Mumbai Diary: Wednesday Dossier

The city — sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce

Rowling fans, rejoice!
For all those who have read and re-read (or even performed!) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child already, 2016 just got better.

Remember the original Hogwart’s textbook by Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay? That has metamorphosed into a new book with an entirely original story written by JK Rowling for the screen, marking her debut as screenwriter.

With the promise of adventure-packed storytelling, the book and the Warner Bros. film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, are set to release together on November 18. The countdown has begun!

All roads will lead to the opera
There were several moments that left us awestruck, as we strolled through the latest addition to Mumbai’s performing arts scene. The Royal Opera House, whose foundation was laid in the city in 1909 and was inaugurated in 1911, is now set to open to the public on October 20.

The ceiling
A view of the grand stage

“We are hoping to take the city back to the era of the black-tie, chiffon sarees and the clinking of champagne glasses, so that the current generation is reminded of how performances were enjoyed at this space,” said Maharani Kumud Kumari of Gondal, a member of the royal family who owns the Opera House. We were told that the pricing of the tickets will be “affordable.”

A view of the grand stage
The ceiling

As we made our way up a staircase covered in plastic sheets to enter the grand balcony (there is no elevator), we couldn’t help but think that stilettos and flowy gowns wouldn’t survive the steep climb. We noticed that minor finishing touches like rods to help people move around the space were still to be added.

The venue boasts of a 574-seater auditorium, chandeliers, a blend of mosaic tiles and Italian marble, and domed ceiling embellishments. The dress circle features box seating, then most coveted seat on the house. The other boxes are currently being used to cover air-condition ducts.

The garden area will soon be home to a cafe and later, a restaurant. While the acoustics were relentlessly praised, we will have to wait to catch a show to validate that. When we chose to stand in the centre to gaze at the restored auditorium, we knew the team had a lot to be proud of as the space managed to give us a vision of how gorgeous it must have been when the likes of Balgandharva performed there. The city can finally look forward to a new venue for the arts.

Diplomatic tunes
The German Ambassador to India (in pic), Dr Martin Ney, is in Mumbai today, and his day seems to be packed with back-to-back meetings with business leaders and representatives from the banking sector. But in the little time that he has for himself in the evening, he will be treating the city to a flute performance.

That’s right, the gifted diplomat will be performing with the Symphony Orchestra of India (SOI) as a soloist at the National Centre for the Performing Arts. Dr Ney has played with renowned orchestras worldwide, and has been giving solo performances since 2005, but considers this one a “privilege,” especially when the SOI is celebrating its tenth anniversary. Encore, we say!

The final word on Tagore


Pic/Nimesh Dave

Lyricist-writer Gulzar makes an emphatic point while speaking to Jaya Bachchan at the launch of his album, Gulzar in conversation with Tagore, yesterday.

Fashion in an ‘aquarium’
Payal Khandwala has a weakness for old buildings. After setting up her flagship store at Grants Building, Colaba, she moves northward with a store in a bungalow nestled inside Chimbai village.

Payal Khandwala
Payal Khandwala

“An intimate spot amid frangipani and palm trees” is how she describes the space. The two-storeyed bungalow called Matsyalaya (aquarium) carries hand-painted lotus murals on gold and silver leaf walls by Payal herself (she was an artist before she turned to fashion).

Khandwala’s new Bandra store
Khandwala’s new Bandra store

They soften the harsh cement walls and Wenge flooring, while suggesting the designer’s personal Make In India story. The store will feature hand-woven brocades, silk saris and dupattas, and leather accessories from sister brand, Tachi. “We couldn’t ignore Bandra… so many customers from the suburb complain of the lengthy commute,” Khandwala says.

Mind your tweet, minister
Twitter is an unforgiving universe, and Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, is getting a taste of it with the slew of tweets that have followed in response to his utterance on Anurag Kashyap’s tweet to the PM. Calling it fashionable to question the PM without any logic to get into news, Rijiju particularly mentioned students and film persons.

From the witty “Around the world, this fashion is known as democracy,” to the hilarious “Modi Ji, since I’ve the right to question my PM, I want to ask you one question. What are you doing about my cholesterol?” (Shirish Kunder) to the critical “when a PM offers no logic, students can but keep asking. Of course, we do know this govt likes unquestioning students,” (sic; Hartosh Singh Bal), there is no let-up in sight.

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