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Talking to Bill, schmoozing with Ben

Last year, when we had attended his talk with Bill Clinton, we recall congratulating our friend, the banker Uday Kotak, not only on his hitherto unknown moderating skills, but also on the excellent execution of the evening.


Ben Bernanke and Bill Clinton. Pic/Getty Images

We recall the NCPA auditorium filled to the rafters with the city’s most eminent personalities from the worlds of finance, industry, the arts, society and philanthropy. (So high powered was the audience that many joked that just to be seen in the crowd afforded unprecedented schmoozing opportunity). So last evening when Kotak Presidium presented no less than Ben Bernanke, who had served two terms as chairman of the Federal Reserve, it was much the repeat of the same.


Uday Kotak

Incidentally, with more corporates like the Mahindras, Godrejs and Jindals recognising the need to engage with opinion makers through events like these; audiences in Mumbai are spoilt for choice, when it comes to after hour options!

Towering medical personality
He’s known as the father of respiratory medicine in India, but for his legion of grateful patients who he has attended to over the years, Dr Farokh Udwadia is more akin to a saviour. 

Considered to be the one of the world’s authorities in pulmonary medicine, this towering medical personality of the Breach Candy hospital whose patients have ranged from the famous (like Dhirubhai Ambani and Amitabh Bachchan) to the ordinary, will be felicitated this April 27, on the anniversary of his fiftieth year in medicine.

And amongst the speeches and accolades will be the silent gratitude of his patients past and present, we are sure.

Film on Rumi
He didn’t live up to the promise of his earlier films like Gaman and Umrao Jaan and his Dimple Kapadia-Vinod Khanna, Zooni hasn’t still been released, but fashion designer, poet, artist and Sufi revivalist, Muzaffar Ali from the royal family of Kotwara is said to be working on his life’s project: a film on Rumi.

Ali, the father of Shaad (Bunty Aur Babli) Ali, it will be recalled, has been an ardent lover of Sufism and his annual three-day Jahan-e-Khusrau Sufi music festival held in New Delhi is a much-awaited event.

Here’s hoping that his film on Rumi has better luck than Zooni.

Clods and silver
So just like every cloud has a silver lining, every silver lining has a clod.

This professional, who’d once, captured the imagination of business writers for his spectacularly sudden rise to billionaire’s status appears to have particularly blotted his copybook.

Not only are two of his companies listed among the top loan defaulters in the country, but the fact that he’s a bachelor, dating a married woman, that too the wife of a senior and respected professional, has got tongues wagging.

See what we meant about silver linings and clods?

At Ascots in tails and top hat
Word comes in that our old Kolkata friend Russi Mody, the Tata titan and legendary bon vivant is doing poorly. 

Mody, who is now 96, served as Chairman and Managing Director of Tata Steel between 1984 and 1993, was known as the ‘man of steel’ for his larger than life personality and the hold he had over Jamshedpur in general and Tata Steel in particular.

Those were the days when JRD Tata presided over the Tata Group as a benign statesman, with a clutch of loyal but powerful satraps working under him like Darbari Seth of Tata Chemicals, Ajit Kerkar of the Taj and Russi Mody of Tata Steel. The appointment of Ratan Tata following JRD’s death had heralded in a new era when each of these men were eased out to make way for the new order.

By the time we met Russi, he was already a legend: his appetite for food and drink (which included a 16 egg omelette), matched that of his as a collector of porcelain lamps, blue pottery, crystal and art. We used to meet him in the company of his good friend and later adopted son, Aditya Kayshap who’d also served as a top executive of Tata Steel.

Like most great individuals, Russi was childlike in his enthusiasm. On one occasion, chuckling mischievously, he’d displayed pictures of himself and Aditya, dashingly dressed to the hilt in top hats and tails, attending Ascot and regaled us with stories of how he’d come to rent the mandatory attire.

‘We grow old’ and ‘wear the bottoms of our trousers rolled’ but that they were once accompanied with top hats and tails is what makes our lives special!

Good news for film buffs
This weekend will witness the kick off of an exciting new venture for film buffs. Film critic and TV presenter Anupama Chopra has teamed up with PVR’s Ajay and Sanjeev Bijli to launch the ‘Screening Room’, an ‘exclusive club for film aficionados that will showcase eclectic films, curated by the well-regarded film critic. And to start the ball rolling: Wes Anderson’s ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’.


Anupama Chopra

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Tennis anyone?
An interesting aside at the Swades celeb fashion show last week, was the presence of Leander Paes on the ramp and Rhea Pillai in the audience, who barely acknowledged each other and sat on separate tables once the formal dinner got underway.


Leander Paes, Rhea Pillai

Last year the society pages were rife with news of their split, but neither had commented on it.

This public iciness obviously points to the fact that things have headed southwards between the pretty ‘Art of Living’ instructress and the tennis legend.

Incidentally, the hall witnessed at least two other instances of familial and social iciness. But more of that later.

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