Veejay Sai Interviews Shobhaa De – India’s Sexiest Sexagenarian

London, UK. Some say she is India’s answer to Anna wintour. An indolent American journalist even called her Jackie Collins of India in the Time magazine. Taking her name evokes a mixed response. For every one person who hates her, there are many more who love her and inspiration from her gutsy demeanor. Either ways she isn’t a name you can ignore. 

Everyone in India has an opinion on her, even if they probably don’t have the same on the country’s state of affairs or even their own personal lives. Acclaimed social commentator, former super-model, columnist, fashion designer, editor, one of India’s best selling writers   Shobhaa De speaks about life and her exuberance for it in an exclusive chat with renowned columnist and culture critic Veejay Sai after the launch of her latest book ”˜Shobhaa at sixty’.

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A first look at her and you think she is fooling you. Sixty? Really? Women half her age get a severe inferiority complex getting worked up thinking what she has been up to.   Her jealous rivals have accused her of being a ”˜well-botoxed beauty’, something which is absolutely false and a fact she is critical of because she has always been against any form of surgical procedures. Does that matter to her? Does she care? Reading through her latest book ”˜Shobhaa at sixty – secrets of getting it right at any age’, Shobhaa de reveals these secrets diligently to everyone who think they can do what she did to get there. And she has a ready answer to the most obvious question everyone throws at her in every possible public appearance, immaterial to what she is there for. ”˜Oh I just soak myself in vinegar every night and eat iron filings for breakfast. I’ve said earlier on a talk show, am beginning to feel like a medical miracle or a pickled gherkin!’ she says with a giggle. ”˜It totally frees you from all hang ups, prejudices, anxieties. Personally, it has been an extraordinarily liberating experience. I am more open and receptive to ”˜newness,’ far more innovative in my approach, ready to go into unknown territory’, she adds when you ask her what the best thing about life is after 60. Oh! Yes don’t forget she is the woman to be credited with the adage ’60 is the new 40’ and a significant percentage of the world population thanked her silently carving her name in history with a golden chisel.

Her latest book constantly takes references to her father who she says, was her inspiration in many ways. ”˜Yes! He lived a very disciplined life. Now that he is no more, I realize his value so acutely and I miss him that much. You know when a person is alive we always take them for granted. He passed away in 2006 and he was close to being 100. He was an extraordinary man with an extraordinary mind. I liked his vanities. I liked the fact that till he was into his 90’s he was very conscious about how he conducted himself , his appearance and that you never give up on yourself. He was still looking after his skin with moisturizers and creams. When he had his first cataract, he was well into his early 90’s. His biggest regret was he looked at himself in sharp focus after he took the bandages off and exclaimed ”˜my dear! I don’t believe it! I’ve got wrinkles!’ He used to go for a walk every evening. He had a huge female fan following of all age groups: 16 to 65! He was a very old-fashioned charming man. He would always pay them compliments and they enjoyed his company as they really looked up to him. He comes back one day from his walk and says ”˜I wish I hadn’t done this cataract operation at all. All those women I am seeing now after this, are no longer looking same!’ he exclaimed in utter disappointment. I think I’ve certainly inherited a lot of his discipline. His eating, sleeping, work hours, leisure hours all had a certain format. He had his priorities in life. And I think I’ve got that clarity from him. So was my mother. She was a very practical and clear-thinking individual. But she was devoid of any vanities. She lived and died naturally beautiful. She never used anything on her face except ”˜Vaseline snow’. That was it. She wasn’t preoccupied with her appearance. She just accepted it as god’s grace and I think that’s the right way to look at it. Intrinsic good looks have nothing to do with you. You can’t take credit for that. So if you obsess over them or let your good looks go to your head, I think it’s a bit dumb because you’ve not worked for it. It’s a blessing and a gift. Respect it, don’t abuse it’, she says speaking about her early-life influences.

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”˜Desperation is the world’s worst cosmetic!’

