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Designing for Mr Bhagat

"Autobiographies excite me and I own some very special ones," says Masaba Gupta, when we asked her about her reading habits. “The first one I read was my father’s when I was about 14,” she says, referring to the cricket legend Viv Richards’ ‘Sir Vivian: The Definitive Autobiography’, published in 2000.

The interest in her reading preferences followed the announcement that her label Masaba Lite will launch a collection to coincide with the release of Chetan Bhagat’s ‘Half Girlfriend’, inspired by the book.

Chetan Bhagat and Masaba Gupta
Chetan Bhagat and Masaba Gupta

“Fiction does not interest me so when Chetan asked me to test read the book and also gave me a deadline to finish it, I was quite taken aback because he knows my reading habits,” she says, “I finished the book in two days flat and it gave way to many emotions I didn’t know I had.”

Viv Richards. Pic/AFP
Viv Richards. Pic/AFP

As for Bhagat critics and baiters, the attractive designer says, “I know a lot of people don’t think of Chetan’s books as ‘heavy’, but his success is an example of how refreshing it is to have a book to read that does not carry literary jargon. I am extremely selective about what I read,” she adds, waving what looks like a designer red flag in the face of Bhagat’s critics.

In praise of Haider
He’s always been known for his generosity of spirit. Genius after all, loves company and is not threatened by competition. Which is why when Anurag Kashyap, the man who almost single-handedly created the new wave in Bollywood cinema, commented on Vishal Bhardwaj’s soon to be released ‘Haider’, no one was surprised by his ecstatic tone.

Vishal Bhardwaj Anurag Kashyap

Vishal Bhardwaj and Anurag Kashyap

‘Haider. What a film. Speechless. Shahid Kapoor!!!! Wow. Great writing, brilliant cinematography, most awesome performances, music, score, every goddamn thing. Pure cinematic experience and most courageous, beautiful film I have seen in a long time.”

Being unabashed fans of Bhardwaj, we were going to make sure that we would see the film not least because fellow scribe, Basharat Peer has co-written it, but Kashyap’s fulsome praise has just upped the ante.

Indians in Paris
It appears to have been a reunion of sorts when Mumbai boys Vikram Chandra, Jeet Thayil, and Delhi-based poet Sudeep Sen met at the World Writer’s Festival, Paris, a collaboration between Columbia University and the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, whose theme was Indian writers this year.

Vikram Chandra, Jeet Thayil and Sudeep Sen at World Writer’s festival
Vikram Chandra, Jeet Thayil and Sudeep Sen at World Writer’s festival

Unable to join the party another writer, the author of noted books on Bollywood and editor of IQ, Madhu Jain was MIA though. “Sorry to have missed out-was there the first day, then the city beckoned. Congrats and let’s meet soon in amar Dilli,” she said breezily to Sen. Ah ‘amar Dilli’, where often there seem to be more writers than readers of books!

A paean to himself
Those who have received it cannot stop raving about its glossy production values and the quality of its photographs. Simply titled ‘Raymond’ this coffee table book which chronicles the life and times of one of the country’s leading branded fabric and fashion retailers, is said to be a paean to its current chairman and MD, the swashbuckling car-racing, high-flying Gautam Singhania, who has steered the brand into many new avenues.

Gautam Singhania
Gautam Singhania

However, not all are impressed by the tome’s contents. “We counted not less than 306 pictures of Gautam in it,” meowed someone, who the offering had left underwhelmed. “With his cars, his family and other settings. Isn’t that taking narcissism a bit too far?”

Doing as the Romans in Delhi
One of the pleasures of attending the 130-year anniversary party of Bulgari in Rome a few months ago was that we were in the company of one of India’s most talented designers, the Kolkata-based enigmatic Anamika Khanna, whose distinct style and refined sensibility make her stand apart from the rest.

Anamika Khanna
Anamika Khanna

And now, word comes in that the world famous Italian jewellery and luxury goods brand, whose creations have adorned the necks of stars like Liz Taylor and Sophia Loren, will be hosting a once-in-a-lifetime affair in Delhi next month to announce its entry in India and to showcase its jewellery, which will be seen on models dressed in Khanna’s exquisite creations.

“Bulgari’s iconic jewellery seen on some of the world’s most famous necks and arms, which it will be launching in India, will be best complemented by Khanna’s heirloom collection,” said a spokesperson, “and, on that evening we will recreate the splendours of a Roman feast in Delhi.”

Already ‘mark the date’ missives have been dispatched to a select crowd of media and socialites. “It’s going to be an evening to remember,” says the spokesperson.

Office Politics
There seem to be real issues in one of Bollywood’s top film production houses, with the two partners (said to be former bffs) not seeing eye-to-eye anymore.

Though the production house released a statement that the two partners were splitting and then retracted it, saying they will still work together, insider’s speak of a recent incident, when one of the partners decided to host promotional exercises for his own solo production, which released recently at the duo’s joint suburban office.

“When the other partner got a word of this, he reacted with anger and asked his staff to stop the process, giving instructions that that his office should only be used to promote films that he was creatively involved in!” says a source. Oh dear. Wonder what started the problem; creative differences or just the angst that follows box office disappointments?

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