Persona Non Grata?

Will the long line of devastation that accompanied the marriage of Sheetal Bhagat to Atulya Mafatlal ever let up? Not only has it resulted in fights, business collapses, public disgrace, court cases, slanging matches in the media, and arrests, it appears that the wreckage has not ceased.

For instance, insiders say that the wedding of Mafatlal’s pretty young daughter this week had to be held at a non five-star venue because of the outstanding dues still to be recovered by a leading SoBo five-star hotel dating back to the marriage of Bhagat with Mafatlal!

Sheetal and Atulya Mafatlal in happier times
Sheetal and Atulya Mafatlal in happier times

“Members of one of India’s leading business families have been declared as persona non grata at hotels where they were at one time celebrated and welcomed!” said a well wisher. No prizes for guessing who she held responsible.

Looking back, looking forward
“It was such an emotional moment,” said actor Kabir Bedi, Knight of the Italian Republic, Cavaliere, who has been a voting member of the Oscars Academy for over 30 years. He was referring to the release of a Collector’s Edition DVD Box set of his world famous TV show dubbed in Hindi yesterday.

Kabir Bedi and Parveen Dussanj
Kabir Bedi and Parveen Dussanj

“Anil Kapoor, who has been a true friend, brought tears to my eyes with his kind words. Sandokan is part of my legacy and I would like today’s generation to see it,” said the actor.

We recall Bedi recently narrating an incident about the mega stardom that Sandokan had launched him into in Europe. “There were screaming and wild hordes at the airport as he had walked down a tarmac in Italy, with his then partner, Parveen Babi, after it released.

“Who are they here for?” he’d asked innocently. “They’re here for you baby,” Babi had whispered, adding, “Smile!” “I couldn’t have launched this project independently without Parveen,” Bedi said. “She has been the driving force behind the project,” he said referring to the new Parveen in his life, his attractive live in GFF - Parveen Dussanj. The more things change the more they stay the same.

Delhi’s cultural czars and czarinas
Anyone familiar with Delhi will know why even the ‘been there done it enfant terrible’ of the fashion world, Rohit Bal, would call this picture epic.

Rajeev Sethi, Rohit Bal and Martand Singh Kapurthala
Rajeev Sethi, Rohit Bal and Martand Singh Kapurthala

Long before the Capital’s artistic and beatific young men, born to its upper class families turned to the world of fashion, they would enter the world of craft and the arts.

It was the golden era of the festivals of India when cultural czarina Pupul Jayakar reined supreme. It was then that talented young men like Martand Singh Kapurthala, scion of a royal family of the North, and Rajeev Sethi from an upper class Delhi clan ,became her cherished protégés.

Both equally elegant, equally passionate about Indian heritage, their rumoured rivalry and shahtoosh snobbery had kept the Lutyen’s luvvies on their toes. Now, both middle-aged and very grand, themselves they made a pretty picture with Bal. “With my ultimate style gurus. The fountainheads of brilliance in design. Rajeev Sethi and Martand Singh,” he purred.

What a tease!
It’s probably the mother of all teasers. On the eve of the release of her bare all debut novel, A Handbook for My Lover, about her relationship with a man thirty years her senior, author and art writer Rosalyn D’Mello afforded friends a sneak peak of the dedication: “For PB” she’d penned, which might or might not be the initials of her long time companion, the award-winning photographer Pablo Bartholomew (who just happens to be 30 years her senior).

Pablo Bartholomew and Rosalyn D’Mello
Pablo Bartholomew and Rosalyn D’Mello

Neither is it known if Bartholomew is the recipient of the devastating words, which follow: ‘who ‘doesn’t give a f@#,’ the single inverted commas (reminders of a sparking conversation) are lethal. So too the words at the very bottom of the page: ‘Then again, if you’re reading this, you probably do.’

Never has such literary sass been witnessed before. Meanwhile ‘PB’ has not responded, so we don’t know if he ‘gives a fX@#.’

Walking on the Wild Side
It had been one of our favourite songs. Written by Lou Reed in the Seventies, it’s subversive bass notes haunting its subterranean theme of counterculture, made it something of an anthem.

Lou Reed and Holly Woodlawn. Pics/AFP
Lou Reed and Holly Woodlawn. Pics/AFP

So taken had we been with ‘Walk On the Wild Side,’ that we had written a long article for Pritish Nandy’s Illustrated Weekly using its iconic couplets about transgenders, male prostitutes, cross dressers and porn stars, to introduce their counterparts from Mumbai’s underbelly of sleaze and danger.

For every Holly, and Candy Darling, and Sugar Plum Fairy, we presented a Mumbai version, and made acquaintance with a facet of Mumbai that few know exists. So it is with a personal sense of loss that we heard of the passing of one of the song’s key personalities, Holly Woodlawn, the transgender star of Any Warhol’s Factory who’d arrived from Miami Beach, Florida and learned to pluck her eyebrows while hitchhiking to New York. The Puerto Rican actress died of brain and liver cancer on Sunday. Hope you’re taking a walk on the wild side up there!

Wee Willy’s Winky
Not even a few months after members of this elite SoBo Club had recovered from the issue of a senior citizen male member harassing the daughter of a prominent member, another scandal has shaken its hallowed precincts.

This time a lady member married to a leading powerful industrialist, and herself a personality in her own right, has complained of being accosted in the Ladies Room by another male member (a bit of a peacock we’re told) Given who is involved, insiders say strong action is sure to be taken, and the offender brought to book resolutely!

But what on earth is going on in Mumbai’s most respectable and stately club? The mind boggles.

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