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Editor's Diary
Editor’s DIARY
FSJ January, 2013

When Hema Malini once again put together a cultural function in her mother’s memory, I wondered what Sanjay Nirupam, the boorish Parliamentarian from the Congress-I, would have said about it if he had been there instead of the stately Kokilaben Ambani in the front row.

Over the years, Hema’s Jaya Smriti (a daughter’s annual tribute to her mother, Jaya Chakravarthy) has grown from one small evening to a well-attended three-day affair and the dancer-actress-MP has turned it into a platform to nurture new dance and music talent, thereby keeping alive a rich culture that must co-exist along with cinema.

So yes, there was naach-gaana with Hema herself performing two of her ballets, Mahalakshmi and Durga. Would a philistine like Nirupam who recently branded Smriti Irani a ‘thumkewali’ when he ran out of steam on a TV debate, have used any such adjectives for what Hema so gracefully presented on stage? I ask because Hema too, is an actor-politician (like Smriti Irani) and Jaya ‘Smriti’ was a reminder of the uncouth party spokesman’s contempt for the film industry.

In her own understated way, Hema has been saluting women by inviting Shabana, Jaya, Waheeda or Kokilaben as an honoured guest. So this year when she turned her many-watt smile on Kokilaben while presenting her with flowers, she was silently acknowledging the one woman who is a bridge between warring brothers, Mukesh and Anil Ambani.

There is a certain strength in Hema’s personality when she takes charge – whether in the way she arranged her daughter, Esha Deol’s wedding last year or in the manner she took over the mike while honouring the owner of New Woman, the magazine Hema has edited for years, for supporting Jaya Smriti with all their hoardings.   

Two evenings of Jaya Smriti were cancelled last month when Bal Thackeray passed away. There too, Hema had registered a strong presence when she had arrived at his residence to meet the ailing Shiv Sena leader. 

What would Nirupam call a woman like Hema who does what she pleases but does it with commanding dignity? As a rule, I don’t blindly root for woman-power but let’s boot out boor-power from our public life.

Aside: Instead of stomping in fury, Smriti Irani (of Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi fame, now a fiery BJP member) should be beaming because the moment any person resorts to abuse or an irrelevant, derogatory remark in a debate, it means he has lost the argument, he has no more valid points to put forth.

Therefore, Jaya Bachchan who once had to hear our Home Minister pass a snide one on her profession in Parliament and Smriti who had to bear Nirupam’s impotent defence, are actually winners, not victims.   

While Hema has been valiantly keeping cultural tradition alive, the film industry is simultaneously making way for technology to overwhelm their cinema. There is a pretty young girl from New York who actually did a Skype audition for the lead part in Vishwaroop (Vishwaroopam in Tamil, looking at a Jan release).

Kamal Haasan sat in Chennai and interviewed Pooja Kumar who was before her computer in NY. Kamal was looking for a replacement for Sonakshi Sinha who was no longer showing interest in his film. Within five days of the audition over Skype, Pooja found herself on a plane heading for the shoot of Vishwaroopam which happened in the US, Jordan and India.

Pooja had played Priyanka Chopra’s Manhattan friend in Anjaana Anjaani and had done some film and television work in NY before she caught Kamal’s eye and became his heroine.

So, has Pooja done some of the steamy scenes that Kamal is so famous for? “No,” laughs Pooja who was in India for the promotion of the film. “It’s an action-suspense film, not much romance.” But wait. Kamal has a Part 2 in the offing, “So maybe in Vishwaroopam 2,” she supplies.

Interestingly, Shekhar Kapur who plays a part in Vishwaroopam is also in the news – for going back to acting, his first true love, that too in a film made by another actor-director like himself. Of course, Shekhar will be in the news all through the New Year mainly for Paani, the film with which Aditya Chopra goes Titanic-gigantic for the first time, for a global audience.

Bharathi S Pradhan
Editor, The Film Street Journal

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