Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Portrait Of The Collector As A Bank Fraudster

Updated on Mar 25, 2019 12:52 AM IST
Nirav Modi(HT File)
Nirav Modi(HT File)
Hindustan Times | ByMalavika Sangghvi

“Yes, there’s been quite a buzz. We had over 100 people drop in today at our preview, to look at the paintings,” said Dinesh Vazirani, co-founder of Saffronart, when we spoke on Sunday afternoon. Tomorrow, he will be taking bids, on behalf of government agencies, towards the unpaid millions owed to Indian banks by a high-profile diamantaire and accused in the PNB fraud, Nirav Modi. It has given the auction a certain frisson, not least, because of the notoriety of the collection’s owner whose beach house near Mumbai had to be demolished by authorities recently for flouting rules. “I guess people know that Nirav Modi did have a good eye and that his art collection would be an impressive one. Also, the fact that the paintings are verified by the government gives them more heft,” said Vazirani when asked the reason why many new faces besides the usual suspects, had dropped in. The auction house had been appointed earlier this month for the sale of 68 artworks, including those by Raja Ravi Varma, FN Souza and VS Gaitonde, to recover part of the 13,500 crore swindled in the PNB fraud case. Since its announcement, Modi had been arrested in London and is lodged in one of England’s most crowded prisons. Now that we know of his bank fraud, could one read anything into the mind of one of the country’s biggest fraudsters through his art collection? we asked Vazirani. “Not really. But what is known is that he got many of his ideas for his designs from art,” he said. Vazirani, who founded the auction house in 2000, with wife Minal, says that amongst the many outstanding works that will go under the hammer, there’s a Ravi Varma and a landscape by Souza that have caught his eye. But of course, they will not be his. “Tomorrow, I will be taking bids,” he said.

Air Water Light

(From left) Vivek Sahani, Nikhil Khanna, Mario Testino, Mozez Singh and Hanut Singh with Shalini Passi. (HT Photo)
(From left) Vivek Sahani, Nikhil Khanna, Mario Testino, Mozez Singh and Hanut Singh with Shalini Passi. (HT Photo)

Delhi-based art collector and patron Shalini Passi, whose recently-launched foundation to create a new paradigm for artistic expression in India by supporting experimental new artistic practices and broadening access to the arts through its year-round program of events, had noted Mumbai architect Bijoy Jain deliver a talk on his approach of using architecture as an act of story-telling, to accentuate the inherent nature of a place. Titled ‘Air, Water, Light’, it was held at Delhi’s India International Centre, over the weekend. As is known, Jain, who is a former national swimmer, has built up a reputation for his earth-bound material sensibilities, his abiding respect for local resources and deep concern for the relationship between man and nature. Some of his high-profile clients include Anand Mahindra, whose beach-side house in Alibaug was one of Jain’s early designs, and designer Tarun Tahiliani who owns a condo in one of Jain’s recent developments in the city. “He represents the vanguard of a contemporary architectural movement that seeks inspiration in ecology, and culture of man within the environment,” said a spokesperson from the Foundation. Incidentally, Passi has a Mumbai connect herself. She and her husband are close friends with Shah Rukh and Gauri Khan (the guys went to school together), and she usually stays at Mannat on her frequent trips to the city.

Tere Bin Bye Bye

Shayaan Oshidar,
Shayaan Oshidar,

“With hispanic and hispanic pop fusion music taking the international charts by storm, I thought I would try to create a cross-cultural voice through the artist project ‘Shai’, in the hope that the Indian influence will also resonate with audiences worldwide and follow the success of Bollywood,” says singer-songwriter and erstwhile Mumbai girl Shayaan Oshidar, about her mashup of Tere Bin by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Gryffin and Ivy Adara’s Bye Bye, which we happened to chance upon recently. The clip had charmed us not only for the singer’s talent, but also for its simple and clean aesthetics. “My way of working with these covers is to take an English pop song and then either fuse it with an already popular Hindi song or write my own bit of lyrics and create a fusion piece with words and music,” said the young artist, who divides her time between the UK and India, and has had one of the songs she has co-written as part of the duo Hicari, appear as number 19 on the Billboard in the US. As for the aesthetic appeal of the video, she says, “I had a friend help me with the lighting and framing of the video and my aesthetic is a mix of Indian and western. In fact, my signature look is a bindi and a flower which is a part of me now. Doing these covers has really helped me find a voice that bridges the two cultures I currently live between.”

WTSWTM:
What They Say:
“Actor Katrina Kaif ran into Ranbir Kapoor at an awards show on Saturday. Katrina is Ranbir’s ex-girlfriend and dated him for six years. Meanwhile, Deepika Padukone, who had also dated Ranbir, sat with husband Ranveer Singh on his left.”
- Newspaper reports yesterday

What They Mean:
“In Bollywood these days, it’s not always who’s who, but who’s whose.”

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