Shaina NC, Poonam Dhillon and Poonam Mahajan.(HT Photo)
Shaina NC, Poonam Dhillon and Poonam Mahajan.(HT Photo)

Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Required: Affirmative Action

Hindustan Times | By Malavika Sangghvi
UPDATED ON APR 02, 2019 08:43 AM IST

“It was shot a few weeks ago at a BJP women’s empowerment event held at the Shanmukhananda Hall, where Sushma Swaraj-ji was also present,” said actress and VP of the party in Mumbai, Poonam Dhillon, about this photograph featuring her and her namesake MP from Mumbai’s north central constituency, Poonam Mahajan. The photo was posted by BJP’s Shaina NC yesterday. “Jab Poonam Met Poonam,” Shaina had quipped. “Happy to be a witness to both my full moon friends.”
“I’ve known Poonam Mahajan for years, ever since she was a little girl,” said Dhillon. “In fact, it was her late father Pramod Mahajan-ji who had inducted me as a member of BJP’s youth wing, 14 years ago,” she said. “To differentiate between our names, I call her ‘Choti Poonam’.” But her two party colleagues with similar names was not the only thing occupying the indefatigable Shaina NC currently, we learned. Before the onset of one of the country’s most significant general elections, the high-profile fashion designer, party treasurer and spokesperson was concerned about the representation given to women in the upcoming polls. “A few weeks ago, I had spoken at a political symposium in Delhi about the issue, where female politicians from across the board like AIADMK’s Kanimozhi and Congress’ Divya Spandana were present,” she said, when we spoke yesterday. “We are 50% of the electorate and political parties need to wake up. I want to appeal to all party leaders that they do not need to wait for legislation to give women their due. If Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee can give 41% [reservation] and Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik 33% [reservation] to women candidates, we too must take the initiative,” she said. Could her preoccupation with women being given tickets be interpreted as a bid for a ticket for herself to stand in the upcoming elections, we enquired from the lady who, every evening, matches wits and sound bites with a revolving door of spokespersons and commentators on prime time TV debates. Had the time come for her to prove her mettle in the hustings? “It’s not the question of getting a ticket,” she replied. “It’s to ensure that women have a voice too. We need to see more women in positions of power in the BJP.” Even though they might all be named Poonam, we could have added.

True Lies
We don’t think we will ever understand the extreme infatuation that NRIs harbour for Bollywood and its stars. Lionised as they are on their home turf, nothing quite compares to the adulation they experience when on foreign soil. From private jets which fly them around to limousines and credit card-fuelled shopping expeditions, nothing appears to be too small an act when it comes to showing how much they care by India’s star-struck expat community. In fact, it was widely believed that in the late Dev Anand’s latter days, films were solely funded by a confederation of US-based Indian dentists who were his fans! No surprises then that a source called over the weekend to inform us about a recently held Bollywood awards show where one such NRI became so infatuated by the hot Bollywood actress he was seated beside that the lady is said to have got visibly uncomfortable with his over enthusiastic overtures and requested her seat be changed midway, during the event. “He was one of the primary and most generous of sponsors, and his contract had, on his request, specifically included the opportunity to be seated next to the star. But his excitement seemed to get the better of him and it became embarrassing for those watching him drool all over the actress, including his wife, who is said to have looked far from pleased,” said the source, adding, “To be fair, the actress was polite throughout, but her face had the ‘Yikes! Get me out of here’ look!”
Oh dear, we hope he slept well in the guest room that night.

Tweet Talk
I had got an HDFC credit card
To earn points on Jet Airways
Should have got an SBI credit card
Could have owned Jet Airways itself
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New York Calling

Farah Khan Ali
Farah Khan Ali

We caught up yesterday with an elated Farah Khan Ali. “Off to New York for my book launch. Excited! Feel grateful, humble and blessed,” said the jewellery designer, who had reason to feel chuffed. The anniversary of her 25th year in the trade was being celebrated by a sumptuous coffee table tome: ‘Farah Khan - A Bejeweled Life’ scheduled to release at NYC’s iconic book store Rizzoli today, which also happened to be her daughter’s birthday. With lush photographs of her oeuvre, which include creations such as her signature floral yellow gold choker accented with pearls, rubies and diamonds and a rose gold knuckle ring with rubellites and kyanites, it was last week included by the NYT in its list of Five New Gems to Read, along with other works such as Coloratura: High Jewelry and Precious Objects by Cartier, and East Meets West: Jewels of the Maharajas from The Al Thani Collection. This picture, shot in Kashmir for the book is a recreation of Khan’s childhood. “I used to spend every summer in the beautiful Valley, chasing butterflies, climbing apple and cherry trees, picking strawberries and gazing at the wondrous floral blooms,” she said. But of course, such pastoral memories could wait. When we spoke to her, the multi-tasking career woman, daughter mother and exercise junkie, was on her way to the Big Apple for her glittering book launch. “I’ve boarded my flight and will land in eight hours. Can I call you from the runway?” asked the irrepressible jet setter.

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