When Mira Nair ate raw onions before kissing ‘pompous’ Shashi Tharoor

On Saturday, Congress MP and walking thesaurus Shashi Tharoor shared an old picture of a Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra from St Stephen’s. The picture, taken by Pablo Bartholomew of Tharoor and Mira Nair – who’d go on to direct classics like The Namesake – was taken in 1974.

Tharoor noted that the play had a host of other Stephanians who’d go on to become world beaters, masters of their field.

While Tharoor played Antony, Mira Nair was roped in from Miranda House (St Stephens was a stuffy all-boys bastion) at that time. Theatre director Aamir Raz Husain would play Pompeii, and Enobarbus was played by Ramu Damodaran, who’d become Narasimha Rao’s private secretary.

Arun Singh, Ashokhe Mukherjee and Gautam Mukhopadhyaya would also go on to become famous luminaries of the civil service while the slave boys were legendary novelist Amitav Ghosh and advertising legend Piyush Pandey!

However, what Tharoor failed to mention was that his co-star Mira Nair considered him pompous and told a leading daily in 2012: "I must mention here that I used to eat onions before my love scenes with Shashi Tharoor because he was so pompous. I also remember playing Cleopatra where I had six slaves in Langoti."

Tharoor had also written about their particular play, noting that the likes of Kabir Bedi, Roshan Seth and Kapil Sibal had graduated a couple of years ago. Others who refused to audition included Rajiv Mehrotra, Rukun Advani, Anurag Mathur and Siddhartha Basu.

Tharoor notes, that Basu called his Antony a ‘flippant, underfed Romeo’.

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