Super achiever and best selling author Shobhaa De joined us for this edition of Bombaywaali. The uninhibited, candid powerhouse De is a writer and columnist, former model, mother, dreamer and achiever.
A Bombaywaali is essentially a sabh kuchh wali. No other city in India would have tolerated someone like myself. Mumbai has nurtured me in ways I can never repay or tabulate.
She shared her thoughts with a packed house of young men and women on a multitude of issues, like love, risk, passion, identity, the digital age, democracy, vanity and so much more. The 68 year- old comes from a traditional family of bureaucrats. She is upfront, her father did ‘nudge’ her to be a part of the bureaucratic structure, maybe an IAS or IFS officer. And she uses the word nudge because she wants to emphasise on the fact that nobody can tell anyone what to do, though your loved ones will always give you their opinion.
Who wants to end up a deputy collector in a place say …like Dhule?
She always followed her heart’s calling, and got into modelling in her teens. She had no interest in moving to the film industry though that was clearly an option. By 22 she had moved to journalism, for the love of the written word and joined with Stardust and then later Society magazine. De explains on how it is not as glamorous a profession as it might seem from the outside. She acknowledges that it was due to her new and engaging style of writing that made desi the new cool and acceptable.
It was never an option for me. I wasn’t a movie person. The answer was no, no, no, no. I had offers from Satyajit Ray and Shyam Benegal. I didn’t get offers that would stick me right under a waterfall
SAnd like any other journalistic profession, she did have late nights. But Bombay for the city that it is, never made her feel unsafe. She reminisces how she never felt the need to ask someone to drop her or escort her, even if she was leaving work at wee hours of the morning.
She is an advocate for self-belief. On being asked if she ever felt cornered because of her gender, she said:
What one stands for is more important than one’s gender.
What’s most inspirational about this enthusiastic Bombaywaali is the fact that she isn’t scared to voice her opinions on any issue, may it be about PM Modi or the the JNU Kanhaiya issue and the intolerance debate. Here is what she says:
I wouldn’t ever waste my opinion thinking what other people will think of me, never explain never complain. In a democracy, there is no such thing as calculated freedom. It is unconditional and total.
Her views on feminism, just like any of her other opinions, are pretty straight and to the point.
Anybody who believes in equality, man or woman should call himself or herself self a feminist.