Cracker of a Lit fest

The centenary edition of the Khushwant Singh Lit fest, which unfolds this weekend and in which we are participating, appears to be a real cracker of a fest.

Not only have the organizers lined up the likes of Farooq Abdullah, Om Puri, General VP Malik, Salman Khurshid and Kabir Bedi, but word comes in that Mehr Tarar, whose very public spat with Sunanda Tharoor, a day before she was found dead had etched her in to the Indian public imagination, will be present too. Tarar will be there for the release of her book, Leaves from Lahore.

Om Puri and Kabir BediOm Puri and Kabir Bedi

As for us, though each of the programs appear to be put together with creativity and consideration, the ones we are particularly looking forward to are: ‘Kids in The times of Kardashians,’ featuring amongst others, Santosh Desai and Ranvir Shorey, and ‘Art and Medicine: the role of suffering in creativity,’ presented by one of Mumbai’s most celebrated men of medicine, Dr Farokh Udwadia.

Mehr Tarar. Pic/Twitter
Mehr Tarar. Pic/Twitter

And when it all gets too cerebral, there’s always the rousting music of the Assam Rifles Band to dance to. Pip pip.

Honouring the Mahatma
Standing out from the usual Gandhi Jayanti celebrations this October 2, the unveiling of the statues featuring the Mahatma and his lifelong soul mate, wealthy architect Hermann Kallenbach near a historic synagogue on a river bank, in the small western town of Rusne, near the Russian border, honoured an aspect of Gandhi that few in India are aware of.

The Gandhi and Kallenbach statues and Yusuf Hamied
The Gandhi and Kallenbach statues and Yusuf Hamied

Kallenbach had met the future father of the nation in Durban around 1903, when he was 32 and Gandhi 34, and they had forged a lifelong friendship. Sculpted by Lithuanian sculptor Romualdas Kvintas, the poignant ceremony was witnessed by many dignitaries of the region, including the Lithuanian Prime Minister.

The Yusuf and Farida Hamied Foundation had been mainly instrumental in sponsoring the creation of the bronze statues. Hamied, the internationally renowned scientist and humanist, and the Chairman of Cipla, incidentally is a product of an Indian father and a Luthuanian mother.

“There has always been a deep bond between Lithuania, India and myself,” he said commending on the role played by the Lithuanian ambassador in the memorial, and adding the monument would also be a tribute to the memory of his mother, Luba Derczanska.

The taxmen cometh
Apparently it was not only the media, and the art world whose attention was attracted by the sale of FN Souza’s artwork titled, ‘Man and Woman Laughing’ which sold for around Rs 16.84 crore last month.

FN Souza and Dinesh Vazirani
FN Souza and Dinesh Vazirani

The sale also elicited a polite enquiry from the tax authorities we’re told. When we asked Dinesh Vazirani, whose online auction house, Saffron Art conducted the sale, he was stoic. “Yes, the attention the sale received, also brought in the tax regulators, but there’s was a routine request to file sales tax early to meet the required date,” he said.

And what about the stories that he was all set to file libel charges against a certain individual described by sources as a suitcase dealer who had been ‘bad mouthing his enterprise’? “Yes”, said Vazirani, “I was going to, but now have changed my mind.” Incidentally, a ‘suitcase dealer’ we were informed by our source, was someone who sold art to NRI clients.

Hissy fit alright
According to the other diners present, theatre actress Divya Palat threw a tantrum of epic proportions, at a newly launched mid-city eatery on Friday night.

Aditya Hitkari and Divya Palat
Aditya Hitkari and Divya Palat

“It was a nice, mellow mood, and a fairly decent crowd, given that it was a dry day,” said a guest who was present “when suddenly we hear this red-hot furious woman’s voice shouting ‘Do you know who I am?’ etc and the whole restaurant fell silent as it watched this hissy fit unfold.”

Apparently Ms Palat, who was out to celebrate a family milestone along with her relatives, was not happy with the way she’d been treated given her ‘celebrity status’. But obviously, by the time we spoke to the passionate Ms Palat, she indicated that all had been sorted out and was hunky dory betwixt her and the management.

As for Palat’s doting husband, the talent manager Aditya Hitkari, according to our source, “he sat through out the whole episode with his head in his hand!”

Turf wars in Goa
A source called in to inform that the on-going turf war for the title of Goa’s foremost year-end music festival just got tougher. Revellers will remember a time a few years ago, when Percept’s Sunburn was the undisputed festival of choice, and could monopolise Candolim beach during the days leading up to the New Year.

Shailendra Singh of Sunburn and Nikhil Chinappa of Supersonic festival
Shailendra Singh of Sunburn and Nikhil Chinappa of Supersonic festival

But now many enthusiasts are seemingly changing ship, thanks to the big money backed alternative in the from of VH1’s Supersonic festival which is promoted in conjugation with the Viacom group (TV18), Nikhil Chinappa, and the brothers Morani.

And with a press release going out last evening announcing a few names on this year’s roster like ‘Disclosure’ and ‘Zedd’s Dead’, Sunburn’s next move is a closely watched affair.

Whopping package
The editorial appointment last month of this veteran financial journalist to a media conglomerate, had created media waves, not only because it was followed a few weeks later by some other high powered reshuffling within the group, but now the grapevine is jangling all over again, when it has been learnt that the said appointee is going to get an annual salary of four cool crores as part of his new package. The media musical chairs continue as usual, except now it appears the stakes have just got higher.

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