Nishad-Avari-band

In Conversation With Nishad Avari Of Christie’s

nishad avari christie's
 

IN CONVERSATION WITH NISHAD AVARI OF CHRISTIE'S

Besides its obvious role as one of the pioneering auction houses in the world, Christie’s India isn’t merely in the business of auctioning rare artworks but is playing a supplementary role in educating Mumbaikars on the finer nuances of collectables such as fine watches, jewellery, and more through its proposed lecture series and talks with experts. Nishad Avari their dapper Specialist, Head of Sales & Associate Vice President, South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art shares his vision for engaging wider audiences.

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READ FAREEDA KANGA'S INTERVIEW

The City Story: The South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art Auction held recently in New York had a couple of stellar art works inspired by Mumbai. Can you shed light on these works for our readers?

Nishad Avari: The auction included a strong selection of works by S.H. Raza and F.N. Souza from the late 1940s and 1950s, besides important works by Manjit Bawa, V.S. Gaitonde, and Tyeb Mehta. Amongst the city-inspired works, I would like to talk about Raza’s watercolour of The Oval (circa 1940s), painted before he left for France, which highlights the colourful hues of Mumbai’s iconic maidan – a haven for relaxation and cricket both perfectly depicted in this striking watercolour. A must have for any heritage loving Mumbai-kar.

The work on the cover of the catalogue is from Akbar Padamsee’s very famous but short-lived ‘gray period’. It is likely the first painting from the series of twelve he did in 1959-60 and exhibited at Jehangir Art Gallery in 1960. It was inspired by Mumbai's rooftops that the artist saw from gallerist and artist Bal Chhabda's home in 1959. Padamsee recalls going to Chhabda for guidance about what to show in Bombay after six years of being away. “I went to Bal Chhabda’s place, from Bal’s window on the seventh floor I looked out at the view and could see such wonderful buildings. Bal said, ‘Why don’t you paint that?’ To which I replied, ‘I will do that’. So then back home I started painting and without looking at the landscape, I reconstructed the schema.” (Ed. note: The painting, which is at the beginning of this interview, sold for USD 912,500 at the auction on September 12, 2018).

This show was sponsored by Bal Chhabda’s Gallery 59, and this particular painting was bought from the show by Chhabda to support his friend and fellow artist, illustrating the close relationships in the art world at the time. Living in Juhu at the time, a seaside suburb of Bombay, Padamsee fondly recollects, “Painting in my Juhu flat, I started working on it for three or four nights. Because the sunlight was too much in my open courtyard, I had to work at night. And a dog used to come and sit next to me. He was so wonderful and really became a friend of mine. He didn’t budge, he would just sit in his own place looking at me, not barking or anything, all night as I worked.”

TCS: Besides contemporary art, has the palette of the Indian consumer widened?

NA: Yes, as collectors become more knowledgeable and discerning, we find that they have expanded their repertoire to show an increasing interest in other areas besides South Asian art. There is a growing participation of Indian buyers across international sale categories. These include impressionist art, fine wines, rare watches, jewellery, and the ladies who love to bid for vintage handbags! At Christie’s, we have 80 categories. You’d be surprised at what people are keen on collecting. We had a few collectors from India bidding on various collectibles at the Peggy and David Rockefeller Collection sales earlier this year – perhaps the biggest sale of the century! So that’s something that makes us proud.

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TCS: What makes Mumbai a hub for the Indian art world?

NA: Mumbai, like Paris and New York, has always attracted the bohemian and arty crowd. With its Sir J.J. School of Art, it was an obvious choice for artists in the 1940s and beyond to flock to in the hope of making a name for themselves. In fact, the Progressive Artists’ Group was founded in Bombay in 1947 by some of India’s best-known modernist including F.N. Souza, S.H. Raza, K.H. Ara, and M.F. Hussain. Since our office is housed in Colaba, we are surrounded and constantly stimulated by independent art galleries, museums, and a thriving cultural nexus that keeps the artistic sensibilities of Mumbai alive!

TCS: Christie’s set up an office in Mumbai almost two decades ago. Besides consigning and hosting auctions what else is on the agenda?
NA: At Christie’s, we are always looking to host talks and other educational events about collecting in various categories for our audiences in India. We have had specialists from our jewellery and watch departments travel to the country for exhibitions and talks and have exhibited highlights from our sales in those categories as well as Impressionist and Modern Art here as well. We hope to continue doing this alongside the two annual previews of South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art that we host in India, and to continue to support the fantastic arts initiatives in the country including the India Art Fair, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale and the Serendipity Festival.

Photographs courtesy Nishad Avari

 
Vikas-Dilawari-band

In Conversation With Conservation Architect Vikas Dilawari

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IN CONVERSATION WITH CONSERVATION ARCHITECT VIKAS DILAWARI

Vikas Dilawari is a conservation architect whose work has won 15 UNESCO awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. From iconic buildings like the Bhau Daji Lad Museum and Flora Fountain to lesser known ones such as Byculla’s Taylor Methodist Church and Mumbai Central’s Lal Chimney Complex, the heritage structures he has restored are spread across the city and make one pause and stare in wonder. He is a tireless champion of restoration over beautification and conservation over redevelopment; in an interview at his Goregaon office, he spoke to Mrigank Warrier about his early days, long career and how the city is changing.

READ MRIGANK WARRIER'S STORY

The Study Of Architecture

The first time I really saw VT Station was when I went to give the entrance exam for JJ School of Architecture. I was a bad student in school; failed 9 subjects out of 10 in 9th standard, but passed in history!

My first preference was medicine, second was pharmacy, but a cousin was studying architecture, so we said, why not? I got a seat at LS Raheja. For three years, we studied the history of architecture with a brilliant professor who taught us so well, we were completely enamoured by it.

From second year to final year, I also had a job with Ved Segan, the architect who designed Prithvi Theatre. He was handling the first conservation project of the country – restoring the Gaiety Theatre in Shimla. Observing him, discussing things, reading books...got me interested in conservation. There were so many photographs of the site from which we would draw sketches and elevations; seeing those published gave you another kick.

My professors would say, "Whenever you're travelling, keep your eyes open." I used to teach my students to react to buildings. If you don't like a building, what is the thing that you don't like? Identify that. Buildings have a language, they have a behaviour. We all respond to buildings naturally through our body language. If you're comfortable, you'll stay, if you're not, you'll want to go out. What is that thing which attracts you? If you've identified that, you've solved half the Rubik's cube for when you're designing new architecture.

When the painter asks me what shade of colour he should paint, I ask him to scrape and tell me what he finds.

