" [The car was] rocking in a sea of angry Muslims ... "

Shobha De, Goddess of Sex and Shopping

"Shobha De," reported Pico Iyer, "highly glamorous former movie-magazine editor and fashion model who has become the country's best-selling novelist ... was dubbed by Time the 'Jackie Collins of India.' De, a fountain of energy and mine of sex-and-shopping wisdom, moves through the city like its uncrowned queen."

My shoot with her was a hair-raising affair. I had the idea to photograph her in a hot pink sari, wearing lots of jewels, reclined on her 1952 Jaguar in a busy old-world Bombay bazaar. We inched our way in clogged traffic to a Muslim neighborhood, where I spotted a great old building with signs of sultry women's eyes. Shobha De jumped onto the car and I started shooting. In a minute a huge crowd had gathered. They were shouting and gesturing, but I, not understanding a word, thought they were encouraging us. Shobha De was looking a little nervous though. At the end of the roll, she said, "get in the car, we've got to get out of here now!" We were in front of a mosque at prayer time!

Of course, she knew it was a mosque but didn't think it would be a problem. However, since the recent problems between Hindus and Muslims, the climate in the city had changed. We jumped into the car, as the crowd became very angry and abusive. The driver turned the key, but the car wouldn't start. A swarm of shouting faces pressed up to the windows. Shobha De was crying out to the driver, "Why can't you get the car started!" The car had overheated in the traffic and wouldn't turn over. The people pounded their fists on the car. We were rocking in a sea of angry Muslims. Finally, the car started and we edged out of there, and safely onto the main street. Shobha De wrote up the story in her column, and that Sunday all of India read about our adventure.

Next series . . .


Further chapters of Bombay Bazaar:
images 12 - 22
images 23 - 30