Wednesday evening’s launch of Karan Thapar’s Devil’s Advocate at a Delhi five-star was a gathering of the tribe by all accounts; with former PM Dr Manmohan Singh and former CM Sheila Dixit, along with a host of Congress leaders, in attendance to hear Rahul Gandhi’s address, it was a little like the Ghost of Times Past – a Lutyen’s love fest for all those people who’d sat it out patiently in the Opposition praying that their supreme leader would get “woke” soon!

And lo and behold, after his LS “speech-and-hug” double whammy, Gandhi appears to be “woke” enough. The Thapar appearance came on the heels of a closed-door off camera meet with a hundred or so of Delhi’s women journalists – a constituency which many would call “friendly”…!

To be sure, whoever is handling RaGa: 2 is doing a good job, allowing him to play to his strengths. Also, his oratorical style has vastly improved; with many suggesting that he’s found his voice, by channeling his inner Omar Abdullah; just as PM Modi appears to be channeling his inner Bachchan (“¾ Vajpayee and the balance AB” as one Modi-watcher put it).

As for Thapar’s book, our Delhi source was dismissive. “Like a Doon school essay,” he sniffed. “Full of Pinky Bhutto this and Pinky Bhutto that’.” Thapar as he has often reminded us, shared his Oxbridge years with the late Benazir Bhutto.


When we met Lally Dhawan at friend’s birthday lunch in Juhu not too long ago, and congratulated her about the birth of her granddaughter Niyara (her son Rohit ‘s daughter and the first grandchild in her family, her face lit up with delight. “It’s really a big thing for me!” she’d beamed. “I’ve always loved kids, ever since the time I ran a little school for toddlers at Warden Road.” Lally had been a contemporary of ours in college and had graduated most likely with a degree in philosophy and economics. Her subsequent transition to the role of the wife to one of commercial Hindi cinema’s most successful producers, David Dhawan, and later as mother to superstar Varun Dhawan hadn’t changed her; she still kept in touch with her old college friends, even as she made new ones in the industry. Last week saw some of these friends namely Neetu Kapoor, Namrata Dutt, Abha Virmani Kapoor, Dimple Patel, Rita Dhody and Meenu Chug Juneja gather to welcome the newest entry in to the Dhawan clan at a cozy ladies’ lunch in NoBo. And by the looks of her smile Lally, was one pleased Grandmum indeed!


We have been following our friend and fellow columnist car enthusiast Hormazd Sorabjee’s adventures on the Circuit Paul Ricard track this week with interest. The son of legal luminary Soli Sorabjee who edits Autocar in India, he had the privilege of experiencing what must be every car enthusiast’s ultimate fantasy: driving a full-blown Formula 1 car, in fact the same Renault E20 raced by Kimi Raikkonent and Romain Grosjean in 2012! “I have driven an F1 car twice earlier, but this one was on a different level altogether,” he said, when we texted yesterday. “The Renault engine produces 750 horsepower and has a spine tingling high-pitched shriek. The sound is simply amazing” What was it like? “My biggest memory will be the savage acceleration and the way it rockets forward. Feels like you’ve been strapped onto a missile.” He exulted. “The sense of speed is heightened as you are sitting inches off the floor. Everything goes past in one big blur and yet every moment of the experience is crystal clear.” But of course it didn’t come easy. Besides being bruised and battered from the experience, Sorabjee gamely concedes that he doesn’t think he reached even 50% of what the beast was capable off. “Also the problem now is that for sheer speed, every car I drive will be a step down!” he signed off.


This picture, from the shooting of the 2003 multi-cast Boom, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Jackie Shroff, Gulshan Grover, Padma Lakshmi, Madhu Sapre, Zeenat Aman and Katrina Kaif, shot by lensman Pradeep Chandra at the InterGold store in Mumbai is interesting because it marks the debut of Kaif. The actress is said to have been a late replacement for model Meghna Reddy. Who would have guessed that despite the film’s poor box office performance, she would go on to becoming one of Bollywood’s most bankable stars?

“I shot few frames with the ladies with their burqas covering their faces as in the film’s scene,” says Chandra, “and then requested director Kaizad Gustad to let me have a picture where their faces were seen, he argued against it, but then I think Madhu intervened and they lifted their veils- and that’s when I saw the beautiful Katrina Kaif for the first time!”

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