>> We met her in Paris a few months ago at the launch of the FENDI store, where she and a host of other international celebrities had been roped in to grace the occasion. Accompanied by a solemn and besuited young boy whom she introduced to us as her son, and coiffed and dressed in demure designer threads, this Sharon Stone was quite different from the woman in the notorious Basic Instinct flashing scene, which had finally given people reason to use the pause buttons on their DVD remote controls!
And so, as India gears up to greet the star, who is coming to host the AMFAR fundraiser for AIDS awareness, undoubtedly, she will be the cynosure of all eyes and the centre of much attention. But two questions remain: will the alleged sparks that once flew between her and Tikka Shatrujit Singh, chief representative in Asia for French multinational LVMH, and a member of the Kapurthala royal clan, be rekindled? And more pertinently: will Mumbai get to witness a Basic Instinct moment? Not likely for either, is what we say.
>> And now that today marks the start of the official Sachin love fest, meet the lovely Vina Panchal, an entrepreneur from Bristol who has flown down specially for today’s match. “She is a die- hard fan of Sachin,” says our friend, the erstwhile TV entrepreneur and fellow Bristol resident Indrani Mukherjee.
And to prove her Sachin chops, Panchal brought out this luminous picture of herself and her hero. “It was taken at Lord’s a while ago,” she said excitedly. Let the craziness begin.
>> They say how you handle success is the true indicator of character, which is why we were so happy to talk to designer Anita Dongre, whose ubiquitous presence has made her something of an urban myth. We were calling to congratulate her on not only making the Fortune ‘50 Most Powerful Women in Business in India 2013’, but also for gracing its cover.
“Everyone’s been calling and congratulating me,” said Dongre, “But I’m still standing in my office, surrounded by bales of cloth, with pins in my hand,” she laughed. “My life hasn’t changed at all! I’m still doing what I love best — designing!” she explained, “And with my creations, I end up making millions of women (and now men too?) happy, and if that puts me on the list of 50 most powerful businesswomen, it surely is the icing on the cake!” Nice, is what we say, and so different from this other grande dame Delhi-based designer celebrated for her revival of Indian crafts, who was noticed recently at an intellectual summit, asking hapless strangers to pose for her camera, so that she could rip off their designs! Tcch tcch!
A woman of substance
>> And amidst all the Sachin fever and the Sharon Stone excitement, this week was also witness to a quieter but just as worthy celebration: the birthday of Gita Simoes, one of Mumbai’s most renowned graphic talents, and a woman of peerless grace and style. Widow to the late great Frank Simoes, Gita, a resident of SoBo, worked for decades at the Taj hotel and bequeathed it its peerless grace.
“Gita worked with me many years ago in Bensons, now OBM,” recalls her old friend Nari Hira, the legendary publisher of Magna. “I was a witness when she and Frank fell in love with each other. It was a union meant to happen. She is a warm and wonderful human being, a great artist, a great mother and a wonderful friend. On this occasion, I wish her all the best and many more years of happiness,” he said. Happy birthday week, Gita. Like fine wine, you just get better with the passing years…
When it rains...
>> And ever since his company was embroiled in the coal scam, one of India Inc’ s most prominent flagbearers, the statesmanlike Kumar Mangalam Birla has been in Delhi firefighting to reinstate his good name. The indictment in this scam means considerable demoralisation across the vast Aditya Birla group, especially for approximately 400 of its top employees, who were eagerly looking forward to their annual company offsite this year, to be held in — hold your breath — Atlanta, Georgia. “It’s been cancelled, and that’s added to the general air of gloom pervading,” says an insider. Oh dear, as they say, when it rains...
Salaam Mumbai: Diary Complications
My friend, Mumbai’s most celebrated hostess, was crying on my shoulder about — what else — her usual diary complications.
“Thursday, an ageing Hollywood star, Friday, a gala for a cricketing legend, Saturday, a conference on saving the planet, Sunday, a marathon for homeless kids, Monday, a fundraiser for AIDS, Tuesday, a premiere for a documentary on climate change…” she rattled off, a dazed look on her face.
Gosh, I said, that’s so impressive, I’m so envious!
“Oh nooo babes, don’t be,” she wailed. “I’m going crazy! And through this all, I have the world- famous, internationally celebrated Frank Gehry as my house guest…”
Now that’s truly awesome, I said, what’s the problem?
“The problem?? she said, her expensively Botoxed forehead threatening to wrinkle, a scientific miracle. “The problem is that I have absolutely no godamned idea whatsoever of what he does! My husband’s secretary is on leave…What on earth am I going to say to him? How will I introduce him to the guests at the party I’m hosting for him?”
Hey that’s no issue, I said wickedly to Mumbai’s most celebrated hostess. I can tell you what he does: Frank Gehry is the world’s most celebrated trance DJ! He’s a phenomenon in Ibiza.”
Hoo boy, I’d love to have been present during some of those conversations at her home when he arrived.
The things we do for larfs…