>> The outpouring of grief that followed Yash Chopra’s death took most by surprise. That he would be mourned by the industry he belonged to was to be expected, but that people from all walks of life – professionals, white collared workers, businessman, housewives and the man on the street – expressed such a sense of loss mixed with a sense of gratitude surprised even the most cynical of news commentators.
For us, personally the fact that the same man directed films that impacted such varied and different phases in our life like Waqt, Iteffaq, Deewar and Dil To Pagal Hai is what makes him so special.
To have not just reflected – but also actually anticipated the changing moods of a nation and to have the ability to keep step with it over almost seven decades (he directed his first film in his 20s and his last in his 80s!) is a feat worthy of a world record. We are especially fortunate to have heard the great man speak at Amitabh’s 70th birthday celebrations. Who would have thought that not even a month later he would be gone?
Rest in peace Yash Chopra. Now more than ever we are going to re-read our friend Rachel Dwyer’s (senior lecturer in Gujarati and Indian Studies at SOAS,) excellent book on Chopra Yash Chopra published in 2008 by the British Film Institute. As for our favourite Chopra song, hands down it is the Qawwali Aye meri zohra zabeen picturised on my uncle Balraj Sahini and a very close friend of the family, the graceful Achala Sachdev all those years ago. Aye meri zohra-zabeen, tujhe maalum nahi, tu abhi tak hai haseen aur main jawaan, tujhpe qurbaan meri jaan meri jaan. Aye meri zohra-zabeen.
The dour Sardar
>> At the Serafina launch last week, we were happy to meet Vikram Chatwal who unlike his party persona displayed a rather dour and introverted persona. Friends who met the dashing entrepreneur in NYC recently were treated to a sprinkling of Chatwal’s famed company.
“He had Lindsay Lohan and Brooke Shields by his side,” we were informed. And yes, even the company of these beauties didn’t improve his mood much. “He still looked bored,” they said.
Delicious birthday celebration
>> We were happy to be part of the lovely Tanaaz Doshi’s celebrations to mark her aunt Saryu Doshi’s special birthday yesterday. Held at Bellisimo, the Italian fine dining eatery owned by her family, guests were served a seven (eight if you count the espresso) course vegetarian meal that included some of the restaurants’ legendary dishes such as the cajun spiced tofu cigars served with a sweet devil dip, roesti with spinach and corn au gratin, the three layered pearl barley risotto with creamy garlic chives veloute and red wine caramel ice cream.
Besides felicitations for the graceful birthday girl, the talk of the afternoon was how the lissome Tanaaz managed to stay so slim with such great cuisine served at her restaurant!
Old school ties
>> With all the turmoil in high places that the country is facing, it’s good to know that something’s endured and foremost among these are old school ties. Which is why when India’s public school, the Doon School’s batch of ’64 was planning to have its 50th year reunion this month, regardless of the state of affairs there was every expectation that loyal Doscos would show up.
And key amongst the batch mates expected to attend were Union Minister for Surface Transport and Highways Kamal Nath, Chief Minister of Orissa Naveen Patnaik, Lt Governor to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Nagendranath Jha and founder owner of NTDV psephologist Pranoy Roy. Incidentally, the ‘64 batches were known as the Sanjay Gandhi batch, being as it was the year that Indira Gandhi’s younger son graduated.
>> At Sylvester da Cunha’s dinner at the Yacht club last week we were delighted to meet the very talented Kunal Vijaykar, creator of one of our favourite TV shows – CNN IBN’s The the week that wasn’t.
What does one say to a man who writes the funniest lines this side of Monty Python? Of course, we gushed and of course, forgot all the witticisms we’d been saving to say to him if we ever met. But here’s what we found, like every genuine funny man we have ever met (Mario, Laxman even Vir Das) Vijaykar is pretty serious in real life. Or perhaps it was the company that evening: when you have some of the country’s great wordsmiths and humourists around like Alyque Padamsee, Gerson, Sylvie and Rahul da Cunha – the best thing to do is to sit back and listen!
Update from the air-kissing crowd
>> What’s the latest news doing the rounds amongst the air-kissing crowd? It’s how Mumbai’s self-styled Paris Hilton flew in her husband to baby-sit their kids while she jetted across Europe recently. “The poor chap was brought in, did his duty and was sent back to his country when madame returned,” we were informed. “And as for the latest hunk whose caught her eye (read coloured contact lens) recently regardless of the interest shown by her in a much married and muscular guy it’s back to her two former exes for now. Just another day in paradise in Mumbai.