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A box office blockbuster

Can there be anything more glamorous, thrilling and glitzy than the promotion of a star-studded, big- budget Bollywood film? And even by those standards, the SRK Red Chillies- produced, Farah Khan-directed, Happy New Year defies expectation. Starring a swathe of top stars (SRK, Deepika Padukone, Jackie Shroff, Abhishek Bachchan, Boman Irani, Sonu Sood and the delectable Vivaan Shah), the trailer launch of the Diwali release, held last evening at the Sahara Star, was exhilarating. A witty welcome by SRK and Boman, a high-voltage dance performance, a fashion show by Manish Malhotra, featuring lissome models as well as the film’s cast, a live performance by Vishal and Shekhar, a stunning fireworks display (not for nothing are the Moranis co-producers) two riveting back-to-back runs of the trailer, followed by a lengthy press conference, and all this, mind you, peppered by SRK’s peerless one liners and it’s no surprise that even veteran film critics like Rajeev Masand, whom we met on our way out, were gob struck. “This was right up there,” he said, “no one does trailer launches with such style.”

The Happy New Year team at Sahara Star
The Happy New Year team at Sahara Star

Happy New Year, a film about a dance competition and a jewellery heist, looks like it will break every box-office record ever set in India.

Shah Rukh Khan. Pics/Malavika Sangghvi
Shah Rukh Khan. Pics/Malavika Sangghvi

You heard it here first.

Mum’s the word
And because our journalistic eye is trained to take in what transpires on stage, as well as what occurs in the margins, we couldn’t help but notice the presence of a dignified, silver-haired lady, sitting amidst the VIP guests and positively glowing with joy.

Menaka Khan. Pic/Malavika Sangghvi
Menaka Khan. Pic/Malavika Sangghvi

Her quiet elegance made us enquire who she was. “Why, that’s Farah’s mother, Menaka, the sister of screenwriter Honey Irani and former child actor Daisy Irani,” we were informed.

A mother looking on with pride at her talented daughter’s hard-won success.

No words can describe the joy of that moment.

Get richer schemes
We are always amazed at how many schemes there exist to get high- net individuals to part with their money. And, given that these individuals happen to be exceptionally hard-nosed when it comes to parting with it, we marvel at the ingenuity that the enterprise calls for. Recently, we were privy to a new one when we chanced upon a letter sent out by a ‘deal maker’ to some very high-net individuals.

M F Husain Rabindranath Tagore. Pic/AFP
M F Husain and Rabindranath Tagore. Pic/AFP

“There is an art gallery established almost two decades ago,” it said, “that owns more than 30,000 pieces of art, well-archived and well-documented from all decades, such as Raja Ravi Varma, Abanindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Rabindranath Tagore, M F Husain, S H Raza, F N Souza, etc.”

“The owner is looking to raise, approximately, growth capital in form of 10 million USD by debt, fully collateralised by artwork and receivables from India/Overseas. Subject to your interest in looking at this from private investment perspective, further details can be discussed,” says the letter.

‘A USD 10 million investment against a 30 million USD collateral of art what’s the catch?’, we asked our investment banker friend.

“The catch,” he replied, “is that the gallery’s assessors will assess the value of the work. And whether they add up to 30 million USD will be the moot point.”

See what we mean about ingenuity?

Mallika Chopra Robin Williams. PIC/AFP
Mallika Chopra and Robin Williams. Pic/AFP

Remembering Robin
We’ve heard many stories of the spontaneous brilliance of Robin Williams and the generosity of his spirit, which made him share his dazzling gifts with all he came across. This story, by new-age author and guru Deepak Chopra’s daughter Mallika is one more: “In 1999, when I had my old company, MyPotential, Robin Williams came to visit our office,” she says. “He jumped on the table and did a ten-minute ad hoc monologue mimicking the self-help movement, and then did an amazing rendition of my dad speaking with an accent. We were all on the floor laughing, crying, totally hysterical and in awe. Such a loss to the world that he is gone, but also what better legacy to leave than the gift of laughter,” she says. Each day, with more of these stories emerging the sadness around his death gets more poignant. But, as Chopra says, “What better legacy to leave than the gift of laughter?”

A bitter pill
You want to know what competition does to organisations? It makes them step up. But, it also makes them wary. Last month, there was consternation amongst the medical community when the renowned Jaslok Hospital sent out a letter discouraging its doctors from consulting at other hospitals, namely Wockhardt, Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre, and Global Hospital. ‘Jaslok will not welcome any consultant venturing to join the new upcoming hospitals, and then use Jaslok as a fallback option once appreciation and realisation for the maturity and experience of Jaslok dawns on them,’ it said, rather tersely.

For most top doctors, this attempt at curtailing their activities was a bitter pill to swallow.

Landing problems
His brash, in-your-face entrepreneurial muscle is as much a symbol of American Capitalism as his famous hairstyle, and when American real estate mogul Donald Trump announced that Pune is likely to be the venue of his next investment in India in a yet-to-be announced Trump Towers project developed by Panchshil Realty, naturally there was the predictable buzz around ‘the Donald’ and his greenbacks.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

But, word comes in that his arrival in Pune, following his much-hyped stint in Mumbai, was not as triumphant as he had hoped. Sources say that Trump’s plane was made to wait for an interminably long period before
it was given permission to land by authorities. “Perhaps the reason was that Pune is an Air Force base,” said someone.

Or, perhaps, it was on hirsute grounds, we say.

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