The stars come to Cuffe Parade

When we spoke to him yesterday, award-winning architect, Ashiesh Shah, named as one of an architecture magazine's 'Top 50 Architects of Asia,' whose Mumbai-based architecture and design firm has become the Holy Grail of India's well heeled and design conscious, had just arrived at his own sundowner at Cuffe Parade's Mittal Grandeur.

Sameer and Ritika Dattani with Ashiesh ShahSameer and Ritika Dattani with Ashiesh Shah

“I'm hosting it along with Sameer and Ritika, to showcase the penthouse I've designed,” said the cherubic architect. “Sonam (Kapoor) is coming and we're going to be cutting a cake for the success of Neerja. Jacqueline (Fernandez) will be here and Ayaan (Mukherjee) just called to say that he and Ranbir (Kapoor) will be dropping in soon,” he said, adding, “But where are you?”

Jacqueline Fernandez, Sonam, and Ranbir KapoorJacqueline Fernandez, Sonam, and Ranbir Kapoor

At work writing this, we said to Shah, who is known to have been the designer of Ranbir and Katrina's Pali Hill home. “I will try my best to be there to witness Bollywood's visit to visit Cuffe Parade,” we said. What we didn't say is that like Parmesh Godrej, all those years ago, Shah just might be the one who brings on another great confluence of the best of SoBo and NoBo.

Teacher's Pet
One of the sweetest sights at Shobhaa and Dilip De's daughter, Arundhati's wedding to Sahil Sheth, that occurred this weekend and saw the who's who of the city converge on the NCPA lawns, was that of BJP spokesperson Shaina NC walking around the venue with Ranadeep, the De's dashing Singapore-based son.

Shaina NC and Ranadeep De
Shaina NC and Ranadeep De

More than the matching colours of their attires, we were intrigued by the obvious bonhomie. “We were in the same class in school,” explained De. “But of course, Shaina would always be at the front of the class …” he said, teasing the politician who appeared chuffed by the description.

Shaina NC as the teacher's pet, answering all the questions in the front row? Somehow we're not surprised.

Handsome tome on Gandhi
This evening will witness the release of Delhi-based author and publisher Pramod Kapoor's handsome tome, 'Gandhi An Illustrated Biography,' which has been receiving attractive rave reviews from scholars and lay people alike.

Tara Gandhi-Bhattacharjee and Pramod KapoorTara Gandhi-Bhattacharjee and Pramod Kapoor

“Researching Gandhi for the last six years, I felt his story needed to be told in the style most understandable to the present generation. My biography is an anecdotal rendering where “images are in continuous conversation with the text,”” said .

“If I had not seen Pramod Kapoor's profusely illustrated biography... I would not have believed there was a whole treasure chest of photos yet to be discovered, that were neither seen, printed or published before...” said director Shyam Benegal, who will be discussing the book with Kapoor and Anil Dharker at the release. “The accompanying text makes it a highly accessible and readable biography. A rare collector's item.”

Generosity and Grace
Grace was the word that came to mind at Rahul Bose's black tie sit down fund raiser The Idea of India held over the weekend for his NGO, The Foundation.

Neerja and Kumar Mangalam Birla
Neerja and Kumar Mangalam Birla

Partnered with the Bajaj family, who lent its considerable heft with the presence of both Rahul and Niraj Bajaj, the evening featured some other of India's most distinguished corporate surnames like Godrej, Birla and Goenka, along with the some of the country's brightest and best.

Niraj Bajaj
Niraj Bajaj

Ronnie Screwvalla and wife Zarina Mehta, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Atul and Anju Dodiya, Jitesh and Reena Kallat, Ayaz Memon, and AD Singh rubbed shoulders with the likes of Neerja and Kumar Mangalam Birla, Harsh Goenka and Pheroza Gordrej, for an evening that saw 11 veritable treasures being auctioned. From a signed guitar of Chris Martin to the 'Rarest of the Rare' Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia's most cherished flute, to a spectacular Atul Dodiya's depiction of an imagined conversation between MK Gandhi and a child, the paddles went up with enthusiastic alacrity, as Mallika Advani worked the room with professional expertise.

Rahul Bose and Rahul Bajaj
Rahul Bose and Rahul Bajaj

But to our minds two incidents from the evening particularly deserve mention. The first is Advani's innovative kickoff of the auction, in which philanthropist Zarina Mehta snapped up a humble school slate for R 5 lakh, transforming the proceedings from the transactional to the purely philanthropic. And the second is Chemould's dynamic Shireen Gandhy, whose bidding for one of her own artist's, Atul Dodiya's spectacular work, demonstrated her regard for the artist. “Shireen must have a huge collection of Dodiyas from the series,” said an envious buyer. “And the fact that she bid R 32 lakh for a painting with a starting price of R 14 lakh is noteworthy.”

Tracking Ravi Varma
By all accounts, Swati and Ajay Piramal's Sunday brunch hosted at their Gallery themed around Raja Ravi Varma, was a jolly affair. Swati, one of India's leading scientists involved in healthcare, likes nothing more than bringing her creativity to her soirees.

Ajay and Swati Piramal
Ajay and Swati Piramal

From a table that boasted dishes that marked Ravi Varma's travels, to details that evoked his life and times, the afternoon was marked by attention to detail and cheer.

Uday Kotak
Uday Kotak

Uday and Pallavi Kotak, Kamal and Niranjan Hirandanani were amongst the appreciative guests spotted on the occasion.

Another art scandal
Every now and then the grapevine jangles with news of the latest art scandal, and now it's the time for one more. This time, it involves one of Kolkata's most revered patters, whose works are allegedly being counterfeited by unscrupulous dealers.

What's got people intrigued, is that not only are the accusers among the country's most credible art and media mavens, but that the casqued happens to have a gilt-lined surname too.

Not too long ago, similar stories had emerged about three other of India's leading contemporary masters. And alas – were found to have more than a little credence.

“It's all a matter of interpretation,” as our Oolong tea favouring SoBo hostess never tires of repeating, “Whether the Master paints the whole thing or 'supervises' and signs it, is just a natter of detail these days.”
Ah so.

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