Monthly Archives

December 2017

Sometimes there are separations (Day 1253)

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I’m unable to recall serious separations of film actors during the sixties decade but in the seventies two couples with great love stories parted mysteriously. Rajesh Khanna -Dimple Kapadia and Raakhee- Gulzar.  Khanna proposed to the Bobby star in a dramatic fashion and Dimple was over the moon to become Mrs Superstar Khanna.  A decade and two children later, Dimple realized that life was not a film.  She was back to where she belonged, the cameras! Khanna and Kapadia lived separate lives but were united in crisis and it was Dimple and son-in-law Akshay Kumar who nursed an ailing Khanna in his final days.

For Raakhee it was love at first sight with writer director Gulzar who has apenchant for Bengali culture, cuisine and women. Both were soaring in their respective careers and began building their love nest in Pali Hill. The real reasons for their split is unknown after all these years but rumors say Gulzar disapproved of a working wife and Raakhee a big star of the seventies was unable to steal away from the tempting offers. The duo separated after the baby. Raakhee stayed back in her maiden home, a few bungalows away from Gulzar. After so many years Gulzar and Raakhee are best of friends.


There are highs and lows (Day 1252)

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Dilip Kumar had a late marriage and to a woman many years his junior, Saira Banu.  When they got married everyone said it will not last a year but it has lasted over 50 years.  There were many challenges but the two continued to be soaked in the fragrance of love- Saab and his Begum stuck together for decades and remain madly in love till today.

I don’t know why but while the heroes were able to conquer the storms in their lives, the heroines fell as victims. The beautiful Meena Kumari married director Kamal Amrohi. They separated, came together, married again, separated and came together for a film Pakeezah. Madhubala, a top ranking heroine of the 50s married singer Kishore Kumar against the wishes of her family and paid a price! Kishore Kumar married and divorced once, lost interest in Madhubala after marriage and neglected her.  When she fell seriously ill he dropped her at her parents’ where she died a sad, lonely death.


Marriages are made in heaven (Day 1251)

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Marriage has never been easy for a celebrity and for those in show business even more so.  An actor is always in the limelight where his everything he does, inadvertently affects his career. When his film is a success, his fans celebrate, when it is a failure, they mourn for him. They are happy when he is happy and sad when he is depressed.

Perhaps that is why the superstars never let their private life overshadow their public image.

In the golden fifties, Raj Kapoor was linked with almost every heroine he worked with and there came a time during Sangam, when his wife Krishna moved out of RK Bungalow in Chembur with her five children into a hotel in South Bombay but eventually better sense prevailed and Raj Kapoor brought his family home.

Dev Anand and Kalpana Kartik had a registered marriage during the lunch break of shooting Taxi Driver.  Soon they resumed shooting like on a normal day because it was not an appropriate time to go public with the news. A few years and two children later, the couple began to have differences yet continued to live under the same roof till the end. It was Kalpana who organized the final rites of Dev Anand in London and supervised his Tribute at the Mehboob Studio in Mumbai.


Merry Christmas (Day 1250)

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It is that time of the year when everyone is in a terrific mood and everyone ready to celebrate. Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma could not have chosen a better time to get married because now they can usher the New Year together.  As the duo get ready to leave for their honeymoon my mind goes back to star marriages over the decades, some good, some sad and some terribly mismatched that ended in divorces. But before we get into the wedding mood a quick look at my report on Anushka Sharma Virat Kohli wedding


Soha Ali Khan turns Author (Day 1249)

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The other evening some of us were invited to the debut book release of Soha Ali Khan. It was a windy night at Taj Lands End in Mumbai and a rare occasion to find all the Khans and spouses assembled under one roof. The security guards escorted matriarch Sharmila Tagore and her children Saif, Saba and Soha Ali Khan along with Kareena Kapoor and Kunal Khemu to their respective seats.

