When Mumbai Came to ManhattanBy Lavina Melwani • Oct 16th, 2010 • Category: 24/7 Talk is Cheap - The Blog
Evening in Mumbai- Bollywood Glamor
It’s not often that you run into Bollywood biggie Karan Johar at a makeshift Chowpatty or chat with Mira Nair while eating kulfis at a fake Pasta Lane – and that too in the heart of New York, inside the Grand Hyatt Hotel!
The event was An Evening in Mumbai, a gala organized by Childen’s Hope India, a New York based organization that I am involved with. Like the real Mumbai, this imitation Mumbai glittered. Every one of the guests was dressed in Bollywood glam, a mad medley of colors and jewels. For a day, every guest was a star and walked down the red carpet.
Everywhere there were giant posters of Bollywood movies and celebrities, and blown-up images of the city of Mumbai. The sign ‘RK Studios’ known to all cinema lovers led to a mock studio set up, a wrought iron loveseat in front of a giant image of the Gateway of India. Photographers clicked each of the guests in front of this famous landmark for a keepsake of the evening.
A short walk took the guests to Chor Bazaar, a marketplace full of crafts, jewelry, shawls, Diwali diyas and a sumptuous silent auction. The cocktail hour was a trip into nostalgia with famous Mumbai eats such as frankies and chat papri. The dinner menu included such Mumbai specialties as Bade Miyan Ka Goat, Fish Sheetal Samandur, Aamti Daal, Farsavi Bhaji and Malabar Paneer, topped with Badshah Kulfi Falooda, Tharu’s Gulab Jamun, Brijwasi Dry Fruit Halwa and Chapan Bhog Tazi Mithai.
Indeed, on 10/10/10 everyone was a Mumbaikar at heart and together celebrated that great city by the sea which has shown a lot of courage and resilience. This glamorous gala celebrated the can-do spirit of Mumbai, its beauty and its hold on the world imagination, paying tribute to its entrepreneurial spirit, its Bollywood industry and its eclectic music, dance, crafts and cuisine.
The presentation started with a boisterous procession of male dancers carrying images of Ganesha to the rhythms of Ganpati Baba Moliya and dancers from Nartan Rang Dance School of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, in nine yard sarees tied the Maharashtrian way, doing a spirited Lezim dance choreographed by Swati Vaishnav.
This invocation of Lord Ganesha set the mood for a Mumbai evening to raise funds for Children’s Hope India, a New York based group of women professionals which has been working to improve health and education for underprivileged children in India for the past 19 years.
Guests had gathered to support the efforts of Children’s Hope but enjoyed a sparkling and frenetic Mumbai evening with stunning master of ceremonies, the model and TV celebrity Nina Manuel hosting the event. The big draw was Bollywood superstar Karan Johar who had flown in especially for the event. The Sheriff of Mumbai presented the organizers a Ganpati to begin this auspicious evening.
Dr. Dina Pahlajani, president of Children’s Hope India, spoke evocatively about the work done by Children’s Hope India and a powerful photo presentation of children in the 25 projects in different cities made it all come alive. The Sheriff of Mumbai talked about the challenges and the positive transformation in the city, with a population of young people ready for change and civic commitment.
The guest list was a who’s who of people from entertainment, business, medicine and entrepreneurship, headed by Consul General Prabhu Dayal and Mrs. Chandini Dayal, film director Mira Nair and Mahmood Mamdani, author Suketu Mehta, Madhur Jaffrey and Sanford Allen, Aroon and Indur Shivdasani, Tinku and Ajit Jain, Chandrika and Ranjan Tandon, Ravi and Ginny Akhoury, Sant Singh and Daman Chatwal, Sreedhar and Saroj Menon, Daryl and Mel Rand, Raphael and Linda Benaroya, Lal and Asha Sani, Haresh and Tanuja Tharani, Arun and Asmita Bhatia, Gul and Rattan Samtani. Over 500 guests came to show their support.
The prestigious Lotus Award was presented to two honorees: Dr. Valavanur Subramanian, Chairman, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Lenox Hill Hospital and to Madhu Vuppuluri, President and CEO of Essar Americas Inc. The Making a Difference Award acknowledged the selfless work of Mark Templer, Director of Hope Foundation, Hope Worldwide. The award was sponsored by HSBC Private Bank.
The Spirit of Mumbai awards, which were sponsored by Telebrands International, honored three New Yorkers whose work and passions embody the energy and can-do spirit of Mumbai: Suketu Mehta, author of ‘Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found’; Mira Nair, noted filmmaker whose first film ‘Salaam Bombay’ embodied the city’s ethos; and Aroon Shivdasani, President of the Indo-American Arts Council which brings the magic of Indian art and culture to New Yorkers.
One of the highlights of the evening was a completely unscripted conversation on stage between powerhouse filmmakers Mira Nair and Karan Johar where the two bantered affectionately and you could see the good vibes between the two. An energetic dance performance by the all-male group Wanted Aashiqz was a great tribute to Bollywood and very well received by the audience.
The evening attracted over 500 movers and shakers, who enjoyed the music of DJ Kucha and met with friends in this pre-Diwali celebration. So much fun should be outlawed but it did raise awareness of Children’s Hope and brought in approximately $250,000 net for health and education projects in India.
(Children’s Hope India is an organization of Indian women professionals in New York that has been raising funds for children’s health and education since 1992. CH supports over 25 projects across several major cities in India. )
Related Article: An Evening in Rajasthan
Evening in Mumbai Photo Gallery
(Click to enlarge images)