Malavika’s Mumbaistan: When beauty breaks through

Updated on Feb 26, 2020 11:06 PM IST

Witness the headline-making ‘anarkali’ worn by Ivanka Trump to the reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday night. Created by Rohit Bal, it featured the maestro’s famous floral embroideries and is a paean to the beauty of his birthplace – Kashmir

Ivanka Trump wearing the anarkali designed by Rohit Bal(REUTERS)
Ivanka Trump wearing the anarkali designed by Rohit Bal(REUTERS)
Hindustan Times | ByMalavika Sangghvi, Mumbai

It may be a Valley under siege, its leaders locked up, its people subsumed under an uneasy peace, but somehow Kashmir’s startling beauty still manages to make its presence felt, in the most unlikely ways. Witness the headline-making ‘anarkali’ worn by Ivanka Trump to the reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday night. Created by one of India’s most celebrated fashion designers Rohit Bal for his 2018 Guldastah line, it featured the maestro’s famous floral embroideries and is a paean to the beauty of his birthplace – Kashmir. Bal hails from a Punjabi clan, with its roots in Lahore, which had lived in Srinagar for many generations, and his sensibilities have been informed by this. Which explains why on Tuesday, even as his outfit was making headlines as the president of America’s daughter sashayed gracefully in it, Bal appeared stoic, in his moment of triumph, refusing to cash in on it like many of his peers would. For a couple of months, his team had worked closely with Ivanka’s team and he had been consulted throughout the procedure right up to what hairstyle would best suit the outfit; from the original 15 or so outfits which they had liked from his repertoire, Bal informs that the final lot had been pared down to three. “It was a very pleasant experience” he said, when we spoke yesterday. “There was a minimum of fuss, lots of civility and they had insisted on paying full price for everything,” he said, adding “What’s best is that there were no real alterations required, as Ivanka’s measurements matched our own exactly.” So why has he not made a song and dance about his success? “I am pleased and happy of course,” he said, when we spoke yesterday, “But with so much going on in the Capital, so many lives lost, I don’t feel the time is right.”

Moving Store

She’s been one of Mumbai’s most influential interior designers, someone whose distinctive style of combining traditional Indian art and antiquities with an international contemporary sensibility has more or less defined the drawing room aesthetic of the city; and now with the recent moving of her eponymous store from Gamdevi to what has come to be the city’s hub for interiors, the Raghuvanshi Mills complex, it appears that Kavita Singh is only going from strength to strength.

Kavita Singh
Kavita Singh

“The new place houses art, furniture and striking standalone statement pieces,” she said, when we spoke yesterday about the 2,000-sqft space, which she says has already begun to see regular footfall since it opened its doors a few weeks ago. “And, along with walk-ins by the general public, it will also make it easier for my clients to choose their own pieces once their homes are ready,” says the workaholic, who amongst other assignments, is currently designing the interiors of the five-storey residence of the family behind the iconic Amrapali jewellery brand in Jaipur. Incidentally, she informs of another happy offshoot of her recent move: Her earlier premises have been handed over to her daughter, the environmentalist and animal lover Nandini Singh, who will be using it to extend her NGO initiatives. “It will be a kind of Oxfam, where NGOs can showcase their products for sales and people can donate what they do not need for the needy,” Singh informed.

Tweet Talk

I am sorry to say but I am told now that he may not even be my brother. But son of someone else. It’s sad that #Samirmodi not who I thought who is.

—Lalit Modi, commenting about the crisis in his family following the death of his father KK Modi

The Singing Swami

This weekend when a well-heeled group of Mumbaiites visiting an ashram ran into Radhanath Swami, the Mumbai-based Bhakti yoga practitioner and member of the Governing Body Commission in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon), they were charmed to learn that the 70-year-old progeny of Jewish immigrants to Chicago, who had spent a good part of his youth as part of America’s hippy counter culture, had not forgotten his roots completely.

Radhanath Swami (Suresh Bhojwani)
Radhanath Swami (Suresh Bhojwani)

“May I take a picture of you?” a SoBo industrialist had respectfully asked the swami, and on being given the go-ahead had poised his camera on the spiritual leader, instructing him to ‘smile.’ “I was feeling light-hearted and relaxed, so just like that, I followed it up by crooning the first line of the iconic Nat King Cole hit of the 1950s, whose music had been composed by Charlie Chaplin. I sang ‘Smile, though your heart is aching…”said the industrialist. And sure enough, we are informed that his tune had brought a beatific smile on the swami’s face, but that wasn’t all. Without missing a beat, the holy man is said to have sung back the song’s following line: “Smile, even though it’s breaking …”

And by the end, the duo had sung through the entire song, in perfect key together. “He told me that he used to hear his father sing it in his youth,” said the delighted industrialist, adding, “Who would have thought that this deeply spiritual man, clad in saffron robes, his head tonsured in the monk’s tradition, could do that?”

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