Love and laughter

Malavika SangghviIn a season of big fat Indian weddings, this by far is the biggest. Even when we attended the Dom Perignon launch in Jodhpur last month, plans were already being finalised for the Shaana Levy–Uraaz Bahl wedding celebrations that take place from Feb 28-March 3 at the Umaid Bhavan Palace.

A strikingly handsome couple, Kenyan born Shaana, the daughter of a Swiss Hungarian Jew father and Gujarati mother (a Gujew?) who has been raised in Zurich, London and New York and Mumbai-based entrepreneur Uraaz Bahl, nephew to Parmeshwar and Adi Godrej (his late mother Ishwar was Parmesh’s sister) have chronicled their romance and courtship on an elegantly produced website.

Parmeshwar Godrej
Parmeshwar Godrej

“They say laughter is the universal language and that is all that we ask of you during our celebrations!” they posted. And celebrations began last night itself with doting aunt Parmesh hosting the mother of all parties in Mumbai with of course, the mandatory Hollywood star, cases of Dom Perignon and Egyptian belly dancer!

Shaana Levy and Uraaz Bahl
Shaana Levy and Uraaz Bahl

Bina’s big birthday
A host of friends from India, Turkey, and Thailand have been overheard making plans to fly to Goa this weekend. And at the centre of the social storm is Bina Ramani whose big birthday celebrations will be kicked off this Friday with much mirth and customary celebrations at her Goa home.

Bina Ramani with George
Bina Ramani with George

“Originally I had wanted to escape to my brother’s resort in Phuket. But then close friends insisted I host something in Goa, and since I wanted to be in Delhi around my birthday on March 10, I decided to first throw a party in Goa to celebrate,” she says. Any thoughts and wisdoms to share we asked the lady whose life story includes jet setting parties at New York’s Studio 54, controversial Godmen like Chandrasawmi and a stint in Tihar jail.

“Many,” she confided. “And since I’m close to finishing my autobiography this month it’s all been cathartic.” But the introspection will not interfere with the festivities. “I’d always wanted to be a singer,” she said. “And never realised that dream. So, my husband George has gifted me a fabulous Karaoke music system and this Friday I’m going to take to the mike and sing my heart out.” Nice!

Fry in Mumbai
Will anyone who knows what Stephen Fry, English actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter, film director and England’s most entertaining man, is doing in Mumbai, please enlighten us? So far, it seems to be a deep research into Mumbai’s cafe culture if his tweets are anything to go by.

Stephen Fry

“A lot of Indian restaurants here in India I can’t help noticing. The black dhal (sic) is peculiarly glorious,” he wrote in one. And “How strange. Gone into charming restaurant here & two tables of women are lunching & playing bingo at the same time,” in another. It’s called a kitty party Stephen, call us and we’ll enlighten you.

Gorilla on the ramp
“So excited to be shooting a gorilla today”. How often do you see that as a status update? But for friends of London-based photographer Ram Shergill it was just another day.

The gorilla used in Ram Shergill's
The gorilla used in Ram Shergill’s

The flamboyant London-based photographer who we saw at the launch of the Abu Sandeep book (India Magnifique) much of which he shot was talking about his upcoming shoot with a live gorilla for a fashion project with celebrated designer Ziad Ghanem described as a ‘cult couturier’ who ‘merges modern silhouettes with haute couture craftsmanship.’

Shoot for designer Ziad Ghanem
Shoot for designer Ziad Ghanem

As for the simian shoot, Shergill is thrilled. “I have to say I had the most wonderful time with the gorilla, it gave me a true insight into the plight of these wonderful creatures.... I left with a tear in my eye,” he said, adding, “I have dreamed about this moment all my life.” Incidentally, an ape as a model is only par for the course. Ziad’s model are selected for their unique attributes and personalities and arrive in a multitude of shapes and sizes, says his official website.

Social mountaineering
It’s not easy being a millionaire. Witness the sorry state of a young businessman, related to an NRI global leader whose marriage into an established Marwari family is a tad straining at the seams. “Thing is, though the boy is related to a big name in the community, he really doesn’t have much to do with the family billions. And so, his wife is making his life hell by her rampant social mountaineering and status shopping.”¬†At the centre of it all is the membership of a prestigious business club where the lady does her social muscle –flexing. “In fact, most of the new members of this group use it only for their social climbing agenda,” said an insider. “So different from its past dignified and serious intent.” Tch Tch. All that glitters isn’t gold.

Visual chronicler
Indian graphic novelist Sarnath Banerjee called her a “visual chronicler of the ordinary, the mundane and the mysterious.” And that seems to be as good a description as any for photographer, screenwriter, author and filmmaker Sooni Taraporewala.

Sooni Taraporewala and one of the photos from her exhibition
Sooni Taraporewala and one of the photos from her exhibition

Her exhibition Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India, which first debuted at her alma mater Harvard earlier this year, is about to open in early March at the Chemould Prescott and fans and friends are already gearing up for a visual treat.

Sarnath Banerjee

“Hundred and eight photos from 1977 to 2013 in black & white and colour of Parsis in homes and on the streets of Bombay/Mumbai and Gujarat,” says the soft spoken artist.

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