Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Spreading the joy

Given how much of a creative spark he is, it was no surprise that advertising icon, one of the inceptors of private satellite television in India, and now committed social philanthropist, Ashok Kurien, would pull out all the stops for his 70th birthday
Hindustan Times | By Malavika Sangghvi
UPDATED ON JAN 29, 2020 01:10 AM IST

Given how much of a creative spark he is, it was no surprise that advertising icon, one of the inceptors of private satellite television in India, and now committed social philanthropist, Ashok Kurien, would pull out all the stops for his 70th birthday.

From the Rolls Royce of the fold-out card, announcing the Circus of Life-themed bash at the Famous Studio to the OTT red-carpeted circus tent straight out of a kid’s fantasy, everywhere we looked on Friday evening, we saw jugglers, clowns, performance artistes and acrobats putting on a spectacle never seen in these parts. But what no one had expected was the wave of nostalgia that collectively swept over the evening. In retelling his life in the form of songs and dance, Kurien had afforded his friends an unexpected reliving of their own lives and that of the city: with jazz standards that recalled the city’s glorious Jazz India era; an Elvis impersonator belting out Jailhouse Rock and Blue Suede Shoes invoking the sixties’ beat sessions at Venice; risqué rugby ditties harking back to the sport which was almost a rites of passage for a certain section of SoBo boys; and a straight retro set which included numbers that ranged from ‘Bing Crosby to Boney M to Bruno Mars, and from Engelbert to Enrique’, as Carlton Braganza, the man who created the presentation describes it, which had most of the Baby boomers (now senior citizens) raving on the dance floor.

“I got to script my life story (and all my fantasies),” said Kurien the next day when we spoke, adding “I hope it gave all of us the chance to relive our childhoods and become kids again.”

But what no one knows is that given his and wife Rachel Wawn’s deep commitment to corporate social responsibility and empowering the disfranchised, the hosts had paid for the entire structure along with the performers, to stay intact till the next day, when they invited and partied with 350 underprivileged and challenged children over lunch the next afternoon.

Clips from the lunch show Wawn and Kurien dancing joyously with the children, demonstrating that however OTT and grand one makes ones celebrations, the joy can be multiplied exponentially, if we include the less fortunate.

Will others who host such celebrations take a leaf out of Kurien’s progressive and thoughtful example? Could this be a (welcome) trend henceforth?

“If it even inspires a few others to do the same, think of what a thing it could be,” the delighted (and exhausted) newly-minted septuagenarian said.

Madame and Meera Gandhi.
Madame and Meera Gandhi.

Madame Gandhi is in the house

PC is not the only Indian who made heads turn at this year’s Grammy. Electronic music producer, drummer and activist Kiran Gandhi who goes by the stage name of Madame Gandhi, also made a statement when she walked the red carpet, along with her mother – the erstwhile Mumbaichi Mulgi Meera T Gandhi. Subversive, cutting edge and preternaturally gifted, the 20-something musician who identifies as queer, evokes a fiercer Lady Gaga, Madame Gandhi, an alumnus of Harvard, had hit the headlines a few years earlier when she had run the London Marathon bleeding freely on her period as a symbolic act to combat global menstrual stigma.

“My daughter, the artist Madame Gandhi, dazzled on the red carpet!” said the proud mum, who spends most of her time in New York working on her Giving Back Foundation. “She will be performing at VH1 supersonic 2020 in Pune next Sunday. Tonight, as we mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant, let us all be reminded that life is a precious fleeting, fragile breath,” she said.

Tweet Talk

Saw the Arnab-Kunal Kamra video. I think Arnab was quite chilled, perhaps softly humming to himself: “Hum tum, ek Kamra main bandh hain.”

-Ramesh Srivats.

Wendell Rodricks.
Wendell Rodricks.

Damned if he does…

It seems as if designer Wendell Rodricks just can’t win. On Monday, the Goa-based designer had posted what appeared to be a complimentary post on PC’s eyebrow-raising red carpet appearance at the Grammy’s. ‘PriyankaChopra nailed it at the Grammys 2020. Truly the bold and beautiful in this @ralphandrusso couture fringed gown where the neckline goes all the way from LA to Cuba. Love it,” he’d written, leaving no doubt that he’d be given a thumbs up. But poor man, no sooner had he said that he was taken to task by a slew of angry women in response. It made Rodricks retract his praising post, and say that his comment had been “sarcastic” and that he hadn’t really cared for PC’s get up.

Of course, things got curiouser when the designer then was accused by feisty singer Suchitra Krishnamurthy of body shaming PC. “We are not your prepubescent hipless perverted fantasy... So dear ugly men get this. We are not our bodies,” she ranted.

‘For all those who said some really nasty things about me body shaming, did I say anything about her body? No. Many women did. I just said the dress was wrong for her despite it being couture. It was more dress shaming than body shaming. Stop this sermon from high and read the post before you speak,” he responded.

And while Krishnamurthy’s response to this is awaited, perhaps it’s just not Rodricks’s day or month: besides the hyperventilating women, word comes in that the impassioned dog lover has lost not one, but two of his beloved pooches just this week.

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