Good news for art lovers

The opening of the Rakhi Sarkar curated ‘Experiments’ on Saturday evening at the Special Project Space, in the Bhau Daji Laud Museum which saw the renowned art maven from Kolkata making a rousing speech in support of the arts, gave rise to much hope in the community.

Speaking passionately about the need to set up art foundations, national trusts, public-private partnerships and making a fervent appeal for a broad arts policy framework, Sarkar spoke of the vast untapped resource of the arts and how they could become a huge revenue generator and contribute vastly to the development of the country.

Shaina NC, Devendra Fadnavis, Rakhi Sarkar and Tasneem Mehta
Shaina NC, Devendra Fadnavis, Rakhi Sarkar and Tasneem Mehta

“An arts initiative that could link the Kochi Biennale, the Delhi Art Summit, the Kala Ghoda Festival and the CIMA biennale would see the synergetic confluence of the east west and north and south of India,” said Sarkar to much applause.

Perhaps inspired by her passion, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who apologised for his tardiness (he’d been delayed by a late meeting in the Capital), rose to the occasion and spoke with feeling about the government’s role in fostering an art-movement in the country.

“A measure of a mature and developed civilization is its arts’ consciousness,” he said, taking the audience through a recent trip he’d made to China, where he’d been impressed by replicas of the Ajanta and Ellora Caves “5,000 kilometres away,” before declaring ‘Experiments’ featuring five young artists from Bengal as ‘awesome.’ A CM who supports art and says ‘awesome’? There’s hope yet.

Two legends meet
It was something of a red letter day at the Magna office, when celebrated singer Asha Bhosle dropped in last week and to welcome her, along with his editors and colleagues, was none other than legendary publisher Nari Hira, known as the man who revolutionised celebrity journalism way back in the Seventies. As soon as she saw him, sources said a delighted Bhosle remarked that she was meeting Hira after ages and asked him what he’d been up to.

Asha Bhosle with Nari Hira at his office
Asha Bhosle with Nari Hira at his office

“Working,” replied the reclusive publisher with his characteristic droll wit, adding, “while you have been busy traipsing all over the world,” an answer we hear that brought forth a dimpled smile on the singer’s face. Repartee between the two legends both passionate about their work and in mint condition didn’t end there either says sources. Hira was overheard asking Bhosle’s son Anand, who had accompanied his mother, for the secret to her fitness at 82. To which she’d responded, ‘Look whose talking!’ Nice!

Food for thought
Legendary master chef Imtiaz Qureshi was quite the man of the moment when we attended an elegant sit down dinner at the ITC Grand Central on Saturday evening. Dressed impeccably in his trademark jodhpurs, waistcoat and chikan embroidered shirt, the octogenarian was seen ladling out his aromatic Dudh biriyani (fragrant basmati rice and tender lamb cooked on dum, enriched with milk and flavoured with aromatic spices) to the likes of Zarine and Sanjay Khan, Maya and Sunil Alagh and others, while the rest of the meal consisted of dishes inspired by him such as Mahi Safiya Tikka and Galouti Gosht.

Sanjay Khan with chef Imtiaz Qureshi. Pic/Malavika Sangghvi
Sanjay Khan with chef Imtiaz Qureshi. Pic/Malavika Sangghvi

And competing with this spice laden delicious repast was the conversation on our side of the table, where an impassioned Alagh endeavoured valiantly to defend Prime Minister Narendra Modi in what looked like a formidable claque against female dissent.

“I had nine women arguing against me!” Alagh was overheard saying later, “Even Obama was given a longer rope until he began to perform.” Food for thought.

Delhi’s nights of Sufi
India’s Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, a West Asia scholar and a man of great learning and culture, hosted along with his wife Salma, a the Sufi evening on Friday which saw some of the Capital’s best and brightest attend.

Vice President Hamid Ansari
Vice President Hamid Ansari

“We were About 60 guests and the renowned Sufi exponent Renee Singh sang couplets from Amir Khusrau followed by Dr Syeda Hamid reading an explanatory text,” said a guest. “There was tabla, sitar and flute accompaniment and this exquisite offering was followed by garden tea. Nice!

Too many chefs?
Things seem to be looking up for India’s very own master chef, Manish Mehrotra of Delhi’s Indian Accent which did a bhel and chaat bar, at the Jindal wedding in Vienna recently.

Vikas Khanna, Manish Mehrotra and Manu Chandra
Vikas Khanna, Manish Mehrotra and Manu Chandra

Some months ago he, along with partners Rohit Khattar and Anand Mahindra (who is an investor), ambitiously opened the second Indian Accent midtown New York to much acclaim. And perhaps to demonstrate their solidarity, Mehrotra had some equally reputed Indian chefs visit his NYC branch for a meal last week, we hear, in the persona of chef Vikas Khanna of Manhattan’s Junoon, and chef Manu Chandra of the Fatty Bao and
Monkey Bar franchise. And for a change onlookers say the chefs were not talking shop but really making merry – as this selfie proves.

Watch this face
Word comes in that one of Bollywood’s foremost producers is busy putting together his next project. Though it is not clear whether he will direct this one himself or just produce it, the movie is said to be a sequel to a recent hit of his which had so successfully launched the career of a trio of stars.

This time, sources say, the script calls for two female leads, pitted against one male lead, and we hear that though almost every established young Bollywood actress has been vying for the role, the producer is said to be keen on launching two new leading ladies with film.

And whereas the hunt is on, we hear that one of the most likely contenders who has caught his eye is an attractive young lady who does not hail from a film family and who featured on the cover of a glossy magazine recently. Will there be an announcement soon? Watch this space.

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