Poonawalla's Masterstroke!

>> He has always attracted attention for his style, be it his fancy cars, winning racehorses or his hats and cigars, but now word has it that the flamboyant billionaire Dr Cyrus S Poonawalla, Chairman of the Poonawalla Group, which includes Serum Institute of India, a leading Indian biotech company, has stolen a long march over all his business peers.

Rumour has it that on one of his recent visits to Europe the bon vivant and art lover has picked up not one, not two but four European masterpieces by some of the world’s greatest artists which may include Renoir, Chagall and Monet, and that the sale was tied up by uber art consultant, the very charming Dr Amin Jaffer, the International Director of Asian Art at Christie’s, who specialises in Indian art in the age of European influence.

A Chagall painting.

(His books include Luxury Goods from India (V&A, 2002) and Made for Maharajas: A Design Diary of Princely India (2006). What has got the art world in a particular tizzy, is the fact that the masterpieces are soon going to enter Indian soil and be placed in a destination unknown — possibly Poonawalla’s residence itself.

Dr Cyrus Poonawalla

With so much of India’s priceless heritage leaving the country and so many billionaires spending their money on wasteful pursuits, the fact that one tycoon is bringing back some serious and world-class works of art into India is commendable! A public exhibition at a suitable museum where Indians could enjoy seeing the works would be splendid!

What say Mr Poonawalla?

The Eighth Baronet responds
>> We love receiving reader feedback; after all a diary is a chronicle of a community’s life and a robust exchange indicates vitality. It’s not everyday that we receive a response and that too, a witty one from a Baronet! So when the very grand and titled Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy, eighth Baronet responded to the item we wrote on Tuesday about Sonal Shah, the ace florist, we couldn’t help sharing it with readers.

Jamjetsee Jeejeebhoy

“Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy would like MiD DAY readers to know that since the same Sonal Shah also tends to my Garden of Eden, she now will be the apple of everyone’s eyes,” said the Baronet, scion to the illustrious Parsi family that has given Mumbai some of its most enduring institutions like the JJ School of Art and the JJ Hospital. Incidentally, the wiki website informs that ‘the original Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy (1783-1859) was born in Bombay (Mumbai) of poor but respectable parentage, and was orphaned in his teens. He entered the merchant service and built up a great fortune.

Rudyard Kipling

He was knighted in 1842 and awarded a baronetcy in 1858, being the first British subject in India to be so honoured.’ And another bit of trivia: Rudyard Kipling’s father John Lockwood Kipling, who designed the Crawford Market lived with his family at what is now the JJ school of Arts bungalow where the young Rudyard grew up!

Powerful Alliance
>> In a season of high-profile and powerful alliances the engagement of eligible bachelor Akshay Raheja, son of Rajan Raheja, the highly regarded and low-key Chairman of the Rajan Raheja group with its strong presence in the realty market, manufacturing, financial services and media to the pretty Aneesha Behl, daughter of Khyber owners and popular social couple Rashmi and Sudhir Behl is noteworthy.

Rashmi and Sudhir Behl, Rajan Raheja and Akshay Raheja

The engagement, which was held at a glittering party at the J W Marriott last night saw all of Mumbai’s leading families attend. After all, both families have a huge circle of friends and associates.

Incidentally, one of Rajan’s business ventures is the Outlook magazine, which he shepherds in the best possible publishing style: as an non-interfering but supportive publisher (and God knows their breed is a dying one.) In his essay marking Outlook’s 15 successful years of existence, Editor in-Chief Vinod Mehta had referred to Rajan as ‘the dream boss’. We wish the couple well!

Political Whispers
>> A little bird tells us that this Tuesday, the BJP will be taking a delegation to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to bring his attention to the malnutrition and starvation deaths in the state which has crossed an alarming toll of 24,000! Headed by woman activist and BJP spokesperson Shaina NC it will also include state president Sudhir Mungantiwar and other Opposition leading lights such as Eknath Khadse, Vinod Tawde.

Shaina NC

“Considering the fact, that Rs 1,500 crore has been allocated to the Women and Child Welfare Ministry Maharashtra still reports over 10 lakh cases of starvation of which 1 lakh are severe cases,” says Shaina.

“We will demand immediate action and accountability by the government.”

Praful’s Prayers
>> He maybe suave, sophisticated and jet set (not to mention Teflon-coated) but when it comes to faith, he reverts back to tradition. NCP member, minister for Heavy Industries and high-profile former aviation minister Praful Patel was spotted at the Hanuman and Shanni Bhagwan Temple on Picket Road this Saturday by devotees.

Praful Patel

Apparently, he is a regular Saturday visitor (legend has it that Saturday is the most auspicious day to visit) and from all accounts he comes quietly, causes no inconvenience to others and asks for no special treatment. We like! 

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