Collector and aesthete passes away

May 17, 2012, 08:21 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

Our friend the celebrated artist Anjolie Ela Menon called yesterday to tell us that Lance Dane, aesthete, scholar and authority on numismatics had passed away on Tuesday night at the age of 89 at the Hinduja hospital in Mumbai

>> Our friend the celebrated artist Anjolie Ela Menon called yesterday to tell us that Lance Dane, aesthete, scholar and authority on numismatics had passed away on Tuesday night at the age of 89 at the Hinduja hospital in Mumbai. For those unfamiliar with Mumbai’s erstwhile rich tapestry of art and culture — Dane — an Englishman had collaborated on what is regarded as the definitive publication of the Kama Sutra with Mulk Raj Anand. (One wit had described this contribution as being the work of one man’s memory and the other’s imagination — given their vintage and orientations but that’s a story for another day.) Suffice to say, that Lance was a walking Encyclopedia of Indian Iconography and art and largely responsible for the visual inputs of the earliest copies of Marg Magazine, the setting up of OP Jain’s Museum of Everyday Objects at Sanskriti in Delhi and the official photographer to Rajiv Sethi’s ADITI Project.

Menon, the celebrated artist activist and humanist, was quite distraught when we she called us. “Towards the end of his life he lived impoverished, in poor health and quite alone in a rickety old building in Mahim, surrounded with an absolutely priceless collection of bronzes and antique coins,” she said, “And as he grew older and more infirm, he was obsessed with the goal of preserving his numismatic treasure, hoard intact, as an important part of our national heritage. He had recently mentioned discussions with the Hinduja Foundation, which had promised to make this dream come true. Alas, he passed away before this came to a conclusion,” she said adding, “Dying intestate, every precaution should be taken by the government to avoid the splitting up of this amazing repository of Indian art. Hopefully, Hinduja Foundation will honour its commitment to him.”

Though other authorities in the art world hold that Dane was a controversial figure who’d allegedly got himself embroiled in some shady transactions involving the smuggling of Indian antiques abroad, this diarist still commends the man his collection and his passion for art. “He called me at dawn from the ICU in Mumbai three days before his demise, in a surprisingly chirpy voice saying ‘Anjolie you must do a portrait of Asoka, the great as we know nothing of what he looked like’,” says Anjolie, who in a moving tribute penned in his memory ends with, “So Lance! May (your) soul rest in numismatic heaven, where (you) can preside over a trust which will house and display your extraordinary collection for future generations as (you) had so wanted.

The Dark Horse

>> OK. So if Pranab-da is going to be Prezzie, who’s the Dilli grapevine putting their bets on as Fin Min? Though the obvious choice would be PC, the fact that not only is he fighting off all kinds of charges in Telecom scams but appears to be part of 10 Janpath’s Big Chill makes his choice unlikely. Huh? Well, of late, we are told that Sonia has distanced herself from all three of the Congress bigwigs: Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee as she feels the blame for bungling up matters ought to be equally distributed amongst these heavyweights. So whom does that leave? Apparently the dark horse (no pun intended) is Kamal Nath who we are informed shares ‘an excellent understanding with the powers that be’

Politics on the field
>> Word has it that an ex-power house of Indian cricket recently held a meeting with his old rival, a former chief minister to come to an understanding where he would support the latter’s brother in a state assembly as a quid pro quo for vacating his seat in a local cricketing body for the former heavyweight, who has been feeling quite miffed at the way his role in the ICC has been curtailed by a south Indian tycoon. From this berth, the leader hopes to wrest control of his power base once again and emerge the supremo of the Indian cricketing universe. And a good thing too we say given what a mess cricket’s in right now!

Dummy’s Guide to Bollywood Imports
>> Are we the only ones who can’t get our head around all those firangi lovelies making waves in Bollywood with their movies and their moves on the hot bachelor boys in Bolly land? We sat with someone who is something of an authority on beauty and Bollywood babes but still seem confused. To begin with there’s the very English Amy Jackson, who having lost the Miss England title bagged the lead role in the blockbuster Madrasapattinam and went on to star in Ekk Deewana Tha. Then there’s Nargis Fakhri. The half-Czech, half-Pakistani actress who was seen romancing Ranbir Kapoor in Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar.

Somewhere in this configuration features Sri Lankan import Jacqueline Fernandez, who had a debut opposite Ritesh Deshmukh in Aladin and then starred in Houseful 2. Brazilian Giselli Monteiro, who played a Punjabi kudi from the ’60s in Love Aaj Kal would be four. Model Lisa Haydon (her mother is Australian, father Indian) who started in a supporting role in Aisha, but soon bagged David Dhawan’s Rascals is five, Angela Jonsson (father from Iceland, mother from Mangalore) who has been cast opposite Salman Khan in Kick is six and Evelyn Sharma with an Indian father, a German mother, who has signed three films with big production houses is seven. Not forgetting the pioneers of the business, British actress Alice Patten in Rang De Basanti, (8), her fellow Briton Rachel Shelley in Lagaan (9) and Tania Zaetta in Bunty Aur Babli and Salaam Namaste (10). There are more, but we feel that’s enough bombshells for one day’s lesson.  

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