Anil Ambani’s Tounge-in-Cheek Reply To a Query on Why his Elder Son Had More Shares Than His Younger Son

Reliance shareholders’ meetings have been legendary from the time of Dhirubhai Ambani, known as much for the chatpata snacks served as for the juicy tid-bits that emerge from these meetings. The recent annual general meeting of Reliance Natural Resources Limited (RNRL) was not much different.

At the meeting one of the shareholders got up and stumped chairman Anil Ambani asking him to explain the discrepancy between share allotment to both his sons, reports Press Trust of India. While the elder Jai Anmol, 17, holds equity worth crores, his younger 13-year-old son Jai Anshul is left with a paltry 100 shares.

What was the reason for this, demanded the share-holder and pat came, Anil’s cheeky reply: “Now you know what happens to the younger one in a family.”

While the meet erupted into laughter Anil’s spontaneous reply made it obvious that the business tycoon hasn’t forgotten his very public battle with elder brother Mukesh Ambani over the ownership of the Reliance empire.

Anmol’s shares at today's closing price are worth Rs. 13.21 crore while Anshul's holding in the company is less than Rs 8,000. At the close of the trading today, RNRL was quoted at Rs 79.15 a share that puts the company's worth at Rs 12,926.23 crore even after the over 2.5 per cent slide in the value of the scrip.

Source: Mumbai mirror

"This is me breathing . . . "


says John Cusack's character, Martin Blank, as he prepares for his ten-year high school reunion by almost unconsciously loading a clip into his handgun and checking the chamber. I love Grosse Point Blank. It's an incredibly irresponsible movie with nothing but reverence for a by-gone era, some violence, and a whole lot of cynically glib dialogue. Love it, love it, love it. Somewhere in the back of my mind I'm constantly searching for open calls for the casting of GPBII: Son of Blank. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.

Movie quotes play through my head with about the same frequency as songs do, so there's nothing unusual about having one take up residence there for a little while, and the more I enjoy a movie, the more I've seen it, and there you go. Still, I try to take notice when one seems particularly stubborn about hanging onto my hippocampus, and this is one that has done just that. I'm not saying that a quote is recalled just for the purpose of trying to communicate something to myself. Rather, I think that when I do recall a quote, or snatch of song, some part of brain is working tirelessly away on some worry or other and recognizes the meaning. The old gray matter can be like a room full of people, and one of them can recognize something in another and say, "Oh man, don't leave yet. So-and-so's just got to meet you." And so, on the three-hundredth and sixty-second internal repetition, a connection is made. This is me breathing . . .

I'm a nail-biter. I don't mean that as a colorful expression of my anxious personality. Rather, I am literally a nail-biter. I try to be better about it. I generally fail. It's called chronic onychophagia, by the way, and only about 10% of men past the age of 30 engage in it. It's a rather complicated little symptom/condition. Lots of theories surround it. It's often coupled with other supposed compulsive behaviors, such as hair removal, skin removal, excessive washing, etc., and so often associated with obsessive/compulsive disorders. But it can also be diagnosed as a simple ingrained behavioral response, or an addiction, or as a kind of sublimated grooming instinct. I don't know quite what to make of it, except to say that I do it when I'm bored and when I'm anxious, occasionally without conscious thought, and that I find it enormously gratifying for some reason. I'd also like to stop. This is me breathing . . .

I have many habits. I have a lot of trouble distinguishing between my habits and possible compulsive behaviors. I'm just not sure where one draws the line. My chronic onychophagia (it's just a fun way to say it) is probably the most physically destructive h/pcb I currently engage in, though my sincere and abiding love of good beer is obviously not a huge benefit to my person. I've had worser ones in the past -- such as smoking -- but really, most of these behaviors are a little more mental than demonstrative. They may occasionally creep out in behavior, like finger-tapping or object-arranging, but as I've matured (ahem: grown older at least in terms of years) these demonstrations have lessened, either by will or accident. Because the h/pcbs can be so inexplicably internal, I often wonder just how unique they are, how many others experience them in the ways I do? I know I'm not alone. I know that. But is it maybe everyone, in their own ways? Is there a norm after all? This is me breathing . . .

They sometimes say (They being rather fond of sweeping generalizations) that life happens in cycles, and not just the easily observable variety, such as birth-life-death, or spring-summer-fall-winter. Coincidence, in the purest meaning of the word, occurs over and over again. When a celebrity dies, we await the next two to follow. Read a book about little people and, though you'd swear it's never happened before, you'll notice nearly a dozen just going about your day. The cause-and-effect is difficult to track here, though plenty of people will chalk it up to simple mental association. The brain does have a habit of seeking out patterns, rhythms and symmetries. Yet I'm inclined to believe that the world outside our minds meets us halfway, more often than not. I'm not proposing anything particularly mystical here; linear logic simply doesn't explain everything. Take, for example, weddings. What is the explanation for my attending four weddings in the next four months, including my own, and the three others that friends of mine are attending during that same period? Incidences align, and it seems to me that attributing such alignments solely to human behavior is at best naive, at worst arrogant. It's just that we're a little obsessed with ourselves, and a little in love with answers. We're also a little in love with mystery, which I admit keeps me returning to a sense of wonder when I'm given the option. This is me breathing . . .

I've been using The Big Show to help motivate me in recent efforts to curb my chronic onychophagia, which is in one sense apt, and in another, ironic. The last time I was particularly successful in ceasing the mania was during rehearsal for The Glass Menagerie, way back in 2002. I was playing a guy bent on self-improvement, who cared a lot about the impression he made on others, and it helped. Wherefore, then, ironic? Because one thing I have figured out about this behavior is that it is provoked by anxiety. When I got my first job, with a moving company, they told us that the two most stressful occasions in a person's life are a moving day and wedding day. Well, I'm here to tell you that the days leading up to said day are no piece of cake, neither. Planning a wedding is rife with reasons to return to old, comforting cycles, from the politics of negotiation to the inner-searching of a person preparing to make the change of his and/or her li(f/v)e/s. God bless. It's enough to make a fella' return to smoking. This is me breathing . . .

Where experience and discovery meet, that's good acting. You want your performance to be informed by all you've seen and done, to be true to your understanding of the world, but also to embody the questions that live in a new, first-time moment. Acting in the theatre can satisfy both my compulsion for repetition and order, and my appetite for surprise and wonder. The ultimate balance between the two is an incredibly fragile thing: It only exists for half moments, most of the time, and most of the time such moments can't be savored, lest one risks destroying them. They must simply be, and then pass. As a younger actor, I became pretty obsessed with rehearsing a role to mechanical perfection, with making good choices and being able to reproduce them exactly. The majority of my adult craft has been a process of learning about the other side of that coin, about the incredible necessity for surprise and improvisation. Hell: You can't possibly see enough possibilities to be effective without inviting forces of chance to have their say. We're at the mercy of chance -- from found money to global financial market crises -- every moment of every day, so it is in some ways natural to value ritual, to seek cycles. This is me breathing . . .

We are not, however, our cycles. (Much as we may sometimes like to be.) We're not even our choices. (Although I imagine most of us would desperately insist that is exactly what we are.) No, we're something altogether else, a synthesis of choice and chance, a combination of forces creating . . . what, exactly? Well, us. I don't know how else to say it. With every inhale, and every exhale, forces are at work, within and without. It's a little frightening to think of things this way, but fear and excitement are a couple of those component forces. When I look at things this way, it seems apparent to me that my habits are in substance simply misdirected energy, force that could be applied to making more choices or, perhaps, appreciating more chances. Then again, maybe they're leading me toward their own chances and choices. The best one can do is to keep breathing, through whatever may come.

Feroz Khan's Daughter Laila Khan

In 1965, Feroz Khan married Sundari. They had two children together, Laila Khan and Fardeen Khan (b. 1974).

Feroz's daughter and Fardeen Khan's Sister Laila Khan is an artist since childhood and she held her first solo show of her paintings in New Delhi in 2001. Her work has been included in many auctions and she has participated in several shows in India and abroad.

Laila married Indian tennis player Rohit Rajpal in December, 1998. She then moved from Mumbai to Delhi to be part of Rajpal’s family.

She seperated from her husband Rohit almost a year ago and is now rumored to be dating Pooja Bedi's ex-husband, Farhan Furniturewalla.



