Actress Sonam Kapoor with Anupama Chopra at the latter’s book launch in Jaipur Literature Festival at Diggi Palace, Jaipur, Jan. 25. (Press Trust of India)


Sonam Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Javed Akhtar, Anupama Chopra and many more literary brains gathered at Diggi Palace in Jaipur for the Jaipur Literary Festival. They turned a lot of pages in Indian literature and the lives of those associated with literature and entertainment circles in India. A Press Trust of India report.


Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar (r) during the book launch of “In Other Words” at the inauguration of the Jaipur Literature Festival at Diggi Palace in Jaipur, Jan. 21. (Press Trust of India)

Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar (r) during the book launch of “In Other Words” at the inauguration of the Jaipur Literature Festival at Diggi Palace in Jaipur, Jan. 21. (Press Trust of India)

My Father Told Me at 9, It was Okay to be Dusky: Shabana Azmi

Actress Shabana Azmi credits her father, noted poet Kaifi Azmi, with removing any prejudices she might have against darker skin tones telling her that “being dusky was okay and being black was indeed beautiful.”

“As a little girl I also was in love with the white dolls which had golden hair and blue twinkling eyes but my father never got me one. When I was nine year old, he got me a doll with black skin and eyes and told me that being dusky was okay and being black was indeed beautiful,” Shabana said at the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival.

The actress, said despite her initial disappointment with her father’s “ugly gift,” she soon understood that her Abba’s words held deep meaning.

“The kind of values and confidence I was raised with also reflected later in choice of the kind of films I did,” she said.

Shabana was in conversation with Pakistani artist and nuclear-weapon activist Salima Hashmi and lyricist Ali Hussain Mir in a session titled “Faiz and Kaifi-A poetic legacy” at the LitFest.

Author Ashok Vajpayee and Arvind Krishna Mehrotra at the inauguration of the Jaipur Literature Festival at Diggi Palace in Jaipur, Jan. 21. (Press Trust of India)

Author Ashok Vajpayee and Arvind Krishna Mehrotra at the inauguration of the Jaipur Literature Festival at Diggi Palace in Jaipur, Jan. 21. (Press Trust of India)

The actress went down the memory lane recalling how her mother who came from an upper middle class family in Hyderabad fell in love with young dynamic poet Kaifi and how she played a confident bread earner of the family without portraying a glimpse of making some sacrifice.

Admiring her father’s poetic legacy, the 64-year-old actress said, “My father was such a great poet that everybody used to believe that the poem he was reciting for that person only, especially women.”

“He had such conviction in his eyes. As a kid I had gone to a party with Ammi and Abba, where Kaifi sahib recited a poem and a women said “Aap kamal ka likhte hain Kaifi sahib.”

To this my father replied “Aap ke liye hi likha hai mohatarama” and I went haywire and pointed out that my father had written those lines for my mother,” she recalled.

“My mother felt embarrassed with my behavior at the party but inside I knew she was on cloud nine. My father, however never dared dedicating any poem to any random woman, thereafter,” Shabana said.

Meanwhile Salima Hashim, also shared flashback moments of her childhood and the legacy of her father, the renowned poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

Girish Karnad and Naseeruddin Shah at a session at Jaipur Literature Festival at Diggi Palace in Jaipur, Jan. 21. (Press Trust of India)

Girish Karnad and Naseeruddin Shah at a session at Jaipur Literature Festival at Diggi Palace in Jaipur, Jan. 21. (Press Trust of India)

The Charm of Superstar Rajesh Khanna

Love and affection that millions of fans bestowed on superstar Rajesh Khanna during his acting heydays turned into a source of sorrow for the yesteryear romantic hero when they left him during a career slump.

Writers got together at the Jaipur Literature Festival to explore the dark side of stardom and loneliness of Rajesh Khanna who died in 2012.

“He was always in denial of his biological parents. It was something that he wanted to hide from people. He was adopted by his uncle at the age of 6 or 7 and it was a kind of shock for him as he felt he was deserted probably because he was not good enough for his parents and those confused feelings always remained inside him,” Khanna’s biographer Yasser Usman said in Jaipur, Jan. 25.

Usman, who had penned “Rajesh Khanna: The Untold Story of India’s First Superstar” was speaking at a session “The Phenomenon: Rajesh Khanna.”

“Later, he got love when he became a phenomenal star. He got that unconditional love from his fans which he was looking for and had expected from his biological parents. But when his downfall came and fans deserted him, which hurt him,” Yasser said.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje at the inauguration of the Jaipur Literature Festival at Diggi Palace in Jaipur, Jan. 21. (Press Trust of India)

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje at the inauguration of the Jaipur Literature Festival at Diggi Palace in Jaipur, Jan. 21. (Press Trust of India)

Gautam Chintamani who penned “Dark Star: The Loneliness of Rajesh Khanna,” said it was fascinating to see that a lot of Khanna’s admirers continued to be fans of the actor whose career went downhill after touching the height of stardom.

“Khanna always accepted that fact that his stardom has gone but he wanted it back He always wanted to make a comeback, and for that he did some pictures which should not have done,” Chintamani said.

Yasser said almost every fan of Khanna that he encountered had a deep obsession with the author. The author said he always got the answer “you will not understand,” when he asked fans to give more details about the actor.

One woman from Kolkata who admired Khanna said she went to watch his films imagining it to be a “date” with the actor. “Such was the charm for actor and he ruled the heart of fans but at time came when he was alone,” he said.

Yasser said despite public opinion that superstardom had destroyed Rajesh Khanna he felt that the actor’s multiple factors such as arrogance and over-possessiveness as well as unconditionally in relationships led to the actor’s downfall.

Chintamani said,”Everyone who knew Khanna used to say that they knew him best even though Khanna himself did not know it himself.” The session was moderated by author Shoba De.