| Blown away: A poster of the musical, Gone with the Wind
Gone with the reviews
Alas, I cannot urge Indian holidaymakers to see Gone with the Wind for this £4million musical, directed by the celebrated Trevor Nunn, has been blown away by unkind reviews. On an impulse, passing the New London Theatre in Drury Lane, I bought a couple of tickets for the evening before the curtain came down for the final time.
Theatre audiences began rushing to see the musical as soon as its producers announced that they were going to close the show after only 79 performances (compare with Andrew Lloyd Webbers Phantom of the Opera, still going since it opened in London in 1986, or indeed Agatha Christies The Mousetrap, the play which, incredibly, has been running since 1952).
Gone with the Wind, with a set that resembled the American deep south with posters advertising Negroes for sale, received a standing ovation on the night I went even though the songs were perhaps not its strongest feature.
My late mother would have loved the experience, the thought struck me. Gone with the Wind, based on Margaret Mitchells 1936 novel about the American civil war and released in 1939 to rave reviews and subsequently eight Oscars, was one of her growing up films, I dimly recalled her saying when we were children. Timeless in its magic, it is former US president Jimmy Carters favourite movie, for example.
An usherette had earlier sought to explain the musicals premature demise to me when I bought a programme: The reviews werent very good.
Rhett Butlers last words to Scarlett Hara (played in the film by Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, and in the musical by Pop Idol singer Darius Danesh and Jill Plaice) — Frankly, my dear, I dont give a damn — proved far too tempting for Fleet Street sub-editors writing suitable headlines for the unflattering reviews to the 3 hour 40 minutes musical (later trimmed to 3 hours).
Frankly, my dear, its a damn long night (Daily Telegraph), Frankly, my dear, its not up to much, (Daily Mail), and Frankly, this show is damned (Evening Standard) conveyed the flavour of the reviews.
On occasions, audiences can ignore reviews, as happened with Andrew Lloyd Webbers Bombay Dreams. This, too, was savaged by critics but a loyal Indian following, who sensed that their national honour was almost on the line, kept the musical alive for two years.
The oxygen support for Gone with the Wind was switched off last week, prompting a bewildered Shirley Wilby, from Ossett, West Yorkshire, to criticise the critics: Did the critics see the same show I did? I thought it was marvellous. I cant understand why it is closing early. They got a standing ovation when I saw it.
Frankly, my dear, showbiz isnt quite as simple.
| Great with curries: Warren Edwardes wines
Among those who turned up last week at the London Business School to hear Vijay Mallya, the United Breweries and Kingfisher Airlines chairman, hold forth on his efforts to develop a diet whisky and a diet vodka, was one Warren Edwardes.
I went to boarding school in India where I, as a 10-year-old, nicked the Mass wine from Father Bonaventures stock, he confessed to me.
Far from setting him on to the street to crime, our Warren has come good.
This is because Warren, in between being a banker, runs Wines for Spice Ltd, which makes sparkling wine to his exact specifications in Spain — with grapes I choose. The wines are bubbly but not quite as bubbly as champagne.
What is special about Warrens wines is they are made to be drunk with Indian curries.
Warren, who was inspired by my Goan grandmothers trick of adding some sugar to an over-hot curry, is now offering a crisp very dry Viceroy White, a fruity quite dry Raja Rosé and an aromatic off dry Rani Gold.
And to go with vegetarian fare at Gujarati weddings, Warren suggests a Patel Pink.
These wines may well be sold in India later this year though most probably under Spanish names.
The good Fr Bonaventure, wherever he is, may well conclude his efforts with Master Warren have not been entirely wasted.
Parsis (2) beat Bengalis (5)?
The annual mission of the Confederation of Indian Organisations arrived in London last week, when the final session, 10 per cent Growth: Developing a Common Agenda, was chaired by Lord Karan Bilimoria.
Karan, chairman of Cobra Beer, is a Parsi. So was a fellow panel member, Phiroz Vandrevala, executive director and head, global corporate affairs of Tata Consultancy Services.
Karan is the UK chairman of the Indo-British Partnership, an organisation which seeks to boost bilateral trade — this currently stands at £8.7 billion since you ask.
His Indian counterpart — that is, the India chairman of the Indo- British Partnership — happens to be Phiroze.
This gave Karan enormous happiness for, as he observed, this is the first time both chairmen are Parsis.
But this caused Phiroze to grumble: The morning was Bengali.
This was not an unreasonable complaint.
Seated at the top table for the inaugural session were Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, newly arrived Indian High Commissioner in London, Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, expert in manufacturing from Warwick University, and Chandrajit Bannerjee, director general of the CII.
Looking superior nearby were Sonjoy Chatterjee, ICICI Bank executive board member with responsibility for international affairs, and Supriya Banerjee, CII deputy director general and head of its international division.
That seemed like Parsis 2, Bengalis 5 but Karan applied the Duckworth Lewis principle to business: he pointed out that there are significantly fewer Parsis in the world and, therefore, proportionately, the Parsis had won.
I think I am referring this dispute to that well known Third Umpire — Ratan Tata.
No Indian woman enjoys a higher profile in Britain than Shami Chakrabarti, 39, the director of the civil rights organisation, Liberty, who takes over as the new Chancellor of Oxford Brooks University from next month.
Shami last week threatened to sue a cabinet minister, Andy Burnham, the culture secretary, who had suggested that David Davies, the Shadow Tory home secretary, who resigned as an MP to protest against the governments new anti-terror legislation, had discussed his decision with her in late night, hand-wringing, heart-melting phone calls.
Shami, married with a son, said Burnham had debased his ministerial office.
The writer, Tim Heald, edited My Lords, a book on the most famous cricket ground in the world, in which he was kind enough to take a chapter from me on Indias 1983 World Cup victory against the West Indies, whose 25th anniversary falls next Wednesday on June 25.
I probably have all my notes, too, from that momentous occasion somewhere among my junk.
I was incredibly lucky to be given a ticket for the press box and, at the end of the game, I managed to sneak into the Indian dressing room where, notebook in hand, I requested quotes from anyone who would be bothered to talk to a callow youth at the greatest moment in our countrys history since, possibly, independence.
And whose contribution was the most significant on the Indian side, I later asked an Indian commentator whose telephone number I was given.
Without doubt, Mohinder Amarnath, he replied.
And your name, sir?