|HOME | US EDITION | REPORT|
August 10, 1999
Madhur Jaffrey Saves Last Dance At Dum Dum
Arthur J Pais in New York
Having put a lucrative career as cookbook writer behind her, Madhur Jaffrey, arguably the most successful exponent of Indian food in Europe and North America, has been concentrating the past year on her acting.
Jaffrey, who made her acting debut about three and a half decades ago and went on to do significant parts in several Ismail Merchant films, including Heat and Dust, is currently seen on London stage in a play that was eagerly awaited.
In a few months, she will be seen in Cotton Mary, the third feature film directed by Merchant.
But at the moment, she needs a strong hit to propel her acting career.
The London play, Last Dance at Dum Dum, the second work of celebrated writer Ayub Khan-Din to be staged, and which stars Madhur Jaffrey as an Anglo-Indian in Calcutta, has received mixed reviews. And the plan to bring it to New York is in serious jeopardy following the failure of Khan-Din's well-reviewed East Is East to capture New York audiences -- and speculation that the drum beat for the new work is rather weak.
Meanwhile, East Is East, Khan-Din's autobiographical play, has been made into an acclaimed film starring Om Puri and is due for release through Miramax.
While that work dealt with the cultural and emotional clashes between an autocratic and insensitive Pakistani father and his children born of a British wife, Last Dance is set in Calcutta in 1981 and examines the lives of the shrinking Anglo-Indian community amidst rising Hindu fundamentalism.
Last Dance has received mixed reviews in sharp contrast to the hurrahs and a successful box-office for East Is East. The influential entertainment industry weekly, Variety, predicted that the new play would fade soon, and called it "a production that honours no one".
Even then the weekly praised Jaffrey, whose performance has found favourable mentions in many other reviews.
Her return to the London stage is "overdue", the publication said.
Apart from showing more interest in reviving her acting career, Jaffrey has also a couple of movie scripts, including one which has been acquired by Merchant Ivory Pictures. But with several of Ismail Merchant's recent films floundering at the box office, the untitled project is on the backburner.
"I have been called an actress who also cooks," says Jaffrey, referring to an article on her in The New York Times more than three decades ago after the triumphant release of Shakespearewallah, another film produced by Ismail Merchant and directed by James Ivory.
The author of nearly a dozen best-selling cookbooks on Indian food, Jaffrey is generally credited with making Indian food accessible to thousands of Americans and British food lovers.
Despite the popularity of newer food writers such as Bharti Kirchner, Jaffrey's books are still sold in major British and American bookshops. She has also produced a book celebrating south-east Asian cuisine
But she says she has had enough of writing food books and appearing on television offering cooking instructions.
"I would love to be remembered as an actress who also directed a few good films," she says.
BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL RESERVATIONS | WORLD CUP 99
EDUCATION | PERSONAL HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | FEEDBACK