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Soha Ali Khan on the perils of being moderately famous, turning author, and lessons her family taught her



Soha Ali Khan has turned author with a tongue-in-cheek memoir called The Perils of Being Moderately Famous, published by Penguin. In her debut book, Soha strikes gives readers a glimpse into her private life — and her self-deprecating sense of humour.

“Penguin (the publishers) approached me to write the book — and hey weren’t the first to suggest it. My mother has been going on about the same for a long time. ‘You love reading and you write so well, why don’t you write a book?’ she’d ask. Earlier, I used to write her letters; I have also written some articles for the Oxford magazine.”

Soha Ali Khan's book launch. From left: Saba Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Saif Ali Khan and Kunal Kemmu

Soha Ali Khan’s book launch. From left: Saba Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Saif Ali Khan and Kunal Kemmu

Writing a book was, of course, different — and quite a challenge. “I found (the idea of reaching) 50,000 words a daunting challenge, and I don’t work well with timelines. So I wasn’t sure, but the folks at Penguin asked me to write an introductory chapter and see, which I eventually did. I sent the draft to a few of my friends and the reactions were positive. That’s when I decided to try writing a chapter a month. But sometimes I would write a whole chapter in two days and then I would take two months to write another!”

Eventually, she started enjoying the writing process as she got over the fear of having signed a contract and working to a deadline. “You forget that somebody other than you is going to read this and it will be in the public domain. It is very cathartic. So you end up asking questions like ‘Have I given away too much?’, ‘Am I too vulnerable?’ — but the idea is to be sincere and honest. Readers don’t want something that is PR-controlled at the end of the day, or about building an image. They really want to know who you are, and I don’t mind sharing that,” Soha said.

Soha is the youngest of her generation in the Pataudi household. Some parts of her biography are pretty well-known — that she’s the daughter of the cricketer ninth Nawab of Pataudi Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi (aka Tiger Pataudi) and actor Sharmila Tagore.

Incidentally, Soha’s grandfather — Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi — was also a noted Indian cricketer and had served as the captain of the Indian cricket team (a feat his son would later emulate). Looking back on her family history, and what the abolishing of princely titles and privy purses in 1971 meant, Soha said, “There was a lot of pomp and show in my grandfather’s days. My father, born in 1941, also experienced that. Then he saw the time when royal perks were discontinued. From being the Nawab of Pataudi, he suddenly became (only) Mr Mansoor Ali Khan and he took that in his stride.”

Does she hold on to any vestiges of the past? “I would say the things that tie me to the princely past would be the jewellery or clothing — when we dress up for weddings we wear a traditional bhopali or a sharara. But essentially the spirit — the one that we have grown up with — has been very modern, liberal, secular and independent.”

Soha studied Modern History at Balliol College, Oxford, and later earned a Master’s degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her education helped broaden her perspective and understand the world through a more accommodating lens, Soha feels. “In England, there’s so much of aristocracy, but I went to a college that was very leftist; where things like social status were dismissed and not looked on with favour. It was far more liberal in its outlook in comparison with other colleges. People liked you for who you are, your personality — not for which family you came from, who your parents were or any kind of titles you had,” she said.

The very first chapter in Soha’s book is titled ‘Big Shoes, Small Feet’ and it’s dedicated to her father. Speaking of her dad, Soha said being laconic is something she picked up from him. “If I was sitting with him and we were having a conversation, it’d be fine. But he didn’t like to speak on the telephone; he always wanted to get to the point immediately. I would sometimes try to think of topics to prolong the conversation, but he would have none of it. Strangely, I — who would chat on the phone with my friends for hours during my school days — have now become exactly like him. I never answer my phone. If you text me, however, I’ll reply within seconds. I feel phone calls are intrusive and engaging in the formalities is a waste of time. Text messaging is so much easier.”

Coverpage of Soha Ali Khan's debut novel, Perils of Being Moderately Famous.

Cover page of Soha Ali Khan’s debut novel, The Perils of Being Moderately Famous.

Among the major influences on Soha’s life was her maternal grandmother, ‘Lal Didi’. “Lal Didi taught us that it doesn’t matter how old you are, as long as you are young at heart. All her friends were our friends. I remember, she loved hand-written letters a lot. I wrote to her once and sent the letter via a friend of mine who was going to Kolkata. He went to deliver the letter at 11 am, and she offered him a glass of whisky! She had a real zest for life… even when she was in the ICU, she used to get her makeup done because she wanted to look nice,” Soha recounted.

The women in her family played a huge role in shaping Soha’s outlook to life. “Each woman in our family is a product of her own experiences and her own educational background. My mother is the eldest in the family and hence her experiences were different, and difficult. I think the oldest child, especially the woman, always has a lot of responsibility and the extra task of parenting. Lal Didi finished her MA, but my mother couldn’t go to college and that has been one of her biggest regrets. That’s why she has ensured that all of us completed our education,” Soha said.