 

A large part of her book is about the importance of physical looks. It almost contradicts with Shobhaa’s spiritual identity when she writes passionately about how to take care of your physical looks. ”˜It’s really strong message I am giving to women not to give up on themselves. No matter what, once your sell-by date expires, in any society, especially Indian, once you are of a certain vintage, people look up to you in reverence. In most cases women give up on themselves. They lose their interest and zest for living. And a lot of it is connected to their physicality. They let themselves go and don’t care. And then they start complaining that society marginalizes them and the man they are married to, does not look at them anymore. They become invisible. After 40, women generally do become invisible in the world. So this is also to say you have to be a little proactive if it matters to you. It could be the IIM or the United nations where I am making an important point at a seminar and most of the questions that come to me, completely disconnected from the topic, are how I maintain my looks. So if I had avoided it altogether, it would have been short-changing expectations from a book like this.   They want to know how she has done it and I am obliged to tell them. It’s only fair to your readers. I’ve been very truthful about it. There are no miracle cures’, she says about how she included that aspect in the book. ”˜Now if someone asks me, I’ll just ask them to read the book’, she adds with a smile.

It’s a fact that women are expected to look and conduct themselves in a certain way in an increasingly patriarchal society. They are not just differentiated on how they look but also expected to give back to these ridiculous demands. ”˜In India there are only two matriarchal societies. One is in Kerala where the women are gorgeous and the other is the tribal communities in the north east. Matriarchal societies give women that assertive control over their lives, their money and property and a new confidence. Now confidence brings in a different kind of beauty altogether. Even for men. Look at Amitabh bachchan when he came into the movies. He has never been a good looking man. The charisma came later when he became successful. The sole function of most women in patriarchal societies is to give the heir to the family. And once they are menopausal and post-menopause even that function is gone. So what is their actual use? It’s a cruel world but what use are they to society? The minute they lose that society looses interest in them. So the message is strong on women to never give up on themselves. I do see a huge change in women from two decades ago and now. But it’s not change that I probably approve of or say a ”˜wow!’ to. I find the younger generation in their 20’s, far more neurotic, far more obsessed with physicality, far more insecure and obsessed about this size zero, the gymming, the hair and they live with some kind of highly exaggerated idiotic notion of the perfect body, the perfect hair, the perfect face , the perfect bag, the labels and so on. We were very free of all that. While they work very hard, they are better qualified; they make more money, then why aren’t they happier? You go to any club; will you see any natural happy smiling faces? You see all preoccupied young girls worrying their heads off about a zit that no one can see but themselves’, she says with an air of experience of having seen it all before having written it all and expressed it through her books.

Having been an athlete and having played at a national level one can’t miss out the competitive spirit in Shobhaa’s writings. ”˜I think it becomes a life-long passion for anyone who has been with sports. It never leaves you and you get used to winning which is a lovely feeling. Also sports teach you sportsmanship. That it is ok to not to win. You win some, lose some and take it in your stride and move on.   Unless you play a sport, it is very difficult to communicate that balance. There is always going to be someone in your life who’ll do it a micro-second faster than you and you must learn to accede with grace. This can work with beautiful women in the way of a blessing or a curse. They cannot let go and still harbor those fantasies and illusions about themselves in their prime. So either you take the ”˜suchitra sen-route’ where completely disappear from public view because you’d rather people remember you in all your glory or you take the ”˜Leela Naidu-route’, unfortunately she descended in depression and alcoholism or you can be a Gayathri devi who looked like a beautiful ruin but you could see she had aged with a lot of grace and elegant to the end. Or you could be someone desperate pushing yourself into your daughters jeans, borrowing her bustier and competing desperately for attention by men. You know desperation is the world’s worst cosmetic. Nothing makes you more unattractive’, says shobhaa revealing some more learning-lessons.

