Just wanting ‘in’!

There is definitely a chirp in my voice and a spring in my step because I am in my ‘native’ Mumbai (as we fondly call it namma ooru).

Published: 10th July 2021 06:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th July 2021 06:20 AM   |  A+A-

Dancer and actor Mallika Sarabhai with filmmaker and author Saeed Mirza

Express News Service

BENGALURU: There is definitely a chirp in my voice and a spring in my step because I am in my ‘native’ Mumbai (as we fondly call it namma ooru). I am in the eye of the storm while mayhem reigns around me. My children (very big young adults), two dogs and a husband. Whew! Of course everyone is working from home (except lucky Alisha, my daughter) so in between stage whispers, not getting caught on one’s Zoom meeting in one’s nightclothes or shorts, and trying to (unsuccessfully) keep two yapping dogs quiet while tripping over doggie toys, life is just dandy!

I swear I wouldn’t exchange this cacophony for all the perfumes in Arabia. I came here to trip over family! I was going mad in my super big, clean and organised empty home in Bangalore, with great weather and an uninterrupted access to OTT services. I was miserable! I know now, how those Disney princesses must have felt locked up in their ivory towers. I wanted my ‘bachas’! Fights, arguments, laughter and gluttonous eating sessions... totally unplanned, uninhibited, raucous (still cautious) and celebratory in nature... isn’t that what life is all about? If I get any more advice on yoga, meditation and the likes, I swear I’m going to scream! All of us are dealing with our demons. We have all experienced illness, death loss of income and the general loss of ‘the way we were’. I think that most of us have dealt with it in a stoic and powerful manner. Sometimes a certain scary calm descends upon me and that creeps me out. Are we getting used to loss? Is this really an apocalypse? 

Reaching out to friends and family via calls and videos just seems the closest to ‘normal’ I have felt in a long time. Mumbai is still in a state of a partial lockdown.  All retail and eating establishments close by four and a curfew extends over the weekends. Yet, nothing keeps the average Mumbaiker down. Everybody here seems to be working along with the stringent measures rather than around it. There is a heightened sense of citizen responsibility and one can order from a pin to an elephant (or a jet) by 4pm!

As soon as I landed I connected with the ‘Mirzas’, a couple who had a profound influence in my life. Saeed Mirza is a film-maker, writer, a political and social commentator, scriptwriter, author and the nicest and most interesting person I know. Being good friends with his wife Jennifer just makes this relationship more symbiotic. They were our neighbours in Mumbai. I was a young and restless woman with two infant children and at crossroads in my career. I could see into their drawing room from my kitchen window and I would always espy a motley crew of interesting people.

Writers, actors’ intellectuals and Shah Rukh Khan! Saeed has shown me a lot of firsts. He is a man who believes in what his does. A graduate from FTII, he made avant garde movies which may not have been commercially successful, but iconic even today. His award winning movies like Albert Pinto, Mohan Joshi, Salim Langde and Naseem have swept up all the awards like his soul stirring documentaries that give one a ‘soul-sight’ into the people and topography of India. He went to work happy, whistling with a skip in his step, His office was in the next building and I could get a glimpse of that too.  I just wanted in.

He gave me the courage to follow my passions. I am always speechless around him (quite a feat). He travels to exotic places to write his books. He is in Kashmir now, writing a book of his journey with good-friend and colleague, the late film maker Kundan Shah. He once went to Syria with an empty bottle to capture the country’s air.

Oh Lord! I want in.

Rubi Chakravarti
Writer, actor and funny girl


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