Things of importance

Who says things of importance do not occur at parties? It is our contention that the most important conversations take place on the margins of life: the sauna rooms of elite establishments, the elevators of prime buildings, the city’s golf courses and lounge bars-and of course its parties.

And when the internationally lauded scientist, philanthropist and humanist Dr Yusuf Hamied, Chairman of Cipla, met Delhi Speinmaster supreme, the swashbuckling Suhel Seth (now nine kilos lighter after a magic diet) on a balmy Mumbai evening recently, sparks flew.

Dr Yusuf Hamied with Suhel Seth
Dr Yusuf Hamied with Suhel Seth

“During our talks many issues were discussed, intellectual property rights, access to medicines at affordable pricing, etc.” says Dr Hamied, respected almost as a God in Africa for his unprecedented humanitarian initiative that has saved millions of lives which would have been otherwise lost to AIDS-related deaths.

“Suhel then said that the North East India, which he was familiar with, was the richest area of our country and that it had the highest disease level due to many factors. He then talked about HIV/AIDS and wanted to know whether there was anything useful as a preventive. When I said that there was a drug already available, his usual exuberance erupted and he wanted to know more,” says the good scientist, called Yuku by his friends.

“I told him the true facts. Last year, the USA FDA approved a single tablet drug containing 2 active ingredients, Tenofovir and Emtricitabine, taken once a day, which prevented a person, contracting HIV. This is called PreP, pre-exposure propholaxsis and for the past few years, CIPLA has been making and marketing this drug, TENVIR-EM here in India and in Sub-Saharan Africa.

It is readily available and very reasonably priced,” says Dr Hamied, adding, “Suhel was ecstatic and went on and on as to how he would promote the drug and what a potential this product has particularly in NE India. Also as to how this could change the quality of life of the people, particularly in the above areas. ‘Think of the lives saved!’ he said.”

And given its urgency, perhaps Seth’s unmatched position on the political business policy pyramid, and his persuasive powers might just be able to get the policy wonks in Modi’s government interested. Of course, if it’s all too altruistic a mission for the State, they could always spin it off for the huge advantage it would give the Indian economy.

Who says matters of importance cannot begin at parties?

Divine divas in Paris
Always great to chat with designer Manish Malhotra, the man who changed the way Bollywood dressed and possessor of the finest bone structure since Nefertiti.

Kangana Ranaut and Manish Malhotra
Kangana Ranaut and Manish Malhotra

Back from a breezy trip to Paris with Kangana Ranaut, which included the Fashion week, a Dior outing and the shoot for Vogue in which the two free spirits partook of a storyline of exquisite companionship, Malhotra was all affection and praise for the actress. “She is very different. So cerebral but also like a child,” he said.

“I’m more the type who says let’s get on with things. We’ve been friends for a while now, doing quiet dinners together,” he said, adding, “The shoot was hilarious; because of course I took longer on my hair and makeup! And she’d be accusing me of being a bigger diva,” smiles Malhotra.

Stratospheric coolness
We often wonder if we are the only people in the world so inordinately fascinated by trivia. Not just any trivia, mind you: people trivia. Last week not only did we find ourselves congratulating Neena Gupta on her play ‘Mera Woh Matlab Nahi Tha’, which opened to good notices at the NCPA over the weekend but also on the engagement of her beautiful daughter designer Masaba Gupta to film producer Madhu Mantena.

Masaba Gupta and Madhu Mantena. Pic/Instagram
Masaba Gupta and Madhu Mantena. Pic/Instagram

But given our fascination with quirky details of absolutely no importance whatsoever, we found ourselves saying to the mother of the to-be bride, ‘Masaba Mantena’ will be the coolest name!’ That would have been enough perhaps but adding that her future son-in-law enjoyed the distinction of dating the daughter of a world renowned economist (Amartya Sen) and the daughter of a world renowned sportsman, which made him the coolest of all, was perhaps odd.

Neena Gupta
Neena Gupta

To her credit, Neena realised that it was coming from a deep reservoir of equal affection and fascination for trivia and smiled bemusedly.

In vino veritas
“Sula Vineyards is all set to take part in ProWein taking place in Düsseldorf next week 15-17, and I’m off tonight with a packed schedule.” It was Cecilia Oldne, Sula’s Global Brand Ambassador and Head-International Business, whose exuberance and charm have done as much to promote the vineyard as her marketing punch.

Cecilia Oldne
Cecilia Oldne

“This event is the biggest alcobev show in Europe, considered one of the most important in the industry and will be presenting a wide range of wines and spirits from around 50 countries across the globe. Sula Vineyards’ premium range of wines, including the Dindori Reserve Shiraz, which ranked #25 in the ‘Top 100 Wines of the Year’ list by Wine Enthusiast magazine and our lovely Riesling - India’s first and still only, will be showcased,” says Oldne who has a wonderful singing voice.

“With Nashik establishing itself as an important wine producing region on the world wine map - it’s an exciting time for us to show the world what we’re up to,” says the globetrotting lady adding, “After the show, I’m off to Amsterdam as the Netherlands is one of our most promising markets in Europe where our wines have received an excellent response since their launch one year ago. And as Amsterdam is one of my favourite cities, I look forward to spreading some Sula love and welcome spring there too!”

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