One happy family

This photograph of Mukesh Ambani with his entire family, wife Nita, kids Akash, Isha and Anant with brother-in-law Raj Salgaocar, nephew Vikram, and leading Bolly star Ranbir Kapoor shot in Marseilles during the Euro last week is significant on so many levels: To begin with, it underlines the fact that after the hiccup in Ambani-Salgaocar relations following a messy incident during the ISL final last year, which resulted in Salgaocar’s FC Goa football team being reprimanded by the ISL governing bodies, headed by IMG-Reliance, things are back to normal and the issue seems to have been put to rest.

Mukesh and Nita Ambani with kids Akash, Isha and Anant, brother-in-law Raj Salgaocar, nephew Vikram, and Ranbir Kapoor
Mukesh and Nita Ambani with kids Akash, Isha and Anant, brother-in-law Raj Salgaocar, nephew Vikram, and Ranbir Kapoor  

It also is testimony to the growing closeness between Ranbir and Akash, both football crazy young men in their prime, who just happen to be one of India’s biggest stars and its most powerful business head in waiting.

“The significance of the easy camaraderie between the two who flew in together and are known to hang out in their spare time cannot be underestimated,” says a source, adding, “It’s akin to if Dilip Kumar had been JRD Tata’s closest bud back in the day or SRK hung out with Kumar Birla in his spare time.” “This synergy between Bollywood and business is unprecedented,” he says.

The stork visits the Deoras
Their wedding in Mumbai saw a swathe of some of the country’s best and brightest gather at the Tote on the Turf.

Nitasha Thapar, Mukul Deora, Murli Deora and Hema Deora
Nitasha Thapar, Mukul Deora, Murli Deora and Hema Deora

After all, the marriage of Mukul Deora, poet, media entrepreneur, and Murli and Hema Deora’s elder son (and former IT Minister Milind Deora’s brother) to Nitasha Thapar, daughter of the Thapars’, one of the country’s leading business clans was a significant engagement between two of Delhi and Mumbai’s prominent clans.

And last week with the birth of Mukul and Nitasha’s daughter, there was cheer and jubilation not only for the Deoras and Thapars, but also for their legion of friends across both cities. As the proud grandmother, interior designer and champion bridge player Hema Deora says, “Murli, a man of great warmth and childlike exuberance would have been delighted too. I miss him so much.”

An all-new night dawns
It hasn’t even been a full year since the Starwood Group took over the management of Atul and Gayatri Ruia’s Palladium hotel in Lower Parel, and rebranded it as India’s first St. Regis hotel, but changes have been significant and well appreciated. No surprises then that many wondered what would happen to the hotel’s very popular nightclub and bars namely Exo and Libai, that were a super hit with the young and restless and huge money spinners.

Anurag Bhatnagar, Atul and Gayatri RuiaAnurag Bhatnagar, Atul and Gayatri Ruia

The downside was that every weekend, the hotel’s entrance would be lined up with high-spirited young revelers, desperately trying to get in and creating chaos for regular hotel guests. Now word comes in, that the St. Regis has taken a bold call to rebrand its existing nightlife offerings.

“The St. Regis Mumbai’s newest venues will acknowledge Jazz as an extension of the St. Regis brand experience. Come September, Li Bai will re-launch as Luna Nudo, a cutting edge venue, which will maintain the popular musical elements of the former bar, in addition to hosting dedicated Jazz evenings and performances,” says St. Regis General Manager Anurag Bhatnagar, when we spoke to him over the weekend.

“September will also see a fine dining restaurant, Luna Gusto, set to be the newest addition to our Penthouse floors, serving a combination of eclectic European and French Food,” he explains. Bhatnagar did let slip that EXO too would be recast shortly as a grown up club and lounge with retro music. Perhaps the days of teenyboppers thronging around the hotels’ entrance are behind us. Nice!

Will he, won’t he?
All hell had broken lose when Subramaniam Swamy has tweeted about the alleged imminent marriage of Rahul Gandhi, Congress VP, who after Salman Khan, is the country’s oldest and most famous bachelor.

Rahul Gandhi. Pic/AFP and Subramaniam Swamy. Pic/PTI
Rahul Gandhi. Pic/AFP and Subramaniam Swamy. Pic/PTI

Said to be tying the knot with a Brahmin girl from UP, according to Swamy, what’s interesting is that despite the Congress’ swift debunking of the rumour as one more instance of Swamy’s malignant obsession with the Gandhis, sources in the know, indicated over the weekend that there is (or was) indeed some truth to the story: that the 46-year-old is (or was) in fact seeing someone of those descriptions.

What’s even more interesting, is that Congress insiders are blaming the leaking of the story to a well-known media person, someone in fact seen as closer to the UPA than the BJP, who would in fact be in the know if such a thing was true. So, will Rahul actually take the plunge with such a person? And why are Congress insiders and a well-respected female journo – and of course Swamy agreeing for once on something? We wonda...

Celebrating Bittu
You don’t need Bollywood tigresses to tell you what a legend environmentalist and nature activist Bittu Sahgal is. After all the entire impassioned Punjabi munda has spent the last few decades tirelessly working towards sensitising as many generations and stakeholders as he can, on the wonders of the natural world and the importance of being environmentally responsible.

Bittu Sahgal, Dia Mirza and Shabana Azmi
Bittu Sahgal, Dia Mirza and Shabana Azmi

Nature warriors he calls them. But yesterday, when news of Sahgal being named as True Legend by Nature In Focus, Asia’s premier wildlife photography festival came in, both Dia Mirza and Shabana Azmi tweeted their congratulations and delight! As did many other felines not necessarily of the two-legged kind.

Well done Bittu and may your tribe increase!

To see the Queen
This picture of Lara Dutta and Mahesh Bhupathi with a friend, shot at the trendy Arts Club in London is just one more instance of India’s ongoing love affair with the British capital, and the community’s current high-profile in ‘Ol Blighty.’

Manesh Bhupathi and Lara Dutta with a friend at the Arts Club
Manesh Bhupathi and Lara Dutta with a friend at the Arts Club

Everyone knows that the worst kept secret amongst Indians in London is the list of restaurants and clubs which they patronise during their frequent visits. “It’s the same old same old,” says a lady of considerable food knowledge.

“Zuma, Le Petite Maison, Koya, the Arts Club, all the ones with some Indian connect where even the most self-styled of international sophisticates flock, believing they’re the best because of their comfort factor,” she sneered. “But ask any British foodie for their list of the best London eateries and you’ll hear some very different names,” she says. “It’s like two parallel universes, that of rich India and rich London — which never meet.”

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