumar Auditorium (Day 1132)

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As our car drives inside the Sanjeev Kumar Auditorium, I recall all my meetings with the actor and suddenly feel emotional. If he was alive today he would have felt so proud of this hi-tech, fully equipped with the latest technology auditorium built by the BMC in honour of their Surat celebrity. There is still time for the show to begin and I am introduced to the Mayor, the MP and the minister of the state. I am told that no function in Surat begins on time because the business community packs up work late and never leaves home without dinner.

11 aAt 9:30 Finally, the evening begins with a mono act based on the book to be released today. This is just a trailer for the larger picture to follow but before that, some formalities have to be observed so all the honoured guests are invited on stage and what follows are speeches. The minister makes a diplomatic speech, the motivator packages a social presentation and as the chief guest, I entertain my audience with stories from the film world. The topic for the evening is women and I pay tribute to all the women in the film fraternity who have influenced my worldview as a journalist.


It is imperative that I speak about the author Ajita Italia who has courageously penned her intimate thoughts as a diary in the form of a book. It is not as simple or easy as it seems. I’m curious to know what made her write Yours Sincerely, curious to know her conflict and anxiety during the process and curious to know what she is feeling at the moment but for that, we have to first release the book and for that, you will have to wait till tomorrow…



Bhuj Express to Surat

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I am invited by Image Publishers to inaugurate a book by a debutant author in Surat. I realise it is not as simple to travel by train because all the roads are dug up and it takes an eternity to reach the station. I am scheduled to reach Borivali at 3 pm for my 3.30 train but at 315 I am still navigating the suburban traffic. Hiten Anandpara the organiser of the event is aware that I am not familiar with travelling by railway and has sent his expert assistant, Sejal Pondaa, writer and an actor of repute to facilitate my travel. Sejal warns gently that there is a possibility that I may not be able to get on to the train and we need to think of travel options. At 3.20 by a stroke of luck, my driver makes it to Borivali and Sejal rushes me on the bridge and then the platform to almost run to find our waiting bogey. I make it just in the nick of time.

10 a
It is a comfortable three hour drive to the city of diamonds and I spend time looking out of my window, reading and also sleeping. At Surat Station another assistant of our host, Naveen has come to fetch me and drives me to the hotel. We have some time before the show and I decide to have tea with Parthiv Gohil who is performing at the show. In his room, he introduces me to two dynamic boys Vishvesh Sanghvi and Shaival Desai has revolutionised digital media with their super successful portal called CityTadkSurat. I tell them I have a craving for dhoklas and they immediately phone a friend.

10 b
By the time Parthiv and I have changed to attend the show, CityTadkaSurat friend MrDhokla is waiting in the lobby for us. More about him and the event tomorrow.

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7x 3 =21 Season 3

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Manhar Gadhia Productions is back with season 3 of his very successful play 7×3 = 21 and this time the theme is Desire.  Written by 7 writers and performed by seven actors, director Prateik Gandhi travels you through fascinating journeys of seven extraordinary women – two single, three mothers, one soul and a star.

TinderThe single girls Ami Trivedi/ Apeksha and Toral Joshi/ Tinder are independent women who believe in dating their prospective grooms before deciding if they are worthy as partners. Apeksha is an interior designer, apparently artistic but who loves everything entertaining. Her frustration is that she is unable to express her choices in a world of hypocrites. The second marriage in candidate in Tinder is more pragmatic and willing to compromise for some luxuries of life.  She is ready to prove her skills in the kitchen provided her partner matches her aspirations in the bedroom, does that happen, does it ever happen in any relationship??.

There is a story of a haunted soul/ Indo enacted by Shradha Musale desperately seeking salvation, a cruel story of rejection. A story of loneliness and anguish/ Madhubala inspired from the life of the 50’s superstar abused by the family and isolated by those she loved to die a painful death. And finally stories of three mothers: Bhai Bhai/ 21 mu Tiffin and Jhankhana struggling for survival in compelling circumstances.

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