A few moments later the famous family was invited on stage and all of them narrated interesting anecdotes related to Sohal Ali Khan. Sharmila Tagore recalled that Soha as a little wanted to know who her brother would get married to and whether her bhabhi would be a princess.  Brother Saif Ali Khan said it was when Soha came visiting him during her holidays that she had a change of heart to quit her job as a banker and join films.  Sister Saba Ali Khan said though Soha was the youngest in the family she was the wisest. Kareena Kapoor confessed that while nobody can diminish her confidence she feels intimidated by Soha’s natural intelligence. Husband Kunal Khemu echoed Kareena’s sentiments and added that he was still figuring out what Soha liked in him.

soha-ali-khan-s-debut-book-launch-the-perils-of-being-moderately-famous_1513151204130It was evident from all on stage that even though the film fraternity has not discovered as yet, Soha Ali Khan is special. Then Soha read passages of her delightful book and everyone in the audience was riveted. I sat up the next day and read up Sohal Ali Khan’s book and agree with the family why she is so special.  For those of you who were not present at the book launch or who will not read the book here is my review to tempt you to buy the book.

First and foremost you have to be an extremely confident person to address yourself as Moderately Famous and when you read princess turned banker/ turned actor’s memoirs, you discover Soha Ali Khan is not just super confident but an amazingly courageous, brutally honest and deliciously funny person who is consistently thoughtful and naturally bright in all that she chooses to pursue – a trek, a job, a role and now motherhood.

Reared in a royal family Soha went to Oxford University while still a teenager and learned to fend for herself, she survived difficult climates, conditions, and people and learned very early in life to live and let live without judgments. She embraced adventure, courted challenges and in the process discovered her strengths and weaknesses.

From a princess to a migrant and a banker to an actor, Soha Ali Khan narrates her journey, both personal and professional with alarming honesty. There are intimate passages about her father/ Mansoor Ali Khan’s accident and later demise, her brother/ Saif Ali Khan’s second marriage and her own attraction for her husband Kunal Khemu and she recounts them with sparkling insights, her ability to laugh at herself in the oddest circumstances, her keen observations and her skill to recap the seemingly mundane moments in glorious imageries with exact conversations is what makes this book so precious.

As an actor, she hasn’t got her due from Bollywood but as a writer, Khan is a natural and has a way with words and emotions without being even slightly dramatic. She reports on tragedies and the comedies of her life in the same tone and forever looking inward. The book is more than an actor’s collection of personal essays, it is erudite, introspective and a social comment on youth and conditioning irrespective of workspace, marriage or parenting.

I finished reading Moderately Famous in a day and I guarantee you will not be able to put it down either. It is difficult to believe this is Soha Ali Khan’s debut book and I will never forgive her if this is her last book.

Bhawana Somaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya


Movie Reviews: Tiger roars again Day 1248

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Film: Tiger Zinda Hai

Date: 22 December 2017

Producer: Yas Raj Films

Director: Ali Abbas Zafar

Cast: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif


A screenplay based on a true story is usually presented as a realistic film but when a big banner like Yash Raj Films makes a sequel of blockbuster prequel it is a given that creative liberties will be taken to do justice to leading star cast.


In the 2012 released Ek Tha Tiger Zoya/Katrina Kaif  and Tiger/ Salman Khan mysteriously disappeared at the end of the climax.


In the 2017 sequel Tiger Zinda Hai we discover that they are happily married and parents of a courageous junior settled in Australia.


RAW head Shenoy/ Girish Karnad has been ordered to save 25 Indian nurses held as hostages by terrorists in Iraq and the only one Shenoy feels can do this is Tiger.


What works about the film are a couple of factors:

One, the breathtaking action, if Ek Tha Tiger had daredevil scenes, the sequel has Tiger blowing skulls, jumping roofs, galloping horses, fighting wolves and firing machine guns.

Shot in the deserts of Abu Dhabi the picturesque locations are most likely inaccessible to the common man and therefore fatally attractive.

Three and most important, the backstories: This is the first film where Salman Khan and  Katrina Kaif play man and wife, rather parents to a courageous junior.

This is the second time Yash Raj Films attempts a peace pact between India and Pakistan. The first time, when Veer Zaara crossed the boundary for the sake of love and second now as Tiger Zinda Hai unites two nations for a noble cause.

On the downside are the inconsistent pace and the dry narrative. The action sequences go on for an eternity and the climax is delayed by a good 30 minutes.

As for the performances Katrina Kaif once again excels in the action sequences firing guns and jumping over buildings. She is a parallel hero who saves Tiger in peril.  Salman Khan does what he wants to in the film and yes before you ask me, he does remove his shirt, the usual whistleblowing scene for his fans.

