Film-maker Fahad Samar’s inside take on socialite sentiments 6 weeks after 26/11.
The palpable outrage that most South Bombay socialites felt after the terror attacks in November last year resulted in some serious soul searching, politician bashing, sms messaging, Facebook emailing, group marching and candle burning. After all this was not just another attack on Mumbai but an assault on two sacred social citadels -the Taj and Oberoi hotels which almost all socialites worth their Birkins immediately claimed as their “second home” in heartfelt columns and media interviews.
In the aftermath of the attacks, as Mumbai mourned and all celebrations were cancelled, it seemed that the party pages would be temporarily bereft of social events and scantily clad celebrities to feature. But our intrepid and ever resourceful socialites rose admirably to the occasion and vied with one another to organize protest marches and candlelight vigils at the Taj whilst graciously allowing unglamorous, proletarian activists like Teesta Setalvad the opportunity to express solidarity with those who perished at CST. And thus, overnight, we witnessed the birth of the Socialite Activist -a carefully coiffured creature with a bleeding heart created solely for the benefit of Page 3. Beauties with a purpose, as it were.
These noble fashionistas mobilized all their media contacts and milked the moment with consummate flair- all dressed in creaseless white shirts, designer jeans and oversized goggles. They came to shed a tear, light a candle and nostalgically wax eloquent about the Camembert soufflé at the Zodiac and the Black Cod Miso at Wasabi.
The cynics wondered how long it would be before the South Bombay glitterati abandoned these aforementioned protest activities and reverted to doing what they actually did best- Socialising. A full six weeks after the attacks, it seems that the anger has altogether abated and it’s back to business as usual on the party circuit.
It began slowly but surely as these divas started tentatively foraying to art openings and cultural events. Gradually, discreet sorties were undertaken to weddings and parties at friend’s homes and then when it seemed it was okay to be seen in public, the beautiful people began frequenting Indigo and Olive, although never in large groups. They secretly cursed Alyque Padamsee whilst publicly applauding his decision to cancel his annual Xmas eve party. So tedious to find another media covered event at such short notice, nah? And since seen celebrating New Year in Mumbai would be considered in extremely poor taste the jet set slipped out of the city and headed to Goa where they repeatedly raised toasts to the spirit of Mumbai.
They were however sorely betrayed by their patron saint, the King of Good Times, who had decided to cancel his annual New Year bash at Kingfisher Villa. Scores of South Bombay beauties suddenly found they had no high profile event to attend on New Years Eve and therefore decided to publicly proclaim that they were in no mood to celebrate this year. The activist spark in the shrewd socialite was suddenly rekindled. Having returned to Mumbai in January and found that the Taj and Oberoi had reopened for business, the Socialite Activists had every reason to celebrate-they could now frolic with impunity whilst pretending to make a statement of solidarity.
Partying was never such sweet sorrow.