Mamata Banerjee struck all the right notes at the inauguration of Calcutta’s first luxury mall on Monday evening, almost as if she were playing by the book of notations that pianist Richard Clayderman gifted her midway through his performance.
The chief minister, who has hardly put a foot wrong since the trophy investor meet in Mumbai that followed her panchayat poll victory, looked at ease in the luxe surroundings of Quest, the mall off Park Circus developed by the RP-Sanjiv Goenka group.
If Mamata’s presence was understated, her words were carefully chosen. In the 40 minutes that she spent at Quest, the one thing that stood out was her newfound zeal to connect with industry.
“Sanjiv Goenka has gifted an international standard mall to the people of Calcutta and Bengal…. I am proud of the city,” Mamata said.
She had walked in through the revolving door at 6.50pm, too busy looking at her cell phone to notice Burberry and Gucci to her left and right, set to open weeks later. But the fountain and the Rain of Petals installation overhead did catch her eye and keep her riveted for more than a few seconds.
Host Sanjiv showed Mamata around the ground floor, pointing out spaces that would house brands that the city hasn’t seen before (see graphic).
| Mamata Banerjee unveils a Puja gift for Calcutta: the new mall, Quest, which she said was “like sharadiya anjali (a Puja offering)”. “Sanjiv Goenka has gifted an international standard mall… to the people of Calcutta and Bengal…. I am proud of the city,” the chief minister told a select gathering that comprised Calcuttans ranging from Sourav Ganguly to Usha Uthup. The white marble floor of the Rs 375-crore shopping destination sparkled as she spoke and a stunning Rain of Petals installation cascaded down four floors, stopping above the fountain gushing in the atrium
|Mamata greets pianist Richard Clayderman. (Right) Midway through his performance on a grand piano on a spotless white stage, the master gifts his book of notations to Mamata
|In her short speech, Mamata remembered RP Goenka. Off the dais, she embraced his widow, Sushila, who made a rare public appearance. “Please take care of your mother,” Mamata told Sanjiv later. Pictures by Amit Datta
|Sanjiv took the chief minister around the luxury lair where the likes of Gucci, Burberry and Armani will open stores. “I feel good. When you do something and people appreciate it, you feel good,” he told Metro later
● What is it called? Quest
● Who is it developed by? CESC Properties Ltd
● Where is it? 33 Syed Amir Ali Avenue (opposite Mithai), so on your left if you are going from Park Circus towards Ballygunge Phari
● When will it open? First phase
● How many floors is it? Basement, ground + 5 floors (B2 is only for parking)
● How big is the mall? 420,000sq ft (approx) of retail and F&B space
● What about parking? There’s 328,000sq ft (approx) of multilevel car park for 864 cars and 100 two-wheelers
● What is the brand mix of the mall? Luxury on the ground floor, followed by premium and bridge brands on the floors above
● What luxury brands will have their first Calcutta standalone stores here? Think Burberry, Furla, Canali, Emporio Armani, Michael Kors, Gucci, Armani Jeans, Tumi, Paul Smith, Indian by Manish Arora, Crabtree & Evelyn… and more
● What about anchor brands? There’s Lifestyle, INOX, Spencers,
GKK and Starmark
● What’s the F&B high point? Yauatcha, Calcutta’s first date with a Michelin-star restaurant
● What other firsts in F&B? Bombay Brasserie, The Irish House, Serafina, Smoke House Deli, Chili’s, Au Bon Pain…
● What about movies? A six-screen INOX; three screens of 200-plus seats; one screen of 300-plus seats;
two gold class (71 and 85)
● Who’s the architect and designer? UK-based RTKL. The design consultant is Dhananjay Dhake from Pune-based Construction Catalysers
● What are the design highlights? Nature-inspired design — exterior
nodal structure, petal prints within,
an installation called Rain of Petals, cascading down the four floors, stopping just above the fountain in the atrium. And lighting by US-based Bliss Fasman.
The chief minister then took the stage. She described Quest as “a small gift to Calcutta, a sharadiya anjali (festival offering)”. And just in case someone deemed the word “small” a misnomer for a Rs 375-crore mall, she added: “But small is beautiful.”
Then, the personal touch — referring to Rama Prasad Goenka, the founder of the RPG Group and the host’s father. “I am thinking of R.P. Goenka. I went to see him when he was very ill… I am remembering him today,” she said.
She had embraced the late industrialist’s wife Sushila Devi, making a rare public appearance, moments before taking the mike.
The Calcuttan outside the mall was not to be forgotten either. “We have a South City. Traffic management is a big problem there. In this place too, many people will come and go. There is a need for proper planning. I request Sanjiv Goenka to sit down with the police commissioner of Calcutta and do that,” she said.
For many of the guests, the sight of the sparkling, marbled interiors on entering the 420,000sq ft mall had come as a surprise. Just four days ago, construction was still underway at Quest — the bamboo scaffolding hadn’t been fully removed, workers were running around completing tasks at each of the six levels and the flooring was covered in protective sheets.
“That was quick!” exclaimed one of the 100 high-profile guests, from Karan Paul to Kiran Uttam Ghosh.
Sanjiv introduced chief guest Mamata as a “lady with vision, dedication, commitment and passion”. He said: “She is a lady we all look up to, who is an inspiration for all of us. Thank you, madam, for being with us.”
He sought the support of Calcuttans to make Quest not just a landmark but a showcase for what the city was capable of. “Quest is our first entry into the mall segment,” he said, “We look to your support, your blessings, to make this mall work…. Please enjoy, please indulge.”
Speeches over, it was time for Clayderman and his piano to take over. The French pianist apologised for his “terrible” English and shook a tattooed fist twice before his fingers hit the keys of the piano. The audience swayed to his tunes, including the Titanic Symphony, based on the soundtrack of the Leonardo Di Caprio-Kate Winslet film.
As the Titanic played, Usha Uthup was spotted clapping her hands lightly while in walked Sourav Ganguly, nodding to Didi before taking a seat beside Harsh Neotia.
Mamata left after around 20 minutes but the music flowed and the celebrations continued.
“I feel good. When you do something and people appreciate it, you feel good,” host Sanjiv told Metro.