Journey of a thousand miles

"I knew 'Queen' is a special film, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it would get me an award from the government of the country." It was our friend the actress Kangana Ranaut, sharing her delight at winning her industry's most coveted award this year, the National Award for best actress, for her work in 'Queen'.

"For a mountain girl from a remote Himalayan valley, it's a journey of a thousand miles. I am overwhelmed," said the two times National Awards winner (she'd won it for Best Supporting actress in 2008 for 'Fashion'). And what will be her day like, we enquired of the actress whose inscrutable persona of childlike naivete, imbued with a old-world melancholia, have made her something of an enigma in a cookie cutter industry.

Kangana Ranaut
Kangana Ranaut

"I am rehearsing for the climax song for 'Tanu Weds Manu Returns'," she said. And because we've recently begun to add all communique between us, with a polite 'ji,' a tiny nod at the ubiquity of Bollywood's favourite pronoun, we said: "Thanks ji. Have a nice day ji," and really meant it.

Epic fashion moment
Feast your eyes on this picture fashionistas across the land, because as our fave bearded TV anchor says, "It doesn't get bigger than this."

Top designers like Wendell Rodricks, Tarun Tahiliani, Raghavendra Rathore, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Ritu Kumar, JJ Valaya, Ashish Soni, Rahul Misra, David Abraham, Rakesh Thakore, Rajesh Pratap Singh and Rohit Bal participated in ‘Crafts of India’
Top designers like Wendell Rodricks, Tarun Tahiliani, Raghavendra Rathore, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Ritu Kumar, JJ Valaya, Ashish Soni, Rahul Misra, David Abraham, Rakesh Thakore, Rajesh Pratap Singh and Rohit Bal participated in 'Crafts of India'

Twenty-five of the country's top designers came together for the 25th edition of the India Fashion Week (known as Amazon India Fashion Week or AIFW), to showcase their creativity for the most opulent grand finale themed 'Crafts of India'.

A spokesperson for the event said, "The show was a visual delight and the couturiers put together a resplendent creative expression of the luxuriant Indian heritage of crafts and weaves."

And for the un-initiated, this epic moment in fashion history features such larger than life personalities as Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Ritu Kumar, JJ Valaya, Ashish Soni, Rahul Misra, David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore, Rajesh Pratap Singh and the inimitable Rohit Bal.

How did such big names manage to keep their legendary egos at bay at the finale, we asked one of the big names involved. "Very well. And following on the heels of the Anamika Khanna finale at LFW recently, which saw the coming together of designers like Tarun Tahiliani and Rohit Bal to help steady the show after its MNS-induced last minute hiccup, it speaks of a new maturity that can only speak well for the fashion industry."

So does that mean with this new found love-fest we should dismiss the recent carping over ownership claims to launching LFW as a small storm in a C-Cup?

Movies for smartphones
"Audiences have moved on. They wont pay 400 bucks anymore, neither 300 bucks for popcorn," says Bolly actor producer Vivek Vaswani (Patthar ke Phool and Raju ban Gaya Gentleman) aka the man who gave SRK a roof over his head when he first came to Mumbai.

(From left) Sunita Gowariker, Ashutosh Gowariker and Vivek Vaswani
(From left) Sunita Gowariker, Ashutosh Gowariker and Vivek Vaswani

Vaswani, a commerce graduate, has been a long time advocate of sensible economics prevailing in the industry. This means, of course, that stars quote prices that are not stratospheric so films cost less to produce. "Inox which normally prices its tickets at 300+ has now priced Tuesday tickets at 160 across the board. I checked the occupancy on two separate days for NH10.

The day it was a 160 ticket it was sold out!" said Vaswani adding, "economics will have to rule. The vast majority of the Indian middle class cannot and will not afford untenable ticket prices anymore. And if things continue in this way, movies will become the domain of the smartphone."

Doctorji and Computerji
And word comes in that this top-flight city hospital, which got off to a glittering start with a high profile launch recently, is in its beta mode with full-scale operations yet to begin. "As it has proclaimed its intention to be a paperless medical institute from the word go, right now all its staff including its doctors are being given training in using computers efficiently and correctly," says a source.

The stirring
For decades, he presided over the kitchens of the Taj as the ultimate authority and last word and so today, when Hemant Oberoi retires after four decades with the group, with a huge send off at the Ballroom, for many it will be the end of an era.

Chef Hemant Oberoi
Chef Hemant Oberoi

Interestingly though, Oberoi will be around for another year with the hotel chain in a corporate role supervising the launch of the Taj's newest restaurant The Peruvian that will first open in Dubai and then in Mumbai. Interesting, because a few months ago when we'd written about this new development and the imminent closure of The Zodiac Grill there were a few individuals who'd dismissed the news, putting it down to idle speculation!

Meanwhile, the airport property of the GVK Taj is also close to completion and we hear a Golden Dragon will open there. As for his successor, Chef Amit who has worked under Hemant is supposed to step up and take on a bigger role at the Taj.

Amidst all of this, we hear that the recent changes at India's leading hotel chain also include the departure of the affable Veer Vijay Singh who has reached his retirement age. "There was a board meeting held yesterday, and many big names were gently retired," says an insider.

For the record, the past month has seen the departure of Deepa Harris, Abhijit Mukherjee, Jyoti Narang, Hemant Oberoi and Veer Vijay Singh. "even during the ascension of Ratan Tata (in pic) and the exit of Ajit Kerkar, the hotel chain hadn't witnessed such a shake up," said the insider.

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