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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Dongre at Davos

mumbai Updated: Jan 14, 2019 00:47 IST
Malavika Sangghvi
Malavika Sangghvi
Hindustan Times
Anita Dongre
Anita Dongre (HT Photo )

If anyone epitomises the success of middle class values and work ethic in a post lib India, it is fashion designer and entrepreneur Anita Dongre. A graduate of a city fashion academy, who worked her way up the industry ecosystem, with stints in India’s high-fashion exports boom industry in the eighties (an early employer of hers had been Bapa Dhrangadhara, the late Oxford-educated erstwhile Maharajah), she had branched out with the establishment of her fledgling AND label and then steadily gained ground. Today, her House of Anita Dongre straddles four distinct brands and boasts stores across India and has planted its flag in Manhattan too. And, along the way, Dongre has picked up clients as stratospheric as Kate Middleton, Hillary Clinton and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau! But here’s where Dongre’s middle class values and work ethic has contributed. Unlike the rest of her ilk, she has remained remarkably absent from the usual Indian fashion whirl – Bolly stars as besties and showstoppers and being every high-profile Indian bride’s go-to larger-than-life designer fashion whirl that appears to be the norm currently. Instead, Dongre has quietly and determinedly built the foundations of her business, which is said to be right at the top on the list of the country’s most successful fashion houses as far as bottom line is concerned (the other two being Manish Malhotra and Sabyasachi). Of course, luck has played its part in her success. From amongst the substantial collection of garments undoubtedly sent to her by her stylists, Kate Middleton could have chosen any other one besides that famous floral tunic on her first visit to India; or Dongre could have squirreled on without finding worthy financial backers who believed in her vision etc. But the point is that Dongre’s sights lay elsewhere: By eschewing the path of building a personality cult and instead building a viable business, which she runs along with her brother and sister and more increasingly, with her son Yash, she has sprinted past her contemporaries. Unsurprisingly, this approach, because it’s played to the strengths of the essentially-shy and workaholic Sindhi wife and mother, has paid off . After recently being invited as one of the keynote speakers at a Harvard Indian conference, Dongre has scored another sixer. Word comes in that she’s been invited as part of the Indian delegation to this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, later this month. As is known, the snow-clad Swiss town’s annual meet is a jamboree of international big wheels and it’s outings like this that contribute to Dongre’s heft. What’s more, one of her co-panellists is said to be, what could easily be her soul twin in the international fashion frat, Britain’s Stella McCartney, another example of the success of solid middle-class values and work ethic. McCartney’s father, after all, was a working class boy from Liverpool!

True Lies
Ever since a fire engulfed and destroyed this popular Goan eatery, stories of its cause have been flying free and fast. At first, the flames were attributed to the bursting of a gas cylinder in the eatery’s own kitchen, but soon, the restaurant put out a statement denying this and the reason for the fire was believed to be burning embers from a neighbouring lot, which had reached the restaurant. This appeared to be the most plausible explanation for the devastation. However, Goan sources swear that things are not as simple. Especially, as the location of the ravaged eatery happens to be near a newly-opened rival run by a powerful local. “The fact that another iconic restaurant in the same vicinity had to shut down and move elsewhere, as it was denied license, only adds fuel to the rumours of sabotage,” said one Goa insider. “With its shutting down after the fire, the coast is conveniently clear for the new eatery to capture the lucrative seasonal holiday market,” say sources. But of course, these stories of skulduggery and diabolical deceit ought to be taken with a pinch of salt. As does the other story doing the rounds: Of two unidentified men on bikes who were spotted in the locality fanning the flames. Ah Goa and they still call you God’s Own Country.

She Said, He Said

Murthy’s mismatched shoes.
Murthy’s mismatched shoes.

It was most likely just some friendly social media banter, but given the high-profile roles both played in the #MeToo storm, it defined the phrase ‘skating on thin ice’.
This weekend, venture capital investor Mahesh Murthy, who’d been arrested last year on charges of molesting and stalking a woman, posted something humorous, drawing attention to his absentmindedness, on social media. The sentences: “Had an early flight. Dressed in the dark and left for the airport. Where I noticed this,” were accompanied with a picture of two glaringly-mismatched shoes. Expectedly, the post evoked much response with many chiming in with their own instances of absentmindedness (especially early morning bouts resulting in similar sartorial confusions). One such comment was from writer and filmmaker Vinta Nanda, whose case against actor Alok Nath for an alleged rape 20 years ago has been in the headlines. “Now?” was her cryptic and enigmatic question, at which point, it would not be an exaggeration to say that many aware of each one’s roles in the raging issue held their breath. Murthy replied with tart alacrity: “Vinta Nanda, yes, now’. (One of the charges against him was that he had been unnecessarily flirtatious on social media). Not missing a beat, Nanda quickly clarified: “Mahesh Murthy, I meant now what will you do?”
To which Murthy responded that he would do nothing, since apparently, no one had noticed.
“LOL”, noted Nanda and....everyone went back to what they were doing.

Tweet Talk
As if bad films weren’t enough, now we have bad propaganda films also. Sigh!
-Tweeted by film journalist and editor Jitesh Pillai

First Published: Jan 14, 2019 00:47 IST