We were given a college assignment to redesign Crawford Market. My classmates who demolished it and designed fancy buildings in its stead got the highest marks. I tried to conserve the market and got fairly low marks; that was enough keeda for me to do my master's in conservation.

Redeveloping Heritage Structures In Bombay

I did two Masters, from Delhi and from York. Just before I finished the first one, I was asked to relook and correct the listing of 624 heritage structures of Bombay; our new Development Plan was being formulated and there was a chance this list could be incorporated. For eight months, I roamed every street of Bombay, with an umbrella in the rains. I'm not boasting, but if you show me an arch or a blown-up detail of any building, I can tell you where the building is. I was once caught listing (the Chief Minister’s residence) Varsha! I had to call those who had hired me to get me out of trouble.

My turning point came when I met my mentor Foy Nissen. He was not an architect or professional historian but had contributed to most books written about Bombay; when any foreign author came, he would take them around on his scooter and show them the city. I asked him to review my listing; he gave me useful feedback and also put me in touch with some of the best architectural historians in the world.

Dr Christopher London's thesis was on Bombay Gothic. When I was restoring Christ Church (Byculla), I wanted to know more of its history. Turns out, Lord Elphinstone was a bit lazy to go every Sunday from Parel where he used to stay to St Thomas Cathedral (Churchgate), so he decided to have a church nearer his estate: chal na, baaju mein hi jaayenge, pandrah minute mein pahunchenge.

There were so many photographs of the site from which we would draw sketches and elevations; seeing those published gave you another kick.

Just like doctors conduct a physical examination of a patient, we do the same for a building. We come to know how it has been tampered with; although the building is silent, it speaks a lot. There are tell-tale signs we identify. The goldmine is when you discover archival information from rare sources; there was once an information bulletin called Bombay Builder, which published valuable information about who built the building, its description, construction, materials, etc. So do the photographs in Rahul's book (Bombay: The Cities Within, Rahul Mehrotra and Sharda Dwivedi) are also helpful; the aerial snaps were all taken by Hassler, a German spy.

When we were restoring the Bombay Municipal Corporation hall, we found old symbols on the walls – 'BC' for Bombay Corporation. We wrote to the Coats of Arms College in London for more information and painted it authentically. An etching that I accidentally found on the Net showed me how the water used to flow in Flora Fountain.

When the painter asks me what shade of colour he should paint, I ask him to scrape and tell me what he finds. When you remove the old wooden-base electrical switches, you find the original painted surface. Nowhere have I used a colour scheme which I wanted; I've always used the one which I've found.

The best part of my career is that the conservation movement and my career started at the same time. And the best part of my profession is that it takes you to unbelievable places. When I was restoring Rajabai Tower, I would go up occasionally; imagine the whole city below you! Such a fascinating sight.

Rethinking Conservation

If you go to a certain area and a building fits in with its landscape, you feel comfortable; when things are out of proportion, you won't. If you drive across Mohammed Ali Road, you'll be uncomfortable because high-rises have started coming up, but earlier, it had beautiful urban design, right up to KEM Hospital. The chawls which were built to a certain height with common setbacks and courtyards, the mills, the Hindmata theatre, it had everything; it was a well-woven matrix. Now the whole matrix feels alienated because the urban design is gone.

For a coin to have value, it needs to have both heads and tails. In Bombay, there is only heads: development, development, development. The Heritage Committee used to joke: 'Tere naam (Vikas) se hi toh problem aa rahi hai!”

When you redevelop, you become a co-owner. Every tenant wants to become one, and it is this greed which is messing up the city. If a building with 16 tenants is redeveloped, it'll have 40 or more users. The building's footprint will remain the same, but the difference will be like sitting in a first-class compartment and a second-class compartment. Water, car parking, street width, natural light, ventilation…all need to be shared. Which is wiser – 16 or 40?

I've started rethinking conservation in a different way; if yesterday's architecture is today's heritage, can today's architecture be tomorrow's heritage? If it can, you can pull down the old structure provided the new one benefits the city. But if you can't come up with something good, don't mess around with something which we have inherited, that is better.

 
Richa-Chadha-band

42 Questions With Richa Chadha

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42 QUESTIONS WITH RICHA CHADHA

In this series, we ask people the hard questions about things that matter – like phobias, pick up lines, and who runs the world.

This week we talk to actor Richa Chadha, whose filmography is formidable, her politics and feminism clearly are articulated, and who handles being feted and trolled with equal sass and grace.

WORDS BY THE CITY STORY TEAM

What’s the last thing you ate from your organic garden at home?

A guava 

What was the hardest thing to give up now that you’re vegan?

Paneer

Which is more fun, stage or screen?

Stage is as much work as it is fun.      

Cats or dogs?

As an animal lover, I am offended by the question. Don’t you love both your kids equally? 

You play all our favourite characters – Dolly, Bholi Punjaban, Nagma Khatoon, Devi Pathak, Leela… Which one has been your favourite?

Bholi was fun, Devi was challenging, but the funniest character I have played is one called Softie that hasn’t been unleashed on the world yet. 

You’re going to play Shakeela – an adult star. Besides preparing for the role, are you preparing for the random comments? 

What can possibly prepare you for the random comments from complete strangers, whose opinions betray their conditioning, patriarchy, entitlement, and below sea level IQ? Nothing. 

Have you been typecast as Bollywood’s bold, brave broad?

I outgrew the box. 

What’s the sweetest thing a fan has ever said to you?

On the outskirts of Varanasi, we’d just finished shooting an emotional song for Gangs of Wasseypur, and a lady just held my hand and cried and blessed me.

Who’s your favourite vintage Bollywood actress?

MadhuBala, MeenaKumari

What old film would you have loved to be in?

Bandhini, Mughal E Azam, Sahib Bibi Aur Gulam, Pyaasa 

Have you been told you look like a young Salma Hayek?

Yes. Plenty of times and especially in Mexico! 

What would you have been if not an actress?

A dancer or a photographer or writer. Jackass of all trades. 

What’s the best thing about living in Mumbai?

You can possibly get deliveries of stuff 24x7. 

What’s the worst?

Not being able to rent flats as a single woman working in films despite being famous, because a bunch of hypocrites past their prime have holier-than-thou issues. 

Which is your favourite cinema in this city?

Metro. And Chandan. 

Where do you go when you want to go out dancing?

Outside India, far away from lurking cameras. 

What’s your favourite thing to eat in Mumbai and where?

Love food at Hakkasan and Dakshinayan. Love the Dosas at the latter. 

Which city in the world feels like a movie even when you’re just bumming around?

City of Angels, LA

What are you watching/reading right now?

I finished watching The Feud, and am reading Hunger by Roxanne Gay.

