Young Turks and the Birla singing gene
At the recently concluded high-profile conclave in Mumbai, apart from the politicians and A-list industrialists who spoke, the occasion witnessed the presence of many young Turks and business leaders from Gen Next in the audience.
Spotted in the audience were the likes of Ness Wadia, Adar Poonawalla, Shom Hinduja and Roshni Kapoor, all on currently, or on the verge of running billion-dollar family businesses. There was also a session titled disruptors of technology, that saw the likes of Rohan Murthy, Sashwat Goenka, Manasi Kirloskar and Ananya Birla address the topic.
The occasion saw the multi-faceted Ananya Birla even sing a few lines from her recently released track 'Living the Life' after some prompting from the moderator. And word comes in that straight after the session, the Birla heiress flew to Las Vegas on the invitation from Afrojack, the world's leading electronic musician, who had produced the official remix of her song.
Incidentally, the multi-tasking songstress who juggles a career in finance, appears to be following in her famous father's footsteps. Insiders swear that Kumarmangalam Birla is similarly musically inclined and had released an album as a young man too.
Shaheen and Alia Bhatt
Following on the heels of younger sister Alia's winning turn at a recent talkathon, comes elder sis Shaheen's well articulated note about the intrusive and often inhuman treatment meted out to film stars (and famous people) when they are in mourning. "The insensitivity of it all is mind- boggling," she writes. "There
seem to be some lines drawn in the crazy voyeuristic age we live in, and this is one of those lines. It is not ok to be a voyeur of death. It is not ok to treat a funeral like a party and show up to take pictures of the mourners in the finest white," wrote the feisty young lady 'with respect to the photos of a mourning Aishwarya Rai that are all over the internet.'
There is so much of life that is being played out in the public domain these days, so much of it that ought to be private, which unwittingly becomes common and exposed, that moments such as these when people are at their most vulnerable should be off limits as far as possible.
To lose a loved one, especially a parent, is difficult enough without having to contend with the spotlight.
'We need to learn to be human again' said Bhatt.
Not his funny bone though
For many years now, Suhel Seth, the bouncing bon vivant and uber schmoozer, who is allegedly based in Delhi, but spotted at intercontinental hot spots around the globe with alarming frequency, has been cited as being a miracle of science.
How could the combined onslaught of the fast life, jet lag, no sleep, advancing age and the company of vacuous and vain people not result in multiple lifestyle diseases? Was Seth in possession of some magic potion, people wondered. However, now it appears that Seth is not beyond the vagaries of daily life and that he too has to contend with nature like the rest of us.
This week, he checked into a SoBo hospital, from where he issued much praise for its services, in a series of tweets: 'What an amazing hospital HN Reliance Foundation Hospital in Bombay is! Outstanding care with great attentiveness,' went one of them. Incidentally, when mention of his hospitalisation drew concern from his social media followers, the garrulous Gucci gent quipped, 'Some body parts giving way owing to age. A goddamn tennis elbow and creaking knees.'
To which a wag not known to get along with Seth responded with, "Is that what is known as a knee jerk reaction?"
It would not be wrong to say that the appointment of Yogi Adityanath as CM of UP has been a flash point in our political narrative, one that has acted as a red (or orange flag) in the face of Narendra Modi's opponents. To appoint someone from what has been seen as the loony fringe to a position of such authority is being viewed as hubris, defiance, a secret dog whistle, or a sinister swing to the far right, depending on who you read or talk to. Leading political commentator Pratap Bhanu Mehta's article in a national daily could not be more forthright. 'The elevation of Yogi Adityanath as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh is an odious and ominous development. It is an odious choice because the BJP has picked someone who is widely regarded as the single most divisive, abusive, polarising figure in UP politics,' he wrote.
Ashok Row Kavi
Ashok Row Kavi, leading human rights activist, has another take. "In a flash I recognised the master stroke by Modi. By choosing Adi, Modi has vaulted above the issues of both caste and community, the bane of UP," said the senior media personality, who had once signed up for religious indoctrination in a traditional Hindu monastery in his youth.
"His status as casteless has been used by Modi to avoid having any caste CM. Just all castes have been assuaged and are satisfied and checkmated," he said.
A battering ram against minority rights or a pawn in a chilling game of cynical political expediency - what does Yogi Adityanath's elevation portend?
Time will tell.
Reining in the Ram Mandir issue?
Here's an interesting bit of political gossip we picked up regarding the controversial appointment of the CM of India's most important state recently. "He was flown to Delhi and made to swear on pain of death that he would not bring up the Ram Temple and widen Hindu-Muslim fault lines," says a lady who follows political gup shup in Delhi with the nose of a blood hound. "Nagpur Brahmin witnesses were brought in. It seems, including Modi, there were five others at the time," she says, adding, "There is something they have used to checkmate him. Some document he was made to read, which on reading he is said to have gone cold. So he is reined in."
We do not often like to give credence to political gossip, but we have to admit that hearing that there has been a reining in of divisive communal politics, had us hoping this was true. We cannot afford India's biggest state to be riven on communal lines ever again.
A document that turned the CM designate cold? Hmm.