Having a pleasant experience of meeting Ruskin Bond at the ToI Literary Fest in 2013 (previous post- Mumbai magic), I came back to Mumbai the following year in December 2014 primarily to attend the 3 day Lit Fest. Browsing through the lit fest’s schedule on the website, the fest had gotten more bigger and better from the earlier version; some of the various sessions were scheduled with Gulzar, Adv. Ram Jethmalani, Naseeruddin Shah, Shekar Kapur, Zoya Akhtar, Varun Dhawan and the fest finale live concert by Sona Mohapatra, Ram Sampat and group. As a law student, I was particularly interested in attending the session with the legend lawyer Ram Jethmalani. Just the prospect of listening to such accomplished people and possibly getting a chance of meeting them in person was reason enough to come all the way to Mumbai.
On the first day of the fest I attended the session with Adv. Ram Jethmalani which was to launch a memoir of him. The session was moderated by the columnist Shobha De and the author of the memoir Susan Adelman. He spoke about various experiences of his life, some landmark cases that he appeared, his personal life etc. An excerpt of the session can be viewed below. Even at the age of 91 he spoke with great élan and a firm voice.
Listen to Adv. Jethmalani sharing his life anecdotes in the YouTube video link below-
After the session he exited the venue and a host of attendees followed him. He walked with a rock star charm and magnetism pulling the crowd around him. I walked along with the other admirers until the point where the fest volunteers escorted him to the hall reserved for the guests where he was to have lunch with his family. I waited outside the hall and the crowd had dispersed in some time. There were few other enthusiast waiting, after some time he came out along with his personal assistant, I wished him and told that I too was a law student, he wish me the best and we exchanged a few words. I requested him for an autograph, he said that (I don’t remember the exact words but just the gist of it) “just let us go to the car first” and he held my hand in order to support him walk towards the car. He walked along with me and his assistant on the either side. That was the most surreal moment; to hold a hand of the legendary lawyer and accompany him to his car. He sat took my diary and pen, signed it in bit of a hurry as they were ready to leave and wished me luck for future. His car vroomed away as I held the diary reading his message and looking at his signature in wonderment “Good luck to you in all your ventures- Ram Jethmalani 5/12”. It was a little unusual to ask him for a autograph and I could not have done so if I met him in a professional environment or in the court but since it was a lit fest, the vibe of the atmosphere made it commonplace practice.
A glimpse of rest of the fest-