The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Good times' Not really!

What: Announcement of special sweepstake prize of Black Dog Scotch Whisky.

Where: Mahalakshmi Racecourse, Mumbai.

When: Friday, 8 pm.

The bash: In true Mumbai party style, the proceedings kicked off almost an hour late. But thankfully, host Vijay Mallya was there right from the outset. Dressed in a black suit with a pink tie and sporting shoulder-length salt-and-pepper locks, the spotlight never shifted from the king of good life who (as he himself announced) runs “two of the country’s most highly regulated businesses — alcohol and airline”.

But then, where else could the spotlight have been, given the low — make that no — celebrity turnout at the party' Yes, you read it right! There were hardly any party people, forget about a sprinkling of tinsel stars.

Winter in Mumbai is incomplete without the derby and what better way to start the season but with a run-up to the forthcoming elections' Mallya, who is battling Cyrus S. Poonawalla for the chairman’s throne at Royal Western India Turf Club, made the evening an occasion to remember for members.

There was a red carpet leading to the grounds from the main entrance. The balmy Mumbai air was filled with lights at the open-air venue. And there was no dearth of firecrackers as the programme got underway. Yet, something was missing. As the evening progressed, the missing element — star power and celebspotting — became increasingly conspicuous.

First, there was a short ceremony to award the winner of the special sweepstake prize of the contest by Black Dog Scotch Whisky. The prize' A sleek custom-designed car by Dilip Chhabria. Amid loud crackers and colourful sparklers, Mallya chose the winner from a lucky dip and handed over the car keys to software professional Karthik Vembar from Bangalore. The other finalists didn’t go back empty-handed; there were special cases of Black Dog Scotch Whisky for them.

The emcee for the evening, Divya Palat, then passed on the baton to pop singer Anaida, who failed to keep the crowd of turf club members interested. Starting off with her own compositions, Anaida then proceeded to Bollywood numbers. The crowd joined in half-heartedly to tracks like Dhoom macha le, Kajra re and Where’s the party tonight.

In what could have easily been an appeal for a parliamentary seat, Mallya then took over to convince his guests of his “transparent” track record, made promises to kick off night racing and build a clubhouse, held forth on his concept of a “futuristic India” and assured all assembled that he would take time out of his busy schedule for the organisation.

Fashion fundas: No, there was no flamboyant flaunting of dazzling designer wear. No ramp rockers, no svelte sultry sirens. Yet, plenty was on offer at the evening gathering — blacks, blacks and more blacks; dresses, dresses and more dresses. Okay, there was the occasional auntyji in a garish georgette but the ebonies and the emeralds easily drowned that.

Sip ’’ bite: There was no letting up on this front. Free-flowing drinks went around with bite-sized snacks all through the evening. The highlight, however, was the lavish buffet spread including Indian and Continental dishes. A special mention for the malai shots!

Last word: Though it’s not yet winter on the Mumbai map, Mallya’s party was cold and colourless — or should we say “highly regulated” — most unlike the good times one expects at his bash.

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