The Sunanda effect

Jan 20, 2015, 06:01 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

The impact of the Sunanda Pushkar tragedy can being felt far and wide, as this incident that occurred in Dubai over demonstrates

The impact of the Sunanda Pushkar tragedy can being felt far and wide, as this incident that occurred in Dubai over demonstrates. "Sunanda Pushkar is widely called 'Daughter of Dubai' because she lived and worked here for nearly two decades," says our friend, the distinguished former NYT journalist and author Pranay Gupte.

"On the occasion of her first death anniversary NewsX's Geeta Mohan flew in to interview Pushkar's friends. And since I've been living here since 2007 and knew Sunanda before her marriage to Shashi Tharoor (coincidentally, I also knew Shashi from his NYC days), she came to see me at Jumeirah Living World Trade Centre Residence, where I've been residing since 2007."

Sunanda Pushkar. Pic/Shilpa Mukerji Pranay Gupte
Sunanda Pushkar. Pic/Shilpa Mukerji and Pranay Gupte

Here's when the plot sickened. Accompanied by a local cameraman, Mohan and Gupte went to a quiet room off the building's lobby to record when an officious and overzealous officer from the building's security detail called Sreekumar Nuuphala, barged in, demanded they stop and got into a verbal spat with Gupte.

All this while the camera was running. "He said that building 'rules' prohibited TV interviews. When I asked him to produce these rules, he said he would report me to his boss, the assistant security manager," says Pranay.

"His rudeness and silliness blew a small episode out of proportion: it brought embarrassment to Jumeirah Living, and to Dubai at a time that Dubai is working very hard to create global goodwill for World Expo 2020," says Gupte adding, "But most of all, it was shameful because it happened over, as I recalled, for Indian audiences, a lovely and decent daughter of Dubai, Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor."

However all's well that ends well. Following a missive to Jumeirah Living's general manager Samer Khanfar, the two met and Khanfar officially apologised for his staff's rudeness. "He is the first Emirate national to be made head of a major property of the Jumeirah Group, one of the world's leading hospitality organisations," said a satisfied Gupte, "And he couldn't have been more gracious, or more warm and welcoming."

As for the bumptious Nuuphala: "Maybe the Delhi Police have asked him to join their investigation of Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor," is Gupte's parting shot.

Unapologetic luxury and elegance
"I believe in quiet elegance and unapologetic luxury," says Nirmal Kolte, Project Director for 24K by Kolte-Patil Developers, the 24-year-old soft-spoken scion of the KPDL group, Pune's largest developer, and the man who led the company's diversification into its over-the-top seven-star luxury residential properties with its 24K brand.

Nirmal Kolte
Nirmal Kolte

Founded by his grandfather, the real estate company is headquartered in Pune, with 1 crore sq. ft. of developments across multiple segments such as residential, commercial, retail, IT parks, and integrated townships. Young Nirmal could have easily settled in to managing his extensive legacy.

But with his Bachelors in Construction Management from the University of Melbourne, and his Masters in Management from the Lancaster University and his understanding of the luxury upscale market, he wanted more. He worked on diversifying into luxury residential properties with the 24K brand in 2010 and the group created headlines when it teamed up with the glamorous Gauri Khan to design some of its apartments.

"Today, the demand for luxury properties far exceeds the supply," he informs us over coffee at the Four Seasons. "To give the 24K brand a truly international quality we initiated a dialogue with Spain's famed Porcelanosa Group, known to have furnished some of Europe's finest homes including the British royal family's," he says.

But that is not all. Last week, KPDL announced the launch of two new mobile-apps Customer Connect and Partner Connect with a splashy launch featuring none other than Parineeti Chopra and NDTV tech expert Rajiv Makhni at the Bandra-Kurla Complex's Sofitel Hotel. "It is the first time a real-estate company has launched an application offering transparency to both consumers and channel partners with a click," said Nirmal, "We never stop innovating!"

The Second Coming
The cast of Jesus Christ Superstar had a surprise star visitor on Sunday when Jaya Bachchan took time off to catch the play at the St Andrew's Auditorium.

Both casts of JCS
Both casts of JCS

What's more, when the actor went backstage to convey her compliment, she was inadvertently part of quite a dramatic spectacle herself. "We had put together a historic picture featuring almost 200 people and consisting of not only every member of BOTH the casts (the play has two distinct sets of actors)," says producer Raell Padamsee, "but also all the technicians.

Jaya Bachchan
Jaya Bachchan

Just then, I got a message that Mrs Bachchan had come, so when we opened the curtains there were 200 of us on stage standing posed and when they saw her, there was a roar of excitement," she says. For the record, the picture with its two Jesuses, two Mary Magdalenes, and two Judases, etc is well... Biblical in proportions.

Looking for Ms Pretty
Along with his sister the late Nazia, he was a teen sensation, which is why the presence of Zoheb Hassan at the SCMM15 curtain raiser party at the Trident in the company of party hearty and former IPL team owner Mohit Burman this weekend created a stir.

Zoheb Hassan Biddu
Zoheb Hassan and Biddu

Older, but just as handsome, the singer-musician from Sindh who, along with his sister, had burst upon the scene with the Biddu composed Aap jaisa koi single for Feroze Khan's Qurbani in 1980, which went on to helm the siblings' debut album Disco Deewane followed by the equally successful Boom Boom was said to be in town to shoot a music video for one of his compositions.

"The song is titled Always on my mind and he is looking for a pretty face to play his wife," said a source.

Any takers?

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