>> One of the perks of a hack’s life, no let me restate that, the best perk of a hack’s life is that once in a while we get to speak to John Abraham. And, we can now rest in peace because we had that honour yesterday. We have been fans of the dimpled gorgeous hunk ever since we lunched with him for a story at the Crossroads mall many moons ago and witnessed him being mobbed by hysterical female fans. We had not seen any thing like it in all our years of star reporting and became instant groupies.
So recently, when we heard of John’s success as a producer with Vicky Donor, we asked him what it felt like, does the industry notorious for worshipping the rising sun treat him any better? John was candid, “Yes, they regard me with a lot more respect,” he admitted, and then added, “They ought to have earlier and didn’t but at least they are doing so now.”
With three new films on the anvil as producer and some happy developments in his personal life, we are happy for John. Success and recognition couldn’t have come to a better candidate. Incidentally, John who spoke about ‘media implementation’ and ‘market share’ with authority attributed all his understanding of the film business to his years as a white-collar employee of Percept.
When Sting sang for Mumbai’s aunties
>> After Aamir’s spectacular debut TV appearance last Sunday we found ourselves telling a bunch of teenagers about the bad old days when Chhaya Geet and What’s the Good Word were the only shows worth watching on DD-controlled TV. How good the young have it these days regarding entertainment and media, we said. You have more channels you can handle, the Internet, streaming music and visiting rock bands like Bryan Adams and the Rolling Stones performing here at the drop of a hat! How different it was in the days when the only few international bands this diarist recalls watching in Mumbai were the Osibisa, the Police and a few years later — the Boomtown Rats — before Geldoff acquired his halo and became a celebrated philanthropist. (We took him on his request to the Yacht Club, where various members of the Rats thumped on the ancient piano).
Incidentally, the most hilarious anecdote that we have heard about visiting rock bands is the one about the Police. Hacks invited to interview them were puzzled why this edgy New Wave English trio of Sting, Summers and Copeland had been flown down by the sweet old Parsi ladies of the Time and Talents Club of Mumbai. Surely, the old biddies, were not closet-rockers? The truth emerged when one of the confused Times and Talent ladies watching the antics of the punksters on stage at the Rang Bhavan said to a fellow hack: “But we thought we were inviting an English police band!”
Mumbai’s secret sex life
>> The redoubtable theatre actress activist and impresario Mahabanoo Kotwal who has entered the 10th year of her highly successful adaptation of the Vagina Monologues was recounting the play’s successful run in India. This diarist recalls being the first journalist to write about it when she attended a rehearsal at Kotwal’s residence. Since then, Kotwal and the Monologues have come a long way, regaling audiences with Eve Ensler’s path breaking words.
And so, as a pop sociological exercise we asked Kotwal, if city audiences have become more comfortable with female body parts. Kotwal says they have. “More audience members come up and talk after the play about sexual issues they have to deal with, like marital rape and female genital mutilation,” she said. Er, female genital mutilation in Mumbai? Yes, says Kotwal and even told us which community is practising this barbaric operation, but that’s for another time.
Suffice to say that Kotwal and her team have our salaams, salutes and Jai Hos!
Tea with Mamtadi
>> Here’s, what our resident wit Sylvester da Cunha had to say about Hillary’s Kolkata visit.
‘Tea with di
Hillary flew over for tea
With Bengal’s Miss Mamta B.
She was served misti doi
Which she sure did enjoy.
Then shopping along Chowringhee.’
— Sylvester da Cunha
>> For decades it was the most iconic structure at Worli Sea Face. Spread over almost an acre at Worli the sale of HUL’s Gulita, the building that resembled a luxury cruiser, attracted much attention when late last year, stories surfaced that the seven-storied building was going to be sold.
The front runners for this real estate jewel were a handful of the usual suspects that lazy rumours inevitably mention when it comes to splashy Mumbai properties: the Piramal, Adani, Sahara groups were all alleged to be interested, and some stories even held that Anil Ambani was a prospective buyer. However, when it finally got sold it was to the realty arm of Ajay Piramal’s business for above Rs 450 crore and the market buzzed that a skyscraper was going to be constructed after tearing the building down.
However, our jassoos in the realty universe says that in fact it is going to be the site of three swanky bungalows, one of which will be occupied by Piramal himself; of the other two, one is alleged to have been bought up by a Rolls-Royce travelling wealthy Marwari businessman whose name was involved in another high-profile property deal which fell through recently. And the third? Ah my friend, it could be anybody’s for the small sum of Rs 300 crores, if market rumours are to be believed. And apparently there’s a long queue of buyers! For the record, the ‘bungalow theory’ has not been confirmed yet.