Woody Allen once famously replied when he was asked what he'd like to be in his next birth, "Warren Beatty's finger tips." Finance Minister Arun Jaitley must have been channeling his inner Allen, when he said pretty much the same thing last week at the Taj, when his interlocutor Shereen Bhan popped him the question, what he'd like to come back as.
"Suhel Seth" said the FinMin, with a huge smile. Now Seth might not have a roster of Hollywood sirens on his arm and a backstage pass to international glamour, but he comes pretty damn close. Which is why the A-lister-packed audience at the launch of Seth's newest book, Mantras for Success (Rupa) which included the likes of K Natwar Singh, Smriti Irani, Kapil Sibal, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Jaya Bachchan, Madhur Bhandarkar, DLF's K P Singh legal luminaries Raian Karanjawala, Soli Sorabjee, Rajat Sharma, Barkha Dutt and Tarun Tejpal amongst many others roared with laughter.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Suhel Seth enjoy a joke
Seth is something of a Delhi phenomenon, a man who manages not only to be at all places at the same time (including every TV studio), but given his ubiquitous snarkiness, also manages to make friends and influence others wherever he goes! So what's the secret of his success?
The A listers at the book launch
We think we can offer a clue: in his giddy traversing of the globe, text Seth and he is always available and more than happy to attend to your call. Awesome PR? Yep. But here's the clincher. After Seth had sent us the names of all the VVIPs at his launch, a few seconds later, he dispatched a second list: this contained the names of the other important friends who had also attended, but perhaps not being as newsworthy as the first lot, had escaped Seth's notice.
Another busy person might have ignored the slight. Not Seth. Having remembered the others, he'd taken the trouble to punch out a second email. Mantra for success? How about a quiet and thoughtful graciousness towards all one's friends? And no, we are not going to reveal who was on which list!
A home for Ms Padukone
Word comes in that Deepika Padukone, who had attracted media attention a few years ago with the purchase of a four-bedroom apartment at Prabhadevi at BeauMonde Towers, is house hunting again. It will be recalled that when the star had acquired the mid-city apartment for a whopping Rs 16 crore, the interest of many had been piqued: after all Bollywood had never opted for mid-city nests until then.
"It had been Pali Hill, then JVPD, then Versova and beyond for the industry," says an insider. "Only the Kapoors-Shashi, Shammi and Daboo and the more westernized actresses like Sharmila Tagore, Simi and Zeenat Aman had opted for residences in faraway SoBo. But Prabhadevi that was a first!" said the source. Well, its official: Bollywood's heart belongs to Bandra!
Unusual wedding invite
Two years ago his son's nuptials had attracted the likes of Baba Ramdev, Naresh Trehan and Ram Jethmalani, and even now on the occasion of his daughter's imminent betrothal, the who's who of the power elite are expected to accept incarcerated tycoon Subroto Roy's right hand man OP Srivastava's invite.
But what has struck many of those who received the handsome orange and red summons is the unusual covering letter that accompanied it. 'Under today's circumstances this marriage should not have taken place till our Hon'ble Chief Guardian Saharashri ji comes out of custody,' it read, 'But owing to a genuine pressure and for some unavoidable circumstances, it has been ordered by Hon'ble Sahar Shriji to go ahead... " The words 'custody' and 'marriage' on the same page? Who would've thunk?
From bad to verse
Any one needing proof about the growing atmosphere of censorious prudishness in Mumbai need only to hear of this incident, when things went from bad to verse. "I walked into a bookshop in Bandra called Title Waves," posted poet Sampurna Chattarji recently.
Poet Sampurna Chattarji
"(I) Was delighted to see copies of my translation of Joy Goswami's poems (so) I thought I'd ask if they also had copies of my short story collection Dirty Love," she recounts wryly. "The young man looked a bit uncomfortable, and said he'd check. Came back looking even more uncomfortable and said, 'Ma'am, we can't stock that book.'
I said 'Why ever not?' He said, 'Because this building is owned by the church or maybe a church trust, I forget which – 'we are not allowed to stock a book with that kind of title'," she recounts. "I laughed out loud. And that was that. The wonders of this world we live in," she says with a poet's equanimity.
Guggenheim for the geek
Ever since his book Geek Sublime: Writing Fiction, Coding Software (Faber and Faber) won him raves from critics and the reading public, novelist Vikram (Love and Longing in Bombay, Sacred Games) Chandra, is on a roll. And now we hear that he has been awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, 2015.
"From amongst 3,100 artists, scientists, sociologists, and people from all areas of work in the US and Canada, showing exceptional promise, and great past work, he was chosen for this highly prestigious award," informs his sister, the director Tanuja Chandra, adding, "Even Nobel laureates have been among Guggenheim fellows!"
Six cool ones
Recently when word got out that certain well-heeled Kolkata bhadralok were not averse to divesting their coffers of their fabulous gems and objets d'art for a consideration, there's been something of a gold rush to acquire these precious antiques by wealthy but more parvenu Mumbaikars.
So who's the industrialist's wife who's just returned from the land of mishti doi after dropping 6 cool crores on some implausibly gorgeous pearl necklaces? Now that's one for detective Byomkesh Bakshi!