Morality Tale

May 10, 2013, 06:31 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

It is being seen as the ultimate morality tale, the saga of a once powerful and wealthy Mumbai family, which through ego, infighting and misjudgment frittered away its vast wealth and name

Malavika SangghviIt is being seen as the ultimate morality tale, the saga of a once powerful and wealthy Mumbai family, which through ego, infighting and misjudgment frittered away its vast wealth and name.

Yesterday, when the debonair Nitin Kasliwal Chairman and MD of leading textile firm S Kumars (makers of the Amitabh Bachchan endorsed Reid & Taylor) photograph was carried in a creditor’s advisory in a name and shame initiative, it convulsed the business community.

For at the heart of it all are some of society’s most prominent and well-connected individuals. There’s Nitin’s brothers Vikas, the Harvard educated light-eyed real estate developer (and singer) whose own ambitious Palais Royale is facing a series of obstacles, their younger brother the swashbuckling Mukul whose Maheshwar power project has turned out to be underwhelming and who is alleged to be a lobbyist for a Telecom and Media group in the Capital, and of course their sister Neerjha married to one of India’s most respected business leaders Kumaramanglam Birla.

Nitin Kasliwal (seated) and his brother Vikas

What on earth is a member of this clan doing in a creditor’s warning in a national daily? “The problem with the three Kasliwal brothers is that they are too ambitious. There’s little love lost between them and this has led to all kinds of wrangling,” said an insider. “The trouble began after their uncle Abhay died and they along with their cousins Ambuj and Varij splintered in to various combinations,” said our source adding, “Since then there have been a series of mishaps and unfortunate happenstances, not least of which were the indictment of a family member on rape charges, and stories of media plants and carrying tales to embarrass each other!” And to think that at one time they were looked up to as one of the country’s most respected business groups!

Debtors United
And now that the banking community appears to have grown teeth and has begun going after its debtors, here’s an interesting list of individuals who are said to have earned its ire because of their massive un-serviced debts. We say interesting because the one common factor that appears to be shared by all the members of this group is their propensity toward high living and conspicuous consumption!

 Venugopal Dhoot
Vijay Mallya and Venugopal Dhoot

So without further ado, ladies and gentleman let us present: Nitin Kasliwal: (money owed approx Rs 3,500 crore), Vijay Mallya (money owed approx Rs 7,500-10,000 crore), Ajay Mittal (money owed approx Rs 1, 500 crore) and Videocon’s Dhoots (money owed approx Rs 30,000 crore) Four high profile business groups all in the dock for unfettered borrowings and tardy returns! Makes you want to go back to the good old days of ‘never a lender nor a borrower be...’

Goa Goa Gone!
Anil Dharker’s Literature Live! Is going places, and what better place to go than Goa? Anil and partner Amy Fernandes put together the first Mario Miranda Cartoon Festival at Raj Salgaocar’s picturesque Sunaparanta Centre.

Mario Miranda Cartoon Festival at Sunaparanta Centre
Mario Miranda Cartoon Festival at Sunaparanta Centre

(Incidentally, Aparanta was the local name for Goa, so Sunaparanta is Golden Goa). Why a cartoon festival? First of all, to honour the memory of Mario Miranda, one of India’s greatest ever cartoonists. Also because cartoons and cartoonists have been under attack and even jailed recently.

Vinod Mehta
Vinod Mehta

In his Keynote Address, Vinod Mehta talked about the lack of humour in our public life in a speech full of anecdotes. Arun Jaitley and Mani Shankar Aiyer are two of the wittiest politicians around, Vinod said, but do you think they can take a joke directed at them? They can’t. Vinod also talked about a meeting with Murli Manohar Joshi when he was HRD Minister. Joshi told Vinod, “Do you know India invented Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles?”

Anil Dharker
Anil Dharker

Vinod laughed, thinking this was a joke, but found that Joshi was dead serious. “What do you think Lord Krishna used during the Mahabharat?” Cartoonists, by the way, are really serious people. The likes of Ravi Shankar (ex-India Today), PT Unni (Indian Express), Keshav (Hindu) and Hemant Morparia (Mumbai Mirror) debated weighty subjects like the ‘Art of Political Cartooning’ and ‘Drawing the line between funny and provocative’. What surprised everyone was that there was a full house right through Sunday. Goans giving up Sunday lunch and siesta? How times change!

Remembering Rajni-bhai
And last week through all our travelling we missed being present at the tribute organised by members of the Nehru Centre for the 31st death anniversary of its charismatic founder Barrister Rajni Patel. Rajni bhai as we (along with half of Mumbai) knew him was one of the city’s tallest citizens.

MF Hussain

A leading jurist, a politician (he was the all-powerful president of the BRCC in its heyday) and a great philanthropist, he was the first politician who understood the role of the intelligentsia in public life.

Dilip Kumar Saira Banu
Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu

To be sure his home was the center of intellectual thought and activity through out his life. Actors like Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu; artists like MF Hussain and architects like IM Kadri and young politicians like Sharad Pawar were all part of his durbar. In all this his academician wife the graceful Bakul an alumni of TISS who served as the city’s first female Sheriff ably supported him.

Bakul Patel placing flowers before her late husband's portrait
Bakul Patel placing flowers before her late husband’s portrait

We were close to them both, at first through our parents and then as it happens when you grow up as friends. Which is why when we saw this image of Bakul lovingly placing flowers at her late husband’s statue; we were overcome with nostalgia and affection for days gone by. Salut Rajni-bhai! We wonder what you’d make of your beloved city and the state of politics these days?

Bandra Chalo!
And we have it on impeccable assurance from people in the know that the finest suburban eatery these days is Nido in Bandra spearheaded by the impeccable team of Raman Macker, Gaurav Batra and Chef Vicky Ratnani.

Chef Vicky Ratnani
Chef Vicky Ratnani

“Not only is it beautiful to look at, but the food is to die for!” What on earth is going on in Bandra? When we lived there the two high points of its gastronomical existence were A-One Grill, and McRonnel’s!

Go to top