Who is the last person you texted? 

A friend to inquire about their safety, they live in Kerala (due to the floods).

What makes you angry?

Liars, needy people, opportunists, lazy people. 

What is your greatest phobia?

My only phobia is lizards. 

Which is your favourite social media app?

I like Pinterest because of all the cool things it exposes me to. 

Who makes you laugh on Instagram?

Mallika Dua and Tanmay Bhat 

What makes you angry on Twitter?

Dumb, paid trolls. Yesterday someone asked me where is my play – card (guess he meant placard) because Kerala is flooded. 

What gives you hope?

Children, the kindness of strangers, spirituality, and inspiring, successful women.  

Do you have a tattoo?

Yeah, I have a tattoo of my folks’ names on my right wrist. It faces me. 

What is the best pick up line you’ve ever heard?

“Whoa you’re stunning”. It was succinct. 

What do you notice first in a guy?

Mannerisms, smile, then wide shoulders, and eyes. 

How many languages do you speak?

I can understand and read several but can speak Hindi, Urdu, English, and Punjabi. 

Which is your favourite romantic film scene ever?

Can’t say. The nice ones become cliches due to over-referencing. 

What skill do you have that will never be useful in the movies?

I can move my ears without touching them. 

What’s the longest you’ve ever spent in high heels?

Oh hours, days. In Cannes. 

Who is your oldest friend?

My school friend Vedika Oberoi. 

What’s one thing you never thought you’d do that you’ve now done?

I did it. Now it’s done and dusted. 

If you were PM, what are the first three things you’d do?

I’d redirect grants to all religious institutions towards education, put all fundamentalist behind bars, make free education mandatory, the states with lowest literacy would have to pay a heavy penalty, absolutely no screwing with the environment for any developmental reasons whatsoever. We need to find a way around the tree, not chop it. 

What New Year’s resolution did you actually keep?

None. I have monthly goals. 

What song makes you cry?

Lukka Chhippi – Rang De Basanti

What’s one beauty secret you learned from your mama?

Besan, haldi, and dahi as a face pack is magic. 

If you could teleport one thing here from back home, what would it be?

My folks! 

Who run the world?

I wanna say girls but I’ll say moms. 

Finish the sentence: Boys will be…

Held accountable for stupid and damaging behaviour. 

 
Lovely-Little-Charms-band

Makers Of Mumbai: Tapasya Prabhu Of Lovely Little Charms

lovely little charms tapasya prabhu
 

MAKERS OF MUMBAI: TAPASYA PRABHU OF LOVELY LITTLE CHARMS

Tapasya Prabhu is the owner and artist behind Lovely Little Charms, a one-woman brand specialising in miniature collectibles modelled after food items. An interior designer by day and miniature artist by night, the 25-year-old artist is always in the middle of creating something. We speak to her about her creative processes, colour palettes, and her favourite corner of Mumbai.

lovely little charms tapasya prabhu

WORDS BY KRUTI DALAL

The City Story: When did you start making miniatures, and what inspired you?

Tapasya Prabhu: I was always very creative and inclined towards art. Even in school I would create art from waste materials like plastic bottles. I used to make miniature flowers out of either play dough or regular atta. When I was in my third year of architecture, I saw a video online that introduced me to polymer clay. Polymer clay contains particles of plastic and hardens on baking. That was a big revelation, and I was very excited about it. I started doing my own research and began experimenting. The first miniatures I made were a cookie, a doughnut and a bear on top of paperclips. I don’t get into creating realistic food items straight away. I just wanted to make cute things that could be used by people. Later I realised I could make it look more realistic, challenge myself, and turn it into a serious art form.

TCS: Why food?

TP: I’m a big foodie. And with this I can combine two things I love – food and art. Also, even though I’ve made them before, I don’t really enjoy making cars, cameras, and figurines.

TCS: When and how did you decide to turn this into a business?

TP: When I initially showed my friends the miniatures I had made, they were blown away. They didn’t even know something like this was possible. I got on to Instagram on my friends’ insistence, and then people started contacting me to ask if they could buy the miniatures. The plan was never to sell, but eventually I started doing that. (Editor’s note: Tapasya sells miniatures from her Instagram page.)

lovely little charms tapasya prabhu

TCS: Take us through the process of making one of your miniatures. What is your frame of mind when you create?

TP: I usually work at night, because I can concentrate better when it’s quiet. It’s very important to be patient, because there is a lot of research involved. I don’t have the actual food in front of me, so I have to replicate by referring to an image. Even after finding the image, I have to sit with it for a while to study and understand the colours and textures, because they are essential to making the miniature look realistic. I usually work on 10 pieces at a time, because if I make more it gets monotonous and hampers my creativity. It takes 3 to 4 days of work to complete one batch. And I’m very particular about quality. So even if there’s a minor mistake, I do it again.

TCS: How do you decide what you want to create next?

TP: I get a lot of suggestions from people who contact me on social media. Whenever I’m out of ideas, I refer to that list of suggestions. A lot of the times its food that I really like. Otherwise, I always check Pinterest for inspiration.

lovely little charms tapasya prabhu

TCS: What is the most challenging miniature you've created?

TP: The butter that’s on top of the pav bhaji miniature was challenging. It was very tough to get that colour right. I have actually written down the exact proportion of different coloured clay that I had to mix to get this shade. When I initially tried to mix white and yellow to get the pale shade, it looked like a very weird neon green because of the chemical composition of the clay. Everything else on the plate was ready, but I had to experiment a lot for the butter. It’s the tiniest bit, but it took the most amount of time. Even the ramen bowl was quite challenging.

TCS: What's the most memorable compliment you've received for your work?

TP: When people say, “I thought it was real”, that’s the biggest compliment for me. Recently my friend was over while I was creating the paneer tikka miniature, and she started picking up everything and pretended to eat it. It’s funny, but the fact that she wants to eat it even though it’s not real makes me very happy.

 

lovely little charms tapasya prabhu

TCS: What’s the best place in Mumbai to procure art materials?

TP: The area around Crawford market, especially Abdul Rehman Street. You get everything there.

TCS: Do you have a favourite area in Mumbai?

Apart from Wadala where I live, I love Bandra village. I also like Colaba. Since I’ve been an architecture student, I tend to pay attention to buildings and structure, and there are some beautiful old buildings on the back of Colaba Causeway. Whenever I’m in that area, I always take a walk to look at the buildings. I even like the stretch of art deco buildings along Marine Drive. I feel bad when buildings go for redevelopment to make way for monotonous structures.

lovely little charms tapasya prabhu

TCS: What next for Lovely Little Charms?

