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Tuesday, Nov 12, 2019

Malavika’s Mumbaistan: With Friends Like These

This Sunday evening, at the start of his outstanding musical, Selcouth, Shiamak Davar, appeared on stage and shared he was trying to delay the show only so that a ‘friend’ would make it for its start.

mumbai Updated: Nov 06, 2019 07:42 IST
Malavika Sangghvi
Malavika Sangghvi
Hindustan Times
Ranveer Singh applauds Shiamak Davar at the Selcouth show.
Ranveer Singh applauds Shiamak Davar at the Selcouth show.(Malavika Sangghvi)
         

This Sunday evening, at the start of his outstanding musical, Selcouth, the celebrated choreographer, singer, performer, aka the man who introduced contemporary jazz and western forms of dance to India, Shiamak Davar, appeared on stage and in his characteristically charismatic style, after waving to numerous familiar faces in the packed-to-the-rafters Jamshed Bhabha theatre, shared that he was trying to delay the show only so that a ‘friend’ who was running late would make it for its start. Of course, once the show began and had its mesmerizing effect on the audience (there were gasps, wild cheering and non-stop clapping for the visual treat), every one forgot about the unpunctual friend.

So imagine the thrill, when, at the end of 90 remarkable minutes of the show, which had members of The Shiamak Davar Dance Company performing Indo-contemporary and modern dance choreographed to tracks like Sting’s Fragile and George Michael’s Jesus to a Child, the audience turned around to find that the master choreographer himself was plonk in their midst with none other than one of Bollywood’s biggest stars, Ranveer Singh, who just happens to be one of Davar’s biggest admirers. “Now you know why I was trying to delay...” laughed Davar, as Singh, looking every inch a rock boulevardier, proceeded to demonstrate just why he is one of Bollywood’s most exciting stars. “You guys are mental. It’s a mental show,” screamed an elated Singh after being led on to the stage by Davar to say a few words. “You guys are next level. I spent the whole time gasping, how is he doing this, how is she doing that,” said Singh, no mean dancer himself, as the celebrity-packed audience — which included Davar’s charming 90-year-old mum; producer Siddharth Roy Kapur with his mother, Salome Roy Kapur, the iconic choreographer of many of the city’s most memorable musicals; and actor Dalip Tahil — cheered on.

And the icing on the cake? When Singh persuaded Davar to perform a few graceful dance movements to a Bollywood hit of his. “Now please, go home,” Davar had to repeat on more than one occasion, before the delighted audience dispersed.

Raves for Dharker

Dharker in the play.
Dharker in the play.

Word comes in that Mumbaichi Mulgi, Ayesha Dharker, is making Londoners sit up and take notice of the her talent all over again. The actress has garnered rave reviews for her role in ‘When the Crows Visit’, currently playing at the Kiln Theatre. Playing Hema, the mother of a video game designer who pays an unexpected visit to his family home in London after fleeing Mumbai, where he has been accused of a horrific crime, Dharker shares the stage with other noted performers, including Mumbai’s Soni Razdan, in the dark saga of female relationship dynamics.

Earlier this year, the actress was part of the historical play ‘Richard II’ in London, whose cast, in an innovative twist, comprised only of female ethnic minority actors. Dharker, who has done her fair share of Shakespearean heroines, says that the fact that all the characters were played by women meant that the audience and actors stopped interpreting an action as a male or female trait and just got on with playing them as human beings.

As someone who grew up in Mumbai, we asked the award-winning actress how much of her still remains a Mumbai girl. “I will always be a Bombay girl,” she informed us yesterday, from an early London morning, after dropping her daughter to school. “The city is deep in my DNA and I will forever miss it. It is true I have fallen in love with other places on the way, but Bombay has my heart.”

Sisterhood in Greece

Sisters Sushama (left) and Meghana Reddy in Greece during Diwali
Sisters Sushama (left) and Meghana Reddy in Greece during Diwali

“Always a joy this one! Aegean Diwali!” said erstwhile model, VJ, actress and producer of web series for various streaming platforms, Sushama Reddy, about this delightful picture with her sister, Meghana Reddy, who had once scorched the ramps in Mumbai before leaving its shores to pursue a career in modelling in New York. Old timers will recall how Meghana had been the anchor of popular TV shows such as Mangta Hai on Channel V in the nineties, before disappearing from the public eye.

“I spent Diwali with Meghana in Greece. We were in Athens, and the photo was taken at Porto Rafti, a seaside town, outside of Athens,” said Sushama, when we spoke yesterday. Incidentally, Meghana is married to a Greek businessman and is mother of their child and it was her decision to quit Mumbai in 2003, and walk out of her upcoming role in Boom, that had paved the way for Katrina Kaif’s entry to Bollywood.

Behind Closed Doors

US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin with Adi Godrej, Anand Mahindra and Harsh Goenka.
US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin with Adi Godrej, Anand Mahindra and Harsh Goenka.

It was what is considered the urbane face of India Inc, that US treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, chose to meet for an important and exclusive pow wow on his visit to Mumbai over the weekend. Mnuchin, the American equivalent of Nirmala Sitharaman, had met RBI governor Shaktikanta Das after which there was a lunch in his honour at the Taj, where he was introduced to heads of various financial institutions. Straight after, we are informed, accompanied by US ambassador to India, Kenneth Juster (in a natty Modi jacket), he had retired to an adjoining banquet room, where a small group, comprising Adi Godrej, Anand Mahindra and Harsh Goenka, were waiting and where the five men proceeded to talk shop about India’s industrial climate across a table.

What was interesting according to sources was that whereas the views and opinions of each Indian industrial statesman were sought, none of them had any previous relationship with the US politico and neither any idea why they had been handpicked from amongst their peers for the summit. Could the fact that they had been educated in top American universities (Mahindra went to Harvard and Godrej to MIT) have contributed? Or that each in their own way is known to champion liberal and progressive values?

Whatever the reason, sources say it turned out to be a convivial afternoon where issues of industry, regulation and finance were discussed; threadbare, and in which, by the end of it, it emerged that at least according to the US treasury secretary, India would become a $5-trillion economy before 2024!