It is not fair to compare any prequel to a sequel so I will not do it. For the lavish packaging, sleek presentation and the magnificent scale of the film I rate Tiger Zinda Hai with 3 stars.



Indore Lit Fest: Saraafa stories (Day 1247)

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So Saraafa is placed in the heart of Indore city, it is the hub of the jewellers where people shop jewellery during the day but come dusk and when the owners down the shutters of their gold/ silver/ diamond/ kundan shops and retire home, a whole new township comes about at night where street food hawkers take over the premise and sell the choicest menu in town – all vegetarian of course.

We have to park our car a distance away from the lane and then the only way you can pierce through the narrow street is on foot. On both sides of the pavement are food stalls – everything from the regular Pau Bhaji/ Chinese/ Bhajiya/ Sabudana Ka Khichdi to Garuda made out of a fried sweet potato easily the most famous item on the street.

21.12.2017 highlightThere are kinds and kinds of sweets, kinds and kinds of ice-creams and deserts and kinds and kinds of paan. Everything is moderately priced no wonder families come in big groups and make a celebration in the narrow lanes.  The night in Saraafa is young and people relish the stall food till as late as 2am. One of the sweet seller adorned in gold rings and chains told me that by the time all of them wind up it is usually dawn and by the time the cleaners come and sweep the floor and the exteriors of the shop, it is usually morning.

I have a funny feeling that the idea of hosting the food stall in the jeweller lane must have come from the owners. This is a better way of guarding the precious street rather than hiring unaffordable security, don’t you agree?



Indore Lit Fest : Gazal and bonfire (Day 1246)

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They have organized a gazal program in the evening, invited the supremely gifted Pooja Gaitonde who I believe is the heartbeat of Indore. It is a houseful audience clad in coats and shawls all geared up to stay up a long time listening to the popular artiste.  Everyone is in high spirits as Gaitonde travels them from Kesariya balam…  Suffi and finally gazal… There is a thunderous applause as she begins ‘Aaj jaane ki zid na karo…’

The night is young and nobody appears to be in a hurry but I have my personal plans for the city. I have heard a lot about an interesting place called Saraafa and requested my new friend, a motivational speaker and debut author Shashank Kasliwal to take me there.

20.12.17 iiAs we walk out of the campus to find our car, I notice that the security guards at the campus have lit a bonfire and are relishing kadak chai. I decide to join them spontaneously and they are more than happy to share pages from their villages – happy stories, sad stories that have the potential for a powerful script but let’s leave that for another time as today the much talked about Saraafa awaits us.

What is Saraafa, what happens there; well you will have to wait a little longer!


Indore Lit Fest: Stimulating sessions (Day 1245)

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The interesting about any festival anywhere is that that there are discussions in all languages and all topics. So we have poets reciting in Gujarati, reading stories in Hindi, Taslima Nasreen reading a Bangla poem from her phone and another young author speaking in English.

The audience came in equal numbers – friends, families, relatives, in short everyone attracted to literature. All the speakers were defined a limited time and all of them respected the schedule.

19.12.17 iiPravin Sharma, editor Hello Hindustan made sure that he was present at all the sessions, introduced the speakers himself and supervised their stay personally as well.

His large team of volunteers worked efficiently both on and off the sets, they collected stories for their next day edition.


Indore Lit Fest: Check in time (Day 1244)

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Every year this time of the year Pravin Sharma of Hello Hindustan hosts Indore Lit Fest inviting the best authors/ poets/ artists to his city and every year the three-day festival is an opportunity for the storytellers to get together and share their experiences.

The city is clean and uncluttered and Sayaji Hotel our host for the festival flawless in aesthetics and in service.

18.12.17.iiI check into my room, order a quick lunch and head for the venue to listen to seasoned poets recite their latest writings.

18.12.17 iiiThere is a huge poster of the festival all around and young volunteers going out of their way to make you comfortable. This time they have restricted the schedule with just two sessions at a time, one inside the tent the more serious panel discussion and the lighter one, usually a workshop outside the tent. There is an Author Lounge where the speakers can relax before and after the session and it is the place where interviewers seek time to chat with authors.