He's always been known as something of a wunderkind — a man who can distill the essence of a powerful message into a slogan that lasts forever; and so when Amitabh Kant, the Stephen's college educated IAS officer, now serving in Delhi as CEO of the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation Limited since the last two years, came up with the successful 'Make in India' tiger to roar out PM Modi's ambition of turning India into the world's manufacturing hub, no one was surprised.
After all, Kant is also the man credited with thinking up the memorable 'Incredible India' campaign in 2002, when he was Joint Secretary under the Union Ministry of Tourism.
Currently on the three-nation tour that Modi has undertaken to France, Germany and Canada, where attracting manufacturing opportunities to India appears to be high on the agenda, and where his muscular tigers have been given much play, Kant is shown in this picture with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Modi, very much at the centre of action.
Incidentally, it was Kant, who as Secretary of Tourism for Government of Kerala, had come up with that other legendary slogan 'God's Own Country' to attract tourists to Kerala, making his record of catchy campaigns something of a hat trick!
We have been following the curious case of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's snoop scam with incredulity. Why not one but two Prime ministers would take it upon themselves to spy on the family of a dear departed national hero is anyone's guess. But even as the story unfolds, our interest was piqued when we saw the Netaji's nephew, Ardhendu Bose, on TV this week. Older, grayer, leaner though he might be now, many would remember him as none other than the swashbuckling top model of the Seventies who came to be known as the 'Bombay Dyeing Man'. Before the era of print ad campaigns came to an end with the advent of television and brand endorsements by Bolly stars, there were just a handful of models who were right at the top of their profession (Persis Khambatta, Shobhaa De, Zeenat Aman were amongst this lot) and besides Kabir Bedi, the only other male model in that caliber was Ardhendu Bose.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Kapoor during the Bombay Dyeing days
Of course, when he became a bit too old to appeal to the company's younger audience, Maureen Wadia, who used to personally oversee Bombay Dyeing's advertising strategy, retired Bose and he was replaced by none other than the equally swashbuckling Karan Kapoor.
A measure of the Bombay Dyeing's impact on the era can be gauged by the following anecdote: Travelling to a remote orphanage on the outskirts of Bihar for a story with Kapoor, who also doubled up as a photojournalist, we will never forget how his presence electrified the orphans. One mentally challenged teenage girl couldn't contain her excitement: "Bombay Diamond!!" she screamed in delight on seeing Kapoor.
It was a moment as poignant as it was memorable.
Homeless and powerful in Delhi
Oh dear, the case of VIPs squatting in prime Lutyen's bungalows in Delhi appears to be getting more absurd. Sources swear that one of the Union Cabinet's most important ministers, who besides being in a very sensitive ministry, is a rank outsider to Delhi — has been sweating it out in a one-room guest house of his State's run down and poorly protected Bhavan in the Capital. "There's no proper security and anyone can enter and leave as they please," says an appalled source. So what's the problem? "The problem is that the bungalow he's been allotted is still occupied by a very powerful Congressman. And no one dares to oust him."
And so it goes and so it goes.
"For the first time in India, we've tied up with the prestigious Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute to bring exclusive acting workshops to Mumbai in May this year." It was theatre producer Raell Padamsee of ACE, who'd called us yesterday. "As you know, the institute has trained the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Sally Field, Scarlett Johansson and Barbara Streisand and many other stars of stage and screen," she said. "What's best is that David Lee Strasberg, son of the legendary Lee Strasberg, and Sasha Krane, will be coming down to conduct the Certificate Courses in 'Method Acting' and 'Film and Television'. Classes consisting of 30 students each will ensure personal attention to all students by the faculty," said Padamsee, herself a graduate of that foremost of city theatre institutions, the Alyque and Pearl Padamsee school of theatre!
Raell Padamsee and David Lee Strasberg
Marilyn Monroe and (Right) Scarlett Johansson were trained at Lee Strasberg Pic/AFP
From pasta to sushi?
Ritu Dalmia of Delhi's Diva restaurant's fame is one of the country's most celebrated restaurateurs and foodies. And in a field dominated by men (Akerker, AD Singh, Rohit Khattar, Moshe Sheikh etc), that makes her something of a rarity. Not only that, but Dalmia is seen as something of a queen of Italian cuisine, what with her running of the café in the Capital's Italian Embassy's Italian Cultural Centre, and her highly successful series of 'Italian Khana' books which purport to bring Mediterranean wonders to the Indian kitchen. (A certain Mrs G's patronage has also won her this title).
So it comes as a surprise to her friends and admirers that at the height of her success and prowess, Dalmia has embarked on a journey of studying that other great cuisine that's seduced the world — Japanese.
Various posts on a social networking site showing her variously — kimono clad, dressed up as a Samurai warrior, or discovering the delights of high tech Japanese loos, have been delighting her admirers back home. But none has brought as much cheer as the one that extols her virtues as a Sushi chef. "Sushi class today," she posted recently, "I know it sounds arrogant, but I was pretty good at it — feeling cool."
Will a new range of Japanese restaurants in the capital be on the cards any time soon?