‘`REGRETS, NONE’ BY DOLLY THAKORE Non-fiction is so much more readable than fiction!

`’REGRETS, NONE’ …worth reading, the riveting life and times of a woman who lived life with her hand on her heart, Dolly Thakore (veteran actor, newsreader, columnist, casting director). This is no fiction!

By Pankajbala R Patel

Read the veteran news reader, actor, casting director, advertising and media person Dolly Thakore (with Arghya Lahiri) biography — ‘Regrets, None’. (Published by HarperCollins Publishers India, hardcover, Rs599), it’s worth it, you want to read it!

IT takes an unusually brave woman to present the story of her life as non-fiction! Most of us live our life good, bad and ugly and but prefer to keep complicated adventures or painful experiences under wraps. Or simply put, a truism is that most women don’t live their lives, or only half-live them or not at all… few of us live our life upfront and with no regrets for there is often there is so much to feel ashamed and hide in life! Dolly Thakore’s book about her life and times is aptly titled, “Regrets, None.” It’s a very positive statement you will see once you read her.
Few of us may be able to say no regrets in life’s end years even if we have lived with pathos and bathos in attendance. Dolly can say no regrets perhaps because she is defence kid “brat” (defence children live a life constantly on the move as per postings) she got a head start on standing up for whatever she wanted and got it – and sometimes not easily, she had to come to terms perceived shortcomings real or unreal!
One must salute a book like “Regrets, None” for one rarely gets to read such insight reading into famous upper crust marriages and what makes them work or fail. For Dolly it was no easy marriage from the time she met Dilip Thakore during her London BBC days. She loves easily, one can see that – while men don’t love easily perhaps, at least not the kind of men we are talking about in the high-powered stressful world of media, entertainment, advertising and filmmaking., the media world.

DOLLY THAKORE
MEDIA person, Doordarshan news reader, actor, casting director or multi-media personality Dolly Thakore has been up there with the movers and shakers of Bombay, today’s boring Mumbai. Seen and brushed shoulders with the rich, famous, bold and wealthy, had close up encounters with them while on the job or so to speak. Her trademark large bindi, armful of silver bangles, gracefully attired on lovely saree and with her warm open smile – is well recognized in the entertainment world from the 60s onwards plus, plus, when I dare say more people lived their lives, instead of running away from it to retire in timid cowardly ways!
My perception is that most of us don’t live our life, preferring to dream it away or hide it away…say, good-for-nothing lifestyles which count for nothing or a little for a gamut of reasons. Agree with me or not make time to read Dolly Thakore’s “No, Regrets.” It offers a fascinating inside out, disarming story of how a woman’s life works on a merry-go-round of joys and woes. All of which can bring a harvest of bitter heartaches, especially if one is investing in live-in relationships; at the end she gallantly says, she has no regrets – for she got one real gift which was worth living her life for!
Referring to her son Quasar from Alyque Padamsee, the iconic advertising and theatre icon of the times we are talking of here. This was one famous live-in “marriage” in Bombay which made it to all the society magazines, even as the relationships bonded over common passions and interests – both partners married before with marriages still not over with or getting over in bits and pieces or never over. Life is always like that only. Nothing is over till death do us part together or not together. Live-in relationships are today’s bugbear for many young women today and hence the relevance of reading this book!

Dolly Thakore with son Quasar Padamsee on one side and the late advertising and theatre icon Alyque Padamsee on the other!

