A mellowing of Modi?
Could the high-flying architect of the IPL and financial exile in London, Lalit Modi, be turning his attention to philanthropy and medical research?
Lalit and Minal Modi with family
Could the high-flying architect of the IPL and financial exile in London, Lalit Modi, be turning his attention to philanthropy and medical research? Going by his social media posts during and following PM Narendra Modi's visit to Portugal's Champalimaud Foundation, the ground breaking private biomedical research foundation created to undertake research in the fields of neuroscience and oncology, it would seem so. Not only has he been posting up close and personal images and video clips which indicate what an insider he is at the institution, but most of his attention appears to be focused on advocating and promoting its goals. His interest is not theoretical. A couple of years ago it is Champalimaud which was said to have famously cured Lalit Modi's beloved wife Minal of her cancer, prompting him to confirm on national TV to Rajdeep Sardesai, "This cancer treatment is revolutionary. If successful, you can get up from your bed and walk out and go and have dinner... Yes, we were three days later in Ibiza celebrating..."
Insiders swear by Modi's commitment and sincerity in fighting his wife's ailment. A few years ago while they resided in India, they say that an international airline had even declared Modi to be its most valued customer for the amount of air miles he'd clocked in while flying out of India every weekend to visit her on the west coast of America where she was seeking treatment at that time. That he now feels a huge indebtedness to the institution that eventually cured her is obvious. As is the fact that with his drive and enterprise supporting it, the progressive and visionary medical institution might just have met its game changer.
One of Gautam Benegal’s works
Under his watch
We have often quoted author, painter and animator Gautam Benegal's bon mots on these pages, but recently, we have been struck by the lanky gent's visual offerings - not only his excellent series on Mumbai's iconic cafes, and his caustic political cartoons A1 Chicken Sope, but his well produced vlogs explaining his paintings. These feature the artist laconically talking about the work at hand.
One particular that caught our fancy was the from the series landmarks of Mumbai called 'Under his watch' on the unique architecture of the VT station (now CST), a prime example of Gothic Revival architecture with its striking gargoyles which also double up as artful water spouts. "In the monsoon you can see water coming out of their mouths," he says of the winged and fierce creatures, before the camera cuts to his striking pencil drawing of one of its familiar vignettes on its ceiling. What is even more striking is that the people whom Benegal sketches under it look even more fierce.
(Left) Gerson da Cunha and (far right) Alyque Padamsee with members of the Padamsee family, and friends
All in the family
By any reckoning, the Padamsees are an extraordinary clan. From family patriarch Alyque, known as the Brandmaster of Indian advertising, who had made Lintas the country's leading advertising agency during his 14-year tenure, even as he produced some of the country's biggest theatrical productions like Jesus Christ Superstar, Tughlaq, and Evita, to the women he was linked to - wife Pearl, partner Dolly Thakore, and wife Sharon, each a success in her own right in the world of media and theatre; to the GenNext progeny, theatre professionals Raell Padamsee, Quasar Thakore, and actress Shahzan, it is a colourful and talented lot. Not many know that the Padamsees are also related to that other celebrated media clan, the Sayanis, through marriage. And this week saw the coming together of some members of the tribe, when Alyque hosted a table which included former partner Dolly with their son Quasar, daughter Raell, niece Ayesha Sayani, and old friend from his Lintas and theatre days Gerson da Cunha. And though we don't know what was served going by the happy smiles all round, there must have been a generous helping of theatre lore.
The effects of politics
For anyone seeking evidence that a life in politics dehumanises an individual, they have only to watch a recent interview of the four-time serving, and vastly successful CM of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik. There was a time when this cherubic and sophisticated gent was the life of every party in Lutyen's Delhi until two decades ago, when he assumed his father, Biju Patnaik's mantle, after the latter's death in 1997. In those days Naveen was known fondly by his pet name Papu, and it was at his home that we had met actress Koo Stark, and the late Mark Shand and Maharani Gayatri Devi. A celebrated aesthete and raconteur, Papu was a great host.
Koo Stark. Pics/AFP
He had authored a book with Jacqueline Kennedy, and been entertained by the world's most celebrated hostesses. Then overnight he'd put all of it behind him and moved to Bhubaneshwar where he'd thrown himself into the responsibilities of his new position. In the interview, one of the rare ones that he'd granted, his answers were sparse, almost monosyllabic, and crafted to defer or deter further enquiry. Was there anything at all he missed of his earlier life in Delhi as the darling of the Lutyen's luvvies? "No," he responded. "My work here gives me satisfaction."
And to know just what distance he'd put between himself and his background, Patnaik's response to the question of where he stood on the burning issue of the beef ban was an unexpected and terse, "People must respect the feelings of others and go by what the majority feels…"
Holy Moly Cow!
The middle-aged, much married bon vivant, who has lived a syberite existence since his teens, has seemingly washed his hands of a family member going through difficult times. The high-flying gent who lives outside the country for most of the year, has the full approval of his father, a rich industrialist, who dotes on him. And the situation seems to have got so grim that the family member has been cut off from all rights to the family inheritance. "The joke is that the old man's son hasn't worked a day in his life, and is still given pocket money to not show up at office. Instead of disapproving his lavish lifestyle, the father seems to encourage his constant appearances on page three. We just can't understand it!" says an aggrieved insider. Daddy's little darling?
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