Her father's daughter

Aug 14, 2017, 10:13 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

We caught up with young Birla scion, Ananya Birla, daughter of Kumar Mangalam and Neerja, who has just released her second original track Meant To Be

Ananya Birla painting with Anjolie Ela Menon; (left) Ananya's shirt, which was painted on by the artist
Ananya Birla painting with Anjolie Ela Menon; (left) Ananya's shirt, which was painted on by the artist

We caught up with young Birla scion, Ananya Birla, daughter of Kumar Mangalam and Neerja, who has just released her second original track Meant To Be. This time, the conversation was not about music, but had to do with her other passion - philanthropy. The twenty-something recently took up a youth brand ambassador's role with Kapil Dev's Khushii foundation, which works towards the upliftment of those in need across India.

Doesn't she have enough on her plate? "I do have a lot going on. Currently, music is my focus, however, this cause really resonates with me," she says about the the initiative, which afforded her time with artist Anjolie Ela Menon, "Painting with Anjolieji was very special, because my father painted with her a few years ago!" she says, "The artist also very kindly painted a silhouette of a woman on my shirt in five seconds, which I'm going to treasure forever."

Kitchen Wars
Celebrated master chef Masaharu Morimoto, better known as the Iron Chef, was in the capital over the weekend after a four-year hiatus from his restaurants, Wasabi by Morimoto in Mumbai, and Delhi's Taj hotels.

Chef Morimoto with guests, (right) Chef Hemant Oberoi
Chef Morimoto with guests, (right) Chef Hemant Oberoi

Though it was only a pit stop between Bangkok and New York, the celebrity chef was in good spirits and was spotted crafting his famous sushi and other delicacies in his characteristic ponytail and shorts intact for Delhi's glitterati this weekend. But why had he given his Mumbai creation (which carries his name) a miss? It might have something to do with Moromoto's alleged love-hate relationship with the Taj's former executive chef Hemant Oberoi, say F&B insiders.

The two chefs had often disagreed openly on a number of issues while setting up the popular (and overpriced) Japanese eatery over a decade ago. This weekend in Delhi, sources swear that when he was informed about Oberoi's retirement from the Taj, Morimoto smiled broadly and exulted, "Now I will go to Mumbai more often!"

The Healing Land
"We often joke that had we actually stopped to take in the entire 40 acres of the project at its early stages, we'd be too daunted and not take it up at all," laugh Sharmilee and Nikhil Kapur, founders of a wellness resort nestled in the magnificent Sahyadri Mountains, overlooking the breathtaking Mulshi Lake, a three-hour drive from Mumbai.

Nikhil and Sharmilee Kapur
Nikhil and Sharmilee Kapur

How the Kapurs came to realise their dreams of creating a state-of-the-art spa, offering the latest in international, integrated wellness, is serendipitous. Both now in their late thirties and the parents of an eight-year-old – Nikhil had been a high-level executive, and she, the daughter of one of Pune's most well-heeled clans with a long history of five-star hotels and real estate projects – had impassioned, but separate interests in wellness.

"I'd been into fitness for many years, but as an executive, had found myself burning out," says the three-time Ironman triathlete and golfer. "Sharmilee had, meanwhile, discovered the benefits of Pranic healing and was fast making progress in its study."

The conceptualisation of the spa began in 2008 and, today, the property offering a gamut of therapies, from Ayurvedic to Chinese Chi Nei Ysang massage to postural analysis for recovery, rest and rejuvenation, attracts many from Mumbai. From corporate honchos to Bolly stars and socialites, they've been beating a path to its door since its inception last year. "The land itself in this region is so healing," says Sharmilee, before discussing a trek up the mountain with Nikhil.

The Perfect Chord
Fashion week will soon be upon us and, as expected, the run-up to Mumbai's big fashion outing is heralded with all manner of buzz and hype, as designers and their publicity machineries gear up to capture eyeballs and attention.

The first look at Anavila Misra's show all in matte blacks and grays
The first look at Anavila Misra's show all in matte blacks and grays

Amidst all this, designer Anavila Misra's invitation to her show appears to strike the perfect chord. As is known, Misra has given the more noisy aspects of the fashion whirl a miss, and her subdued linen saris evoke mist-laden mountains. No surprises that an exquisite crystal flacon of heady khus and a whisper of a linen scarf – all in matte blacks and grays – alerted guests to her show this week.

"We have focused on creating an evening formal look, keeping in mind comfort and ease," says Misra, "The collection has been completed by creating special accessories, like clutches and jewellery pieces." Mercifully, she does not mention words like 'show-stopper' and 'photo wall'.

He Says, She Says
Brace yourselves, gentle readers, this one is as down and dirty as it gets! It involves a slice of the fastest and most well-heeled crowd (albeit a middle-aged one) that exists betwixt Do-Buy and Mumbai, and is a scandal that could be spun into a best-selling quickie (though the term is unfortunate, given the circumstances). We give you a summary from both sides of the marital divide, leaving it to your prudence to sift the wheat from the chaff.

For a few years now, the grapevine has been buzzing with talk of this fast evaporating high-profile marriage. The story is not an unusual one: Mr Flashy NRI Big Bucks, based in Do-Buy, gets married to (is ensnared by) an attractive (gold-digging) Mumbai-based divorcee. And their union results in a wildly extravagant lifestyle involving flashy cars and designer clothes and showbiz-studded parties. However, soon, Shangri La begins to unravel and for months, the grapevine throbs with stories from sources from both sides. He is said to be philandering again, and the couple is estranged and on the verge of a divorce, though living in the same house.

However, a few months down the line, the husband's stepson discovers a stash of pretty explicit photographs of him and an unidentified woman, which, of course, would be rather unfortunate under any circumstance, but it's taken place in Do-Buy, where not only adultery, but also more vivid acts of… er… intimacy, are frowned upon by authorities. Flashy Big Bucks is summarily thrown into a clinker, where he cools his heels for a month. And, then, in the unkindest cut of all, some say the authorities ask his wife if she wants him to remain in Do-Buy or prefers him to be deported.

Of course, as we said, there are two sides to the story. Flashy Big Bucks says it's all a frame up, and the pictures have been photoshopped to damage him due to his pending divorce case. Her friends say that's a convenient lie. Is the photographic evidence truthful, or is this just a very effective master plan by an estranged wife leveraging a sizeable divorce settlement? Your guess is as good as ours.

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