Bangkok Se Aaya Mera dost

Like the rest of the nation, we have been eagerly tuned in to listen to the slightly plumper and certainly more rested looking Prodigal Son's first parliamentary speech since his return. And as many had predicted, RaGa, using the controversial Land Acquisition Bill, went all out and took pot shots at the PM for his pro-corporate stance.

Terming the government a 'Suit-Boot Ki Sarkar' the young Gandhi displayed more confidence then he had on the famous Arnab interview; but we couldn't help but notice that he had surrounded himself with the likes of Deepender Singh Hooda, Ashok Chavan and Gaurav Gogoi (who just happen to be scions of powerful political dynasties) while he spoke.

Rahul Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia (left)
Rahul Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia (left)

In fact Jyotiraditya Scindia, who sat tensely by RaGa's side was clearly heard to be prompting Gandhi throughout his speech, even giving him words and figures when he appeared at a loss. (This ventriloquist act resulted in Scindia trending on Twitter). Be that as it may, what has got political observers interested is the configuration of the claque around Gandhi.

"It's his new team which Rahul has personally picked for when he finally takes the top Congress job," said a Congress insider. True? Watch this space.

The Art of the Matter
And now that the second installment of the Kochi Biennale has concluded and has garnered good reviews from all those who visited, word comes in that the art world is waiting eagerly to know who the next Biennale curator will be.

Jitish Kallat Subodh Gupta Bose Krishnamachari
Jitish Kallat, Subodh Gupta and Bose Krishnamachari

As is known the post is always given to an artist (Jitish Kallat was the last) who is chosen by the Biennale board founded by Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu and whereas the names being circulated are of Sudarshan Shetty and Subodh Gupta, both artists of stature there have been a few murmurs that the next biennale ought to be headed by a woman artist.

"Some one of the caliber of Anita Dube or Nalini Malani," said one Delhi-based art writer. But such speculation might be premature. "I don't think they are anywhere near deciding," said an artist source. "The new board that takes this decision hasn't even been formulated. And once it's in place only then will we hear of the person," she says. "But the guessing game is on in full earnest!"

Vive le difference
The old joke about New York was that it would soon be opening diplomatic relations with the rest of America. Often the same can be said about Mumbai. A case in point was a post written by a denizen of Delhi describing the acute embarrassment she felt while watching Margarita with a Straw at a Mall multiplex.

Kalki Koechlin
Kalki Koechlin

"There was whistling, hooting and loud guffaws during the most sensitive scene," she recalled. "And when the physically challenged girls began to explore each other's bodies the men in the audience began clapping and made crude remarks," she said. Compare this to the Asia Society hosted preview of the same film at the Inox last week and you will know the difference between the two cities.

Shonali Bose
Shonali Bose

Albeit this show was a private screening and what's more comprised of some of the city's celebrated thought leaders like Shyam and Neera Benegal, Nana and Munira Chudasama, Shobhaa and Dilip De, Bittu Sahgal and Gerson da Cunha who joined the film's director and cast for a viewing.

But we distinctly remember that during the same scenes the hall was engulfed in a respectful pin drop silence where you couldn't even hear the audience breathe! See what we mean about Mumbai being a state of mind so different from the rest of the hurly-burly?

As for Margarita, it is an ambitious film that aims to examine not one but three hitherto unexplored subjects for Indian cinema: the sexual needs of the physically challenged, the issue of sexual orientation and bisexuality. That it does not slip into the didactic or resort to sloganeering is credit to Kalki Koechlin's humane and illuminated performance and director Shonali Bose's tender approach to the film's theme.

An evening of art and fashion
"We invited people who were well travelled, had international exposure and who would appreciate Quinn's sculptures," said Chhaya Momaya who along with Sameer and Divya Gehlaut, hosted a soiree on Sunday night at One Indiabulls Center at Lower Parel for the opening of Gallery Odyssey with a solo show comprising 60 works by sculptor Lorenzo Quinn fashion by Raghavendra Rathore and a cultural performance.

Raghavendra Rathore with Pragyashree Gaekwad and Mrs Gaekwad
Raghavendra Rathore with Pragyashree Gaekwad and Mrs Gaekwad

Guests such as Bindu and Rana Kapoor, Madhu and Ravi Ruia, Pragyashree Gaekwad, Mallika Advani, Reena and Ashok Wadhwa, Zayed and Sanjay Khan, Rashmi and Sudhir Behl, Namrata and Vikram Shroff, Hafeez Contractor and Azaan Khambatta were seen enjoying the multi-faceted evening of art, fashion and culture. "Six of Quinn's sculptures have already been sold!" said a delighted Momaya the next day.

Richie Rich's birthday party
How times have changed. Our Dubai source called to tell us about this particularly over the top recent party hosted by a heavyweight Mumbai builder in the desert State.

Guests were flown down from all over the world for a weekend of unprecedented whoopee which included transportation in a fleet of Rolls Royces, room gifts of premium champagne and vintage wines, dinner at a one star Michelin restaurant and a top Bollywood singer for entertainment. "A milestone birthday or anniversary?" we enquired gently.

"Um no actually it was a 3-year-old's birthday which he'd celebrated in style," said the source as if it were the most normal thing in the world. How times have changed: gone are the days of moonwalkers, koi bags and chutney sandwiches at toddler parties.

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