Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Star Studded Night
On Tuesday night when Puneet Chhatwal, the CEO and managing director of Indian Hotels Co. Ltd (IHCL), which runs the Taj chain of hotels, hosted a dinner in honour of its former managing director and CEO, the Hawaii-born Raymond Bickson, there appeared to be genuine goodwill and bonhomie in a room which contained some of the country’s leading personalities in hospitality, many of them rivals and competitors. Well-known hoteliers like Vikram Oberoi, Anil Madhok and Rajiv Kaul rubbed bespoke silk shoulders with some of the Taj’s head honchos like Praveen Chander, Renu Basu and Rohit Khosla and its old guard such as Ajay Mishra and Jyoti Narang. The presence of Taj’s partners such as GVK Reddy and Dinesh Khanna had also made it a memorable gathering. “Held at the group’s Bandra hotel, there were two small speeches by the evening’s joint hosts and Chhatwal, who welcomed the gathering and appreciated the contribution of Raymond Bickson,” informs a guest. “The cocktails were held to the accompaniment of a beautiful violinist and the arrangements for dinner, as to be expected for such a high-powered gathering, had been exquisite.” “Raymond Bickson, my former boss at the Taj for a decade, is being honoured with a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ tonight,” said Veer Vijay Singh, part of the Taj’s old guard, who’d gone on to carve a hospitality empire of his own. “Everybody loves Raymond...that’s the jingle of today.”
Of Mothers and Sons
Today will witness the release of filmmaker Ashwin Kumar’s ‘No Fathers in Kashmir’, a film of innocent love, set against the backdrop of a war-ravaged Valley. And from early word of mouth, it is another gem from the two-time national award winner and director of the Oscar-nominated ‘Little Terrorist’. What was he like growing up, we asked his mother – the noted textile revivalist and designer Ritu Kumar – when we spoke yesterday. “He was always sensitive and empathetic while growing up,” said the proud Mum, adding, “And he was always interested in coming with me when I travelled to villages for my work. He took to theatre and acting very early on. When your child opts for studying drama and film, you can’t really argue, can you?” According to his mum, Kumar’s interest in Kashmir (five of his films have been about the state) may have been sparked by the fact that part of her ancestors hailed from there. “We used to spend most summers there. In fact, one of his great grandfathers was responsible for planting the beautiful nursery slopes on the way to Pahalgam,” said the designer, who has also done the costumes for all of Kumar’s films till date. “It is quite back-breaking, as he is such a perfectionist, someone who is certain about the look of his characters. He insists that the costumes look natural and not jump out of the frame,” she said, adding, “This total involvement and choice of his subjects, plus the fact that he has chosen the crowd funding route, makes his task tougher.” For ‘No Fathers in Kashmir’, the director is said to have conducted 700 interviews to find the right face with the innocence required. “Also, there were frequent interruptions, then the electricity went off. I really thought that he’d have to give up mid-way, but he persisted. I guess, I can say for sure that my son will never make a masala film,” she added.
Hollywood Director Joe Russo, who is on a promotional trip to India this week to draw attention to his latest release, the upcoming instalment of the Avengers franchise, seems to be conducting quite a PR campaign from photo ops with Indian music icon AR Rahman to comments on Bollywood stars Salman Khan and Priyanka Chopra, to the mandatory sampling of Mumbai’s famous pani-puri. His food adventures have included the recently-opened Ministry of Crab in Khar.
Tuesday night saw him digging into some pepper garlic crab at the restaurant franchise from Sri Lanka, helmed by the popular chef Dharshan Munidasa. The crustacean heaven appears to have caught the attention of the film world (possibly due to its overpriced menu and the fixture of paparazzi positioned outside). Pictures of Russo at the eatery, along with others who have dined there recently like Karan Johar, Siddharth Malhotra and Bipasha Basu were duly circulated to the media.
With Frememies Like These…
Twitter users (those brave souls who still actively participate on the social networking platform despite the abuse and trolling it is known for today) will tell you about the long running joke that used to play out on the platform between media men Pritish Nandy and colleague Suhel Seth. Old sparring mates is perhaps the best way to describe the two, who, between them, had amassed over 6.5 million followers and let no opportunity slip to take a dig at each other. While Suhel would often point out Nandy’s senior age and refer to him as ‘uncle’ in his tweets, Nandy would reciprocate in kind. It started in 2011, when the two engaged in public ‘banter’, which got a little nasty and drew traction. Some Twitter users even referred to their one-upmanship verbal battle as a “lovers tiff”.
Suhel has since left the social media platform. Though his account still exists, many of his old tweets have been deleted. But yesterday, a Twitter user rekindled some of the erstwhile flame when he tweeted to Nandy directly. “Boss, sorry to ask an unrelated question, but where is your best friend Suhel Seth?” Nandy was quick to revert with, “He is actually Mr Jaitley’s best friend. But yes, he is a friend of mine.” Will his old frenemy rise to the bait?