>> The Big Bill is here and Mumbai’s in for the big schmooze. Even as he dusts off his notes at a star studded event tonight, Bill Clinton, husband of the most likely future president of the United States, and alpha schmoozer will be preparing to deliver some very expensive words (after all, he is one of the highest paid and most sought after speakers on the international lecture circuit) at Sunny Varkey’s meet on Thursday morning.
Varkey, the dashing Dubai-based founder and Chairman of GEMS Education, a noted educationist and philanthropist, was also recently most known for being the man who introduced Sunanda and Shashi Tharoor.
This occasional match making aside Varkey oversees ‘a global network of award winning international schools, which spans nine countries reaching 1,30,000 students from 151 different nationalities.’
>> Each time she returns to Mumbai from Hamburg, friends and fans of the statuesque songstress Shweta Shetty realise how much they have lost. Known to possess one of the finest vocal chords in the business the lady whose Deewane To Deewane Hain and Johnny Joker can still rock a dance floor recently recorded a jingle for Amul Kool.
The commercial by Kailash and Aarti Surendranath was shot in Istanbul. “Shweta is one of the finest vocalists in this country (and I’m not saying this because she’s my friend),” says Aarti about the nightingale. “It’s such a shame that she’s out of touch with the current music scene and the new gen doesn’t know what it’s missing!”
>> And this from our friend Pradip Krishen (director of cult classic In Which Annie Gives Them Those Ones) whose passion now is watching the grass grow, literally. He’s a naturalist, environmentalist and a noted authority on trees (Trees of Delhi: A Field Guide, published by Dorling Kindersley/Penguin Group).
A shout out to any one who’s ‘into music’ and loves full moons — (and, of course, loves listening to music on full moons) must attend the Chaandni Concerts in Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park, Jodhpur. “Every full moon night from March to September of this year, there is a series of concerts featuring Manganiars — the amazing minstrels from the Thar desert — at the Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park at the foot of Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur,” says Krishen, who is the director of the Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park — a rocky habitat adjoining the Fort, which has been planted up with vegetation native to rocky parts of the Thar desert. “It makes for a wonderful setting — a rocky desert habitat, with a medieval fortress in the background, he says, and then adds the magic words.” “It’s also free!” From April 25. Full moon night. The Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park. Be there or be square!
>> This weekend will see some of the biggest names in the art, media and social world gather at the Taj to support Surabhi Kala, the proposed theme park in Navi Mumbai that will showcase the best of Indian culture, the brainchild of Siddharth Kak (whose TV serial of the same name introduced generations of Indians to the bets of India).
With a roster of eminent personalities such as Pam Chopra, Shobhaa De, Prasoon Joshi, Sangita Jindal and Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma on the panel, the evening will witness a unique auction where treasures like Bhupen Hazarika’s harmonium, PT Usha’s personal sportswear and priceless Tanjores and heirloom Parsi gara embroidery will be sold. We like!
The art of spin
>> And now, not only do we receive news for this column composed in its signature style — but also official press releases! In this artful piece of spin, crafted to shift the blame of non-payment of artists, its creators have not only borrowed from the diary style, but also borrowed a few favourite journalistic alibis (‘when contacted the spokesperson was unavailable for comment’ etc). Or else what else can we make of the flowing? “The squabble between family run Cool Chef Cafe and disgruntled artists has taken a turn. As understood, several artists have been dragging CCC’s name through the mud over non-payment of fees due to them for events hosted by the cafe. To understand the matter better, we questioned the younger and less arrogant of the owners, Kaviraj Thadani, who mentioned that all the events were sponsored by Budweiser who (sic) still owes CCC up to Rs 1,67,333 in unpaid dues,” the missive reads. “Kaviraj also states that despite his numerous follow-ups with Sachit (head of marketing — AB InBev India) the matter is still delayed.
Brother Tarun Thadani chose to remain mum on the subject due to his professional relationship with the breweries. Now the primary reason for the disparity (sic — surely they mean dispute?) is known. We tried contacting Sachit but he was unavailable.” Seriously guys, if Budweiser (or even Sachit) would like to speak, we’d be happy to hear their ..er in their own words please.
Manhattan to Mumbai
>> “I started exhibiting in New York which was very fulfilling because of the creativity that surrounded me at all times,” says Jaya Lamba, the petite artist who has lived in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and New York, at different stages of her life and whose solo show opens at Gallery Art and Soul today.
“I hung out in Tribeca and in Brooklyn and it was an amazing energy to be around,” says the lady who painted all of her life, but began formally exhibiting her work seven years ago in New York. Since then her paintings have been shown in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Westchester.
As for working and living in amchi Mumbai, it’s a throwback to Manhattan. “I find the same energy in upcoming artists in India. Amazing ideas and an avant-garde attitude!”