Malavika’s Mumbaistan: A Mother’s Joy
With Gully Boy moving all who see it, no surprises that one of the people closest to its heart was moved to come up with a rap of her own. “@ranveersingh, you’ve won my heart, @aliaabhatt you’re a class apart, @zoieakhtar you’re incredible, And everyone is quite delightful, See now me too want to rap, But first for this film I have to clap,” shared actress Soni Razdan, mother of the film’s heroine Alia Bhatt, over the weekend. But there was even more reason to cheer within the Bhatt household. Razdan’s mother, the German-born beauty Gertrude Hoelzer, who had married a Kashmiri Pandit-architect and had made India her home ever since, celebrated her 90th birthday on Sunday. The product of a talented and artistic clan, Razdan’s parents had met when her father was studying architecture in London. “Dad was an extremely gifted violinist even drawing praise from Yehudi Menuhin,” said Razdan, when we spoke yesterday. “So, even as a student, he would tour all over Europe with the iconic classical Indian dancer Ram Gopal’s troupe.” Their meeting had been serendipitous. “Dad had invited someone to one of his concerts in London, and since they could not make it, they had given the passes to my Mum, saying she should go backstage and thank Mr Razdan after the show. That’s when they met and he invited her for a coffee…” The two had married in England and Soni had been born a few years later. “On their return, Mum made her home in Mumbai and became an accomplished nursery teacher introducing many progressive teaching methods in the city,” she said, her gratitude and love for her parents palpable in her voice. Along with a heartfelt birthday greeting on the occasion of her mother’s birthday, Razdan had shared a few beautiful photographs of her mother on social media, including one with herself at 17, in which her resemblance to Alia is striking. “Yes,” she laughed, “In fact, my school friends say Alia is a ditto copy of me!” The same fresh-faced charm and chic insouciance, which illuminates Zoya Akhtar’s recent blockbuster. Indeed, the apple does not fall too far from the tree.
Last week marked the 25th death anniversary of pioneering Indian designer, the late Rohit Khosla, whose brilliant career had been cut short by his tragic death at 36. When haute couture had been just a gleam in Tarun Tahiliani’s eye and the likes of Rohit Bal were doodling their creations on the back of envelopes, Khosla had set the fashion ball rolling with his burning talent and his in-your-face OTT lifestyle. The Doon School and Kingston college-educated son of a well-heeled clan from Delhi had returned to India after apprenticing with design houses abroad to start his own label in 1987!
We recall, the first time we had set eyes on the flamboyant designer with his movie star good looks: it had been at the launch of Ensemble, the country’s first high-fashion enterprise, which he had cofounded with his fellow Doon school mate Tahiliani at Mumbai’s Kala Ghoda. Such had been the excitement around it that Mumbai’s most celebrated society hostess Sunita Pitamber had marked its opening with a party at the Piano Bar, which had boasted not one or two, but three international beauties in attendance (Princess Esra Jah of Hyderabad, Princess Ira Von Furstenberg from Italy and Guyanese-British model and actress London’s Shakira Caine, wife of actor Michael Caine). With his Western silhouette and meticulous crafting, it was apparent right away that Khosla’s was a talent that would burn long and bright and the fact that his contemporaries like Tahiliani and AJSK are at the top of their games even now, all these decades later, proves that had he not succumbed to his tragic illness. Khosla would have been at the pinnacle of the fashion universe today. We recall how at his last fashion show, held at the Oberoi’s Regal Room (in the days when ramp shows were big ticket social events and were witness to the most astonishing array of high-society attendees), an overwhelmed Rohit Bal had fallen to his knees in admiration for his namesake. Such was Khosla’s legacy, that even though the industry that he helped pioneer is widely believed to be fickle and forgetful, he is gone but hardly forgotten. There is an annual award for ‘Debutante Designer of the Year’ presented in his name by a popular entertainment channel, a fashion week in the past has been dedicated to him and his sister, designer Rohini Khosla has published a book on his life and work titled ‘Rohit Khosla: Vanguard’.
Now, Mystic Fashion
Is there any sphere of activity that Isha Foundation’s Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is not engaged with? Last week, the golf-playing, motorbike-riding mystic, whose activism for environmental issues and responses to student queries across the world have made him appear almost omnipresent, popped up at a fashion show in New York, along with the likes of Lebanese American designer Norma Kamali and India’s Sabyasachi at an event billed as ‘Fashion For Peace’. Apparently, Kamali had been so impressed by the work done by the guru in reviving traditional Indian weaves that she had been inspired to create a new line based on them. Needless to say, she meditates along with her entire office staff 30 minutes a day too. What’s more, that other high-profile American female designer Donna Karan is a fan of the guru’s and has spent time at his Coimbatore ashram.
“If your politicians cannot show committed, unshakeable, dignified solidarity in this moment, no matter which party they belong to, they are not patriotic, and they are not the politicians for you.”
- Tweeted by Vir Das