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The master at work

Raj Kapoor’s Famous Intern Rahul Rawail’s Directorial Memoirs Capture The Showman, 60s Bollywood And, A Lot More

From contemplating a degree in nuclear physics to wielding a megaphone is Rahul Rawail’s initial confession. In his book, Raj Kapoor: The Master at Work  Rawail reveals about his visit to the big top with his school buddy Rishi Kapoor to ogle at Russian circus artistes who were participating in the shoot of Mera Naam Joker directed by the Showman Raj Kapoor.  His family’s Bollywood connection (Father H S Rawail was a famous film maker) lands him an internship for the filming which melds into a coveted assistant’s job with RK. His sojourn with RK begins with the studio’s biggest flop and gets cemented with its hugest hit Bobby worth a lifetime of experience. He gives a ringside view into the making of these blockbusters and this is the most valuable part of the book where he shares intimate nuggets and anecdotes. There are stories about the Showman himself and other larger than life characters like Premnath whose bizarre antics are gleefully related. The legendary gourmet tastes of RK and his love of good food and drink are peppered throughout the book. Ultimately Rawail would go on to direct his own film for RK called Biwi O Biwi before embarking on his solo career which included blockbusters like Love Story, Betaab, Arjun to name a few. Rawail remains an important bridge between the movie moguls of the sixties and the present day.
neena gupta

‘Sach Kahun Toh’ Hides More Than Reveals

‘Been there done that’ could easily have been the title of veteran actress Neena Gupta’s memoir. The story of her tumultuous life, Sach Kahun Toh which begins with her middle-class stereotypical childhood in Delhi in a humble locality. Despite domestic doubts and paternalism and a ‘behenji’ college background she grows up confident and educated. The NSD and the hiccup of an early marriage to the boy next door cannot prevent her packing her bags for Mumbai. A perceived breakthrough role as part of the youngsters in Saath Saath typecasts her but there is also a small part in Gandhi. Khandaan in 1984 is her big arrival on TV, one of those strong woman roles. Gupta who was also cast in art house classics like Jaane Bhi Do Yaron and Mandi details her eventual humiliation and exit from Star Plus with the game show Kamzor Kadi Kaun flopping. Naturally her personal life especially her well-publicized relationship with Vivian Richards do make an appearance as do some other dalliances including an abortive marriage with the son of a prominent classical singer but there are no real revelations. In 2017 she perceives herself as sidelined, almost forgotten and makes a dramatic plea for work on Instagram. In conclusion though, the book despite its candid title, mimics the lyrics of her famous Choli song cameo from Khalnayak… hides more than reveals.

Flashback 1971: India’s Tryst With Historic Wins Under Ajit Wadekar

1971 to most living Indians conjures up the country’s biggest battlefield victory and the creation of Bangladesh. However, if you are of a senior vintage, it’s likely the association will be one of India’s early and epochal sporting triumphs not on the hockey turf. It was indeed nothing short of miraculous when unfancied India beat giants West Indies in their own backyard and followed up by a series victory in England! Such could not have happened without prodigious feats on the field such as Sunil Gavaskar’s astonishing 774 aggregate or Chandrashekhar’s 6 for 38 at The Oval. The story however begins in conflict with the rejection of the Nawab of Pataudi by chairman of selectors Vijay Merchant in favour of Ajit Wadekar by using his casting vote to break a deadlock. The book – 1971: The Beginnings Of Indian Cricket Greatness – details these shenanigans and also how number one keeper Farrokh Engineer was excluded from the West Indies tour. A batting swansong by veteran Dilip Sardesai and the performance of new superstar Gavaskar delivers the series with grace notes from geniuses like Salim Durrani. On the England leg India survives a scare to come back and win at The Oval. Needless to say, in both series the bowling burdens are shared by the fabled spin quartet. The best part of the book are the interviews.
vir sanghvi_rude life

Storyteller’s Recollections of Some Rude Scents, Rich Cuisines

Once upon a time in a newsroom far away, there was a suave reporter/ editor / food critic. A Rude Life, Vir Sanghvi’s memoir artfully churned out during the enforced paralysis of the pandemic, seems from a distant, different era. From his privileged childhood, boarding school et al to Oxford, it bubbles with stories and character. The anecdotes are like the gourmet confections he critiques: intricate and inviting, definitely not every day fare. The ingredients are delectable but do smack of name-dropping sourced from the old boy network of a bygone era. Clearly, he has met everyone from Yuri Gagarin to Dhirubhai Ambani to Amartya Sen. An easy rapport is established with the PM Rajiv Gandhi. On these coat tails Sanghvi manages to engage the reclusive Amitabh Bachchan and probably presents the most coherent story of his entry and abrupt exit from politics. There are ringside accounts of Bofors or how a senior Congressman who had suffered at the hands of Sanjay Gandhi reacted at the news of the latter’s fatal plunge —Mar gaya saala!  Vir Sanghvi’s journey straddles an important time when TV ‘journalism’ was unobtrusively birthed, and he shares many vignettes of these early days and famous shows which segues into his newer avatar as food maven and writer of books. Though not finished, a life, unlikely to be encountered today.

