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Lavender for the red carpet

“The lavender gown has an organza ruffled bodice, detailed with a textured, Swarovski-encrusted belt, and high-waisted trailing fish tail crepe silk skirt,” says Saudamini Mattu about the striking ensemble created by the label Jani Khosla for Deepika Padukone.

“Jani Khosla is the international red carpet label from the House of Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, designed and produced in India for a global audience,” says Mattu, whose youthful energy and vision has seen one of India’s leading design labels grow in many directions, ever since she came on board as CEO. “Exactly five years ago to the day,” as she says. What are the various labels and lines that Abu Jani, Sandeep Khosla own currently?

Saudamini Mattu with Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla
Saudamini Mattu with Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla

“Well, at the very top is Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, the decades-old label which produces bespoke high-end Indian luxury wear,” she informs. “Then there’s ‘Asal,’ their diffusion line, where traditional crafts and textiles are used but for a more affordable line — starting at Rs 18K and going up to Rs 2 lakh,” she says, not hearing our sharp intake of breath at her last sentence.

Deepika in the outfit
Deepika in the outfit

“Then there’s Jani Khosla, which we launched last year, currently creating a storm in LA and London, by becoming de rigueur for stars like Beyonce, Gwen Stefani, Kesha and Carrie Underwood, which we will soon retail in Mumbai. And lastly, there’s the recently launched ‘Fantastique’, where the designers are nurturing younger, edgier contemporary designers.

And does she agree that there’s been a renaissance for the duo, in well, the last five years? “I see my job as running the business and allowing the two to be free to do what they do best — dream, design, visualise and create their masterpieces,” she says.

The Poorna pinnacle
“I made ‘Poorna’ because it is the ultimate real life tale of empowerment — a poor, Adivasi girl from the hot flatlands of Telangana at 13, becomes the youngest girl in history to summit Mount Everest in 2014,” says actor, director, screenwriter and social activist, Rahul Bose, who devotes an equal amount of his time to philanthropy and empowering the disfranchised as he does on movies.

On location in the village at Telangana, and the real hut and compound where the actual Poorna lived, actress Aditi Inamdar and director Rahul Bose
On location in the village at Telangana, and the real hut and compound where the actual Poorna lived, actress Aditi Inamdar and director Rahul Bose  

“This is a big, heartwarming mainstream film. We see Poorna’s unbelievable journey from her hut in Pakala village to the top of Everest,” he says. As for when it will hit the theatres, Bose says, “Right now we’re getting feedback from focus groups — all I can honestly say is it’s a fantastic feeling!”

Making a song and dance of it
Former Solicitor General of India and ace legal eagle, Harish Salve, one of the country’s leading lawyers, counts amongst his clients and friends, the very top echelons of Indian society; from Mukesh Ambani to Ratan Tata, to Kumarmanglam Birla — the best and the brightest of India have sought his counsel over the years.

Harish Salve and Mukesh Ambani
Harish Salve and Mukesh Ambani

No surprises then that when the erudite Delhi-based Supreme Court lawyer, who has recently bought a home in London, decided to bring in his 60th birthday last month in Gleneagles, Scotland, a host of friends including leading industrialists, politicians and socialites flew down from across the world.

“Mukesh flew down in his private jet, of course,” says a source, adding, “I spotted Sunil Munjal and Raj Salgaocar and what looked liked Tikka Shatrujit Singh.” And the best part? “The best part was that Salve, a keen musician who plays the piano, and is known to croon Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin numbers, allowed himself to be persuaded by his friends to belt out a few songs.”

Talking through his hat?
The Shekhar Gupta discussion with Ruchir Sharma of Morgan Stanley, and banker Uday Kotak held on Saturday evening at a SoBo restaurant and attended by the likes of Milind Deora, Sunil Alagh, a be-hatted Nisha JamVwal, Ashok Advani and Suketu Shah, amongst others, did not lack its moments of mirth.

Sunil Alagh, Milind Deora and Ruchir Sharma
Sunil Alagh, Milind Deora and Ruchir Sharma

The discussion predicated on Sharma’s latest book, The Rise and Fall of Nations: Forces of Change in a Post-Crisis World, touched on issues such as the 10 rules to predict/forecast whether a country is going to rise or fall, the impact of Brexit and the end of globalisation and BRICS, was well underway when responding to a point made by one of the panelists, about leaders executing most of their biggest (and best) reforms in their first terms — a trend held out by facts.

Alagh, who is fast becoming one of PM Narendra Modi’s most ardent supporters, stood up to counter. “In fact during Modi’s first term of chief ministership in Gujarat, he was known to deliberately abstain from doing anything major,” said the silver-haired former CEO and MD of Britannia. “He was waiting and watching to learn the system so he would know where to begin the changes.”

Apparently, this gratuitous praise passed without comment from the panel, but gave rise to not only a pointed look from Deora who sat a few seats away, but a few sniggers from the back of the room about “talking through his hat as usual.”

That winning streak
“It was so heartwarming to see the support and encouragement I received from clients, well wishers and friends across the world when I was nominated,” says pioneering jewellery designer Poonam Soni.

Poonam Soni receives the award
Poonam Soni receives the award

“There were Facebook posts being shared daily, tagging me and requesting friends to vote, which continued for weeks. I felt I had already won!” she says about bagging the title for ‘most innovative Indian jewellery designer’ at an awards ceremony held over the weekend.

“What’s best of all is that I had all my friends with me, cheering me on,” she says. The pouring rain did not deter Sabira Merchant, Abha Singh, Pooja Batra, Shweta Shetty, Vaishali Bannerji and Pooja Choudhary from being there
for me.”

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