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Separated at the Kumbh Mela?

>> We along with the rest of the country are rooting for Ashok Khemka. To have borne the ignominy of 43 transfers in 19 years and yet to emerge with one’s fighting spirit intact is no mean feat.

And his interviews in the past few days, where he has been unafraid to express vulnerability, have endeared him to the nation. No, we admire and salute Mr Khemka.

The only thing we can’t understand is how is he such a dead ringer for Kishore Biyani, the brilliant head of the Future Group, and Managing Director of Pantaloon Retail? Are they twins? Is this a case of separated at the Kumbh Mela? We think we ought to be told.

IAS officer Ashok Khemka and Head of the Future Group Kishore Biyani
IAS officer Ashok Khemka and Head of the Future Group Kishore Biyani

Dishing Mumbai
>> My colleague and erstwhile neighbour, the lovely food writer Roshni Sanghvi, has drawn up a list of her Mumbai top of the charts foods in Mumbai Boss. And Sanghvi — a contributing editor at Vogue magazine and a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York City — sure knows her bhindis.

Roshni Sanghvi
Foodie and contributing editor at Vogue Roshni Sanghvi gives us a list of drool worthy dishes, including samosas at Naivedyam

Included on the list are some drool worthy dishes that makes Mumbai the mouthwatering delight it is. Enough to break even the most resolute dieter’s resolve.¬†

So along with the legendary Crab Gassi at Pratap Lunch Home (“This hot, tart and creamy gassi is an even more florid orange than the large pieces of unshelled crab in it.”), there are samosas from Naivedyam, (“One pure ghee samosa at this “exclusive” mithai and farsan shop that’s tucked away off the main road is as good as a whole meal.”) And Patties Chhole from Tharu’s Mukhi Bhandar (“A ladle of steaming hot, very dark and thick chhole is served alongside.”) Now to get Roshni to give us a personalised tour!

Calling Sajid
>> How can someone, let alone someone who had been so famous once, just vanish into thin air? Yesterday while lunching with an old friend from Delhi the conversation turned to our mutual friend the singer/actor Sajid Khan who had made such an impression as a child actor (he had debuted as the young Sunil Dutt in his father, the late great Mehboob Khan’s 1957 classic Mother India.) Sajid had then gone on to a more central role in Son of India before he was signed on by Hollywood to star in a series of highly successful films.

 Sajid Khan

In those days Sajid was an international teen sensation, for a brief second in pop history arguably even bigger than Elvis! Sixteen, the bible of the bubble gum brigade had him on the cover many times and he had girls swooning wherever he went. “He was the Justin Beiber of his day,” said this friend, but then added worriedly, “Where is he? Does anyone know?” So this is an appeal to anyone out there who can enlighten us about Sajid’s whereabouts. His life had been a fascinating — almost fairy-tale like one. After being adopted by Khan, he had been adopted not once but twice again (a testimony to his immense charm), first by a wealthy LA couple and then by the late Mumbai society queen Sunita Pitamber and her husband Pit. Sadly the fairy tale had not panned out as it should have: perhaps unable to cope with his heady success and the story of his own extraordinary life, Sajid had taken to drink and his cherubic face had been destroyed by years of substance abuse. A certain churlishness — almost bitterness — had crept in to his erstwhile sweet persona. But that has not stopped his friends and well–wishers enquiring about his well being. So, if anyone out there knows where he is, do write in. Stardom can be tough. And sometimes the hardest dreams are the ones that come true.

Kids and ads
>> We are close watchers of ads. Often more than the political commentators and sociologists, it’s the creators of ads who really know what people are thinking and feeling and most of their knowledge comes from very expensive research data. Ads are the language of commerce continuo whispering in your ear. And at this stage two ads — both featuring kids say a lot: the first is that wonderful film for one of ICICI’s financial products which features a dialogue –free a pantomime between a little girl and a sweet shop owner in what looks like Kashmir. The subtlety, standard and seductive appeal of this film makes it transcend its genre: disregard the commercial message it could be a short film by famed Iranian director Majid Majidi almost. Will its creator stand up and take a bow? The other film is one more in the series of the Flipkart kids ‘behaving like adults’ ads. Even without going in to the ‘one trick pony’ aspect of the series, there is something vaguely offensive about the dissipated cynicism and adult –like ennui on the faces of the actors. No children ought to look this ‘knowing’. The sexual overtones in the film too are pretty un PC in this age of Jimmy Savile type predators. Perhaps going back to the storyboard is called for?

Out damned spot!
>> Ever since a fortnight ago, when we attended a hush-hush special preview of some of the world’s most regarded cosmetic and bath products soon to be launched in India and then we read about renowned American cosmetics brand retailer Kiehl’s entry in to South Mumbai and then walked in to Westside yesterday and were introduced to their bath and body line, we have been wondering about the connection between a nation that’s caught in the throes of digging up dirt and muck amongst its high and mighty and the need to cleanse itself.

 Arvind Kejriwal
IAC activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal

Has Arvind Kejriwal and his gang unleashed a cleaning phenomena? As pop sociological observations go, this is a pretty shallow one we admit, but you gotta concede it gives one reason to smile!

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