The Accidental bestseller
No one can be happier about Sanjaya Baru’s ‘Accidental Prime Minsiter’ becoming such a success more than his friends, amongst who we count ourselves.
Not only has he been a dear friend, but was responsible for taking us on as a columnist when he edited the Business Standard, an engagement that continues.
Sanjaya Baru with Manmohan Singh. File pic
Baru is one of the finest journalists we have in the country, but what we love best about his company is his pleasure in exchanging great gossip, always the hallmark of a good journalist.
But those within the PM’s family ought to think twice about denigrating him. Over the years, we recall his deep personal regard for the PM and his loyalty for him over numerous conversations.
So why have the normally reticent Manmohan Singh and family responded with such hostility to the book? Or have the buttons of the remote control been punched once again? And doesn’t this prove Baru’s theory all the more?
Fashion’s latest move
Always great to see Rohit Bal in Mumbai. The all-grown-up designer, once known as the enfant terrible of fashion, who now insists that friends desist from calling him by his nickname Gudda, has done an even more grown up thing: he’s signed up with the hugely successful Indian fashion and lifestyle e-commerce portal Jabong.com, and as of today, will be available to millions of its of customers online.
Rohit Bal, Shraddha Kapoor and Arun Chandra Mohan
The confluence of Bal, who represents Indian haute couture at its finest and Jabong, one of the most visited e-commerce sites in the country, is an interesting juxtaposition, one that spells much advantage for the customer.
Talking to Jabong’s dapper founder, the Chennai-born Gurgaon-relocated Arun Chandra Mohan, we learnt of how it will present Bal fans with ready-to-wear beautifully produced and up-to-date outfits at affordable prices right at their door.
To be sure, when models wearing Bal’s exquisite Indian summer wear walked on to the make shift ramp at the Palladium’s Li Bai, the designer standing next to us whispered delightedly, “Only R6,000 for that,” and, “only Rs 8,000 for this.”
How on earth did you manage to keep the prices so low? We whispered back to Bal. At which he pointed dramatically to Chandra Mohan and said, “He’s the man!” Mohan blushed modestly and then the whole party shifted upstairs for dinner.
Another one bites the dust
As over the top and extravagant weddings go, this one was right up there on the social register, recently in Mumbai. Guests were treated to a complete makeover of a leading Sobo five-star hotel recently, and they could not stop gushing over the décor and arrangements. So it comes as a great sadness that the marriage is reported to be off.
And though the bride’s family, a wealthy one based in the Middle East, is attempting to put an unfair spin on the reasons why, those in the know say that it was called off because the groom’s side was appalled at their extortions for money and their shady connections which were only revealed later.
Much trouble in Paradise.
Tale of two cities
So now it’s official: Nobo is the place to be. Time was when the one thing it had going for it was that Sobo boasted of its reputation for being the top choice as residence for the leaders of the financial community. Nobo could have its Bollywood and showbiz crowd but it was only in the environs of its Sobo’s two hills, Cumballa and Malabar, and at Cuffe Parade that you would find where leading members of the city’s business and finance community went thinking.
Ashok and Reena Wadhwani
You know what? That status is also fast changing. When dyed in the wool Sobo residents, business leader Jasjit Singh of ACG and his interior decorator wife Kavita Singh, moved to a sprawling bungalow on Carter road, one could hear in the move the death knell for Sobo snobbery. And recently, when we ran into top investment banker and his wife, film producer and luxury brand owner Reena and were informed that they were excitedly looking forward to moving from their Cuffe Parade residence to an apartment at the Bandra Kurla complex, we knew that it was only a matter of time before dozens of Sobokers saw the wisdom in relocating northwards (bigger homes, more money in the bank and hipper neighbours, etc.)
All it will take to tip the balance now is if a big name industrialist like Anil Ambani buys a residence in Bandra.
Wait… hasn’t that happened already?
Biography of screen legend
And news comes in that our cousin, the author and columnist Lady Kishwar Desai, wife of the British peer Lord Meghnad, is in the throes of completing her biography of screen legend Devika Rani, called ‘Devika: The Love of Two Men’. “It will feature the accomplished actress and both her husbands Himanshu Rai as well as Svetoslav Roerich,” she told us. How did Desai decide to write the book?
Lady Kishwar Desai
“It was while researching my book on Nargis and Sunil Dutt that I found some material about Devika Rani at the National Film Archives and was fascinated,” says the author, adding, “But when I looked around for more information, I couldn't find very much-and so decided that I would write a book about them.”
And when will it be ready?
“By the end of the year, if not earlier,” says Desai. “She was an incredible woman-and both her husbands were very interesting too. But I won’t say more than that, as I want you to read the book!”
Love thy neighbour
Speaking of building matters, we’ve often been fascinated by the strange bedfellows that Mumbai housing societies create. Usha Kiran, the legendary building on Altamount road once boasted of a galaxy of prominent names, from Dhirubhai Ambani, to Vasudev M Salgaocar, to Jayant Malhoutra, to actress Tanuja, to Shyam Ahuja. Many other buildings around Mumbai have such interesting groupings of celeb neighbours (Aishwarya Rai and Sachin Tendulkar were once neighbours on Carter road, we hear).
Tanuja, Dhirubhai Ambani, Sachin Tendulkar, Aishwarya Rai
What do these individuals say to each other when they meet in the lobby while waiting for the lift? And are society meetings spectacularly glam or just run of the mill and blah, like for us ornery folk? And while on the subject of glam building residents, the building that Ashok Wadhwa currently resides in counts no less than top banker Nimesh Kampani, author columnist Shobhaa De, and industrialists Shekhar Bajaj and Bharat Kewalramani as its residents.
Talk about tall stories!