The Inside Track

Robert Vadra Celebrates his 50th with Family

It was a happy birthday indeed for Robert Vadra who turned fifty on 17th April 2019 just a few days after he and his close aide Manoj Arora got bail from the Special CBI Court in the money laundering case. Despite it being a busy season for his family with the elections in full swing, a fitter than ever Robert spent the day first meeting children and senior citizens and distribution shawls to the needy and then later enjoyed the evening bonding with family and friends at his Lodhi Road home with the people closest to him-wife Priyanka, son Raihan and daughter Miraya, mother- in- law Sonia Gandhi and mother Maureen Vadra as well as school friend Ashish Soni and his wife Misha, Mona Kapoor, the Jaisals and Wazirs.

He later posted on social media to say a big thank you to all those who wished him and said he was fortunate to be surrounded by family and friends and that years of togetherness continue. He also took a moment to remember his sister Michelle who he was extremely close to but lost in a road accident in 2001.

And as for the question, everyone is asking him, his entering politics, he has been saying that milestone is still to come, two or three years yet.

 

A Musical tribute to ‘Sarod Queen’ Sharan Rani by Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt

Radhika Backliwal Narain the daughter and disciple of the legendary ‘Queen of Sarod’ Sharan Rani and Sultan Singh Backliwal recently commemorated the 90th Birth Anniversary of her mother and guru at IIC, New Delhi with a musical evening that recalled her mother’s genius. For those that came several generations after Sharan Rani’s time—she was bestowed with the title “Cultural Ambassador of India” by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru along with the likes of Shambhu Maharaj, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Rukmani Devi Arundale, Prithviraj Kapoor, Ustad Allauddin Khan Yehudi Menuhim among those who admired her musical genius.

The evening was an emotional one with a live performance by Grammy award winner Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt who was also presented the 7th Annual Sharan Rani Samman for Lifetime Achievement in music by the Sharan Rani Foundation. A short film, ‘Sharan Rani The Divine Sarod Player’ scripted and directed by Radhika was also screened.

Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt’s scintillating recital on Mohan Veena accompanied by Salil Bhatt on Satvik Veena had everyone including Chief Guest Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant delighted. It was indeed a fitting tribute to a musical genius by a daughter who shares a common passion and love for music. The discerning audience included Sufi kathak exponent Manjari Chaturvedi, art collector and philanthropist Sultan Singh Bakliwal, dancer Sharon Lowen, Dr Cyrus Shroff, art curator Alka Raghuvanshi and economist Ashok Desai.

As Radhika puts it, “This was an evening to acknowledge Guru Sharan Rani’s pioneering achievements and her timeless musical legacy. It is a small gesture to remember her as she would have wished to be remembered. I am blessed to be her daughter. She was an iconic trailblazer who was among the few most distinguished musicians of the 20th century, besides being the first and foremost woman instrumentalist of India.”

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A Musical tribute to ‘Sarod Queen’ Sharan Rani by Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt

Malaika Arora and Manish Malhotra turn Ashish Soni’s curated evening memorable

The Chivas 18 Alchemy’ evening curated by designer Ashish Soni had the dapper designer joining hands with five creative reps from the lifestyle space to host the city’s elite for an evening dedicated to tapping into one’s ‘Sixth Sense’. Ashish invited - actor Malaika Arora, designer Manish Malhotra, designer Rahul Mishra, artist Sudarshan Shetty and jeweller Siddharth Kasliwal-- to create a space that combined craftsmanship and aesthetics for a surreal , sensory effect. Guests who walked into these special spaces to enjoy the unique experience included Monish and Alka Bali, Robert Vadra, J J Valaya, Sanjeev and Shelley Batra, Kalyani Chawla. Palak Shah, Nida Mahmood and Ashish Saraf and member of the diplomatic community.

The four abstract concepts that the evening explored, were Fantasy, Intuition, Love, Déjà vu and Memory. Mumbaikar Malaika Arora who gave shape to Fantasy created a shifting, immersive, honeycombed kaleidoscopic world of the real and imagined. Not just her curated space but the sexy lady in a white three- piece suit with a plunging neckline was a big draw for the Capital’s party animals, eager to get a selfie with the diva. Manish Malhotra, Bollywood favourite designer was another sought after celebrity. Manish chose to interpret the quality of Intuition with mirrors and reflections. Artist Sudarshan Shetty, created a mosaic of love using voices, ragas, video and installation art and Siddharth Kasliwal, revived lost art of craftsmanship handed down generations. Rahul Mishra, normally shy, too was seen enjoying the interest and replying to queries about his installation which recreated memories in a play of light and shadows.

The evening has to be experienced to be fully understood, said Ashish who has considerable experience curating bespoke evenings for select audiences. “As a designer I am usually doing ramp shows but this event is an indefinable melange. A fashion show pales in comparison. For me this was a challenge to put together and one that tested all my aesthetic abilities and senses.”

