There are two things that the Adnan Sami episode tells us: one, that it isn't a good idea to marry more than once; second that Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) is looking to make waves.
For those who don't know Sami, he is a hugely talented quirky singer, composer and lyricist whose song 'Lift Kara De' became famous for its wry humour. Sami was born in London of a Pakistani diplomat and an Indian mother and has lived on and off in Mumbai for the last 14 years where he has bought a house in Lokhandawala Complex. He is currently on his third wife and locked in a bitter division-of-assets battle with his second wife, Sabah Galadari over a duplex flat in Lokhandawala Complex.
Galadari is from a Dubai-based hotelier family and is independently wealthy. The two seem to have enjoyed a tempestuous relationship (they were married, divorced and re-married – all in the space of the last five years). But now, about his marriage to Galadari, Sami is quoted as saying to the Pakistan media at a party to celebrate his third marriage and his final divorce from Galadari, “Let me dance and sing with my family and friends. This torture has been going on from February 2009. My wife Roya Faryabi and I, and my mother have suffered so much. I have full faith in God and the Indian judiciary. I feel like throwing off my shoes like Waheeda Rehman in ‘Guide’ and singing ‘Kaaton Se Kheench Ke Yeh Aanchal’.”
Diverting as this story might be, there's a story behind the story. Yesterday the Mumbai police served a notice on Sami for overstaying his visa, based on a complaint by the Maharashtra Navnirman Cine Workers' Association (MNCWA), the film wing of the MNS. It appears that MNS – which appears to be rapidly running out of political options – has been recruiting large numbers of actors, actresses and cine workers in their relatively new film workers' wing. Amey Khopkar is the head of this enterprise and several high profile actors and acresses have joined this organisation in an industry where wages are unregulated and there is no correlation between the best and the second best.
When the MNCWA found that Sami's wife had said in court that he has overstayed his visa, they latched on to this fact to invent a new strand of politics. “we have enough talented Indian singers. We don't need anyone to come to India from Pakistan and sing here” Khopkar is reported to have said after Sami met him for one and a half hours, supposedly to explain the legal position to him. “We called Sami” Khopkar said importantly after the meeting “when we found out his wife had alleged he had overstayed”.
What is Sami's visa is extended? The MNCWA won't say. But the fact is it now has an issue.
Ever since Bal Thackeray's death two years ago, relations between the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena and the Raj Thackeray-led MNC – led by cousins respectively – have been rocky. After Balasaheb's death the Shiv Sena tried to move a no-confidence motion against the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) government on the grounds that corruption and inefficiency of the government needed to be exposed. The BJP felt the move was politically premature and counselled against it. The MNS opposed it outright and publicly. The result was the isolation of the Shiv Sena but once again, the cadres were clearly being asked to choose a side: between the “real” Shiv Sena and poseurs who actually wanted perpetuation of the government.
The net result is instead of signalling what the Shiv Sena stands for, Uddhav is defining the Shiv Sena by invoking and claiming Balasaheb’s name. Raj, on the other hand, is making no moves for any sort of rapproachement. Instead, he’s trying to tell cadres and voters: I will come to the aid of the helpless, the dispossessed, I will be the shield between the “invaders” and the Maharashtrians. I will resurrect the real Shiv Sena.
The Adnan Sami episode is one chapter in this story. Watch this space for more.