I usually just go with the flow and take up opportunities that come along. However, I have spoken to a few restaurants and brands about creating miniatures for them. So let’s see how that goes.

TCS: Any words of advice for budding miniature artists?

TP: Just go for it. Don’t compare yourself to anybody else. Challenge yourself and be consistent.

Photographs courtesy Tapasya Prabhu

 
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In Conversation With The Mother-Daughter Duo Behind Tao Art Gallery

tao art gallery
 

IN CONVERSATION WITH THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER DUO BEHIND TAO ART GALLERY

Right opposite the Arabian Sea stretch at Worli is Tao Art Gallery, which gives a glimpse of itself to the passersby through its huge glass facades – a conscious design decision by its founder/director Kalpana Shah. It opened in 2000 and has since featured solo and group shows of India’s most widely-known artists like M.F. Husain, V.S. Gaitonde, Tyeb Mehta, and S.H. Raza. As Kalpana takes us back in time to the gallery’s glorious past, her daughter, Sanjana, who recently joined as Tao’s creative director, discusses building on her mother’s legacy by digitising, curating challenging/unconventional shows, and creating an education series about contemporary art.

Tao Art Gallery, 165, The View, Dr Annie Besant Road, Worli, Mumbai 400 018. Tel: 022 2491 8585

WORDS BY PAYAL KHANDELWAL

The City Story: What inspired you to start Tao?

Kalpana Shah: Post the 1992 riots in Mumbai, some of the artists expressed themselves through open canvases, and that’s when I spotted M.F. Husain spontaneously painting at the footpath at Marine Drive [in 1992]. I was so touched to see artists express themselves in a situation where the rest of the city was so disturbed. My friend Sangita Jindal, who had accompanied me to see this, suggested I open an art gallery since I have so much passion for art. I couldn’t fathom it that time since our family had no art legacy. But somewhere, the idea stuck with me.

Since we are into real estate, my husband [the late Pankaj Shah] was working on a new building’s plan in Worli at that time. So, like a spoilt wife, I asked him to get me a gallery space [laughs]. And that’s how it all started. Tao was a dream come true since I love to be around culture, and with a gallery, you can express so much. We have done a lot in the last 18 years.

TCS: Could you tell us a bit about the gallery space and its open structure?

KS: I had always wanted the gallery to be this open, transparent space, as I was fascinated with foreign galleries where you can see the art from outside. It feels so welcoming. Sometimes, people don’t know how much they enjoy art till they come inside and interact with it.

Sanjana Shah: The architecture and interior design of Tao works beautifully for an art gallery, with the open spaces and large white walls allowing the art to breathe and truly stand out. The original Atrium Gallery from the year 2000 has a skylight that beautiful enhances the natural lighting of the space, while the newer Window Gallery is more clean and simplistic in design, allowing the contemporary to shine through.

tao art gallery

TCS: You opened the gallery 18 years ago. How have you been reinventing it?

KS: Till about 2017, we had organic growth based on my passion for art and relationships with the art world. I had no social media knowledge and no support system to do anything else till then. But when Sanjana joined, she changed the whole social media scene. We have a lovely young team now.

SS: I want to build on the 18 years of legacy that Mom has created. We are looking to digitise ourselves completely. We want to be like an online magazine, create a digital gallery, start online sales, etc. As a long-term vision, we want to be known internationally.

We have also started this new series called #EducateForArt about art. It hopes to bring together and build a like-minded community of people passionate about art, be it young students yearning to learn more, earning professionals looking to start their own collection, or veterans just looking for some creative food-for-thought! We hope to create workshops and programs for people at all levels of exposure and our specific workshops for children are designed to inculcate and maintain an eye for art from a young age itself.

tao art gallery

TCS: What’s the most fun and the most boring part of running a gallery?

KS: Running a gallery can never feel like a 9-to-5 stressful, boring job. I love working on all the shows, and hanging the artworks before a show is my most favourite part, because it allows me complete creative freedom to visualise and explore the art in synergy with the space. This not only aids in the curation process but also allows me to plan the show experience from the viewers’ perspective.

Every day is a new day at a gallery, and you get to meet so many people. There is a constant flow of energy.

SS: It truly is amazing. However, since I am from a slightly cynical generation, I feel there are slight hiccups along the way. The whole artist-gallerist-collector network is not quite clear. It’s all based on trust and word of mouth, and the gallerist’s role can get confusing sometimes. We need more clarity and transparency in this.

tao art gallery

TCS: What’s been your most memorable exhibition so far?

KS: I cherish a couple of exhibitions – M.F. Husain’s (2002) and S.H. Raza’s solo shows (2002, 2005, 2006, and 2008). Then there was a master show with artists like Husain, Raza, Tyeb Mehta, V.S. Gaitonde, etc. I really miss that era. All these artists expressed themselves individually, without being influenced by each other.

SS: For me, it was mom’s solo show, which she did as a breakthrough artist. I was very young then, but I remember giving a speech at the opening. Then our recent 18-year anniversary show “No Corners” was our most contemporary show till now.

TO MAKE A DAY OF A VISIT TO TAO, KALPANA AND SANJANA RECOMMEND:

  • A visit to the Haji Ali Dargah
  • Catching shows/performances at the Nehru Centre
  • Checking out the Nehru Planetarium
  • Heading to Lower Parel for food and shopping
 
Kayaan-Contractor-band

42 Questions With Kayaan Contractor

kayaan contractor
 

42 QUESTIONS WITH KAYAAN CONTRACTOR

In this series, we ask people the hard questions about things that matter – like fitness hacks, coffee, and Nutella.

This week we talk to Kayaan Contractor, Creative Director at Shapeshifter, image maker, and one of the coolest people we know.

WORDS BY THE CITY STORY TEAM

1. Do you have a middle name?

Shiraz – it’s my dad’s name but I use as my own.

2. Does anyone call you by your initials?

Lots of people. It’s very annoying.

3. What’s the most femme thing you have in your wardrobe? 

Let’s just say a sheer blouse. I’m not a very feminine person, I literally don’t know if I have anything feminine. A bunch of pink things, maybe, somewhere in the back of my closet?

4. Is it easier to be androgynous if you’re not curvy? 

I’ve never been curvy, so I don’t know. It depends on personal style.

5. What was the hardest of your 2018 resolutions to keep?

That I won’t lose my patience. Although I’ve been pretty good, but sometimes I do lose my patience and snap, and then I end up apologising.

6. Could you tell us how your parents chose the name Kayaan for you? 

It was the name of one of my uncles’ ex-girlfriends, and he really liked the name and named me. My parents didn’t really care! But it turns out it’s a fucking boy’s name.