"Malaika Arora and Manish Malhotra turn Ashish Soni’s curated evening memorable"
Malaika Arora and Manish Malhotra turn Ashish Soni’s curated evening memorable

Shalini Passi’s Passion For Art

The Shalini Passi Art Foundation has already been incredibly busy this year, but it's just the start of a packed program of events ahead says the stunning Shalini, who along with businessman Sanjay Passi are known to be among Delhi’s classiest hosts. Often seen at Delhi’s fancy soirees, Shalini has now opted for a reclusive lifestyle and is busy with more meaningful pursuits like her art foundation.

Giving a peek into what is keeping her busy, Shalini says the foundation's mission to create a platform to encourage and promote emerging artists. “We will be hosting a performance piece by Meera George in May 2019. George represents a new generation of Indian artists for whom art has no national boundaries; with projects in Venice, Germany, France, and Japan, her installations and multi-media artworks have already received significant international recognition.

"Shalini ‘s foundation has got appreciation from the best of the art loving upper crust with the likes of Subodh Gupta, Sanjana Kapoor, Bose Krishnamachari , Dayanita Singh , gathering at her beautiful Golf Links home for her art soirees. Shalini says, “Stalwarts like Ranbir Kaleka , Mithu Sen ,Bharat Kher have been there to encourage the work my Foundation does. Kiran Nader was there for the launch for artist Mithu Sen’s performance of Lunch is Cancelled.”

With the art fraternity’s crème de la crème names showing up for the Foundation’s programme, it is little wonder that Shalini says, “I think the Foundation’s work is being well received. I find it very satisfying to see the love people have for art in its different forms.”

Additionally, Shalini is working on a number of lectures for the Foundation by eminent speakers from a range of artistic disciplines, including the eminent architect Bijoy Jain - founder of the award-winning Studio Mumbai, as well as planning a large-scale survey show to open at the end of the year, and a symposium to take place in December. She says the Foundation seems like the next logical step in her journey as an artist and a collector. “I am drawn to creativity. It’s what drives me,” she says. As I learned more about specific styles and movements in art my appreciation acquired a deeper meaning. I started my foundation to channelize this energy, and to create an initiative that would help develop and promote a contemporary Indian aesthetic. The idea is to offer a platform to young emerging artists, and create opportunities for them to experiment and expand their practice.

Thanks to Shalini’s consistent efforts, every Delhite who loves art can now look forward to some eclectic art exhibitions, curatorial walks and lectures.

"Shalini Passi’s Passion For Art"
Shalini Passi’s Passion For Art

What’s cooking with Chef Anahita Dhondy?

Chef Anahita N. Dhondy (behind the much loved SodaBottleOpenerWala resturants) who hails from one of the rare family of Parsis who are settled in Delhi is soon going to be donning a new hat—that of an author! The news is not surprising given that since childhood, Dhondy’s world has revolved around food. She takes inspiration from her mother who has been cooking and catering Parsi food and baking cakes. Anahita was even mentioned recently in Forbes 2019’s Under 30 Asia list of people to watch.

As a strong advocate of sustainable food practices, she favours using seasonal and local ingredients in her cooking. Currently, of course, she has her hands full. She is now working on a cookbook, to be soon published by Harper Collins, that will feature Parsi cuisine adhering to these practices. What should be of real interest to lovers of Parsi food is that it will feature many lost Parsi recipes that are not easily available at restaurants. As a girl who started helping in the kitchen since she was 10 years old, Anahita says she knew from a young age that she would wear the chef’s hat as a grown up and so she pursued her culinary dream by enrolling into IHM-Aurangabad which she passed with honours in Culinary Arts and went on to acquire a Grande Diplome from Le Cordon Bleu, London.

The 28-year-old, says her restaurant, SodaBottleOpenerWala is her second home. It is a family kitchen of sorts where the spice mixes are supplied by her mother. The recipes she uses in the kitchen belong to her grandmother. Cricketer Yuvraj is one of Anahita’s special regular guest and he loves eating the Akuri on their menu, adding that it’s one of her favourites too!

Anahita says, “I want to make dining at SodaBottleOpenerWala an experience that will leave a happy imprint on every diner as she lives to make others eat the best. She represented India and SodaBottleOpenerWala at the EAT Forum which is the world’s leading platform for global food transformation attended by leaders from the scientific, political, business world as well as civil society. She was part of the chefs from 13 countries who launched Chefs Manifesto Action Plan in Stockholm and London to deliver a better food system for all and was noticed for her ideas and practices on sustainable food and zero food wastage. While the cookbook is to be out soon, for now, Anahita is active as a social media influencer dishing out easy-to-do recipes and sharing tons of information on history and uses of all kinds of food.

 

Bon Appetit, we say.

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