Laila with Cousins Suzanne Khan Roshan (wife of Hrithik Roshan) and Simone Khan pose for photographers at a press preview of one of Laila Khan's Exhibitions




Laila Khan With Cousins and Aunt Zarine Khan











Laila With Rageshwari









Some more photos

Buzz Buzz


This morning I woke with my usual weekday alarm, at 6:00, but pressed the snooze for a luxuriant nine-minute extension. I think I had a little too much salt in my dinner last night, and it made me especially dehydrated and imbalanced. Once I was up, I dallied in my rituals, adding little preparations for the weekend until I felt capable of safely getting out the free weights and plugging into my headphones. I'm back on a schedule of each morning alternating between upper body and lower, and today was upper. The advantage of a lower-body morning is that I can stretch, check in a little and then just get out and start jogging; my mind will clear eventually in the course of the run. On an upper day, I have to rally my mental facilities in other ways. If I dived straight in to push-ups and curls in a fugue state I would undoubtedly succeed admirably at hurting myself, either by exacerbating old injury(ies) or collecting a new one by dropping a lump of iron onto my person. Either way, it's best to be alert before beginning.

As I shook out, and rallied (with admittedly pitiful momentum) my resources, I had this thought: Life is pretty difficult.

Not my life, mind you: Life. As in, living. It occurred to me this morning that just getting by, living a life that one doesn't hate, is in itself a pretty big accomplishment. I think this is true to varying degrees for everyone. Some obviously have more difficult lives than others. I wouldn't want to compare my struggles to save enough money to move into a bigger apartment to, say, the efforts of any given Sudanese refugee to avoid a death full of indignity and suffering. No contest: New York real estate wins every time. But in the strange and ambiguous state between sleeping and waking this morning I had this kind of clear, unexpected insight. Living is tricky business.

I sometimes think the major reason I continue acting is because otherwise I would feel stifled and bored. I believe that is entirely possible, but I also believe that it's an irrational fear, because life itself, the day-to-day efforts, are endlessly complex and engaging. They ought to be, anyway. Ask yourself, is there any activity in the world that I can't be improving myself in, that can't lead to something more, that won't at any given moment surprise me completely? Cooking, for instance. For the past few evenings, in the interests of banishing Fiancee Megan's lingering cold and using more of our extant groceries, I've been making soup for dinner. The past three times we've had it, I've made it three different ways, according to what was at hand and what I felt might improve the balance of flavors and the health effects. Last night, upon tasting it, I thought I'd nailed it pretty good. It tasted appetizing, strong and rather complex. I congratulated myself. Then, this morning, I was forced into the realization that it didn't work. I could probably work on my basic vegetable-broth soup for the rest of my life and always be surprised and, since I enjoy cooking, I just might. Which, I suppose, is the key: enjoying oneself. It makes for being alert, observant, emotionally invested -- all things that help the appreciation of the complexities of a given activity come far more naturally. At the start of college, my then-girlfriend and I went to dinner with a fellow freshman acting major and he asked us why we were there, studying theatre. I labored over a personal and meaningful answer. She simply said, "I suppose because it's one of the few things in life that makes me genuinely happy."

I try to exercise every morning for two basic reasons; I'm vain and mildly masochistic. No really: I am. No, really, I (try to) exercise every morning because I want to be ready to perform acrobalance and other physical feats whenever they're called for, and because good habits breed themselves. I've learned to enjoy it, at that (though I'd much rather be lifting a flyer than weights). I try to make it a part of my regular ol' life. Even if I gave up acting tomorrow, I'd want to keep it up. It's a choice not just for my Third Life(TM) but for my first life. It makes for a slightly trickier life, of course. Time must be made, bedtimes must be adhered to, diet must be balanced, injury must be courted, etc. But, then again, everything we choose for ourselves makes for a slightly trickier life, doesn't it? It's always one more thing. The simplest life would be about just getting by, and even that life is usually fraught with struggle and surprise.

I have on occasion been accused of taking too much on, especially in the way of theatre work. At such accusations I generally scoff with a scoffing scoffation. I can get spread thinner than is good for me, of course, but I work because it makes me happy. I like work. Of a certain variety. Theatre work most of all. Acting in general next. Wedding planning ... mmm ... somewhere in the middle. Day job, not so much. But in a certain sense, it's all good stuff. I thought that during this time of so much change and planning I would have nothing to report on the acting work front. I've been intentionally avoiding travel and long-term commitments in the interests of keeping things as simple as possible for the next month or so. Yet today I updated Loki's Apiary and noticed that I had more entries for this month than any other yet this year. There are any number of explanations for this, but at least one of them is that life is tricky. And I like tricky.

Reading Room


I've got to learn not to resent . . . well: anything; basically. Resentment is not a helpful emotion in general and, if you are allowed a little perspective, you often have the double-pleasure of experiencing both the pleasantness of resentment and--later on--the pleasantness of realizing, "Oh God; I was such an ass to resent what I was about two weeks ago resenting."

Yesterday I worked. I worked two smallish jobs, actually: this one & this one. (It's a good day when an actor can be excused from his or her day job for paying acting work, but it's a great day when said actor be similarly gainfully employed and make more money than he or she would at his or her day job.) I had, in brief, a very lovely day indeed. It was only today, after sitting down to consider it, that I had a brief pang of realization that yesterday seems as though it were structured to point up my aforementioned fault. Well, regret is probably an even less useful emotion than resentment, so I shan't linger on it, lest I propagate it. I will, however, stop getting all Charlotte Brontë on my syntax and specify my observation in the hopes that it keeps me from getting stupider (i.e., more [ah regret!] resentful) in the future.

The first gig was a film gig, of sorts: an industrial for a company known as Lancer Insurance. This was, in a sense, a cushy gig. All I had to do was be familiar enough with the script to be able to perform it convincingly off a teleprompter. It was my first experience using a teleprompter, in fact. (Those of you familiar with Anchorman -- it's absolutely true; if it had been on there, I would have read it aloud.) It was essentially an interview, my scene, and a bona fide lawyer was off-screen asking his side of the interview off a paper, while I read my responses off the teleprompter, trying as hard as I could to make it look like I was looking a guy in the face. The screen had a couple of stationary arrows on each side, the which are supposed to be where I was reading at a given moment, though an operator was pacing the scroll specifically according to my the rate of my performance. He did a pretty good job, too, save a couple of times when I thoughtfully paused and had to tamp down terror as I noticed the scroll, in fact, didn't. The hardest part for me was avoiding left-to-right eye movement; I tried to look between the arrows and enforce peripheral perception, a little like looking at one of those hidden-picture stereographs. ("Over there?! That's just a guy in a suit!")

What struck me about the gig was that, in spite of having no lines to learn -- or perhaps, as a direct result of it -- this job ought to have been rather difficult. I mean, acting itself often requires us to accept a huge amount of ridiculous non-reality and to play for truth right along with it, but here was a complete and utter refutation of the actor's need for believable circumstances, environment, or even a scene partner with whom to make eye contact. I was sitting at a table, mic'd up, against a giant green screen, reading from a projection with a backdrop of cameras, lights, technicians and the various tools of the trade to be found in any film or photography studio. My imagination was the only recourse I had, and it served me well, but on top of all that, I was being asked to read and make it alive. Why wasn't this more difficult? Where had I been doing this, getting such good practice that I barely registered the challenges it presented?

My latter gig that day was a return to NYU for the Steinberg Lab, which is a program in which undergraduate playwrights get to workshop their writing, in part by way of casting actors to perform readings for them and a few of their closest colleagues. Most of the work I get through NYU involves some sort of staged reading, live or for film, and as I proceeded to wing it with an especially abstract script on Monday, I realized that this plethora of readings I've been doing of late is exactly what allowed me to be perfectly relaxed in the surreal environment of the teleprompter. In fact, teleprompters are easier than scripts in many respects. The key to a good staged reading is stealing as many moments away from the page as possible to make eye contact, all without losing your place (or, at least, being able to effectively fill moments spent rediscovering your place). Though you're deprived of eye contact with a teleprompter, you're also saved the logistical struggle and potential whiplash of a script-in-hand read. Either way, the unique skill of reading something as though it's just coming to you, motivated by the moments before, is like how one gets to Carnegie Hall.

I do not mean taking the N/R/Q to 57th Street.

So thank you, one and all, you workshopping playwrights, you producers looking for backing, you theatre-philes and patient givers of feedback. Thank you university teachers, new-works encouragers and experimentally inclined venue managers. Thanks everyone, for all the reading work. I knew not what a valuable skill reading could be!

