>> We think all the killjoys who grudge Kolkata, its day of joy and are raining on its parade, ought to take a leaf out of Lalit Modi’s book, and recognise how important celebrating its win is for the game and players. “The KKR win is just fantastic,” he said to us. “And much needed. Besides, celebrating through the city is something I would have done. It honours the players and allows the city to connect with its team. I did the same in 2007 when India won the world cup in SA. Though it was raining, I arranged a parade when the team arrived and more than 2 million people came out on to the streets to greet it.”
As for this diarist who spent five years in Kolkata — forgive us for our political incorrectness — but we loved watching its people erupt in spontaneous joy, loved Mamatadi’s exuberance and above all loved watching Shah Rukh dance in unbridled happiness.
No other city would have been as spontaneous as Kolkata. No other city wears its heart on its sleeve. And no other city deserved this win as much as the city of Joy.
India on the Riviera
>> More on Vijay Mallya’s F1 splash in Monaco. Word has it that the Indian flag flew high and bright last Thursday when Mallya hosted some of the world’s richest high rollers on his spectacular Indian Empress for a themed ‘India Night Party’ which kicked off the Formula One Season in the luxury capital.
Though most of the guests who’d attended were coping manfully with their jet lag and hangovers, we hear it was the place to be that night in Monaco.
“We felt proud to be Indian and proud to have some one host such a fabulous Indian Night,” said a guest. Incidentally, we hear Arjun Rampal and Mehr Jessia had also spent some time on the Empress, which is one of the largest private yachts in the world (311 feet 8 inches) and was previously owned by the Qatari Royal Family.
Gujarati on Shakespeare’s stage
>> “It was an out of this world experience to perform at The Globe. In fact, the response we got was even better than what we received in Mumbai!” said renowned actor Utkarsh Mazumdar speaking from London about the Gujarati rendition of Alls Well That Ends Well performed by the Mumbai-based theatre group Arpana at Shakespeare’s legendary theatre. “It was a hot summer day, yet the audience which consisted of 70 per cent Gujaratis and the rest foreigners found the whole experience very enchanting. They liked the play in its totality. The script, performance music costume and direction” he told us, “And it confirmed my belief that you respond to the play not through the brain but through the heart.”
The play, directed by Sunil Shanbagh, which opened at the Globe theatre on May 23 and 24 titled Sau Saaru Jenu Chevat Saaru, is the first Gujarati production to be staged at the legendary Globe as part of an international cultural festival organised ahead of the London Olympics.
“Perhaps the response of the Gujaratis in the audience helped the foreigners to relate to it even more — but it was a mind-blowing experience and a total celebration,” says Mazumdar.
Incidentally playing as Maro Piyo Gayo Rangoon the play that uses dance, music and scenic elements from Bhangwadi, a traditional 1860s style of Gujarati theatre had been a runaway success in Mumbai too.
The Prodigal Congressman
>> Amidst the high and mighty that had gathered to bring in Suhel Seth’s birthday celebrations, one man’s presence elicited more than a little notice. It was the recently scam-hit Abhishek Singhvi, smiling from ear to ear, looking well-rested and cheerful and being greeted by the other celebrity guests with “heartfelt jhappis, pappis and celebratory high-fives”, according to a witness.
Could this show of enthusiasm from his peer group of Alpha Males be for the fact that not only has he weathered the storm but managed to hold on to his wife (who we are told is glowing and looks like a million bucks?) “The male guests were gathered around him and were greeting him like a long lost hero,” we were told. We’d love to know how the women responded.
To London and back
>> For many years Odhisa CM Naveen (Pappu) Patnaik’s elegant drawing room in an understated bungalow on Delhi’s Prithviraj road was one of our favourite places to be and a home away from home. Surrounded by Patnaik’s collection of books and friends it was the place to go for sparkling conversations, a chance to meet some of the world’s most interesting people (like Koo Stark, Mick Jagger and Rajmata Gayatri Devi) and to hear Patnaik’s stories of his life as author (Jackie Kennedy had been his publisher) and guest of the world’s most stylish hostesses from New York to Paris. And then we left Delhi and soon after Naveen lost his father Odhisa’s legendary Biju Patnaik and his life changed irrevocably when he was made minister of the northeastern state. Gone were the days of international jet-setting and fine dining. And though his friends missed him and wondered how he would adjust to his new calling, Naveen rose to the occasion, and transformed remarkably in to an austere rigorous lifestyle of political leadership.
So it was particularly poignant that his first trip to London in 12 years had to be cut short yesterday due to political instability. Fortunately for him things were not as alarming as they were made out to be. His fellow party man Baijayant (Jay) Panda (equally urbane and charming) posted this. “Returned from Australia trip in the wee hours to flurry of messages of political instability in Odisha; woke this morning to jet lag and a host of TV cameras. Turns out the so-called revolt in BJD was vastly exaggerated.” We hope Patnaik gets another chance at London town.