The Congress spin-doctor

Oct 17, 2013, 06:34 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

And now that election fever is upon us and the country's top marketers are seeking the accounts of various political parties, there's a considerable buzz around who's advising whom.

Malvika>> And now that election fever is upon us and the country’s top marketers are seeking the accounts of various political parties, there’s a considerable buzz around who’s advising whom.

The UPA has handed its campaign to JWT, one of India’s most admired and largest agencies, under the helmsmanship of the affable Colvin Harris, and the BJP’s account seems to have been split between smaller agencies. 

But those in the know say that the spin doctoring in both camps is still very much in the hands of the party leaders in both cases. Often to disastrous consequences.

Jairam Ramesh
Jairam Ramesh

Word on the Delhi grapevine is that the person who advised Rahul to make his famous pronouncements (the ordinance is nonsense, it should be torn up) was his key speechwriter and spinmaster supreme Jairam Ramesh, he of the luxuriant sideburns and MIT education. What can we say to this, except quote our colleague and noted fellow columnist Mihir Sharma who recently wrote in Business Standard: ‘The idea that (Rahul) can somehow distinguish himself as an insurgent against a government stuffed with those rushing to prove devotion to him, is so painfully ridiculous that I would love to meet the person whose idea it was, and offer him a golden investment opportunity in, say, an Emu farm.’ Emu Ramesh?

The enigmatic businessman
>> He has been something of an enigma in the somewhat prosaic world of business, with his passion for wildlife, rock music, photography, art and culture, and his unstinted support of these goes much deeper than a routine CSR activity. Last year, when we participated in the Mario Miranda Cartoon Festival organised by his cultural initiative Sunaparanta, run ably by his wife Dipti, we were delighted to see how art and culture had been made accessible to Goa’s people.

Dattaraj and Dipti Salgaocar
Dattaraj and Dipti Salgaocar

And so, when Dattaraj Salgaocar invited us to attend a forthcoming session at his cultural hub conducted by Siddharth Shanghvi of The Shanghvi Salons, with photographer Dayanita Singh in December, we readily agreed. “Dayanita is an outstanding artist and one of the best photographers in the world. I am a big admirer of hers and the Shanghvi Salon is going to provide our audience a glimpse into the genius of one of our foremost artists,” said the MD of the VM Salgaocar group, who is no mean photographer himself. “I am lucky to live with several of her works which so inspire me to continue my amateur photography.”

Dayanita Singh
Dayanita Singh

The FT Ed comes to town
Delhi is gearing up for the visit of Lionel Barber, the celebrated editor of the Financial Times (FT), who will be visiting in November to take part in Prabodhan, a high-level think tank. Also on the sched will be meetings with top politicians and business leaders. Considered something of an authority on Europe (one of his earlier stints in his illustrious career has been as editor of the FT’s Continental European edition 2000–2002, during which his counsel was sought by US President George W Bush, ahead of his first trip to the region) this and other international issues will be the focus of his trip. But a glamourous high-powered social gathering for Delhi’s famous power brokers and schmoozers is not ruled out.

Lionel Barber
Lionel Barber

Salaam Mumbai: Fashion faux pas
And not that we are proud of this in any way, but this evening, we find that we have committed ourselves to a host of very different events, and we have no idea at all how we are going to make it even to one, leave aside all!

To begin with, there’s our friend Sudharak Olwe’s book release at the Raj Bhavan -- something of a red-letter event, as far as we are concerned. Ever since we worked together at the Bombay Times’, the talented photographer and I have shared a very special bond and there’s no way I want to miss his big day. So, we are looking forward to spending the start of the evening in the company of city dignitaries, discussing matters of state over tea and biscuits. A sari is called for on this occasion, undoubtedly.

From there, we are supposed to go to Liberty cinema, for the premiere of the 15th Mumbai Film Festival, which involves the screening of the film The Butler. We would like to do this, as not only do we love to see movies, but also the Liberty theatre is a great favourite of ours. We figure a sari will hold for a film festival premiere quite honorably.

From here it gets a bit confusing. There’s a fashionable event at Le Mill, the hip and tasteful store, in the company of Sonam Kapoor. And in the company of long-limbed swans in linen boho-chic, the sari might not be appropriate, though it might just pass as retro chic.

This certainly will not be the case at the next event, which is a highfalutin soiree at the Presidential suite of the Four Seasons, where a celebrated bespoke master tailor from Naples will be introduced to Mumbai’s high society.

Here, women in little black dresses with pearls will be swirling champagne in long necked flutes. A sari? Six metres of silk will be a tad over the top. Not to mention thoroughly crumpled, given our clumsiness. Sorry, no can do.

And certainly the sari will not carry us seamlessly into the next event: a live music performance at the Blue Frog to hear the head of a large investment bank perform with his band.

Damn! Where are those red telephone booths when you need ‘em?

What they say/what they mean
What he said: “I think it was only mildly shocking. Come on, we’ve seen worse than that! You couldn’t see anything! I watched it as an experiment to check.”
-- Paul McCartney commenting on Sky News about Miley Cyrus’ twerking scene

What he meant: I read Playboy for the articles.

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