Work hard, play harder

Malavika SangghviSo the past weekend Mumbai's young, not so young but restless nevertheless drove down to Nashik to attend the 8th Sula festival. With cafe Zoë, la Plage, etc. setting up stalls, music, and a lot of wine, the festival saw a record number of 15,000 people in attendance and offered a host of activities, like wine tasting, vineyard tours, grape stomping, a flea market and even bull riding! Though there was a good mix of international and Indian artists — like indie Rock band 'Young the Giant' — yesteryear maverick Lucky Ali is said to have stolen the show with the crowd humming along to all his hits from the 90s. Those found in the VIP section included, Yash Birla, Prahlad Kakkar (who multi tasked by running a biryani stall), Shazahn Padamsee, Ashok Kurien, Miss Malini and Anil Dharker.

Sameer Gadhia, lead vocalist of Young the Giant, with Rajeev Samant; (right) Anil Dharker
Sameer Gadhia, lead vocalist of Young the Giant, with Rajeev Samant; (right) Anil Dharker

Both nights, the after parties were held at Sula founder Rajeev Samant's sprawling bungalow adjoining the vineyard and in keeping with Samant's philosophy of work hard party harder we hear his board meeting followed on the festival's heels with his top execs staying back.

For their sakes, we hope the hangovers weren't too bad!

Changing focus
“Ever since I can remember, I have always been fascinated by the paparazzi that chronicle the lives of the famous and infamous,” it was our friend, filmmaker and author Fahad Samar, whose first novel Scandal Point (Harper Collins) was a social satire about Bollywood and high society and whose second book, Flash Point, released at a glittering party attended by 150 people at the Palladium over the weekend, delves into the life of the young Kashmiri Zeeshan Haq, who comes to Mumbai and works as a red carpet photographer.

(Clockwise from left) Manoj Sharma, Rane Ashish, Kedar Nene, Fahad Samar, Atul Kasbekar, Prathamesh Bandekar, Yogen Shah, Pradeep Bandekar, Simone Singh, Ashwini Sawant and Viral Bhayani
(Clockwise from left) Manoj Sharma, Rane Ashish, Kedar Nene, Fahad Samar, Atul Kasbekar, Prathamesh Bandekar, Yogen Shah, Pradeep Bandekar, Simone Singh, Ashwini Sawant and Viral Bhayani

“He yearns to vault over the red velvet rope and become a successful fashion photographer someday,” said Samar, who wanting to pay tribute to the humble paparazzi, a vital but often unthanked part of the glitter game, had celebrated lens man Atul Kasbekar to shoot formal but fun portraits of eight of Mumbai's press photographers.

“Kabir Bedi graciously read out a passage from my book; we then screened a short film about press photographers and then Atul Kasbekar, Kabir and myself called them on stage to thunderous applause.”

“Many of the photographers had come with their families and were in tears that finally someone had acknowledged their contribution,” said Samar. And for once in a room full of Queenie Singh, Tasneem Mehta, Kamal Sidhu, R Madhavan, Bijal and Hetal Meswani, the spotlight was on the men and women on the other side of the lens.

The maestro at his best
Nice to be in a theatre that's not only full, but where all the clapping, whistling, cheering is done by the women, as we found sitting at the PVR for the first day last show of Shamitabh on Friday. Amitabh Bachchan lives, breathes and excavates the poignancy and pathos in the wreck of a failed actor Amitabh Sinha, who has retreated from the world to live with his memories and delusions of grandeur in a cemetery. And like the consummate actor that he is, every grimace, limp, raised eyebrow and sneering upper lip is a paean to the thespian's talent, drawn up from five decades of experience. Don't miss it.

Amitabh Bachchan in Shamitabh
Amitabh Bachchan in Shamitabh

Pens down protest?
And from Delhi comes word that top bureaucrats miffed over the way they're being treated by the Modi Sarkar have all but launched a kind of 'pens down' protest.

“They are all at their desks at the stipulated time and stay there till office shuts. But no files are moving and no work is being done,” said an impeccable source to us over the weekend. “It's their way of protesting the recent sidelining of their peers.”

Oh dear. And now with the results of the Delhi election trickling in as we write this, it looks like Modi has to fire fight on many fronts!

Biddu turns Seventy
Sunday night saw a gathering of some of the best and brightest from across the world gather to celebrate international pop sensation Biddu's seventieth birthday in Goa. The Coorgi-born, London-based musician and his wife Sue, who divide their time between Marbella, Goa and London are a popular couple and unsurprisingly, the celebration held at Biddu's long time friend and former band mate, our brother-in-law Suresh and sister Devieka Bhojwani's beautiful riverside home in Goa, saw people fly in from all corners.

Biddu and wife Sue on his birthday
Biddu and wife Sue on his birthday

From Marbella came Dr Yusuf Hamied, the leading Indian scientist, Padma Bhushan and chairman of Cipla, who, with his championing of cheaper drugs for the world's poor is seen as something of a messiah, or a pirate depending on which side of the class divide you stand on; Vijay Mallya, an old friend of the musician from his Bangalore days made time in his peripatetic schedule to attend in the stipulated dress code of the evening of hippy chic, Raj Salgaonkar, industrialist, philanthropist and avid music-lover dropped in from next door, and there were others from London, USA, Mumbai and Delhi in an evening rife with music, dancing under the stars, and musical eulogies to Biddu — which included a medley of his greatest hits (Kung Fu fighting, Made in India and Aap Jaise Koi), live retro hits by Goa-based musician Krishna and Bhojwani singing a specially written composition based for his buddy.

What's more, the birthday boy, now a full time writer with three books under his hipster belt, who is known to be shy at singing in public, took to the mike and belted out some of his old classics, the ones that had got a generation of Indians weak in the knees in places like Venice and Mocambo all those years ago!



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