Maria Goretti With Children Zeke Zidaan and Zene Zoe at the Opening of a Children's Boutique



Picture: Mommy has her hands full! Maria Goretti with Her Sons

Kidding around: Niharika Khan (wife of actor Ayub Khan) along with Tehseen Rizvi opened a children's clothing boutique called Alizah at Seven Bungalows, Mumbai. Spotted at the event was Maria Goretti with kids Zeke Zidaan and Zene Zoe besides telly actors Nasir Kazi and Ashish Kaul among others.

Smita Thackarey With Son Rahul At a Salon Launch

Smita Thackarey and Madhur Bhandarkar were chief guests at the launch of hair stylist Shiva's new salon called Shiva's Stylo at Lokhandwala Complex, Andheri. Smita came with her son Rahul (Grandson of Balasaheb Thackeray), they sat for the inauguration pooja and prayed for the success of the new venture. Rahul is the son of Balasaheb Thackrey's second son Jaidev.


Smita Thackarey Married Jaidev in 1987. She is estranged from him since the mid-'90s.

Smita says "My husband was attracted to other women and left me with my children. I found our future very bleak and in a time of distress my father-in-law supported me and asked me to stay back." Jaidev left home some years ago but Smita lives on the first floor of Matoshree, Balasaheb on the second.

Smita produced several Hindi Films in the late 1990's one of which was David Dhawan directed Haseena Maan Jaayegi is a 1999 starring Govinda, Sanjay Dutt, Karishma Kapoor and Pooja Batra

Car Crazy Subhaan


While Akshay's son Aarav's birthday was celebrated on15th September the actor's good friend and producer Sajid Nadiadwala's six-year-old Subhaan celebrates his on 18th Sep. While Aarav had a carnival-themed party, buddy Subhaan wanted a Hawaiian theme.



Private affair
Says Mommy, "Subhaan knew what he wanted. He's a six-year-old but thinks like a grown up. He even went to Sajid's office and printed and designed the invitations for his party."
Wardha plans to invite kids from Subhaan's school along with friends from the industry. "Since it's the month of Ramzaan, we planned a small, private affair involving only close friends. I didn't want to disappoint Subhaan again this year. Last year, we didn't have a party, and we thought he deserved one this time!"

Hummer for my pal
Aarav and Subhaan who go to the same school, are close friends. For Aarav's birthday, Subhaan wanted to pick up his own gift for Aarav, and got him a remote-controlled Hummer. Meanwhile, the Nadiadwalas got him a techno-robot that moves and picks up things around.

Cars for the men
Wardha adds that her beta is totally into bikes and cars. They got him a Volkswagen Beetle he wanted. Sajid, meanwhile, has bought himself a Bentley. Moreover Subhaan wants all his friends to go back with return gifts.

So there are goodie bags for everyone, which includes specially printed T-shirts with personal pictures on them."

Like fathers, like sons
Sajid and Akshay are not just best friends forever, they also went to the same school and their wives have delivered babies in the same room of a hospital. Their sons are BFFs too!

"3: We are now held within un-, sub- or supernatural forces. Discuss."


The comment thread on my last post (see 9/17/08) has me seriously jonesing for a good Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead quote match. For those of you unfamiliar with the play and/or movie, it's essentially an absurdist retelling of Hamlet from the vantage point of the two minor characters made titular ("of a title," you perverts). It's a fave. It's often the fave, depending on mood, time of day, strength of coffee and relative distance of Saturn from Venus. So, some favorite quotes, checked against Wikiquote, from which even more can be found...


Rosencrantz

"Out we come, bloodied and squalling, with the knowledge that for all the points of the compass, there's only one direction, and time is its only measure."

"Life in a box is better than no life at all, I expect."

"We'll be all right. I suppose we just go on."


Guildenstern (clearly the part I want)

"I mean, you wouldn't bet on it. I mean, I would, but you wouldn't."

"It must be indicative of something besides the redistribution of wealth."

"What could we possibly have in common except our situation?"

"All your life you live so close to truth it becomes a permanent blur in the corner of your eye. And when something nudges it into outline, it's like being ambushed by a grotesque."

"A man talking sense to himself is no madder than a man talking nonsense not to himself."

"Don't you discriminate at all?!"

"If we had a destiny, then so had he, and if this is ours, then that was his, and if there are no explanations for us, then let there be none for him."

"...now you see him, now you don't, that's the only thing that's real..."

"Pragmatism. Is that all you have to offer?"

"No, no, no…death is not. Death isn't. Take my meaning? Death is the ultimate negative. Not-being. You can't not be on a boat."


The Player

"The bad end unhappily, the good unluckily. That is what tragedy means."

"We do on stage things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else."

"We are tied down to a language which makes up in obscurity what it lacks in style."

"Hamlet…in love…with the old man's daughter…the old man…thinks."


Cobbled dialogue

"So there you are...stark, raving sane..."

"I don't believe in it anyway ... What? ... England. ... Just a conspiracy of cartographers, you mean?"

Mukesh Ambani's Children Akash, Isha and Anant with Tina and Anil's Sons














More Photographs of Mukesh Ambani's children


Mukesh Ambani is married to Nita Ambani, who looks after the social and charitable arm of Reliance Industries. They have three children: Akash, Isha and Anant.

Mukesh Ambani's daughter Isha Ambani has grabbed the second position on a Forbes list of billionaire heiresses. (Sep 2008)

About 16-year-old Isha, it said that Mukesh Ambani's only daughter is ‘just a teenager but already has her own stake in the family's Reliance Industries, worth about USD 80 million’.













Nita and Mukesh Ambani With Sons Akash and Anant

Akshay Kumar Has Dedicated Animation Film Jumbo to His Son Aarav



The film is about a father’s unconditional love for his son

Akshay Kumar is all set to give his son Aarav a very precious gift. Akki will be dedicating an entire film titled Jumbo, which is produced by Percept Picture Company. Akshay will not only lend his voice to the central character Jumbo but will also be a sutradhar (narrator) in the film.

When contacted, Akshay Kumar confirmed the news and said, "The reason for me doing this animation film is purely because how it made me feel. Watching it brought back so many emotions that I remembered as a child. Children don’t just need humour or action in their lives, they also need lessons, love and understanding. This film made me think so much about my son that I was absolutely ready to be part of it. Like my father used to say, ‘It’s not just about doing the big and best things all the time. Life is about doing what is important and what is right.’ This is exactly how I felt."

Commenting on the film’s subject, Akshay said, "The film is about the connection that the baby elephant is unable to have with his father, and how his father sacrifices everything for his country. It’s also about the love and support a mother gives her child. I think every child should experience and witness this. Yes it’s an animated film but its message should be followed by all children. Even if only a handful of children see this film, it will make a difference in their lives. It’s a lovely family story. I too will do anything for my son.

When contacted, Shailendra Singh of PPC said, "I am very excited to be working with Akshay on Jumbo. He is indeed our Jumbo." Jumbo will release this Christmas and will be Akshay’s first release after Singh Is Kinng.

Wills On Film


Ha-ha; that's Duran Duran stuck in your head all day, sucker!

What? I'm old? Yeah, well . . .

. . . sh'up.

Actually: I've not been recorded on film recently. ("No, no...what you've been is not on boats.") What I've been, is a guest in another of Denny Lawrence's film classes at NYU. This time, it was a sort of introductory directing class for freshmen who had not been there yet three weeks. I and Colleague Christa Kimlicko Jones served as actors at a first read, as Denny demonstrated his communication techniques, and encouraged class discussions. In addition -- the very next day, in fact -- I was cast in an industrial that is filming next week, the details of which are available over at Loki's Apiary. (Loki's motto: Idle hands are the Devil's playground...and besides: busy bees make more money, honey.)

The class was outstanding, and afterward was even better, as Denny, Christa and I lingered to discuss the same topics we were outlining for young minds in the hour before. What's very interesting and necessary about the work Denny does for these students is that he includes a priority for the process involved in creating not only a good film, but a film that is recording good acting work. It may seem basic, this priority for good acting, but it's not at all. Many filmmakers, be they young or old, come close to disregarding any kind of process related to the actors at all. Hitchcock is famously quoted as comparing actors to cattle, and this sentiment is a tempting one for someone with all the power and responsibilities of a film director. After all, unlike theatre, a film never leaves their control (barring editorial exceptions, of course). They get the final say in the editing room, and I suppose it can be tempting in these circumstances to regard the actor's work as simple raw material that is spun out, manufactured. But it's not, and Denny appreciates this, and encourages his students to be intimate with an actor's process in order to better communicate with one. So this class was, for many there, the introduction of that idea.

