Return of the prodigal son

Nov 27, 2017, 10:53 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

A few weeks before the actor, adman and erstwhile Mumbaikar, Keith Stevenson, who currently lives in California, embarked on his annual voyage to India with wife Benita and sons Shalom and Kshimon, he had given the city ample time to prepare

A few weeks before the actor, adman and erstwhile Mumbaikar, Keith Stevenson, who currently lives in California, embarked on his annual voyage to India with wife Benita and sons Shalom and Kshimon, he had given the city ample time to prepare. "I am posting this well in time, so that my 'friends' can find an excuse to get the hell out of Bombay, so that they will avoid wining and dining us when we arrive at the end of October," he had said. "We are looking forward to be inundated with invitations for breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner (and drinks, especially drinks!) For the 30 plus days," he said with tongue firmly in cheek.

Benita Stevenson and Monica Vazirali
Benita Stevenson and Monica Vazirali

As it happens, his trip, which ends this week, was all that this impassioned Mumbai lover dreamt of and more. From catching up with the likes of Gerson Da Cunha and Alyque Padamsee (Stevenson had been one of the pillars of the Theatre Group during his youth in Mumbai, starring in not only Alyque Padamsee's Jesus Christ Superstar, but also in Pearl Padamsee's Godspel, an achievement whose significance only Mumbai's theatre insiders would recognise), to checking out all the new pubs and eateries in town, to many reunions with friends and extended family. But undoubtedly, the cherry on his cake was the Cathedral Class of '62s' 55th reunion held at the Clearing House this Saturday, which he fondly described as "a group of now 70-year-olds behaving like the idiots they were in school".

Keith Stevenson and his son Shalom
Keith Stevenson and his son Shalom

And with the likes of Sandra and Ali Merchant, Darab Talyarkhan and Moneesha Pinto Naval and Jeroo Pandole, Dev and Amrita Ghosh (who'd flown in from Bangalore!), Aruna and Suresh Jagtiani, Roda and Ratan Bilimoria, Hutoshi Kotwal, Navroze Mody, Zareer Masani and Kiran Motwane in the house, we are not surprised to hear the afternoon was full of much laughter, singing and nostalgia.

However, there were many classmates missing in action, according to Stevenson. Like author Salman Rushdie, who, he says, has still not forgiven him "for allegedly ruining his pristine Mont Blanc pen in the year dot," (perhaps Rushdie made up for this by naming the class bully 'Glandy Keith Colaco' in Midnight's Children?), along with other classmates, namely Wendell Abraham, Ivan Nissim and Kamal Morarka. In fact, about the philanthropist, industrialist and politician Morarka, Stevenson says, "Unless Kamal dips into his pockets in 2018, the reunion committee intends to hold off till the 60th reunion in 2022, but only some of those present will dance while clutching to their walker or oxygen cylinders!"

A look at Memorable Matches
As is known, one of the collateral damages of the big fat Indian wedding is the effect on one's wallet from outfits that cost more than a luxury automobile, which are to be worn for a single occasion and then wasted. Now, three women, fashion designer Surily Goel, jewellery designer Kajal Fabiani and Cecilia Morelli Parikh, co-founder of an upscale store, are addressing the issue with 'Memorable Matches', a pop-up for destination weddings, this week in Bandra.

Cecilia Morelli Parikh, Surily DP Goel and Kajal Fabiani Cecilia Morelli Parikh, Surily DP Goel and Kajal Fabiani

"When you spend so much money on your Indian wardrobe, you should be able to wear it time and again by styling it in different ways, giving it a modern touch; hence the collaboration," says Goel about the upcoming event. "MM brings the best of two worlds.

Expect looks that tie in Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Balmain and Balenciaga, giving your traditional saree a twist with a crop top here, a lehenga with a jacket there," says its spokesperson. The likes of Haseena Jethmalani, Pernia Qureshi and Malaika Arora are expected to attend high tea that kicks off the initiative.

Overcoming fear and anger
"There's an honest intent behind the event... Guess that shows in each and every speech and musical performance that will happen today," said Anant Goenka, a few hours in the run-up to 'Stories of Strength', an initiative he was championing in memory of the terror attacks that had been carried out nine years ago, yesterday in the city.

Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan

Directed by Feroz Abbas Khan and featuring the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Chief of the Western Naval Command Vice-Admiral Girish Luthra and Divya Salaskar, daughter of slain encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar, amongst others, Goenka said the idea of 'Stories of Strength' occurred when he heard an interview of Kia Scherr five years ago, in which she'd said that she forgave the people who killed her husband.


Sachin Tendulkar

"I don't understand that even today... but I realised that we must give more space to the survivors of the attacks. Each one of them has had such inspiring stories of overcoming fear and anger," said the media honcho, adding, "I think a lot of media's role so far, all over the world, has been one of spreading anger, hatred and creating more insecurities. You'd remember the old American newspaper saying, "If it bleeds, it leads." Indeed.

Anant Goenka
Anant Goenka

Meant to be
Word comes in that young entrepreneur Ananya Birla has hit yet another milestone in her short but lively career. Ananya, who straddles many roles, responsibilities and ventures, has become the first Indian artiste to go platinum. She took to social media to announce the news: "Dreams do come true! Meant to be is Platinum!"

Ananya Birla and Devraj Sanyal holding the official plaque certifying the platinum status
Ananya Birla and Devraj Sanyal holding the official plaque certifying the platinum status

Her mentor in this venture, Devraj Sanyal, the honcho of Universal Music, posted this photo of the two of them holding the official plaque certifying the platinum status. "Incredibly proud of my artiste Ananya Birla, as her second single just hit platinum. This makes Anan the first Indian artiste with an English single to go platinum. Next single coming right up," he said elatedly.

'Thot' for the day
As was to be expected, former corporate head honcho, impassioned admirer of NaMo and one of Mumbai's resident wits, Sunil Alagh, had to step out of a raucous Sunday brunch, when we called up to speak to him about his weekly Sunday sermons, which he tweets and WhatsApps with alarming regularity to unsuspecting millions as 'AlaghSunThot'.

Sunil Alagh
Sunil Alagh

"I began by sending them out to my family," he said yesterday. "They are usually my own, but often they're from something that struck me during a conversation or from someone else's remark," he said, adding, "Being a Punjabi, a community not particularly known for being thinkers, I thought why not call them Thots."

Yesterday's nugget of wisdom has an earthy ring to it, much like its sender. "If you get tired of everything in life, learn to rest, not to quit... Never lose patience!" it read. You know what this means? Now that there is proof you have 'thots', there is evidence of a brain, we said to Alagh, before we let him return to his brunch. But, of course, that was only one Punjabi teasing another.

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