Love is ... visiting India

Ali Macgraw
Ali Macgraw

What can one say about an actress who captured the spirit of her generation, who wore beads and braids, and loved The Beatles? Anyone familiar with the seventies will know how profoundly the film, Love Story, based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Erich Segal, had impacted a generation of youngsters. And how its actress, Ali McGraw, who essayed the role of the beautiful, but doomed Radcliffe undergrad Jennifer "Jenny" Cavalleri, became the idol of millions.

Now word comes in that McGraw, who has grown into a handsome gray-haired septuagenarian, and is an exponent of yoga, will be making her second visit to India at the end of the year, mainly to tour the country and delve into its spiritual wealth. The last time the actress had visited India, she had charmed Mumbai society at a dinner hosted in her honour by one of her Indian friends. This time, while there is talk of her fulfilling a long-held wish to visit Kashmir, Mumbai is said to be very much part of the star's plans.

Nice!

Sonam Kapoor and Samyukta Nair
Sonam Kapoor and Samyukta Nair

Birthdays galore
It has been a busy week of birthdays for many in Bollywood. It began last week with celebrations for the head of casting for Yash Raj Films' Shanoo Sharma's big day. Credited with discovering stars like Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, the day saw her being felicitated by the cream of the industry. Then Sunday night, it was the turn of her protege Kapoor, who wearing a T shirt emblazoned with the phrase 'underrated talent' (no comments), brought in his 32nd birthday by cutting four cakes at his home surrounded by close friends and family.

But missing at the celebrations was his cousin and fellow star Sonam Kapoor. The fashionista had picked the long weekend to fly down to Sri Lanka, where, along with sister Rhea, and a few of her close friends, she checked into Colombo's boutique Tintagel for extended birthday celebrations of BFF Samyukta, the lovely daughter of Dinesh and Madhu Nair of the Leela Hotel Group, and founder of sleepwear brand Dandelion.

"Dear Sammy… we are so blessed to have you in our lives… your moral compass surpasses that of many and you know that to me is the most important virtue. Your grace and positivity are infectious. We love you so much," posted Sonam on social media along with this photo of the two girls together.

Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson

Shining bright in Pune
"It was a tribute to Michael Jackson on his death anniversary that fell on June 25," said Ayesha Shroff, mother of Tiger Shroff, when we spoke last evening. "The event, held at a mall in Pune, was put together by a media group, and the organisers of his forthcoming film Munna Michael, and it was perfect, because Tiger is a die-hard fan of MJ, and in the film too, his character is one," said the proud mum. As was expected, the star's appearance created a sensation. "The event was scheduled to start at 6.30 pm, but by 5 pm itself, the mall was jam-packed."

Tiger Shroff
Tiger Shroff

Regardless of the heavy crush, we are informed that the young star, known for his impeccable manners, managed to spend time post his performance interacting with his legion of fans. However, the exercise had to be aborted. "He had to cut it short as it was threatening to turn into a stampede and he did not want any one to get hurt," says Ayesha. Did she accompany her cub on the outing? "No," she says. "The organisers were expecting heavy crowds and I did not want to add to their concerns."

Zorawar and Dildeep Kalra
Zorawar and Dildeep Kalra

A chip off the old block
Every time we meet Zorawar Kalra, son of celebrated Delhi-based food impresario Jiggs Kalra, we are always pleasantly astonished at how quickly he has become one of the most important restaurateurs in the country. "It's only been three-and-a-half years since we began", says Kalra, whose roster of brands today includes Masala Library, Farzi cafe, Pa Pa Ya and Kode amongst others.

The Gurgaon-based Kalra and his attractive wife Dildeep, have set up temporary residence in Mumbai (along with their own coffee machine, kids, and Zorawar's gaming consoles), at a mid-city hotel to oversee the launch phase of his newest restaurant/bar Kode in Lower Parel.

"We love Mumbai, and it's the best market to test all our brands before we take them elsewhere", says wife Dildeep when we meet at Kode on Sunday night, before informing us (quite nervously) about large scale expansion plans that will see restaurants pop up in places like Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Riyadh, London, New York and almost everywhere else. The hands-on Zorawar, meanwhile, has excitedly made his way behind Kode's sumptuous bar, to terrorise his barman and personally make a gin-based infusion cocktail.

A papa's boy at heart, Zorawar talks about his dream project, one that is taking up many of his waking hours: a restaurant called 'Jiggs' that he is working on as a homage to his father, a pioneering foodie, who had begun life as one of Khuswant Singh's blue-eyed boys at the Illustrated Weekly of India.

But until his plans come to fruition for this special project, Mumbai will see a lot more of the Kalras, as in the coming few months, they will soon open two more of their popular brands in Phoenix Mills and BKC.

A most unique business plan
This low profile North Indian businessman/ restaurateur, who owns over a dozen outlets across the country and boasts the highest sales figures amongst all, recently has been making extra efforts to stay under the radar. Says a source, "He hasn't paid his taxes for years, and there has been an inquiry on his business model, and readily available access to funds." But, the 'successful' restaurateur may just have got his business plan right and sail through any turbulence, as he has the backing of the powers that be.

"Each project of his has multiple unique individual investors. In other words, powerful and rich friends who do not care about the relatively low amount of money they put in to own a restaurant, thus giving them bragging rights and societal status. He, in turn, gets away with financial impropriety, as these very same people are in a position to keep his name coming up for scrutiny by the powers that be. What's more, all this means that he can outbid his competitors on most projects." Tch Tch.

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