Sundeep Bhutoria

Welcome to my blog. Do share your views and thoughts with me. Request visitors to keep their comments brief and to the point. I shall respond to you to the extent possible.
Thank you.
ess bee

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Saturday, April 30, 2016

With Bihari babu in Pink City

With Pankaj Dubey
April 30, 2016: As usual the last week in Jaipur was very hectic. On April 26 there was another event of Kalam series with Pankaj Dubey. Earlier he has been the guest of Kalam in Patna. In Jaipur also he was at his best.
He would soon be leaving for the Republic of South Korea on some study tour. Accordingly, we decided to have a Kalam event with him in Jaipur.
After the event, on Tuesday evening, a jewellery designer friend arranged for a very nice dinner for me in which he also called few others friends. The best part of the dinner was the live music. She herself is a good singer and possesses many sterling qualities. One of which is that she is such a good host.
With Shatrughan Sinha and Bharati S Pradhan
On Thursday and Friday I was quite busy with Shatrughan Sinha. He was in Jaipur on my request and even agreed to attend quite a few events in the Pink City also on my request. On Thursday there was a Write Circle with him and Bharathi S Pradhan - the author of his biography “Nothing but Khamosh”.
After the Write Circle event, there was a dinner get-together to meet and greet him at the Hilton Rooftop. It was my first visit to Hilton Jaipur and I was quite impressed with their food as well as to how they have kept their Rooftop.
With Shatrughan Sinha, Jayshree Periwal and the students of International School
Friday, April 29, Mr Sinha and I went to Jayshree Periwal’s International School formerly known as Step-by-Step School where Mr Sinha spoke on one of his most favourite topics “Say No to Tobacco”. He also spoke about how he had left tobacco and on the request of the students he recited some of his film dialogues.
The students of International School did a fantastic job with their anti tobacco posters as part of a competition for which we gave away awards.
With Shatrughan Sinha at the We Care event in Jaipur
From the school we attended the All Women Interactive Session hosted by the newly formed organization We Care.
At the Peshawari Restaurant with General Manager, ITC Rajputana Jaipur, Tejinder Singh and Shatrughan Sinha
My day with Bihari Babu was not over yet. In the evening we went to Peshawari to mark the 20th celebration of this proud restaurant of ITC Rajputana. I regret missing the dinner at Narayan Niwas which I had committed earlier.
My heartfelt thanks to Mr Shatrughan Sinha for making this Pink City trip.
ess bee

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

AAA with Manu S Pillai; Dona performs at ICCR

With Author Manu S Pillai
April 25, 2016: Took a Kolkata-Jaipur IndiGo night flight and checked in at ITC Rajputana. IndiGo has recently started its third daily flight on this route late at 9:40 pm which I find very convenient.
With Nandana Sen
The other two flights, one at 5:25 am is too early and makes you compromise on your sleep. The afternoon 2:40 pm flight takes away your whole day.
Many Kolkatans use this night flight to travel to Rajasthan for a short religious trip to visit either Salasar, Ajmer Sharif, Khatu Shyam ji and other such places. I will be in Jaipur for four to five days and have lined up quite a few things.
With Mrs Swapna Roy
On Saturday there was the event An Author's Afternoon with young upcoming author Manu S Pillai. He was the youngest guest author at the AAA so far.
Manu's book is a saga on the remarkable life of Sethu Lakshmi Bayi, the last-forgotten-Queen of the House of Travancore. Researched from materials lying in the archives of London, Manu retells the story of how a Queen becomes a commoner and fades into obscurity in the backdrop of sweeping social changes and palace intrigues.
With Nayantara Palchoudhuri at the ICCR
The book The Ivory Throne is a great read and of much archival value.
From there I went to attend Dona Ganguly's function at the ICCR where the ICCR, Director General, Shri Rajashekhar, a career diplomat was present. Dona would be leaving for Egypt with her troupe of 13 Odissi dancers and perform at the India By the Nile cultural festival on April 30, 2016, at Al Gomhoria in Cairo. The two week cultural extravaganza is being organized by the Indian Embassy.
On Saturday night I went to a private function at Alipore where I met my old friends and many known faces. Few of them I met after quite many years and it was a good feeling catching up with them.
Friday evening went to a religious function hosted by Rupa chairman P R Agarwal.
ess bee

