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Mumbai's Oscar connection

Malavika SangghviSo, we are gloating a little bit and rightly so: Adele’s Oscar Jenny Packham gown was produced in none other than our dear friend Chitra Gidwani’s workshop at Lower Parel!

Chitra, who happens to be one of Mumbai’s most unsung heroines, has been making the most exquisite gowns with beading, pleating and every kind of embellishment for top international designers for more than a decade now.

Whilst we were thrilled to hear that Adele’s fabulous dress at the Oscars was made entirely in Mumbai, for Gidwani this is just another day. She has had at least one dress in the Oscars every year. Indeed, the ethereal gown, which she made for Sandra Bullock’s Oscar outing a few years ago, is now in the Victoria and Albert museum in London. Break out the bubbly!

Adele

Hair-raising lit fest
We received a call yesterday from our cousin, the noted author Lady Kishwar Desai, fresh from her triumph at the Karachi Literary Festival held earlier this month. “Despite the fact that a lot of friends like Gulzar sahab, Shobhaa De and Vishal Bhardwaj could not make it, it turned out to be really wonderful,” she said.

Mohammed Hanif
Mohammed Hanif

“There were thousands of people attending everyday - and almost every session was packed to the brim,” she recalled. “My own session with Mohammed Hanif and Nadeem Aslam on Punjabiyat was great fun - as indeed all sessions on being a Punjabi and a writer should be!” But the event was not without its chills.

Kishwar Desai
Kishwar Desai

“The only tough moments were when we were trapped in the hotel after the festival was over - unable to leave due to the reaction over the killings of the Shias in Quetta. Our sympathies lay with the hapless Shias who are being massacred in Pakistan but we felt under siege in Karachi - and ultimately left under police escort in armoured vehicles, late at night through dark alleys! It was like something out of a novel,” says the novelist. The cliffhanger for her next bestseller?

Beach boys
Of all the interviewing we have to do to bring you fresh, fast and delicious daily dishes, some of the nicest are with kids. And speaking to young Akbar Ali Khan, champion footballer (striker position), the Goa-based 11-year-old scion of the Rampur royal family, and son of our friends Jeeva Bhatt and Murad Ali Khan of Rampur was sheer joy.

Shahid Kapur with Akbar Ali Khan, son of Jeeva Bhatt and Murad Ali Khan
Shahid Kapur with Akbar Ali Khan, son of Jeeva Bhatt and Murad Ali Khan 

The occasion was a photograph we chanced upon that featured the young swashbuckler with a group of his friends taken on Goa’s Morjim beach this week. “My sister Zahra, our friends and I were playing on some ATVs on the beach at sunset, when we spotted actor Shahid Kapur walking by the sea.

“We began circling him in our machine, and he laughed and played with us,” says Akbar, “and then when we asked for a picture he posed with us in front of the club he was going to.” And any parting line from the star? “He said I had nice abs,” blushes Khan who from the looks of it could give any Bollywood star serious competition in a few years.

The rose trick
“Has there been any Indian who has been recognised for their contribution to the food industry by our government,” asked Reshmi Ray Dasgupta, food writer and lifestyle editor of the Economic Times. “Not only is this sphere under recognised” she says, “But the government would do well to invite India’s great chefs to cook for state banquets at the Rashtrapati Bhavan where the food could do with some improvement.” Speaking about banquets at the august venue, we recall that on the few occasions we have been invited the food has been a tad underwhelming. On one notable occasion we couldn’t for the life of us recognise if we were eating fish or chicken!” “The only thing worth having there right now is there tiranga peda,” says a regular. “And the nicest touch is how the waiters know who is vegetarian. They place a red rose in front of every vegetarian’s plate!” Nice!

The pop star and the scientist
It’s a rare kind of connection: a distinguished Indian billionaire scientist and a celebrated Indian-born, international music producer, composer, and singer who share a passion for philanthropy and empowerment of the disfranchised.

Biddu
Biddu

When Marbella part time residents and neighbours Padma Bhushan awardee Dr Yusuf Khwaja Hamied, chairman of CIPLA, and Biddu Appiah, the composer of some of the modern-world’s most foot tapping numbers met at the glamorous Spanish resort they spent most of their evenings discussing ways in which they could alleviate some of the world’ pressing problems. “The anti-AIDS drugs produced in America cost almost $700 per month.

Dr Yusuf Khwaja Hamied
Dr Yusuf Khwaja Hamied

Yuku (as Dr Hameid is affectionately called by friends) is selling the same in Africa for less than a quarter of that!” said Biddu to us over the weekend when we met him at a Mumbai brunch. “Each year, I visit one of his factories and outreach programs,” said the singer. “In fact, recently the one in Goa blew my mind; it’s almost NASA space age like, completely automated and cutting edge. And so passionate is Yuku about his work that you can call him up any time of the night or day and discuss it.”

The son of a Muslim father and Russophone Jewish mother, Hamied was born in Lithuania, and raised in Cuffe Parade where his neighbour was Zubin Mehta. “The story of how he has taken on greedy multi-nationals who want to exploit the poor and diseased is a legendary one,” said Biddu. Must ask Dr Hameid to tell us the story when we bump into him on our evening walks at the club.  

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