The next morning, in the audition for the industrial, I was reminded of the class over and over again. Like the class, the audition was held at a table and with scripts in hand. I read my side of a scene with the casting director, and for the first time had that connection while reading it. Though quite straight-forward, it was not a simple scene. My character had to relate details of his life that created strong, involuntary emotional responses in him, yet he wanted above all to remain strong in the face of the challenge. In other words, as an actor I needed to make clear and believable my emotional reactions without baring them, or making the scene all about them. (It's kind of the secret game of acting, this pretense on both the actors' and the audience's parts that what they're there for is the plot or themes . . . we all know what we're really there for.) Anyway, typically the way I approach this kind of challenge is to play the intention of the character, what he wants, and listen. Just listen. When I really hear the words being said, the emotion comes of itself, and I can play the intention of continuing with strength through the challenge of those emotions.

"Intention" is just one of many terms we bandied about in class on Tuesday while trying to explain an actor's process and priorities to so many neophytes. It's difficult to say how much of our acting vocabulary actually made sense to the students, being as most of it is conceptual in nature. Words with simpler meanings in the rest of the world -- intention, obstacle, process, action -- are used as signifiers of things otherwise unnamed and intangible in an actor's world. Aptly enough, whether or not our words made sense to them, I could see our demonstrations, our "actions," getting through. Before one run, a student would look confused about, say, why it was important not to lead an actor into a certain goal. Then we would run a page, with Denny's coaching, and the same student would ask a very insightful (not to mention interested) question about how to direct an actor without determining the specific outcome. At the same time I was working to put years of practice into comprehensible words, the students were working at discovering the value in what they were witnessing. In this way, it was very similar to the feeling one gets from a good and productive rehearsal: a mutual and inclusive process of exploration and discovery. And we talked about that feeling in class, at that.

Another good feeling is when you get to the end of an audition and the casting director says to you, "Great work. Thank you. You've got the job." The occasions for this feeling are extremely rare, if for no other reason than that normally the casting director wants to get to the end of his or her day before making any decisions. I had occasion for this feeling at the end of my audition yesterday, and I'm probably still glowing just a bit. I mean, really, it's just an industrial -- less than a day's work, and for corporate purposes. But I can't fight this feeling (anymore). It's not at all a humble emotion. Uh-uh. No. I, plainly, rule. For now. What's curious for me to consider is that I think I did so well in the audition at least in part because of the activities of the day before. Having that time with colleagues, to consider and talk about how we work when we're working well, probably had a lot to do with the calm and clarity with which I approached the challenges of my audition. I could use more of that.

In the conversation amongst us all after class, we got to talking about the actor's process more, and specifically how it relates to a film set. It's encouraging to know that there are people like Denny out there making films with care about the acting aspect of them, and spreading that priority to future film makers. I really love film (et al), as a medium. I'm a big fan of theatre, and a big fan of photography, so the merging of the two is and always has been a very worthwhile prospect to me. I'd really like to act in a film -- anything with a narrative, in which I play a character with significant dialogue -- and do it soon. I've stayed away for a variety of (mostly lame) reasons, and one of those is a misconception of the film set being a place where the actor doesn't actually have a lot to contribute, or a process to be nurtured. The emphasis is on crank it out, get it right, edit and print it, or so it's always seemed.

Now? Now I'm rethinking that.

Tina Ambani With Son Jai Anshul at the Premier of 'Rock on'



Jai Anshul was photographed at the premier of Farhan Akhtar’s acting debut ‘Rock On’ which was held in Imax Wadala, Mumbai on Thursday, 28th August 2008. Jai Anshul was there with his Mother Tina Ambani.








Himesh Reshammiya's Son Swayam is Dad's Lucky Mascot



Till now, Himesh Reshammiya kept his family, wife Komal and son Swayam, a closely guarded secret. Last year, we managed to uncover the fact that Swayam studies at the Utpal Sanghvi School in Std 5. Now apparently, 11-year old Swayam is also his dad's lucky mascot and BO astrologer.



Big list
Says a source from T-Series (producer of Karzzzz), "Himesh Reshammiya has made a huge list of the people he wants to invite for the first viewing of Karzzzz which includes the whole cast and crew of the original cast (Subhash Ghai, Rishi Kapoor, Tina Ambani, Simi Garewal, Raj Kiran) and also a lot of other prominent names from the film industry but the first person he wants to show his latest film, is his own son Swayam. Himesh feels that's his son's sense of prediction is amazing. Himesh's faith in his son's predictions is simply amazing! Everything he does in films is according to what Swayam tells him."

Perfect predictions
Himesh says, "Swayam is my lucky mascot no doubt. He saw Aap Kaa Surroor and said it would be a hit but he also said that I have to work even harder and be the best. In Karzzzz, I have tried to do my best and something new that doesn't disappoint my fans but it is his opinion which matters to me. Swayam has been surprisingly 100 per cent accurate with his predictions till date for all the films he's seen in the last two years. All the films he predicted would be super hits — Rang De Basanti, Om Shanti Om, Chak De India, Welcome and this year's Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na and Singh Is Kinng — have become major money spinners at the BO."

He's a charm
Himesh adds, "Even with music, his sensibilities of judging a hit song is amazing! He loved the music of Karzzzz when he heard it and said it would be a hit after which Bhushan Kumar (of T-Series) received an unprece- dented response for the music from sales. So I truly want Swayam's opinion when he sees Karzzzz. His opinion is non-biased and he's my lucky charm. I hope he loves my latest film."Himesh says his relationship with Swayam is more as a friend than father-son one. "I am a little strict when it's required or when I need to guide him but mostly I am more a friend than a father."

Source: Mid-day

The Greatest Show in Long Island City


Last night I helped set up, then attended, one of the best shows I've seen in a long time. It was the wedding of Friends Zoe Klein and Dave Paris, of Paradizo Dance fame, and it was quite an affair, both ambitious and intimate. Dave and Zoe put together a circus-themed wedding at a really cool venue in the LIC: The Foundry. Check out some pictures of the venue, then imagine that, with aerial rigging hung and a different circus-themed booth in every nook. As I said -- ambitious -- but with all the spectacle and performances, it was still a ceremony with its head on straight. One really felt that the best and most important thing happening last night was the union of two people with a special relationship. It was, in many ways, a far more successful and satisfying piece of theatre than I've seen in years.

The whole shindig didn't start until 5:30, but I sprouted up around 1:00 in promise to help Zoe pull it all together. I found there Friend Tiffany Kraus, of Kirkos association, which was a very welcome reunion indeed. I also found Friend Cody suspended from the rafters on white fabric -- she was scheduled to perform that evening, after the ceremony -- and it began to occur to me just how much of my former circus life might revisit me that evening. This is not necessarily all good, as I did more circus at a time when I was somewhat younger (read: a whole lot stupider). Nevertheless, I was excited by the prospect. I miss my days of regular ceiling-hanging and handstand-failing. Tiffany and I threw ourselves into candle placement, sunflower trimming and chuppah building, and the time flew by.

One of the splendid things that Zoe and Dave requested of their guests was that everyone dress in exuberant colors, along a specific circus theme of their choosing. Suggestions included ring master, trapeze artist, elephant, side-show denizen, etc. As things got under way, a completely various assortment of characters rolled into the place, some simply a little on the colorful side, others costumed to the nines and, of course, many genuine circus sorts didn't even have to try. Dave and Zoe themselves dressed in performance clothing for the ceremony, rather than a tux and gown. You might imagine this made the whole thing a boisterous occasion, and it was, but also very friendly, very communicative. Friends Kate Magram and Bronwyn Sims (Actor ~ Aerialist ~ Acrobat) were in attendance, too, bringing the total Kirkos number to five. It was, in brief, unexpectedly meaningful in a very personal way.

The most impressive part of Paradizo Dance's work for me is the way in which it blends Dave and Zoe's backgrounds and enthusiasms to create really flavorful performance that just about deserves its own category. Dave has been a competitive salsa dancer for years, and Zoe a more modern dancer and acrobat, and together they do inspired partner routines that are big on lyricism, lifts and lusty lunges (consonance is my big contribution). If you haven't seen any of their video, do. Even if the picture quality is poor, you'll be impressed within ten seconds. In fact, the movement and stunts are so impressive that it takes one a while to appreciate that everything is working on a higher level than that, that the grace of their movements is connected to specific emotion, choreographed with pleasing synchronicity to musical accompaniment. In other words, they've learned from each other's craft and used all of it to bring out a clear, urgent and rewarding communication with the audience. It's just lovely. That aesthetic is one they share with their friends, as was proven by the performers there last night -- dancers, aerialist and juggler. Paradizo Dance ended the evening's performances with a duet of their own. Needless to say, it brought the house down.

