Not in my name

Jul 12, 2017, 06:00 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

What can one say to those who appear to base their entire political discourse on an extreme form of what-aboutery?

What can one say to those who appear to base their entire political discourse on an extreme form of what-aboutery? No sooner had news of the tragic killing of Amarnath pilgrims by terrorists broken, than the trolls began their baiting: where are all the pseudo secularists and libtards who marched in candle light vigils for Junaid now?

This disingenuous argument ran so strongly on social media yesterday that we were witness to a bitter feud that erupted on a friend's timeline. The argument began when he'd posted how 'every single one of (his) Kashmiri Muslim friends on Facebook had 'spontaneously expressed horror at the terrorist attack,' later going on to say there were '40 to 50 of them.' So deeply embedded in hatred and prejudice was one troll that he challenged the man to prove his claim down to the last name of the fortieth person!

And as the verbal brawl got nastier and more out of hand, with both sides unyielding, we wondered if this endless what-aboutery would bring back even one innocent soul. After all, divisiveness and hatred were the cause of the problem!

Sheikh, rattle and roll
We woke up to a post by the impassioned restaurateur and TV judge Zorawar Kalra, whose track record in three years could outstrip many. "This is completely unprecedented," exulted the Sardar, son of pioneering foodie Jiggs Kalra.

HH Sheikh Mohammed at Farzi Dubai
HH Sheikh Mohammed at Farzi Dubai

"Honoured to have HH Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum at Farzi Café Dubai for the fourth time," he said. And as the clip revealed, the butter chicken-loving Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Mohammed once again feasted on Farzi's distinctive spin on modern Indian cuisine, along with a large group of his associates.

"In Dubai, it is considered an exception if the Sheikh visits the same restaurant twice, and only a handful of restaurants can boast of him visiting more than two times. I am surprised he doesn't have Farzi cater to his palace!" informs a Dubai-based source. No wonder even without serving alcohol, the Farzi Café in Dubai has become the most profitable franchise in Kalra's bouquet. Sheikh that, Mr Kalra!

Old friends
This week, media platforms across the board were flashing pictures of what appeared to be a fascinating grouping: all three of Nita and Mukesh Ambani's children, Isha, Akash and Anant, seated in a limousine accompanied by former MP Milind Deora and his wife, producer Pooja Shetty. What's more, they were captured departing from producer-director and TV host Karan Johar's residence, after what appeared to be a really small, private dinner.

Milind Deora, Pooja Shetty, Akash, Isha Ambani andAnant Ambani
Milind Deora, Pooja Shetty, Akash, Isha Ambani andAnant Ambani

Even though every member of this cluster was famous and inhabited the very top edge of the social wedge, their disparate vocations and ages drew a fair amount of curiosity: what had given rise to the gathering? The launch of a big budget film? A high-profile ad campaign? The start of a new sports league?

Milind Deora and Dhirubhai Ambani
Milind Deora and Dhirubhai Ambani

Actually, it was their fathers. That Milind's father, the late Congress leader Murli Deora, had been one of Dhirubhai Ambani's oldest and closest friends, is well known. Both men shared a unique rapport and spent much time in each other's company, be it flying to Delhi as ambitious young men looking to make friends and influence people; or en famille at their weekend getaway homes on the outskirts of Mumbai.

Manmohan Shetty and Yash Johar
Manmohan Shetty and Yash Johar

Meanwhile, Pooja Shetty's father, entertainment mogul Manmohan Shetty, and Karan Johar's dad, the late producer Yash Johar, shared a warm rapport too. In spite of belonging to a glamorous industry, both men had carved a reputation for themselves as being down to earth, loyal, and ever ready to help in times of crisis. When we had met Manmohan with both his daughters for tea, he'd spoken fondly of the elder Johar.

And on his part, KJo had made many references to Pooja' s sister Aarti in his recent memoir. So there you have it, the most likely and plausible cause for a bunch of old family friends to get together for some nosh and chin-wag on a lazy Sunday evening.

Man of many parts
"The two of us have worked together since 1986. As an art director/copywriter combo under the watchful gaze and tutelage of Kersy Katrak," says wordsmith, playwright and director Rahul da Cunha, about the joint exhibition of photographs he is showing with Prashant Godbole later in the month.

Rahul da Cunha and Prashant Godbole
Rahul da Cunha and Prashant Godbole

Da Cunha is a man of many parts; not only does he run the ad agency responsible for Amul's iconic campaign, but he is also an avid photographer, getting up at the crack of dawn to shoot insightful pictures of life around him.

"It's stuff Godbole and I have shot together and individually in Varanasi, Cairo, Istanbul and Mumbai," he says. And as if this were not enough, we forgot to mention that Rahul is also penning his first novel and learning to play the acoustic guitar!

The Shah of fashion
Not all appointments made by the ruling regime are controversial. The NDA might have bequeathed us Gajendra Chauhan and Pahlaj Nihalani, whose suitability for their posts have been thunderously challenged, but news that industrialist Rajesh Shah (Co Chairman and MD of Mukand Steel) being named Chairman of the National Institute of Fashion Technology comes as a welcome surprise.

Rajesh Shah. Pic/Twitter
Rajesh Shah. Pic/Twitter

Shah, a long-time Modi supporter and an alumnus of both Cambridge and Berkeley, is the son of the late industrialist and former Governor of West Bengal Viren Shah, who so famously was incarcerated during the Emergency. Shah also is a man in possession of a refined aesthetic sensibility and an early admirer of Indian cultural czar and crafts revivalist Rajeev Sethi, who he had commissioned in the nineties to design his home in Juhu, resulting in an outstanding display of Indian arts and crafts.

Not only this, but Shah is also active on a number of corporate platforms like the YPO, and an old Davos hand. All this could augur well for expanding fashion's scope and success, when he takes over India's premier fashion institute set up in conjunction with the Ministry of Textiles in 1986 as an institution of design, management and technology for the business of fashion.

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