And this Monday, we found ourselves breaking bread (hot chappattis actually) with Shah Rukh Khan, Boman Irani, Sonu Sood and Vivaan Shah, the stars of Red Chillies Entertainment's 'Happy New Year', and its director Farah Khan at Film City.
(Abhishek Bachchan, Deepika Padukone and Jackie Shroff, the film’s other stars, were not present that day).
We’d been meaning to drop in on the sets of HNY and say hello to Farah, easily one of the brightest and most likeable personalities in Bollywood (and certainly its funniest) and when we found ourselves in her ‘hood’ we took up her invitation for coffee.
Shah Rukh Khan
What can we say about a film set that could conjure up its crazy, madcap, intense, highly charged, insular, wildly glamorous-and at the same time-tedious atmosphere? Ever since our first paying job as a ‘go-fer’ on the sets of the Indo-American film ‘Shalimar’, we have loved the sights, smells and sounds of a film set.
Boman Irani and Sonu Sood
And that afternoon on the sets of HNY we were in hog heaven. There was SRK himself coiled like a loaded shotgun before his shot and then as relaxed and friendly as a newborn pup over lunch in Farah’s van.
Vivaan Shah and Farah Khan
Boman Irani, urbane and nonchalant, on the sets and then teasing and being teased by the rest of the crew about his ‘so-called’ sex-appeal: (“All grandmothers fall in love with him,” Farah laughed).
The hunky soft spoken Sonu Sood emerging from his shyness, as one got to know him better over daal and rice. And of course, Farah, sparkling, gracious, and refusing to take herself or any one else too seriously, her easy-going manner instantly spreading ripples of bonhomie and good cheer across the unit.
So what did we do for that hour ensconced in Farah’s van over lunch with SRK and the film’s other stars? We watched a schlock vintage Bollywood film together, we swapped gossip (film people love to gossip) we shared banter and stories, and hopes and dreams.
Shah Rukh spoke about his adulation of Michael Jackson (“The only star on whose death I cried.”), his thrill in his pre-film days of being mistaken for Kumar Gaurav (!), his admiration for the acting prowess of Balraj Sahni (our uncle) and Sanjeev Kumar, and his excitement that it would be his son AbRam’s first birthday the next day.
That’s how it went, our brief, but memorable, lunch with the unit of Happy New Year: lots of laughs, very oily comfort food and exposure to almost lethal levels of star charisma! Needless to say, we liked it very much!
Oh Dior me!
And even as Modi mania washes over the country and the adulation around India’s newest PM threatens to outstrip even that which surrounded Rajiv Gandhi in his Camelot days, every bit of minutiae around the man is being lapped up with alacrity.
Aroon Purie and Narendra Modi
Last week, an item we carried about his personal preference for Movado watches, Bulgari specs and Mont Blanc pens elicited much comment, and many predicted a surge in their sales, given Modi’s fan following.
So when we chanced upon this picture taken at the India Today summit last year of a dapper Aroon Purie presenting the then CM of Gujarat with an interesting looking bag emblazoned with the legend DIOR, naturally we called up Kalyani Chawla, the brand’s dynamic Delhi-based VP Marketing and Communications, “What did the bag contain?” we asked the attractive Chawla, known to have made the brand a household name in, well, the households that matter.
“It was a black leather briefcase by Dior Homme,” she said. “Dior was the Luxury Gift Partner at the India Today Summit and all the speakers had received these; each gift was customised and this was specially thought out for him.” So will we see our PM step out in style with his Dior? Watch this space!
Deconstructing the facilitator
No one should underestimate the role of the ‘facilitator’ in high society circles. Mostly male, these gents have been known to acquire great power and consequence through their chosen occupations. What does a facilitator do, you might ask. Well, to put it succinctly, they take care of the ‘after-hour needs’ of the rich and powerful.
Broadly speaking this means supplying them with wine, woman and song, travelling with them overseas, accompanying them to parties and restaurants and patting down situations that might get embarrassing for them, when required.
Facilitators have, in the due course of their brown nosing, acquired considerable wealth and influence and, in some cases, they’ve been so successful that they have acquired a few facilitators of their own too. But that’s another story.
The facilitator we are going to tell you about is an NRI, someone whose name had been linked with that of a Page Three resident, an attractive married lady a while ago; according to insiders though he had acquired the reputation of being a businessman of considerable wealth, his success had come from the fact that he was the facilitator of a self-made young tycoon.
“He would be available to the gent 24X7,” said a source, “But after that relationship cooled, he has now directed his attention to the son and heir of a large infrastructure company, making sure he is there by his side at the drop of a hat, taking care of his needs.” What needs? “Well you know, meeting attractive women, getting into the right clubs, parties...”
“And this is not the end of it,” said our source, “Not only is he into social mountaineering, but his wife has positioned herself in Mumbai as the wannabe hostess with the mostest. The minute she thinks you’re socially prominent, she will invite you over to her penthouse pad and try and befriend you.” A pretty pair, if there was one, is what we think.
Shifting tables, falling values
The monstrous sense of entitlement held by a certain SoBo crowd has not escaped our notice. But this incident takes the cake and the entire Deli: A lady of considerable style and substance lunching alone yesterday at a smart new eatery at the Phoenix Mills was appalled when she was asked to move tables when Avanti Birla and two of her cohorts objected to her presence.
Avanti Birla and MF Husain
“Avanti Birla and her little friends have just made me move tables,” she posted from the scene of crime. “I was seated at a table for two near their table for four. Suddenly, I was shifted to another table by the management as they said they needed the table as more people were expected. I didn’t make a fuss because I love the restaurant and really it wasn’t its fault.
They said some other people were joining them but till the time I left it was only those three (shades of Macbeth!),” said the lady, a regular at some of the world’s finest eateries abroad. Her outrage was palpable in the lines she posted about her rude fellow lunchers, “Do I a) Smell? b) Care about their dreary, sad gossip? or c) Am I too hot (and my face too flexible) for them to bear the competition?”
How times have changed. Not so very long ago, some of the greatest Mumbaikars, like artist M F Husain and poet Nissim Ezekiel would happily share tables with strangers at cafés like the Samovar and the Wayside Inn Sigh!