Powerhouse of talent

Shahid Kapoor and Kangana Ranaut
Shahid Kapoor and Kangana Ranaut

It was a veritable powerhouse of talent that attended the preview of Rangoon last evening. From award-winning director of Queen, Vikas Behl, to Rang De Basanti's Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra, to Paa's R Balki, to Tanu Weds Manu's Anand L Rai, to Vidhu Vinod Chopra of 3 Idiots, and actor Randeep Hooda, they were all there along with the film's director, Vishal Bhardwaj, and stars Kangana Ranaut and Shahid Kapoor.

The film is absolutely mesmerising with powerhouse performances by all three of its main actors, Ranaut, Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan. Set in the war torn days of World War II, Rangoon is quintessential Bhardwaj: breathtaking panoramas, upbeat, catchy songs, and the turmoil and treachery of the human heart presented in all its glory. Ranaut plays Miss Julia, a woman of sudden strengths and abiding vulnerabilities with masterful nuance, and is in for another spate of awards, and most likely, so are Kapoor and Khan.

Vishal Bhardwaj, Vikas Behl and Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra
Vishal Bhardwaj, Vikas Behl and Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra

Commenting on the turnout at the preview to erstwhile producer Ronnie Screwvala, we remarked about the jeans-sneaker and trendy spectacle-sporting audience in the theatre, where there had been paunchy paan chewing producers in days gone by. "I guess this is the crowd that changed all of that," said the man whom many consider one of the catalysts of the Indie offbeat film wave.

Three many chefs
When we'd texted Asia's No. 1 chef on the San Pellegrino list for two years running, Gaggan Anand on Wednesday, to wish him luck for the latest edition of the prestigious annual awards held in Bangkok, he had sounded uncharacteristically nervous. This is because no one had won the title three times in a row and for Anand, it would have been an anathema to be downgraded.

Manish Mehrotra, Gaggan Anand and Darshan Munidasa
Manish Mehrotra, Gaggan Anand and Darshan Munidasa

However, there was no cause for worry: Breaking every record, Anand had emerged as Asia's No. 1 chef for the third year in a row on the list. What's more, his protégés, the German twins behind Suhring Bangkok's (and possibly the world's) first progressive German restaurant, one of Gaggan's investments, where we had dined not so long ago, had made it for the first time on the list at No. 13.

Disappointments were due though for Indian Accent's Manish Mehrotra, who had slipped from his position of No. 9 the previous year to No. 30 this year. As for the third hombre in the snap taken at the awards, Sri Lanka's celebrated Chef Darshan Munidasa, he had been placed not once but twice on the list: His Ministry of Crab at 29th and his Japanese restaurant, Nihonbashi, at 49. As for the overpriced, overrated Wasabi at the Taj, it had just managed to hang on this year at No. 46 on the list of 50!

A birthday with a modern family
"The occasion was the birthday celebration of Omar Furniturewalla, Pooja's (Bedi) son who turned 17," says proud aunt Ashitta Tham (nee Gupta), about a get-together which saw the entire clan get together at Bandra's new LMNOPQ this week.

Omar Furniturewalla with his family at the celebration
Omar Furniturewalla with his family at the celebration

"The entire Tham family with both my nieces and my sister Monika were present," she says, adding, "It's wonderful to have three generations celebrating together and enjoying each other's company, and great that modern families bond over traditional events like Diwali, birthdays and Xmas."

The Thams, Bedis, Guptas, Furniturewallas are certainly modern families in every way, which have seen their fair share of marriages, remarriages, and divorces, and permutations and configurations. "There's healthy respect between the two generations as expectations these days are negligible," says Tham, adding, "And there's no generation gap these days with MILs/DILs on the same page." Nice!

Paresh Maity comes to town
To mark the ongoing exhibitions of noted Delhi-based artist Paresh Maity, the Taj Palace hosted a dinner at Masala Kraft last evening, which saw a number of the artist's friends, patrons and fans attend. "The new menu of Masala Kraft, for which Paresh Maity has especially created an artwork, was also launched," said Art Musings' Sangeeta Chopra, who has presented an ongoing collection of Maity's works at the hotel's gallery.

Taljinder, Paresh Maity and Sangeeta Chopra
Taljinder, Paresh Maity and Sangeeta Chopra

Invitees present at the lunch included Hariharan, Laxman Shrestha, Aarti and Kailash Surendranath, and Atul and Vandana Kasbekar, among others. Also on permanent display is
a stunning bronze sculpture created by Maity, which has been placed in the heritage wing of the hotel.

The rolling Gandhi
"A rolling stone gathers no moss," said international woman on the move, NYC's Meera Gandhi, who we had been scheduled to meet, at a dinner thrown in her honour by Hema Deora, bridge champion and wife of the late Murli Deora, this week. By the time we had called the next morning to apology for our no show, Gandhi was already ensconced in a cozy cottage at Coimbatore's Isha Ashram, where she often goes 'to centre herself'.

Meera Gandhi and Hema Deora
Meera Gandhi and Hema Deora

The dinner had been at the Deora home in SoBo, and had seen the likes of Farzana Contractor, Mimi Batliwala, and Mukul and Nitasha Deora drop by for some easy informal camaraderie. Gandhi's visit to India she said, was in connection with the talk show she has been invited to start, on an Indian channel. But until that kicked off, there was much circumnavigating of the globe left to do.

"I'm off to a sangeet in Abu Dhabi," she said from the ashram, "and then back to Mumbai where I hope we can meet. "But right now I'm in my own cottage, and thank God, there's an air conditioner," she said, adding, "In an hour, I will go out and join the crowds."

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