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Who's the nicest of them all?

Malavika SangghviOne of the most interesting exercises in financial reporting has been Forbes’ The Top 100 Celebrities of India list. In a nation obsessed with celebrity-culture, it’s an idea long overdue. Because unlike other lists of this nature, Forbes’ Top 100 celebrity list has as much to do with fame as it has to do with money.

‘Fame is defined as visibility in print, television, and online, plus social media power,’ says the magazine. ‘Amish Tripathi, who penned mythology-based fiction novels earned almost three times more (Rs 10 crore) than Chetan Bhagat (Rs 3.2 crore)’ says the editorial, despite Bhagat’s fame rankings being nearly 30 points higher than Tripathi’s.

George Clooney Shah Rukh Khan Mahendra Singh Dhoni
George Clooney, Shah Rukh Khan and Mahendra Singh Dhoni

‘In the literary world, you may have fame, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into higher earnings.’ However, call us crazy but in the potent brew of fame and money we’d like to add another hitherto unrecognised quotient: likeability.

We say this because glancing through the first five names on the Top 100 celebrity list we stumbled upon the fact that whether they deserved it or not the likeability factor was common to SRK, Salman Khan, Dhoni etc. In fact, the likeability quotient appears to play a significant link in the next five personalities too: Sachin Tendulkar, Kareena Kapoor, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli and Katrina Kaif.

If this off the wall theory of ours gains currency perhaps it will influence the way the high and mighty conduct themselves in private and public? In a recent Christian Science Monitor we read how Hollywood actor and star George Clooney picked up a fellow diner’s ($135) bill because the star had been afraid that he and his party had been too loud (the irony being that the diner said in fact the star’s table had behaved perfectly decently!)Will this add to Silver Fox’s celebrity? What do you think?

Funny food
Saturday night saw us witnessing the Times Foodie Awards presentation in the company of not only the stalwarts of the food industry but three of India’s leading comedians. Not only was the redoubtable Kunal Vijaykar, MC of the evening’s proceedings (after all he is Mr Foodie on TV) but also in the audience was Boman Irani and Cyrus Broacha.

Kunal Vijaykar Boman Irani
Kunal Vijaykar and Boman Irani

Vijaykar who could make audiences crack up if he read the Mumbai telephone directory out had us in splits by flubbing his teleprompter lines. Great comic artistes don’t need fancy scripts and can get a laugh out of the slightest thing or just by a raising of an eyebrow! Incidentally, though Irani had been invited in his capacity as a star, his attendance could have just as easily been secured on the basis of his 20 years experience in running one of the city’s legendary chip shops Golden Wafers at Grant Road. “Unfortunately we sold the business five years ago,” said Boman when we enquired about his culinary past.

Family reunion
“It was taken in December 2012, when 26 relatives on my mother’s side (20 from other parts of the world) descended upon Bandra for Christmas,” says noted journalist and award winning author of Taj Mahal Foxtrot Naresh Fernandes.


Author Naresh Fernandes’ family together for Christmas

“My grandmother, Beryl Rodrigues, is in the front row. Aunts and uncles and cousins and siblings travelled in from Auckland, London, Detroit, Stanford, Albuquerque and Cupertino to be there. My relatives do a fascinating range of things: Matt is a sports medicine specialist, Ashok test drives cars for Ford, Scheleece is a linguist who studies Native American languages, Joanna is a social worker in London and Prakash works for an organisation that monitors the implementation of child right’s policies in the UK. The ages of the people in the photo range from three to 96,” said the writer. “It’s like the United Colours of Bandra.” We like!

The perfect storm
“It was a thrilling derby as it was a very open race. I was of course cheering for my son-in-law Riyad Oomerbhoy’s horse New World but alas it did not win even after he ran a good race,” said racing aficionado Zinia Lawyer about Sunday’s Derby, a big-ticket event on the city’s social calendar.

Cyrus Poonawalla
Cyrus Poonawalla

“We had a record crowd of near 28,000, this year which is an increase by almost 20 per cent over last year,” said Vivek Jain who heads the RWITC media and marketing committee. Meanwhile, bloodstock consultant and our crazy friend Gautam Kotwal is said to have acquired added sheen in racing circles since then by challenging the breeding supremacy held over the last three decades by Cyrus Poonawalla and Ameeta Mehra’s stud farms.

“Chaudhary Nirmal Singh’s (the Haryanvi former cabinet minister) Hazara stud struck gold through Kotwal’s judgment with his stallion Rebuttal, sire of this year ‘derby winner Super Storm,” says a source. Meanwhile, we still have to report on the outstanding hats spotted on the occasion.

Bollywood sub-set
We loved her in Midnight’s Children in which she reprised the role of Amina, mother of the book’s protagonist Saleem Sinai. And, of course, as Debbie in Rock On! she charmed her way into people’s hearts.

Amartya Sen with Nandana Sen
Amartya Sen with Nandana Sen

But we wonder how many know that Shahana is the daughter of noted Indian economist Omkar Goswami (of Oxford, the Delhi School of Economics, Harvard, Tufts, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Rutgers University and the Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi)?

Omkar Goswami Shahana Goswami
Omkar Goswami and Shahana Goswami

The penny dropped when we met them together at the Blue Frog on Monday night. Interestingly, they are not the only father-daughter combo of economist and Bollywood actor. Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and his daughter Nandana Sen have claim to the distinction too.

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