Malavika’s Mumbaistan: While his guitar gently weptmumbai Updated: May 28, 2018 16:38 IST
Congress leader Milind Deora.
“I had accompanied noted jazz vocalist Vasundhara V several years ago in a band called Tightrope when she lived in Delhi. When the Quarter suggested I should start playing at its new venue, I called her and found out she had moved to Mumbai,” said Congress leader and former south Mumbai MP Milind Deora, whose band, Third Degree, presented a pretty impressive repertoire of blues classics (including Hard Times by Ray Charles, Everyday I Have the Blues by BB King, and That’s How Strong My Love Is by Otis Redding) this Thursday night. Deora, as is known, wears two hats — the first as a member of Rahul Gandhi’s A team, credited with the resurgence that the Congress president is enjoying in India and abroad; the other as an impassioned weekend blues guitarist, giving vent to his artistic yearnings. Thursday was the second gig Deora performed at the venue, and the band, comprising teachers from the True School of Music, including two Cypriots on keys and bass and Aron Nyiro on drums, had met thrice for practice, for both gigs. (“Just the intros and outros,” he says. “The rest was improvised”).
The set had an easy, laid back feel to it, and Deora seemed relaxed even as he belted out some mean riffs on his guitar. Occasionally, he referred to his other avatar with the characteristic wry, urbane humour he is known for. For instance, when the on-stage lights had appeared a bit too kaleidoscopic, while requesting them to be dimmed, he’d added: “A bit distracting for a politician.” The audience had laughed appreciatively. Many of them, of course, were from his constituency and would have a chance to demonstrate how strong their love was in the 2019 elections.
He is widely referred to as the second most important man in Indian politics today. So, when an invite from BJP president Amit Shah went out this weekend to sections of the media fraternity in the capital, most decided to show up and get their 15 minutes power pow-wow with him. Shah and the BJP were hosting the media over dinner at the Ashoka Hotel to celebrate the ruling party’s four years in government. “The decor included lotus-decorated walls and the backdrop had 3D images of butterflies. Shah was very much the star of the evening, and stood in one corner throughout while everyone queued up to meet him,” says a source. “Other guests included Piyush Goyal, Ravishankar Prasad and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.” As a parting gift, we are told, each guest was handed a box containing four laddoos and many chose to regard this symbolically. “The four laddoos were far sweeter than the last four years of the NDA government,” quipped our source.
PAINTING THE BIG APPLE RED
Ever since she quit the Mumbai art scene to relocate back to NYC, artist and Ted Fellow Sharmistha Ray’s vibrant
presence is missed. As is known, Ray had brought a vivid slice of the Big Apple’s art smarts to aamchi Big Mango, concluding her popular at-home art soirees Bellevue Salons in August last year with a session on’ Politics in Art’. What’s nice is that this penchant for stirring things up has not changed, as demonstrated by her frequent gallery visits, attendance at exhibition openings and art seminars each week. “The Indian art world caught up recently in New York, post the Frieze Art Fair, to explore contemporary art in the Chelsea art district, which is home to some of the world’s largest art galleries,” she informs. “Pictured in front of a wall piece by the illustrious African-American artist Nick Cave at Jack Shainman gallery that also represents Indian artists Vibha Galhotra and LN Tallur were a distinctly Indian group. These included myself and Yamini Nayar, who lives and paints in New York; artist Tanya Goel from New Delhi; Mumbai art collector and founder of Space 118, Saloni Doshi, and Mumbai curator Arshiya Lokhandwala,” she texted.
Ab New York door nahin.
FIFTY-SIX NOT OUT
Word comes in that former cricketer and current Indian National team coach Ravi Shastri was in high spirits on Saturday night, on the occasion of his birthday, celebrated at the well-appointed Bandra home of businessman and restaurateur Kishore Bajaj. Surrounded by the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rishi Kapoor and Faroukh Engineer, amongst others, the presence of his close friend and current team captain Virat Kohli was much awaited (he hadn’t shown in the end). Shastri, a quintessential Bandra boy, dressed in a floral shirt, took to the mic during the cake cutting, for an impromptu speech. “Ladies and gentlemen, and all my best buddies behind the bar, every day of my life is a birthday. I treat it in that fashion and I live in that fashion and I’ve arrived at fifty freaking six today and that’s just in the mind,” he managed to say, before the inevitable clapping singing cheers and congratulations.