Jai Ho Bombay

It was just the kind of balm that a bruised Mumbai needed after being brutally attacked not too many months ago.

Written by Namrata Zakaria | Published:March 8, 2009 5:50 am

Over some “chai and nashta”,denizens of ‘Bombay’ and ministers from Delhi restore the island city’s spirit

It was just the kind of balm that a bruised Mumbai needed after being brutally attacked not too many months ago. A warm evening of passionate denizens gathering over some Bombai “chai and nashta” at the venue that was to become the enduring image of the 26/11 attacks. Throw in it an Oscar-winner,that same gent who skipped the black-tie ceremony in favour of a kurta-pyjama,that same gent whose words are being sung by every Indian and every ‘Bombayite’,(everyone here,politicians and industrialists agreed to call it Bombay from now on),and you have a high tea that actually raises spirits.

When the achingly handsome BJP MP Vinod Khanna and his equally elegant wife,Kavita,decided to launch a Congressman’s book of poems—Kapil Sibal’s I Witness: Partial Observations—that irreverant master of ceremonies Suhel Seth said that in Delhi conspiracy theories would have abounded insisting “it was the BJP’s way of showing Congress ministers as doing little work but penning poems”. Other gems from this maverick ad-man forced the well-heeled to kick away their political correctness,as he took wicked digs at all politicians—Congress and BJP members alike.

Sibal and Gulzarsaab,whose Jai Ho,has now become the national anthem,took turns in reading from the book on a dais,while Seth discussed various topics of interest pertaining to the politically-charged verse.

When Seth asked Gulzar why the youth of today had forgotten about the genius of Rabindranath Tagore,the magnanimous gent blamed his generation for it. “The youth today has different mediums of information—CDs,DVDs and computers. We have failed in allowing them access to the classics in a language that they understand,” he pointed out.

He also paid Sibal the highest compliment saying that his poetry was heartfelt and came from his personal experience,and not just an exercise in rhyme or passing time.

“All good poetry is a combination of creativity,fiction and journalism,” said Gulzar,putting to rest those who liked Sibal’s verse to ninth standard poetry books. But when Sibal presented Gulzar with a beautifully penned Hindi poem called Jai Ho,written after Slumdog Millionaire swept the Academy Awards,all critics were silenced.

Towards the end,Kavita said that many guests didn’t show up for it still pained them to come to the hotel again. Many of those who showed up,at The Chambers Terrace of the Taj Mahal Hotel,had stepped here for the first time since the November strike.

Among the guests were Adi Godrej,who stood quietly and patiently,and greeted everyone warmly. He was curious to know when Sibal began writing,to which the Union Minister for Science and Technology replied when he was in college. Also spotted Raj and Dipti Salgaocar,who indulged in the feast of pau bhaji,pani puri and bhel,along with aam panna and thandai. Kavita’s sisters Czaee Shah and Gauri Pohoomul aided in entertaining the guests,along with their husbands Suketu Shah and Mohan Pohoomul,and mum Sarayu Daftary,who was wearing jasmines in her hair.

There were other culture vultures too: Bakul Patel and Manek Davar,espressing their anguish to Sibal,Tasneem Mehta,enchanted by Sibal’s Hindi verse,and Farooq Shaikh,who was glad he made it in time from his Andheri home. There were also Champa and Chakor Doshi,with their son Chirag; Venugopal Dhoot,Dilip and Manali Vengsarkar,and the very distracting sons of Vinod—Rahul and Akshaye Khanna.

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