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Success stalks Shobhaa

”˜Everything about my life has been a happy accident! I’ve never really gone chasing anyone for anything. It was always all these beautiful things that came searching for me. Yes, once I got it, I gave my 110% percent to it. I don’t take shortcuts and I like to give whatever it is, my best shot’ she says. Shobhaa who started modeling at a very young age soon grew to be one of the most-wanted supermodels of her time. So much so the celebrated photographer Henry Clarke shot her and she was the first Indian to be the cover of French Vogue magazine way back in 1968. ”˜Those days we used to have a lot of government shows for the Indian textile board, handloom board and so on. I had gone with my father to one of those shows when someone from an advertising agency made me an offer asking me if I was interested in modeling. I took it up but didn’t take it very seriously. I knew it was a short-term thing and it was time-bound. Those days there were no stylists and so on. You wore your own makeup and you pretty much wore your own clothes, did your own hair, kept your fingers crossed and hoped for the best. At fashion shows there were no helpers or anything, which is where I learnt to drape a saree in less than sixty seconds! I only wore sarees at fashion shows. I was known as the ”˜saree-model’. Between changes you just had to do it quickly. Change your petticoat, your blouse, your saree and your jewels: all very quick. I think I can drape a saree in my dreams! People are mistaken when they think it is a complicated garment. I can really travel the world in sarees. I love wearing the ”˜mundu-veshti’ that women in Kerala wear and people are so foolish, especially in Mumbai because they’ve never seen it, they ask me ”˜what costume are you wearing?’ she laughs , recollecting her earliest years as a model

From being a super-model Shobhaa metamorphosized into a journalist under the aegis of Nari Hira -the owner of the Mumbai-based Magna Publishing company that publishes magazines like Stardust, Showtime, Savvy and Health. ”˜It is one of the most eternal, close, affectionate and enduring bonds I share with all the people I worked with. Even after all these years I still call him ”˜Mr.Hira’ and nothing else. That is what it will remain.   There is that formality because he was my first and only boss. He is not an easy banter. He had just called to say I looked good on the cover of the latest issue of the ”˜Society’ magazine, which was my baby because I started it. I feel very fortunate. I don’t have too many friends but the ones I have, I cherish and love them with all my heart. So I went in for a modeling assignment and ended up as a trainee copy writer in his company. In his typical fashion he asked me how much I was earning as a model. I said must be some ten or fifteen thousand rupees a month, which was a huge amount then. He said ”˜ok if you are interested in this job, I’ll give you 350 rupees a month and you stop modeling. Are you willing to do it?’ and I said ”˜Yes!’

Modeling is very boring. I knew I was doing it for pocket money or to travel. It was never a career option and I wasn’t paying my own bills. I was living with my parents. If I was, I wouldn’t have probably given it up with such ease. But I did. Once again with writing it was a ”˜mom and pop’ show. There was me, him, an artist, a paste-up guy and a marketing guy. That’s it! It was the pre-computer days. We were physically making each page ourselves and it was a mechanical hands-on work. Caption by caption, headline by headline we were doing it all page after page. I loved it! Even now I love the smell of ink in a press office. You know you can take a girl out of the magazine world but never take the magazine out of a girl. I still feel so connected to that world because now my daughter Avantika is into the same world. All of us in a way are ”˜media-creatures’. We love that world. So whenever she is stuck or so, her editor would call up asking me to think up a headline or asking which is a better layout or what is a better cover and so on. I love that involvement. My other daughter Arundhati did her MBA in marketing luxury from Paris. Once again its media, lifestyle marketing, is branding and so on. She interned with LVMH and Cartier. The youngest daughter is in hotel management. My son is in advertising and so on. So guess it is in our family!’ says Shobhaa about yet another accident in her life as she proudly flaunts the ”˜mommy’ in her showing her family’s engagement with the same industry.

