June 12, 2021
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'Saahab Behosh Ho Gaya'

'Saahab Behosh Ho Gaya'

Douglas Adams was right about the fundamental interconnectedness of life, the universe and everything. A few days back, we put up a link to Dom Moraes' piece on David Davidar, which has a story about the latter breaking a door down. And then this Saturday, I came across a  slightly different version of the same story in Leela Naidu & Jerry Pinto's wondrous Leela, A Patchwork Life. The book also has a Foreword by Jerry Pinto which has a fuller version of the following story about Dom Moraes :

“Dom had written this really nasty piece about Midnight’s Children,” Salman Rushdie said when he heard that I was writing Leela Naidu’s life. “But when I came to Bombay, he left a note saying that he had been misquoted and that he wanted to meet to have a drink. I called Vinod Mehta up and he was very angry. ‘What does he mean misquoted? He wrote the piece. I still have his manuscript. Come and see it.’

“But I thought, ‘If he wants to make amends…’ So I agreed to meet him for a drink in The President. We had a couple and then he invited me home to lunch. I said, ‘Are you sure? You know, it is very little notice.’ He asked the bartender for the phone and seemed to have a heated conversation with someone. Then he slammed the phone and said, ‘Let’s go.’ That was very uncomfortable for me but I thought, ‘Leela Naidu, I might get to see Leela Naidu.’

“And so I went along. Dom left me sitting in the hall and went inside. I could hear raised voices, a row in several languages. Then there was silence. I sat in the hall, feeling increasingly uncomfortable. Then Dom’s major domo—I don’t think there was another house that had a major domo—presented himself and asked what I would like for lunch.

“ ‘Where is saahab?’ I asked.”

“ ‘Saahab behosh ho gaya,’ said the man. And then he wanted to know if I would like some fish. The terrible thing is: I never did get to see Leela.”

(the excerpt above is from Jerry Pinto's website; link thanks to Nilanjana Roy on Twitter)

For the record, the version in the book has Salman Rushdie saying that he "ate a chicken cutlet and chips in solitary spelndour wondering if Leela Naidu would show. She did not. [He] was then offered dessert, declined it, and fled. And [he] never met Leela."

And, of course,  there is the "ruthless Ms Roy" on the sets of Electric Moon, but that is just a minor anecdote in a book filled with fascinating stories

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