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When AB blushed

 Malavika Sangghvi >> You can tell true star status when it recoils from unctuous flattery. Seated on Amitabh Bachchan’s right at the Society Young Achiever’s Award, we saw him blush and shift uncomfortably in his chair a couple of times, when the adulation got a bit out of hand. What an extraordinary life he leads, his presence a lightening rod for awe and reverence. And it’s been this way for four decades!

We watched as every award-winner, presenter, and even theother two recipients of the Society Super Achievers Honors, Leander Paes and Sonu Niigaam bent low to touch his feet and spoke about the inspiration his presence afforded them. And through it all, the basically shy but extraordinary star blushed in embarrassment.

Amitabh Bachchan with Nari Hira
Amitabh Bachchan with Nari Hira

The Nari Hira legend
>>
Saturday night saw some of the country’s most celebrated achievers gather under one roof to celebrate another year of the Society Young Achievers Awards. Held at the appropriately festooned Jewel of India in Worli, the evening saw the likes of Siddharth Roy Kapur (for business), Imran Khan (for film), Saiyami Kher (for glamour), and Ramesh Joshi (for Social Service) receiving awards and accolades from a host of super achievers like Shobhaa De (resplendent, as always, in golden yellow), Harsh Goenka, Anil Dharker and Atul Kasbekar amongst others. It was a red-letter day, as the audience, itself composed of some of society’s most celebrated movers and shakers, heard the likes of Leander Paes, Amitabh Bachchan and Sonu Niigaam speak about the enormous responsibility of hard work and excellence.

Shobhaa De at the event
Shobhaa De at the event

Siddharth Roy Kapur
Siddharth Roy Kapur

But, ultimately the evening belonged to its host, the legendary and much loved Mr Nari Hira (no one refers to him without the title), the dynamic founder publisher of Magna Publishing, who over the last four decades, has more or less defined how the Indian public lives, loves and gets its lifestyle information. Through his bouquet of mega magazines Stardust, Society (whose graceful and soft spoken editor Suchitra Iyer had worked tirelessly to make the evening a success) and Interiors, Hira has effortlessly dominated the environment. But more than that, he commands enormous affection and respect. Every achiever present was there personally for one man alone: Nari Hira. Diamonds indeed are forever!

Imran Khan
Imran Khan

Sonu Nigam
Sonu Niigaam

My mom bestest
>>
Boys will be boys. Even when they are putative leaders of tomorrow. Aaditya Thakeray, while accepting his Society Young Achievers Award for 2013, alluded to the presence of his ever-graceful mother, the beautiful Rashmi Thackeray, saying it was always tough making a speech in front of one’s parents. And then, on being handed his trophy and bouquet, the first thing he did was to give them dutifully to his proud mum.

Aaditya Thakeray and Rashmi Thackeray

Incidentally, when best-selling author Amish Tripathi went up to receive his award, an excited Thackeray, who writes poetry, whispered to us, “He’s my favourite author, I’ve read all his books.” Nice to know a young politician takes time off to read. What’s more, from a ‘Tripathi’, a ‘Mistry’ is only a few shelves away on a library bookshelf.

Overheard
“She’s not naïve, so she must have known that gate-crashing the Cannes wedding with her new BF would have offended the groom’s mom, who is related to her former beau’s wife, the one whose marriage she broke up!”
— A shocked socialite about a rather complicated, recent incident on the French Riviera

Irony-Deficiency
>> The last time we had a conversation with him he was spewing expletives about the latest national problem that had caught his attention. The irony of tilting swords at windmills at a ritzy SoBo brunch fuelled by white wine did not occur to him. “Perhaps you ought to save some of this energy for tomorrow when you can actually do something about the issue,” we’d said to him gently. But after his speech last night while presenting the Society Young Achiever’s award to the lovely Masaba Gupta (in the fashion category), when Narendra Kumar Ahmed said the award ought to be given to him instead, we realised he suffered from a serious irony–deficiency. And, of course, there was that expected spiel about being ‘passionate about fashion’.

Narendra Kumar Ahmed
Narendra Kumar Ahmed

Salaam
Mumbai
Trans-continental scandal

Call us incorrigibly naïve but we never cease to be amazed by the shenanigans of high society. Every new account of the diabolical nature of its denizens has us gob-smacked. God knows, we do not place ourselves on the moral high ground over their antics. What has us reeling, in fact, is the damage that people inflict on themselves and their so-called loved ones with no thought of their own psyches. The latest scandal to reach our ears is about the over-achieving, capital-hopping socialite from NYC, with a penchant for philanthropy, who has been reportedly informed by her wealthy investment banker husband that he would like a divorce. That he has been spending his time increasingly in Hong Kong, has triggered speculation about new romantic interests. Friends of the beleaguered lady have rallied around her to offer support. “Beneath all that ambition is a good person; she deserves better,” they say, adding “But given the couple’s complicated residential status, things can get murky.” We hope good sense prevails.

Robert is in the house
>> He may be under a cloud as far as some of his business dealings are concerned, given the family he’s married into, but that does not stop the chatterati from affording Robert Vadra star status as far as they are concerned.

Robert Vadra and Simi Chandoke
Robert Vadra and Simi Chandoke

At the Wills Lifestyle Delhi fashion week, seated in the front row at his friend Ashish Soni’s show, looking tanned and buffed was the country’s most famous son-in-law, fresh from a NYC trip: “All flashbulbs were on Robert,” said our friend and former colleague Simi Chandoke, seated besides him, who was covering the show for Zoom. “He is bigger than a Bollywood star in Delhi,” she said, adding, “Dior’s Kalyani Chawla was on his right. The event happened to be the finale of the Fashion week and featured Anil Kapoor as the showstopper. Vadra stayed back for the after party too.” 

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