Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Business not as usualUpdated: Feb 27, 2018 14:49 IST
Donald Trump Jr (left) with Abhishek Lodha (right) during the former’s visit to Mumbai last week. (Kunal Patil/HT )
To say there was a roomful of polite exasperation as invitees to the The Lodha Luxury collection’s reception for Donald Trump Jr awaited the entry of the chief guest would not be wrong. There were almost no empty seats by the time we had arrived as some of the city’s movers and shakers shuffled their feet as the minutes ticked by.
Offstage reports say that the likes of Ashiesh Shah, Rohit Bal, AD Singh and Arzan Khambatta who had been roped for a panel discussion on Building a Better Mumbai, to be moderated by a Delhi-based TV anchor, were having a tougher time. “We were given the impression we would be in a discussion with Trump Jr,” one of them confided, even as another is said to have threatened a walkout over the inordinate delay and confusion. Finally, when the evening began, it did nothing to address the unease.
The discussion fell glaringly between the two stools of a crumbling city infrastructure and the overweening fantasy of developers such as Trump, and when the anchor asked, “Why aren’t Indian cities amongst the best in the world?’ it sounded like a droll joke more than anything else. Things livened up a bit with the arrival of Junior. What followed was a discussion boasting such perfect symmetry that it almost took one’s breath away, with Trump Jr and Abhishek Lodha, both builder sons of two politically powerful dads, talking up their Mumbai plans.
“We have been early believers in India,” was Junior’s overriding spiel to the listeners, followed by his comment that this early enthusiasm was being thwarted because of the ‘present circumstances’. “No fresh deals are being signed,” he said.
This scenario had played out almost exactly, according to sources, when Trump Jr had met Mumbai’s top industrialists at a similar soiree a few minutes earlier across the road at the Four Seasons. One leading industrialist at that occasion distinctly recalls hearing the Presidential Putra say the same thing minutes before he was introduced by Trump Jr to a beefy colleague of his with the words, “We can’t make fresh deals at the moment, but he can do what we can’t right now”.
Conflict of interest any one?
Oops he got away!
It had been one of the city’s big-ticket social events last year when Nirav Modi had partnered with a glossy magazine to bring the internationally celebrated chef, Massimo Bottura, to Mumbai to cook a seven-course, invitees-only, exclusive dinner for the city’s assorted fat cats.
Held at a mid-city five-star, the evening had seen the master chef prepare his signature dishes such as ‘Caesar Salad in Bloom’, ‘Risotto Cacio e Pepe’ and his famous ‘Oops! I dropped the lemon tart’ for dessert. The magazine’s editor had gone on record to describe the event as “unforgettable”.
Well, sadly, those words have come back to bite, say sources, as the jeweller is still to clear his dues. “Perhaps his recent troubles have delayed things and the money is on its way,” a kind soul was overheard consoling the publisher. To which he had responded, “But the delaying tactics had begun before the trouble began.”
What They Say
“Since the video is edited and we are not fully aware of what happened before or after the scene, I will refrain from making any unnecessary comments.”
Pahlaj Nihalani on the Papon controversy
What They Mean
“I have exhausted the permissible quota of unnecessary comments made by one individual in this lifetime in any case.”
Man for all seasons
A formidable slice of Bollywood trooped into Olive to celebrate producer Manmohan Shetty’s 70th birthday on Friday evening. Shetty, an industry veteran, who’d begun his long innings when he’d launched the iconic Adlabs laboratory, occupies a special place in Bollywood’s heart for his down to earth dependability and no-nonsense work ethic.
“When Manmohan gave you his word, it was so solid you could cash it,” said a middle-aged character on the occasion. We spotted the likes of Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh, Ashutosh Gowarikar, Boney Kapoor, David Dhawan, Sikander Kher, Ila Arun, Sajjid Nadiadwala and Subhash Ghai, among many others, partaking of the general cheer.
“Not a day passes some one or the other from the industry reminds me of a time when dad helped them in some way or the other,” daughter-producer Aarti Shetty had once said.
As for the birthday boy, he remained his affable self. “At the end of the day, we have all tasted success and failure together,” he was overheard saying to a guest. “So of course we can celebrate together.”
First Published: Feb 27, 2018 12:03 IST