Coming back to her book, it’s certain to change perceptions about Soha herself. “A lot of people — especially when they think of the family that I belong to, being an actor or being from a certain ‘social class’ or having a certain amount of money — feel your personality would be a certain way, or that you might be spoilt, or you might be arrogant,” Soha said. “I think it’s nice to break certain stereotypes and misconceptions that people might have about you.”


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Suriya at Thaanaa Serndha Koottam success meet: ‘The film has shattered a lot of stereotypes’



The success meet of Suriya’s Thaanaa Serndha Koottam was held in Chennai on 18 January. Suriya, who was conspicuous by his absence during the beginning of the event due to food poisoning problems, made a sudden entry towards the fag end of the function to the surprise of everyone.

“I haven’t missed any event for Thaanaa Serndha Koottam. That’s why I decided to come down despite asking for an excuse. The road trip in Andhra Pradesh took a toll on me, especially the spicy food (laughs). We traveled nearly 1000 KMs covering Rajahmundry Vijayawada, Bhimavaram, Guntur and visited some 10 to 15 theatres. It’s my first multi-city theater tour in Andhra Pradesh although my films have been regularly getting a Telugu release in the past twelve years,” said Suriya.

Suriya in Thaanaa Serndha Koottam.

Thaanaa Serndha Koottam has become an important film in my career,” says Suriya

Talking about the extremely encouraging positive feedback from across the board, Suriya said, “TSK has become an important film in my career. Although it’s my 35th film, I’ve received a lot of responses that it’s a completely different movie in my career. The unanimous feedback, from audiences to the media, is that TSK is quite unique from my previous outings. Everyone opines that a lot of stereotypes concerning my makeover have been shattered in this film. The entire credit goes to director Vignesh Shivan. He meticulously took care of all the minute details.  He kept exploring various options, which made me convinced.”

Suriya said he’s happy with the film’s performance at the box-office although he doesn’t delve into exact numbers. “I usually don’t go into box-office collections. But somehow the information reaches my ears. The Sunday figures are higher than the opening day (Friday). And the Monday numbers are said to be higher than Sunday. It’s mainly because of the family audiences who watched the film, after the opening,” he said.

“Anirudh’s songs have taken this film beyond borders,” says Suriya

Suriya showered praise on composer Anirudh Ravichander for delivering a great album and excellent background score for the film. “Anirudh’s songs have taken this film beyond borders. Every technician has played some crucial role in the movie’s success. Everyone was lifting the whole experience by contributing something. We all had a lot of positive vibes while shooting the film. We were very sure that the film should be a celebration because it’s been eight years since my last festival release. And, I witnessed all the celebration in theatres firsthand by visiting screens like Kasi and Brinda, where people were enjoying everything on screen. For every film, there will be an inevitable difference between how the media and public respond. But, for Thaanaa Serndha Koottam, there was a unanimous opinion,” stated Suriya.

“There was a lot of pressure on Vignesh Shivan to deliver an entertaining film,” says Anirudh Ravichander

Composer Anirudh Ravichander talked about his magical working experience with Vignesh Shivan and reasoned why their combo clicks. “When Vignesh Shivan decided to do a film with Suriya sir after Naanum Rowdy Thaan, there was a lot of pressure. NRD was a small-scale film, and it opened up the opportunity to bag Thaanaa Serndha Koottam. So, the fate of Thaanaa Serndha Koottam would decide his future since it’s a big-star film on a big canvas. Despite the considerable pressure, Vignesh utilized the offer correctly and delivered an entertaining movie, which didn’t receive any negative reviews at all. I don’t know how our combination works. He extracts the best of out of me very casually. We used to keep chatting something, and in between, he will take the right scores from me. Our sessions have always been candid and very nonchalant.”

“Though the music was a hit, we wouldn’t remember the experience fondly if the end product is not good. It’s what I’ve learned in my small career. If the film doesn’t work well, we won’t have any pleasant memories associated with it even if the album was a chartbuster. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the movie with audiences in theaters,” added Anirudh.

“Suriya sir gives his 100% to the script, and that’s his biggest strength,” says Vignesh Shivan

Vignesh Shivan said Suriya’s absolute commitment to the character he plays was one of the reasons for producing the output he had desired.  “When I received this offer, I was a little hesitant about the ‘remake’ part. But, it’s a precious opportunity to direct a big hero. So, I did my best to make the film more interesting. Suriya sir gives his 100% to the script, and that’s his biggest strength. He understands the role thoroughly and gets into the skin of the character with utmost commitment,” said Vignesh.

Published Date: Jan 19, 2018 12:16 PM | Updated Date: Jan 19, 2018 12:16 PM


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Supreme Court upholds acquittal of Peepli Live co-director Mahmood Farooqui by Delhi HC in rape case



The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the acquittal of Peepli Live co-director Mahmood Farooqui in a rape case by the Delhi High Court, after hearing a plea by an American woman challenging the high court verdict.

