>> The close friendship between the Birlas and Mahatma Gandhi is part of India’s folklore. Not only did the Father of the Nation receive immense support from the late GD Birla, one of the patriarchs of the Indian economy, but he also was martyred at the Birla House in New Delhi, a site that remains enshrined in public memory.
So it is only fitting that GD Birla’s descendants Rajshree and Kumar Mangalam Birla have gone out of their way to keep Gandhiji’s name alive with various creative initiatives. The latest in their attempt to make Gandhi accessible to today’s generations has been piggybacked on their hugely successful ‘Eternal Gandhi’ venture — a multi-media museum housed at Birla House in Delhi, which had been inaugurated by Dr Manmohan Singh in 2005.
Reported to have been seen by over a million people, the museum preserves the historical events of Gandhiji’s life and Gandhian thought in today’s vocabulary multi media. Onto this has been pegged the unique idea of selling at cost, Gandhi artifacts and souvenirs at airports across the country to popularise the legend.
Bharat Parekh, president, Eternal Gandhi and Special Projects for the Birla Group ho has worked painstakingly towards this project’s success says, “This entire thing was the thinking and a brainchild of Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman of the Aditya Birla Group.”
“Our children today know more about Bill Gates and Michael Jackson than Mahatma Gandhi. Hence, we ought to make them fully aware,” says Kumar Mangalam Birla to which his mother Rajshree Birla adds, “It is the duty of all of us to spread values of Gandhiji and let the legacy of trusteeship continue.”
Mumbai is alive
>> Is there anyone out there who can recall the time when Mumbai had been drenched under the Sound of Music tidal wave? It was in the ’60s and you didn’t have to be a convent school toddler in Bandra (though it helped) to be completely swept away.
Those were the days of the pocket songbook, and with these in hand we would trill The hills are alive and Do a deer till the cows came home. So, it is with sadness that we missed perhaps could be the last run of Raëll Padamsee’s musical The Sound of Music.
Knowing of its monster success, we had always put off seeing it for a rainy day. Not just for its music but because it starred the talented Dalip Tahil amongst others. Oh well, serves us right! So long, farewell…
Please sir can I have some more…?
>> Ok, so a few weeks ago we joined one of those fancy new home-catering services that promise balanced, hygienic and efficient tiffin service. We were told that initially we could only sign up for 10 meals. We paid in advance for them and were happy to have the first four but had to leave town for a few days after that.
We were advised by the service to put our meals on hold until further advice. Since then we have long returned and have been begging them to resume our dabba service. Calls to them appear to be rerouted to a call centre and though the staff is polite it is firm: no meals until the computer can be updated. And when will that be. “Not until day after,” we are informed. Meanwhile, for the past four days we have subsisted on fruit and nut. Though given its service the fancy service appears to be run by fruit that are plain nuts!
The art world gathers
>> It promises to be gathering of the art world’s most eminent personalities, when the first Jehangir Sabavala Memorial Lecture will be held on Thursday and will feature Richard Lannoy, the celebrated author of The Speaking Tree: a study of Indian culture and society (Oxford University Press.) Shirin Sabavala, the late artist’s graceful wife who we spoke to rued the fact that the venue was proving to be far too small for the expected crowd. A testimony to the admiration and love afforded one of India’s greatest contemporary artists.
>> Our former colleague Anil Sadarangani who by his own admission is ‘passionate about films and filmmaking,’ has invited us to the Indian premier of the Film festival on Manhattan Short on October 3 and the venue is Fun Republic, Andheri. “The Manhattan Short is a collection of the best shorts in the world. It takes place globally in over 250 cities simultaneously over a period of one week, this year from September 25 to October 7,” he says. “Nicholas Mason, the founding director of Manhattan Short got in touch with me in 2010, asking me if I would be interested in being a part of the festival, that is actually a global movement in short films,” he explains.
Nick’s belief is that films are made for the people, so the people must decide which film is a winner or works. Therefore, at the Manhattan Short, we do not have a jury but instead get the audience to vote the winners.
As the audience enters the cinema hall, we hand each person a voting card. These votes are then collated and sent to New York HQ, and from these votes from across the world, the winner of the Manhattan Short emerges. Interestingly, Nick himself is so passionate about films that when he held the festival for the first year in 1998 and his sponsors fell through he screened the shortlisted films at the back of a truck in a street in Manhattan! We like!