I recalled the magnetic induction phenomenon of my high school physics during my book launch at Landmark in Mumbai, where the presence of celebrities from diverse arenas seemingly charged up the profile of a new debut author.
One of my Chief Guests was Sanjay Nirupam, the Hon’ble Member of Parliament for North Mumbai, a popular third time MP whose website states his distinct empathy for the problems of the common man. His presence at my event was appropriate because he is known to be a powerful speaker, and enjoys his own seasoned career innings in writing as a journalist and editor. He is an active member on several Parliamentary Committees. He holds the post of AICC Secretary, a highly visible and articulate spokesman for his party well known to television audiences. I was deeply impressed by his adherence to commitment, that he came in on an early flight from Delhi and proceeded straight to the venue from the airport to contribute his presence and eloquence to my book launch event. Having made an early entry, he made an early exit on completing his task as an assemblage of TV crews at his residence wanted to have his official take on the political events of the day.
“ Orna is a lovely person, you’ll enjoy meeting her”, said my friend Rajesh Athaide. The security procedures to enter the Israeli consulate were rigorous and thorough, but once inside the attractive Consul General was cordial and charming, a rapport which carried forward to my book launch event a few weeks later. Starting out in the Israeli army, Ms Orna Sagiv joined her country’s diplomatic corps. Her immediate previous assignments have been in China and Australia. She was interested to learn that my late mother, Louella Lobo Prabhu was among the early advocates for diplomatic relations with Israel. Indian diplomatic ties with Israel being of recent vintage impose a determined pro-activity from this dynamic diplomat. You will find her impactful persona in diverse fora, from initiatives to promote the education of girl children to sharing Israeli medical expertise in trauma care or in numerous areas of business co-operation. A friendly hands-on person, Ms Orna Sagiv is surely a diplomat with a difference. Among other things, she enjoys travelling the length and breadth of this country in the search for promoting business synergies and generally loves the Indian experience. She was more punctual than most other invitees, having driven in from the airport after a trip to Kerala. Orna’s height gave her a commanding presence in the gathering; for a traveler she looked remarkably fresh in a crisp grey pantsuit. She is prominent in the social circuit of Mumbai, and my book launch was one of many events that demanded her affable and articulate presence in the city.
Mr Mahesh Manjrekar is a distinguished film personality with a truly composite profile. His direction of critically acclaimed films Vaastav: The Reality, Astitva and Viruddha- Family Comes First have won him two Star Screen awards and a National Film Award. He has also acted in many films, including his own productions. Most of us would know him from his powerful negative performance in the Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire.He has also excelled as the producer and writer of several films. Aside from being versatile, he is also multi-lingual, his involvements spanning films in Hindi, Marathi, Bengali and English. When I first made his acquaintance, it was at a venue where he was engaged in reviving Marathi theatre. His lasting cinematic contribution is his dedicated effort to promote the gems of Marathi cinema in happening global locations- this year the activity was in London, the aspiration being to make the MIFTA( Marathi International Film and Theater Awards) the equivalent of IIFA (International Indian Film Academy) Awards . I was told he erred in the dates, believing my function to be on 13th September, having planned to fly to Ireland on the 14th to meet Salman Khan. He was persuaded to stay on and change his itinerary, which shows him to be a rare person of commitment . His journey to Andheri from South Mumbai through knots of Mumbai traffic took even longer than the outstation flights of my other guests. Though the program commenced in anticipation of his subsequent presence, he fortuitously appeared before the conclusion, and made his own distinctive contribution with a forceful presence. “ Hope you remember me when your book is in the 10th edition- love and God bless”,he counter-autographed in my own copy of “ Blossom Showers.” Rajesh tells me the MIFTA event that followed in London was a spectacular success, and I’m indeed happy for those worthy artistic strivings.
My event was one that afforded some anxious moments, shifted from the original location of the Landmark store in Palladium Mall at Parel to a suburban location, owing to repairs occasioned by the monsoon’s unexpected ravages. This surely caused inconvenience to the event’s dignitaries, who had given their acceptance on the assumption that it was in their vicinity in South Mumbai. I am mindful of the fact that for busy people in the public eye, burdened with travel schedules and commuting constraints, the gifts of personal presence and expenditure of time are the precious intangibles they can give another. My chosen dignitaries were true to their given commitments and contributed magnificently to the memorable launch of a debut novel.