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Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Memoirs are made of this

mumbai Updated: May 17, 2018 12:37 IST
Malavika Sangghvi
Malavika Sangghvi
Hindustan Times
Malavika’s Mumbaistan,Mumbai,Malavika Sangghvi

Jay Mehta with father Mahendra Mehta.

“The love that the people of Uganda have showered upon our family is a testament to the goodwill that the Mehta family enjoys in Uganda,” said industrialist, movie mogul and part owner of the KKR franchise, Jay Mehta, this week in Kampala, on the occasion of the release of his father Mahendra M Mehta’s memoirs by the country’s President Yoweri Museveni.

The occasion described by Mehta as “a great honour” was not without its share of poignancy. The Mehtas had established a long and fruitful association with Uganda ever since the family patriarch had immigrated there at the age of 13 and founded an empire. His son, Mahendra, had further extended the businesses and the family’s relationship with the country.

But, as is known, in 1972, Idi Amin, overnight and on a whim had expelled all Asians from the country and all of the group’s Ugandan possessions had to be surrendered. In his memoirs, Call of the Peacock, Mehta vividly describes his return to his family home after decades of destruction and chaos. “News of my presence spread like wildfire… people crowded at the windows, clapping and dancing and singing songs of welcome,” he writes.

“My hair sometimes stands on end when I hear the stories of their return to Uganda,” said a proud Jay in his speech, ending it with: “The main purpose of our lives, I believe, is to create happiness not just for ourselves but for those around us.”


Soni Razdan with daughter Alia Bhatt.

“Alia was not behaving as if she was my daughter and I her mother,” recalls Soni Razdan, about the shoot of the critical and box-office success Raazi in Kashmir. “Most of the time we were there, she was the one looking after me! It was really rather sweet,” says Razdan. “The real bonus was that after not meeting her for quite a long time, we got to spend ‘quality’ time together in a totally unusual manner. On the sets!”

Shooting for the film in Kashmir will remain one of Razdan’s – daughter of a German mother and a Kashmiri Hindu Pandit father – most cherished memories. “As soon as pack up was announced, if it was before 6pm, the two of us would jump into the car and rush to Dal Lake, so we could watch the sun setting from a shikara on the lake. That was truly very special,” said Razdan. “And when we didn’t have a very early call time, we rushed to Ahdoos to eat nadru yakhni and ristas galore.”



Farah Khan with her professor Robert Ahrens, in a picture taken 25 years ago.

It is clear that jewellery designer Farah Khan who celebrated the 25th year in her design journey yesterday, with a sparkling soiree at her eponymous store in Bandra, had given a lot of thought to the occasion. To commemorate the anniversary, she had launched her Monogram, titled Aayat. “To me it is the culmination of all my inspirations put together. From a bird soaring high in flight to an architectural flourish, a rising flame, a crest of bygone royalty, Aayat is an ode to the imagination,” said the daughter of a large and loving film family, which we had grown up knowing. “In Sanskrit the word means rectangle, a form that implies safety, stability, security and peace; in Urdu, the word has many meanings that resonate with the brand: Clue. Verse. Miracle. Royal,” she said. But then she revealed the crux of the matter. “Finally, the AA in the word calls to mind the same lyrical quality in the names of my children, Azaan and Fizaa, who inspire me every single day,” she said.


Arun Shourie.

Word comes in of this delightful moment which occurred last week in Mumbai at the launch of Arun Shourie’s latest tome. During Shekhar Gupta’s Off the Cuff, Shourie had read out a prime example of unforgivable legalese in a decision by the Himachal Pradesh high court so incomprehensible that the Supreme Court had returned it saying it couldn’t understand it. Including phrases like ‘therebefore... wherewithin the opposite unfoldments qua his resistance’. After the audience stopped laughing, Shourie had said, “Anil Dharker should invite these learned judges to his Mumbai Litfest so they can show off their literary flourishes…”

First Published: May 17, 2018 12:36 IST