Monday evening saw a glittering turnout at a popular beach-facing eatery in Juhu, known for its Bollywood bashes. The occasion was the launch of celebrated designer Manish Malhotra's newest project: designs on bottles of a sparkling wine, said to be inspired by the gardens of Versailles ('luxurious gold motifs over a midnight sky and spritz of pink and rose gold-stemmed florals draping the bottle').
Sophia Sinha, Manish Malhotra and Stephane de Meurville
And given that Malhotra is the man who introduced Bollywood to pastels, the décor for the evening was a garden setting with what was described as a 'decadent array of flowers and wooden elements made for an elegant ambience'.
Looking dapper, Malhotra was seen receiving guests along with the driving force behind the wine brand, Sophia Sinha. But what's bubbly without the babes? The party featured a pop-up fashion show with models styled by the designer to resemble the colours of the bottles he had lent his flair to.
Spotted at the celebrations were the likes of Karan Johar, Rajkummar Rao, Raveena Tandon, Ayushman Khurana as well as younger Bollywood entrants Pooja Hegde, Kiara Advani and Amyra Dastur, who added to the glamour quotient. "Manish will soon visit the winery in Nashik, and we couldn't have asked for a better designer to collaborate with," says Sinha.
It's a hap-hap-happy...
True to his nature, a certain Mr B brought in his birthday which falls today, by spending last evening at his office cutting a cake and posing for group pictures with the staff, most of whom have been with him for decades. (The Bachchans value old ties and their staff is easily one of the more courteous and efficient in the country.)
Amitabh Bachchan. Pic courtesy/Mukhtar Kazi and Pradeep Chandra
"He will be returning on 13th evening," informed the source. The subject of the nation's adulation, Mr B's janam din, especially such an auspicious one as the 75th, is one of widespread celebration, equally involving the man on the street (especially outside Jalsa) and those in high places. And understandably, Bachchan, whose personal style was low-key and understated up until yesterday, was said to have been successfully fobbing off various suggestions of public extravaganzas from friends and fans.
The getaway is with family to the Maldives, we are informed. Incidentally, amidst the many forms of celebration, a new pictorial book on the star by photographer Pradeep Chandra (authored by Vikas Chandra Sinha), with over 200 images is almost complete. Chandra has done coffee table books on both Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan in the past and has been privy to his public life on many occasions, which no doubt will give his fans much delight.
Even as we speak, our friend, the Mumbai-based author Murzban Shroff, is on a whistle-stop book tour of the American West Coast, promoting his latest tome, 'Waiting For Jonathon Koshy.'
And though Koshy is an unhurried tale set in the sleepy Pali Hill of yore, Shroff's schedule reads like a fast train. This weekend saw him conduct a reading at Eastwind Books of Berkeley; yesterday, he addressed the undergrads of UC Berkeley. Tomorrow will see him at the book's launch in Santa Clara, and on Friday, he will read and then participate in a panel discussion with Dr Debotri Dhar, founder of The Hummingbird Global Writers' Circle.
But it has not been all work and no play for the advertising maven, who turned to full-time writing a few years ago with the publication of his collection of short stories 'Breathless in Bombay'. Amidst all the hectic book related events, there has also been time to admire the 'the soft brown hills of California' from a passing train, drop in at an iconic used-books store in Ojai that houses signed first editions, and a meditative morning at the Krishnamurty Foundation in Ojai, California. Nice.
The jewels in India's crown
"Few are aware that the most famous jewels in the world, such as the Orlov and Hope Diamond, either originate from or trace their design roots to India," says a spokesperson for the recently concluded 'The Timeless Legacy of India Jewels.' The focus of the conference was the international influence of Indian jewels and jewellery.
Back row (L-R): Lisa Hubbard (Christie’s Jewellery Department), Alex Popov, Francesca Cartier Brickell, John Zubrzycki, Derek Content, Pramod Kumar, Tom Moses (GIA); front row (L-R): Minal Vazarani (Saffronart), Usha Balakrishnan (conference curator), Susan Stronge (Victoria & Albert Museum) and Salam Kaoukji (The al-Sabah Collection)
India was a source of inspiration for the world's leading jewellery designers, including Cartier, Harry Winston, and, of course, Van Cleef & Arpels. Hosted by Saffron Art in an effort to initiate dialogue on India's rich and complex design heritage, and the art and history of adornment,' the conference, curated by Mumbai-based jewellery historian and author Usha Balakrishnan featured several international authorities on the subject including Francesca Cartier Brickell, a descendant of the Cartier family, the erstwhile Maharani of Baroda Radhikaraje Gaekwad, and Francois Arpels, whose grandfather founded the jewellery house Van Cleef & Arpels, along with Salam Kaoukji curator of the al-Sabah Collection, Tom Moses of the Gemological Institute of America, Susan Stronge senior curator Asian Department of the V & A, and John Zubrzycki author of The Last Nizam: An Indian prince in the Australian outback.
An image of Jacques Cartier at the Delhi Durbar from Francesca Cartier's talk
"We are hoping to make people aware of the vast history of Indian jewellery, and get this in some measure, into the public sphere. We hope that it is going to create ripples and make people aware about this ancient tradition; that jewellery is art and every piece of Indian jewellery tells a story," said Balakrishnan.
To Lucknow, with love
"In many ways, Lucknow was considered the cultural capital of North India," says Delhi-based designer and aesthete Sunita Kohli, about the soon-to-be published 'The Lucknow Cook Book,' which she has coauthored with her mother Chand Sur, the author of the earlier 'Continental Cuisine for the Indian Palate'.
Sunita Kohli with her mother Chand Sur and her daughter Kohelika
"The culture of Lucknow, which my parents encountered in the late 1940s, was undoubtedly Muslim. But Lucknow was also home to communities of Hindus - Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Kayasthas - along with British residents who had stayed on post 1947, Anglo-Indians, Christians, Parsis and Bengalis," she says.
Slated to be released in early December, the book, replete with recipes, also traces the area's unique contribution to India's heritage. As is known, not only was Urdu developed to near perfection in Lucknow, but it was here that the Lucknow Gharana of Kathak dance, and the Bhatkhande Institute of classical music were established.
"The samosa, in its present form, was invented in Lucknow. Chaat also originated in Lucknow. Lucknow also has its own distinctive biryanis and pulaos, both non-vegetarian and vegetarian, and gave us the dum pukht style of cooking," says Kohli, whetting our appetite for the book already.
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