Bal with bubbly

Rohit Bal in Champagne
Rohit Bal in Champagne

Just when you thought his life could not get any more charmed, word comes in that fashion’s favourite enfant terrible, the very pouty, Capital-based designer Rohit Bal, who recently launched his new store, Balance, in Delhi’s Mehrauli, is currently in the heart of France’s Champagne Valley, in the cellars of Dom Perignon in Epernay sampling its finest vintages.

“At Champagne! In their cellar! Bottles of Dom by the thousands being matured. What a trip,” he posted about the experience. To which one of his friends responded, I’d take a bath there. No, we do not know whether he took the hint.

Laudable exhibition
Bombay Black, the exhibition of Dalit, Adivasi, Bahujan art during the recent Kala Ghoda Festival drew a fair share of city luminaries to its doors, we are informed.

Sudharak Olwe and Anand Patwardhan
Sudharak Olwe and Anand Patwardhan

From Police Commissioner Dattatray Padsalgikar, to high-profile public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, to the grandson of the legendary Babasaheb Ambedkar (who is said to have written parts of the Indian Constitution sitting at a café at Kala Ghoda), to filmmaker and activist Anand Patwardhan, and photographer Vikram Bawa, they were all spotted taking in the works in rapt attention.

The exhibition featured the works of 21 artists, including Michael Kelly Williams, Mohammed Khallil and Mehlli Gobhai, who showcased their art inspired by the Black Panther Movement, and the city’s relationship with the colour black. However, sources say that it was award-winning photo-journalist Sudharak Olwe’s striking photograph of a young Dalit boy, who had been hanged for his choice of ringtone, that elicited the most response.

“Why would any one kill a boy just for a ringtone? What’s happening in this world?” was the refrain from visitors, who perhaps did not expect to encounter such a powerful reminder of human suffering. Commissioner Padsalgikar was overheard lauding Olwe’s efforts as a true artist who had amplified a social issue in a powerful art form.

Raje's Rajasthan renaissance
She may not have made it to the BJP’s inner power circles, and her proximity to Lalit Modi might have attracted unfavourable notice, but there is no doubt that Vasundhara Raje, the chief minister of Rajasthan, has been pretty busy infusing her state’s arts, crafts and cultural with energy and zest, making it a vortex of activity and attraction.

A part of the renovated JKK
A part of the renovated JKK

From the Jaipur Literature Festival to Photo Jaipur, an international photography festival, to the Udaipur World Music Festival, to the Handmade in Rajasthan heritage week and the Sacred Music Festival in Pushkar, the panoply of delights never appears to cease.

Vasundhara Raje, Charles Correa and Rahul Mehrotra
Vasundhara Raje, Charles Correa and Rahul Mehrotra

And now word comes in that Raje’s latest brainchild, Jawahar Kala Kendra (JKK), an autonomous, creative, cultural and art space in Jaipur, has recently been restored, boasting three major performance facilities — a state of the art proscenium stage, an auditorium and an open air amphitheatre along with a library, a cafe and design shop on its premises.

And with internationally renowned artist, the Delhi-based Bharti Kher as its honorary chairperson, and Pooja Sood as its director, and an upcoming comprehensive exposition on the life and times of Ebrahim Alkazi, India’s great theatre personality coming up in March, JKK promises to be yet another jewel in Raje’s tiara.

Incidentally, the institution boasts of a strong Mumbai connect. Designed by the late Charles Correa, a true son of the city, its restoration has been undertaken by his son-in-law, architect Rahul Mehrotra, who also happens to reside in Mumbai.

Restaurant boom
The city is witnessing a glut of new eateries this season. From Jia, launched this month in Colaba, by Neville Vazifdar of Royal China, to DOH!, a cafe in Kamala Mills by the guys at DeGustibus.

Neville Vazifdar, Anurag Katriar and Zorawar Kalra
Neville Vazifdar, Anurag Katriar and Zorawar Kalra

Anurag Katriar, who oversees matters in the post-Rahul Akerkar era, took to social media to announce the new opening with, “Finally the D-day (or shall I say, doh! day) has arrived!” Then there is Zorawar Kalra’s soon to launch Papaya in Colaba. It appears to be boom time for the city’s legion of foodies. Forks and knives to the ready!

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