7. Free will or destiny? 

A bit of both. I’m a big sucker for “things will happen when they have to happen”, but I’m also very big on “things will happen when I let them happen”.

8. “Beagle” translates to bee gueule – wide-throat or “loudmouth” in French because they’re so vocal. Are yours chatty?  

Only one of them. Max, the elder one, is really loud, but he’s a barking dog that never bites. He’s very alert and will make sure to let you know there’s someone at the door even if you know because the doorbell rang. Noah, on the other hand, has to really feel the need to go for it.

9. Tell us the story of one of your tattoos. 

My last one is of 2 cherry blossoms, 1 full and 1 half, on my elbow. If you look at it from far it looks like a bruise, but come closer beautiful and you’ll see it looks like it’s in watercolour. The full cherry blossom is my grandmother, half is me. We lost her 3 years ago. If you didn’t know her well she was a like really Parsi lady, angry at all times, but if you got close you’d see she was the loveliest, most beautiful person. Her favourite flower was the cherry blossom.

10. How often do you change your hair/cut/colour?

Don’t ask! Whenever I feel like doing something I just do it. It’s hair it’ll grow back, just take care of it.

11. What’s the one thing that should be in every Bombay girl’s wardrobe? 

I’ll tell you what I have in my wardrobe right now – a jar of Nutella!

12. Three general fashion favourites that must die immediately.

I don’t know if this is fashion, but the selfie pout needs to be jammed into a bottle and thrown away for not even Kevin Costner to find in Message in a Bottle.

From a blogger/model/influencer perspective, sample clothing should be in more than one size, because not everybody is the same size. There are smaller girls and people need to understand that. Clamping needs to stop.

And very high heels when you’re doing photoshoots. There are alternatives in boots, and amazing Doc Martens available in every colour.

13. Cold-shouldered tops – good or bad? 

I’m giving it the cold shoulder right now. No thanks.

14. Fitness hack. 

I put on music and dance with my eyes closed – it’s fun. Tire myself out. Dance till I die. Goofy dancing really makes you sweat.

15. Favourite poem. 

Eloisa to Abelard by Alexander Pope. One of the lines is in the poem is my favourite movie – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I also love Leonard Cohen. And my favourite newest little line to go back is the line from Shape of Water – “Unable to perceive the shape of You, I find You all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with Your love, It humbles my heart, For You are everywhere...”

16. What’s the best city in the world to see fashion on the street?

I’ve never been, but I’ve heard that Berlin is very different. From the places I have been to, I would have to say New York.

17. Where can you find the best dressed men in India?

On the internet.

18. And women?

In my mirror.

19. Most expensive accessory you’ve ever bought?

My watch, which I bought last month. It’s a Rolex.

20. Most overrated fashion must-have?

Oversized anything.

21. Favourite decade for women’s hair?  

All. I’m a hair connoisseur. I really like the ’70s for that entire carefree business – it was more feather hair etc. There’s no particular era for good hair. It’s good hair-a for every era. I also love how victory rolls look.

22. Has anyone ever told you you look a little like Alia Bhatt?

No, that has never come up. I got Anushka Sharma once. I don’t know from where.

23. Who is your vintage Hollywood style inspiration? 

Lady Gaga when she wants to be vintage.

24. Who has style in the Indian firmament? 

Kangana Ranaut

25. What are you reading right now?

I’m not an avid reader. I remember visuals, so I’ll watch anything. This is how I watch Wes Anderson movies – in full awe. Sometimes I’ll watch something and have to re-watch it because I wasn’t paying attention to what happened, just how it looked.

26. What are the top 3 songs on your playlist?

I Get Ideas – Louis Armstrong – That’s always playing.

Deep Inside of You – 3EB

Dancing on my Own – Robyn

Those are the top 3 right now. I listen to a lot of David Bowie, Louis Armstrong, vintage music. Anything that’ll give me feels and make cry is ace.

27. Which was your first magazine cover?

That I was on – Grazia Digital last year. That I styled – Ranveer Singh for The Man.

28. Do people recognize you now? And do they ask for selfies?

Yes, they do. They don’t hound me. Asking for selfies happens at Amazon Fashion Week. At Lakme I’m just there to watch the shows and go back home, I’m one of many Bombay bloggers.

29. Do you ever get tired of seeing your own face in your work? 

No, I don’t. Is that bad to say? It’s because I constantly have to keep looking at how I can do one better. So I have to keep looking at the images we make time and again before the next shoot. I look at them to see how I can change or reinvent.

30. Best place to get a coffee and people watch?

Come to my house and we’ll watch TV. I’ll give you coffee. I’m a hermit.

31. If you had to, what could you eat every single day forever? 

I have 2 extremes – sushi and dahi kadhi.

32. Fake winter, purgatorial summer, wetwetwet – which is the hardest Mumbai season to dress for?

Wet

33. Crocs? Docs? Birkenstocks? Yes or no for each, please. 

No (unless they’re Christopher Kane). Yaaaas. Yes.

34. Do you have a “fashion advice” group on Whatsapp? 

No no no no no no no. No groups, I hate groups

35. What’s the last thing you vetoed that a friend was wearing?

All my friends dress well.

36. Best thing on Netflix.

Queer Eye. Although right now what I am re-watching is Hannibal and Bates Motel. And it’s not on Netflix but Girls on Hotstar. It’s my no. 1 show, I’ve watched at least 4 times. I love Lena Dunham

37. Most over-used fashion word?

Fab! Lit!

38. One makeup item you can’t live without?

It’s two, actually; mascara and lip and cheek tint.

39. High heels are a tool of the patriarchy – true or false? 

I don’t know, I think it’s a personal choice. I wouldn’t judge you on your character if you choose to wear it.

40. DietSabya is… 

Not me!

41. What fashion trend should come with an age-appropriate warning? (Athleisure?)

Nothing. Personal style is personal style. It takes balls to wear what you want, at whatever age.

42. Finish the sentence: Well-behaved women…

…would constantly have to keep up with appearances, all the while wondering what it would be like to go a little crazy and enjoy it from time to time! 

 
Myrtle-band

Makers Of Mumbai: Saptaparni & Shalmoli Of Myrtle Handcrafted Jewellery

myrtle handcrafted jewellery Saptaparni Shalmoli
 

MAKERS OF MUMBAI: SAPTAPARNI AND SHALMOLI OF MYRTLE HANDCRAFTED JEWELLERY

When Saptaparni and Shalmoli couldn’t turn away the stray cats that trooped into their ground-floor apartment, they realised they needed to find alternate means of income to feed their growing army. They began Myrtle in early 2018 and their distinct handcrafted jewellery has already gathered a loyal following in the city. The sisters have moulded the perfect partnership – Saptaparni designs and creates the jewellery, while Shalmoli does all the number crunching.