ALYQUE, NOT GOD!
SOME ten years into their live-in relationship Padamsee walked out on Dolly saying something like (to quote her in the book) – because he didn’t feel like he was being treated like God anymore (it’s widely known that the Lintas ad agency boss and godfather fancied himself in the role of God and expected to be treated as such presumably)…he left her after years of loving and living, after their son was born. Never mind that she continued to live her life, earning a living rather than wallowing in what his generous contributions were – much of which he took back when he left!
Ask around and you will find many a contemporary in Mumbai that was Bombay telling you that Alyque Padamsee was no God but an egoistic mortal who had no qualms wooing other men’s wives, the younger, the better. But it is also true that young women sought him out perceiving him as a honeypot maybe! Influential, definitely. Life is not so simple. Dolly’s book bears witness to many an upper crust live-in relationship in eye-opening detail.
Dolly Thakore shares that she had decided to gift herself with motherhood late in her 30s and secretly stopped taking her birth control pills, to see if she could get pregnant and experience motherhood even if unusually late in life (never mind what Alyque wanted, he already had a daughter from his previous marriage). Still, she never dreamed he would leave her for a younger woman one not so fine day after he had confided to Dolly, “you still turn me on!”
Say their live-in relationship was fruitful with its ups and downs except that he left her with a child out of wedlock and how (read all about it in the book). It was a tumultuous live-in relationship between two successful human beings, one of course more than the other – one proud and temperamental, the other full of her own emotional convictions.
One may not sit on judgement naturally. The life that other people lead have their own raison d`etre and one would even say its takes courage to say it like it is or was…Dolly Thakore (who preferred to keep her first husband Dilip Thakore’s surname after their marriage failed) turns subjective into objective with disarming honesty, humour and enormous all-round goodwill. Perhaps because above all she is very much her own woman courtesy strong bonding with family and friends of both sexes of which she clearly has many.

LIFE’S END
IN the end she lost, or won – she loved passionately with or without expectations and she shares: Later on when it was all over and she was back on talking terms with Alyque Padamsee, sharing their son, and when he lay on his bed at life’s end, when extended family members were asked to be by his side at home (Christmas Eve, a home she thought would be hers once upon a time!) …”I went to see him on 16 November 2018. He was in the ICU, and the hospital was strict about visiting hours. I saw him at 11.30 in the morning. I fed him a few teaspoons of `Prosur.’ I put my hand on his forehead, trying to give him some comfort. He reached out and took my hand in his. He raised it to his lips, looked me straight in the eye and kissed it tenderly.” The next morning, he was gone.
ONE may say love or lust may waver in a man’s life but respect remains somewhere in the memory of better times or something like that. And no, he didn’t abandon their son out of wedlock – even if for some time she did her best to deny him paternal rights like a…er…bitter, vindictive bitch or so to speak. “Regrets, None” is more than just a chapter of Dolly Thakore and Alyque Padmasee’s life and times, romantic or amorous relationships as they unfolded. The book gives one equal insight into Dolly’s own Indo-Anglian background which she weaves in detail like a tapestry, along with how the English-speaking media, advertisement, theatre and filmi duniya functioned in the post-Independence years in India.
There is enchanting despair and fighting spirit in this rare first person biography of sorts of a media woman, who worked her way up the ladder of success and fame…her confidence will surely resound and echo with many women, inspiring courage to live their life anew despite regrets or no regrets (few of us have no regrets in life if we have lived it long enough). Let me say Dolly Thakore’s book — “Regrets, None”– makes for some very valuable reading, being insightful, honest, human, humane – albeit, dramatic reading for our times. Thank-you, Dolly Thakore.

(PS: This book is availble only with Broadway Bookshop at Panaji.)

Excerpted from “No Regrets” by Dolly Thakore with Arghya Lahiri…..