During the hearing before the apex court, the woman’s counsel told the bench that a new argument of alleged consensual relation was advanced by Farooqui’s lawyer before the high court and claimed that this issue was not raised before the lower court during the trial.

The bench, however, observed that it was not a case where strangers came, met and did something as both Farooqui and the woman were known to each other.

File image of Mahmood Farooqui. GettyImages

File image of Mahmood Farooqui. GettyImages

“This is a very hard case. We would like to say that it has been decided extremely well (by the high court),” the top court said.

When the woman’s counsel said the issue was whether there was any consent, the bench observed that there appeared to be a “positive response” which, according to her, was faked by her. “People give false smiles. How would the other person know that it’s a false response? This is very difficult to understand,” the bench said, adding, “she appeared to have responded in a positive manner”.

When the petitioner’s counsel referred to the email conversation between the woman and Farooqui, the apex court said the record reflects that they were good friends. The bench also referred to one of the communications between them and asked whether she had said “I love you” to Farooqui in one of the emails after the alleged incident.

“How many rape cases you have gone through where the prosecutrix (woman) has said I love you to the alleged accused much after the alleged incident,” the bench asked the counsel and also posed several other queries including how many times the woman had visited Farooqui and had drinks together.

The bench was not satisfied with the answers given by the counsel and dismissed the plea, saying no question of law was involved in the matter.

“We will not interfere with the high court verdict. It is a well-written judgment,” PTI quoted the Supreme Court as saying.

In September 2017, the Delhi High Court had acquitted Farooqui, saying he was entitled to benefit of the doubt as the testimony of the victim was not reliable.

Justice Ashutosh Kumar had set aside the trial court order which had awarded a seven-year jail term to Farooqui after convicting him for the alleged rape of a 30-year-old American researcher at his south Delhi residence in March 2015.

The high court, in its 85-page judgment, had directed that Farooqui be released forthwith.

It had held that the woman’s testimony was not reliable and the accused can be given the benefit of doubt. “Whether such an incident happened, if it has happened, it did happen with the consent of the prosecutrix. This remains in doubt,” the court had said.

Farooqui had challenged his conviction and the sentence given by the trial court.

During arguments, Farooqui’s lawyer had denied the allegation of rape levelled by the woman and had said, “no such incident took place on that day”.

His counsel had referred to messages exchanged between his client and the woman before the case was lodged and contended that the two were in a “relationship” since January 2015.

The argument was opposed by Delhi Police’s counsel, who had said that rape had taken place and the trial court had given reasons while convicting and sentencing 45-year-old Farooqui.

A trial court on 4 August last year had sent him to jail for seven years, observing that he had taken advantage of the situation when the victim was alone in his house.

The court, which on 30 July, 2016, had held Farooqui guilty of raping the American woman in 2015 in a drunken state, had also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on him.

The police had on 19 June, 2015, lodged an FIR against Farooqui on the woman’s complaint after which he was arrested.

On 29 July, 2015, the police had filed its chargesheet against Farooqui, alleging he had raped the research scholar from Columbia University at his Sukhdev Vihar house in South Delhi on 28 March, 2015.

With inputs from PTI

Published Date: Jan 19, 2018 12:46 PM | Updated Date: Jan 19, 2018 13:48 PM


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Naya Rivera’s estranged husband Ryan Dorsey drops charges of domestic violence against Glee actress



The charges of domestic violence against Glee star Naya Rivera by her estranged husband, actor Ryan Dorsey, have been dropped after he decided not to press charges, as reported by Daily News.

Naya Rivera and Ryan Dorsey. Facebook

Naya Rivera and Ryan Dorsey. Facebook

Rivera had been arrested and charged with domestic battery last year following a complaint by Dorsey when she had struck him on the head and the bottom lip while on a stroll with their two year old son. The charges have been dropped by Kanawha County Magistrate Court’s office, as reported by Daily News.

The incident had occurred on 25 November, 2017 and the actress was believed to be intoxicated at the time. The fight between the couple had erupted over an argument over their son. At the time the actor known for his role on Pitch had tweeted a statement, “This is a difficult time for everyone in the family especially for Naya and I. This isn’t some reality show, this is our life, and I ask that everyone especially ‘the media’ please respect our privacy and treat us/this situation how you would want a loved one to be treated. Perhaps with kindness, respect, without judgement, and as negative a situation like this is, with positivity and love. Thanks,” as reported by US Weekly.

After her arrest, Rivera had filed for divorce a second time, from Dorsey since November 2016, which she had dismissed, as reported by Daily News.

Published Date: Jan 19, 2018 12:48 PM | Updated Date: Jan 19, 2018 12:48 PM


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