Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Just a girl and a guitar

Even though Ananya Birla launched a series of successful start-ups and NGOs in the field of e-commerce and mental health, she appears to be a musician at heart.
Ananya Birla (third from left) with her friends.(HT Photo)
Ananya Birla (third from left) with her friends.(HT Photo)
Updated on Sep 03, 2018 12:50 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByMalavika Sangghvi

Ananya Birla, daughter of industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and philanthropist Neerja Birla has amply demonstrated how it is music that makes her world go round. Even though she launched a series of successful start-ups and NGOs in the field of e-commerce and mental health, following her stint at Oxford, the heiress, first and foremost, appears to be a musician at heart. The 20-something guitarist, singer and composer has released four hit tracks in a short span and has already received a platinum plaque for her efforts. And, word comes in that this Saturday night, guests were delighted, when, during a friend’s birthday celebrations, Ananya pulled out an acoustic guitar and impromptu performed the track ‘I’m Yours’ by Jason Mraz, which we hear was the highlight of the evening, and ended with a sing-along by the whole group, which included model Gabriella Demetriades.

True Lies
One more instance of the city’s monstrous sense of entitlement has been brought to our notice. This one emanates from a newly-restored heritage structure, where royal patronage has made it the cultural hub for the cognoscenti. “At a recent cultural event, boasting big names from the corporate world, there was a virtual free for all, when members of the audience demanded to be seated in the front row seats only, come hell or high water,” a source present on the occasion says, adding, “You can drip diamonds (polkis at that), rubies and emeralds and wear the finest and most expensive of clothes! Not to forget - be from some of the known moneyed families of Bombay! But put you in a line of free seating and there will be squabbles and a cross-fire of arguments!” On this occasion, an old lady, with a relative, who was trying to get in, was heckled by those rushing to grab the front seats, while another senior citizen was not allowed in at all. But, the prize for ‘most entitled’ must surely go to the gentleman, who had come in late and shouted and screamed at the theatre staff, when he was led to the balcony, demanding to be seated downstairs! Amidst all of this, we’re told the evening’s guest of honour, a yesteryear actress of considerable dignity, was forgotten by the organisers! “They literally forgot about her and only remembered her presence at the very fag end of the evening and then asked if she would like to say a few words, which she politely declined.” As the source to these embarrassing moments says: “Money can’t buy you class, but it can certainly buy you a sense of entitlement!”

What They Say
“A man visiting the Serralves Museum in Porto, Portugal, landed in the hospital last week after falling inside an Anish Kapoor installation. The piece, titled Descent into Limbo (1992), includes an eight-foot-deep hole painted black inside, ‘giving the illusion of a depthless void’.”
-Newspaper reports, recently

What They Mean
“However, it is not true that Kapoor has been commissioned by the BMC to come to Mumbai and similarly paint over the city’s potholes; stories to this effect are highly exaggerated.”

First Day, First Show

Maxie Cooper
Maxie Cooper

Speaking to artist-photographer Maxie Cooper on what was the first day, first show of her art exhibition, Now Showing at the Rukshaan Art Gallery, brought home the wealth of talent that Mumbai possesses. Cooper, the daughter of movie mogul Keki Mody (brother to Sohrab Mody) and the owner of the slew of once legendary SoBo cinemas New Empire, Excelsior and Strand, presents a series of abstract black and white photographs, which she has creatively worked on as standalone pieces of art, to convey the magic and mystique of cinema lore, as a tribute to her late father. “I started photographing the New Empire after it had closed, four years ago, and Elite in Calcutta (which also belonged to her family), about a year later,” she says, of the process that led to Now Showing. About the decline and disappearance of single screen cinemas, she says, “It was a struggle ever since videos came along, which led to piracy, then multiplexes. Multiplexes got tax breaks, single screens were and are taxed heavily. People started frequenting multiplexes more and more and our patronage diminished.” Art and photography are not Cooper’s only passions. Steeped in the moving image and the mythology of cinema, it is natural that she is an avid movie buff. Added to that are her abiding interests in tango and travel. “My family has been very understanding about my travel and tango! I photograph everywhere. My camera is always with me,” she says. In fact, Cooper’s sensitive eye and humane approach is often seen on social media, where her frequent posts of every day, quotidian street life never fail to enlighten and delight.

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