Sumptuous wedding in Venice

If the rest of India appeared a trifle dull and celebrity starved recently, then blame it on the recently concluded Venetian nuptials of NRI couple Ashwin Grover and Riya Khilnani, who tied the knot at a splendid Venetian ceremony over the weekend. And with the groom's parents Pamela and Timmy Grover, and the bride's Asha and Dipi Khilnani being prominent social figures, the presence of glamour and glitz was a forgone conclusion.

Manish Malhotra, Kajal Anand, Gauri Khan, Shweta Nanda, Farah Oomerbhoy, Roohi Jaikishan and Jaya Bachchan in Venice
Manish Malhotra, Kajal Anand, Gauri Khan, Shweta Nanda, Farah Oomerbhoy, Roohi Jaikishan and Jaya Bachchan in Venice

Seen at the celebrations and in and around the beautiful Italian city were the likes of Jaya Bachchan, Tina Ambani, Manish Malhotra, Gauri Khan, Neetu Kapoor, Shweta Nanda, Karan Johar, Roohi Jaikishan and Rima Jain. Incidentally one of the highlights of the wedding is said to be the Bollywood number performed by Rima, who happens to be the groom's aunt, which revealed she's inherited a fair share of her father Raj Kapoor's sense of rhythm and beat.

Goodwill to all men
Amidst all the elegant emeralds and bespoke attire at the Venetian wedding, Mumbai's erstwhile Diwan Rahul Nanda stood out for his unbridled enthusiasm, buoyant bonhomie, and above all his penchant for embracing his favourite people in a Panjabi pyar da jhappi of stratospheric proportions!

The head of Topsgroup, one of the country's largest security agencies, who now lives the life of a country squire in London and has recently rechristened himself curiously as Richie Nanda, is seen here carrying out his affection laden death locks on some pretty frightened looking Mumbai swains: Raja Dodhy, Manish Malhotra and Yash Birla. You could say he was in top form and then some.

Championing the funny men
The last time we'd called him, it was to enquire about his lunch with the merry men from AIB at a private Sobo club. "I've been a supporter of free speech and their right to be heard," Congressman Milind Deora had said.

And recently with his unequivocal support of various acerbic and outspoken stand up artists, it is clear that Deora's was not just a passing fancy. On Saturday the Congressman who'd introduced the RTI Bill in Parliament during his tenure as MP from South Mumbai had retweeted a sardonic comment by AIB's Tanmay Bhat, on the sorry state of free speech in India.

He then followed that up a few hours later with a 'Can't wait!'About AIB's podcast 'Unoffended' that uploads today, and then, when there was no doubt at all where his heart lay on the issue, Deora's 'Yes!!! About time!' post on Facebook about the upcoming Russell Brand participation in Chuckle Festival, a destination venue for world-class comedy, presented by Live Viacom 18 in four Indian cities at the end of June proves that though his party might have been shown to be out of step with public sentiment - when it comes to youth sentiment, this Congressman and Sunday rocker sure gets the vibe.

Salman weighs in
"Raif Badawi's is an important voice for all of us to hear, mild, nuanced, but clear. His examination of his culture is perceptive and rigorous," writes author Salman Rushdie in support of the beleaguered blogger, whose torment at the hands of Saudi authorities in the form of 100 stinging and life threatening lashes has shocked the world.

Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie

But Rushdie who himself has been at the receiving end of intolerance's stinging assault, makes a nuanced point, "Of course he must be saved from the dreadful sentence against him and the appalling conditions of his imprisonment.

A cyclist passes by activists protesting outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy at Berlin, against the ruling that upheld the sentence to blogger Raif Badawi. Pic/Getty Images
A cyclist passes by activists protesting outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy at Berlin, against the ruling that upheld the sentence to blogger Raif Badawi. Pic/Getty Images

But he must also be read, so that we understand the struggle within Islam between suffocating orthodoxy and free expression, and make sure we find ourselves on the right side of that struggle," said the internationally renowned writer. We like!

Farewell and Godspeed
When Sujata Assumoll, fashion blogger and former editor of Harper's Bazaar had informed us at the Sabyasachi dinner for power women recently, that she would be leaving India shortly to return to Dubai where her family resides, we hadn't believed her.

Sujata Assomull with friends
Sujata Assomull with friends

After all, the fashionista had built up a flourishing career for herself, along with a presence in both Delhi and Mumbai where she had homes and was a well-regarded name in the fashion universe. Perhaps it was just a passing whim we'd thought. But now, on hearing of the many and varied farewells thrown for her in the capital city this past week we know that it is a considered decision.

And from fashionistas like Dior's Kalyani Chawla to FDCI's Sunil Sethi to designers David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore it appears the Delhi's fashion frat took a moment off from its hectic schedules to bid farewell to the pint sized fashion dynamo.

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