The new elite

Aug 24, 2016, 06:01 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

Along with everything that changes with the advent of a brave new world are the games people play

Along with everything that changes with the advent of a brave new world are the games people play.

There was a time when young men and women of Mumbai’s upper classes played badminton and bridge. Actors Dilip Kumar and Pran, banker Deepak Parekh, publisher Ramnath Goenka and politician Murli Deora were often featured in the media linked with these activities.

Ranbir Kapoor, Aaditya Thackeray and Amit Thackeray
Ranbir Kapoor, Aaditya Thackeray and Amit Thackeray

Soon, that changed to tennis and golf, the latter said to be the finest business development activity that would take a corporate newbie straight to the corner office — almost an MBA in his own right. “More deals are concluded on the golf course than in the boardrooms of Nariman Point,” went the belief.

Well, today with some of the top names in Mumbai like the Thackeray scions, Amit and Aaditya, and actors Ranbir Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan passionate about the game of kings, the new elite is the result of who dribbled the ball with whom, the previous weekend! Today’s Footie fiends vs Yesterday’s Golf grandees? Appears so.

And ne’er the twain shall meet
The jury’s out on whether politicians and inebriated Bolly stars ought to be allowed on Twitter, but this post on the relatively ‘safer’ Facebook by Congressman and former South Mumbai MP Milind Deora, appears to have resulted in more chitter chatter than he’d expected.

Milind Deora, Zinia Lawyer, Nico Goghavala and Tushar Gandhi
Milind Deora, Zinia Lawyer, Nico Goghavala and Tushar Gandhi

‘Bittersweet in that BKC has dethroned Nariman Point. Never foresaw extent of Sealink’s impact on commercial RE while batting for it,” he said, alluding to his party’s championing of the bridge over the trouble waters of the North-South traffic divide, and its resultant outstripping of traditional Mumbai areas in property rates.

And whereas ‘likes’ for his statement came in from people as high-profile as news anchor Barkha Dutt, it took no less than Tushar Arun Gandhi, the Mahatma’s great grandson to fire the first salvo: “Now champion it’s extensions, both North and South wards, and bridge the SoBo Burbs gap,” he thundered, in a new spin on equality.

“All we need now is Mantralaya to be pushed north of the link!” weighed in another friend, to which restaurateur Nico Goghavala added “and send all the illegal tenants across the bridge as well.”

Malabar Hill resident and noted grande dame Zinia Lawyer, had other suggestions: “On the contrary, the government should do something (to put) Nariman Point back on the map and popularize it.”

Meanwhile after stirring things up all the way from ‘Mayhem’ to ‘ Bitch Candy,’ Deora had moved onto other more pressing issues: duties on gold manufacturing and charges of sedition!

The write to know
Aveek Sarkar, the Tagore resembling Kolkata-based Vice Chairman and Editor Emeritus of the ABP Group, is said to be burning the midnight oil, working on his autobiography/ memoirs. The powerful publisher, who recently recused himself from his responsibility as editor-in-chief of Anandabazar Patrika and The Telegraph, and who is known equally for his strong opinions as he is for his knowledge of art, textiles and wine is of course no stranger to the world of books.

His daughter Chiki Sarkar is a leading publisher who has had stints at some of the country’s foremost publishers before launching her startup. “Aveek writing his book of memories is going to give a lot of people sleepless nights,” says a Mumbai hack about the news.

“Not only has he been on the inside track of every political change in West Bengal from Jyoti da to the Congress to Mamata di, but his insights in to the worlds of art and media are unmatched,” says the hack. “Not to forget his role in the acquisition of STAR News in 2003, during which he got to know Peter Mukerjea well. If such a book is indeed being written - it will be a page turner for sure!” he said, goggle eyed.

Board housewives?
One more instance of how ‘gaming’ can bring people and worlds together. For years it has been known that Bollywood’s brat pack has been hooked onto board games of various kinds such as Pictionary etc.

Sajid Khan, Farhan Akhtar, Malaika Arora Khan and Adarsh Jatia
Sajid Khan, Farhan Akhtar, Malaika Arora Khan and Adarsh Jatia

Siblings Farah and Sajid Khan, Malaika Arora Khan, Chunky and Dianne Pandey, and Farhan Akhtar have been known to gather at least once a month at each other’s homes to match gray cells against each other. And while there are many others who play regularly with them, the above mentioned are said to be the most competitive impassioned and adept at their game (“Oscar level” according to a source).

Now, it transpires that these evenings, known to have raised the blood pressure of many due to their intense nature have extended to include a few SoBo residents too, like five-star head honcho Adarsh Jatia and wife Shilpi.

“Simi Garewal also used to play with the Bandra crowd,” says a young ‘un whose preference is poker. “But apparently, she insisted on too many rules and regulations, and none of the others could cope,” he says. “As for the rest — stars, politicians, socialites across NoBo and SoBo — it’s proving to be a great unifier!

Astonishing discretion
For all those who complain about the staggering lack of finesse that India’s politico-babu classes are said to possess, this tale of astonishing discretion and political correctness might come as a surprise.

A Mumbai-based financial leader of international repute, who has been under a cloud for alleged discretionary lapses, is said to have been sounded out about a face-saving but imminent exit. “The FL will put in their papers alluding to ‘a hard to ignore entrepreneurial bug’ and they will be graciously accepted,” says a Delhi political insider. Why the handling with kid gloves?

“Any other way and the GOI might look foolish — after all it had covered the FL with some pretty serious honours not too long ago,” says the Delhi political insider. “So expect a flurry of announcements and media interviews over the next few months — and even a respectable send off. End of story.”

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