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December 17, 2011

Sinatra Classics And Galouti Kebabs

Text by Farah Palia. Photographs by Ayesha Broacha

Flamboyant hostess and designer Divya Mohta invites select guests to her well-appointed home to celebrate the birth of her label Tambourine. Farah Palia takes in the priceless paintings and silverware while dining with the swish set

A balmy  night, the wafting fragrance of gladioli in the air and warm golden lights framing the setting of fashion designer Divya Mohta’s festive celebration at her regal residence.

Divya’s warm and inviting home is nestled amongst the clouds in one of the city’s most recognisable and prominent addresses. Her apartment overlooks lush green trees below and an endless ebony sky alight with twinkling stars. Amidst the bustling chaos that is Mumbai city, her residence is an oasis of beauty and calm.

The joyous and comfortable atmosphere envelops guests as they wander past numerous family portraits juxtaposed amongst priceless pieces of art and antiques. The grand abode is awash with lush carpets, glowing lamps, priceless M F Husain and Anjolie Ela Menon artifacts and strewn lily petals. The apartment bears testament to Divya’s own personal flair, her affinity for masterpieces and the love and care invested by her in creating a precious haven for her guests and herself. Every nook and cranny is a reflection of her playful sense of fun and style.

Erstwhile hostess Divya’s eclectic and glamorous group of guests includes early arrivals, the dapper Rajan Vahi with wife Sunaina, gracious couple Parthiv and Amrita Kilachand and the elegant bi-coastal couple Hari and Tulsi Chellaram. The jovial Anish Trivedi accompanied by his charming wife Vineeta and the effervescent Anu Bose arrive soon after. Fashionista Sangita Kathiwada, dynamic Ashwin Deo and wife Tina follow along with Simone Singh and husband Fahad Samar. Dr Farhad Taraporevala, Avantika Akerkar, Reshma Merchant, Vasu Ariya and Rahul Guha complete the circle of friends as the festivities begin. Sparkling champagne and amber hued wine flow freely whilst the strains of Sinatra’s classics drift through the room and conversations flow easily.

Sangita, the doyenne of India’s premier fashion store Mélange and keen promoter of Indian handicrafts was resplendent in a chic ensemble from the store itself and chatted the night away with Vineeta who wore the traditional Parsi ghara simply accessorised with a row of glorious pearls, with aplomb. Her author-cum-media personality husband, Anish who chose to don an ethnic Indian ensemble, the classic kurta pajama for the evening, shortly joined the duo for much of their exchange. Talk revolved around Sangita’s latest endeavour to launch the world class Kathiwada spa at her heritage property in Kathiwada, Madhya Pradesh and Anish’s work on converting his recent novel release Call Me Dan into a screenplay as well as his current plans for his second novel.

Divyas’s friend of over 20 years and Mumbai’s leading consultant orthopaedic surgeon and joint replacement specialist Farhad was engrossed in a conversation with Vasu, the CEO of a design and construction company Travtus and music company Kosmik Music’s head honcho Rahul about Vasu’s latest project at Pune for an International Business School and Rahul’s enjoyable foray into acting in the highly successful Love Break Up Zindagi.

Ashwin, the founder and managing director of Trinity Vintners Pvt Ltd that successfully launched Turning Point wines earlier in the year, spent time deep in conversation with Simone and Fahad. The talented couple and powerhouse entrepreneur exchanged notes on Turning Point’s Shiraz Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc’s growing popularity and Fahad’s upcoming debut novel, Scandal Point. The pioneer satellite television producer of numerous films and commercials credited his model wife for her constant and staunch support. Ashwin’s wife Tina as well as Anu, Reshma and Avantika, presently joined the group. The discussion turned animated as they discussed their joint admiration for Anu’s trusteeship at her brother Rahul Bose’s NGO foundation that continues to sponsor education for underprivileged children from the Andamans and the Kashmir Valley at the Rishi Valley and Sahyadri schools respectively. Anu expanded on how her plate was deliciously full between her role as a mother to her 14-year-old daughter, her philanthropic activities and her latest decision to launch her pet project, dance studio One Eight Nine that would focus on Latin American dance primarily. Reshma, talented music director Sulaiman Merchant’s wife was overheard missing her husband as he was busy travelling for successfully sold out shows across the globe and how her top priority was caring for her infant daughter with whom she is completely besotted since her birth. As a special treat for those present she played unreleased and exclusive musical cuts from his upcoming movies. Actress extraordinaire, who has worked with Oscar winners Jane Fonda and Marissa Tomei, Avantika is also the chief executive of Prana Worldwide a global consultancy specialising in improving, enhancing and transforming individual and corporate communication styles. She regaled her audience with anecdotes from her experiences working on the much-anticipated release, Rockstar.

Hailing from the prominent Kishinchand Chellaram family, Hari along with his wife Tulsi, an avid supporter of the Igatpuri ashram, lounged in a comfortable enclave of the living space between Tanjores and a miniature Ram Kumar collection for a relaxed chat about their time spent in Hong Kong with avid travellers deGustibus’ Rajan and his pediatrician wife Sunaina. The former Etonian and founder of Sun Tan Trading Company, Parthiv with wife Amrita entered the mix and an exchange on Parthiv’s work with Mumbai Angels and at the Young Presidents Organisation ensued.

Whilst the scrumptious galouti kabab, murgh malai and mutton boti kabab hors d’oeuvres made the rounds, eyes lingered upon the graceful designs worn by the hostess and Amrita, from Divya’s novel and newly-launched Tambourine label. Divya wore a striking print sharara with a draped one-shoulder top whilst the svelte Amrita had on a skimming floor-length kali printed kurta – both silhouettes were modern with a Boho-chic vibe. The creations, which consist of exclusive prints and innovative colour combinations, were distinctively brought together in Divya’s own signature style. More examples of her global and classic style aesthetic can be seen in her latest collection titled The Peacock Garden, that is inspired by ikat, chintz and leheria traditions. Divya beautifully highlighted the essence of her collection, which was to pay rich tribute to India’s cultural heritage and unique traditions. What is unique about Divya’s Tambourine label is that the prints have a versatile range of applications, be it in the area of home furnishings such as cushions, quilts, wall paper or rugs and on a variety of materials such as plastic, wood or textiles. This was amply in evidence in her dining area, which was decorated in exquisite hues of Tambourine prints on chanderi fabric with gold borders that added dazzle to the surroundings.

The convivial atmosphere soon encouraged guests to give in to the beats of the salsa music. The lavish menu had Divya’s splendid dining table groaning underneath custom made silver dishes from Kolkata laden with aromatic mutton nihari, tender chicken Luckhnowi and succulent pahadi prawns. The hearty dum biryani proved a runaway favourite along with the maa ki dal. Soon everyone was tucking into the delicious paneer dadami and flavorsome diwani handi. Artfully decorated bowls of decadent phirni were the pièce de résistance of the fulsome meal.

As late night turned into early dawn and the inky colours of the sky gave way to the molten rays of the sun, the revelry finally drew to a close and every guest left with tokens of unforgettable memories.

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