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Common Indians are among the most tolerant

April 20, 2016: I had gone to the Calcutta High Court area for a meeting at the Old Court House Street. The building housing the office was and relic from the past with electrical and cable wires hanging out, garbage on each floor and an old hand-controlled wooden lift that could accommodate only three persons at a time with the lift man.
There were about twenty people in queue in front of the lift. And being a very slow one it was obvious that my turn would have come after 30 minutes. So I decided to take the stairs when I noticed a well-attired man with two persons by his side one carrying files and the other one was probably his chaperone.
On seeing the queue, he started shouting at the liftman about why the lift was slow and so on although the lift man had nothing to do it. A lot of lawyers and solicitors have office here and operated out of the building. I assumed that he must have come to meet a lawyer.
As the rest of the public quietly and patiently stood by for their turn, the current debate of tolerance and intolerance raging throughout the country flashed across my mind. I personally feel that the common man in Indian is a very tolerant person since he has to endure hardships.
An average Indian spends a substantial portion of his life standing in queues. Queues have almost become a tradition with millions of Indians cutting across the length and breadth of the country line up each day to get access to potable water. Some of them have to walk miles and then stand in queues and wait for their turn.
Many foreigners in India and abroad have shared their observations with me on this. They feel that standing in queues is not at all an average Indian’s cup of tea. Here they are wrong as they are actually mixing up those with deep pockets who travel overseas as common Indians. Whether it is getting access to the bare necessities of life or seeking divine blessings, an ordinary man’s life in India is a story of standing in the queues. Wherever he goes – to procure water for daily needs, ration shops, jobs, hospitals, for voting, seeking darshan of the holy deities in the temples, while boarding the general compartment of a train and even at the burial ground there is a long queue for cremating the deceased.
I think the common man in India is hardwired for tolerance.
The problem of tolerance is actually an issue with the country’s richie rich, like the gentleman who lost his calm seeing a queue near the lift. Our elite class want passport in a day, VIP darshan at the divine places and tickets confirmed instantly whenever they travel and all the other privileges.
If they do not get that they become intolerant and react badly. This class of people is not even five per cent of the Indian population yet their overbearing attitude and behaviour gives the whole country a bad name and branded as intolerant society or nation.
Top industrialists of India queue up to meet Barrack Obama
However there are circumstances when even the Indian elites do not mind standing in a queue provided the reason is good enough.
ess bee

Monday, April 18, 2016

Mission Possible conference in Hyderabad

Planting a sapling with Ssarithha Katikaneni
April 18, 2016: I arrived from Hyderabad on Saturday evening. On Saturday morning I went to Sreenidhi International School to attend the Mission Possible conference. 
At Sreenidhi International School
I delivered a lecture and also planted a tree in the school campus along with the school's Principal, Mrs Ssarithha Katikaneni and few others.
On Friday night I had dinner with Stuovant and Suhani Pittiewho is a leading jewellery designer. Apart of Montblanc, Suhani is one of my favourite designers as far as men's accessories are concerned.
With Suhani Pittie
I use her cufflinks as they are very elegant, classic metal and handmade. 
Somehow, I also liked her accessories although she designs very few for men but she told me she will be launching the men’s accessories soon. Congratulations Suhani.
ess bee

