Malavika’s Mumbaistan: The Ball’s in His Court

Published on Nov 27, 2018 12:53 AM IST

The glittering Parisian annual event, known now as ‘Le ball’ (previously, the Crillon Ball), has over the years been seen as the perfect occasion for the progeny of famous parents to make their societal debuts

Avanti, Yash and Shloka Birla in Paris.
Avanti, Yash and Shloka Birla in Paris.
Hindustan Times | ByMalavika Sangghvi

The glittering Parisian annual event, known now as ‘Le ball’ (previously, the Crillon Ball), has over the years been seen as the perfect occasion for the progeny of famous parents to make their societal debuts, often in the presence of their proud parents who are typically mega industrialists, international stars, aristocrats or even royals. Every year, a group of 20 young girls are invited to take part and are then dressed by famous designers in dazzling couture gowns, bejewelled by famous jewellery designers, and escorted down the aisle by dashing young men from equally celebrated clans. Though the event raises money for worthy, charitable causes, the glamour quotient involved made Forbes list it as “one of the world’s top 10 hottest parties”. Over the years, the event has come to be seen as a rite of passage for a certain kind of young person, and has attracted the daughters of Sylvester Stallone, Silvia Berlusconi, Reese Witherspoon and Vanity Fair’s erstwhile editor, Graydon Carter, amongst others. Closer home, Indian families have also been well represented: Mukesh and Nita Ambani’s pretty daughter Isha, who will soon be getting married, attended the ball some years ago, and others like Ananya Pandey (Chunky Pandey’s daughter) and Navya Nanda (daughter of Shweta Bachchan Nanda) have also been invited for the occasion. This year, India was represented by Shloka Birla, the daughter of Yash and Avanti Birla, as well as Ananya Raje Scindia, the daughter of politician Jyotiraditya Scindia and wife Priya Raje. We spoke to the proud father, Yash, on his daughter’s debut yesterday. “Seeing our daughter come into her own and walking down the aisle with 18 other global debutants in a regal environment with beautiful people and the international media can only bring tears of pride and joy, and blessings for her from our heart, and prayers to god of gratitude,” he said from Paris when we congratulated him on the occasion.

Acing the Philanthropic Quotient

Adar (left) with Cyrus Poonawalla
Adar (left) with Cyrus Poonawalla

You have to hand it to the Poonawalla scion and CEO of The Serum Institute of India, Adar Poonawalla for making all the right moves. No sooner had his Rs100-crore Clean Pune initiative to support the PM’s Swachch Bharat campaign gathered momentum, (the grateful PM had even visited the company headquarters to show his appreciation) than the dapper billionaire has ratcheted up his public engagement. This weekend saw him, along with father Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, attend the launch of the Adar Poonawalla Maharashtra Tennis Academy, which aims to employ a holistic, 360-degree approach to player development across Maharashtra. “Sport is one of the most valuable skills and character-building exercise for the youth in any country, and India has a plethora of such young athletes who are thriving with great potential to be the best in any sports category and the capability to represent India on the global platform,” he said, on the occasion, adding, “Our academy is one such step towards providing a platform for young athletes to advance and achieve newer heights for the country.” What’s more, this is not the only new philanthropic initiative of the group: at NCP leader Sharad Pawar’s Pune reception to felicitate Dr Cyrus Poonawalla on being conferred a “Doctor of Humane Letters” by the University of Massachusetts Medical in June this year, the latter had announced a new foundation to support and empower women across India.


WTS: “Taimur Ali Khan breaks the internet by greeting a stray cat with a meow.”

--Media headlines yesterday.

WTM: “Breaking News: Karan Johar is already thinking of a movie starring him, called Billy of the Year.”

In Praise of the Grape

(L to R )Chef Francesco Francavilla, Madhulika Dhall and Giovani Gaja
(L to R )Chef Francesco Francavilla, Madhulika Dhall and Giovani Gaja

We have always been intrigued by Madhulika Dhall, known in the wine trade by her alias ‘Madame La Cave’. The feisty lady shuffles seamlessly each week between Mumbai and the capital, where she runs her luxury wine store, La Cave. Delhi sources say each weekend, her store is filled with unusual wine lovers, from leading politicians to Delhi’s top industrialists, and it is not uncommon to walk in and spot them choosing the wine themselves for a weekend party at their sprawling Chhattarpur farm houses. Though Madhulika says her job is to drink wine, she does much more than that, and often introduces leading European wine families to Indian society. Having brought the likes of Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta, the granddaughter of the late Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, creator of the iconic Italian Sassicaia family, last year, this weekend, the lady hosted a wine evening to introduce Mumbai’s wine community to Giovanni Gaja, the 25-year-old heir to the famous Gaja wine family from Piedmont, Italy that was started by his great-great grandfather. And, the young, handsome Italian was the centre of attention in a room filled with Mumbai personalities like auctioneer Mallika Advani, businessmen Ashish Goel and Darab Talyarkhan, and editor Farzana Contractor, as the guests sipped on multiple vintages from his personal cellar, finely paired with a northern Italian food menu, created by another Italian, the Oberoi’s Chef, Francesco Francavilla. The thing about wine dinners is that there is a lot to learn and appreciate for those who take their wines seriously. Of course, not everyone falls in this group, and there are a few who go along for the conviviality of the evening, the delicious fare being served and the conversations that ensue. No, we will not reveal which group we belong to.

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