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Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Soman The Anti-Ageist

mumbai Updated: May 14, 2019 08:38 IST
Malavika Sangghvi
Malavika Sangghvi
Hindustan Times
mumbai news,malavika's mumbaistan,milind soman

Milind Soman with his mother Usha Soman (Aalok Soni/HT File )

There’s no denying that India’s Iron Man and weapon of mass seduction, actor-model-fitness advocate Milind Soman is the opposite of an age-ist. The salt-and-pepper 50-something erstwhile super model who has unlike most others of his gender actually grown to be more dishy in his senior years, has often, through his life’s decisions, made us re-examine our attitudes to age and ageing. Not only did he decide to go grey gorgeously, unlike many in show biz, demonstrating how ageing has nothing to do with attractiveness, but he countered that by simultaneously becoming a fitness icon performing arduous regimes including the Iron Man, which many, half his age, would not be able to do. Hardly had people got around to dealing with this demonstration of scrambling their perceptions of fitness and chronology when he once again questioned long-held attitudes and married a much younger woman, weathering accusations of cradle-snatching and other such biases with grace and characteristic humour. Now he’s at it again. This time, demonstrating how age is just a number and women can be fit, healthy and attractive at any age! On the occasion of Mother’s Day, while many posted pictures of their mums, Soman and his 80-year-old mother Usha Soman chose to celebrate it by putting out a strong message advocating fitness for all mums. “I had posted a video of my mother doing a two-minute plank a few years ago. From that response, I realised how inspiring it was for a lot of people. She has been practicing push-ups for a few months now and I thought it would be a good message to tell people that it’s never too late to start taking care of oneself. She has no background in sports or exercise, but started trekking post retirement. At 80, she still treks as often as possible. She has always been inspiring, never sets limits for herself and is always ready to try something new,” said Milind, when we spoke yesterday. And seeing the two silver-haired, fit-as-fiddles mother-son duo effortlessly undertaking the gruelling regime was one more way in which Soman busted age-old myths about age, ageing and senior citizenship, and made them stand on their heads!

True Lies
Our Oolong Tea-Serving Hostess (OTSH) was besides herself. Turns out, she had recently punctured the bubble of one of her pet peeves: Mumbai’s artsy-fartsy, art-collecting, museum-visiting cultural czarinas and her delight was palpable. “You will not believe how I exposed her,” she said, mentioning the name of a high-profile art maven, the moment we entered her boudoir over the weekend. Apparently, as she told it, at one of the soirees that the OTSH is prone to attend, her 20:20 vision had fallen on the hapless figure of the said culture-vulture. “When I asked her what she was busy with, she told me she was on the board of an international museum,” said the OTSH gleefully, adding, “Now, as it turns out, I am familiar with others on the board, so I challenged her saying that was not true,” said the OTSH. “At which point, she quickly changed that to, ‘Oh, I meant I was on the ‘Friends of Museum board’.” By now, the OTSH was positively grinning from ear-to-ear. “That only requires five days a year of socialising as we all know.” To be fair to the OTSH, she does have unmatched knowledge and insight in to the Indian art world. After all, she’d been the muse of more than one artist in her glory days. The nude on her wall, painted by a late Indian maestro, bears testimony to this.

Tweet Talk
“Uffff. My head is in the clouds. I hope nobody can see me. And that I am not on anybody’s radar.”
-Tweeted by Shobhaa De after PM Narendra Modi, in a recent interview, said that before the Balakot air strike he had suggested that clouds can help the Indian fighter jets escape radars

Journey Into The Hurly-Burly

Alex Kuruvilla and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. ( Photo: Senthil Chengalnarayan )

“There’s a lot of double speak one encounters when meeting people in the villages and small towns. Over time, you learn to decode what they actually mean to say versus what they think you want to hear,” said Alex Kuruvilla, the suave managing director of Condé Nast India, about his recent immersion into and engagement with the hurly-burly of India’s general elections. Accompanying a gaggle of 20 seasoned journalists led by global investor, fund manager and celebrated Indian election-watcher and junkie Ruchir Sharma, Kuruvilla spent a week on the road, often traveling 12 hours a day through the heat and dust of West Bengal and UP, meeting as he says, “Yadavs and Patels, Muslims and Charmars, Kurmis and Communists, politicians and peasants”. Some of the more memorable vignettes of his journey included listening to Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra at the Congress Guesthouse in Rae Bareli, (“charming and charismatic”), attending West Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee’s oratory at an election rally in Bhatpara (“one of the best orators, knows how to work the crowd”) and Akhilesh and Dimple Yadav in Lucknow (“he came across as articulate and confident”). Of course, this is a long way from Kuruvilla’s day job as head honcho of the India operations of what is easily the world’s glossiest media empire, and Kuruvilla, who delivered a talk last night at Mumbai’s Soho House on the insights and takeaways from his stimulating journey was keenly aware of this. “[It was] mutually exclusive to my day job,” said the avid reader and art-collector, a few hours before his presentation. “It’s my belief that one should not get boxed into one compartment or the other. Each self enriches the other, makes life so much more interesting.” And the prognosis was promising for the man also responsible for birthing the youthquake that had been MTV India. “What was really thrilling was seeing girls exercising their opinions, often, against all odds. Aspiring and wanting to break out of the cycle of poverty, ignorance and gender bias that they were trapped in,” he informed.

First Published: May 14, 2019 00:53 IST