Friday, April 15, 2016

At Taj Krishna in Hyderabad

April 15, 2016: I am in Hyderabad staying at the Taj Krishna. Hyderabad is a city that I have visited three or four times only. The last time I was here I stayed at the Taj Falaknuma Palace. This time I am staying in another property of Taj located in posh Banjara Hills area. I chose Taj Krishna as my friend Mohanchandran is the General Manager of this property.
I must admit one thing that the suite I was staying in had such good air conditioning facility that I had to, despite the scorching heat outside, switch off the AC or increase the room temperature. I have never experienced such good air conditioning in any other five star properties' large suites. This suite is about 1100 square feet with 8oo square feet terrace.
This 707 suite is named after Asaf Jah of Asaf Jahi dynasty that came to India from Samarkand area in the late 17th century. In 1724 Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jahi 1 founded the dynasty and seven generations of the family ruled the Deccan for 224 years till 1948.
At the age of six, Mir Qumaruddin was awarded a mansab by Aurangzeb who also bestowed on him the title Chin fateh Khan. At 26 he was appointed commander in chief and viceroy. Farukh Sair, who was Mugal emperor for a brief tenure, conferred on Mir Qumaruddin the title Nizam-ul-Mulk Fateh Jung. He thus become the first Nizam. Muhammad Shah bestowed on him the title of Asaf Jah. The dynasty of the Nizams of Hyderabad thus came to be known as the Asaf Jahi dynasty.
The prominent leaders of the dynasty were Nizam Ali Khan Asaf Jah II (1762-1803), Sikandar Jah Asaf Jah III (1803-1829), Nasir–ud-Daula Asaf Jah IV (1829-1857), Afzal-ud-Daula Asaf Jah V (1857-1869), Mir Mahboob Ali Khan Asaf Jah VI (1869-1911), Mir Osman Ali khan ASAF Jah VII (1911-1948) – the seventh and last Nizam of Hyderabad ruled for 37 years. He led a very simple life and yet was one of the richest men in the world.
Tomorrow I shall leave the hotel before 9 am for a WFUNA event.
As I have a packed schedule, I shall fly off to Kolkata tomorrow evening. I will hardly have a time to enjoy this suite or property.
ess bee


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Book release and recitation by Gulzar

April 13, 2016: The week took off with a book release and recitation session with the legendary Gulzar. On Monday evening there was an event hosted by Harper Collins at The Taj Bengal celebrating the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore translated by Gulzar, the launch of - Baghbaan Nindiya Chor - to usher in the Bengali New Year.
After the formal book release, Gulzar sahab recited poetry. He was at his best. It was so nice of him to mention my name while reciting. I missed the special show of Goutam Ghose’s new film Sankhachil starring Prosenjit as it had clashed with Gulzar sahab’s event. I will also miss the premier of this film scheduled on April 14 and 15 then in Delhi on April 16. I will be in Delhi tomorrow and in Hyderabad on April 16.
Gulzar sahab also presented me an autographed copy of his translation. Pt Ajay Chakrabarty, who was presided over the function, very aptly summed it as: “It is not just translation but a new piece of creativity in itself.”
ess bee

Monday, April 11, 2016

Play `Ki Likhi Tomay'

With Debshankar Halder, Srijato and Raya
April 11, 2016: Yesterday was an easy day. On Saturday evening I went to watch the play Ki Likhi Tomay at Kalamandir. The play's script is inspired by A R Gurne’s much talked about book Love Letters rewritten by Srijato. 
With Babul Supriyo and Rachana Banerjee
The two characters involved in the play were Debshankar Halder and Raya Bhattacharya. The play was presented by Kaushik Ganguly and music arrangements were made by Indrajit Dasgupta.
With Srijato
Based on the performance of that single night the play already had several offers at home and abroad.
The reading out of letters by Debshankar and Raya and the way the play has been designed, is a must see for all. 
It is certainly a marvellous addition to the history of Bengal's theatre.
After that event, I hosted a dinner that was attended by a number of key persons from cine world and members from the theatre fraternity.
ess bee

Friday, April 8, 2016

Dinner party and Author's Afternoon with Shatrughan Sinha

With Bharati S Pradhan, Shatrughan Sinha, Rituparna, Pranab Das Gupta and Samrat Datta
With Shatrughan Sinha
April 8, 2016: Yesterday evening there was a dinner party with Shatrughan Sinha to celebrate the success of his biography – Anything But Khamosh - by Bharathi S Pradhan. 
I invited quite a few of my friends. Shatrughan Sinha, a gifted and colourful raconteur as he is, spoke very well. He also embarrassed me to no end by lavishing praises on me over the public address system.
Today afternoon there was An Author’s Afternoon with Shatrughan Sinha and Bharati S Pradhan.
At the Dinner Party
It was a packed house and it got over rather late as Shatrughan Sinha wrote a few lines for each and every guest while giving away signed copies of his biography which is a part of the
Author’s Afternoon format.
With Author Bharati S Pradhan
We just had an Author’s Afternoon on March 30, 2016, with Subroto Bagchi and the next one will be again on April 23 with Manu S Pillai. 
With author Bharati S Pradhan; books being signed by Shatrughan Sinha at the Author's Afternoon
In May and June we have Barkha Dutt and Zac O’Yeah, so maybe we could skip the Author’s Afternoon in July.
ess bee

