Today all eyes will be on Salman Khan's 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan', the first film to release after the verdict on his infamous hit-and-run case was announced and he was slapped with a five-year jail term.
Most Salman films elicit monumental interest, but it is safe to say that never has so much ridden on a film as does today, because, in many ways, how it is received will be the best way to gauge whether audiences still love the star, or if his indictment in the heinous crime has dented his image irreparably.
People, not Salman Khan, will be tested with today's release. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Khan, it seems, plays a rampant do-gooder in the film, the kind of man who saves children and rescues villages, a role that could have been written to rehabilitate him in the hearts and minds of people.
Will it work? Can a film obliterate his misdemeanours? Does the line between real and reel exist? In many ways, it's safe to say that it is not Salman Khan who will be on test today, as much as the Indian movie-going public and its value system.
It was a communique too delicious to miss. When award-winning film maker, the pint-sized dynamo Elahe Hiptoola, sent a best of luck message to her colleague and fellow Hyderabadi Kabir Khan, wishing him on his film's release today, it was not surprising that it would be surfeit with references to food.
Kabir Khan and Elahe Hiptoola
"All my duas Kabir, for another blockbuster! As they say from where we both come from, 'baki sob ku baingan mein mila do!'' she posted along with this picture of a succulent brinjal with its killer pun. "I found it on a poster outside a restaurant in Andheri," she said when we asked her about it.
The Bajrangi Baingan poster
"Bajrangi Baingan is a take-off on Baghaare baingan, obviously, which is a very popular dish of Hyderabadi cuisine," she said. "Interestingly, baingan is used in several colloquial phrases of the region. For example: Baingan ke bataan nakko kar, which is "don't talk nonsense"… And baingan mein milna is "to be ruined". So I'm praying that all competition gets decimated," said the attractive filmmaker.
A friend in need
And though he might still have his creditors (read Indian bankers) tearing out their hair and number-crunching into the wee hours of the night over unsecured loans, one man who cannot stop smiling over Vijay Mallya's rectitude, and promptness according to a source, is none other than fellow bon vivant Cyrus Poonawalla, who this week is said to have recovered a tidy sum that he was owed by the erstwhile King of Good Times.
Vijay Mallya and Cyrus Poonawalla
And whereas there are many who wonder about the timing, insiders swear that it was at the behest of a very powerful politician, who is a mutual friend of both and whose ire "no one wants to risk." "It was he who had got VJM the friendly loan in the first place and it was returned duly to Poonawalla out of regard for him," said a source. All's well.
Old roue rapped on knuckles
Oh dear, word comes in from SoBo's snootiest club, (the one where the sign 'wait for the stroke' outside its billiard room has been often taken too literally by geriatric members) that an ageing roué, a Parsi gent from the world of advertising and PR, who is married to a middle-aged art dealer, and who fancies himself as something of a ladies man, has had to be rapped firmly on his knuckles for misbehaving with a rather attractive married society diva on club premises this week.
So enraged was the latter that she took the matter up with the club's standing committee, who swung into action and issued a strict warning to the gent. What's more, we're informed, many others whom he has similarly harassed in the past are grateful. And what's worse is that the errant squire activated his wife to try and use her contacts in the media to hush up the well-documented story. Tch Tch.
Friends of Kamini and M S (Vindi) Banga were delighted to receive an elegant missive this week from the London-based couple inviting them to celebrate the marriage of their son later this year in Mumbai.
Kamini and M S Banga
The Bangas, both alumni of IIM Ahmedabad, had been a popular couple on Mumbai's social and corporate scene before their move to England in the mid 2000s. Vindi as one of the youngest CEOs of the FMCG giant Hindustan Lever, and Kamini, as a writer and hostess, had won many friends and admirers, and their home at Breach Candy had been witness to some sparkling evenings.
One of the things that most delighted the recipients of the invitation was the paperless option that the Bangas had chosen. Sent on email, and worded in a warm informal tone, it was an exquisite floral design that perfectly blended old-world charm with modern technology.
And, what's best of all is that the Bangas have eschewed the big fat wedding route altogether, and have picked a time from 12 noon to sundown to host the celebrations on a Sunday — which, in these parts, means a big fun Sunday brunch.