Two Modis in London

Updated: 24 November, 2015 13:56 IST | Malavika Sangghvi |

On the face of it, there couldn’t be two individuals who appear more different. One born a humble tea stall owner’s son and the other the scion of a leading industrialist’s family with the proverbial silver spoon in mouth

On the face of it, there couldn't be two individuals who appear more different. One born a humble tea stall owner's son and the other the scion of a leading industrialist's family with the proverbial silver spoon in mouth.

Not only that but even as adults they have grown up as opposites: one a profligate flamboyant libertine, a lover of the good things in life and the other a rabble rousing ideologue, workaholic and stern disciplinarian.

Lalit Modi and Narendra Modi
Lalit Modi and Narendra Modi

And yet their surname yokes them together and gave rise to much hilarity recently when both Lalit Modi and Narendra Modi found themselves in London at the same time.

"It has just been clarified that almost 50,000 people who came to Wembley yesterday, actually thought that Lalit Modi was going to be there at the Alisha Chinai concert!" posted the IPL architect who has taken refuge from Indian regulatory authorities in London about his namesake.

Come to think of it when it comes to massive egos and delusions of grandeur they're not that different after all.

In her own right
Her husband the late businessman and hotelier Lalit Suri had belonged to the inner circle of Rajiv Gandhi's Doon school friends and many a Lutyen's luvvies had dined out on stories of meals being catered for the first couple from the kitchens of their hotel in Connaught Place.

Jyotsna Suri (in orange) was the only woman to be included in PM Narendra Modi’s team that visited the UK last week
Jyotsna Suri (in orange) was the only woman to be included in PM Narendra Modi's team that visited the UK last week

So it is a tribute to her own handwork and talent that after his untimely demise in 2006, Jyotsna Suri, who had until then lived under her famous husband's shadow, has emerged as a respected businesswoman in her own right, taking the reigns of her husband's empire which included hotels in Delhi, Mumbai, Srinagar and turned them around.

And as proof of this achievement, the soft spoken and graceful lady in her capacity as President of FICCI was the only woman to be included in PM Modi's UK trip last week. And whereas that in itself is commendable enough, it is her successful segue to an entirely different political leadership that has brought in the admiration and applause.

Talent in the genes
Talent sure runs through the Padwal genes. News comes in that artist Sunil Padwal and wife Tanuja's son Satt gave his third solo performance at Mumbai's Suburban Music Circle over the weekend playing Raag Ahir Bhairav on the sitar.

Tanuja, Satt and Sunil Padwal
Tanuja, Satt and Sunil Padwal

"The Gat was composed by Pandit Shashank Katti in teen taal under the guidance of Chintan Katti and he was accompanied by Tanay Rege on the tabla," says the proud mom. Nice!

Of cities, communities and culture
Our friend the architect and designer Anuradha Parikh has reason to cheer: her much awaited dream project the G5A Foundation, a centre for contemporary culture, has finally opened its doors this week.

Bunty Chand and Anuradha Parikh
Bunty Chand and Anuradha Parikh

Located at the Shakti mills lane at Mahalaxmi, the former mill focuses on culture, community and the city and the vibrant intersections that arise between the three.

Parikh, trained in architecture at the Rhode Island school of Design, whose engagements have been included a stint as production designer on Zoya Akhtar's Luck By Chance has already kicked off G5A's programming with a workshop on theatre, design and digital media by Anthony Black earlier this month.

Not for art's sake alone
Oh dear, things seem to be getting a tad hairy for this enigmatic and monumentally charming cultural maven who had shaken up the art world a few years ago with his plans to start an auction house, a publication division, galleries museums, etc.

It was his legendary charm that had won him many backers and investors and which now seems to have deserted him, as things have come to a head with many crying foul and demanding their monies (or at least a bit of their interest back.)

"Is this what the LSE and Oxford teach you," thundered one of these hapless souls in a missive that goes on to enumerate the many transgressions of the once blue-eyed boy of the art community. "He continues to carry on with his lavish lifestyle with no thought to his investors," says the letter. "Is this art for art's sake?"

RIP, Saeed Jaffrey
We were saddened to read about the passing of thespian Saeed Jaffrey, who we had the pleasure of knowing during the eighties when he acted in the Bollywood movie Star, produced by members of our family.

Saeed Jaffrey
Saeed Jaffrey

For a man who had worked with the likes of directors like Satyajit Ray and David Lean and acted alongside the greats like Sean Connery and Michael Caine, it had occurred to us that Jaffrey was remarkably sanguine about being part of a commercial Bollywood film directed by Vinod Pande with Kumar Gaurav and Rati Agnihotri as his co-stars.

He had a florid, somewhat maudlin air to him, his exceptionally expressive eyes conveying myriad different moods during the course of a single evening and his rich and textured voice mesmerising listeners, as he regaled them with the memories of an extraordinarily varied life.

He was an artist, a gentleman and an aristocrat. RIP Saeed Jaffrey, you must be regaling the angels with your stories now.

First Published: 17 November, 2015 06:01 IST

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