The country's most respected business group

Aug 06, 2015, 06:01 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

This weekend saw the celebration of one of India’s most respected and successful business houses, the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, whose patriarch Pallonji Mistry happens to be the largest shareholder in the Tata Group, and whose son Cyrus Mistry happens to be its chairman

This weekend saw the celebration of one of India's most respected and successful business houses, the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, whose patriarch Pallonji Mistry happens to be the largest shareholder in the Tata Group, and whose son Cyrus Mistry happens to be its chairman.

The Pallonji Mistry clan is as celebrated as it is reclusive. Eschewing media attention, unlike its peers, it has grown in size and stature completely under the radar and more surprisingly-scam-free. So it is fitting, that this weekend the anniversary was marked with quiet dignity and with classical performances and speeches at the NCPA.

Pallonji Mistry, Cyrus Mistry, Shapoor Mistry and Noel Tata
Pallonji Mistry, Cyrus Mistry, Shapoor Mistry and Noel Tata

And according to an insider, they were all there, the city's blue rinse grande dames, with their blue chip husbands. "The first few rows were reserved for the family and its close associates," said our source.

"There was the gracious Mr Pallonji himself, his wife, his two sons Cyrus and Shapoor Mistry, his daughters and their families; there was Noel Tata who has married into the Pallonji family, with his mother Simone Tata, and of course all the Tata top brass like R Gopalakrishnan were there.

"But," said the source, his tone puzzled. "I did not see Ratan Tata, or if he had attended, then it must have escaped my notice, because after all, his presence at the occasion would be de rigeur," said the source, adding, "Come to think of it, neither did I see any of the top business leaders except for Godrej in the audience, you know like the Ambanis, the Birlas and top investment bankers like Kotak and Parikh..."

Really, we said. Are you sure? "Yes, positive," said the source. "Though I did see Nikhil Meswani there. May be the others were travelling? " May be, we said. Because if they were in town they'd surely be there to celebrate one of the country's most respected business houses on its landmark anniversary.

Bajaj Double dhamaka
Looks like it's going to be a double celebration in the Niraj Bajaj household. A few weeks ago we'd mentioned that their daughter Kriti had got engaged, and was going to be married by the end of the year and now, word comes in that their son Neerav, is also engaged and will be keeping up with his sibling in the marriage stakes.

Minal and Niraj Bajaj
Minal and Niraj Bajaj

Looks like Hemant Oberoi, the family's abiding Kitchen God will be working double time, to supervise both these celebrations, knowing how deep the Bajaj and Taj ties run.

Of bungalows and baubles
The lissome Maithili Ahluwalia appears to have pulled off a major coup with her new interiors for Bungalow Eight at the Wankhede stadium.

Maithili Ahluwalia,  with colleagues Isla Van Damme, Mathieu Gugumus Léguillon
Maithili Ahluwalia,  with colleagues Isla Van Damme, Mathieu Gugumus Leguillon

Those who've dropped in, cannot stop raving about the store, which primarily sells garments now, and very spiffy ones at that. Not only that, but instead of the Colaba Bungalow Eight's famous 'distressed' look, this new store is said to be sparse and white.

Jamini Ahluwalia
Jamini Ahluwalia

And what is most heartening is that Bungalow's Eight's retail of lifestyle and home accessories, will be now housed at its earlier Carmichael Road address, the original Bungalow Eight, where Maithili's grandmother Chandu Morarji and mother Jamini Ahluwalia, sold much of their creative output from a tiny shed in their backyard.

Those were the days, a tiny shed to which some of city's most stylish ladies would go to, to satiate their craving for beautiful baubles which had been created by stylish individuals and not as it happens today, manufactured by a 'brand.'

Wrong address?
Word comes in that this high profile building in Worli, built as his glitzy signature, by a leading builder, has somewhat underwhelmed the market.

On the edge of the ocean, something of an architectural wonder, it was expected to fetch a stratospheric price from any one of the city's billionaires, who it was thought would covet it for its status and style.

But according to our friend, the Oolong-tea sipping society hostess, whose fondness for gossip is only matched by her passion for prime real estate, the property, which is rumoured to be priced at above Rs 250 crore has few takers and not for want of marketing.

"Darling, first there's the locality," she sniffed, adding in sotto voice, "Bearer, air-conditioning ko neeche karo please." Then she turned to us. "After all it's you know a little far from the 'neighbourhood'…" she said taking a long quaff of her precious tea. "But more than anything else, they say there's some 'gochi' with the legal issues."

'Gochi'? We asked. Our friend shot us one of her famous, pitying looks. "Gochi," she repeated. "Don't you just love the word? My stockbroker uses it all the time. It means 'something not quite right,' darling." And then she said, "Bearer, please, some more hot water lao."

Poster boys of their era
They were known as the poster boys of their generation. Both blessed with movie star looks, a weighty surname and enough moolah to lubricate their way around the city.

Yash Birla and Kabir Mulchandani
Yash Birla and Kabir Mulchandani

The dashing Kabir Mulchandani, scion to a wealthy Sindhi business clan, and the handsome Yash Birla with his true blue surname. Pick up any society mag of the era and you'd find some or the other reference to them, their business ventures, their parties and their lifestyles.

And yet, neither of them lived up to their initial promise. Mulchandani, who briefly shook up the local electronics scene with his flamboyant marketing muscle, suddenly saw his enterprises go belly up when regulatory authorities and associates began to question his methods.

Birla on the other hand, turned his attention to spirituality and swag, embarking on new age enterprises like home ware retail, beauty salons and art galleries. Today, Mulchandani is said to be in Dubai, and is more or less an unknown entity in the city of his birth and Birla is embroiled in an unfortunate legal mess of epic proportions. Poster boys. They don't always turn out the way you'd imagine.

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