>> Almost two decades ago, he had approached us through a friend to anchor a TV talk show that he was planning (‘After Eight with Malavika Sangghvi’) for Anil Dharker’s soon-to-be launched channel. And though we shot almost half a season’s worth, under very enjoyable circumstances, we are happy to report that even when the channel didn’t fructify, our friendship did.
And over the years, we have watched how Fahad Samar has gone from strength to strength, first as a director of several chart-topping shows like BPL Oye, Superhit Muqabla and the Poppadum Show, then as a putative film director, and now as a columnist and author. His wicked social satire about Bollywood and Mumbai, Delhi and London high society, Scandal Point, has been steadily climbing the bestseller list and has become a hot topic of discussion at cocktail parties, and around office water coolers, alike. And Sunday night saw a gathering of friends and readers alike to toast the novel’s success. “It was an evening of dirty martinis and scotched rumours,” said Samar, whose delight in a witty turn of phrase is legendary in Mumbai circles.
As the Mumbai swish set descended on Good Earth at Raghuvanshi Mills, there was many a titter here and a guffaw there, as the audience recognised many thinly-disguised real life characters brought to life by his wife Simone Singh’s lively reading, interspersed with those from Tisca Chopra. The no-holds barred repartee between the author and interlocutor Nonita Kalra drew much laughter too.
Samar, who graduated from St Xavier’s College with a degree in Eng Lit, took a year off from his various assignments to pen the novel and is now reaping its rewards.
“It’s a book waiting to be filmed,” said a delighted guest who insisted on outing many of the characters. KJo, are you listening?
Naming the capitalists
>> Goa-based designer Wendell Rodricks, never one to mince his words, seems to have set off quite a verbal storm by his recent Facebook post, in which he rapped rapacious Dilliwallas gently but firmly on their expensively moisturised knuckles. “Amazed at the wealth of Dilliwallas.
In the 80s they bought the ‘farm house’. In the 90s, they began buying the ‘Goa house’. And now in the 2000s they are buying the ‘foreign house’. London, Singapore, Dubai! The world’s new colonialists,” he wrote setting off a slew of concurring gripes and groans.
>> A lady of considerable social clout had a sad story to narrate to us about a Mumbai-based jeweller. “I met him through some mutual friends,” she says, “And he revealed that he sold Mughal-era and other antique jewellery in the Middle East. He specifically cited sales he’d made to the ruling family of Kuwait, and also in Qatar. Unwittingly, I introduced him to a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family and a cousin of the current ruler of the UAE,” says our friend adding, “Well through that introduction, the upwardly mobile gent contacted one of HH’s daughters and approached her about selling Mughal miniatures, and an ancient Koran (11th or 12th century).
I don’t know if he made those sales,” she says, “But I do know, that the asking price for the Koran was $18 million.” Now, given that the South Mumbai gent hails from a well-known jewellery clan also connected to a religious order, we were intrigued to know how he conducts this multi-crore business, namely: What’s the source of these treasures? How does he carry them overseas? Or does he obtain them overseas? Where are his revenues parked? Are the buyers aware that they are acquiring illegal stuff, flouting the very clearly stated rules of the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act? And to give readers a measure of the operation, here are some of his wares sent to us by our lady friend. “It’s ironical that a guy who professes such religiosity also carries on illegal activities,” she says sadly. More pertinent, of course, is how many others are involved in draining India of its treasures through such activities.
Salaam Mumbai: Of activists and accidents
I am not much of a conspiracy theorist, but even so, I wonder if there are others like me who smelt a rat on hearing the news that the feisty Delhi-based environmental activist Sunita Narain was hit by a speeding car early Sunday morning as she cycled to Lodhi Garden, and had to undergo a nine-hour surgery as a consequence?
It is well-known that Ms Narain has courageously taken on a slew of very big and powerful companies and individuals in her career, and her intransigency and spunk have won her many enemies.
I do not, as I said, subscribe to conspiracy theories, but it would be interesting to know how many activists and whistleblowers have had similar accidents over the years.
Many years ago, one of the city’s most renowned educationists who also happened to be one my favourite school teachers, Shobha Shirodkar, was a victim of a hit-and-run accident.
Her family insisted that it was murder. Shirodkar had taken on a powerful building mafia in her neighbourhood.
As I said, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but if there’s been research done on activists and freak accidents and an unusual co-relation between the two, I think we ought to know.