The Inside Track

Designer RITU BERI Makes a Splash On Her Birthday

On May 3, the glamourous Ritu Beri celebrated her birthday with her family and friends at a pool party at the couple’s sprawling farmhouse in Chattarpur.  The poolside venue was done up with fairy lights, lots of exotic flowers and sparkling silver canopies. It was a strictly off-limits party for Page 3 people and press as the fashion designer joined her husband Bobby, her brother’s family, daughter Gia, parents, in-laws and the families’ closest friends to cut a cake with.  Ritu said her friends have dropped in from all over the world. A special friend who came in was Gia’s godfather Francois with his girlfriend. The designer was spotted looking stunning in a peacock coloured kaftan at her studio in the afternoon where she enjoyed a cake with her staff.  Vinod Dua, Shazia Ilmi, Ashish Soni, Rony Kaula, Preeti Ghai and Payal Kapoor were among those who wished her. She also posted pictures on her Insta enjoying her day with daughter Gia.

Describing her special day Ritu said, “My daughter has just finished her exams yesterday and so today is a double celebration. The day has just started so the presents are still to come in.  But  Gia has already made an amazing card to describe what kind of a mom I am and paintings too. As for Bobby, he makes me feel special every day but today he has been pampering me even more,  my brother has sent me some earrings which I was looking for and he found them and sent them over. In the evening we have a pool party because it is already so hot in Delhi. Very soon I am going take a break from work and disappear with my family for a long summer holiday to Paris, which is my favourite place in summer every year and that is the real birthday gift!”

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Pavan Varma on his upcoming books and cultural causes

World Dance Day witnessed an unexpected champion of the artistic cause in former diplomat Pavan Varma National General Secretary and National Spokesperson Janata Dal (United) also a former Rajya Sabha MP. He was delivering a public lecture at a function hosted by UN Information Officer in Delhi, Rajiv Chandran and his dancer wife Geeta Chandran at the IIC on the occasion of World Dance Day. In a fiery discourse, Pavan drew attention to the several issues troubling artists from various fields as well as the issues that plague the glorious legacy of Indian culture. Later, Rajiv Chandran said, “Normally we have eminent dancers delivering the address but this time we thought we would depart from the norm and invite someone who is not from the dance fraternity. Luckily for us, Pavan agreed.” Pavan spoke on the current problems such as the lack of originality and the absence of government support for preserving and popularising our culture and heritage and it was heard by the crème de la crème audience that included people like Revathi Ramachandran, Dr Sunil Kothari, Dr Parul Shah, Dr Reema Srikant, Leela Venkatraman.

Pavan, whose own daughter-in-law Shivani Varma is an accomplished Kathak dancer, lamented that Indian heritage is plagued by ignorance, neglect, lack of institutional support and a proper discourse. Art, culture and heritage in our country suffer from the bureaucracy’s kiss of death he pointed out adding that while Delhi’s National Museum gets 30,000 visitors annually, France’s Louvre is visited by 3 million people every year!

However, when he was done espousing the cause, Pavan revealed that post the success of his last book Adi Shankaracharya, he has been signed on by his publishers (Amazon Westland) for a three-book contract. The first one will be on the Ramcharitmanas, the second will be a collection of his columns and the third, it seems, not to be discussed as yet, will be on the demise of Idealism.

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Old Monk’s Rocky Mohan Gives Kolkata A Passport For Fine Dining

When it comes to the finer things in life, there are few who compare with liquor baron Rocky Mohan (whose Old Monk is the country’s favourite rum). And now, mixing business with pleasure, Rocky who launched Gourmet Passport a food app took it to Kolkata last week. And expectedly, this was a fun affair, a far cry from the usual business lunches hosted by Priya Paul at Kolkata's iconic Park Hotel City. It had foodies like Pritha Sen, Goamela, Nandyagan Sachdev and the Mohan scions Sidd and Viraj present at the fun evening.

Despite being a corporate biggie, Rocky Mohan has always been ever ready to don a chef’s hat and step into the kitchen to whip up a desired dish. As a foodie, he prides himself on the revival of the heritage of Indian cuisine. His knowledge stems from a combination of factors; his parental roots in Rawalpindi and Amritsar, where it is a tradition for men to cook and his years he spent in Lucknow, where he learnt the art of fine cuisine, eating at the tables of the decedents of the nawabs and talukdars. Taking Gourmet Passport to Kolkata is a natural progression, he says adding “As we all know, Kolkata is a city of food lovers and recently it’s had a resurgence of high-end eating places being opened and being accepted by the younger generation.”

He is currently researching regional cuisines for his next cookbook and has previously authored several best-selling cookbooks including, Art of Indian Cuisine which has been in continuous print for the last 20 years. “Everything I do is related to food, says Rocky who is now discovering Peruvian food but for as long as I remember Indian Cuisine continues to amaze me because the more one researches it the more one finds out. The food of India is probably the most complex that I have ever tasted. The nuances of each cuisine within our geographical area are at times similar & more often than not very dissimilar. I have been learning and tasting for the last 40 years of my life and still am amazed by dishes that one comes across,” he says.