 

Cinema’s austere chronicler

 

The writer in Shobhaa rose from success to success. She founded and edited three of India’s most popular magazines ”˜Stardust’, ”˜Celebrity’ and ”˜Society’. Her novels reflect on the cultural landscape of an increasingly globalized India, the middle-class values, the stark social realities that women continue to face, socialite encounters and more. Having authored over fifteen books which have run into multiple editions and continue to sell like hotcakes, Shobhaa has been honored with having her own imprint co-branded from the most prestigious and world famous Penguin publishers. Yes! Yet another shining jewel in her studded crown. One can possibly look forward to more readable, friendly and racy writing from India under the aegis of her imprint.   Having said that, any favorite writers on mind? ”˜I love Vikram Seth the most! I think if there is one writer who will out-live all of us, it is him! I also liked the old R.K.Narayan. We try to claim him but we can’t so we co-opt him is V.S.Naipaul. We also try and co-opt and claim Salman Rushdie and Amitava Ghosh as one of us. They are really not Indian writers. But Vikram tops the list for us!’ she says praising one of India’s most favorite writers in English.

From a supermodel to a super-writer and a super-mom, Shobhaa has been constantly wanted for her opinions and observations in popular media. Her interventions on public life are considered one of the most important and she is one of the most influential voices coming from Asia. What keeps Shobhaa composed, calm and going? ”˜Well, sometimes it can really frustrate you. Sometimes I just want to turn around and slap the men for the ridiculous questions they ask. I am called to speak on panels where many times I am the only woman. If I were to turn around and do the same with men, chances are they will take it for a compliment’, she laughs. Coming from a woman who has efficiently handled magazines like her, it is a bit difficult to believe.   ”˜When I started ”˜Celebrity’ I realized I had no business sense at all. I am a creative person. I must not even try and understand money. I still don’t know much of a difference between terms like a million, ten lakhs and so on. I still get confused about it and I’ve given up. It’s not my headache.   ”˜Stardust’ as a magazine turned out to be a fantastic reality check for Bollywood. Till then there were these sugary sweet sycophantic writings. ”˜Stardust’ broke a lot of rules even for the mainstream media too. It continues to be this demolition squad that the industry requires. It gave india a new language and am very proud of it. And we treated stars not like demigods but like human beings and if they were doing something obnoxious, it was said so.   We didn’t do any ”˜settings’ going by the Bollywood parlance today. They all were shocked but at the end of the day success shuts up everybody.

”˜Stardust’ was a runaway success and a sellout. The stars started to read ”˜Stardust’ more than we needed the stars. That’s it! It went beyond syrupy PR and how many poodles Asha Parekh had which was the tone so far. It was worshipful and sadly now a lot of the other media has gone back to being worshipful for commercial reasons I guess. You cannot have showbiz without paparazzi and masala. It is a part of that culture otherwise it doesn’t make sense. Their lives are led in the public domain and their images are created: thanks to the media. If it was not a part of their persona, they’d be carpenters and dentists. The fact that they are celebrities in that league, they have to surrender their private life and they even get handsomely compensated. So I have no mercy whatsoever. It’s part of the deal and goes with the territory. If you have a problem, go to court. We’ll defend whatever we are saying there. Really 99 percent of the time what they do is indefensible and what is carried in the press, at least I can speak for ”˜Stardust’, we carried 70 percent of what we knew. The stars have much more to lose. Where would they be without out the support of media? For example, someone like an Aamir Khan is a brilliant mind and a brilliant guy. He is a great marketing chap but he completely controls his image in a way that is almost scary. But without his backing would ”˜Peepli live’ been what it is? You’ve to hand it to him because he knows what he is doing. So guys today are much smarter than before’ she adds, speaking about a significant landmark in Indian journalism of which she was a part of through the magazines she edited. Shobhaa’s reputation as one of the most uncompromising writers and editors in India stays intact.

