The unbearable lightness of being Kangna

“It’s so sad. People in my position really don’t have avenues to meet interesting like-minded people,” said Kangna Ranaut, when we met her yesterday. “I mean, that one lucky chance where I go to a party and run into someone I can talk to is so rare,” she said, stirring her cappuccino despondently.

We are at the Olive Bandra and the star is about to meet the media to speak about her latest interest, ‘A Small World’ known as the ‘paid-subscription social network’, or the MySpace for millionaires, the private international travel and social club which she’s recently become member of.

Kangana Ranaut
Kangna Ranaut

“When people like us go out, we always have to watch what we say, you can’t even have more than two glasses of wine in case someone’s filming you,” she says. Sabine Heller, the attractive vice chairman of A Small World, says “Recently, we invited Kangna to Gstaad for the weekend and she had such fun; skiing, dinners and meeting so many interesting people.”

 Rahul Akerkar Aatish Taseer
Rahul Akerkar and Aatish Taseer

“And hopefully when they plan a trip to India, I can show them around,” says the star, who after the huge success of ‘Queen’ and the iffy response to ‘Revolver Rani’ had taken a bit of a break, pursuing screen writing in New York. “Now I’m back. Five projects including a sequel to Tanu and Reema Kagti’s new film,” she says.

What was it like going back to school? The actress perks up at the mention of her NY sojourn, “It was great. You shed so much baggage when you get out of your comfort zone. I sometimes think it’s an advantage that my parents hadn’t sent me off to great universities when I was younger, now I am really able to appreciate the learning I got.”

Like all truly sophisticated people, Ranaut is unabashedly real. Not for her the fake accent, the ‘I’m so international and sophisticated’ demeanour. She appreciates her modest upbringing in Simla just as she appreciates the enlightening global exposure that her success has brought her. In fact, the only other person in the industry who truly shares Ranaut’s thirst for knowledge and desire to evolve is Rekha, but that’s another story.

“We chose Kangna as a member because she’s so international, edgy and yet Indian,” says Sabine of the club whose other Indian members are said to be writer Aatish Taseer, hotelier Jaisal Singh, restaurateur Rahul Akerkar and LVMH’s Tikka Shatrujit Singh.

“If I were interested in business, for instance, I could use the network to reach out to other members internationally, but even just as a place for making friends-it’s fun,” says Ranaut, nibbling absent-mindedly at a plate of assorted canapes looking at that moment, as far from a businesswoman as humanly possible.

Kissa kursi ka
Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end of the ‘front-row syndrome’. Expected by socialites, stars, and other worthies, the front row is an enduring a symbol of India’s upwardly mobile aspirations. But to his great regret, the industrialist, who made a fetish of this seating preference, is ruing the day.

The problem is supposed to have begun at a ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ conclave last year when the gent, the head of home appliances venture made his interest for a seat on stage well known. When that was denied; he lobbied hard for a front row perch until he was gently divested of that idea by the organisers.

“When it was suggested that he make do with a seat in the second row,” says our source, “he showed his ire by sending across a relative of his to the function.” Now what? “Well, no ones saying that his group’s recent travails with authorities is any result of this of course, but word is out that he’s a bit of a persona non grata.” Another version of kissa kursi ka we say.

A graceful presence
One of the prominent guests at Sunday night’s Sahachari Foundation fashion show championed by Smita Parekh was Rashmi Thackeray, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s graceful wife.

Rashmi Thackeray
Rashmi Thackeray

“Her taste is impeccable,” says a source, “and what’s more, she can always be counted on to attend and demonstrate her support by buying generously. And she’s got an excellent eye for textiles and design.” So there’s hope that Varsha might get a tasteful makeover?

The good things of life
From those in the know, the Malabar Hill home of Nitin Kasliwal, chairman of S Kumars, last heard of as the subject of a ‘name and shame’ campaign by the Kolkata-based UCO Bank owed R110-crore by him, is one of the best-appointed in Mumbai.

 Nitin Kasliwal
Nitin Kasliwal

Said to be one of the areas most stunning apartments, the Kasliwal residence a sumptuous nine-bedroom affair rented from Niranjan Hiranandani was the venue of Kasliwal’s daughter’s wedding last week, which departing from practice, was held at home. “Its got perhaps one of the finest collections of Razas that exist,” says a lady equally celebrated for her fine eye.

“That, and his collection of Italian suits have earned him a reputation of being a true connoisseur,” Incidentally, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Kasliwal’s brother-in-law (he’s married to Nitin’s sister Neerja) was conspicuous by his absence on the occasion.

Fifty years of art
Unlike other art galleries Chemould, the late Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy’s iconic venture whose 50th anniversary celebrations are underway, is not only an institution but also an art movement; and recently their daughter Shireen, who ably mans the fort, gathered up the flock and took them to Kerala for a celebration.

 Shireen Gandhy
Shireen Gandhy

“There were almost 70 people in all,” says a source. “Artists, other gallerists, curators and art writers, It was her way of saying thank you for the love.” And here’s to the next fifty!

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