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In praise of unibrows

An interesting aside in the celebrity-packed evening at the Westin to launch Pradeep Chandra’s coffee table book on Aamir Khan was Dalip Tahil’s speech. Taking the mike, the actor mentioned how Aamir had done his first movie QSQT with him.

“He was a chubby boy with ‘one eyebrow’ (unibrow),” Tahil joked, adding that he deserves some credit for Aamir’s fame, since he is the one who suggested Aamir shave the hair between his eyebrows.

Aamir Khan in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak
Aamir Khan in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak

And as a fellow graduate of the unibrow syndrome, (yes, us too) we thoroughly approve. (Note to self: we are in excellent company. Not only Aamir, but Frida Kahlo too had a unibrow!)

Frida Kahlo Dalip Tahil
Frida Kahlo and Dalip Tahil

Cafe writers and other folk
We love urban folklore: MF Husain sitting at the Samovar, chatting away with college kids from the next-door elphinstone College; poet Arun Kolatkar at the Wayside Inn penning his great poems.

Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan

Javed Akhtar spending his early days in Mumbai at a flea-bitten rent-by-hour dive in Mahim and Amitabh Bachchan sleeping on a bench at Marine Drive when he’d just arrived in Mumbai to seek his acting fortunes! This is what makes a city great. When its citizens engage with its public spaces and bequeath them their personalities.

Gregory Roberts. Pic/AFP 
Gregory Roberts. Pic/AFP and Rahul Dacunha

Which is why our friend and colleague, ad-man, playwright and writer Rahul Dacunha’s (in picture) recent stint at the legendary Leopold Cafe while penning his first novel gladdened our hearts. Dacunha, who does many things and most of them well, is a serial cafe writer (like us).

Not for him the cold comfort of a private studio to write in. He once invited us to experience his perch at Le Pain Quotidian near the Gateway during the early phase of his novel. Now we notice he’s mainlining on Mumbai’s asli soul: The historic Leopold Cafe.

“Sitting in my fave Bombay dive - Leopold Cafe. Gregory Roberts tried to sexify it (never seen him here). Kasab tried to slaughter it (he won't ‘hang’ here again),” Said the wit, whose Amul hoardings never fail to delight. “DJ puts on ‘Born to be alive’, followed by Bruce’s ‘Born to run’. Writing finis. Memories begin,” Nice!

Arjun Rampal bereaved
Condolences are due to actor Arjun Rampal who lost his father last week and is currently in Delhi for the chautha. Rampal hails from a well-established and large Punjabi clan and those who attended the ceremony remarked how close knit (and handsome) his family is.

Arjun Rampal Rohit Bal
Arjun Rampal and Rohit Bal

Also noticed, was the fact that his old-time pal and mentor designer Rohit Bal had taken over all the arrangements to lighten his grieving friend’s load.

“From the beautiful white flower arrangements at the Gurudwara, to the music, to the seating of guests, every single detail had been organised by Bal for the solemn occasion on which Rampal read out a beautiful poem he’d written as a tribute to his dad,” says a source. Other designers present were Manav Gangwani, Surily Goel and Rohit Gandhi.

Congratulations all round
Hats in the air! Word has just come in that the forty-something Sanjay Hinduja, easily one of the one of the most eligible bachelors in the NRI community, has proposed to long time GF, the pretty Anu (sister of designer and socialite Nandi Mahtani) and has been accepted.

Sanjay Hinduja
Sanjay Hinduja. Pic/AFP

“They’ve been dating a long time, and we were all hoping it would end in marriage,” said an insider. Sanjay occupies a key position in the Hinduja Group, whose patriarch, his uncle Srichand, has been consistently ranked among the UK’s and Asia’s wealthiest people.

In May 2014, the family topped the Sunday Times Rich List with an estimated wealth of $20.04 billion! This will be his first marriage and his bride’s second. (She is a divorcee with kids). Here’s wishing the couple much happiness.

No need for advisors
His tome on his days as media advisor to Dr Manmohan Singh not only was a bestseller, but coming as it did just before the elections was seen to be a game changer that added to the Congress’ electoral reversals.

Dr Sanjaya Baru
Dr Sanjaya Baru

Which is why, when the BJP was voted into power many assumed that Dr Sanjaya Baru, renowned editor and policy wonk, who is the Director for Geo-economics and Strategy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies would once again be appointed media strategist at RCR, only this time for a new PM: namely Narendra Modi.

After all, it is well known that with Baru at his side during UPA 1, MMS had enjoyed his golden years with the media (‘Singh is King’ was his Baru’s spin on the India-US nuclear understanding). But obviously, both Baru and NaMo have other ideas.

When asked repeatedly at the Mumbai launch of ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’ if he was going to join NaMo’s team as his media advisor, if he assumed office, Baru had rubbished the idea with ‘I never do the same job twice’.

And this recent comment from him more or less seals the issue, “When a PM is a step ahead of think tanks, what use is policy advice?” he asked rhetorically on Modi’s performance in his first few weeks in office!

Does this mean an end to spin doctors and policy wonks? And how will they all be accommodated at the library of the India International Centre and its lunch and coffee rooms?

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