The Kohli-Pai juggernaut

Apr 23, 2012, 07:32 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

Saturday night saw us jetting down to 'saadi Dilli' to partake in some Capital bonhomie

 >> Saturday night saw us jetting down to ‘saadi Dilli’ to partake in some Capital bonhomie.

Dining at vivacious Delhi-via Mumbai girl Ravina Raj Kohli’s elegant Golf Links home, we were brought up to speed about the irrepressible Kohli who readers will recall had brought a certain ‘mall culture’ to television news casting when she presided over Star News after it broke with NDTV. By ‘mall culture’ we mean business suits and lipstick for the newscasters. Including the men.

Kohli’s newest venture Jobcorp, launched with her high school buddy the effervescent Lathika Pai is a company that focuses on enhancing “employability”.

“We have a huge work force in India over a 100 million young people, who perhaps because of the gaps in our education system may end up unemployed or underemployed,” said Ravina. “At Jobcorp we aim to empower these young people with the guidance and training so that they can find good jobs in the corporate world.”

Kohli and Pai are a formidable act. As Pai told us, “Ravs does the front-office, I do the grunt work.”

It’s appears a winning formula. Next stop: a meeting with a battalion of high-ranking military officers. And soon the girls will be singing: ‘we’re in the army now…’

Tehelka’s Shoma speaks
>> Saturday also saw us having a chin wag with the talented and graceful Shoma Chaudhury, Tehelka’s managing editor, who was recently listed by Newsweek as one of the world’s most powerful women. Chaudhury increasingly is becoming the one sane voice amidst the cacophony of media chatter thus it is always a pleasure to hear her considered views, especially when as on numerous occasions she has been unafraid of going against the tide.

For instance, when the rest of ‘saadi Dilli’s’ meow brigade had its talons in Sunanda Pushkar’s glamorous beehive, Chaudhury wrote an impassioned defense of the lady and more recently when she was part of the anti-Anna lobby; (a position which earned her some interesting sobriquets on social networking sites, ‘Congress stooge’ perhaps being the politest).

No surprises then that Chaudhury says she received a particularly venomous amount of flak for her stand against the airing of the Singhvi CD. “Mostly it’s from the loony right wing fringe,” she said. “Someone once described Twitter as putting a loudspeaker to every one’s thoughts,” she laughed ruefully. “But truly, in an age when technology has made it possible to record anyone’s most private moments, whose life will be above reproach? I think all sensible people should be appalled by the Singhvi incident. It’s not like a Tehelka sting to expose corruption for the greater good. The driver was doing this purely for mercenary reasons.”

We couldn’t agree more. Apart from the nudge-nudge wink- wink moment it afforded, we believe all correct -thinking people should support the rights of consenting adults to make whoopee when they want to.

Though it would help if appointing judges weren’t part of the foreplay!

Extraordinary gene pool
>> Saturday evening was obviously our day for catching up with some of Delhi’s most celebrated media women. No sooner had we chewed the fat with the lovely Shoma, than we ran in to the equally lovely Suhasini Haidar, CNN-IBN’s graceful senior editor, fresh from her visit to Myanmar and her coverage of Aung Sui Ki’s victory.

“That’s the thrill of being a reporter,” said Haidar. “Every once in a while you get to visit a place like Myanmar and meet with inspiring people like Sui Ki,” she said, showing us a picture she’d taken on her phone of the iconic human rights activist.
Looking at the picture we were gob-smacked to hear that Sui Ki, with her flawless complexion and waif like waist, was in her sixties. And we are ashamed to admit that we had a completely politically incorrect response to this factoid: “Er, does she dye her hair?” (For the record, Haidar said, “Probably not. I think I saw a few strands of grey”.)

Incidentally, Haidar is the inheritor of some especially privileged genes, being the daughter of Dr Swamy Subramanian and Dr Roxna Swamy, and is married to the brilliant SOAS educated Nadeem Haider, no slouch in the gene pool himself: he’s the son of Salman Haider, former foreign secretary and India’s High Commissioner to London and his wife the talented theatre actress Kusum.

Delhi’s full of uber power couplings such as theirs.

Cartooning Dua
>> We like to meet the suave, diamond in earlobe sporting anchor, political commentator, election analyst, and face of Hindi news commentary since 1974
Vinod Dua for many reasons, one of which is that we are born on the same day. Day, not year, we hasten to add. Dua’s charming radiologist wife Chinna reminds us that we share a birthday with Einstein too, (a fact which calls for another drink instantly).

Incidentally, when I inform the Duas that one of Mumbai’s best cartoonists Hemant Morparia is also one of its best radiologists, Dua recounts a cartoon Morparia drew of him and fellow TV anchor Pranoy Roy. “It was in the era before electronic vote-counting,” laughs Dua. “And Morparia drew Roy and me asleep over a mountain of ballots,” he said.

See that’s another thing we have in common: we too have been the subjects of Morparia’s wit. There’s something in astrology after all!

Delhi’s disconsolate crowd
>> One wit described the guests who came to Saturday’s dinner in Delhi as the ‘disconsolate Mumbai crowd’. To which we couldn’t help retorting: ‘As opposed to the consulate Delhi crowd?’ But wit aside, the ranks of the former are swelling.
Newest to this club is the debonair Mahesh Mathai, the rugby playing, Bombay Gym going, ad-film making quintessential Bombay boy, now manfully holding the fort in what is clearly a ‘hardship posting’ as he steers the newly opened Blue Frog of which he is a partner (and in which my family has an interest).

The first Blue Frog outside of Mumbai, spread over 7,000 sq ft of acoustic bliss near the Qutab, Delhi, Blue Frog also aims ‘to tap into the large classical music audience that Delhi has nurtured.’

But for all its success, Mathai was all set to look a teeny bit morose to impress us visiting Mumbai folk. That is until his resolve dissolved when an attractive twenty something gushed, “You run the Blue Frog Delhi? Awesome!” and his natural buoyancy resumed.

Can’t keep a Mumbai boy down for long! 

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