>> And so comes the day to celebrate Sylvie. Sylvester da Cunha, the boy from the celebrated Goan family of da Cunhas from Arpora who came to Mumbai and brought wit and zing and a huge dollop of utterly-buttery style to the world of advertising and theatre. Da Cunha who produced satirical plays that commented on the state of things in India long before any of today’s terribly clever stand-up comics had grown their first pre-pubescent facial fuzz. Da Cunha who when we were rookie journos, lived with his Cambridge-educated blue stocking writer wife Nisha in a gingerbread cottage at the top of a long and winding road that just happened to be in one of Mumbai’s most tony neighbourhoods. That Sylvie. It’s his birthday today. And it’s time to celebrate him. For his urbanity and insight, his humour and wit.
We have not been back to the gingerbread cottage for some time now but remember it as if it were yesterday: a home crammed with books and art (the kind you save up to buy for with passion) and good music and plants. The kind of house that all civilised people ought to live in. Happy Birthday Sylvie. And thank you for giving two newbie hacks a glimpse of a little corner of Mumbai that now seems to be the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle in this wild and wanton city of ours!
Mumbai boho-chic in Bali
>> The lovely Divya Mohta, creator of one of the more elegant interpretations of Boho chic — the design label Tambourine — clothes inspired by arts, crafts and textile traditions of world cultures is in the news: Tambourine’s new collection of prints is out and what’s more, making waves at home and internationally. From this Monday her clothes will be selling from the Horn Emporium, a gallery-like boutique owned by New Zealander Anita Horn in Bali’s posh Seminyak area.
Having recently been to the Indonesian resort we have seen how high the standard of boutique retail is and know how discerning the cool Bali crowd is. And we can see Divya’s latest creations inspired by African wax prints, and Kantha sit quite happily alongside the best of Bali chic. “I feel Tambourine has the potential to be a global brand, born from and made in India, that has an internationally appeal and contemporary feel,” says Mohta, adding, “The only other brand I can liken Tambourine's potential to is Shanghai Tang.” We like!
>> Being huge Priyanka Chopra fans we finally got round to watching her debut video single In my City and have to admit we are slightly underwhelmed by it.
A worldwide recording contract with no less than the Universal Music Group, the management of Troy Carter, CEO of Atom Factory, who famously also manages Lady Gaga, and the creative inputs of Will.i.am. and this is what we get? An anodyne tribute to one of the world’s grittiest and greatest cities? And what’s with the value for money computer-generated graphics? And mind-numbingly inane lyrics? (Can any one say ‘everybody’s welcome here/Everybody welcome to my city, We ain’t got any worries here/ I know you’re going to like it in my city” about Mumbai without even a semblance of irony?) We know pop music has its own lowest common denominators but even by those standards we feel Ms Chopra deserved a better debut.
A fine voice, great presence and undeniable talent, here’s hoping that the album slated to release in December this year is a whole lot better. Meanwhile, to know what another Indian female singer managed to achieve internationally almost four decades ago, download India-born USA-based Asha Puthli’s The Devil is Loose (CBS records 1976)!
Mumbai’s jazz age
>> Long before music festivals broke out in India like a rash, there was Niranjan Jhaveri’s Jazz Yatra, the first international music festival that we can recall. Held in South Mumbai, usually at the Rang Bhavan, it brought together five nights of excellent live music that featured some of the greatest living jazz artistes of the time.
It was Mumbai’s first brush with cool and at it business barons and be-jeaned poets could be found sharing a bench — or even a roach — on a few occasions! A bit of great music under Mumbai’s night sky before the Shiv Sena had dug in and the high rises had festered. And it had been created almost single-handedly by Niranjan. “He was a passionate friend of jazz, with deep knowledge of the music and its musicians,” says Susheel Kurien whose film on Indian jazz Finding Carlton will be screening today at the Film’s Division. “And he earned a well deserved reputation in the international jazz community as the man who spoke for Jazz from India.” Jhaveri has long since departed to take his place in the great orchestra in the sky but viewers will catch glimpses of him in this afternoon’s screening.
No one ‘nose’ why
>> A friend with a ‘nose’ for news was remarking about the pretty actress who is looking way too different at her recent public outings. Could it be that her famous pert proboscis has been recast in a smaller, neater avatar? And why on earth would such an exquisite schnozzola, require any improvement in the first place? The mind boggles.