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>> He’s been nominated for the Filmfare best male debut award for his performance in Student of the Year and has won the Lions and Stardust awards for the same category but perhaps Varun Dhawan, son of noted film producer David, ought to get one just for presence of mind nimbleness and well general showmanship.

Shailendra Singh with Varun Dhawan

Goaded to take off his shirt and show off his famous six pack by none other than Kapil Dev on Sunday at the Sunburn awards ceremony at the Good Earth’s Tasting room, young Dhawan begged off by saying that was the one thing he’d promised his mum Karuna he’d never do. But to make up for this he did one better: he performed a flawless handstand!

“This is what Sunburn makes me feel when I’m there,” said the young star, “It turns my world upside down!” He is reported to have told the highly charged crowd.

Varun on his head!

Incidentally, Sunburn’s creator Shailendra Singh of Percept, remembers the young lad shirtless and unhindered at many a past gig. “Of course those days he wasn’t a star,” quipped Singh. “And his mum wasn’t around!”

Mums seldom are.

Life’s a Beach?
>> For many years now we have been visiting one of the quieter beaches at Alibag. Having grown up in Juhu, we have a profound relationship with beaches in general. It is in this context that we recount the horror we experience when we come across sand mining by the local mafia in our area.

Every day like clockwork or the diurnal tides, processions of men on bullock carts, steal sand to sell off to unscrupulous builders, leaving large unsightly holes on our beach.

Mukul Deora

We have been saddened by this. Just as saddened as when we see the emaciated men who commit this crime to feed their families. We are aware of the politics of environmental activism. Often the rich and powerful get away with much worse. Not only by bending CRZ laws for beach homes but also when they ravage the mountains and jungles of the disfranchised in the name of mining and development.

Anand Mahindra and Cyrus Mistry

Now, we have been invited to attend a meeting of our neighbour beachfront property owners — the likes of Chairman of Tata Cyrus Mistry, Chairman of Mahindra Anand Mahindra, Mukul Deora son of Congress heavy weight Murli and some of Mumbai’s most renowned professionals.

Can these gentle men and women stop our beautiful beach from being destroyed? Watch this space!

Stark Raving Mad
>> Her presence is as captivating as her poems and on the few occasions we have heard Arundhati Subramaniam recite them we have been mesmerized.

Now the graceful poet will be back in town (she resides at the Isha Ashram in Coimbatore) in a slightly different avatar. In the garb of a curator ‘to help shape a five-day festival of Indian classical dance and Bhakti poetry at Bombay’s NCPA - Wednesday 24th to Sunday 28th April.’

Rama Vaidyanathan

Called ‘Stark Raving Mad’ (a line from an Arun Kolatkar translation of Tukaram) Subramaniam describes the upcoming event as ‘a multidisciplinary fest, looking at Bhakti poetry as living, breathing verse — sacred and sensuous all at once’. With ‘Lots of great poetry and some fine dancers — Rama Vaidyanathan, Sujata Mohapatra, Kapila Venu, Sanjukta Wagh, Prerana Shrimali and Alarmel Valli. Interspersed with film screenings, readings and conversations.’

And along with these riches if she agrees to read one of her poems — well our cup will runneth over.

The Sarnaik brothers
>> The Sarnaik brothers — TMC corporator Vihang and Yuva Sena secretary Purvesh — are a redoubtable team. Sons of MLA Pratap Sarnaik, they represent the professional urbane face of the Yuva Shiv Sena. Vihang, who we spoke to yesterday is an architect: “Each year we run the “Shiv Gaurav Puraskar”, an opportunity for exceptional individuals from Maharashtra to be commended for their achievements.”

Vihang and Purvesh Sarnaik

He said to us. “By showcasing these talented individuals we hope to create a legacy for others to follow.” And whereas this year’s awardees include Deepak Lokre from Bhiwandi, a watchman’s son who has given employment to widows, and Priyanka Kangutka from Dadar, who owns a successful business, making lunch boxes, the highlight will be a free concert that evening to raise money for drought victims.

“Vishal and Shekhar will perform and we will be raising money and awareness says Vihang, who is one of Aditya Thackeray’s right hand men. “Over the years, this ceremony held in Thane city has grown from strength to strength so this year we thought why not put it to the best cause? Water tankers for drought hit villages!” Nice!

RIP Number One Lady
>> We experienced a twinge of guilt when we read about the passing of Shakuntala Devi the numerological wiz who we had interviewed a couple of times in the past. Those days, ensconced at a down at heel Mumbai hotel, and breathing fire and brimstone at the world even while rattling mind boggling numbers we hardly knew what to make of her. Here was this feisty brilliant woman who’d lived such a difficult life and made so much of it — on her own.

Shakuntala Devi

She had spoken about her father who’d broken away from his highborn Kannada family to join the circus, becoming a trapeze artist and human cannon ball and how she’d been trained by him to perform mathematical tricks as a child.

The visual image of that had moved us enormously. Along with her plight, and her recounting of various assassination attempts on her life over a Malabar Hill property dispute.

Was she Paranoid? Suffer from a persecution complex, or was she just a survivor who’d developed her prodigious talent to cope with very hard times?

We always thought we’d meet her one-day and try and unearth the enigma. Now we can’t, but for us she’ll always be the Number One enigma. ¬†

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