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Being Tina Ambani

>> We met Tina Ambani over the weekend and congratulated the feisty chairman of the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital & Medical Research Institute about the soon-to-be aired documentary on the hospital on Nat Geo, later this month. “It was a joy just to see how professionally they worked,” said the self-effacing Tina. “Their research was done meticulously over six months before the actual shooting.”


Tina Ambani

Tina is that rare celebrity who doesn’t take herself or her image too seriously, a trait shared with her husband Anil, and passed on to her two sons, Anmol and Anshul. Friends who know the boys speak of their uncommon grounding and normal lifestyles. “You’ll never guess for a moment that they are wealthy, or are the children of celebrities,” says an insider.


Anshul and Anmol

“They count their pennies like kids their age, and have no paraphernalia surrounding them, here or abroad.” Is this a result of her own family’s tryst with Buddhism, we asked the former actress and billionaire bahu, who we’ve known ever since she made her incandescent, fresh-faced debut in Dev Anand’s Des Pardes. “I think it’s just a feeling of security,” said Tina, “When you have nothing to prove, no one to impress and are comfortable in your own skin.” Nice!

Big B and Busybee
>> And over the weekend, amidst many occasions to celebrate, were the birthdays of two very special men, born on the same day, Amitabh Bachchan and the late Behram (Busybee) Contractor, who were both born on October 11. We recall writing a column many years ago to celebrate the occasion; ‘Big B and small b’, we’d referred to them.

We’d thought it was a clever play on the letter ‘B’ in Bachchan and the columnist’s nomenclature Busybee. Only later, after the latter had passed on to the great printing press in the sky, did we regret that though it was written with the utmost affection and respect, calling the older man ‘small b’ was not a very elegant turn of phrase.

So, to make amends, we now would like to say, the birthday of two great men was observed on Friday, that of Big B and Busybee. So there: the Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, sometimes one’s piety and wit can indeed wash out a word of it’!

Where’s my money?
>> And this anecdote brings home the travails that top industrialists face when it comes to getting their daughters married. For many, especially if they are ‘son-less’, the priority is to find a suitable groom, someone with decent credentials and pedigree, but of lesser financial clout, who can be absorbed into the family business. But how to weed out the obvious gold diggers? The upper echelons of society are still reeling from the memory of the horrific situation faced by a well-known business family, when their potential son-in-law held them to ransom a month before the wedding (after the wedding cards had been sent out). According to an insider, the engagement had taken place after the boy had been assured that he would be given Rs 700 crore to start his own business. All went well — when suddenly before the wedding the groom disappeared. And then came his message: “Where’s the Rs 700 crore I was promised?” What could the tradition-bound, socially-conscious family of the bride do, but cough up the money, to get the groom back on board? What shocked us about the story is not the groom’s behaviour so much as that the bride’s family risked marrying their daughter to an obvious bounder — only to keep their social standing intact!

A choice validated
>> “I just found out the dates for Mastram’s screening at the Mumbai Film Festival this year, so I wanted to let you know,” said Tara Alisha Berry, who makes her Bollywood debut in the film to be screened at the prestigious ‘15th Mumbai Film Festival’ which starts on Thursday. Directed by Akhilesh Jaiswal, who co-wrote Gangs of Wasseypur, the film Mastram, is the story of a legendary Indian porn book writer and is a fictional biography.

Having known the young Berry ever since her birth, we were concerned that her unconventional choice, made for the correct artistic reasons, would be misconstrued.

But the fact that Mastram is being screened amidst some of the world’s greatest and most admired films is validation enough.

We like!

Salaam Mumbai: Let good prevail
Yesterday, at Dussehra, when I received messages about ‘good’ triumphing over ‘bad’, I found myself thinking about what this meant in our everyday lives.

Of course, there are all kinds of good and bad, the great ethical values that more or less subsume every culture and age, most of them contained in the morality tales we have grown up hearing; the ones that extol honesty, hard work kindness, and truthfulness. And the more contemporary instances where good ought to triumph, but sadly doesn’t, which I hope this Dussehra will usher in.

The virtues of excellence over mediocrity, substance over hype, integrity over fluff.

Too often, in a city like Mumbai, the genuine, the worthwhile and the bonafide get shouted out by the pushy, the brash, the brazen and the loud. We, in the media, are complicit in this. People famous for being famous, people whose much-vaunted talent is as flimsy as chewing gum stretched to the moon, people whose claim to fame is nothing more than a shameless and staggering ability for self-promotion, how many of these we foist daily on an unsuspecting public!

And what’s worse is it’s a self-perpetuating myth. We promote these people because they have promoted themselves, and by doing so, we give them the credibility for more promotion.

Where will it end? Who will call the bluff? When will the more deserving get their due?

I think the tide is changing. I was chuffed the other day when I heard a hostess declaring that she’d made it a point to ‘only invite people of substance and worth’ to her dinner. Happy Dussehra, may good triumph over all kinds of bad.  

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