Stars are but Worlds Aflame

The final day of Spring Fever was a star-studded one with Twinkle Khanna doing a reading out of her block-buster book, Mrs Funnybones, published by Penguin Random House last August. Twinkle Khanna is a Bollywood actor and popular columnist and is a regular contributor to The Times of India and DNA After Hrs wherein she talks about the taboos in society.

“I am a Feminist.” — Twinkle Khanna

I am a feminist, she said. Feminism is the want to have equal opportunities for women in all aspects. What is holding us back are fairy tales, she pointed out – the needless obsession to send in a knight in silver armor to rescue princesses. Princesses should be capable of doing things themselves. In fact, they are capable of doing it themselves and do not need the help of any prince charmings.

“What is holding us back are fairy tales, she pointed out – the needless obsession to send in a knight in silver armor to rescue princesses.”
Twinkle Khanna

Writing is my defense mechanism. She said she had always been a writer. There is still a file at home with the many poems that she wrote as a kid. Siting in a room and writing is very liberating. On the importance of reading, she said that every writer has to be a reader too. Why should you not want the privilege of hundred wise voices in your head? She then took time to answer a few questions from the audience in the witty-way that only she can.

Later we had Sonali Bendre Behl, a popular Bollywood actor of the 90’s and now author of The Modern Gurukul; Emraan Hashmi a popular Bollywood actor who will be releasing his memoir The Kiss of Life, to be published by Penguin Random House next month; and Bilal Siddique who will be co-authoring the book with him.

I come from a middle-class Maharashtrian family who had then no connections whatsoever with the movie industry, Sonali said. Growing up, I did not have a TV at home or subscriptions to any pop-culture magazines and so knew very little about the Bollywood-way. My parents encouraged me to read book and that is what I did. I was as what they call in Bollywood, raw – someone with no experience whatsoever in acting. But I knew deep down that if I persist hard enough I will succeed, and I did. Sonali presumed motherhood would be something similar, perhaps even a lot easier, but she said having a child turned her world upside down.

My son was born the same year Twitter was launched. Growing up, my son would not know what it was without Twitter. And like it the many technologies and cultural elements that are now weaved into children’s’ lives today. Parents have to now figure out new ways to raise their child. The old ways are not relevant anymore.

Parents have to now figure out new and better ways to raise their child. The old ways are not relevant anymore in a lifestyle dictated by technology.

Sonali Bendre Behl

Kids need to play, should exercise and run around. There is a lack of infrastructure today to facilitate their needs. The Modern Gurukul, published by Random House last November, was my experiment on parenting in today’s fast-paced lifestyle. I hope to restore elements of the old gurukul – to lead by example and to nurture the soul. Shaping the child’s character is the parent’s responsibility and should begin at home.

Emraan recalled how a New Year vacation with his family ended up in the hospital when his son started showing symptoms of what was later diagnosed as a rare kidney cancer. My son was three years old then and to be told, when we were afraid of even hurting him with the pin prick that is required for blood tests that he would have to go through chemotherapy and several other tests was heartbreaking.

The emotional pain involved in cancer, the psychological trauma that the parents have to go through, and not to mention the fact that our son has to endure a lot of physical pain, it was tearing the family apart. Cancer is not a battle you instantly win, Emraan said. It is a prolonged warfare. I had to seek counselling thereafter. My wife, however as all women are, was emotionally stronger. There is this vivid memory that I have of her, on hearing the diagnosis, digging nails into her palms until it bled, and not cry.

“Cancer is not a battle you instantly win. It is a prolonged warfare.”
– Emraan Hashmi

It is true that children give birth to fathers. Ayaan, resurrected me to become a superhero for my son. He changed me but not letting cancer change him. And we his parents ensured that he was not a child with cancer, but rather someone battling cancer and winning. Chemotherapy was his journey to become a superhero. Emraan has this explained further in his book.

Kids are more resilient, he said, for they don’t carry the baggage of memories. Ignorance then is bliss. When I dwelled in self-pity, my kid took it all head-on with a smile. Ayaan taught me that life will hit you hard and you will fall down, but you just need to get up and fight again.

Bilal Siddique mentioned that Emraan was brave is recalling these incidents that most would have wanted to push away and penning them all down in his book so that many would be inspired and educated by it. The Kiss of Life tells the story of Emraan’s transformation as a human being, and a superhero father.

The Kiss of Life tells the story of Emraan’s transformation as a human being, and a superhero father.

He still reads up on cancer and its latest developments, and considers it to be the ailment of modern society, partly due to the lifestyles we lead. Parents are blaming themselves, but what they should be doing is be more aware. Sugar, acidic environment, junk food – they are the ones to be blamed.

When asked what they hoped their son should be, Emraan said that he did not wish to impose any ambitions on his son. Sonali said that he only wants that her son be a compassionate human being.

The cover of The Kiss of Life was revealed shorthy thereafter after an online-poll wherein people were asked to select the cover out of a few options.

Legendary poet, scriptwriter and lyricist Gulzar adorned the stage for the final session of Spring Fever. He was in conversation with Sunil Sethi. He started the session by sharing his memories on how he picked up on the habit of reading. He said he used to rent books from a shopkeeper, read the book overnight and return it the very next day. He also shared some secret recipes of some of the songs that he had composed and how some lines of Kajraree song was now mostly seen on trucks. Music requires time, passion and hard work, and poetry devotion, inner creativity, and complete dedication. He was overjoyed to find that there were many young people in the audience. He recited a few poems much to delight of the gathered crowd before releasing his new book Another 100 Lyrics.


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