Rewind 2005: Advani and Vajpayee at a rally in Mumbai

How Vajpayee-Advani Jugalbandi Created A Saffron Wave

In Pakistan it is said history begins at midnight 14 August 1947. Vinay Sitapati’s book Jugalbandi: The BJP Before Modi suggests a similar trajectory for the ruling party’s amnesia today for anything that came before; however a long time ago In a polity far away there was Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani, a world away from today’s ruling jugalbandi. The word itself suggests an equal music but it is rarely so. From distinctly diverse backgrounds: Advani fluent in English, Vajpayee a poet in his native tongue. Organiser and Orator. Unique skill sets that created their own niches in the party. The book dutifully chronicles their early encounters with each other as RSS workers and Advani’s unwitting part in derailing Atalji’s bete noire Balraj Madhok. Vajpayee the first time MP and Advani his dutiful backroom boy to how they matured into a champion duo with one leading and the other happy in a subservient part by turns. Alas while the friendship endures Advani is not a part of Vajpayee’s Camelot which slowly takes shape after his move to Delhi and his reconnecting with Rajkumari Kaul his college sweetheart.  The lady’s influence cannot be discounted; She provides him with conversation, confidence and a convivial environment for his meetings and confabulations. Advani is conspicuously absent from these now dominated by  Brajesh Mishra and Ranjan Bhattacharya, the Kaul’s son in law and husband of Vajpayee’s pet adopted daughter. Advani’s sunset years have been less painless, his standing in the party he nurtured itself in doubt. In the end the epitaph from Amit Shah was “They were afraid to fly the flag of Hindutva fully”.
bhimsen joshi_001

The Other Side Of Bhimsen Joshi

“Ganyarache Por” (Singer’s Son) is the Marathi title of Raghavendra Joshi’ s memoir. In English, however, it is presented as “Bhimsen Joshi, My Father,” indicating the book’s essential dilemma. It inhabits an unusual space in that it is neither the usual hagiography of the ‘authorized biography’ nor is it a mere muckrake. The Singer’s Child writes uninhibitedly about his father’s twice-married life in a warts-and-all tale. Though generally affectionate about its subject, it’s accompanied by revelation and detail.  Among the many biographies of the concerned vocalist even the most celebrated – Mohan Nadkarni’s – rarely delves into the personal space. Books like this alluded pussy-footedly to the singer’s dual marital status discreetly, usually creating the impression that after an unhappy prior relationship or even due to the death of his first wife the Pandit remarried. This book tries to undo the airbrushing and is quite candid about the mechanics of the dual household. It is unabashedly a quest for some justice for his late mother and himself for the litany of humiliation heaped on their first family by the second. The book abounds in these; from the singer’s surreptitious flight to Nagpur with his supposed pupil to the often precarious existence of the early years of his semi-abandoned family. It is even a fight for recognition as the father was sometimes ambivalent about their status. The writer is frankly envious and deeply saddened by the discrimination practiced by his father. Unfortunately, Raghavendra passed away in February 2020


Editor’s Note: Big Punch In Small Pack

It is the Third Anniversary of Short Post and as a news media startup launched during the Covid-19 pandemic it certainly feels better than good to find ourselves where we are today. Here, I must cite the unstinted support of our seasoned contributors, all senior editors in the country, who brought a great degree of maturity and sagacity to the Short Post newsroom. But for them, our tagline “Authentic Gossip”, an Oxymoron, would not have matured viably. Our user numbers may be small but our stories have created the desired impact among people who matter — decision makers and influencers. We offer a big punch in a small pack and Short Post with its 225-word stories has been punching above its weight category. Having posted close to 3,000 stories in the last 36 months, Short Post, I feel, is an idea whose time has come.
And this is vindicated by our two marquee advertisers – IDFC FIRST Bank and ICICI Lombard. Both believed in our story and have supported us from Day one. A big thank you to both.
If you look at the media landscape – print, TV and digital — it is a mixed bag. There are job losses as some outfits have closed down while a lucky few were bailed out by large corporate houses. Yes, there is a lot of action in the digital space. However, the entry of corporate houses has raised the question of independence of news media outfits. Sadly, there are just a handful of independent media outfits in the country that are highly respected for their neutrality. At Short Post, our credo is not to take sides, prejudge issues or be biased but, informing readers of behind-the-scenes happenings. In essence, Short Post strives to be a neutral editorial platform — neither anti-establishment nor pro-establishment.
As I said last year, disruptions in the media world are moving at a fast and furious pace. Technology is playing a very big role in how content is generated and consumed. But, we are neither alarmed nor perturbed as it is all a part of the evolution process. What gives us comfort is that AI is unable to create original gossipy content. And that is the news arena where we have achieved a distinction.