"I have never understood this habit of asking for autographs"
"If you call me, be prepared." Show organisers across India know that the warning is implicit in the personality of Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, known for her long-running Indian adaptation of American playwright Eve Ensler's iconic 1996 play 'The Vagina Monologues', which explores subjects ranging from menstruation and giving birth to sex and even rape. While this almost-two-decades-long feminist play has faced no opposition from politicians, Mody-Kotwal has, in the past, discomfited the front rows of corporate shows by cracking jokes on politics. In an interview, the outspoken, witty theatre personality tells us why she has never sought an autograph
Do you remember the first autograph you ever sought?
I have NEVER sought an autograph ever.
What's the most prized autograph or piece of signed memorabilia that you own?
The outfit Eve Ensler wore at her first performance of The Vagina Monologues.
What is your earliest memory of giving an autograph?
I give autographs mostly after shows.
What, according to you, is the historical significance of an autograph?
If it’s from a very famous personality, I guess it’s an asset to the owner.
Do you regularly answer fan mail, even now? Has the number of people writing letters to you dwindled over time?
No, messages on social media have only increased, these days.
Do you remember any conversations or interactions with ardent autograph seekers?
Once, at the Frankfurt airport, some ladies ran up to me, much to the amazement of the foreign passengers who had no fucking clue who I was!
How do you generally sign autographs?
‘With best wishes’.
Are you particular about what to say?
Just the three words and my signature.
Do you recall any strange or quirky requests from fans seeking autographs?
No. Except that they want selfies after the signing is over.
Why do you think the hobby of autograph seeking is dying?
I hope so. Total waste of time and I find it extremely embarrassing if it’s at a social function like a wedding, etc. I have never understood this habit of asking for autographs even when I was a child. I have never done it as a grownup, or when I have worked with some of the most well-known people, here and abroad. I don’t take their phone numbers either.
Do you miss giving autographs in these times of social distancing?
Not at all.
What according to you are strict no-nos when it comes to giving autographs?
Don’t give very personal accompanying comments, your e mail id, your phone number.
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