| ON A ROLL: (Top)Preah Narang (centre) with her daughters; (Below) Jerry Hall (centre) with Sunita and Naresh Kumar
Busy, busy mothers & daughters
Indian socialites were exhibition hopping in London last week. At Mallett Antiques in New Bond Street, right opposite Sotheby’s auction rooms, Mother Teresa’s long-time former press officer and supporter, Sunita Kumar, was showing her latest collection of contemporary paintings.
There were a few images of Mother Teresa but others were of the gates of Raj Bhavan in Calcutta, trains to Darjeeling, village scenes and one of the Golden Temple in Amritsar (“I’m Sikh”).
Meanwhile, one stop away on the London Underground (Bond Street to Marble Arch on the Central Line), Namrita Bachchan was showing her collection of colourful illustrations at Indar Pasricha Fine Arts in Connaught Street.
With Sunita and her former tennis player husband, Naresh Kumar, was their chef daughter, Preah Narang, who will do an Indian culinary presentation for Anton Mossiman next year, and Preah’s daughters, Shivani, 19, and Gayatri, 17 (who are at Nottingham University and the London School of Economics respectively, and are being groomed for future stardom, as is their kid brother, Aditya, 12, a pupil at Millfield, a prestigious public school).
Sunita’s guests included Mick Jagger’s ex, tall Texan model Jerry Hall, who appeared to be wearing a dark Kashmiri shawl.
|ART SMART: Ramola Bachchan with Namrita (left) and Naina (right)
Cut to Connaught Street, where Indar Pasricha (his wife was briefly at Sunita’s because “we are cousins”) was welcoming guests. Inside his elegant gallery, Mother Hen Ramola Bachchan was keeping an eye on her daughters, Namrita, who was signing copies of her illustrated book of poems, and Naina, a banker with UBS who was sporting a (fake') fur collar (“don’t forget to say I’m glamourous”).
It was like the old days when “Queen Bee” Ramola held court at her lovely home in Frognal in Hampstead but she was in London for barely 24 hours. She now lives in India, poised on a plane somewhere between “Bombay” and Delhi, and is currently busy preparing for the opening of her new 100-seat restaurant in Saket in Delhi.
It will offer modern European food, have “two chefs from France and a French pastry chef plus a French general manager” and “no, the restaurant won’t be called Ramola’s” (what about “Aishwarya”, after the bride who has apparently fitted in so well into the Bachchan family').
Having settled her daughters, Ramola left immediately for Calcutta to spend Diwali there with relatives.
All her friends in London miss her madly but the feelings are, alas, not mutual.
“I’m having the time of my life”, she said, rubbing a tiny bit of mirchi into our wounds.
The balance is corrected by Sunita and Naresh Kumar who have now, happily, bought a handsome house in London, though Naresh only promised a “three month, nine-month” split, in favour of Calcutta.
“I’ll never leave Calcutta — I won’t live anywhere else in India,” said Sunita, gently but firmly.
The editor of Argentina’s most important English-language newspaper, the Buenos Aires Herald, told me last week there was not a chance that the CBI would secure the extradition of Ottavio Quattrocchi, the 69-year-old Italian businessman obsessively sought by India for allegedly receiving a Bofors kickback.
“The case against him was old and really soft,” said Andrew Graham-Yooll, whom I met at the Argentine embassy in London where he was presenting Driven by the Wind and Drenched to the Bone, a book containing his English language translation of the poems in Spanish of Daniel Samoilovich, an Argentinian friend.
Quattrocchi was allowed to return home to Milan in August this year after being held in Argentina for six months at India’s behest.
“Oh, I do hope so,” responded Graham-Yooll enthusiastically, when asked whether he thought the CBI team had enjoyed their stay in Argentina, which is famous for the beautiful game and its even more beautiful women.
| DANCING QUEEN: Shilpa Shetty
Shilpa Shetty is facing a new battle: getting critical appreciation for her musical, Miss Bollywood, which had to be called off prematurely in Germany because of problems with work permits. A friend who saw it last week in Manchester, where it launched its UK tour, said that “the audience responded well to it — and she dances well”.
And that she does, though the Daily Mail (“Shilpa Shetty’s Bollywood musical savaged by critics”) was not impressed. It reported the opinion of the Times critic, Sam Marlowe, who dismissed the musical as an “ill-conceived, half-baked star vehicle” and said: “It’s a shame that, having endured Celebrity Big Brother with such dignity, she has gone on to capitalise on the experience with a substandard project that reeks of cynicism.”
To be fair, the Mail also quoted critic Kevin Bourke of the Manchester Evening News whose kinder assessment was that “the last 20 minutes or so of this Bollywood-on-stage fantasy are fantastic fun”. But he, too, added: “With its Big Brother, Richard Gere and ‘goody, goody’ gags, the show can feel like a panto.”
My suspicious friend alleges that the fuss over a fan apparently cracking Shilpa’s mobile number may have got her some useful publicity.
|BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL: The poster of Brick Lane
Posters of Brick Lane, featuring an attractive image of its lead actress, Tannishtha Chatterjee, have gone up inside Bond Street and other London Underground stations.
A Calcutta scene is also included in the poster, though most passengers will not recognise that the lush green paddy fields through which two children are shown running are in Hari Pota, a “village” not 15 minutes drive from the Eastern Bypass.
Beyond the pale
After England’s 2005 Ashes victory, there was much talk that Duncan Fletcher, the side’s Zimbabwe-born coach, merited a knighthood.
Now, following publication of his autobiography, Beyond the Shadows, in which he has revealed that Andrew Flintoff turned up drunk for practice during the 2006 tour of Australia, Geoffrey Boycott (“he’s a sour man with a sour book”) and others in English cricket have led the attack on Fletcher whose back resembles a second-hand dartboard.
The chances of Fletcher becoming Sir Duncan Fletcher now seem as remote as a full return to Test cricket, sadly, by the injury-prone Flintoff.
While in Mumbai, I should have stocked up on copies of Dev Anand’s Romancing with Life at Rs 695 a time (£8.50). At the Nehru Centre in London, 100 copies were snapped up at £25 each.