WORDS BY KRUTI DALAL

The City Story: Tell us a little about your journey. How and when did you decide to start Myrtle Handkraft?

Saptaparni: I loved clay modelling and painting as a child. I started with sculpting faces and heads and then moved on to miniatures. That was my learning curve. I started making jewellery in 2013. Being an actor, I often get a lot of free time between auditions and shoots. Then my closest friends suggested I start selling the pieces. I don’t like selling art, but I needed the money to feed the stray cats we had started adopting. So we began posting the pieces on Instagram where we got a good response.

TCS: Can you talk us through the process of creating?

Saptaparni: I use air-dry or polymer clay that you can buy from any store. I mix a little bit of watercolour, acrylic or oil paint into the clay to create the colours that I want. The true colours only show once the product is completely dry. I make the base first, then the flowers, leaves and other designs. Finally, I stick those on the base. I improvise a lot. I never have a fixed design in mind when I start.

Shalmoli: We always tell our customers that they will never get the same design, because our designer keeps improvising. Even making a pair of earrings is difficult for her at times, because she can’t copy the designs so precisely. But customers love that, because it makes the jewellery unique.

myrtle handcrafted jewellery Saptaparni Shalmoli

TCS: What inspires you?

Saptaparni: In 2013 I saw big, chunky earrings at a Dolce and Gabbana Show at Milan Fashion Week. I loved those earrings, and I wanted them. That was the trigger point. Since then I’ve always wanted to create big jewellery pieces.

In terms of design, I’m instantly attracted to flowers and leaves. Even if I consciously try to avoid them, I end up creating them in most of my designs. I will eventually move on to more geometric shapes, but right now I’m focused on florals.

TCS: What are some of the challenges of running a business?

Shalmoli: Money is always a problem. So many customers bargain a lot. We do give some discount if they’re buying in bulk, but it’s not possible for us to lower our prices since we’re barely making any profit. While fixing prices, we take the cost of production into account, then the size, then the postage charges and finally add only a tiny margin for the actual labour and time spent on making the product.

TCS: What keeps you going?

Saptaparni: The love of art. I believe that any form of art is therapeutic and requires a lot of concentration. People should not take up art to become famous, to earn money. They should do it for the joy it brings them, just like I do.

myrtle handcrafted jewellery Saptaparni Shalmoli

TCS: What are your future plans? Where do you want to take Myrtle in the next 5 years?

Shalmoli: Our next step would be to create a website. Right now, we only have an Instagram account. A website means better brand value and more customers. We are also looking to start world-wide shipping, because we have been getting requests from overseas as well.

Saptaparni: From the product point of view, my goal is to make bigger, chunkier earrings. I believe that more is less. People have approached us for collaborations and bulk orders, but I can’t keep up with that since I’m the only one who makes the jewellery.

I would also love to make my own utensils – ceramic bowls and plates. But it’s very expensive to have that kind of a set-up at home with a wheel and baking kiln. I started with the jewellery because I couldn’t afford that, but I hope one day I can.

TCS: What do you love most about Mumbai?

Saptaparni: I’ve travelled all over the country, but I can relate to Mumbai because in many ways it is similar to Calcutta. The culture is rich, the people are humble and the weather is beautiful for most part.

TCS: Where do you go when you need a quick escape from the city?

Saptaparni: We like going to Karjat on the weekends because all our cats are there now, at an animal shelter called Probably Paradise run by Roxanne Davur. It’s a beautiful space with over 250 rescued animals including horses, dogs, cats, and cows.

 
Izumi-band

10 Things You Need To Know About Ramen, Sushi, And Izumi With Chef Nooresha Kably

izumi
 

10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RAMEN, SUSHI, AND IZUMI WITH CHEF NOORESHA KABLY

Izumi is a Japanese restaurant in Bandra that makes a delicious ramen. Although Japanese food is traditionally associated with seafood (think sushi and sashimi), there is plenty on offer for vegetarians here as well.

Izumi, Ground Floor, Sunrise Building, Road Number 24, Behind Rang Mandir, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050. Tel: +91 86574 55585

READ GENESIA ALVES'S STORY

1. In the beginning, there was the broth.

The broth is the soul of the ramen. There are three basic viscosities. The kotteri is a rich, dark broth, opaque with the emulsified fat, minerals, and protein leached out of bones simmered for hours and hours. The assari broth is a light, thin liquid that is made when vegetables, fish, or bones are cooked quickly. The paitan is a white bone broth.

2. Broth + Flavouring = Soup

Your ramen will have one of four main flavours – shio (just salt), shoyu (seasoned with a sauce made from fermented soy bean – not soy sauce), miso (turns the soup opaque and has that familiar, complex umami), and tonkotsu, the richest of all – a pork bone broth that is glistening with gelatin.

 3. At Izumi, the broths take hours…

“The pork is a rich, creamy broth that is slow cooked for over eight hours,” says Chef Nooresha. “The chicken ramen is called chicken paitan. We serve it in five flavours, each making the same broth different. Veg shoyu is a chintan soup (a clear soup slow cooked for two hours), which is very distinct, flavoured with konbu, soy, shiitake and onion.”

izumi

 4. Okay but straight up – is the vegan broth as good as the tonkotsu?

“We make two vegan broths for vegetarians,” says Chef Nooresha, “and both taste great! One is a veg shoyu. The other is a miso broth that is creamy with soy milk and also served in a curry flavour (Japanese curry). At every tasting, the veg ramen has managed to hold its own despite the chicken and pork ramen served, so I’m very happy with the outcome of the veg. In fact, I’d strongly recommend the non-vegetarians try the veg broths.”

5. How should we eat sushi?

“The sushi school I attended emphasized nigiri as that’s real Edo (old name for Tokyo) sushi,” says Chef Nooresha. “You can pick the sushi up with your fingers. No dipping in soy as we put a nikiri sauce and garnish to complement it. And there’s no need to apply wasabi either and it’s already been put between the rice and seafood or vegetables.

“Even with rolls like uramaki, maki, hosomaki, futomaki – the flavours are all there. Maybe you need a touch of soy or wasabi.

Izumi_003

“Gari (the pink pickled ginger) is to be eaten separately between each nigiri to cleanse the palate and ready you for the next seafood nigiri. Don’t pile the gari up on top of the roll and eat it together – it’s not done and not the right way at all.

“Wasabi, salt, soy, gari, sushi rice vinegar, and cooking sake all work as anti-bacterials and keep your stomach safe.”

