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Men for women

And word comes in of all the men who will be walking the ramp on April 1, for the show Men for Mijwan by Manish Malhotra. “We have confirmations from Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Farhan Akhtar, Ranbir Kapoor, Siddharth Malhotra,” says Shabana Azmi.


Akshay Kumar, Farhan Akhtar, Siddharth Malhotra, Ranbir Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan

“They will be showcasing the chikankari of our Mijwan girls,” says the actress, adding, “What is unique about this event is that iconic male stars from different generations will be walking the ramp for the empowerment of women in rural India,” said the daughter of the legendary poet Kaifi Azmi, who had set up the Mijwan Welfare Society to empower the women of his village. “When we started we had one embroidery centre in Mijwan. Today, we have 10 across UP. The girls and women now have a livelihood because of which their status within the family has changed. They are saying no to marriage before the age of 18, have opened bank accounts in their names and they are being looked upon as assets not liabilities,” said Azmi. Nice! 

Who’s the most stylish?
“As children we used to visit the homes of the chairman and managing director of the State Bank Of India, and I thought their old colonial bungalows were absolutely simple and stately,” said Kavita Singh whose eponymous interior store in Bandra opened with much fanfare last week. 


Suzanne Khan, Gauri Khan, Twinkle Khanna, Kavita Singh, Parmeshwar Godrej, and Roohi Jaikishan

We had called the design maven to ask her who, according to her, were the most influential and stylish women in Mumbai in the earlier generation. Her answer did not surprise us. “It was definitely the late Sunita Pitamber, she was very stylish in everything she did and had exquisite taste. Also Indra Aswani, both of them personified elegance,” she said about two of SoBo’s most admired hostesses, both who lived and entertained in a quieter era before the advent of lifestyle tabloids and paparazzi. But even though there is a consensus on who inherited their mantle (Parmeshwar Godrej and Singh herself) the jury’s still out on whom the au courant inheritors of the title are.

Who are the city’s most stylish hostesses today? God knows we’ve spent many an hour mulling over the question. And though the Bollywood brood of Twinkle, Gauri and Suzanne, star wives who have seized the lifestyle and interiors corner give them serious competition, the two women who show every sign of inheriting Pitamber and Aswani’s title are art collector Poonam Bhagat and cheese and wine guru Roohi Jaikishan. A city as large as Mumbai, and only two hostesses with the mostest?

More desperately needed, we think.

A gentleman and a writer
We caught up with old friend and our erstwhile neighbour the dishy writer Aatish Taseer, as he was on his way to Varanasi where he plans to be based over the next five weeks reporting about the elections for a website. “There’s a huge Modi wave in Varanasi,” said the sensitive writer whose next book The Way Things Were will be published by Pan Picador at the end of the year. 


Aatish Taseer

Said to be a brilliantly written magnum opus, the book examines the relationship between past and present and culture and history in the Capital. “The manuscript has been submitted and it’s in the editing stage,” said Taseer, who we last saw hosting Chivas Studio–Gentleman’s Code on TV.
“It was in response to all the stuff that’s been happening recently between the genders” said Taseer. Will there be more TV outings or writing, we asked the author. “Hopefully, we will have a second season,” he said. “But for now it’s Varanasi and the elections!”

Surgeries gone wrong
He’s been lying for almost two months critically ill and on a ventilator in a SoBo hospital, but friends and family of this prominent builder do not want to talk about it. “Every one knows that he had to be hospitalised because his bariatric surgery went wrong,” said our source. “Like a lot of people in the city, he had it done by the supposedly top surgeon in the business — a high-profile gentleman once married to a beauty queen and model — but like a lot of this man’s patients — he too had to face dire consequences. Another builder in his 50s in fact had died because of the surgery,” said our source.

But when we checked with a friend who’d had the same surgery done by the same surgeon we got a different POV. “Yes, what you’ve heard about both builders is true, but then I do not think the surgeon or the surgery were to blame,” said our friend. “Both these men were known to be huge eaters and what’s more, drank and smoked way too much for their own good. In fact, in the case of the poor guy who died, it was said that he consumed two tins of pan masala, smoked 40 cigarettes a day and drank half a bottle of whiskey,” said our friend. “With habits like that he would have died in any case surgery or not”. How is he doing, we enquired. “Look I lost almost 55 kgs,” said our friend, “But the surgery is no magic wand, it reduces your stomach by 80 per cent but I still get hungry every two hours, so I pick low cal and healthy foods myself. As far as I am concerned I feel the surgery has given me a new lease of life. The two cases you mention brought their problems on themselves-every one knows what unhealthy lifestyles city builders have”, said our friend.

Stand out exhibition
This weekend a delicious slice of the city’s culture vultures will be found at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum, which is hosting The Florentine Renaissance, an exhibition of masterpieces from Florence which endeavours ‘to explore the thematic parallel between the artistic climate and civic values that shaped the Florentine Renaissance and the extraordinary Indian patronage and entrepreneurship that created Mumbai.’ 


Minal and Niraj Bajaj

On display will be the full-scale lost-wax bronze replica of the masterpiece Gates of Paradise (1425-52) by Lorenzo Ghiberti on display in India for the first time, along with a collection of high-quality historical and contemporary photographs and replicas of five restored panels from the North Door of the Florence Baptistery. “It’s going to be amazing, come early and stay late!” said our friend Niraj Bajaj whose family trust runs the Museum, fast becoming one of the country’s premiere cultural spaces. We plan to, we replied. After all, the grand finale to the evening will feature a performance of the renowned musician, Ustad Nishat Khan’s especially composed ensemble of Gregorian chants to the accompaniment of Indian classical music! 

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