Thursday, April 7, 2016

A play on Gauhar Jaan's life

April 7, 2016: Yesterday, I went to see the play Gauhar at the Birla Sabhaghar.
With Lillete Dubey, director of Gauhar Jaan
Gauhar or popular as Gauhar Jaan was a real life character – a gifted musician and dancer from Calcutta who was born as Angelina Yeoward in Azamgarh. She was of Armenian descent and her name was changed when her mother, after her divorce, converted to Islam and assumed the name Malka Jaan. 
The mother and daughter duo moved from Banaras in 1883 to the court of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah in Calcutta. She even bought a house in Rabindra Sarani.
Gauhar's was one of the first Indian voice to be recorded in 1902 and commercially circulated in the market. She is remembered for her free-spirited feisty nature.
It was a play in English directed by Lillete Dubey and written by Mahesh Dattani. The play had live singing and the cast included Rajeshwari Sachdev as Gauhar Jaan, Zila Khan, Denzil Smith, Anuj Gurwara, Danny Sura, Gillian Pinto and Pravishi Das.
With Rajeshwari Sachdev and Lillete Dubey
The play is based on the story of Vikram Sampat’s book My Name is Gauhar Jaan. Vikram is well known to me. I missed his presence and also Mahesh Dattani. Mahesh had informed me in Jaipur during the Write Circle that he would not be able to make it to Kolkata. But I did meet the director Lillete Dubey and the lead cast Rajeshwari Sachdev.
It was a packed house and Zila Khan as well as Rajeshwari Sachdev’s acting in the play kept the audience mesmerized. Quite a few people in Jaipur have also mentioned to me about this play wondering if it could be staged in Jaipur as well. Let's wait and see.
ess bee

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Meeting with Lord Paul

File Picture: With Late Hashim Abdul Halim, Harsh Neotia, Usha Utthup, Lord Swraj Paul, Late Prabha Khaitan and H M Bangur
April 6, 2016: I arrived in Kolkata last evening from Delhi. In Delhi, I had few meetings including a sub-committee meeting of the IFUNA.
Yesterday I went to Hotel Leela Palace to meet Lord Swraj Paul. This was first time I met him since the tragic passing away of his young son Angad. Lord Paul mentioned that it was his son who had started business operations in India and it was his wish to double the operations in India as a tribute to his son.
Lord Paul, who is equally popular in Delhi as he is in London, has not accepted any of the lectures or events during this visit.
Today I am scheduled to attend a play.
ess bee

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Peer Ghani, Write Circle and Rajasthan Diwas


With K K Raina and Ila Arun
A
pril 3, 2016: I am in Pink City and the summer heat here is beginning to hurt. I landed on March 30 late night – the day the State of Rajasthan was born and celebrated as Rajasthan Diwas.
On Thursday, March 31, I attended the Write Circle with Mahesh Dattani as the guest author at the ITC Rajputana. The Write Circle event was preceded by a press conference organized by Rajasthan Forum for the upcoming play Peer Ghani. I skipped the press conference but attended Write Circle.
With Mahesh Dattani at the Write Circle
The Peer Ghani play is based on Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen's long dramatic poem "Peer Gynt". This play has been adapted by Ila Arun and directed by K K Raina. Peer Ghani has a cast of 30 members and grand sets.
On April 1 evening I hosted a dinner for the cast and crew of Peer Ghani which included Ila Arun, K K Raina, Rahul Bagga and others. I arranged for Rajasthani cuisine as suggested by Ila Arun. She wanted her cast and crew to have a taste of Rajasthani food.
At the Maharana Pratap Auditorium
On the evening of April 2, the play was held at the Maharana Pratap Auditorium of Vidyashram School. I am thankful to Rajeyswari Kmari Ji daughter of Late Rani Laxmi Bai Chundawat, who first introduced me to Ila Arun and this play. I later decided to get it organized to mark Rajasthan Diwas in Jaipur.
I have always noticed the indifference of the Rajasthan government towards the artistes of the state. This is amply reflected in the government's official gala celebrations of Rajasthan Diwas where not a single big performer from Rajasthan has ever got on to the stage.
The play Peer Ghani was very well appreciated and Rahul Bagga’s acting as the young Peer was fantastic.
Today evening I shall fly out to Delhi.
ess bee