 6. What are the condiments on the table?

An incredible burnt garlic oil, jigoku tare (made with sesame and seasoning), a bottle of Kikkoman soy sauce, and a sesame mill.

7. What’s the story behind the whale moustache in Izumi?

“Not all whales have moustaches – so it’s a rare thing,”’ says Chef Nooresha. “It’s used to filter the plankton and krill they eat. My teacher in Japan gave it to me as a gift and said good luck with your Jap ramen Shop. He has one in his ramen shop too.”

Izumi_001

 8. What can fans of the Sushi Koi menu expect to see on the Izumi menu?

“Sushi being rolled out live,” she says, “sashimi cut, your order served immediately – not packed and delivered. And ramen! There are also some small plate specials, tuna, salmon, and hamachi that you may not have eaten before.”

9. Izumi makes its own noodles.

“I learned how to do it, and it’s easy and fresh!”

 10. What are Chef Nooresha’s top three favourite things on the menu?

“Spicy ramen and veg shoyu ramen… chutoro sashimi, tuna zuke, seared sashimi. Sorry, I know you said three, but I also love the sugoi maki!”

 
Samit-Basu-band

42 Questions With Samit Basu

samit basu
 

42 QUESTIONS WITH SAMIT BASU

In this series, we ask people the hard questions about things that matter – like monsters under the bed, Simon Le Bon, and fan mail.

This week we talk to Samit Basu, the pioneer of Indian English fantasy writing. The best-selling Gameworld Trilogy, comics, science fiction, and kids’ books have earned him a fan base around the world. His novel Turbulence won Wired’s Goldenbot Award– and not just because parts of it are coming alarmingly true!

WORDS BY THE CITY STORY TEAM

1. How are you?

I am well! I spend most of my days doing work I like and meeting only people I like, which makes me feel very lucky.

2. What did the monsters under your bed look like when you were little?

I didn’t have monsters under my bed, but I did sometimes imagine faces in the window, especially during thunderstorms – visible when lightning flashed, and then disappearing. Just people looking in.

3. What do they look like now?

Blocked on Twitter.

4. Do you have an inner child? How old is it?

I do. It is a matryoshka inner child buried inside other layers of successively older inner children. The innermost one is around three.

5. Which was your coming of age book or film?

I need a more specific definition of coming of age.

6. Name the scariest thing in Turbulence that came true?

There was a sudden surge in outbursts of spontaneous mob violence/flashmob lootings around the world the year after it was published in India. Also, Osama being found in Pakistan, though I had him in a cave, not a random house. The larger crisis of Resistance is starting to come true, though, even in a world without super-powered people, and that’s far more worrying.

7. You once said modern times could do with a Yuga Placement Manager. Which Yug would you choose?

If I could time-travel I’d either go back around 20 years but with context, or to around 40 years from now, when the current bad phase should end by my very precise calculations – for the survivors, that is. These are both present-Yug situations, I guess.

8. Which is the city you’re most comfortable in – Calcutta, Delhi, or Mumbai?

I think Indian cities are monoculturing at a very rapid pace, so the differences between Calcutta, Delhi, and Bombay are eroding very fast. If I had to pick one, it would be Delhi, but mainly because I have the most friends there, and it has a winter.

9. Which city gets most on your nerves?

Mumbai. But that’s not the city’s fault, it’s the nature of the work I do there, which involves meetings. Meetings. I… meetings.

10. Which is your favourite part of Mumbai?

The wavering spine of micro-cultures that line the seaface at 20-minute intervals. It’s like a little archipelago connected by auto-boats. I wish I’d spent more of my 20s in Mumbai.

11. Where are you most likely to find monsters in Mumbai?

Housing society meetings and the top floors of towers. But this might be a worldwide phenomenon.

12. And do you have a favourite place to be fed in the city?

Versova cafés and restaurants where there’s a film being planned at every table, but the real story is the sitcom about the plan.

13. Which bookstores in Mumbai do you think are alright?

Any bookstore is fine by me. The ones townside are older and more chaotic and likelier to have people in them who know their books, which always add to displaced nostalgia, but listing the usual suspects would be touristy: I didn’t grow up in them. I’ve never had a really good local bookstore anywhere in the country. My first book event was at Crossword Kemps, so I’ll always have fond memories about that store.

14. Spirit of Mumbai: paraclete, poltergeist, or phantasm?

Phantasm

15. Three words to describe Bollywood as you know it.

So much potential

16. You’ve written several amazing, internationally acclaimed books and comics. Would you like to see one adapted for the screen?

Thank you. Yes. It’s a conversation that’s happened many, many times. It continues to happen now on three separate things. Hopefully one day.

17. Which is your favourite movie/TV show of all time?

I don’t know. It’s the same problem as favourite book, constantly changing roster, far too many to list. The last show I loved unreservedly was Stranger Things. On the Indian front, I think Sacred Games was several literal cuts ahead of the rest so far.

18. What are you watching/reading right now? 

Sasha Baron Cohen’s new show. Not reading anything at the moment because I’m working on a novel, but the next book on my TBR is Tade Thompson’s Rosewater.

19. Dogs or cats? Don’t be diplomatic.

Dogs.

20. Is your dog really named after a steamed bread?

I am one of Tingmo’s humans, he doesn’t belong to me. And yes: he looked exactly like a tingmo as a puppy.

21. Which social media app is best for an alter ego?

All our online personas are alter egos on every app. I like Instagram the best, I think.

22. What career were you planning on when you went to IIM-A?

Career planning is such an admirable idea and I really should have tried it at some point. No, when I went to IIMA I was clearly not thinking at all, let alone career planning.

23. Which is the most unlikely/farthrest (geographically or culturally) place you’ve received fan mail from?

Geographically, Vancouver. Culturally it’s harder to say: I think writers and readers who like their books are linked by culture, and I certainly don’t identify strongly with mainstream culture in my geographical region at the moment: the link was far stronger in the 90s and early turn-of-century. The countries I’ve been most pleasantly surprised to get reader letters from are Estonia and South Africa.

24. Most overused SF/fantasy trope.

Whiteness.

25. Most underrated writer or book or series?

Underrated is another very tough one because my personal ratings of books have nothing to do with how much money they made, what awards they won, or how diligently they were marketed.

26. Biggest disappointment regarding the promises SF made us about ‘the future’.

None, SF is speculative and not predictive. If I could have one thing out of SF, it would be a Star Wars cultural origin point, a post-race, post-money world. But it’s not like I ever thought it was possible.

27. Do you think George RR Martin will finish the book series?

Yes.

28. Did you ever meet Simon Le Bon?

No.