Rocky Mohan has appeared with Celebrity Chef Rick Stein in a TV series on BBC and was on the launch episode of Masters of Taste Season 2 with Master chef Judge, chef, restaurateur and TV presenter Gary Mehigan which is currently being aired on Fox Life.

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Khosla Ka Ghosla Producer Savita Hiremath’s  On Working With Amitabh Bachchan and Biopics in the Pipeline 

Delhi based Savita Raj Hiremath, who divides her time between advertising, marketing, campaigning for social causes and filmmaking, is too busy to be seen socialising at all the fancy dos hosted in the city. The lady who has been missing from the social circuit for almost a year now was spotted attending an art exhibition at the Habitat centre’s Visual Art Centre last week. The co-founder and director of Tandav Films who produced the acclaimed film Khosla Ka Ghosla said she is busy working round the clock to complete the post-production work of Jhund, her next film with Amitabh Bachchan. She is also concentrating on finalising her next couple of projects which are also going to be biopics as she is quite fascinated with the genre. “My next films will be on the lives of Subhash Mukhopadhyay and Kalpana Chawla, the first woman astronaut of Indian descent. Mukhopadhyay is an unsung hero of Bengal who happens to the first person to invent IVF but due to the apathy of the society, he went through many hardships and ultimately committed suicide. The story is a masterpiece about the India mindset of the '70s and '80s which is very contrary to how society thinks today and the belief system we practice nowadays, I am researching and parallelly working on both these stories. As for Jhund as some patchwork is in progress and we are shooting those, the music is being finalized and it is shaping up quite well. The musical experience of Jhund will be something at par with Sairat. Jhund is a very fulfilling experience after Khosla Ka Ghosla. It is based on the life of Vijay Barse, the founder of NGO Slum Soccer and directed by Nagraj Manjule. I have a great team so I am very confident about the film. It is to be released in September.” Savita added that Nagraj has such a huge fan following no that he is going to be hosting the Marathi version of Kaun Banega Crorepati.

Talking about her experience of working with the megastar, she says, “Amitabh was the most senior person in my team but he would be there on location even before me. There is so much that we can all learn from him. We are still trying to persuade Amitabh Bachchan to lend his voice to a song for the film and are hopeful that will happen, If it does it will be a huge surprise element in the film.” she says excitedly and signs off saying that though it’s still six months away there are interesting plans for the Jhund release.

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Amol Palekar, Bulbul Sharma  and Sunit Tandon join in for a literary evening

The Capital city, always known for its extravagant bashes is often buzzing these days with literary evenings. One such was a refined evening of cultural conversations that marked the release of Delhi’s well-known art historian Dr Alka Pande’s book. Actor Amol Palekar, painter and writer Bulbul Sharma, Shobha Deepak Singh,  Sunit Tandon, Mustafa Quraishi  all rarely seen at Delhi social dos were just a few of the eminent people from the world of culture art and history  who attended the evening Bulbul Sharma said, What I find fascinating about this evening is that it is a gathering of so many creative people with inclination towards different forms of art and craft, there are painters, sculptors, writers, theatre artists and historians. I haven’t read the book but it looks beautiful and I intend to sit down with it very soon.”

Amol Palekar was seen enjoying a conversation about his Delhi visit. The interested audience enjoyed a lively panel discussion between Acharya Srivatsa Goswami of the Radha Raman Mandir in Vrindavan, Dancer and scholar Dr Swarnamalya Ganesh and the author. The discussion moderated by Dr Arshiya Sethi, Scholar, artist and founder of Kri Foundation elicited much interaction from the intellectual audience who followed the speakers intently.

Some well-known names from the art scene were conspicuous by their absence hinting at professional jealously even among those culturally evolved! Alka, currently the consulting art advisor and curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the India Habitat Centre is a well-known name among the Capital’s cultural circuit for curating several significant exhibitions in India and abroad and setting up museums.  Dr Pande’s next project she says is on the sacred lingam (phallus). This is to be a trilogy and will entail a tremendous amount of scholarly research.

About her latest book, Alka says, ‘The body has always been central to Indian art, thought, literature, and even religion. In Body Sutra, I have celebrated the body by capturing both its beauty and divinity in an artistic-cum-historical journey. “ Pande’s friends' eminent psychologist Sudhir Kakar and dancer Alarmel Valli who have to go through the book have words of appreciation for the well-researched tome. Kakar said, “Body Sutra is an intellectual and a visual delight." Alarmel Valli  added that “A study of representations of the body in Indian creative expression through the ages, by a distinguished art historian like Dr Pande, can enhance our understanding of humanity and illuminate intersections between the body and culture, religion, gender, and identity."

Once the panel discussion was over, the conversation as always in Delhi moved to the elections and resulted in an on –the- spot exit polls in favour of the present PM!

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Amitabh Bachchan Amol palekar Birthday bulbul sharma Chattarpur Designer Pavan Verma Ritu Beri Rocky Mohan savita hiremath sunit tandon

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