They were the golden boys amongst Mumbai’s business circles, so when news of the recent Cabinet reshuffle trickled in, and it was learnt that not only had Jayant Sinha the junior minister for finance, been shifted as minister of state to the relatively less important civil aviation ministry, but that Piyush Goyal, Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy (and known as one of the best performing ministers in the cabinet), had not got the promotion he deserved, speculation on the reason for both was rife in Mumbai’s financial circles.
Piyush Goyal and Jayant Sinha. Pic/AFP
“There are four reasons being given for Sinha’s transfer,” says a business journo, “the most charitable one is that he’d been shifted to aviation because there were much needed reforms in that sector and Ashok Gajapati Raju was not up to much,” he adds. “but of course there are others: Sinha it is being said, spoke out of turn in public, and he’s being rapped on the knuckles for it.”
Worse, his father Yashwant had been periodically lashing out against the new regime - but most worryingly,” says the source, “it is being said that Sinha’s background of IIT, Harvard and McInssey did not sit well with the BJP/ RSS’ dislike of ‘suit boot gentleman,’ adding, “As for Goyal who was a successful CA and very popular with Mumbai’s biz circles – no one can understand why he did not get a leg up.” Suit boot issues again?
Bandra boys and girls
You can take the boy out of Bandra, but not Bandra out of the boy (or girl). This week saw the coming together of some famous faces from back home, including music composer Vishal Dadlani, singer Sophie Choudry, actor Bobby Deol in London.
Bobby Deol, Sophie Choudry, Vishal Dadlani and Anubhav Sinha with friends
Anubhav Sinha was there, presumably after he’d completed the shooting of Tere Bin 2, the sequel to his 2001 sleeper hit earlier in the month in Scotland and the others were also there, probably on similar professional assignments. Felt like an evening in Bandra, in London! tweeted Dadlani about the cool vibes away from home.
“Actors, Directors, Composers. We should have started a movie right there,” responded Sinha about the serendipitous gathering, but in the next breath revealed the reason why work could not have been on the agenda. “Damn Malibu,” he said, referring to the heady spirit which must have resulted in some significant hangovers going by the following exchange between the irrepressible tweeters.
“I need the songs before you crash in the Hyde Park then...,” said Sinha to Dadlani. “Tomorrow?” ? replied Dadlani with a smile. Damn Malibu indeed.
Sushi and cinema
Known as India’s Multiplex King, Ajay Bijli, the chairman and managing director of the PVR Group, is a familiar face on Delhi’s society circuit.
Ajay’s love for cinema, and his vision to spot an opportunity in India’s burgeoning middle class, spurred him to branch out of his family’s trucking business in the early 1990’s along with his brother Sanjeev, to set up PVR, one of the biggest players in the Indian cinema business.
But word comes in that cinema is not Ajay’s only love. “He is a complete foodie and eats out a lot in Delhi,” says a source, “and this passion for food is why he’s launching a Japanese restaurant at Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex soon.”
In fact sushi appears to have been on Bijli’s mind: he has already started serving it at his premium cinema in Vasant Kunj, where cinegoers can order it along with popcorn and colas. Some sushi at Lower Parel’s PVR wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
India’s leading sophisticates
Not for nothing is Prithvi Raj Singh (Biki) Oberoi, executive chairman of the Oberoi Group, known as the finest hotelier in the world.
Prithvi Raj Singh Oberoi and KP Singh
Such is his passion for the hotel chain he inherited from his father, and his eye for detail, that stories of his fastidiousness are shared in hospitality circles with awe (one features the celebrated octogenarian swooping down on a spotty glass placed on a customer’s table and replacing it himself during his legendary walks around his properties), so no surprises then that this week it was announced that Oberoi’s pet project, the Oberoi Hotels & Resorts was voted as the world’s best hotel brand for the second year in a row by readers of a leading travel magazine.
Incidentally, the only other competition the dapper legend has, as the ‘most enduring sophisticate in India,’ is from DLF Chairman KP Singh. “Both men born a few years apart are known for their elegant homes and meticulous eye for detail,” says a Delhi hostess. “What’s more they both like to live like pucca English country squires at home, with Bikki being famous for arranging bagpipers to serenade startled guests at sunrise at his farm,” she says.
Reason for another round of pipes now.
Apostle of peace
One is a tech tycoon, a member of Parliament and an outspoken spokesmen for the armed forces (his work on OROP to get justice for service men has been lauded), the other is an apostle for peace and so when we chanced upon this picture of Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka and Member of the Parliament Standing Committee on Defence, with the Dalai Lama on the latter’s birthday this week, we were intrigued.
The Dalai Lama with Rajeev Chandrasekhar
“I was fortunate to have met His Holiness The Dalai Lama just ahead of his birthday in 2013 in Bangalore. And in September 2014 had the honour of hosting and welcoming him at ‘One World. One Vision’ in New Delhi,” says Chandrasekhar who divides his time between Delhi and Bangalore.
“At a time when the world is waking up to the effects of brutality and violence perpetrated on innocents, HH is a man who has faced the same brutality and oppression on his people over decades by the Chinese, but has stoically and doggedly pursued the message of compassion and love,” he says with palpable admiration.