The superstitious Bollywood set is known to make myriad vows and sacrifices to propitiate the gods before the launch of a film. But Prateik Babbar seems to have taken these before-release pledges to a whole new level. The love child of Smita Patil and Raj Babbar has declared that he will practise celibacy till his upcoming film My friend Pinto hits the theatres on October 14. A lot of actors and sportsmen take pledge — some quit drinking, some quit smoking, some give up non-vegetarian food. I decided not to have sex, says Babbar Junior. Incidentally, in the film he plays a character who wants to become a priest. And priests, as we all know, are expected to be above earthly temptations such as, well, sex. Not bad, Prateik. A vow which doubles as a promo! Now, thats something new in jaded Bollywood.
Anil Kumble is all set to bowl his googlies at Bangalore highrises that ignore proper fire safety measures. The former cricketer has been roped in by a peoples initiative group called Beyond Carlton to be part of a radio campaign to spread awareness on fire safety in highrise buildings. The jingles, that will soon be aired on private FM channels, has Kumble — along with Justice Santosh Hegde and Kannada actor Ramesh Arvind — asking listeners to check if the fire exits and extinguishers in their buildings are in working order. Fire away, Kumble.
Its never too late to exhibit something good. Nine years after UK-based filmmaker and biographer Nasreen Munni Kabir made a documentary on shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan, she has finally got a distributor to showcase her work. Kabir made Bismillah of Benaras with the support of the BBC in 2002. But the documentary languished as she couldnt find anyone willing to distribute it. Then, composer A.R. Rahman — Kabir has made a documentary on him as well — came to her rescue. Thanks to Rahmans help, Bismillah of Benaras will now be distributed by Sony, and he is also going to be its presenter. Well, its heartening that one music great is doing his bit for another.
Anoushka Shankar, able pupil and daughter of legendary sitarist Ravi Shankar, doesnt mind straying from her family gharana once in a while. Her latest album Traveller is an eclectic mix of Indian strains and Spanish flamenco. While Shankar plays the sitar, a team led by producer, writer and guitarist Javier Limon has given it the Spanish flavour. Of course, this is not the first time that Shankar has experimented with fusion music. She has two other fusion albums in her kitty — Rise (2005) and Breathing Under Water (2007) — and they all represent her attempt to create a space for herself as a world musician while remaining rooted to her lineage in classical Indian music. Thats all very well, but the purists will still sigh and say she ought to concentrate on being a fitting inheritor of her fathers mantle.
The second edition of the DSC South Asian Literature Festival in Shoreditch, UK, this weekend began on an Indian note. It saw the launch of Sonia Gandhi: An Extraordinary Life, An Indian Destiny, a biography of the Congress leader written by Rani Singh. The book is based on exclusive interviews with Congress party members, political opponents and family friends and brings to light some unknown facets of her life. The festival is a prestigious affair and writers like Romesh Gunasekera, Jamila Gavin, Mohammed Hanif, Kamila Shamsie, Anjali Joseph and Sir Christopher Ondaatje are participating in it this year. The literary extravaganza will culminate in a gala finale at Shakespeares Globe Theatre in London where the shortlist of the $50,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2012 will be announced. No doubt the literati are keeping their eyes peeled.