What was more impressive than the lifts, tricks and decor, even more than the example of a successful and happy life lived somewhere on the edges, was the way in which Zoe and Dave are so at ease, so at home with that life. It was a beautiful thing to witness, a public acknowledgement and demonstration of that agreement, that accord. Weddings are funny, in that no matter what your aesthetic or priority, they're invariably idealizations of your life. You work pretty damn hard to make them a concentrated dose of the goodness you wish for yourselves, and that others hopefully will wish for you. So, like theatre, they're not real. Oh God, how we'd hate them if they were.

As unreal as they may be, still, they are very, very important.

Anil Ambani With His Sons Jai Anmol and Jai Anshul



Industrialist Anil Ambani (L) along with his sons leaves Prateeksha - one of the residences of actor Amitabh Bachchan after a Sangeet-traditional Indian pre-marriage musical ceremony of his son' Abhishek's marriage to Aishwarya Rai, in Mumbai, early 19 April 2007.

Saba Ali Khan Designing Jewellery for Brother Saif's Girlfriend, Kareena Kapoor

In its latest issue, People magazine carries an interesting piece about Saba Ali Khan's bond with Kareena Kapoor - She is designing jewellery for Kareena.

And this is not the only work that will keep Saba busy. Not it's not Bollywood, but dad Nawab Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi has quite a few plans in mind for her. Here's an excerpt:

Between grooming herself as the probable trustee of her royal family's vast properties and honing her talent as a jewellery designer, Saba Ali Khan is a busy woman. But when her famous elder brother and Bollywood superstar Saif Ali Khan came to her with a request -- to design a sparkling, new piece for his ladylove Kareena Kapoor on her birthday -- Saba readily agreed to make time.

And because it is for a 'special someone' in her brother's life, Saba's putting a lot of thought into it. "I would love to make her something. But the deadline is too soon. I will need time as it has to be a gorgeous piece," she confesses. That may mean that Kareena will not receive Saba's creation on September 21, when she celebrates her birthday. Instead, Saba hopes it will be ready by New Year.

This is a decisive month for the 32-year-old second born of Nawab Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi and Sharmila Tagore. In an announcement at the family's Ahmedabad Palace in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh [Images], Pataudi recently proposed Saba's name for the post of naib mutawalli or deputy chief trustee to the family's properties. (Pataudi is the current mutawalli or caretaker of the Auqaf-e-Shahi of Bhopal. Auqaf-e-Shahi refers to all those princely endowments or properties that are of religious or charitable significance. The mutawalli is responsible for the upkeep of mosques, dargahs and Islamic shrines belonging to the erstwhile Bhopal princedom.)

The matter of Saba's appointment will come up for acceptance before the Waqf board in mid-September. If she does become naib mutawalli, she will be in line to succeed her father. If and when that happens, she could be the first woman in the country to assume the head of an Auqaf-e-Shahi since the end of the princely era.

While Saba is not thinking too far ahead, she takes the faith reposed in her by her father seriously. She says, "I am already reading up a lot and trying my best to understand our ancestral role and the history of our family. My father is still the mutawalli and I have been observing him and trying to learn from him. If it [the responsibility] does come to me I will do my best to carry out my duties in a fitting manner."

Pataudi declined to comment too much on his daughter's new responsibility but hinted that she has the right personality for it. "I chose Saba because she has the time and the inclination to take it up. She is a soft and stable person. These qualities will help her. The others are too busy. Right now, her name has only been proposed as the naib mutawalli. It's a religious and administrative role, so she will have to see how it goes."

It is understandable why Pataudi perceives Saba as the better suited of his three children for the role of the head of a Nawab family. All the three Pataudis grew up imbibing from their grandmother the teachings of the Koran, the importance of tehzeeb and lihaaz, the value of the purdah and other Islamic traditions. But Saif and Soha -- also an actress -- chose glamorous Bollywood careers while Saba adopted a quieter and more pious existence.

"I am more conventional," she says comparing herself to her siblings, but adds, "I am also more flexible and adaptable than Saif and Soha, who are more strong-willed. My nature being what it is, I have adopted the traditional teachings in my own life."

Saba's taste for the fine fabrics and intricately embroidered clothes of the past, ancient jewellery and heirlooms reflect this to a large extent. She's partial to salwar-kameezes; she wears jeans or trousers on visits abroad but "doesn't dress to reveal". She also admits to "pinching all of [her] mother's jewels and saris" on occasional visits to their ancestral homes in Bhopal or Pataudi. "Maybe I just connect with the older era more than the generation of today. I always appreciated my grandmother's beautiful outfits, the exquisite jewellery and artifacts in our homes. That karigari cannot be replicated today."

Even if her beliefs are in the conservative mould, Saba does see herself as a confluence of both old and new ideas. "My parents capsuled within themselves both the modern and traditional world and they passed on the synthesis to all of us," she points out. She enjoys watching films (naturally, all her mother's, brother's and sister's top the list) and going out with friends but "doesn't smoke or drink".

The Pataudis are a close-knit bunch and family is of utmost importance to Saba. "We all give each other space and do not interfere in each others' lives," says Saba, who has grown to be friends with Kareena, Saif's girlfriend for over a year now. "I find her highly spirited yet thoughtful," she says of Kareena. "I am also very fond of my niece Sarah and nephew Ibrahim [Saif's kids from his earlier marriage to actress Amrita Singh]."

In the picture: Saba's creation for Kareena.

Her career as jewellery designer was a natural extension of Saba's aesthetic sense, developed while being raised in an environment surrounded by so much beauty. After finishing her education at the British School in New Delhi [Images], Saba completed a course in advertising from the Delhi College of Art and headed to the Gemological Institute of America in 1997. "I never thought I was a career girl but after the course, I was talented enough to make a mark in this profession," says Saba.

As for following her brother and sister into films, that was never an option for Saba, who calls herself "too shy to go up there on the screen". But she doesn't rule out designing jewellery for films if given an opportunity.

Saba's jewellery line is simply called Saba and is an eclectic mix of precious and semi-precious stones. Once again, the underlying theme in most of her designs is the juxtaposition of the modern and classic. "I design for today's generation so my designs have a modern feel but they also have a classical element." Her next big project is designing a Diwali collection, which will be showcased at exclusive outlets if it all materiliases as planned, but nothing has been finalised.

In the long term, of course, Saba harbours dreams of finding Mr Right. "I have never been in a serious relationship and I will get married only when I find the right guy. I won't go into marriage half-heartedly." Whoever he is, he will have to share Saba's devotion to her faith. "My personality is such that I will connect best with someone who shares my beliefs," says Saba, who religiously observes the Roza during Ramzan every year. "I enjoy being a Muslim and I feel spiritually at home in Islam."

The Pataudi estates:

The Pataudi family's property, worth a total of Rs 250 crore, includes several mosques, palaces, shrines and havelis. Among them, the Jama Masjid and the tomb of Dost Muhammed (both Bhopal landmarks), Masjid Sajjida Sultan, Raisen Ki Dargah in Raisen, Madhya Pradesh [Images] and the palatial family haveli in Pataudi.

What Saba would design

For mother Sharmila: A stylish classical piece with rubies and emeralds.
For sister Soha: Maybe something with aquamarines and diamonds.
For herself: A pair of long earrings with aquamarine drops or a chand bali.

Arjun Rampal Inspires Daughters Mahikaa and Myra to Start their Own Band



Arjun Rampal has been flooded with compliments after Rock On!! Rampal's daughters Mahikaa and Myra have been so inspired by their papa's film, they have formed their own miniature rock band. Arjun says he didn't expect this kind of overwhelming response to Rock On! "This kind of reaction scares me and piles on the pressure. My daughters have seen the film and loved it so much that they have formed their own band. They both had guitars but after they saw me playing, they have been inspired to play it themselves. Now I have two baby rock stars at home." Will he let them become rock stars if they want to be? "I will let them be whatever they want. I was always supported by my family and I will do the same for my kids."

Arjun's best gift and compliments have come from musicians. "They have SMSed me that they could totally relate to Joe's character and that I have given them so much hope.

"It's not just his colleagues and people from the fraternity who've called the actor to praise his performance. Pakistani pace bowler, Shoaib Akhtar called Arjun to congratulate him. Arjun says, "Shoaib Akhtar saw the film in Delhi in the first week. He later called me from Pakistan to say he loved the film and my character, Joe. He went on to say that it was my best performance till date — it was very mature aur unke dil ko choo gaya. Many people have said I have touched a chord in them with my empathetic portrayal of Joe."