Everyone wants to know what Shobhaa thinks of the weather, the country’s politics, her favorite books, stars and so on. It is endless. Till date, her film reviews and articles are the most sought after within the media. Ask her who she thinks are her favorite heroes on the Indian screen and she is quick to answer that. ”˜Madhubala, Suchitra sen, Nargis, Nutan and Madhuri Dixit. I think Madhuri was the last big star. Now it’s Aishwarya. I just saw ”˜Robot’ and I think she was spectacular. One needs to watch her for the next five years because she still hasn’t done the defining film in her career. I think she is a very talented girl but that one defining film is yet to come and I know it will happen because she’s got it in her. In the men, after the Dilip kumar, Dev anand and Raj Kapoor era, there was Rajesh Khanna then Amitabh Bachchan and after that there was Shah Rukh Khan. All the other Khans can be put into one basket.   The two people I think have a good chance of making it big are Ranbir Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor who is much underrated but a good disciplined actor. He has the stuff but needs the perfect vehicle. He is very talented and needs the perfect film’, says the expert-commentator on Indian cinema.

Designer’s De out

 

If you know that Shobhaa can drape a saree in a minute, her fascination for the national dress of India goes beyond that. In 2007 Shobhaa surprised everyone by trying her hand at designing sarees them and launching a new genre of what she called ”˜Cocktail sarees’. According to her the saree epitomizes womanly poise and femininity. ”˜Designing is a flirtation I love, not my vocation. It is fun and something I love to do. I never encourage designer-wear. I always say this and I repeat that you should define the label and not let the label define you’, she says about her sweet flirtations. Having said that, her sarees are a sellout and you wouldn’t be surprised if you see enough and more celebrities glossed up in them. ”˜I think Indian designers are way more talented than Versace or Gaultier. Those are international colossal brands, but in terms of creativity and using our craft skills, we are far ahead. Some of our younger designers are superb. In the new ones, I like Masaba a lot. I think she shows a lot of confidence and a lot of promise for a young person. She’s got a style which is her own and which is not copying anyone else. Most of the others are just aping things around. All those who do those gowns and cocktail frocks, just take them off the red-carpet, put a little zardosi and call it theirs. The cuts, the looks the colors and all remain same. If I had to list some of the good designers who I like, I think Abu jani and Sandeep Khosla who have exquisite look and impeccable taste, then Ritu Kumar who has understood that fashion is about scale and she has scaled up like no one else has. I have her clothes going back to years which I can still wear. Her garments are very well-finished which a lot of young designers don’t do. Rohit Bal who is outstanding in his aesthetic is super- talented! And yes! Manish Malhotra definitely! People can say what they want, but he re-invented the ”˜Bollywood look’. He started to style our girls. If there is any big fashion statement that emerges from India, it is always Bollywood. And Neeta Lulla who made Aishwarya look like a dream in ”˜Ham dil de chuke sanam’. Those colors, those pastels on those ghagraas were stunning. I don’t think anyone else would have made her look so gorgeous. I’ve never worn his clothes but I think Tarun Tehliani has his own look which is a couture-meets-desi-culture kind of look and approach. As long as designers in the world understand that every woman wants to look like a goddess and not a sweeper, where you are making a vague statement with dull-browns and donkey-browns and slate-grays which is just so unattractive, they will be successful. You want to look good and beautiful. Whoever does that for you, go for that designer. You don’t have a definitive voice in fashion whose sense of authority is overwhelming and whose voice is so strong and so sure in India. Fashion is mainly derivative and fashion writing in India continues to be very amateurish, almost pathetic and positively embarrassing. They just publish the handout that designers give them. To understand fashion, one must know it is serious business like in the west, not a hobby or not something housewives do on the side. To understand fashion you have to understand how to cut a garment. Tell me how many of them even know that decently? ’ says the stylish shobhaa elaborating on some of her top favorite designers and her thoughts over   the Indian fashion industry. Any doubts you want to think twice why they label her India’s very own Anna wintour? Hopefully under her imprint, one can once again look out for this vacuum to be filled.

