>> This weekend the Taj played host to two different sets of India’s beautiful people.
Whereas one set of the glamour brigade converged on the Umaid Bhavan in Jodhpur to partake of the Dom Perignon extravaganza, another contingent was being wined and dined at the Taj Palace Marrakech, as the Marrakech Film Festival paid homage to the 100th anniversary of the Indian film industry.
As Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan (with wife Suzanne) and Arjun Rampal (with wife Mehr) walked the red carpet, they were welcomed by Raymond Bickson, MD and CEO, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, which was the venue of the opening gala.
Incidentally, the hotel has had an Indian connection even before its joint venture last year with the hotel chain: it belongs to the husband of Preeti Paul (of the Apeejay Group).
A star is born
>> There are many reasons to see Life of Pi, Ang Lee’s mesmerising depiction of Yann Martel’s Booker Prize winning novel: its breathtaking cinematography, the dazzle of its 3D effects (which makes Avatar look like a trainer-wheels version), but do also see it for the delicious Suraj Sharma’s brilliant performance as the 16-year-old shipwreck victim.
The Delhi student of philosophy reminds us of a young Amitabh Bachchan in his early films with the same brooding intensity and raw talent and in many frames bears a resemblance to the legend too.
There are other similarities: like Bachchan, Sharma is also going to gradate from Delhi University, and uncannily got into the movie business on the urging of his younger brother! Another superstar in the making? Just saying…
>> Now that winter is making its presence felt in Mumbai, our thoughts are increasingly turning to Pune. Because come hail or shine, whatever weather Mumbai experiences, it always appears to be amplified in its sleepier cousin Pune! And this year, there’s even more of an incentive to visit Pune in December: the opening of AD Singh’s latest Olive restaurant, this time in the environs of the very august Pune Club, a bastion of Deccan elegance and elitism. “We were approached by the club, which is a much loved centre of Pune. They offered us an unused corner of the club to create and conduct a nice restaurant for them. My wife Sabs oversaw the design and it’s turned out beautifully,” he says with more than a measure of bashful pride, “and it’s been jammed from day one.” See you on the Expressway!
Sophiya in suspenders
>> Many years ago as a rookie journalist, we had interviewed Sophiya Haque when her ubiquitous TV presence on Channel V had made her one of the superstars of the small screen. The newspaper had required us to conduct the interview on a horse-driven Victoria carriage (Tch! such political incorrectness) and we recall how Haque had given us a vacuous sound byte clearly aimed at enhancing her popularity in these parts: (‘I find Indian men very handsome, they have the best bones!’).
Since those early days of gaucheness, Haque, who now lives in London, has gone on to many bigger and better things and recently we hear will be seen acting in Privates On Parade at The Noel Coward Theatre for the Michael Grandage Company opening season. “I play the all singing, all dancing, all suspender wearing Sylvia Morgan together with the most splendid cast starring the unbelievable Simon Russell Beale as Captain Terri Denis (more suspenders there too!),” she posted on a social networking site.
We see she hasn’t lost her sense of humour either!
David’s Delhi dilemma
>> Along with his colleagues Terence Donovan and Brian Duffy, he is said to have created the Swinging London of the 1960s. That modish mini-skirted era of models like Penelope Tree, Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy and bands like the Stones and Beatles, but that does not comprise all of celebrated photographer David Bailey’s portfolio.
Besides being a fixture in the tabloid press for his relationships with some of the world’s most beautiful women (two of whom he married — model Marie Helvin and actress Catherine Deneuve), he is a passionate art collector and has turned his eye to subjects like Havana and British soldiers in Afghanistan and has had a life long interest in India.
And recently when his book on Delhi (Delhi Dilemma) was launched to much fanfare, once again the 70-year-old photographer proved that almost five decades on the freshness and magic have not disappeared. Reviewing the book recently in the HT, author and journalist Indrajit Hazra said, “Delhi Dilemma is full of (such) discoveries. For people expecting a beautiful Dilli darshan, these photos are not the objects of your choice. But if you want to see Delhi through eyes that refuse to come up with a unifying big picture, Bailey’s visual landmarks and snapshots will be familiar and yet at the same time new, fleeting and yet in repose; of Delhi and yet not of Delhi.” We like!