When partner Abu Jani turned 50 a couple of years ago, the party held at the Taj Goa for friends and family went on for a couple of days and like the designer himself was one of elegant rambunctiousness.
After all, the more introverted half of one of India’s most celebrated design labels had much to celebrate: a runaway success label, a foray into interior decoration and his clothes on the backs of some of the world’s most discerning women including Dimple Kapadia, Jaya Bachchan and Dame Judi Dench.
This time round for Sandeep’s (the more extroverted one) initiation into the Big Boy’s Club in early May, we hear the party’s to be held in London. Why London, we asked the soon to be birthday boy.
“For practical reasons,” he said. “We’re working here, and so Abu and a few friends are planning something,” he said. “But let’s speak tomorrow and I’ll have a better idea of the plans.” We hope it wasn’t meant to be a surprise!
A giant of a man
>> And yesterday was the birth centenary of one of India’s most talented actors, writers and creative artists — that of Balraj Sahni. Because, besides his legendary acting prowess in films like Do Bhigha Zameen (in which the plight of the disfranchised farmer was etched into every bone in his gaunt face), to the patriarch in Waqt, to his haunting performance in his last film Garam Hawa, Sahni lived an extraordinary life in extraordinary times.
Born to a prosperous business family in Bhera in Pakistan, Sahni left Rawalpindi to teach literature at Rabindranath Tagore’s Shantiniketan after getting his Masters degree in English. After that along with his wife and young son Parikshat he worked with Mahatma Gandhi at his ashram before setting sail for England where he joined the BBC-London’s Hindi service as a radio announcer. Through all this he held his Marxist ideology close to his heart. Marx, Tagore, Gandhi, the BBC and Bollywood (with many a stint in jail for his ideological beliefs), how many men live such exciting and charged lives in such exciting times? It could be said that Balraj Sahni responded to every of life’s challenge and opportunity with an extraordinary ardor. They don’t make them like that any more. Sigh.
>> It is one more instance of his sincere and yeoman passion for philanthropy, one that we wish more billionaires, would emulate. And if they don’t, it won’t be for want of his efforts. Because over the years we have watched him through personal example and appeal try to change the mindset of the very rich from consumption to social conscience. And now we learn of Azim Premji’s latest efforts in that direction: a discussion on philanthropy to be held at the Taj Land’s End at the end of the month which will involve ‘a conversation with Bill Gates, an engaging discussion with Vijay Mahajan and Harsh Mander, and an engagement with the “next generation” on their views on philanthropy’ which he is hosting along with Ajay Piramal.
Ever so often, just at its bleakest there’s a ray of sunshine that breaks through and gives us hope!
Mumbai’s legendary salon
>> For lovers of Mumbai one of the most endearing features of the city are its beauty parlors. With a commendable can-do, will-do work ethos, and an admirable no-nonsense attitude, these establishments reflect some of Mumbai’s best values: democratic, inclusive (they are manned by a United Nations of different communities and castes) and resourceful. Over the decades we have frequented many such establishments up and down the food chain: from hole in the wall one room establishments where the service more than makes up for the lack of frills, to the terribly snooty chi chi ones where the staff dress better than the clients and certainly have more attitude. We love them all.
But right at the top of the heap has been SoBo’s Raechelle, run by the indomitable late Ray and George, its legendary owners which celebrated its 50th anniversary yesterday. “Today 55 years ago, my parents started Raechelle Beauty Parlor at India House, Kemps Corner in Bombay,” wrote their son, the LA-based actor Keith Stevenson. “They were pioneers in the craft of hair and beauty.
In 1958 there was only one parlor in the area and it had a clientele to die for!” he said, adding, “Today both mum and dad are not with us in body but my brother Abey and I run the business much like Bharat did when he placed Ram’s chappals on the gaddi. We run it in their name.” And so, to mark the special day, the legendary parlor opened its doors to its loyal clientele for some moon mitha, high tea and memories! We like!
>> This Sunday we attended a heartwarming and elegant soiree thrown by her family to celebrate noted singer Sudha Motwane’s (now Malhotra) receiving the Padma Shri. Held at a well appointed bungalow at Cumballa Hill, it boasted some of the city’s most celebrated personalities: Javed Akhtar, Saryu Doshi, Camellia Panjabi, Sabira Merchant, Dr Mukesh Batra, Hema Deora and Anup Jalota amongst many others.
And whereas there was much merry making and bonhomie the part we loved the best was when the Malhotra herself regaled the guests with some impromptu melodies accompanied by no less than Jalota and Akhtar! Musical evenings can’t get better than this!