Spurious social snobbery

Jun 16, 2014, 06:03 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

Of all the evils of society, perhaps the most offensive is snobbery. The hottest part of hell must be reserved for those who assume they are more superior to others, because of the accident of their family tree, bank balance or social standing

Of all the evils of society, perhaps the most offensive is snobbery. The hottest part of hell must be reserved for those who assume they are more superior to others, because of the accident of their family tree, bank balance or social standing.

Worst amongst all these are the families who falsely adopt airs and graces on the basis of their own delusions. Many decades ago a lovely, bubbly actress was dating the son of a legendary Bollywood couple who had made it well known that they thought their son was ‘too good’ for the her.

Preity Zinta and Ness Wadia. PIC/PTI
Preity Zinta and Ness Wadia. PIC/PTI

Even then, we had found their behaviour preposterous not only did the lady have enough achievements of her own, but she came from a well-established family of professionals. What was more ironic is that the boy himself was known to be on drugs.

Thankfully, not only did the actress move on, but also married one of the richest and most celebrated businessman of this country. (As a morality tale few can beat this one: decades later, the boy languishes in jail and his latest marriage would definitely not pass muster with the society aunties either!)

None of this is directly connected to the case Preity Zinta has brought against her former BF Ness Wadia, but it is still germane. Throughout their five-year relationship, it was made out that Zinta was ‘dating up’ by seeing Wadia.

We hardly think so. We have met Preity Zinta on two occasions. Both times, she has struck us as being bright, upright and charming. If indeed Wadia did the things she alleges he did, he ought to face the consequences. Above all, hopefully, this incident will finally put paid to those notions about who belongs to ‘polite society’ and who doesn’t.

A rare aesthetic
“The intent was to translate a moment in time, and immortalise it eternally,” said Shahab Durazi, easily one of India’s most stylish fashion designers and certainly its most elusive, about the 1990 catalogue whose pictures we reproduce here.

Shahab Durazi
Shahab Durazi

“Working with a bevy of some of the most beautiful people from the industry, Rafique Sayed, Joseph Edward and myself, embarked on a journey, to capture on camera, our individual and distinct aesthetic,” he said, adding, “Thank you, Anu Ahuja, Kamal Sidhu, Madhu Sapre, Marielou Phillips, Mehr Jesia Rampal, Milind Soman, Anamika Chatterjee, Rhea Pillai, Sherie Meheromjee.” And thank you Shahab too, we say.

Father’s Day remembrance
We lost one of our dearest friends Gautam Berry suddenly last year. And such are the times we live in that we have hardly found occasion to remember him publicly, though each time we see a movie at the PVR that he might have loved, hear a riff of a JJ Cale number that he would have appreciated, or read an article in the New Yorker that he would have scanned and emailed us, we miss him. Berry was a private and somewhat stoic individual and not given to public gestures of sentiment.

Gautam Berry Sikander Kher
Gautam Berry and Sikander Kher

But when we read his son, the actor Sikander Kher’s post yesterday on Facebook on the occasion of Father’s Day, we couldn’t help writing this. The comment-simple and rugged-was emblematic of their relationship: ‘Happy Fathers Day Dad... Shot 1 under the other day at Willy,’ it said. But it contained a universe of emotions.

A son who’d followed in the footsteps of his impassioned and talented golfer dad was posting to him that he’d hit one to make him proud. Somehow, it didn’t matter that his father was no more. Those of us who read the comment knew Berry would see it. For this alone we thank Mark Zuckerberg and his creation!

'Hi, I’m a celebrity’
“It takes a lot of chutzpah (or perhaps drugs) to refer to your own self as ‘a visionary’,” says Goa-based author (‘Skin’ and ‘The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos’) Margaret Mascarenhas, commenting with her characteristic dry wit about an offensive individual she’d recently met.

Margaret Mascarenhas
Margaret Mascarenhas

“It happens quite frequently, this usage of rather grandiose words normally conferred by others: visionary, celebrity, etc. as a self-identifiers for people who are probably either extremely narcissistic or have low self-esteem,” she said when we asked her to elaborate.

“I mean, if, for example, you are in fact a celebrity, there’s no need to point it out, right?” said Mascarenhas, who is currently writing her third novel. “All I know about the novel at the moment is that it is set in the Middle East and starts out with a car bomb.”

High-powered awardees
For the last couple of years we have had the privilege of being on the jury to select the IMC Ladies’ Wing annual awards, namely its ‘Woman of The Year’, and its award for ‘Outstanding Contribution in the field of Banking & Financial Services’.

Ghyanendra Nath Bajpai, felicitating Shanti Ekambaram
Ghyanendra Nath Bajpai, felicitating Shanti Ekambaram

We look forward to this exercise because any occasion to deliberate, exchange views and ideas with one’s peers is educative. And consistently, the quality of the IMC nominees are, very high. This year both the winners Roopa Kudva, CEO & Managing Director, Crisil, (Woman of The Year Award) and Shanti Ekambaram, President, Consumer Banking, Kotak Mahindra Bank, (Outstanding Contribution in the field of Banking & Financial Services) were legends in their fields.

Which is why we looked forward to hearing them speak at the presentation ceremony last Thursday. And we were not disappointed. “No generation before us has witnessed the growth trajectory that we have. Two top banks today – SBI and ICICI are run by women, and so are the Indian offices of companies such as HP, IBM, Intel and Facebook. These are good times but there’s more to be done!” said ‘Woman of The Year’ Kudva, under whose leadership Crisis’s profits have more than doubled.

“If you go just 100 kilometres out of Mumbai, you’d see that women’s education and empowerment levels are abysmal. We must do what we can to transform their lives,” said Ekambaram who publicly pledged her desire to transform more women’s lives in her speech. We like!

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