Has an actress about to do what looks like a one-off Bollywood appearance ever created such interest? Barbara Mori is finally back from exile. Our hungry press, for whom her enforced absence has acted like cat-nip, has leaped joyfully on the Kites star. The desultory gossip has heated up again and even the blase can’t stop talking about her alleged wild romance with Hrithik Roshan. The juiciest myth is one in which Suzanne Roshan, succumbing to her husband’s feeling that Mori is his soulmate, agrees to a friendly and companionable threesome. One can fulminate that this is all a plot emerging from the publicity machine. But you can also be grateful that this is not the plot of the movie you are paying to watch. Because then you would be even madder.
Maybe we should be in therapy for our mean nature. But every time we hear that Katrina Kaif watched the video clips of women politicians for the sake of her character in Prakash Jha’s Rajneeti, we feel like sniggering and a little bit like crying. Method acting in Bollywood sometimes is a metonym for costume design. We remember one leading man whose thoughtful contribution to his character was the acquisition of a pair of spectacles. And oh, the column inches spent on that moment of insight. Perhaps Katrina did not check out Priyanka Vadra and Sheila Dikshit’s saris. Perhaps we just need therapy
THE NEW CANDIDATE
Katrina Kaif studied women politicians for her role in Rajneeti. Photo : AP
Yo, stop sending your smug open letters to Chetan Bhagat. As MC Hammer said, you can’t touch this. The man is in Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people, alongside Nobel-prize winner Amartya Senand the doctor-author Atul Gawande. If you are feeling the itch to write an enraged letter to the editor (this means you) cease and desist. There’s no point.
MADDY AND SON
That old cutie Madhavan who will be soon seen in Tanu Weds Manu has come back in the news after something of an absence. For those whose hearts are warmed easily, some news about him for the cockles. His five-year-old son — a child with one of those modern names that serve yuppies and restaurants well — Vedaant is going to appear with him in a promotional video for an NGO soon. What does it say, when we look forward to some people’s ads more than other people’s films?
‘My Wife Covering Her Head Makes Me Squirm’
MANVENDRA SINGH, Politician
You donned a traditional Rajasthani avatar since joining politics. Doesn’t this duality — of modern and traditional — daunt you?
Right from Mayo School I used to meet boys from all over India, and then go back to Jodhpur, and my village. It was the same in college, in the US and UK; and when I was a journalist in Delhi. So switching cultural gears has never been difficult.
How did your time in the army influence you?
It was like being back in boarding school. The same cocooned life and bonding. I wanted that experience for my journalism — to understand the psychology of what goes on inside: how people are efficient under stress, how their effectiveness relies on the policies of the Centre.
Any experience in particular?
Yes. I volunteered to jump out of an aircraft to complete that experience. I understood why a human being would do such an unnatural thing — just because they want to feel they belong to a larger community.
History is your subject. What history lesson impacts your personal life?
The most important history lesson is summed up in that colloquial Indian saying apni aukaat mat bhoolo (‘don’t forget your standing’). History is full of people who thought they were irreplaceable and limitless.
Since marriage, your wife has covered her head in public. Does it bother you?
She also covers her face with a purdah sometimes, all of which — the expectations of culture and society — make me squirm a bit. I never really asked her to dress in a particular way. But she’s been brought up in a traditional Rajasthani milieu and is aware of its demands. She handles it better than me.
What from your own upbringing have you replicated, or not, with your kids?
They go to boarding school, and speak in Rajasthani at home, as I did. But I don’t push them towards pujas and reading the Hanuman Chalisa, as my mother and aunts did with me. Also, they touch their grandparents feet, but they don’t have to touch their parents’ feet, and sit on the ground in front of elders as we did.