Collateral Damage

Jun 30, 2015, 06:01 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

The uncoiling of Lalitgate, like some hydra-headed serpent appears to swallow politicians businessmen, cricketers and stars as it grows to mythic proportions before our eyes

The uncoiling of Lalitgate, like some hydra-headed serpent appears to swallow politicians businessmen, cricketers and stars as it grows to mythic proportions before our eyes. And to think that this toxic vortex of animosities and venom, all began almost six years ago when Shashi Tharoor made the fatal error of crossing Lalit Modi by not only trouncing the hopes of an Adani led bid for a Gujarat franchise, but by further attracting his ire over an issue of a girl.

Lalit Modi and Shashi Tharoor
Lalit Modi and Shashi Tharoor

The girl in question, of course was the comely 23-year-old South African Gabriella Demetriades who'd been a finalist in IPL2's Miss Bollywood South Africa 2009 contest. Way back in April 2010, in an article titled 'The Indian Premier Leak' in Tehelka Magazine, Shantanu Guha Ray had written 'A few days earlier, newspapers had carried front-page stories linking a beautiful South African model, Gabriella Demetriades, with Modi.

It seems Modi no longer wanted the association, and had requested Tharoor's office, as Minister of State for External Affairs, to deny her a visa. Piqued by the backroom pressure and anxiety Modi had been visiting on his boss and the Kochi team, Tharoor's aide Jacob Joseph refused to entertain the request and not only expedited the visa but apparently taunted Modi's people about it.

The story goes that when Modi found out, he called Tharoor in a rage at night and slammed the phone down, vowing vendetta.' It was this, insiders say, that might have prompted Modi to make public Tharoor's involvement with the Kochi franchise which had a domino effect that finally consumed Tharoor's career, the ill-fated Kochi franchise (which was revoked in 2011), Modi's relations with certain leaders in the Congress and his eventual flight to London.

As for Demetriades, who, once her visa was granted, had happily gone on to carving a career for herself as a model in Mumbai, landing the cover of FHM amongst other assignments, she was spotted at various high profile events in the company of erstwhile IMG India boss Ravi Krishnan. Last heard she is said to have moved on, starting her own fashion label and is said to be dating someone younger.

"Never underestimate the pretty girls" is what a grand old codger used to advise aspirants to British high society. "You never know the collateral damage they can cause." In this case the trail of damage has been more immense than even he could have imagined.

She said what?
Enough has been heard about actress and singer Monica Dogra and her recent attempt to raise Rs 50 lakh through crowd funding for her Art Project on LGBT & Human Rights 'Feel the Shiver'. A few weeks ago, Dogra, who describes herself as 'a spoken word performer', a dancer and actress, had solicited contributions towards what she called 'a high art project, through the medium of music video'.

Monica Dogra
Monica Dogra

Contributors to the project could choose between rewards as original as 'an all girls night out with Dogra', where you and your girl friends can spend an evening partying with her (Rs 30,000), to an evening with the lady, 'where she will be your personal stylist for a day and go out shopping with you' (Rs 1,50,000).

'The goal' she wrote 'is to build an interactive installation including footage from 'Shiver', wherein biological and non-biological females can interact and engage in a discourse'. But so far with Rs 2,42,360 raised and 37 days left it appears that the response has been a tad underwhelming. Perhaps would be contributories are still figuring out the bit about 'non biological females?'

Good cheer from Vastu Uncle
He is said to be the reason behind the success of many fashion and F&B and show biz careers, which is why when at the launch party of AD Singh's Fatty Bao, we were introduced to the 64-year-old Hyderabad-based Kunapareddy Arun Kumar aka as 'Vastu Uncle,' we were not surprised.

Kunapareddy Arun Kumar
Kunapareddy Arun Kumar

"All the top designers consult him for their properties and he flies all over the world advising people," said AD's better half, designer Sabena Singh admiringly. "I started my practice in 1997, as I was affected with bad vastu," said Kumar who describes his day job as 'director of a telugu newspaper at Hyderabad.' "I learnt the science from my eminent Guru Sri Anji Babu," he said.

And for those who believe in such things there's reason to cheer. "Mumbai is vastu friendly for business and industrial growth," said Kumar, adding, "all the nature (sic) such as East, West, North and South are blessed with perfect Vastu level." "He doesn't even charge for his advice," said Sabena. "But he accepts gifts like a bottle of whiskey from grateful clients."

A different kind of freedom
According to sources, this trance-EDM loving, muscle pumping, Roberto Cavalli wearing bearer of one of India's most respected business surnames, has decided relocate to London along with his family soon. Ever since the psychedelic scion had found himself embroiled in business problems, he has decided to leave.

"Towards this end his children are seeking admission to educational institutions abroad and the family will live in their well-appointed apartment in London," said the source. "But what happens to his priceless pile he resides in - at one of the city's most valuable locations- will he redevelop it or rent it out is the big question now."

As is known, the mansion is not only one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the city but it has also been witness to epoch making moments in India's freedom struggle. "This time it looks like another struggle for freedom," said the source, drolly.

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