Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Stylish as Singh

Updated on Nov 19, 2019 12:26 AM IST

Over the weekend, when billionaire Kushal Pal Singh, chairman and CEO of real-estate developer DLF, celebrated his birthday, there were a series of parties to mark the happy occasion.

Kushal Pal Singh
Kushal Pal Singh
Hindustan Times | ByMalavika Sangghvi

He is considered a doyen of North India’s business tycoons, and along with his peers — the late Hari Nanda and LN Thapar — he is at the very pinnacle of Delhi high society. And over the weekend, when billionaire Kushal Pal Singh, chairman and CEO of real-estate developer DLF, celebrated his birthday, there were a series of parties to mark the happy occasion.

To begin with, the weekend saw Singh host his inner circle at his sprawling country home Lyndale Estate in Mussoorie, said to be the last word in luxurious living. This was followed by a formal sit-down dinner at his residence, held last night and attended by the creamiest of the Capital’s circles, along with many high-profile friends (Jack Welch is a close friend of his, as are the royals of Monaco) who’d flown in from across the world.

Stylish in the manner of English country squires, Delhi’s corporate czars are known to be very pucca and koi hai. Word has it that it is not unusual for them to have their guests serenaded by kilted bagpipers at dawn on their estates. A case in point is the text invitation to Singh’s dinner. “We would really appreciate if you could plan to arrive at the scheduled time of 8pm that will allow us to ensure the programme moves smoothly and punctually, particularly since this a formal, sit-down,” the gracious, but firm message read, adding, “As soon as you arrive, you will receive an envelope indicating the table at which you will be seated. We would sincerely request you to adhere to the seating plan and ensure you are seated at 9.30pm. There’s also a formal part to the evening, immediately after the main course is cleared and we would appreciate your specific attention for this.”

But for all its inherited old-world charm, these days the Capital has been in the thrall of what appears to be a spate of non-stop, OTT fancy dress bacchanals.

Kicked off earlier in the year by uber scenographer Sumant Jaykrishnan’s ‘Come as your favourite fantasy’ party at a Mehrauli farm, the past fortnight has witnessed the Capital’s beautiful people gather once more in extravagant costumes: first, for designer Malini Ramani’s disco party and then, for hotelier Karan Paul’s ‘Birds Beasts and Hedonists’ extravaganza, which one guest described as “truffles truffles everywhere”, and where, we are informed, a grandee attired as Peppa Pig in a leopard onesie, made a grand entry aloft a hyperventilating camel named Abdul. (This spate of costumed balls prompted another wit to remark that while half of Delhi was wearing masks as guards against the alarming pollution levels, the other half was wearing them as party props).

Mercifully, Singh’s celebrations, in keeping with his age and stature, are more stately. Tonight will see a caravan of limos carry the haut monde proceed to the DLF Golf Course for another of the Singh celebrations, where the Shillong Chamber Choir will perform.

For a while now it has been the practice of sundry tycoons and Masters of the Universe to beat Mumbai’s traffic blues by hopping on to their waiting helicopters at the city’s race course, to get to their places of work. Not for them, the daily woes of ordinary commuters like us. Now, word comes in that this Friday will see a further padding of the privileges, with the launch of a 500-sqft stylish lounge at the same place, for an Uber-type helicopter service, that plies between Mumbai, Pune and Shirdi, with the additional option of hiring it for other trips.

Said to be the brainchild of a local businessman and an American aviation company, the service might be just what the doctor ordered for the city’s high flying tycoons, tired of the traffic trauma on its roads. But it raises two questions: Is this the beginning of the end of the race course as an open recreational space for Mumbai’s ordinary folk?

And: Why has Shirdi been made part of the route? Is divine intervention such an urgent necessity in these times?

Watch this space.

Tweet Talk:
Behind every tycoon is a public sector bank.
— Tweeted by @hvchopra

Celebrating Alyque with Music and Song

Gerson and Uma Dacunha amongst others at the gathering.
Gerson and Uma Dacunha amongst others at the gathering.

“In keeping with dad’s wishes (of) no sadness, only celebrations, please join us for an evening of lots and lots of music, which dad loved” were the words with which theatre producer Raell Padamsee, daughter and inheritor of the joint legacies of Alyque and Pearl Padamsee, invited family and friends to celebrate her late dad’s first death anniversary. Held at her Colaba residence, the old family home of the Padamsee’s, and site of the rehearsals for some of the city’s most memorable theatre productions, the evening saw a galaxy of theatre veterans and other creative folk who had been close to the late ad guru, actor and producer director.

Faredoon Bhujwala, Sabira Merchant and Vijaya Mehta at the gathering.
Faredoon Bhujwala, Sabira Merchant and Vijaya Mehta at the gathering.

From brothers Gerson and Sylvie da Cunha to thespians Vijaya Mehta, Sabira Merchant and Sam Kerawala and iconic radio personality Ameen Sayani, the evening, replete with songs, Alyque’s favourite food and drink and much laughter was a fitting tribute to the man who had given Mumbai such gems as Streetcar Named Desire, Evita, Tughlaq and Jesus Christ Superstar. And as some of those who had performed in these successful productions under Padamsee’s direction such as Sharon Prabhakar, Dalip Tahil, Devieka Bhojwani and Shahriyar Atai, regaled guests with song and dance, Padamsee’s unique contribution to Mumbai’s cultural scene was evoked fittingly.

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