Anna's day out

Updated: Dec 27, 2016, 10:38 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

“The idea was to make it a celebration of a family meal in Tuscany,” says Ayesha Shroff about the birthday brunch she hosted for designer Anna Singh at her Bandstand residence on Christmas Day

The guests with  Ayesha Shroff and Anna Singh (second and third from left)
The guests with  Ayesha Shroff and Anna Singh (second and third from left)

“The idea was to make it a celebration of a family meal in Tuscany,” says Ayesha Shroff about the birthday brunch she hosted for designer Anna Singh at her Bandstand residence on Christmas Day.

“It had to be outdoors as the weather is so fantastic these days,” she says, adding, “And we wanted every one to sit at a single long table and enjoy a typical Christmas lunch.” And partaking of the seasonal fare were: Tabu, Manisha Koirala, Chunky and Bhavna Pandey and Kiran Rao (who lives in the same building and dropped in from upstairs) along with Jackie, Tiger and Krishna Shroff.

“Of course some people who ought to have been there, like Abhishek and Aishwarya Bachchan, Sussanne and Zayed Khan, and Bobby and Pooja Deol were traveling,” says Shroff, “But the rest of Anna’s loved ones were all there including her dad.” Nice!

Cornucopia of delights
What can one say about the recently concluded Serependity Arts Festival in Goa except, bravo? Spread over almost 2 kilometers at Panjim’s exquisite city centre and championed by visionary industrialist Sunil Munjal of the Hero Honda family, the festival that brought together a host of disciplines from the performing arts to the culinary, from installations to street theatre, was a dazzling display of creativity.

Lillette Dubey, Sunil Munjal and Sumant Jaykrishnan
Lillette Dubey, Sunil Munjal and Sumant Jaykrishnan

From the dazzling exhibitions of photography and art at the masterfully renovated Adil Shah Palace, to the riveting performance of Talatum in a circus tent, to the Coke Studio performances in the evening there was a virtual cornucopia of delights on offer.

Riyas Komu, Ranjit Hoskote and Ranjit Barot
Riyas Komu, Ranjit Hoskote and Ranjit Barot

What’s more Munjal a soft-spoken and cultured cultural evangelist appears to have pulled off the impossible: Getting some of the country’s most celebrated divas and doyennes like Jyotindra Jain, Lilette Dubey, Sumant Jaykrishnan, Riyas Komu, Ranjit Hoskote and Ranjit Barot to collaborate on what is certain to become an annual institution.

At an elegant sit down dinner hosted on the festival’s last night by the Taj’s Rakesh Sarna on the lawns of the Hermitage to commemorate its successful partnering of Serendipity, Munjal spoke with passion about the need to introduce art history and creativity into the environment. Will we be back for more next year? You bet! This time from the very beginning.

Character of their college
“School and college are where you make your best and life-long friends and memories,” said media tycoon Ronnie Screwvala about the fire that engulfed the library of his alma mater, Sydenham College. “It was really sad to see the visuals of the inferno,” said Screwvala, who passed out from the leading institute for commercial education, in the mid seventies. “Libraries are the characters of each college,” he said.

Ronnie Screwvala, Milind Deora and Uday Kotak
Ronnie Screwvala, Milind Deora and Uday Kotak

His fellow alumni, Congressman and former MP from South Mumbai, Milind Deora (Class of ’95) shared his anguish. “Fortunately the fire happened during a break. Hope the government lends all possible support to ensure a speedy renovation,” he said. Though when both men were asked if they recalled spending much time in the library, they were not so certain. “Can’t remember if there was a library on those floors (at my time),” said Deora.

Deepak Parekh, Kumar Mangalam Birla and Rakesh Jhunjhunwala
Deepak Parekh, Kumar Mangalam Birla and Rakesh Jhunjhunwala

For the record, the college, which for decades has attracted the cream of Mumbai’s youth has taught some of the country’s leading lights, such as the likes of Deepak Parekh, Uday Kotak, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Kumar Mangalam Birla, and Meera Sanyal.

The year that music died
There’s no getting around the fact that 2016 has been a very bad hair year for the planet, what with Trump, Brexit and uncountable other disasters and tragedies. No surprises then that as people woke up on Monday morning to the tragic news of George Michael’s passing, this last nail in the departing coffin of annus horribilis was felt most acutely by musicians themselves.

Ehsaan Noorani, Karsh Kale and George Michael. Pic/Getty Images
Ehsaan Noorani, Karsh Kale and George Michael. Pic/Getty Images

‘FX@# you 2016. Music has never been more depleted by a single year,’ posted singer, composer Vishal Dadlani with an accompanying list of all the fatalities of this year (David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen etc). Fellow musician and guitarist Ehsaan Noorani, responded by adding a few more names ‘Keith Emerson, Greg Lake…) to which Indian American musician, Karsh Kale responded with his own disbelief over Michael.

“Was listening to him on the plane and landed to the news ...” And soon there was a chorus of lament. RIP George and hope you join the orchestra in the sky and make some great music together.

Of royal repasts
This Sunday the races in Mumbai were suffused with a heady dose of nostalgia, when M K Ajatshatru Singh, son of DR Karan Singh, and grandson of the late Maharaja Harisingh, the erstwhile ruler of Kashmir, visited the RWITC with his wife Ritu, and their son, Ranvijay, on the occasion was the 64th running of The Maharaja Harisinghji Cup.

Vivek Jain, Ritu and MK Ajatshatru Singh, and their son RanvijayVivek Jain, Ritu and MK Ajatshatru Singh, and their son Ranvijay

The visitors also presented a rare vintage photograph of the late Maharaja to Vivek Jain, Chairman, RWITC. “It was a truly satisfying day and we were delighted that Mr. Singh has promised to return next year bringing a Kashmir theme to the race – with food and the arts,” says Jain. As is known, the RWITC is facing its most serious financial crisis in its history with mounting losses and the recent challenge of demonetization.

“I was lucky to have met the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, a week ago, to seek a softer stand from the State on all regulatory issues,” he says. “We are hoping for the best, and it will be a year of unprecedented challenges and will require our tremendous effort to restore normalcy.”

Mumbai to run out of water soon?

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