For a while, we fooled everyone. Including – of course – ourselves.
Once I was back at work, the Open Marriage Contract between Dilip and myself was in my favour for a change. We had no rights over each other. Dilip and I.
I began to have a lot of recordings’ at 7 in the morning. Alyque would pick me up across the road and, we’d drive to a shack in Juhu for breakfast, at the Palm beach Hotel (which is now the Ramada Inn). I’d be at work by 9.30. I don’t think we’d have made it in this day and age. Alyque and myself. Traffic couldn’t have allowed it. Had he tried the parking stunt now, it would’ve taken him an hour and a half. The clandestine breakfasts must’ve really cost Alyque. He was never a morning person. I started to spend a lot of my weekendswith Esmie’, in Bandra’. Alyque would pick me up, and we’d drive to the picnic cottages in Versova. Sometimes, we checked into a room at the seedy Hotel Ajanta in Santa Cruz. We were lucky. This was a time before television and no one recognized us. Our trysts were rushed and sordid and necessary. They were blissful. The world, now soft-focus, passed by me in a blur. Even Dilip, reliably caustic,had receded to middle-ground. I was a secret society of one, and I was in love. People have survived on less. We stumbled on, in a daze of lust and guilt and joy, for about eight months. ********** By 1981, we’d almost outgrown our first apartment. Especially with Quasar in tow. Doll, this house is too small,’ Alyque kept saying. We’ve been here twelve years. I need a bigger place. I need to entertain.’ We identified three potential locations. Some building on Little Gibbs Road, Sagar Darshan on Warden Road, and a place called Christmas Eve, up the hill opposite Breach Candy hospital. Something about Christmas Eve was just right. We learnt about the place because Lintas owned it and B.C. Dutt, the head of HRD lived there with his wife Anasuya. We went to see it last, at 10.30 at night. Quasar accompanying us in his kurta pyjama because he hadn’t fallen asleep. I liked the place from the start. It was 2,200 square feet, three times larger than my little apartment. It was shabby but it had potential. I could see us growing old there, once we’d made it our own. I turned to Alyque. This is it,’ I whispered.
We had to be discreet. B.C. was due to retire in 1982. He’d been living there for a long time, and his wife was a well-known divorce lawyer. We didn’t want those kinds of complications. Alyque was confident we’d get the apartment, provided we keep a low profile. If Lintas was reluctant to part with it, then he’d just buy it off them. Alyque had that kind of money.
It’ll be in your name, Doll,’ he said one day. We’d been talking about the décor, and this was an unexpected turn in that conversation because he’d never indicated anything of the sort before. We’ll leave this flat and we’ll take whatever pagdi we get – three lakhs, five lakhs. That’ll go into your bank account as savings. And Christmas Eve will be in your name. Just don’t tell anyone.’
I was very touched he thought of me in those terms. Even though we split everything down the middle and we weren’t married, this was the first time he’d attempted to validate our relationship in that way. An apartment, in the city of Bombay, even back then, was a pretty firm commitment.
From 1981, every night we were home, Alyque and I talked about what we were going to do with the place. We talked about posters and art and spare bedrooms and plans for the mezzanine and how we’d entertain. And we didn’t tell anyone except for the three people I wanted to tell.
I told Sir Richard Attenborough who perched on the mattress in my living room during meetings and then went back to the Taj. The next time you come to Bombay, Richard,’ I said,you’ll be my guest.’
I told M.J. Akbar, who didn’t live at the Taj and would occasionally spend nights at our place, sprawled out on the same mattress.
And I told Kersey Katrak. I wrote him a letter.Usha and he had moved to Mirtola and whenever either of them came to Bombay, in the winter or whatever, they’d stay at Gerson’s like a bunch of backpackers. Kersey knew that things between Alyque and me had been strained. I’d taken Quasar with me to visit Kersey and Usha, and I’d share some of my misgivings with him.
Alyque and I have put our troubles behind us,’ I said in that letter.We have turned the corner. And you must come and live with us the next time you’re in Bombay.’
Christmas Eve met my criteria too: I was close to a taxi stand and a bus stop, which was necessary because access to Alyque’s car could be limited, and nearby I had a Sahakari Bhandar, a greengrocer’s and a hospital.


I DO wonder about some things, though. Those moments that, in hindsight, were pivotal. Points where the river changed course.
What if I’d gotten on the flight back to London?
What if I’d never met Alyque?
What if I’d never had Quasar?
And then I think, no. Am I glad that some of those things happened? No. I wouldn’t want anyone to live through some of those things.
But I got my child out of it.
Pain is a scar. It is a sign of the wound.
The wound, says Rumi, is the place where the light enters.
The scars are what remind me that I was there, that I fought for every particle that comprises the whole of life.
I’m aware that we’re in the final act. Somewhere, and it could be ten, fifteen years from now or it could be much sooner, the final curtain is ready. We’re running through the liens of the last few scenes. There’s a fat lady in the wings, ding her vocal warm-ups.
I cannot divine if it’ll be a long, lingering fade. Or a snap blackout. Those things are not for us to know.

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