A nice man to know

Apr 21, 2014, 06:01 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

We spoke to our friend, the peripatetic Suhel Seth. He sounded chuffed about his tribute to his old mentor Khushwant Singh

We spoke to our friend, the peripatetic Suhel Seth. He sounded chuffed about his tribute to his old mentor Khushwant Singh. “I’ve just institutionalised an annual poetry prize in his memory.

Every year one poet will receive Rs 3 lakh,” he informed us. “Soli Sorabjee has agreed to chair the jury and others on it are Jeet Thayil, Pavan Varma and Namita Gokhale,” he said. How did he meet Khuswant? “I first met him in 1982.

Suhel Seth Khushwant Singh
Suhel Seth and Khushwant Singh

The sign outside his Sujan Singh Park house said ‘Do not ring the bell unless you are expected’ a sign of the man’s utter contempt for people who’d call on him without an appointment.But I was clever enough to make an appointment. All I wanted him to do was to come and see my play ‘Bhutto’, in which I was playing the lead.”

Jeet Thayil Namita Gokhale
Jeet Thayil and Namita Gokhale

And what’s Seth up to? “I’m off to Amritsar to campaign for Arun (Jaitley),” he said about his friend, the BJP leader. And then I’ll be in Kolkata where I’m supposed to engage in a debate with AAP’s Shazia Ilmi on the subject of ‘Does Your Vote Count?’ organised by the FICCI women’s chapter,” he said adding, “Shazia has no idea what she’s in for.

I’m going to tell her, ‘my vote for your boss in Delhi certainly didn’t count he was gone in 49 days!’” said the irrepressible motor mouth and celebrated soundbyter, chuckling mischievously on the phone!

Celebrating Sophie
‘Please join us to celebrate Sophie’s 80th birthday’, said the simple but elegant card and with that one of the city’s beloved denizens, the art and culture obsessed, Sophie Ahmed, was feted by her three daughters Sara, Farah and Monisha at the Taj’s Ballroom on Saturday evening.

Sophie Ahmed with her brother Dr Yusuf Hamied
Sophie Ahmed with her brother Dr Yusuf Hamied

Sophie, who has been a dear friend of the family for as long as we can recall, is a great Mumbai institution. The daughter of the distinguished scientist Dr Khwaja Abdul Hamied (who had founded Cipla, the internationally renowned pharmaceutical company) and his Russian wife, Sophie and her brothers grew up in Mumbai’s Cuffe Parade surrounded by art and scholarship.

The Father of the Nation was a friend and mentor and Zubin Mehta was a neighbour and friend. Sophie’s own brother Dr Yusuf (Yuku) Hamied, a Padma Bhushan awardee has won international acclaim for providing AIDS medicines to the poorest at affordable prices while cocking a snook at rapacious drug manufacturers.

The family is known for its quiet and steady acts of philanthropy and patronage of the arts. As expected, her birthday brought together a gathering of the city’s finest and there was much bonhomie and banter as her children and grandchildren spoke with love and pride about the feisty matriarch in an evening filled with warmth and elegance.

Much-awaited social event
“The troops are uniting,” said the legend on its fan page about an end-of-month event that’s had the city’s young and restless thrilled. “The idea is to gather all the people who partied at Fire N Ice once again, in one venue...

Bhavna and Chunky Pandey
Bhavna and Chunky Pandey

And also to give the people who never visited the club an idea of what the brand meant for the city,” said Vishal Shetty, one of the promoters of the legendary night club at Phoenix Mills launched in October 1999 by Ketan Kadam, Rajiv Shah, Neeraj Rungta and himself, which had occupied a premier position in Mumbai’s night life until its closure in 2004.

Carol Gracias and Svetlana Casper
Carol Gracias and Svetlana Casper

To be sure, pictures from its hey day reveal a host of familiar faces: Abhishek Kapoor, Bhavna and Chunky Pandey, Carol Gracias, Ria and Raima Sen, Alison Woodham and Milind Soman whooping it up. “The who’s who of Mumbai’s social circuit have partied at Fire N Ice,” says Shetty.

“Some of the regulars were Gautam Singhania, Yash and Avanti, Yuvraj Singh, Dino Morea, John Abraham, Bipasha Basu, Reshma Bombaywala, and Ash Chandler and the club’s Trance Night on Tuesdays, Hip Hop and Chaandni bar on Wednesdays, Retro on Thursdays and Commercial club nights on Friday and Saturday were always looked forward to.”

This former social phenomena will be revived at the end of the month with much fanfare. “We are taking over the whole of Tote All’s 30,000 sq ft for the ‘Fire N Ice (pop up) Gathering @ Tote on 30th April” informs Shetty for, “There will be two music rooms, seven DJs and a one-hour flash back set where we will play all the old F&I hits...”
This is how the world ends, when the very young embark on nostalgia.

An end to Rump and Ramp
Their Swiss chalet in Chattarpur (we love the sound of that) was a thing of beauty and a joy forever, featured in all its OTT glory in many a lifestyle glossy and her advent as the country’s leading fashion guru with her e-commerce portal, eponymous design label was heralded as fashion’s biggest event since Coco Chanel’s invention of the LBD.

But ever since their profitable beef export business attracted the attention of the EOQW, this high profile and (very) well-heeled Delhi family has gone under the radar. “They were involved in hawala transactions of hundreds of thousands of crores,” said one Delhi friend.

“It was the longest raid the Capital has ever seen,” said another. But it was the third’s witty comment that had us in stitches, “There’s been a slowing down of all activities now,” said the wit, “From rump to ramp-the raids have put brakes on all of it.”

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