>> Ashok Row Kavi, one of the country’s leading gay activists, chairman of the Hum Safar Trust and executive editor of Bombay Dost, who had intervened on behalf of BCCI Chairman N Sreenivasan’s son Ashwin was on the phone with us about the recent episode involving Ashwin, and his partner Avi Mukherjee.
For those unfamiliar with the sad saga of a powerful homophobic parent out to ‘cure’ his son, the latest incident took place on April 30, when the police is alleged to have picked up the couple from an up market Bandra restaurant-pub Escobar and beat them with iron rods. Whereas Kavi is there to give all help to the couple, he appeals for good sense all round.
“I hope N Sreenivasan looks upon this case with compassion, and at least does not use violence against his own child,” he told us. “Meanwhile, I am also appealing to Ashwin not to expose his father’s business dealings as he is threatening to do. He should defend his own turf.” It is always a delight speaking to Ashok Row Kavi. Many years ago, we used to tease him that according to him there were only two kinds of people in the world: those who were gay — and those who denied they were gay! Since then, Kavi appears to have mellowed a little, but his language remains colourful as ever.
So besides our ears ringing with phrases like ‘Gucci Ga..us’, we were also told of how one of the country’s most iconic IPL cricketers had to succumb to a hasty marriage to acquiesce to his owner’s homophobia! But that’s for when ARK writes his memoirs!
Hussain’s Sancho Panza
>> One of the most enigmatic friendships that existed in Mumbai was the one between the late great MF Hussain and his able Sancho Panza, the affable Munna Zaveri whose day job was to shod some of Mumbai’s prettiest feet at Joy shoes.
One was lean and artistic, the other tubby and pragmatic and no one could quite figure out what they had in common, but there they were together at coffee shops, art exhibitions and social events, chewing the cud. Which is why, we are particularly happy that the self-effacing Munna is now on the verge of publishing a book in tribute to his great friend and mentor. But as characteristic of the Munna laid back style, the venture is er … ‘a little behind schedule.’ “I wanted to launch the book on Hussain’s first death anniversary this June,” Munna told us, “But I haven’t got around to collecting all the material…” For the record, it’s to be a compilation of all the charming (and priceless) doodles and squiggles the Master drew impromptu and during the course of his life. And about his late mentor and the difference in their ages Munna said, “I recall on Hussain Sahib’s 95th birthday, which we were celebrating in London I was 59!” Here’s to such enigmatic and enduring friendships!
>> According to some one who knows him, the Van Gogh-esque Sahil Peerzada, is some one who is known for the his chivalry to all the women he’s been linked with — and there’s quite a crowd of them too.
“He was linked to Shamita Shetty, and then Gauhar Khan and the latter was madly in love with him even after they broke off. He is supposed to have got her a large apartment in the suburbs as a parting gift. Not only that but he is rumoured to have been married twice, is extremely well-spoken and lives very well, pretty close to Amitabh Bachchan’s home. In fact, he’s quite a chick-magnet,” we were told.
And what does this well-spoken, generous, high living chick magnet do for a living? Well, there’s the rub: no one knows what exactly Sahil Peerzada does — besides, of course, defending young women from the advances of amorous cricketers!
The IT Man
>> This Monday will see us attending the Asia Society’s Collaborating with Competitors: Driving Industry and Managing Dominance to hear former Nasscom president Kiran Karnik, talk to Subir Gokarn and Patrick Fouli about the IT industry and ways to enhance it.
For those of us happily cruising along the information highway, click-happy and with no strings attached it is important to remember that it was an event in 1987, attended by the likes of NR Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani when it was decided that an independent association Nasscom was required to represent the interests of the IT-software industry that was the game-changer.
And Karnik, someone who played a dynamic role in this sphere will be enlightening audiences about those heady years. Bunty Chand, executive director of Asia Society India Centre, says, “Nasscom represents a success story of this model, and we are looking forward to the conversation on how this can be scaled to other industries.”
Designs on you
>> A little bird tells us that all is not hunky dory in the universe of women’s exhibitions. Huh? Well, it’s a Mumbai thing: any one who lives here knows that one of the most lucrative frenzied and high-profile events on Mumbai’s social calendar is the spate of ‘exhibitions’ around Diwali and other high ticket dates, when a host of talented women are invited to retail their wares under the auspices of a banner.
The mother of all these, of course, was the IMC Ladies Wing exhibition that set the ball rolling with its wonderfully curated exhibitions at the World Trade Center and the President Hotel almost 10 years ago to which women would flock. Somewhere down the line, the redoubtable Sharmilla Khanna and Mana Shetty took a bit of their glory with their popular (and more blingy some say) Araish shows at Blue Sea. A few years down the line we are told the IMC Ladies Wing itself had splintered in to the original body and a new younger chapter Design One, headed by a clique of formidably stylish ladies.
So now, Mumbai women have not one but three separate bazaars to go to for their beads, bags, bangles and baubles. And where they choose to spend their monies is an indication of their loyalty. Whew!