Everyone is Leading Someone(s)


I've been pondering me the nature of good leadership of late. I think my interest is in part due to my recent desires to direct, to take the reins on a show of my own and lead it through the scabrous paths of the New York theatre scene. I often have a great idea, and then take a really, really long time to think about it. I'm not sure if this is just my way, or a way of sifting out ideas without staying power, or what (what = sheer laziness), but I can be very meditative about a new task. I like to do things right, and do them right the first time, which is of course an interesting strength/weakness sort of trait. For this particular meditation, I have been borrowing data from all sorts of sources in my day-to-day life, quite subconsciously. Sources like observations from my day job, observations from commercial transactions, news reports about various international governments and -- yes -- lessons from actual directors with whom I've worked. I've also been reminded of certain lessons from my Directing for the Stage class, taught by the late Dr. Kenneth Campbell. What it's all left me with so far is something like this:


  • Lead by example. This simply covers a lot of ground. It's cliche, and simple, and so often over-looked or excused in its failure. Some people even argue that you should set an example you can't fulfill, so everyone's striving for it together. I say be real, and be the best you can.

  • Leaders should infect with enthusiasm, not terrify with consequences. Maybe it is called for at some point: the terror technique. But if so, I'm not sure that I've ever seen it. Called for, that is. I've seen the terror technique. It's my noisy next door neighbor, figuratively speaking. I know way too much about him, quite accidentally, and never know how to respond when confronted by him. The terror technique, he makes no sense. You get much better results with enthusiasm. My boss switched it up to enthusiasm just this morning, and, man, have I gotten things done and cleared since then. Of course, this may also have something to do with her acknowledging a personal need to . . .

  • Be organized. It's true there have been plenty of inspired leaders who couldn't find matching socks in the morning, and plenty of perpetual followers who can pull their second-grade report card in under sixty seconds. I'm not saying this is the key to good leadership, but it helps. A LOT. People are a lot more willing to listen to someone who shows up early, doesn't allow interruptions and knows where they left their glasses. Of course, keeping oneself organized is a whole other ballgame from keeping other people so, which is why a good leader must know how to . . .

  • Delegate intelligently. Another cliche here. Although: really? I always hear, "Must be able to delegate responsibility," but rarely is it qualified with something suggestive of delegation being a skill of varying effectiveness. The trouble with delegation is that it takes a very finely honed sense of perspective, and an intimate understanding of the people around you, and very few people seem to appreciate this. You can't do it all, and even if somehow you can, it makes working for you miserable, because necessary information gets centralized so thoroughly that if you disappear, so does a great deal of effectiveness. How to delegate intelligently, exactly? It would take its own entry (or book) in all likelihood, but I suspect it has something to do with being able to perceive the big picture right alongside the details.

  • You're only as capable as you are flexible. The leader has to have the ability to stick his or her nose into every aspect of the endeavor. Also, the insight to know when to go with a specialist's opinion over his or her own. Orchestration is a good word. You may not be able to play every instrument in the band, but you damn well better know what each and every one can sound like, and be able to pick it up without knocking it out of tune.

  • Communicate. Seriously. About everything. On some rare occasions a secret or particular dissemination of information may be useful, but the rule should otherwise be to talk about everything, all of the time. And I do mean talk. Getting things done comes of talking; talking is the real-time interaction that provides the most information and the best understanding, even between people who are having trouble understanding the actual words involved. Collaboration is communication.

  • Whenever possible, begin every response with an observation and affirmation. And for that matter, start every conversation with a question. Beginning that way invites the person into communication, rather than laying something (yet ANOTHER THING) on him or her. Once you're in the exchange, you'll get much more helpful responses if the person you're dealing with hears you saying "yes" with your voice, even when you have to disagree. "Yes" maintains energy, affirms worth, and allows people to feel like you're listening. (It helps you out too with your long-term positivity.) In acting it's called "accepting and building," taking something you're given and making something more with it. This may sometimes be a matter of turning lemons into lemonade -- you're still going to get fewer squirts in the eye this way.

  • Know what you're about. I'm not saying by this that a leader has to have it all figured out. (On the contrary: How pointless.) No, I mean to say that people need something to latch on to if they're going to follow someone. Maybe it's just because they also need something to criticize or catch you failing to fulfill, but some singular quality that's demonstrable helps people focus in on you. Something personal must separate you from the crowd, and it's just helpful that you understand your own je ne sais quoi. Mystery can be your trademark. Just know it, if it is. It may become a target at some point, but so what? You aren't the important thing:

  • Make calls, and take responsibility for everything, credit for nothing. We tend to resist images and examples from kings and emperors (we're more comfortable with ship captains, for some reason), but there is something about that dynamic that everyone craves, or at times needs. We're more inclined to follow decisive people, and more inclined to work hard for them when we know they have our backs. This is difficult advice, because it can be so easy to misconstrue. A leader isn't always right, and a leader must have a chorus of input from his or her followers at all times, but he or she must also mediate, resolve, and take things forward. When things go wrong, the good leader protects his or her team. When things go right, the good leader makes sure the team members involved get the credit. It's a lot to take on, but in my opinion you're wasting your time if you do it any other way.

That's what I think so far, anyway. I must admit that it's not based on a whole lot of personal experience. Most of my leadership roles to date are the result of coincidence and/or default. Soon I hope to take that in hand. For now, I remain content to meditate a while longer.

Asha Bhosle with Daughter Varsha Bhosle




Asha's daughter Varsha Bhosle works as a columnist for The Times of India and rediff.com.

Asha Bhosle's Son Anand Bhosle Talks About Mom and Music

He is the youngest son of legendary songstress Asha Bhosle. His mom jokingly mentions that as a youngster, he was more proud of her culinary skills after she fed a gang of his friends, brought in at short notice, a hurried concoction of eggs and rice, than her music, but today Anand Bhosle is his mother’s number one fan. He has also put his own aspirations aside, and handles the business aspect of her career, so her music can continue to flourish.

Asha Bhosle remains the reigning queen of melody worldwide-she is also an amazing cook and her restaurants which feature her cuisine along with those of some celebrity friends, are usually so full, its hard to get in if you don’t make reservations well in advance.
Life however was not so easy for Asha. The Mangeshkar siblings lost their father at a young age, and older sister Lata went to work. Asha married young and went back to her family when the marriage didn’t work out. She had three young kids to raise and monumental odds to beat as her own sister was her toughest competition, along with other stalwarts like Noor Jehan. She worked very hard trying to create a unique voice that didn’t resemble anyone else’s. After years of hard work, she not only created her own niche, but history by consistently churning out albums with artists from other countries, creating the Asha brand of music globally.

In an exclusive interview Anand talks about growing up in the household of the legendary Mangeshkars, and what makes his mother such a unique personality.

So what are the early memories of music?
Strangely none of mom and my aunt. I never saw them rehearse before us. The only person I saw practicing with a tanpura was my uncle, their brother Hridaynath ji. In those days rehearsals would start early and go on till late night, and after singing so many songs on a daily basis for so many hours, I doubt they needed to come home and practice. Unlike today, those
days recording of a song could begin at 8 a.m. and go on till 10m p.m. The directors, musicians and singers were one big family. Today everything is on the run. So while growing up I was clueless about my mom being this famous singer. My friends at school would tell me –hey your mom and aunt are famous singers and I would retort-no you are mistaken. My aunt and mom don’t sing-its my uncle who is a musician. In any case I was never considered Asha Bhosle’s son-my friends always thought of me as Anand their friend and it was only incidental that asha bhosle was my mother. Those are the friends I still keep in touch with.

Were you ever trained in music?
We were kept very far away from Bollywood. Mom knew this was a very tough line and she didn’t want us to go through the intense struggle she faced. She didn’t have the opportunities to do other things-we did. Mom wanted us to excel in academics and focus on a career away from the film and music industry. My oldest brother Hemant always wanted to be a commercial pilot
and though he did dabble with music and gave music in some films as music director, he didn’t like the way things worked and went back to his first passion and became a commercial pilot.
My sister Varsha excelled in academics-she rarely ever came second, but she has an amazing voice and did learn music for a little while. She however was an excellent writer and chose a career in journalism. I do regret the fact that in spite of being so gifted musically she didn’t pursue it seriously. I tell her to this day that she would have been a force to reckon with.