29. Who would you like to sit down for a chat with, living or dead, real or fictional?

I spent far too much time pacing around my house thinking about this. I need to move on with my life, so Unity, the hivemind from Rick and Morty.

30. How often do you put people from real life into your fiction?

Quite often. Never the whole person, of course, but most of my leading characters started out as people I know well.

31. What is the best thing about being a writer?

The commute to my desk.

32. And the worst?

The daily news.

33. Do you stop reading when it is time to write?

Not always, but usually. I’m less afraid of being influenced by whatever I’m reading now because there’s more experience at saying what I want to say, but I’m more afraid of being distracted, because my attention span isn’t what it used to be.

34. How do you deal with monkey invasions of your home?

Wearily. They are far too frequent.

35. What’s your favourite thing to do on holiday?

It used to exploration and ticking things off lists. Now it’s mostly food and meandering.

36. How many siblings do you have and what is your birth order?

One, two.

37. Have you ever bullied anyone?

I have performed a complete scan of my entire life thus far and am happy to report I have not. I have behaved badly with lots of people though.

38. Do you think intelligent life outside the planet exists and we will have contact in our lifetime?

A good time for all of us to remember that intelligent life exists on our planet and I for one have made contact with it. I hope intelligent life exists outside it as well. We’re not meeting it in this lifetime if it’s actually intelligent.

39. What is the most ridiculous social construct?

I’m going to walk riiiight past this minefield because is anything ridiculous if it causes lots of deaths and everything I just thought of does.

40. Do you have a theoretical team for the post-apocalyptic world?

No, what is the point, I won’t make it. And if I do I won’t get this theoretical team and will just be really upset with my fellow survivors which will lead to my eventual expulsion from that already not-ideal team.

It is all quite sad because I do have extensive theoretical knowledge of post-apocalyptic scenarios, but who will have time to ask me about this in such a situation?

41. If you had a super power what would it be?

Again, whatever I can get. What is this scenario where I am offered a menu of superpowers and I can pick one? Who is offering me this? Why? How? Why only one? I need more information.

Seriously, I’m not picky. Give.

42. What’s your newest book about and when will we be able to read it?

The extensive procrastination this interview involved was such a happy time. I miss it already.

It’s too early to talk about the new book, but it’s very different from anything I’ve done before, which is why it’s taken me a really long time. I hope it’ll be out next year, but that depends entirely on the vicissitudes of the publishing process. It’s a big one, though. I am, dare I say it, excited and hopeful.

 
Ankur-Tewari-band

42 Questions With Ankur Tewari

 

42 QUESTIONS WITH ANKUR TEWARI

In our new series, we ask people the hard questions about things that matter – like de-stressing in the city, podcasts, and advice to their younger selves.

This week we talk to Ankur Tewari of Ankur and the Ghalat Family - a storyteller whose medium changes from songwriting, directing, singing, scriptwriting to impromptu tall tales for eager kids on a beach.

WORDS BY THE CITY STORY TEAM

1. Does the thought of answering 42 questions fill you with interest or dread?

I’m petrified

2. Where were you born?

In Brussels, Belgium

3. What’s been your favourite memory so far?

Listening to my song on Dolby Digital in a theatre when my film released in 2003

4. How old were you when you got your first guitar?

6 or 7 – I don’t remember – I wasn’t counting

5. How did you get it?

My father got it for me but he got the wrong guitar – he got me a Hawaiian guitar instead of a Spanish guitar, and I had to go to the workshop to exchange it

6. Mumbai or Bombay?

Bombay

7. Is there a lane or a street in the city that you particularly like?

The lane that leads to my house in Bandra

8. You have 15 minutes to grab a snack in Bombay. Where would you go and what would you eat?

Goodluck Café – masala kheema and pao + double fried egg + 1 meethi chai

9. What are you listening to right now?

The Beatles Live at the BBC and “I did it” by Rajakumari

10. Who/what is your favourite account on Instagram?

Changes every few weeks. Right now, its Patti Smith

11. What’s the sound the typically describes Bombay?

Horns/Honking

12. Recommend a book to us.

Just Kids – Patti Smith

13. How do you chill out (de-stress) in the city?

I play Boggle or my Playstation

14. What’s missing in your life right now?

Home in a place that has oxygen

15. If there’s one thing you could change about Bombay, what would it be?

I would de-prioritise cars over pedestrians

16. What’s a language would you like to learn?

French

17. What language do you wish you already knew?

I wish I could read Urdu

18. Can you name the last film that really moved you?

La Vie En Rose

19. Do you listen to podcasts? If yes, which is your favourite?

Song Exploder by Hrishikesh Hirway

20. Play football or cricket?

I would like to play more cricket but I play more football

21. Who named your band?

Rohit Bhatia

22. What do you think women in Bombay need the most right now?

Tax exemption on sanitary napkins (Ed. Note: This interview was conducted two weeks ago; Ankur's wish has come true!)

23. Who has been your best critic so far?

Colonel Kapoor and Prarthna Singh

24. You made Let’s Enjoy when you were 23. Had you been on a film set before that?

Never

25. What’s your favourite story?

Chal tumdi batoobaa – I remember it vaguely, but my nani used to tell this story to me and I used to love the sound of it

26. The Beatles or Led Zepp?

The Beatles

27. What do you do when you hit a writer’s block?

Stop thinking. Start feeling.

28. Is there any object in your house that you would carry with you no matter where you went?

My guitar

29. Can you name the last inspiring person you met?

The girl that I interviewed for Doosra Dashak – there are these girls who, despite their socio-economic status, decided to educate themselves despite the odds.

30. What’s the best part of living in Bombay?

People put money behind crazy ideas

31. What’s the worst?

Lack of space

32. Where do you like to get your coffee in the city?

Salt Water Café

33. What’s the most important lesson parents should be teaching their children today?

Love will keep us alive

34. What’s in your backpack?

I’m traveling right now, so Kindle, passport, tickets, cologne, earphones, and headphones (I always like to have a backup)

35. If not Bombay, where would you like to live?

Berlin

36. Is creativity inborn or can it be cultivated?

Both. It’s how you tap into nature, if you can crack that.

37. What are your favourite lyrics?

Slow by Leonard Cohen

All your moves are swift

All your turns are tight

Let me catch my breath

I thought we had all night

I like to take my time

I like to linger as it flies

A weekend on your lips

A lifetime in your eyes

38. What would you tell your 17-year-old self?

It’s going to be ok. Don’t join Facebook.

39. Planes, trains, boats, or motorcars?

Trains – Nostalgia.

40. What do you think of when I say social media?

Fake news

41. What’s your favourite bit of coastline (promenade) in Bombay?

Bandstand

42. Complete the sentence – Creativity comes from…

Submission