I don’t use the word ‘hero’ lightly, and when I say Sushmita Sen is my hero, I say it with pride. She is the poster girl for today’s thinking, achieving woman. The vows she made when competing for the Miss Universe crown were not empty words but real commitments from her heart when she was only eighteen years old. Promises which she stands by even today every step of the way. To adopt two young girls is not easy, and more so as a single mother. Hers is a beautiful committed statement for the girl child, a lifelong pledge toward the upbringing, education, care and devotion toward gorgeous daughters Alisah and Renee, whom she adopted, and panders to their every command with that typical indulgent sparkle in her eye (if she is not trying to discipline them).
She stands apart as someone who has lived, blazing a trail of her own, not pretentiously cutting ribbons for NGOs but actually getting her hands into the job and doing her bit quietly for the girl child.
And so for me the most delightful part of the Debutante Ball theme dinner that I hosted with Zoya, the exquisite diamond boutique, from the House of Tata, for the unveiling of its stunning new collection Jewels of the Crown was when Sushmita Sen came all the way from the suburbs to spend some time with me. No nakhras, no flimflam, just so from the heart, uncomplicated, warm and loving. Just to be with me, without preamble or pretention, without any special requests or demands. Just so like a beautiful light that shines through Bombays’ noise. Most often you find, the less successful the person, the more the artifice. And the more the success – the more self assured, real and uncomplicated the approach of a person.
The evening saw Mumbai’s beautiful set delighting in the royal banquet that had royalty and aristocracy fly down specially for the evening. I had ensured a mixed group of friends to create an evening with that edginess and interest in conversation and to set the tone for a spectacular evening in Bombay’s social calendar. Corporates, artists, politicians and the smart set enjoyed the show and the auction.
Super models Parvathy Oomnakuttan, Shamita Singha along with Pia Trivedi, Miss India Vanya Mishra, Navneet Kaur Dhillon, Zoya Afroz and Shobhita Dhullipala, sashayed through the ‘royal banquet’ dressed in ball gowns to the theme of the Debutante’s Ball wearing jewellery from Zoya’s newest collection Jewels of the Crown, a collection that narrates the yet untold tales of aristocracy and centuries of royal decadence and couture gowns in a show directed by the master artist and dear friend Marc Robinson.
Shekhar, Alka Suman and Adhyayan Suman hung together, Arjan Bajwa and Dalip Tahil mingled with the royalty and corporate leaders like Anu Aga, Nadir and Rati Godrej, Niraj Bajaj, Surendra and Alka Hiranandani, Parvez and Roshni Damania. Meera Mahadevia, Geetu Hinduja, Schauna Chauhan, Chetan and Laveena Hansraj, Monica Vazaralli, Rashmi Uday Singh, Deepa Harrris and Gaurav Pokhrial of the Taj enjoyed the multi cuisine banquet. Theatre personalities Sabira Merchant, Raell Padamse, Dolly Thakore, Penaz Masani were seen talking to artists like Arzhan Khambatta, Khushmuma Khambatta and Samar Jodha. Police Comissioner Vishwas Nagre Patil and Krishna Prakash also enjoyed the evening. Sushmita had everyone charmed, and no I’m not being partial (and if I am you’ll forgive me ‘cos you feel the same!)
Compeering the show in a very fabulous but heavy bejeweled ball gown and traipsing down to meet guests in between stage breaks was quite a feat, and made me nearly miss my cue once, but I must admit the audiences seemed to be having a blast. This was also the second charity auction I was conducting in my career, between the princesses ramp walk which had models also dressed as princesses in ball gowns walking the ramp with an LED lit background of a Royal Palaces, creating that special magical mood where the Crystal room and Ball room of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel with its gold walls and crystal antique Osler chandeliers looked even more like a grand palace in Russia at a Regal majestic ball.
Royalty had flown in from all over the country to attend the event. Zoya, TATA’s exquisite diamond boutique, added a philanthropic touch to the evening with an auction of six exquisite pieces of jewellery with profits from each going to charities Teach for India and Tata Medical Centre.
The evening commenced with Padmashree Anu Aga and Maharaja Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar, Maharaja of Udaipur, coming onto stage to speak about Anu’s initiative Teach For India. Her Highness Radhika Raje Gaekwad– the very gorgeous Maharani of Baroda, Princess Krishna Kumari Panna, Princess Arpana Kumari Samod who touched the hearts of the audiences when she spoke so warmly about her own experiences, surviving cancer and coming out triumphant, Princess Jailakshmi of Wadhwan and Princess Bhargavee Kumari of Udiapur- all came onto stage to motivate and inspire Bombay to open its purse strings for the good cause of education for children with Teach For India and Tata Medical Centre for Cancer cure.
Gallery by Yogen Shah for MissMalini.com