Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Foreign correspondents Raj

It appears to be the done thing for foreign correspondents based in India, to write their tell-all memoirs once their stints are over. The list is a long and illustrious one, and some of the notable books to have emerged from this practice have been by Mark Tully, John Elliot and Ed Luce. This week saw the London launch of one more from the genre: The Billionaire Raj by writer and journalist James Crabtree, who’d been the Financial Times bureau chief in Mumbai, not too long ago. “As I said in my speech, I am not doing something unprecedented, writing a book about India as a white-British journalist,” said Crabtree from London, when we texted him. Described in an early review by Publishers Weekly as an “eye-opening rumination on wealth, power, and those who seek both”, the review goes on to say, “Crabtree brings a reporter’s precision and flair to his story.” Is it true that Vijay Mallya was present at the launch as Crabtree had hinted in a tweet, or was that just some dark humour? “No, no, he was not there,” clarified Crabtree, “But, he appears in the book. He is Chapter two. It’s Ambani, who is Chapter 1, Mallya, Chapter 2 and Adani, Chapter 3.”

All the way to the top of the charts we’re sure.


We’d heard the tragic news about Sonali Bendre’s illness, long before the actress had bravely announced it herself on Twitter, yesterday. Vested with the tragic news by a Bolly insider, before anyone else in the media knew, we found ourselves in a quandary. How could we be the bearer of such terrible news, when the actress, herself, had not made it public? Who would want to add to her burden in these circumstances? We wrestled with the dilemma, until mercifully and perhaps, because of her own writing background (she’s the author of a bestselling book on parenting), Bendre handled the news like a boss, with a well-worded and thought-out message to her fans and public at large. Life throws us many curve balls, that too, when we least expect it, but with her self-possessed and empowered post, Bendre has demonstrated how one can face even the grimmest situation with equanimity and poise.

Here’s looking at you girl!


What They Say —

“This day goes beyond one president. It’s a way to pay tribute to our troops. Presidents come and go, but the 4th of July and the celebration of our country is really what this event is about.” Classical pianist Lola Astanova, who performed at the Independence Day concert at the White House

What They Mean —

“Nevertheless, I’m always going to have to bear the ignominy of having performed for, you know who, during one of his least popular phases, while every other major act in the country refused.”


“I’ve always been fooling around with accents my entire life. I would hear them in films or when I’d meet people and just try and do them,” says actor Sikander Kher from the sets of RAW aka Romeo Akbar Walter, directed by Robbie Grewal with John Abraham, on location in Baroda. He is referring to a series of video clips featuring him taking on various characters like the terribly upper class Henry (“His hobbies include gardening, croquet, going for blind-folded liquorice tasting competitions and drinking fifty-two cups of tea”) and even Russian President Vladmir Putin, who comments on the ongoing FIFA World Cup matches. With cutting-edge wit, many in jokes and spot-on impersonations, they are a loony guffaw-a-minute sketches, which the actor says happened spontaneously. “I always had the Russian guy or the English fellow, my close friends have known them closely. Now, thanks to a camera on a phone, a few more have gotten to meet these guys.” How does this pan out with the daily shoots? “This is what happens between work, when people kick back and want to read a book or watch a TV show. I, instead, talk to myself loudly,” he says, adding, “I’m convinced that my help at home thinks I’m crazy!”As for Henry, Putin and the enthusiastic German, will they find a permanent home to air their views, say something like a YouTube channel of their own or a Netflix/Amazon platform? “Who knows! I’ve always had a secret passion to do stand-up (which is not-so-secret anymore), so maybe you’ll catch me at an open mic. Channels, content, platforms, the opportunities in this day and age are endless.” Until then, those who want to keep up with the Henries, there’s Kher’s Instagram handle: @sikandarkher to join the Mad Hatters FIFA party.

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