Yes there would have been comparisons with mom but they would have been favorable comparisons-people would have said, wow she is a great talent just like her aunt and mother. I still crib that she just took what came naturally to her for granted.

I was never really trained in music though I have a good ear for it. My interest was in studying economics and commerce and that is what I did.

I used to however be fond of music and absolutely loved R.D. Burman’s tunes. Whenever mom was recording for him, she would send the car for me after school. I was about 11-12 years old then and would be given the privilege of going straight into the singers’ cabin where mom would be rehearsing. For the final take however I would be sent out by her, so I could sit where
I could hear the entire music accompanying her song, but most importantly, she claimed she was nervous having me in the room with her!

Today when I look back, I realize I was like that fly on the wall when history was being made-I was there when some of the best songs by R.D., mom and Kishore Kumar were being recorded.

Can you share some memories of the great musicians you spent time with?
Mohammed Rafi was a really nice person, soft spoken, dignified and very decent and obviously a wonderful singer, but it was Kishore da who was such a joy to be around. He was this mad hatter genius, who would come up with amazing improvisations and mom and he would enhance the song even further competing to add that one touch, to out do the other. The competition was
always healthy and they were very appreciative of each other’s talents. Kishore da would always sit on this high chair and sing, mom always stood and sang, and between them they would create sheer magic. There was laughter all the time when Kishore da was around.

What can I say about Pancham da(R.D. Burman). I don’t think India has produced a genius like him in this century. I used to hate most of the music I heard growing up. If you see people like Lakshmi Kant Pyarelal, everything had the same theka..there was nothing new, nothing unique in the way they created music.

R.D. on the other hand, was so talented. He was always thinking music. One day he was in the shower and took a bottle of Listerine, filled it up and blew in it..The sound of that blowing became a part of the song Mehbooba o mehbooba. So there they were in the recording studio, filling the bottle and blowing into it, trying to get the note that R.D. wanted. The sound
of the note was affected by the level of the water. R.D. said, we are surrounded by sound-a cricket chirps, a car starts, the wind blows-there is sound everywhere-you add rhythm and music to it and it becomes part of a song.

His father S.D. Burman was more interested in the classical genre. He could never understand the value of the modernization and new improvisations his son brought into music and he would tell R.D. to stick to the classical genre. And yet a lot of the music in Taalash-Karle Pyar Karle for example is R.D.s tune, and arranged by him. Even in the classic movie-Guide-Mohse Chal kiye jai was supposed to be S.D’s song, but my aunt Lata Mangeshkar told me that it was R.D, who taught her the song and the rhythm patterns were all his. Piya tose is S.D.’s tune but the arrangements are all R.D.’s.

As a duo-the father and son’s combined talent can never be matched again.
In spite of being so talented and so imaginative, Pancham da was always open to suggestions. He would allow his singers to improvise. People like mom could sing the same song ten different ways and then he would sit down and take what he thought was the best out of that. Only A.R. Rahman does that these days. He will let mom sing the way she wants. She will sing the
same line 10 different ways and he then sits down and takes what he feels is the best.
Of course R.D. in a very nice way, would extract the very best out of his singers and make them sing until he was satisfied.

Like he would tell mom-Asha ji, you’ve reached 90 percent-you just have to extract that remaining 10 percent and slowly and steadily get it out of her!

Your mom jokingly complained that R.D gave his best songs to Lata ji. I heard her sing Raina beeti Jaye and she actually sang it better. I have always considered your mother a better singer than her sister. When I said that to her, she hushed me up!

Mom is very loyal that way. I can’t say that loyalty is reciprocated but thanks for saying that. As her son I believe that she is indeed the greatest singer in the world, but I’m obviously biased! Well R.D. was a very talented musician but he also never had the courage to stand his ground, even if he felt my mother would have done a better job with a song. He would often
tell me in private that mom would have sung this and this song better. The producers are the ones who hold the purse strings, and Pancham da was insecure-he felt if he stood up and told the producer that let Asha sing this, the producer would not repeat him in his next movie. R.D was also much younger, and too respectful-unlike senior musicians like O.P Nayyar who would
throw a producer out if they dared interfere in his work-he would tell them don’t tell me how to do my job-get out.

I still remember this incident with Khayyam sahib who gave the memorable music of Umrao Jaan, among other films. He was facing hard times and a producer approached him to give music in his film. Khayyam Sahib said-fine, this is the way I work, and these are my requirements. The producer said-well actually this is not what we want-instead can you do this and that?
Khayyam sahib got up, politely showed him the door and said-you see that road –if you go straight and turn that way, it will take you to musician Bhappi Lahiri’s house-he will be able to do what you want, I wont. In spite of being so hard up, he would not compromise on his integrity as a musician. R.D was too tentative. He was heavily into cricket and one day he said
to me-you know your aunt Lata is like Bradman and your mom is like Sobers. Your aunt does great batting, but your mom does batting and bowling and even gets the wickets.

He knew mom’s caliber and did his best to bring it to the forefront but his hands were tied. Mom on the other hand would often record songs for her sister when she was away, so that Lata ji could come back and dub over that. But there was one song from Sholay which Lata ji sang, that R.D openly said Mom would have done a better job, if the producer had agreed to let
her sing it. The song was jab tak hai jaan, jaane jahan main nachoongi picturised on Hema ji.
Of course there were songs like chura liya, dum maro dum and lo mera pyaar le lo, which no one but mom could have sung. The level of difficulty that she was given to sing in many songs, were far beyond what Lata ji often sang, but mom made it look easy. It’s only when you attempt to sing those songs you realize how beyond your scope they are. No wonder many of the new
singers have not touched some of those songs, even when they do remakes of the golden oldies.
In the song O meri jaan maine kaha, a note that mom hit was outside the scale.

One of the songs that had R.D was totally ecstatic about was teri meri yaari badi purani..he came back very late after recording it, dragged me to his car and drove off-he kept rewinding the song and playing it and saying-look how well she has sung this.” All the Teesri Manzil numbers were tough, most songs picturised on Helen were usually tough numbers.

I used to often visualize her sing bahon me chale aa from Anamika, instead of Lata ji.
Actually mom has sung that when she tours, but that is one song where she feels only Lata ji could have sung it and she loves the way the song came out. So whenever she sings that number she says before the song that she is simply honoring her sister’s talent, nothing else.

Does your mom ever regret not choosing classical music over film music? She has done Legacy with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.
Pandit Jasraj says to this day that he wishes mom had become a classical singer, but the path was shown to her by her guru.

He told her she could choose classical and will do very well, but she will struggle and won’t make much money. The way to greatness would be this new music. She literally followed him to a T and says she has no regrets.

Look at the amazing albums she has released in so many different genres, as a result.

When you look at the poor quality of most songs that people are singing, how does your mom find a balance between singing songs like Qambaqht ishk which probably became a hit because of her style of singing, and finding something that challenges her as an artist?

That era when Raj kapoor took an entire day to record a song is over. Movies and songs are being done on the run. They are geared nowadays towards the NRI markets abroad. I think the NRIs are so home sick and so starved for connections to India, that they lap up anything sent their way. That is why a lot of films and albums that flop in India, do very well abroad.

Producers and directors are always looking first at what sells. I personally think Shahrukh Khan was totally miscast in Devdas, but because he sells, he was taken. Will Devdas ever go down in the annals of history as a classic, like Mughal-e Azam, in spite of the extravagance-I greatly doubt it.

That is why mom does so many different kind of albums. She also sings for low budget films like Umrao Jaan, where every song she has sung has been so memorable. In fact she almost bypassed Umrao Jaan because she was so busy, but the director Muzzafar Ali who knows my sister requested her to persuade mom to at least hear the songs out. He didn’t feel anyone else could sing those songs. When mom heard the melodies, she loved them . She was told they couldn’t pay her much and she said don’t worry about that. I’m delighted to be singing these high quality numbers. Even Rekha cribbed to her about the low remuneration and
mom said Rekha do the film, the story is great, the music excellent - stick it out. People remember the film to this day for Rekha’s performance - she looked so gorgeous as well- and the film’s music. Mom’s songs are remembered to this day. The film netted Rekha the National Award for best actress. She acknowledged that it was mom’s advice that helped her stick it out.

