| English Indians: Ravi Bopara (above) and Samit Patel
Heavy weight tale of two Indians
Compare and contrast Indians Ravi Bopara and Samit Patel, both 24, both born in England.
Ravi, fresh from playing for the Kings XI Punjab in the IPL, last week managed what has eluded Sachin Tendulkar — a Test hundred at Lords.
Meanwhile, Samit Patel, an all rounder for Nottinghamshire, has been dropped twice by the England selectors from the one-day and Twenty20 squads for being too fat.
His fitness measurements have not improved since he was deselected, says Geoff Miller, Englands national selector.
The selectors ushering in joyless cricket probably dont realise that back in India any boy tending towards plumpness is described by his mother as healthy. And Samit still lives at home where, after existing all day on the recommended salad-only diet, he probably makes up at midnight with a little something taken from the British Asian Get Fit Eating Manual: 9 Stuffed Parathas, Ma Ki Daal, Alu Gobi, Jeera Alu, one Tandoori chicken, Bhuna Gosht, Butter Chicken, Pilau Rice, Tender Lamb Kebabs, Dahi (to help digestion), Goan Fish Curry, Prawns cooked in coconut, Malai Kulfi, 7 Gulab Jamuns, 5 Rosogullas, 6 Laddoos, 4 Cobra Beers, Bottle of Still Water.
Seriously, though, among batting greats, the legendary W.G. Grace was a fine figure of a man as was Colin Cowdrey and, more recently, Inzamam-ul-Haq (nicknamed Alu).
Apart from anything else it is good for cultural diversity to have a Patel playing cricket for England. Perhaps Samit will be inspired by the example of Ravi Bopara, whose century against the West Indies on his first appearance at Lords, in the manner of Sourav Ganguly in 1996, was hailed by The Times as sublime.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Bopara showed that a beano in the Indian Premier League is not necessarily bad for business in the longer game.
We will have to wait and see where time and tide take Ravi but perhaps one day the Brits will be able to boast to Mother India: Our Indians are better than your Indians.
| On a high: A scene from Tamashas Wuthering Heights (Pic: Manuel Harlan)
West End transfer
Those who happen to be in London until May 23 should spend an evening at the Hammersmith Lyric in London where the Tamasha Theatre Companys latest venture, Wuthering Heights, a Bollywood-style musical based on Emily Brontes dark novel about Heathcliffs obsession with his Cathy, is playing until May 23.
Since Soumitra Chatterjee loves theatre, I wanted to take him to the press night but he was leaving for Calcutta after his extended stay in London. The musical has had some lukewarm reviews but I thought Tamashas version, transposed from the wild Yorkshire moors to the deserts of Rajasthan, is good fun. One scene with women clutching parasols at the Pushkar camel race alone is worth the ticket money.
The word is that a well known British Asian businessman, James Caan (from Khan), came to see the play and liked it well enough to want to back its transfer apparently to the West End. Caan has made his name appearing in a TV reality programme, Dragons Den, in which young entrepreneurs pitch their ideas at millionaire backers.
As in Slumdog Millionaire, quite a bit of the dialogue in Wuthering Heights is in Hindi. Just as it was instructive to watch Slumdog Millionaire in Mumbai at the Regal Cinema, so also it will be equally informative to discover what native Yorkshire folk make of Tamashas take on a tale set in their county. I have a good mind to be in Harrowgate in Yorkshire where Wuthering Heights ends its UK tour in late June.
I have long thought that Wuthering Heights is ideal material for a memorable Bollywood film but only if set in Yorkshire. Anyone who has been to Yorkshire will know this is Gods own country.
Loves labour lost
The Tamasha Theatre Company has been good at nurturing talent, such as Parminder Nagra. She made a lot of money but slightly lost her way artistically playing Dr Neela Rasgotra in the American soap, ER. On Bank Holiday Monday, she appeared in a major ITV drama, Compulsion, opposite a distinguished British actor, Ray Winstone.
It was meant to be a sort of modern day Lady Chatterleys Lover, with Parminder cast as a glossy Indian girl straight out of Cambridge, while Winstone is the elderly chauffeur employed by her rich businessman father. Try as one might, British dramas still keep trotting out outdated stereotypes of arranged Indian marriages even in the year of our Lord 2009. Even a bad Bollywood film wouldnt be so bad. The sex scenes (small Indian girl, big, overweight, old Englishman) — were not so much erotic as seedy.
Loves labour won
Who says marriage kills romance? Sir Vidia Naipaul may come across as a curmudgeonly old so-and-so at times but inside he is a big softie. I remember meeting him at the Bombay Brasserie restaurant in London just after he had married Pakistani columnist Nadira Alvi. Last week, to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary, the 76-year-old Nobel Prize winner hosted a dinner at the freshly refurbished Bombay Brasserie for 20 guests. They included authors Vikram Seth and Lady Antonia Fraser, his faithful agent Gillon Aitken and a quota of courtiers.
As the party tucked into Grilled Scallops, Lamb Chops Achaari, Fish Moilee, Chicken Tikka, Palak Chaat, Malai Kulfi and Kheer, all washed down with Chablis Grand Crux and Cote Rotie, one looked in vain for the great mans biographer. Could it be that Patrick French, author of The World Is What It is, was not invited?
Brother and sister, Gopal and Amita Mukherjee, who live in Pune and in Paris, launched their new revolutionary, subversive publishing company, Revenge Ink, in London last week, vowing to usher in a radically different kind of writing.
Their own respective novels, The Armageddon Mandala and Ugly Duckling, are to be followed by books by other authors, they promise.
Among them is Childs Play, a psychological sex-crime thriller, involving paedophilia, by Kia Abdullah, a bright and bubbly 26-year-old Bangladeshi born and brought up in Tower Hamlets in the East End of London.
She studied computer science at Queen Mary College, London, but gave it all up to be a full time writer, something she says she had wanted since the age of nine.
We are six sisters and two brothers, I am told by Kia, who happily defies stereotypes about the low achieving Bangladeshi community in Britain.
For once Lakshmi Mittal took a back seat as the steel tycoons wife, Usha, was honoured at a House of Lords reception last week for donating $1m to a worthy cause. The money will be used by the Rotary Foundation for the worldwide eradication of polio, which still haunts parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Considering the especially tough times in the steel industry, the donation is generous. Urged by others to join a group photograph, I noticed Lakshmi declining as though to say: Tonight, the force is with my wife.
Reassuringly, the couple did not hold hands or appear lovey dovey which in celebrity circles can mean only one thing — theirs is a good marriage.