When the fat lady sings
For those who wanted evidence of her (lovable?) looniness here’s some: chuffed and challenged by Narendra Modi’s spectacular Vibrant Gujarat event last week Mamata Banerjee put up her own show over the weekend.
“It was past bizarre,” an attendee informed. “First of all, she called on two of Kolkata’s leading businessmen to show their support of her state by... singing!” We kid thee not. The illustrious CK Dhanuka (ex-chairman of FICCI and chairman, managing director and CEO of the Dhunseri group managed a weak rendition of Aye mere watan ke logon).
Meanwhile, the equally illustrious Sanjiv Goenka, the vice-chairman of RPG Enterprises who heads the Rs 4,000-crore power and retail giant CESC (who the charming CM had urged to sing as he runs Saregama India Ltd) is reported to have been totally stumped by the bizarre request. And more absurdity followed, as Mamatadi smiled menacingly from the stage (doing a dead-on impersonation of Kaa from The Jungle Book).
Top officials from her administration shouted out to assembled industrialists, “Who’s here from SAIL India?” and “Mr Diweshwar how much are you investing?” At this rate the lady will be singing Ekla Chalo Re sooner than expected.
So, news from the wedding of the decade flows in from Chennai. Apparently in the best of southern style it is understated and classy with no vestige of ‘band baaja baraat.’
“Every member of the Ambani family from the elders to the youngest, have been looking after the guests, Anil Ambani and Raj Salgaonkar have been receiving guests at the airport and it’s an exemplary show of unity and grace,” we were told.
“Even though there are so many rich and famous families involved, it somehow feels like a real wedding,” says our source. “International troubadour Yanni sang on Monday night and Tuesday will see the Mozart of Madras AR Rahman perform.”
As for the guest list: the entire Bachchan clan is present and was spotted lunching with Kumar and Neerja Birla at one of the functions. Politicians Arun Jaitley and Praful Patel are attending all the days and a minor calamity was averted when a car carrying NK Singh and Suhel Seth got lost for two-and-a-half hours and security had to be called.
Of head and heart
As if Ambani hospitality in recent times hasn’t been ubiquitous and omnipresent enough, next week will witness yet another instance of the phenomena when Mukesh and Nita throw open the doors of the home this time to support Maharaj Gaj Singh of Jodhpur’s Indian Head Injuries Foundation.
Founded by him in February 2007, with the aim of building a comprehensive system in India for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injury, the party will be a prelude to a gala ticketed dinner later in the year in Jodhpur where long time friend of the Maharajah Sting will perform.
“It is called the One World Retreat to celebrate the head and the heart,” said our source adding, “And when the Ambanis heard about the cause they offered their home as a preamble to drum up awareness.”
The Indian Head Injury Foundation’s beginnings are poignant. After the Maharaja’s only son, Shivraj Singh, met with a serious head injury while playing polo in Jaipur and had to be hospitalised for many years Gaj Singh became aware of the enormous problem with treating head injuries in India.
(India has the highest incidence of head injuries in the world, with essentially no infrastructure for rapid response and treatment, the IHIF’s website informs). “Nita and Mukesh were supposed to fly to Davos that day,” says our source, “But when they heard of the cause it didn’t take them a minute to offer their hospitality.” Nice!
Everyone has a job to do and though pushy PROs are the bane of a journo’s life we understand their compunctions. But ever so often they do something that even we can’t help being staggered by.
Here’s an SMS we received from an over- enthusiastic one recently: ‘Hi..Today is a scoop kind of party.. This guy was Poonam Dhillon’s boy-frnd fr several years n they were both living-in.. 2day its his b’day gt2gthr n Poonam is suposd to atend it also.. Plz send a phtgrphr, u may get some interesting pics..Thnx..TONITE IS THE NITE..!:2day Wednesday 9pm, Club Millennium, Juhu u r cordialy invtd to the birthday celebration Surendra Wadhwani (business-man frm Hong Kong n who had walkd a long march wth Sunil Dutt in Japan)..Invts include, Priya Dutt, Shatrughan Sinha n family, Raj Kumar Santoshi, Ramesh Sippy n Kiran Juneja, n Poonam Dhillon et al..Thnx..’ (sic). Oh lordy –lord...
Look who’s here!
It’s been reported that his friendship with the Ambani clan (at least one half of it) is not quite as warm as it once was. And yet, feisty survivor, one time omnipotent power broker and legendary party hopper Amar Singh is well and attending the nuptials in Chennai along with the best of them (including his erstwhile friends, the Bachchans).
Has there been a change of heart and a meeting of minds ever since he fell out with his famous friends (At one time, the three aces of Indian public life were Amitabh Bachchan, Anil Ambani and Amar Singh remember?) No such thing we’re told. “Mr Amar Singh is there because he’s a very close friend and long time associate of Hari Bhartia, the groom’s chacha.”