The Bajaj family wedding, as expected was conducted with a quiet dignity. A family closely associated with the freedom struggle and the evolution of modern India, it demonstrated what weddings were before — and can be — post the YRF-KJO intervention of choreographed spectacles.
Before the ‘Punjabification’ of the phenomenon. The hospitality was personal, with family members looking after all guests — not just the fat cat politicos and biz men — and the arrangements were understated but captivating. The guests were drawn from all walks of Mumbai society: theatre folk, new wave directors, top cops, professionals and as expected the top echelons of finance and business.
Tina and Anil Ambani
Family patriarch Rahul Bajaj was seen greeting guests with warmth. And best of all, the long queue of well-wishers to greet the couple sported the likes of Anil and Tina Ambani, Ashok and Reena Wadhwa, Hafeez and Pearl Contractor, Sanjay and Falguni Nayar amongst others, waiting patiently for their turn. Nice!
Reena and Ashok Wadhwa
Witty bankers are a rare breed, but at the Sanctuary Awards held over the weekend at a packed Tata Theatre, Ravneet Gill, CEO – India, Deutsche Bank, proved he was the exception. Speaking on the occasion, the dapper banker with a commitment to preserving and protecting wild life, narrated how he’d been taken in his youth, on a wild boar shoot by an avuncular figure, only to be informed by a servant that there were none in the area.
"Why not?" asked the uncle of his servant. "Sir, because the real ‘suars’ are all in the cities!", he is said to have replied. And because Gill had delivered the last line in earthy Hindi, the audience broke in to hearty laughter as it settled down to the presentation of the awards. For all Sanctuary’s highlighting of the environmental crisis, it’s good to know that witty bankers are not on the endangered list yet.
Celebrating Satish Gujral
This December, Delhi will witness the joyful celebration to mark leading artist Satish Gujral’s 90th birthday. Born on Christmas Day, the family is said to be planning a series of events to bring in the day, some supported by the Gujral Foundation.
The artist, and his wife Kiran, have been prominent members of the Capital’s culturati with ties running across the diplomatic, society and arts, and letters communities. Plus, former PM and elder brother Inder Gujral’s political heft will also see some political representation at the occasion.
Satish and (R) Inder Gujral
As will a sizeable portion of denizens from these communities from Mumbai. Looks like the annual winter confluence of Mumbai and Delhi over Christmas will take place in Delhi and not in Goa this year.
He was a pioneer in India’s realist cinema movement with his all time classics like Do Bigha Zameen, Bandini and Sujata, and next month Bimal Roy’s family will be commemorating the auteur’s 50th death anniversary with a vocal recital and speeches over tea.
And the venue? Where else but the lawns of Mumbai’s iconic Mehboob Studio, an important building block on which the city’s film industry was built.
Roy was a stalwart with strong left leaning sensibilities and his films, humane and path breaking in their championing of the underdog, have become the subject of most film schools.
Stories from the city’s silly season
Put it down to the Mumbai society grapevine, but rumours ripple through it like a Bollywood music composer’s electronic piano. And so, over the very silly social season, gloom and doom stories are doing the rounds about the marriage of this attractive middle-aged couple.
Known for their patronage of the arts and their glamorous soirees, they now, according to the stories, ‘are more or less living separate lives’. We had heard such stories many months ago but the reason for their re-surfacing could be on account of the couple making separate appearances to high profile events.
Or the fact that they’re said to be living apart. Or, of course, that it is Mumbai’s silly social season again!
Realpolitik and reflexology
"Narendra Modi is proving to be even more of a socialist than Rahul baba and his jholawalas led by Jairam Ramesh." It was our Oolong tea-favouring SoBo hostess having her monthly reflexology session in her ‘boudoir’.
Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi. Pics/PTI
This did not mean that she was not above discussing some realpolitik. "He’s alienated all the crony capitalists. None of them get appointments any more. They’re all upset," said the OTFSH, flicking through the latest issue of The Economist, perhaps to prove her political credentials.
And that’s not a good thing? We said. "Depends on whom you’re talking to," said our startlingly well informed friend, indicating to her reflexologist to pause in his expert administrations. "The jholawalas might well be happy, since they’re against crony capitalism," she said. "But for all those who contributed to his campaigns it’s pretty galling," she said. "And of course it’s a no-brainer that the jholawalas are traditionally more inclined to choose Rahul baba’s socialism over the PMs, since it also comes along with liberal values," she added.
True dat. Er, Who have you been talking to? we asked, impressed by all this IIC kinda jabber. "No one in particular," said the OTFSH very chuffed. "I just read it all from the bottom of my Oolong tea cup," she said, adding, "Boy, jara hot water jaldi lao, please." Narendra Modi, a socialist? The mind boggles.
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Photos: Deepika Padukone, Sushmita Sen with daughters at Mumbai airport