Is NaMo really going left? Apparently the talk these days in Mumbai's biz circles, is how Prime Minister Narendra Modi has begun displaying signs of a newfound socialistic ethic. We'd caught this drift when we overheard a few crony capitalists grumbling about the lack of attention he was paying them, and how difficult it was for them, to get appointments with 'the great man.' “Request him for a meeting and his office will politely remind you that he's very accessible for a discussion on what he calls 'nation building,'” said one of them, adding, “But if it's to discuss one's business matters — he's not interested.”
“The first thing he asks biz men is 'are you interested in dedicating 5 years of your life to building the nation?'” said another incredulously.
“No coincidence that Raghuram Rajan's diatribe was against conspicuous consumers amongst key defaulters in Davos,” said a third.
“Harrumph! Wait till the next elections come around and then we'll show him how much 'nation building' we can do,” said a fourth...
And so it goes and so it goes...
Friday is going to see a congregation of the famous and powerful as the UAE Ambassador H E DR Ahmed AR Albanna will host a reception in honour of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who will be on a visit to India. To be held at the Taj Mahal Palace & Towers, Apollo Bunder, it’s a big ticket event that will see the coming together of some of our best and brightest. As they say, it doesn’t get bigger than this.
Ever since the news that Priyanka Chopra was going to present an Oscar this year was announced, there has been a groundswell of emotion building up for the late model and actress Persis Khambatta, who had been called upon to do the honours way back in the early eighties, after her Hollywood outing in Star Trek. What was so utterly charming about the statuesque Parsi dikri, was that besides looking drop dead glamorous in a futuristic black gown, she'd made the announcements in unmistakable Mumbai patios — none of that faux American whirring and slurring fake accent for this true blue Mumbaikar. Will Piggy Chops conduct herself with as much elan? And more importantly, will she spend a nano-second acknowledging her Indian predecessor, when the world's spotlight is on her? Watch this space.
Priyanka Chopra. PICS/AFP
VJM at the races
Will he, won't he, was the thought on many a person's mind, during the recent wedding in international spirits company head honcho Anand Kripalu's family in Jodhpur over the weekend. The 'him' in question, was none other than the flamboyant Vijay Mallya, whose company was recently allegedly rescued by the international company. “Would he make an appearance to cement ties with his powerful stake holders?” was the refrain. But as any one in Mumbai circles will tell you, VJM was alternatively occupied. As title sponsor of the Indian Derby this Sunday the horse owning, incorrigible high roller, was spotted at the races 'riding into the track in a sky blue blazer in a royal horse carriage, accompanied by riders with flags, and trumpets heralding him to the winning podium for the prize giving, in front of a 25,000 strong crowd that included a dapper Saif Ali Khan with wife Kareena Kapoor, guests of the Rattonsey family, according to a source.
Incidentally the racecourse is one place where the beleaguered spirits tycoon holds thrall. “We asked him for R5 crores to sponsor the Derby— but he said — what the hell take 6!” alleges the source.
Vivek Jain, Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan at the derby
Out of the box thinking
He's a visionary and a business leader by any standards, but even so, the choice of former UIDAI Chairman and technocrat, Nandan Nilekani, one of the founders of Infosys, to be chief guest at a pink newspaper's forthcoming awards ceremony, has raised eyebrows. “Most media organisations run after politicians in power,” said a hack commenting on the choice. “The FinMin, Commerce Ministers, Governor of the RBI — that kind of person. To choose Nilekani is really an out of the box choice, given that he was part of the Congress, and known to be a radical thinker,” he said. “Wonder what he will say on the podium to the assembled fat cats that evening?”
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The biggest and the fattest
The bigger they're getting the scarier they appear. Just when you thought the big fat Indian wedding couldn't get any bigger or splashier, word comes in of this imminent wedding of the decade of the heir to a business empire, to be celebrated later this year in a European dream spot. Apparently, the arrangements are so elaborate, that the father of the bride, who we hear had initially gallantly offered to take care of the entire wedding costs, has now begun ruing the day. “After he discovered the extent of the preparations, he offered to meet the cost halfway, but even that appears to be way more than he can imagine,” said an insider. “We had heard that it was going to be spectacular by any standards — but now the mind really boggles!”
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