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Forbes India Showstoppers: Recognising performers who shone bright through 2023

Team Forbes India has brought you vivid profiles of stars who have achieved various milestones and amassed admirers because of their sustained hard work and determination. All that, and much more, awaits you in this special Showstoppers issue

Brian Carvalho
Published: Dec 22, 2023 10:20:49 AM IST
Updated: Dec 22, 2023 10:31:54 AM IST


What would it have been like to interview celebrities in an era when manicured soundbites and page 3 high jinks were as alien as social media posts of stars in kitschy apparel and showy surroundings?

For answers, I dusted out The Penguin Book of Interviews, an anthology from 1859 till the early 1990s edited by Christopher Silvester. The collection stands out for its diversity, depth and brilliance in form and content; and for the often-spontaneous responses to questions from interviewers—and interviewees—who didn’t hold back.

In 1971, Jann S Wenner of the Rolling Stone magazine persistently quizzes John Lennon of the Beatles on his use of LSD:
So LSD started for you in 1964. How long did it go on?
Lennon: It went on for years, I must have had a thousand trips.
A few more questions on LSD, and Wenner moves on to other drugs and drug songs.
Lennon: ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, I was on pills. That’s drugs, that’s bigger drugs than pot.

Then it’s time for heroin, but it wasn’t just a drugs-laced conversation. Wenner asks Lennon whether he is the Beatles (answer: “I’m not the Beatles, I’m me. Paul isn’t the Beatles… Nobody is the Beatles. We all had our roles to play”); his view of the Rolling Stones (I think it’s a lot of hype); and on the future of rock & roll (“it will be whatever we make it”).

Fast forward to 1975, when New York Daily News’ Rex Reed interviews Hollywood actor Bette Davis. It’s different in form—not in Q&A format—and rich in Reed’s sharp-eyed writing and Davis’s unique self-evaluation.

Excerpt: “She pours coffee, she raises a window, she brushes off her hand, she lowers the window, she drops cigarette ashes all over her starched white denim hostess gown… she spots a bald man down by the swimming pool who looks like her third husband and lets out a roar…” and so it goes.

Reed goes on to reflect: “One doesn’t exactly interview Bette Davis. One just sits back, coughs while the smoke screen builds into a tornado and lets her do all the talking.” Davis obliges: “I’m like a cat. Throw me up in the air, and I’ll always land on my feet. I spent my whole goddam life saying, ‘Why should I apologise for being bright,’ and I’m not stopping now.”

It’s that time of the year when Forbes India turns the spotlight on the stars sizzling on silver and small screens, on the bandstands where they’re playing your song and on the sporting tracks and fields.
These are the performers—who Forbes India likes to call the ‘Showstoppers’—who have today assumed star status because of what they’ve achieved; and the sustained hard work and determination that resulted in those accomplishments.

On the six covers are celebrities who shone bright through 2023. Don’t miss their vivid profiles by Team Forbes India’s bunch of evocative writers. Consider Vijay Sethupathi who, after lording over the Tamil film industry, has taken Bollywood by storm. Sethupathi tells Divya Shekhar that perhaps the secret to his success is admitting early on that he did not know anything about films or acting. “Sometimes innocence is a blessing.”

That may hold true for batting maestro Shubman Gill, too, who with a handful of words, incisively breaks down India’s surprise loss to Australia in the ODI World Cup final. “When we were three wickets down, there was a lot of pressure on us. And we lost ourselves in that pressure,” he tells Kathakali Chanda.

All that, and much more, awaits you in this special Showstoppers issue.

Brian Carvalho
Editor, Forbes India
Email: Brian.Carvalho@nw18.com
Twitter ID: @Brianc_Ed

(This story appears in the 29 December, 2023 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)