Imran Khan(HT File)
Imran Khan(HT File)

Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Famous Last Words

Hindustan Times | By Malavika Sangghvi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2019 12:40 AM IST

That’s the thing about the digital age. Your past is up there forever, waiting to bite you and for anyone to download and smirk over. As in the case of Pakistan PM Imran Khan, whose interview to the British media almost 30 years ago, when he was 38, now up on Youtube, brings a smile to one’s lips. The swashbuckling cricket sensation, whose name was linked with a slew of international beauties (Emma Sergeant; Lulu Backer; Susannah Constantine; Goldie Hawn; Marie Helvin; Lady Liza Campbell, amongst many others) holds forth in his well-appointed Chelsea pad and delivers, what in retrospect can only be termed as a series of ‘famous last words’. When asked about marriage, Khan blushes and says he does not consider marriage as all his friends are divorced. “My best friend is divorced three times,” the heartthrob, who went on to marry three times himself, blithely states. But, it is his response when he is asked if he will ever consider a career in politics that is really significant. “I do not think I am cut out for politics,” he says, adding, “I strongly believe that everyone can play a different role in society and you don’t have to become the PM of your country to help people.”
See what we meant about famous last words.

Of Rebirth And Resurgence

Anushka Jag with Devraj Sanyal (Photo: Malavika Sangghvi )
Anushka Jag with Devraj Sanyal (Photo: Malavika Sangghvi )

The one thing that struck us about the recent Oscars ceremony was how performer after performer stood on stage and urged the world never to give up on its dreams, not under any circumstance, and to fight for them till they come true. We were reminded of this yesterday, when we heard of the release of singer/songwriter Anushka Jag’s haunting Rebirth, crafted by prominent LA artist and producer Duddy Brown, on all streaming platforms worldwide. Its theme of hitting rock bottom in the face of betrayal and then rebuilding one’s life and emerging stronger, is rooted in Jag’s own spiritual beliefs, and its refrain of the Sanskrit mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum” makes it an anthem of positivity and hope. Jag, who melds the sounds of old-world India with modern electronic soundscapes and splits her time between Mumbai and Los Angeles, has been passionate about music ever since she can recall. But, she spent many years working as a TV journalist after receiving her MSc from The London School of Economics, before her earlier passion took centre stage and she was determined to give it all she had. Since then, she has conducted several tours throughout the United States, Asia, and the United Kingdom; had her music air on prestigious outlets such as MTV and Vh1; and has collaborated in LA with the likes of Doyle Bramhall (Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton), Jennifer O Neill (Lady Gaga) and John Jones (Duran Duran). Recently, we had the privilege of being present when the singer met Devraj Sanyal, the dynamic MD and CEO of Universal Music and EMI, and believed to be the most powerful man in the business. The two had hit it off and Sanyal, not a man given to idle chatter, had been visibly impressed with her voice and raw talent and had promised to connect her to the right people internationally so that her music could reach the heights it deserved. We are keeping our fingers crossed on that one. After all, as Lady Gaga herself said on stage at the Oscars, “Never let your dreams die. Fight for them and your talent with every ounce of strength you have.” She might just as well have said, “Sing! Sing your song loud, for everyone to hear.”
As for us, we’re humming ‘Rebirth Rebirth’.

Those following the upcoming national elections are speaking of a ‘Before and After Pulwama’ effect. “Before Pulwama, it had seemed like the Congress-led Opposition had a striking chance in making a dent in the BJP’s hopes,” said one political observer. “But after it, it’s another ball game altogether.”
How so?
“Well,” said the political observer, “As you know, these days election funding has been regulated with parties receiving their monies through bonds. And, according to those in the know, so far, 90% of them have gone to the BJP,” he said. “And with every candidate requiring a minimum of 10 to 15 crore to mount a decent campaign, you will get an idea of how short the Congress is, if you do the math. What’s irking the party more is the fact that with Siddaramaiah out of power in Karnataka, which had been its cash cow until now, the outlook is very bleak,” he said.
What about the three new states which the party rules?
“Ah those, the sourcing machinery is not in place there yet.”
Oh dear, reminds us of the nursery rhyme…and the cupboard was bare.

Supporting The Arts – With Heart

Niraj Bajaj (left) with Sunil Kothari. (Photo: Malavika Sangghvi )
Niraj Bajaj (left) with Sunil Kothari. (Photo: Malavika Sangghvi )

It’s one thing to sustain the arts through cheque book philanthropy and quite another to sustain it with one’s steady and unswerving engagement. Promoter-director of the Bajaj Group, Niraj Bajaj and wife Minal are those rare individuals who do both effortlessly. At most of the city’s big ticket cultural events, one will run into the couple and their quiet understated presence. We ran into them at the ‘Best of Alyque’ tribute on Tuesday at the The Royal Opera House. “Alyque was very special to us,” said Minal, after the show. “He had been the one who created the Hamara Bajaj campaign,” said Niraj. “And it’s something that consolidated the brand in people’s minds ever since,“ said the three-time All India National Table Tennis Champion and Arjuna Awardee, adding, “Even today, wherever you go, even in the remotest of villages, when one says Bajaj, people inevitably recall Alyque’s jingle.” The evening had been imbued with nostalgia for the Bajajs. In the interval, Niraj had the pleasure of running into one of his former professors Sunil Kothari, from Sydenham College, where he’d pursued his B Com before heading out to Harvard for his MBA. The two men, whose lives had changed substantially from those days (Bajaj had become an India Inc statesman greying at the temples and Kothari had transformed into a noted dance critic who circumnavigated the globe frequently) were palpably delighted to reconnect with each other and requested us to take a picture of them together to mark the happy occasion. Here it is then, a testimony to those halcyon times.

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