RIP, Vinod Khanna
What can one say about Vinod Khanna that has not already been said? The actor's untimely death yesterday resulted in a pall of gloom, as friends and fans heard the sad news.
Born to a well-heeled Punjabi clan, Khanna's life defies description. As a student of commerce at a reputed SoBo college, he had been one of the dashing rabble-rousers of his time; then, departing from convention he'd joined the films at a time when his contemporaries were settling down to careers in business.
Keeping up with this penchant for forging his own path, at the height of his success, he had given it all up to be with his spiritual master, Osho, in Oregon, where he was said to have happily embraced the role of the commune's gardener — only to once again return to the city with a new life and a new career, this time as a successful politician with the BJP!
The last time we had met him was many moons ago, when we'd hosted the Sufi singer Begum Abida Parveen at our home, for a musical recital.
She had especially requested his presence, and Khanna, one of her greatest admirers, had sung, danced and celebrated soulfully that evening.
Here's wishing that all his eve-nings will be like that now. RIP, Vinod Khanna.
Priyanka Chopra and Rekha at the party
Showing of woman power
It was a veritable display of woman power at Priyanka Chopra's party on Wednesday evening. The actress who'd come to India for a week had been persuaded by her team, led by the industry's leading reputation manager Rohini Iyer, to celebrate what they say was a couple of years of incredible success. "I've been away so long and I'm back in town for just a week. So I decided there is no better time to celebrate all the good things I've been blessed with, with the people that have supported me the most," Chopra had texted the previous day, and as expected, a host of Bollywood's heavy hitters showed up to celebrate India's most successful export to Hollywood.
After all, Chopra is that rare star — someone unafraid to venture forth into new territories abroad despite her success in India. Could this show of confidence and strength threaten others in the industry, namely other actresses and her co-stars? Who knows!
What was evident is that Chopra bonds well with other strong and successful women within the industry. Like Rekha, who came early (even before PC's arrival, we are told) and stayed late. And with the dusky flag-bearer of strong independent women to cheer PC, could Kangana Ranaut and Sushmita Sen, both symbols of strength and empowerment be too far behind? "The bonding between Sush and PC, who'd both been international beauty queen title holders, was palpable," said an observer. "In fact, when PC arrived she'd had her hair down, but the unbearable humidity was bothe-ring her and Sush kindly helped her put up her hair stylishly!" she said. As for Kangana, both had worked together in Fashion, both are national award winners and have mutual affection and respect for each other.
One more thing, the party, held at a fine-dining restaurant right on the Juhu beach with the likes of Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Raj Thackeray, Sanjay and Zarine Khan in attendance, was also distinguished by its excellent food. The mushrooms quino, tofu patties, buratta citrus salad, grilled sea bass and yuzu and parsley potatoes had all been specially selected by Chopra herself.
Ever since this mega star issued a stern announcement of his disengagement with his high-profile manager, the knives have been out from those who say they had been at the receiving end of her sting. "The last straw was when she ruled against his family and close friends," they say. "Now, everyone knows what a senti-mental sop the star is," they say, "And how family and friends come first for him."
However, to her credit the praise for the lady comes in from one of her rivals. "Let's face it. In the 12 years that she mana-ged the star, his professional career has never been better. She got him to keep to his commit-ments and show up for his appointments," they say, adding, "She brought in some much-needed discipline."
Good news for the Ranauts
Kangana Ranaut in a summery yellow dress was positively glowing when we met her at Priyanka Chopra's party. The actress had been receiving congra-tulations on her sister Rangoli's pregnancy. "It will be the first grandchild in the family," she says, adding, "And naturally, my parents and the entire family are overjoyed!" Rangoli, who had been handling Ranaut's profess-ional matters, had recently been through a tough time after she'd miscarried, but now, in her fourth month, she is absolutely thrilled, she says.
The national award-winning actress' pretty, slight and soft-spoken sibling had been by her side, taking care of her, even as she took care of her own home, hearth and husband of seven years, who is an executive with a leading Indian conglomerate. "Currently, she's been advised complete rest," says her delighted younger sister. Does that mean Rangoli is not handling her affairs now? "Yes. I've got new people," says Ranaut. "And that's fine. This is part of life," she adds. "Rangoli's peace and happiness is far more important. In any case, I'm pretty sorted now."
Not a candle in the wind any more, we joke. "Yes. Not a candle in the wind anymore," she laughs. And then, she winks.
"I recently graduated with a Diploma in Method Acting from the Jeff Goldberg Studio," says the lovely Devi Giannetti, daughter of leading graphic designer Preeti Vyas Giannetti and musician D Wood. "I've also been a part of the NCPA's Theatre Company, where I've been a supporting actor in India's first opera production 'La Boheme' with the Symphony Orchestra amongst other things," says the accom-plished young lady. "Alongside this, I am still studying Hindustani classical singing under Usha Tikekar –Deshpande in the kirana gharana and writing my own songs that I hope to compile into an EP. And yes, I am also starting to test the waters with film acting and modelling," says the confident young lady, about a series of stunning pictures she'd posted on social media.