God’s golden girl

 

Shobhaa has often openly spoken about how spiritual a person she is. ”˜I was in Torino at the end of a huge gala book festival with a huge dinner which all authors look forward to. I was so exhausted having done some thirty interviews or something and was about to switch off my phone and rest before the gala. I get a call and I pick it up thinking it was one of the publishers calling to talk about the arrangements and so on. I pick up the call and the voice on the other side said ”˜Hi this is pepe here. Do you remember me from Mumbai?’   Now I was too exhausted and too polite to say ”˜No I don’t remember you’. I am just not rude to anyone so I carried on the conversation with the initial hellos and so on. ”˜I saw your picture in the papers and knew you were in Torino. Have you had the chance to see the city?’ he asked. Now you know publishers really work you to the bone and leave no time at such events. ”˜Do you have an hour on you?   Let me come and get you.’ He said and so he turned up. He told me on the phone that he had come home for dinner and met the family and so on. So I knew it was not some stranger. He came and said there was a car waiting after the initial pleasantries. ’Do you know the shroud of Turin is on display after twenty years and it might be another many decades again when it will be out next. It was last shown out in honor of the Pope’s visit. Do you want to see it?’ my jaws dropped! I immediately said yes! When we went there, it was an endless queue of hysteric pilgrims. We just walked up the steps of the church. We did nothing. They saw us and said forget the queue and just go in! It was so effortless! No one hustled or pushed amidst all that hysteria. I had the most wonderful darshan of the shroud. It was fabulous!’ she says recollecting one such experience of hers.     ”˜Same with the Jagannath temple at Puri. I feel the wonderful energy of the goddess lakshmi there. No one even asked me what and why or disturbed me. It was all so effortless. Even this year, the Ganapathi at Lalbaug which I love, where people queue up for almost two days, me and my children go directly and place our foreheads on his feet! I just feel very blessed at all the amazing darshans and experiences I have! I can go on narrating such incidents. Another time I and my daughter were driving past thiruvananthapuram and for some reason I told the driver to stop the car and asked him if there was a temple close by. He said I was right in front of it! I had no idea I was outside the legendary Padmanabha swamy temple! It was the evening aarti and they had opened the doors. Those wonderful Namboodri women with the thaalis and doing that parikrama during the aarti time! It was all so divine!’, she says recollecting another and before you can stop her she has one more to say! ”˜Same with my Kuldevi   (family-god) in goa, shreenath ji and other holy places. Somehow when am in these places it was always Arundhati, my daughter with me. I told her it was no coincidence. That particular day we were at Shreenath ji who is a total recluse and is a superstar! One day he will want to give you darshan and another day he is behind a curtain and you can beg and plead and nothing will happen.   That day they drew the curtain aside seven times while we were there and I just had tears in my eyes! It was so over whelming! Neither the crowd nor the heat mattered. It was just looking into his eyes’; she adds almost speaking from a different level of thought. ”˜Spirituality is not something conscious that I think about and think am feeling spiritual at some set hour in the day. It just happens! These things just come by and how! There was a whole generation what was out of touch with these things in pursuit of something intangible. In their run towards what they assumed were success in western terms and the symbols of that success which they seem to be obessed by, they lost track. I think it will all return soon. I am positive about that. Today be in Ganapathi   or gokulashtami or Ramzaan, I see a lot of young people. One reason might be that they are all lost and confused and need something to hold on to. ’ says Shobhaa, who is very intriguingly spiritual and speaks with an air of mysticism. It might just be all this positive energy she gains that keeps her and her wonderful work going. The more she tells you these tales, the more endearing she comes across. There are reasons why even the gods might have chosen her to convey what they wanted to, to the world around.

