Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Marching In The Streets?

Updated on Mar 26, 2019 05:26 PM IST

Malavika Sangghvi tells us about Bollywood style dopplegangers, Bianca Jagger, Holi parties in Rajasthan and much more.

Bianca Jagger(Bianca Jagger/Instagram)
Bianca Jagger(Bianca Jagger/Instagram)
Hindustan Times | ByMalavika Sangghvi

Along with the millions who marched in London to protest against Brexit recently, was none other than Bianca Jagger, the Nicaraguan social activist, human rights advocate, erstwhile actress and jet setter and former wife of Rolling Stone front-man Mick Jagger, who is an old India hand and has many connections to the country, including daughter Jade Jagger who resides part-time in Goa. We had the pleasure of meeting Jagger on one of her frequent visits to Mumbai many years ago and recall being struck by her passion for all things Indian. Accompanying her to an exhibition by Chittrovanu Mazumdar, we remember how taken she’d been by his work and had bought a substantial amount of it, on the spot. Now in her 70s, but still as feisty and socially progressive as ever, it’s good to see that the great grandmother (she became a great-grandmother in 2014 through her granddaughter Assisi) known for her activism and philanthropy, still marches for the best of causes.

Separated at Birth?

Chetan D Narain
Chetan D Narain

As is known, along with its fascination for all manner of trivia, this column affords special interest to doppelgangers. Those men and women who resemble each other to such an extent that they could have been twins separated at birth or at the Kumbh Mela (in true old Bollywood film style). And so, for fans of Chetan Bhagat who cannot get enough of their favourite author, we have news. He has a twin, who, believe it or not, is also called Chetan and is also an author! Recently, we chanced upon this wondrous creature who goes by the name of Chetan D Narain when we came across his website, which purports to interview people about their astrological sun signs in order to offer the gullible some spurious pop psychological advice. To our amazement, we found that besides his name and similar claims to authorship, he also bore a striking resemblance to the original Chetan, right down to his silver framed spectacles.

Chetan Bhagat (HT File )
Chetan Bhagat (HT File )

“We have a format in which we throw surprise questions at you,” he says in it to his two female guests, as if he is about to explain the intricacies of the Mars Mission, adding, “So one of the biggest things about Pisces women is that they have always been extremely emotional and sensitive,” he says, as if he were a character created by the original, high-profile, best-selling author, columnist, screenwriter, television personality and motivational speaker in one of his many books. Wait a minute, come to think of it, Bhagat has been uncharacteristically quiet and out of sight for a while and the grapevine even had him moving abroad after stories emerged that he was seeking solitude away from the madding crowds. Perhaps, he just took a break by assuming another identity? That of a pop astrologer? That might explain the uncanny similarities between him and his doppleganger Chetan D Narain. Stranger things have been known to happen.

True Lies
Nothing brings out the inner Maharaja of a post-modern hipster more than Rajasthan. Marble palaces, bejewelled jackets, kohl lined eyes, gin and tonics, and luxury tents straight out of a British TV soap are known to coax Maharaja-sized hedonism out of even the most straight laced of urban cowboys. And so, this Holi, in the grand traditions of yore, truckloads of party hearties from Delhi, Mumbai, Paris and Ibiza made their way to Rajasthan, to bring in the festival of colour. But sources say that even as guests attempted to recreate the days and nights of the Raj, an insidious caste system prevailed.

“The A-listers were invited to Jaipur as personal guests of its titular polo playing prince for one more of his famous all-weekend benders. The B-listers are said to have also shown up in Jaipur but not as the prince’s personal guests, so they had to make their own staying arrangements and hope to cadge an invite to the ongoing shenanigans. The C-listers, meanwhile, made do with invitations from lesser-known royals to lesser-known palace hotels in the state where they made merry. “It was a good way of separating the wheat from the chaff,” said one Capital-based party-hearty, his makeup and Holi colour still apparent on his pretty countenance. “And, while everyone, guests and gate-crashers, partied on an even-playing field, only the wannabes made sure they clicked photos of themselves with their handsome host to post on their social media timelines as soon as possible. The rest of us were too busy having a great time to bother darling,” he drawled.

Storm In the Art Cup

Bose Krishnamachari (HT File Photo)
Bose Krishnamachari (HT File Photo)

“Hundred and five days down since the Kochi Biennale started! People who made it happen are still waiting for the dues to be settled! Just three days to go! Please settle this before you leave Kochi,” was one of the urgent posts on an Instagram handle called ‘Justice from Biennale, 18-19’, which erupted into a hornets nest of angry accusations and counter accusations recently, between the organisers of the art extravaganza and what appeared to be local contractors and workers like masons and fabricators, who allege that their dues have not been settled, some as far back as from last December! Expectedly, the issue has become a legal one, but the organisers of the 4th Biennale, said to be one of the most successful since its inception, are worried that after recovering from the Me Too scandal that embroiled co-founder Riyas Komu, this latest instance of controversy could be one from which India’s biggest exhibition of contemporary art (cited by no less than the Tate Modern as being the best Biennale it had ever seen), would not recover – which would be a shame in every respect. It takes years of vision and effort to create something of this size and magnitude, and just a few days to pull it down. Hopefully, Bose Krishnamachari and his team are able to settle the matter and put it to rest or it will be another case of the famous Indian crabs in a bucket pulling each other down.

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