High praise from Rushdie

Jun 24, 2013, 07:49 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

He may be a man about town and a legendary seducer of beautiful women but make no mistake about it � as far as literature and art are concerned, he is still one of the world's most rigorous and hard to please critics

>> He may be a man about town and a legendary seducer of beautiful women but make no mistake about it — as far as literature and art are concerned, he is still one of the world’s most rigorous and hard to please critics. Therefore, when Salman Rushdie chose to put his considerable heft behind an artist recently, it made waves.

Shahzia Sikander's artworks

“Today I went to the studio of a remarkable artist Shahzia Sikander. A fascinating hour and a half,” were his simple words but the weight they carried was considerable. That they were about a fellow South-East Asian New York-based artist (a Pakistani to boot) did not take away from the praise. Anyone at all familiar with the almost unbearable beauty and remarkable quality of Sikander’s work would consider them well earned. Sikander, a New York based forty-something artist whose canvasses large-scale installation, performance and videos draws from the discipline of Indo-Persian miniature painting, which she studied at The National College of Lahore in Pakistan, and who earned her Masters from the Rhode Island School of Art and Design, has been attracting notice for her distinctive integration of Hindu, Muslim and Western cultures. She has exhibited internationally at leading galleries and is represented in major museums and private collections around the world.

Salman Rushdie

To receive praise from Rushdie is not unexpected, but Salman watchers are wondering if the appreciation is not limited to Sikander’s art alone. After all, she is remarkably attractive and come to think of it with her sharp features, stylish hairstyle and Manhattan sophistication bears more than a passing resemblance to you know who. So, are we going to see a coupling that could only have been made in artistic heaven? Watch this space!

When Diana wed Thierry
>> Saturday evening saw the coming together of Mumbai’s air kissing, white wine quaffing, white linen sporting beautiful people to celebrate the marriage of Diana Campbell — art curator and director, Creative India Foundation — to Thierry Betancourt, international furniture designer.

Alex Kuruvilla and Divya Thakur at Diana Campbell and Thierry Betancourt’s wedding

The party to celebrate the occasion was held at 127, (to commemorate the venue of couple’s first meeting) and featured a long table festooned with white flowers and candelabra decorated by the city’s favourite florist Sonal Shah, around which sat friends like Conde Nast’s Alex Kuruvilla, style maven Mozez Singh and graphic artist Divya Thakur.

Suresh Bond’s party
>> Those familiar with London’s NRI social life know that there are a few months in summer when the party scene revolves around rich Indians and the extravagant parties they host mostly in a bid to outdo one another and flex their Swiss bank muscle. And in this rarified slice of metropolitan hi-jinx what could be more notable than the James Bond themed party hosted at London’s Four Seasons by Suresh Nanda, international arms dealer and father of notorious hit-and-run BMW driver Sanjeev?

With guests outdoing each other in their Bond inspired costumes, décor reminiscent of Bond’s villainous extravaganza that featured women floating in giant vases and a guest list that included high rollers like the Mumbai’s Ruias and Suhel Seth it sounds like a parody of every vulgarian’s fantasy. Can we be forgiven for saying that it’s left us shaken and stirred?

NaMo’s pressing needs
>> And word comes in that the Narendra Modi camp is searching high and low for a press officer to man what is seen as his irresistible rise to Racecourse Road. “The brief is for someone who will put together a campaign and then go on to be the PM’s Press Advisor, should it be successful!’ says our source.

Strange, given his strident media supporters and his myriad unofficial spokespersons, NaMo should have no problem finding an official press officer!

Not this year
>> Incidentally, that another high roller of Mumbai descent whose annual London splash out is a thing of beauty and joy forever, Rana Kapoor appears to have had second thoughts about hosting it this time around.

According to an insider, whereas plans were afoot and invitations were on the verge of being sent out to a few hundred of his closest friends –there has been a last minute rethink. In the light of his feud with sister-in-law Madhu Kapur receiving bad press, perhaps his spin-doctors or good sense have prevailed.

Now showing at the Met
>> He is something of a legend amongst students of journalism, South East Asian journalists and that ever growing community of Indians and New Yorkers connected with a passion for ‘desh’. Which is why when Sree Sreenivasan, professor Columbia Journalism School, co-founder of SAJA, one of Newsweek’s 20 most influential South Asians in the US and formidable presence in the virtual world announced that he was leaving the prestigious school that he had for an exciting new assignment — the congratulations came in fast and fulsome. “I am so excited to go to the Met,” he announced about being appointed as the museum’s first chief digital officer. “I’ve learned so much at Columbia and made lifelong friends among my colleagues and my students.

I owe it everything. As for the Met, I’ve had a three-decade, one-way love affair with the place and when something/someone you’ve loved for three decades comes calling, you have to take the call,” he wrote on Facebook, his succinct post demonstrating his mastery of social media. “Both are such classy institutions,” he said of the two places — landmarks of New York’s cultural and media scene. As for friends, fans and followers, the consummate digital communicator beseeched them to follow him @MetMuseum on Twitter! And through the Met’s press releases from henceforth: (‘even their press release fonts are beautiful!’) he said.


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