”˜The future lies in the hands of the young’

Being a columnist with many newspapers and magazines and as an active blogger, Shobhaa’s comments on social issues and public life has often acted as a mirror to the state of affairs in the public domain and as an intermediary between the common man and the policy makers. It is not for no reason that she is called on to every other social platform to voice her opinion. Is there anything that really frustrates Shobhaa about India? ”˜What bothers me is the indifference of the young. It is a young country with very old leaders. If the young want to have a voice in how the country is run, which they should know, they have to get involved. You can’t remain disengaged and expect someone else to do your dirty job. In every culture and nation, there has always been a flashpoint. Even the Berlin wall came down because the young brought it down. Communism collapsed overnight and the young did it whether it was the Tiananmen Square in china or elsewhere. They did it because they are the ones with the passion. I don’t see that passion in India and that is what annoys me. I try to charge them up. My generation clearly didn’t succeed because we were still coming to terms with a lot of things like the idea of freedom and democracy. Ours was the first generation and we had too many other issues to deal with. The young generation doesn’t have too many nationalistic issues because they are too ”˜me’ centric. It all begins and ends with them. They should understand that even to have a better life and a better future, they have to engage and feel more responsible’, she says on a more serious note.

”˜Any writing needs courage, even if it is about you. Either you want to put yourself on the line and do it with complete honesty and take that risk or don’t do it. I like to do it. I have strengths within myself that if this book can reach out and if there are ten thousand women who say they can feel inspired by it, it’s worth the effort. I have never had issues with age and I want more and more women not to make age an issue.   After ”˜god’ and ”˜sex’ being the most powerful three-lettered words ”˜Age’ follows close. See the demographics, in India we are still talking about our big advantage over china, being that china is a country of old people. It is an aged-society where the old people there have become a liability. We are not going to remain a young nation forever. Eventually the younger generation will have to confront the demographic change and our average right now where over seventy percent is under the age of thirty, which is staggering when you think it is a country with more than a billion people. These guys are going to grow up and the birth rate is coming down. So we should factor that in as to what we do with the old then. We haven’t addressed it as seriously as we need to. But ”˜Age’ is a very scary three-letter word. Almost ninety-nine percent of us become very vulnerable. Women are the world’s most neglected minority. Everything is loaded against us! What are we having our way? Men go to their grave thinking about sex regardless of age. Carla Bruni was one step out of line when all she did was to wear trousers last week and it seemed to cause the next French revolution! Gimme a break! The moment women call the shots and they can only do it when they are empowered with money, things will change for the better! So far our big claim to one-upmanship was that we have the womb. Once the womb also becomes irrelevant, now they can create a baby in a Petri dish. Wars are not going to be fought on hand to hand combat anymore. It’s going to be brains and electronic wars. So you are not going to need men to fight your wars or till the fields. So what do you need them for?     It’s all about money at the end of the day! It’s all about who has the lolly!’ she adds speaking about why she ventured into taking up a book of this nature.

Last but not the least; the book is dedicated to the celebrated Italian screen queen Sophia Loren. ”˜Look at her! She is one of the finest examples of what every woman wants to be at her age! She is a diva!’ says Shobhaa. If Sophia Loren is reading this somewhere, she must know how privileged she is to have an ardent fan in someone like Shobhaa.

Spending time with Shobhaa, this interview could just get longer and longer with time flying by. Shobhaa De at sixty sizzles. She brings to the table the wisdom of an intelligent woman paired with the curiosity of a teenage girl and the aspirations of a hopeful and responsible global citizen. Her zest for life is unparalleled and unmistakably inspiring. For years to come, Shobhaa De will continue to remain an iconic aspiration and that every girl has and a versatile muse to millions of her readers and fans across the world. And it is to this very notion of exemplifying beauty one must toast three cheers to! May her tribe increase!

Veejay Sai is a well known writer, editor and a Culture-critic from India. He is a special correspondent for the Jim Luce Stewardship Report (JLSR) from India. He may be contacted at veejaysai.vs@gmail.com

Photographs: Shashank Bhosale, Vikram Bawa & Penguin publishers India.

Veejay Sai
Veejay Sai is a well-known writer, editor and a Culture critic. He writes on Indian classical music, dance, art and theatre, fashion, food and lifestyle. He is a special correspondent for the The Stewardship Report (SR) from India. He may be contacted at veejaysai.vs@gmail.com.