Amitabh the prankster?

Oct 16, 2015, 06:01 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

So now we know where Abhishek Bachchan gets his famous flair for pranking. Executive Chairman and Creative Director for Ogilvy & Mather India and South Asia, Piyush Pandey, whose book Pandeymonium (Penguin) was released by his friend actor Amitabh Bachchan, narrated the following incident.

“I remember shooting for a Cadbury’s campaign with Amitabh a few years ago,” said Pandey. “On the O&M team there was a lady colleague of mine, who was going to be meeting the star for the first time, and to prepare for this, she’d specially gone to the beauty parlour to get her hair done the previous day.

The Bachchans and the Tendulkars with Nita and Piyush Pandey (in the middle)
The Bachchans and the Tendulkars with Nita and Piyush Pandey (in the middle)

So when I met Amitabh in his vanity van before the shoot, I requested him to single her out for attention, briefing him on what to say when he saw her.

And he was such a sport, that when I pointed her out to him, he went up to her, pinched her cheeks, looked deep into her eyes and said she was looking gorgeous and that his wife Jaya had told him she’d been at the same beauty parlour the previous evening!” laughed Pandey adding, “You can imagine the lady’s reaction, she almost fainted.” Bachchan the zany prankster- who woulda thunk?

Please stand up
For some reason, we had always thought that Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s heart wasn’t really in the hooliganism and lumpen behaviour of his party workers.

Who’s the real Uddhav Thackeray?
Who’s the real Uddhav Thackeray?  

How could a man, who took sensitive photographs of wildlife, and who appeared shy and soft-spoken socially, do so? But then the exigencies of politics, and the need to be relevant, is something we obviously do not understand.

Thackeray’s championing of the dastardly act of inking Sudheendra Kulkarni’s face had dismayed us. Only a week ago we had heard of his hush hush meeting with the city’s top industrialists, including Tata head honcho Cyrus Mistry, to urge them to help in bringing relief to the drought stricken farmers of the state.

Thackeray apparently had informed this group of the four crore rupees he had personally raised from the auction of his photographs, which he would be donating to the victims of drought. Power hungry and cynical? Or humanitarian and sensitive? Will the real Mr Uddhav Thackeray please stand up?

Brazil se aaya mera dost
Word comes in, that Brazilian football legend Pele, has been having a gala time on his second visit to India. Pele, who landed in Kolkata last week and attended the ISL football match, is said to have created a huge stir in the city, with even the likes of AR Rahman, Saurav Ganguly, and chief minister Mamata Banerjee posing for photo ops with the yesteryear star.

He will attend the Subroto Cup. PIC/PTI
He will attend the Subroto Cup. Pic/PTI

Pele, who flew into Delhi yesterday, and was transported in a Rolls Royce to the Leela Hotel in Gurgaon (where he currently occupies the presidential suite), attended a special charity dinner at the hotel organised by Meraki Sport and the Indian Air Force last evening, and will be in the Capital today when he will attend the youth finals of the Subroto Cup as the chief guest.

We think it’s particularly timely of Pele to come to India to promote Indian football, when the Indian national team has just suffered its fifth straight defeat this week in the world cup qualifiers, and is
in dire need of inspiration and support.

Befriending the British Royals
How often does one get to outfit a princess, and that too one who is fourth in line for the British throne? Our friend Rachel Wawn, and her NGO Befriend, appear to have done just that.

The acknowledgement sent by the royals to the parent company of Befriend NGO
The acknowledgement sent by the royals to the parent company of Befriend NGO

“I had sent some of our Befriend waterproof lined products to HRH the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William & Kate) on the birth of Princess Charlotte,” said Wawn.

“They included a baby changing mat, bib, nappy pouch and drawstring bags. Yesterday, I received a lovely acknowledgement from the royal couple thanking me for the gifts,” said Wawn. Nice!

To hell with idealism
He came into the industry from a legendary film family, and with a surname that anyone would give an arm and a leg for, and was regarded as a breath of fresh air for constantly choosing to take up unconventional roles, and promote alternative and artsy cinema.

But since his recent break up with a Bollywood actress, who he was ‘in love with,’ and the box office failure of his own production, things seemed to have hit him hard, and he was missing in action for a while. Now word comes in, that our man is back, but disillusioned.

Over drinks with close buddies at a house party recently, he was overheard saying that he regretted his efforts to try and change the status quo in Bollywood, because his lack of commercial success had made him something of an outcast. “Only commercially viable ‘mass-y’ films from now on,” was his drift. There’s no business like show business!

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