On the face of it, it seems kosher: talks are on to bring the ‘Ultimate Elton: One Night Only’ to India in April 2017. With four performances across the country (two in Bengaluru, one in Chennai and one in Mumbai), the organisers of this event are sparing no effort to rope in mega corporate and media support, with further shows to be held in Hyderabad and Kolkata and Shillong being considered as a venue as well.
Sir Elton, of course, performed in India only once, that too in Bengaluru, where those who attended say he appeared to be lip-syncing. However, fans of the Rocket Man need not get their hopes up with these concerts either.
Because rather than the real thing, the ‘Ultimate Elton India tour’ happens to be a tribute to the great man by one of his ardent impersonators and fans.
‘Some artistes look like their idols, and others sound like them: Paul Bacon does both!’ says the fineprint of the project’s liner notes. With such a striking resemblance to Sir Elton, he has wowed fans across the world with his tribute to one of music’s most legendary artistes, winning the National Tribute Awards in 2013.
However, fans who attend might just get to experience the ‘essential Elton’ through another dimension; “Bacon’s dedication is so absolute, he even wears Sir Elton’s actual clothes, sourced from the ‘Out the Closet’ sales,” we’re informed.
Bring on the outsized frames, the spangled high-heeled boots, the feather boas and the hats...
Chasing the lights
“We are leaving at the end of February to ‘chase the Northern lights’ as the experience is called,” says Shobhaa De, about her forthcoming trip with husband Dilip to Iceland, to mark the anniversary of their 35th year together.
Shobhaa and Dilip De
“Seeing the Northern Lights in all their glory has been an obsession since I was 10 years old. I guess it has to do with Heidi,” says De, referring to a much loved storybook for generations of the city’s midnight’s children. “They have been a permanent fixture on my bucket list since then. Chasing them from Reykjavik seemed like the best idea, given that it happens to be one of the world’s ‘hottest’ destinations for global travelers!” she says.
Will she miss the heat and dust of everyday, news-breaking India? “I am hoping political temperatures in India will have cooled down when I return — we may have a few, brand new CMs in place by then,” says the indefatigable political commentator.
SoBo's grandest dame
“It’s a very sensitively undertaken restoration,” says the Taj Apollo Bunder’s GM, Taljinder Singh, about the imminent intervention, which will be carried out on the hotel’s iconic façade to make it look “even more beautiful”.
The Taj Mahal Hotel and Palace and Taljinder Singh
We had called up the dapper Sardar on hearing the news that the hotel would soon embark on an extensive restoration project. Would day-to-day operations be affected? “Only minimally,” says Singh, “Since it is on the stone and wood work that have withstood time but need care, it is mostly going to be done on the outside. So far, we don’t see any F&B outlets or residential rooms being affected.”
When and how will it start? “In a few months,” says Singh, adding, “We are in talks with restoration experts in London and will soon be talking to city experts too.” So there you have it from the horse’s mouth: The Taj, like most beautiful women of a certain age, will be going in for a facelift soon.
Even as the city gears up for the municipal polls and there is concern that Mumbaikars will not cast their votes (statistics of the past four elections show that less than 45 per cent of registered voters cast their franchise), Mumbai First, the public-private participation set up by industry leaders Tatas, Mahindras, Godrejs, ICICI, Asian Paints and HDFC two decades ago, is taking the lead to reverse the trend.
Adi Godrej and Chanda Kochhar
Called the ‘Vote4Mumbai Challenge’ (an initiative supported by the State Election Commission), it calls upon corporate leaders to lead their institutions to a 100 % voter turnout (or as close to the cent per cent) on February 21 by issuing ‘a call-to-action to all registered voters in their industries to vote. They have to facilitate this exercise by relaxation of two hours in the morning, and an option of a two-hour early departure in the evening; collate data on all registered voters in the organisation, and follow up with various schemes and initiatives until voting day itself.
That’s not all: after Voting Day, there will be a compilation of how many per cent in each company voted, stock of the number of people in their team who voted (the inked finger is validation), and the top three voting teams in each category (whose voting percentage is highest) will be the winners.
‘Tuesday is a public holiday’ states the Mumbai First missive, ‘which would easily be a lure to the working class to take Monday as a holiday, and convert it into a four-day long weekend. A note of accountability by the chairman/CEO/MD will bring more people back to the vote,’ it urges.
As for the prizes: ‘Nominees of the winning teams will engage in a round table on Mumbai’s challenges and solutions with Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan, and the winning team/ organisation/ individual will get the opportunity to present a white paper on solutions for a better Mumbai.
Chanda Kochhar, Adi Godrej, Sunil Sood of Vodafone, Shinjini Kumar of Paytm, Mrugank Paranjape of MCX and Kalpataru along with their organisations have pledged themselves to the Vote4 Mumbai Challenge, we are informed.
Roses all the way
If most of the city’s movers and shakers appear to be missing in action this week, put it down to the fact that they’re most likely at the big fat Indian wedding at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
Yes, the Bachchans, the Ambanis, and many others drawn from the film, business, and political fraternity, are all in the Middle East even as we speak, no doubt kicking up a storm of celebrations; but this portrait of Warp and Weft founder, the graceful Mumbai-based Sagarika Rai (whose initiative to showcase and support the traditional crafts of Benares had created the much cherished store at Marine Drive), harks of almost another era. Gracefully wearing one of her self-designed saris, the mother of two posing in her gulabi pink Benarsi silk, with a bunch of real gulabs in the foreground, makes for a delightful portrait, called ‘Shaadi Diaries’. Nice!