A rapidly darkening sky casts a steely light over the wooden platform, on what looks like an antique amusement park, old-fashioned buildings in the distance and over the unquiet water. In the midst of it all sits a superbly bronzed, tousle-haired Shibani Dandekar, the suppressed colour of her bikini in perfect step with the tone of the environs, her half-closed eyes emitting signs of the deepest pleasure. This could have been a young lady’s act of defiant emancipation from the stuffiness around her in the Blackpool of the ’50s. Instead, gentlemen, we give you Maldives, where so many of our subjects have pranced and preened in the past six months. We commend Shibani for finding the spot, and time of day, to let us glimpse another era.
One would have thought that money and fame could easily buy things like love, and smaller things like coronavirus vaccines. But strange are the ways of the United States which, after making a hash of containing the virus, is now doling out jabs in an irrational manner. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson grabbed headlines when they caught the virus last year, pointing to its effortless reach to the great and good. But now, the 64-year-olds have run up against a peculiar official bias—being told that they are not old enough to get a shot. Wilson takes it gamely (“It’s like, ‘okay, I’ll take it’”), while Hanks gallantly says that they’ll take the vaccine after everyone who needs it gets it. Is that how they’re treating Hollywood royalty in the ‘new normal’, or is it an example of a truly egalitarian roll-out?
Eagle-eyed like stout Cortez, we took immediate notice when a new planet called Saba Qamar swept by our ken in Hindi Medium, in which she was cast with the late Irrfan Khan. A gown that caresses her svelteness, a natural crossing of the arm and the framing, by her lain-low hair, of a classically lovely face shows why we are in her thrall right now, despite those hideously incongruous boots that they make her wear. The fact that she’s followed by many is proven when she announced, on Instagram, a broken engagement with (someone called) Azam Khan—who she says she never met! Why would a girl like her even get into a position like that? It sounds like a plot twist from an old movie.
With perfect symmetry of face, a charming smile and a general flawlessness in other aspects of her being, Tara Sutaria is among the fairest of all ingénues crowding Bollywood. Looking at the typecast roles that filmdom offered her—sitcoms like The Suite Life of Karan & Kabir and Student of the Year 2—one wouldn’t know that she is an accomplished singer taken note of in foreign competitions, or that she has a degree in ballet from the Royal Academy of Dance. If still photos could nudge people towards a more substantive, rewarding future, this snap of Tara, in a time-honoured black gown, in a time-honoured pose, would do that splendidly. Why, isn’t she just the muse for Daniel Day-Lewis’s fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock in Phantom Thread?