Seventeen! Hot rod queen. Young enough to dance and sing. Old enough to get that swing. Seventeen!—Boyd Bennett
Seventeen is sexy. Nothing ‘sweet’ about 17. Sixteen is sweet. Seventeen’s dangerous! That’s exactly how I felt on my 17th birthday. Reckless, rebellious and ready to take on the world. It was a heady dive into imminent adulthood. Mumbai was Bombay. And my restless self couldn’t wait to reinvent just about everything. Starting with my appearance. I’d been ‘discovered’ by then. Discovered by an advertising agency head. It was a fortuitous discovery.
My long and affectionate involvement with the camera began on a monsoon evening inside the magnificent ballroom of the iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, at a fabulous fashion extravaganza put together by a lady who called herself Madame Pompadour. What a magical night it turned out to be. From a grubby state-level athlete and basketball player with muddy knees, I was soon transformed into a lithe, soignee saree model, gliding over catwalks across the country. If I found it hard to recognise this ‘new, improved’ me, my family found it harder still. In fact, my brother Ashok still laughs incredulously (he’s 72, I’m 64), when he recalls the abrupt makeover and how it transformed not just my personality, but my entire life. Imagine the flip side: had modelling (and independence) not happened, my father would have forced me to appear for the IAS exam. I really couldn’t see myself as an assistant collector in Dhule!
Seventeen’s a great number. You stand on the edge of a precipice wondering whether or not to jump. Sometimes you need a push. Like I got. Once I took the plunge, I was flying solo in every sense of the word. I’ve been flying solo ever since. Seventeen is risky. One wrong move and you are dead. Seventeen is also wise. Suspended between the impetuous early teens and full-blown adolescence, there are a myriad discoveries waiting to be made. So many options! Seventeen is about impatience, defiance and assertiveness. But I guess you know that already, Outlook. Next year will be your defining year. 18! Adulthood! Responsibility! Bah! Who needs all that trouble? Enjoy your 17th year. And stay 17 forever in spirit. Like me!
Shobhaa De’s new novel Sethji is out soon
The title reminded me of a song from the movie, "The Sound of Music". It goes something like this:
"You are 16, going on 17 / Innocent as a rose........Bachelor dandies/Drinkers of brandies / Will offer you food and wine / Totally unprepared are you / To face a world of men."
Surprising that someone who made a name (and lots of fame and money too) by writing about others' peccadiloes and indiscretions, is deafeningly silent about her own when she stood at the threshold of adulthood. Or, is it?
I first thought the photo in the saree must be an old one - but then I saw the year 2012 on the banner behind - so its a recent picture. I must say Shobha looks great at 64!
Her face now has no resemblance to her face at 17 years in photo. Why? Some film actresses faces also changed like this completely. One of them according to my perception is that of Aishwarya Rai. Kareena Kapur is another one.
Someone told me that if there is a change of heart , there would be a complete change of face including cheek bones of the face. Probably these persons forgot to smile , I mean genuine smile and may find extremely difficult to laugh with their heart out. If you ask them to give an artificial smile they would excel at it. I think Aishwarya Rai's artificial smile can be noticed by anyone
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