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With Manish in Khar

Monday evening saw us make our way to ‘Tender Loving’ Khar to meet our old friend, designer Manish Malhotra. We had been impressed by his fine work at the Mijwan fashion show, and when we met again at a film party a date to meet was set.

In the cacophony of Bollywood, fashion, showbiz and lifestyle, it is easy to forget that it was Manish who started the ball rolling.

Long before Vogue put Bollywood stars on its covers, or Bollywood directors engaged top fashionistas, as ‘stylists’ for their films perhaps even before Sonam Kapoor was born, it was Malhotra who had spotted the synergy between Bollywood and fashion and built on it.

Karishma Kapoor
Karishma Kapoor

“I began my career as a costume designer for films in 1990 and worked with Sridevi, Sunny Deol, Urmila Matondkar, Karishma-Kareena, in films like Rangeela, Raja Hindustani, DDLJ,” he said to us, shyly, “In fact, I worked in Dharma productions even before Karan came on board!”

Urmila Matondkar
Urmila Matondkar

Malhotra’s world changed when Yash and Avanti Birla offered to launch him as an independent label. After that, a brief stint followed with ‘Sheetal’, and soon he was operating on his own as one of the country’s top designers, Bollywood’s most sought-after stylist, and a celebrated wedding designer. From bridal wear at the LN Mittal wedding to the recently concluded Bhartia-Kothari wedding, he’d done them all.

Manish Malhotra
Manish Malhotra

“Today I run a Rs 108 crore business,” says the man who loves saying he’s ‘a middle-class Punjabi boy with no fashion education.’ “Now, there’s no end to fashion’s requirements,” he says, “Promotions, red carpet appearances, it goes on and on. And from Sridevi to Aaliya Bhatt, I’ve dressed them all.”

And just as if on cue, Preity Zinta strolls in just then, with a request for her pal to design her outfit for an upcoming Punjab Eleven’s match. “Will I look good in Pathani pants?” she asks Malhotra. And before she’d finished the sentence, Malhotra has picked up his pen and is sketching a brand new outfit for her.

And even as we watch the lines form on the page, we know that millions of women, tailors, stores, Bollywood stylists, magazine photographers and fashionistas from Colaba to Kovalam will soon be caught up in the excitement of that one hurried sketch on the page!

Preity’s fishy tale
We’d only really met Preity Zinta once, when we’d dropped in at Jalsa to congratulate Aishwarya and Abhishek on the birth of their daughter. Then too, she had spoken ten to the dozen and kept us enthralled.

Preity Zinta
Preity Zinta

This time, dressed in head to toe white casuals and looking as fresh as a lily, she said what currently engaged her, besides her IPL responsibilities was her campaign to provide the fisherfolk of the Khar-Danda strip with solar-powered heaters, so that they didn’t have to dry their fish on the pavements and create the well known ‘fishy’ stink residents of the area (including Karan Johar in his new apartment, we were informed) were facing.

“I’m going around to people in the area asking for Rs 5,000 each as a one-time contribution towards these heaters,” she said. “Not only will it stop the smell, but its a lot more hygienic to dry fish this way,” she said. Nice!

Manhattan moves
Oh dear. This handsome clean-cut actor, introduced in a big budget dream debut recently with a few other much awaited projects lined up, might just have to answer for his recent NYC indiscretion. Clubbers at a trendy nightspot in the Meat Packing district of Manhattan spotted him getting up close and real personal with a hit actress.

What surprised all is that the actress, a star daughter, known bitchily as, “She whose forehead has an area code all of its own,” is clearly not his type and insiders swear he himself is committed elsewhere. So what gives? Blame it on the New York vibe?

Sayani calling Keith
Of all the reader responses we receive, one of the nicest was the one from the legendary Ameen Sayani, one of the most celebrated ‘voices’ in the country and the man behind the highly popular Binaca Geetmala on Radio Ceylon decades ago. The octogenarian was writing in about an item we’d recently carried on actor adman Keith Stevenson, who’d settled in LA.

Ameen Sayani
Ameen Sayani

“I was delighted to read about Keith Stevenson on your page,” he wrote, “Besides being an excellent actor and successful compeer, Keith had one more quality that made me his ardent fan: he had a magnificently scintillating and powerful singing voice!

Keith Stevenson
Keith Stevenson

He sang many jingles for me, too, for radio stations abroad-the best of them being for a London-based Basmati Rice product, which began: “I’M A RATHER GOOD COOK I COULD COOK FOR A KING-AND I’D LIKE TO RECOMMEND A DELICIOUS THING,” he said graciously, adding, “But where has this delightful young man disappeared?

Can you send me his address and e-mail ID? I could then try and find out from the highly talented director-producer of ‘HUNGAMA BOMBAY ISHTLYE’, Ayesha Sayani (my niece) as to how much more compensation Keith deserved for his role than what a children's film budget could afford, and whether we can get him back to Bombay and help him to make the large sums that he may have missed out on?” wrote the legend, tongue firmly in cheek!

Nothing but the tooth
‘Looking for a new dentist... Needless to say, must be top of the line, but gentle and considerate. And ideally South of Haji Ali!’ posted Padmini Mirchandani, publisher and woman of style on a social networking site recently.

Padmini Mirchandani (centre) with her daughters
Padmini Mirchandani (centre) with her daughters

And given her popularity, no surprises that her inbox filled up with many helpful suggestions. But the ones that elicited most interest were for two Sobo dentists, known to have a passing resemblance with George Clooney and Robert De Niro.

“Now I’m torn - De Niro or Clooney? Sigh...life is too tough,” said Mirchandani in mock weariness. And when art publisher and writer Bina Sarkar Ellias said she endorsed ‘both...Clooney and De Niro... Both have been my tooth wizards!’ Mirchandani responded with ‘Great, so with all that, am set! :))’

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