An Apple a day for SRK?

A lot has been said about the larger significance of SRK hosting a dinner for Apple CEO Tim Cook at his Mumbai residence last month.

The party, which saw much of Bollywood and high society in attendance, including Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, AR Rahman, Parmeshwar Godrej and Sania Mirza, also witnessed the strong bonhomie between the Badshah and his guest from Silicon Valley.

Tim Cook, SRK and Amitabh Bachchan
Tim Cook, SRK and Amitabh Bachchan

Subsequently, strong rumours suggested that Apple was keen on roping in SRK as their brand ambassador for their impending launch in India. Then came the denials, stating that Apple doesn’t need a brand ambassador to sell its products.

And now with the relaxation of FDI in retail laws, and an opening for Apple to set up its iconic Apple Stores in India, the SRK rumours are back again. Our well-placed source informs us, “SRK and Cook get on famously well. SRK is a technology freak and Cook sees him as the obvious face to represent Apple.”

Although we didn’t manage to get an outright confirmation our source did let slip, “There have been discussions and all signs suggest SRK will be closely associated with the company in some form or another.” Brand SRK and Brand Apple — a match made in heaven?

A story to dine out on
Perhaps our seat at the High Table of International Fame has been finally secured by this slightly curious incident. Certainly, it’s a story to dine out on now.

Boris Johnson. Pic/AFP and Jo Johnson. Pic/Twitter
Boris Johnson. Pic/AFP and Jo Johnson. Pic/Twitter

Ever since Boris Johnson’s swarthy presence has been said to be a shoehorn away from 10 Downing Street, following the havoc of Brexit, we cannot help think of our own tangential brush with British political leadership.

No, we are not referring to our brief meeting with the ebullient Boris a few years ago in Mumbai at the British High Commissioner’s home, where the British politician accompanied by his Sikh wife, had met a handful of us.

What we are referring to is the altogether more curious story that involves accompanying his younger brother Jo Johnson to one of Mumbai’s dance bars.

The younger Johnson, also a journo, like his famous elder brother, had been bureau chief India of the Financial Times, based in Delhi and had come to Mumbai in pursuit of a story on the contentious issue of Mumbai’s dance bars.

Along with a colleague of his, it was our lot to accompany him to one such establishment.

The evening could be described as surreal. As colourful as his elder sibling is, the younger Johnson came across as anodyne. Taciturn, given to long silences and distracted responses, our introductory drink at the Taj poolside was not the most appropriate start for the evening ahead.

No surprises then, that our somber presence — of two dark suited men and ourselves — the only woman patron in the dance bar, attracted much curiosity. There we sat rather stiffly and silent as a handful of pretty young women in diaphanous gowns snaked and gyrated to the background music, the management poured bucketfuls of R100 notes periodically over their heads.

Meanwhile Jo Johnson, all six-foot plus blondness, sitting upright and unsmiling, had taken on an eerie glow in the strobe light, the only illumination in the room.

Truth be told, it had not been the most jolly of evenings and we’d forgotten all about it, until the events of the past few days.

Because if Boris Jonson does indeed become Prime Minister of UK, as is being predicted, we will now be able to say: “Why – isn’t he the chap whose brother we’d taken to that Mumbai dance bar?”

The Mamata effect?'
Ever since Vice Chairman and Editor Emeritus, ABP, Aveek Sarkar’s resignation as editor of Bengali daily Ananda Bazaar Patrika, and English daily, The Telegraph, a few weeks after the Trinamool Congress accused him of mounting a “partisan campaign,” against the party, speculation is rife over what led to it. And though there are many who swear that the electoral results were responsible, an inside source maintains otherwise.

Aveek Sarkar and Mamata Banerjee
Aveek Sarkar and Mamata Banerjee

“For a long time Aveek Babu, who has always been ahead of the publishing curve, has felt that the future of media lies in the electronic and digital spheres and he has decided to shift his focus here. A few more TV channels are on the cards.”

A welcome guest
Pity the state of Vijay Mallya, once celebrated as the country’s most flamboyant host, and now in the ignominious position of being viewed as a gatecrasher to a book launch in London!

Suhel Seth and Vijay Mallya
Suhel Seth and Vijay Mallya

But those close to VJM maintain that he was no gatecrasher and in actuality, a very welcome guest of Suhel Seth’s at the contentious event, which had the Indian High Commissioner Navtej Sarna ducking for cover.

“There had been a party the previous night at which Seth had personally invited Mallya,” says a source. “What’s more VJM has been showing anyone who cares to ask, Seth’s text messages inviting him,” he says.

So why does Mallya not make these public and clear his position?

The source sighed. “He doesn’t want to embarrass Seth who is known to be well-connected in Delhi” says the source. “After all, he might require his good offices any day.”

It takes a woman
Trust the women to be the first to bite the bullet. Banking sources swear that rather than their male counterparts, it’s the country’s two leading female bankers who have taken the lead when it comes to cranking up the pressure on their recalcitrant debtors. “In the past few weeks both have called in some top flight fat cats and told them in no uncertain terms that they need to pull up their socks right away, if they wanted to avoid tough measures,” a source says.

“What’s more unlike their male counterparts, both ladies are said to have taken a blunt no-nonsense approach, and one of them is even reported to have enquired sweetly, but firmly, why a particular yacht docked in Europe had not been sold off to pay back loans.” It takes a woman...

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