We still don’t know how to make him talk, but if you want to hear Rohinton Mistry sing, give him a lifetime achievement award. The lawns of Bandra’s Mehboob Studios turned into a makeshift Texas for a while on Sunday evening when Mistry , after receiving his award at the Times Litfest, belted out a cowboy song from his childhood to everyone’s surprise.
By Sharmila Ganesan | Times Of India
`Don’t fence me in. Let me run through the wild’, sang the writer, eyes firmly fixed on his podium as the audience applauded his rarely heard yet gifted voice.
In a dapper brown blazer, the Indian-born Canadian author who recently told a TOI reporter that “Bombay is all I have“, let the audience in on a little-known side of his childhood. The side that wanted to be a cowboy , if not “Bombay’s Bob Dylan“. Mistry interspersed his nostalgic speech with songs, each of which got a ready applause. That he chose to belt out Mother India’s `Na Main Bhagwaan Hoon, Na Main Shaitaan Hoon’, at Mehboob Studio, where the film was shot in 1954, was a happy coincidence.
“It is a cliché, but Rohinton will agree that it has been such a long journey for him,“ said festival director Bachi Karkaria, while handing Mistry , author of `Such A Long Journey’, the lifetime achievement award. “Mumbai is a promiscuous muse which has seduced many and angered many authors, but Mistry is different, not just because I am a Parsi,“ said Karkaria. “His relationship with the city is like a love poem, lyrical and searing.“ When Mistry was gifted a pen sponsored by a corporate, Karkaria threatened to keep it, saying he didn’t need another pen. “This one costs Rs 45,000,“ she said, and Mistry fished out his modest pen, requesting a barter in jest.
“A lifetime achievement award is a funny sort of thing, like a death or a funeral,“ said Mistry , opening his speech.“When an author gets one, it reminds me of his or her books. It is also the beginning of the end.“ Like his friends from other professions who had taken to writing when they retired, he now felt free to take up brain surgery or rocket science, he said. While talking about his yearning from Mumbai, the Ontario-based author took the crowd through his youth in Mumbai–the sixties and seventies–with its spinning gramophones and blunted needles, air-conditioned foreign libraries, the Beatles, flowery frocks and Enid Blyton. It was a Beatles LP that he had lent to a friend in Mumbai that made him realize his longing for home. “Remembering brings a benediction,“ concluded Mistry . “A delinquent loan is a blessing realized.“