It is films like these or certain albums that she has done away from the run of the mill stuff, that give her the creative satisfaction of having done something special.
Its also very interesting how professional my aunt and mom are-they will never give unwanted advice to any music director they sing for. Mom will sing even the most mediocre composition with her heart and soul in it. Maybe that is why all of them go on to become such big hits.
Her latest album, “ You’ve Stolen my Heart,” with the Kronos Quartet has made waves all over the world-how did this come about?
About 15 years ago David Harrington, the founder of the band started listening to Hindi music. Each time he liked a song, he would check the music director out and each time he invariably found that the song was composed by R.D. and sung by mom. He has said that he considers Pancham to be the greatest composer from India in this century at par with many western classical greats in the way he interpreted music, and in the sounds he created. While we being from the same country listen to the lyrics, David who couldn’t understand the lyrics, focused only on the music and the compositions and what he heard made him realize what a genius R.D. was. David decided that one day he was going to work with R.D and mom.

All his life R.D. was frustrated by the fact that his music was not showcased before a global audience as it deserved to be.

When David finally decided on the album, Pancham had passed away and he realized that the person who knew him most closely was mom. When she was approached to do this album, she agreed because it also meant taking R.D. ‘s music to a global audience and fulfilling his dream.

David was quite blown away by mom’s range-its like Pavarotti doing a Michael Jackson. It can only be done by Asha Bhosle. No other singer male or female can diversify their style to such a huge extent as mom can. The album was nominated for a Grammy and has been appreciated world wide.

R.D was a great musician but he never had a good manager or a good business sense. I wish he had lived to see this.

Your mom has changed with the times so beautifully, and you have been with her every step of the way. What are the things that you think capture the essence of your mother.
I think the most important thing in mom’s life is her family. She can lose everything and not be bothered as long as her family is with her. She is exceedingly loyal, she never gives up and she has amazing stamina. Mom has done with barely 3-4 hours of sleep every day for years. Her other siblings and all of us would keel over but not her, and yet nothing affects her voice.

She is extremely hard working and stubborn-when some one says it can’t be done, she will go all out to prove them wrong.
Her musical career started in 1943, and she did her first stage show in 1977. Today every one who can, hops on a plane and tries to make as much money in as short a time. For mom quality was most important. Even in her stage shows, she is clear that we will tour once every two years and bring something new each time.

Even if the songs she sings are the same, the presentation will be different and fresh. That is why when she performed in Atlanta at the Raina Foundation’s charity event, we introduced dancers, a magic show by her, the musicians moved around, instead of staying static, and she sang her life’s story in a song that we all like but no one sings-Mera naam hai shabnam, as an introduction.
We are also thinking of doing theme based shows-like one dedicated to only R.D. numbers for instance.
Mom loves being out doors and she is a trendsetter. She loved artificial beads and wore colored saris when the trend was white saris and heavy diamond or gold jewelry. Initially people were scandalized and then every one started following her That is why all the youngsters today follow her style.

So who is mom’s favorite?
She wont say! I personally think its Hemant because she had him so young and literally grew up with him. She loves Varsha because she is the only daughter. Mom actually went to the Mahalakshmi temple to pray for a daughter, but she tells me she is very proud of the way I have handled things in life and that she thinks I’m very sharp. I let her off the hook in spite of
this answer because now that I have kids, I know there really are no favorites, you just love each kid in a unique and special way.
Ash

Miraculous Minutiae


So. They've given the Large Hadron Collider the old test run, and we're all still here. (It drives me nuts, not being able to figure out definitively if it's HAY-DRAWN or HA-DRAWN.) Of course, if in that initial pass somehow we miraculously reprogrammed reality, we'd none of us ever know it, because, well . . . it's reality, and as we've always known it. As far as we know. Anyway, nobody's even colliding anything yet, so we've got a few more hours, days, weeks, bi-annual periods before we have to resort to our emergency blackhole procedures. (That's good, because my patented Blackhole Resistant Skullcap [with NEW Dense-Particle Bi-Weave trim{TM}] is on back-order.) Actually, everything I've read about it suggests that the cause for fear of man-made blackhole is greatly exaggerated. Particles do what we're now doing to them all the dang time. We just get to catch them at it now. Hopefully.

It got me thinking, though, as I watched the news report on BBC-America this morning. It's a curious winnowing down from "large" things and ideas and efforts that leads us to a profound effect that's instigated on a profoundly "small" scale. I don't know a whole lot about CERN and particle colliders (though this offers a pretty good overview), but from what I understand, this is rather a project that's been in the making in one sense or another for decades, and requires huge amounts of facilities of all kinds. Yet it all comes down to getting one of the smallest things we can identify to behave in a specific way. And the result?

Specificity is important. Making distinctions is, after all, sort of all there is to abstract thought, and it has led us to so many important discoveries and interesting perspectives. I like to believe there's a unifying aspect to abstract thought as well, something that exists purely for the purpose of combining things and finding commonality, but that's a little harder to cite, much less prove. I can show you how you define "good" and "bad" using a binary code similar to . . . uh . . . binary code, but arguing that going beyond concepts of good and bad is both necessary and desirable only holds up until you have to apply it to choosing between eating a fresh sandwich and one that's been sitting in the sun for a week. In the arts, it would be nice to say we're all doing the same thing, different paths to the same goal, and it's all Zen (or whatever substitute you prefer) but it just ain't true. There's good art. And there's bad art. And there's a lot in between, about which we make many distinctions.

I digress, because this is not my point.

No, my point has to do with how insignificant a person can feel, said person particularly so when he or she is an actor. "Oh, boo-hoo-hoo," you may say. "We've all got it rough." True enough, and I don't mean to single out actors in particular for a pity party. They're just what I know best, and that familiarity piques the effect of everything. As actors (or directors, or painters, or nuclear physicists [or, okay: accountants]) we can very easily lose a sense of purpose because, well, what does it all add up to really? I mean, even the movie stars of yesteryear, with huge, global success, fade into obscurity faster than most. Here we are puttering about with this project and that, producing work that occasionally gets notice, but never quite wide enough notice, never quite profound enough impact on the world at large. And there are so, so many of us. Actors come and go and often get treated as a disposable commodity, and why not? There will always be more actors . . . just as I suppose, barring catastrophe, there will always be more and more people. So where does it all lead? What great or -- hell -- even small significance does the greatest thing we may ever accomplish with our lives, lead to? None, it would seem. We're dropping water into an ocean, one drop at a time; our actions are that minute.

A hadron is actually a subatomic particle made up of quarks, one the smallest objects we can reasonably identify. The science people (those in the know call them "scientists") are pretty worked up about the LHC because for the first time they have a technical possibility of proving the existence of the Higgs boson (the "scientists" inform me that a "boson" is another subatomic particle). The Higgs boson -- to hereby insult the intelligence of every physicist reading this -- is essentially an imaginary thing. They imagined it, not in the sense that it doesn't exist, but in the sense that they used their imaginations in theorizing it. See, the "scientists" basically came up with the Higgs boson (using an understanding of physics, the universe and everything so infinitely beyond mine that there's no analogy to properly satisfy this insertion) to fill the gap in an otherwise balanced explanation of physics, the universe and everything. This explanation is playfully named the Standard Model. (One can not help but picture one of these. You know: just your standard model.) In other words, when you hear the news reports about reproducing the Big Bang, they don't mean annihilating everything everywhere (intentionally, anyway), nor creating a whole new universe (intentionally, anyway), but rather understanding how EVERYTHING came into being. Yes: EVERYTHING.

EVERYTHING, potentially = the result of an interaction on the smallest of scales imaginable. Reaching out from the interaction of two subatomic particles -- the very force of that interaction, mind; not even the particles themselves -- is the potential for consequences that not only affect everything . . . they are everything. This is imaginable to me. It's crazily conceptual, but imaginable. I can also imagine -- though I have to be in just the right mindset -- that the least of my work in this world may go on to have untold repercussions, reaching far into the future and influencing people of similar degrees of diminution and growth both far and wide for ages. In fact, I've already seen some small, yet unexpected, returns on work I've done in my life. Even when all memory of my existence has passed, the ripples of my life will live on and on. Perhaps unrecognized. Perhaps even without the least understanding of their actuality. Yet there they'll be, moving through everything.

I believe the scientists will discover they were all wrong about the Higgs boson, and have an incredible amount of work to do to make the model work again, possibly including throwing out the model and starting fresh. Do I have the physics to back this feeling up? Hell no. I can't even grasp centripetal force; not really. It's just that they seem so certain of it, they just have to have it all wrong. No, I believe this because I believe that our searches have to go on. That's a force I recognize. Imagine, if you will (and why not), the universe as an infinite song, played by an infinite number of instruments and voices. Who wouldn't want to join in? Who wouldn't want to create and contribute the most beautiful music they (and only they) possibly can?
 
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