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Wall-to-wall Celebs

As expected, the fifth HELLO! HALL OF FAME AWARDS held on Sunday night at The Taj’s Crystal Room was a wall-to-wall celebrity affair.

Fawad Khan and Sonam Kapoor
Fawad Khan and Sonam Kapoor

From blue chip industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, to Nita Ambani, with sons Akaash and Anant, to Abhishek Bachchan, Fawad Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha, Aaditya Thackeray, Sania Mirza, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Arjun Kapoor, AR Rahman and Kareena Kapoor; they were all there, adding their star dazzle to an evening already surfeit with it.



AR Rahman

But as riveting as the guest list were the many newsworthy anecdotes, exchanges and incidents that transpired on stage: When Nita Ambani presented Aaditya Thackeray with his award, she couldn’t help pointing out that he’d been a student of hers at the Ambani School! The bashful young politician acknowledged the debt he had to his alma mater, even while thanking Nita who he said he’d always regard as his principal!


Nita Ambani and Ruchika Mehta

To present Sudha Murthy with the award for philanthropy, the organisers could think of no one better than the graceful matriarch Rajshree Birla, who was the first recipients of the same award.

But the highlight of the evening was undoubtedly when AR Rahman presented an award to ISRO’s crack team behind the Mars Mission. “After handing over the award, the maestro sang out his ‘Jai Ho’,” says Ruchika Mehta, Hello’s! effervescent editor, “It was a heart-stopping, goose-bump giving moment.”


Akash and Anant Ambani

As for Fawad, there was an unprecedented stampede to get near him by women of all ages and shapes and sizes! “Not only inside the room, but women had queued up around and outside the Taj to meet him,” laughs Mehta.

We’ve been told of this Fawad effect in the past, and we have to admit that we don’t quite get it. He’s cute-but to evoke such fandom?

We put it down for a deep and unspoken longing for lost roots across the borders. Aka: ‘Garam Hawa’

Bachchan, Modi, Clooney, Ford...
“We have been doing men’s clothes for the longest time but only for special bespoke orders and special men,” says Sandeep Khosla, one half (the more extroverted) of the celebrated Abu-Sandeep duo of designers. “But we felt it is time to reach out to many more fabulous men,” he said of the imminent launch of the AJSK Man label to be launched at the Charcoal Project at the end of the month. “The style is classic with an edge,” said the Doon school and Patiala-bred Khosla. 


Amitabh Bachchan and Narendra Modi

How could we allow the aesthete to get away without answering that perennial question –who’s the most stylish of ‘em all? “Mr. Amitabh Bachchan is on top of the list; he looks great in everything- formal or informal. And our PM Narendra Modi, for making an Indian style statement across the universe — he can carry colour with such ease,” said Khosla adding “...these are the top 2 men on our list followed by George Clooney, Tom Ford and of course, Abu himself who is a trendsetter”

Reading Thackeray’s mind
As everyone knows, we love nothing more than an interesting anecdote that makes you go: ‘Wow-what a story!’


Aaditya Thackeray and Sonakshi Sinha

And one such occurred on Sunday night at the aforementioned Hello! Awards when Lior Suchard, the world-renowned mindreader, who had been engaged to entertain the high powered gathering, had just stunned all by successfully guessing the name of Sonakshi Sinha’s first bf! (She had left the stage blushing!) That’s when he turned his attention to the young Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray — and managed to read his mind too.

That he did this at the very same time that the entire country’s attention was on Aaditya’s dad Uddhav and whether he would join the BJP in forming the Maharashtra government was a fact not lost on Aaditya. After Suchard had correctly read his mind, he quipped. “Perhaps we ought to have him read the minds of our allies,” he said to much laughter, alluding to the all important political issue of the hour that has irked many.

If only it were so easy...

Delhi Calling
“Suresh got a call from the PMO. He was at home, sleeping, and had a fever. I was at work,” said our friend and former colleague, Uma Prabhu about the appointment of her husband as Union Railway Minister in Modi’s recent Cabinet reshuffle. We have known Uma for over a decade, first during our stint at the Times of India and then at DNA where she still works as Group Editor, Education and Careers at Zee News. 


Uma Prabhu and Suresh Prabhu

Uma, Suresh and their son Ameya who is a noted green entrepreneur, are an urbane, progressive and low-key family, who epitomise the ‘simple-living high–thinking’ mantra. Even during Suresh’s earlier stint as a key minister in Vajpayee’s government, they never allowed the pelf and pomp of circumstance to affect their basic decency and goodness.

How would Uma adjust to Delhi, we enquired.

“I have lived in Delhi before, when Suresh was a minister during the NDA Season 1,” she replied, “However I hadn’t shifted completely then to the Capital and the HQ was always Mumbai. This time I guess I will shift. Leaving Mumbai will be painful but Delhi is a beautiful city, and it will only take me a little time to adjust. Ameya will be here,” she said, adding, “I’m in Delhi right now for the swearing-in but I will return to Mumbai in a couple of days. Things are very hectic at the moment!”

Red or green?
So today, The Thai Pavilion, at the Taj President Hotel in Cuffe Parade turns 21 years old (the drinking age)! The restaurant, which was pioneered by the celebrated Executive chef of Vivanta by Taj, Ananda Solomon, has become an institution for foodies and is packed out every night with the movers and shakers of the city.


Ananda Solomon and Ratan Tata

We recall that it was the Ajit Kerker, Camellia Panjabi combine that had envisioned a Taj restaurant serving quality Thai food in Mumbai and had sent the young Solomon to Thailand to understand the cuisine and hone his Thai cooking skills. So intrigued by what he saw there, he decided to take up temporary residence in Bangkok, and had even mastered the language. Today, the restaurant in a newer avatar is still going strong, in the capable hands of uber foodie F&B head Rishi Kumar, the perfect foil for Solomon. Of course it is an open secret that the restaurant is ex Tata group chairman, Ratan Tata’s personal favourite. Does he favour the green curry or the red? No one’s telling! 

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