“Why are you launching Scandal Point, a Bollywood centric book in Delhi?” asked a number of friends when they heard I was planning to have a launch party for my debut novel in the national capital rather than Mumbai.
“Because Delhi is Bollywood obsessed,” I explained. “And because Delhi high society features prominently in my book.”
“Aha! So, it’s a tactical manoeuvre. Very shrewd!” said an astute ad man.
I tried to explain that there was nothing Machiavellian about wanting to kick off the promotions of Scandal Point in Delhi. My publishers, Harper Collins were based there and could easily make all the arrangements. Besides, my wife and I had several friends from the world of fashion, media and art in Delhi and could count on their support on what would be a ritzy launch party at The Park hotel.
‘Join us for an evening of Dirty Martinis and Scotched Rumours’ said the invite that went out to a 150 of Delhi’s most beautiful people. The event was scheduled for a Tuesday and we figured our friends and well-wishers would attend regardless of what day of the week it was.
The stage was thus set for an effervescent evening:
The uber chic and super bright Nonita Kalra was going to introduce me to the audience.
The bestselling author and screenwriter Advaita Kala would interview me on stage.
And then fashion czar, Tarun Tahiliani was going to surprise the invitees by reading out a wicked excerpt from Scandal Point about the “chic savages” of Delhi, Mumbai and London.
Everything was in place and I looked forward to wowing Delhi with my book.
Then, the shit hit the fan.
On Monday evening, less than 24 hours before the event, I received a message that Advaita Kala had had bereavement in the family and couldn’t make it. Five minutes later, a profusely apologetic Nonita one of my dearest friends, called to say her uncle was in ICU and so she would have to bow out. Then, as I was still reeling from the news, Tarun called to say that his aged father had broken his hip and so he too had to cancel.
Bewildered by this blaze of bad news, I was informed by my good buddy, Sujata Assomull, ex-editor of Harper’s Bazaar, that Kalyani Chawla of Christian Dior and the designers Abraham and Thakore were both having high profile soirees on the same day as my launch.
“Three parties on a Tuesday? In Delhi??” I was gobsmacked. Apart from being the nation’s capital, Delhi has become the Fashion and Culinary capital of India. With a sinking heart I realised that Delhi had now wrested the mantle of Party capital from Mumbai and is THE happening, heaving metropolis of the country.
Rather than being disheartened, my publishers and I swung into damage control mode. Scrolling down her Blackberry, the unflappable VK Karthika, publishing maven at Harper Collins started making suggestions as to how we could salvage the situation.
Its in times of crisis that you realise who your real friends are. I decided to call on old pal Dilip Cherian, head of Perfect Relations and one the wisest, most respected media professionals in the country.
Despite his hectic commitments in the corridors of power, Dilip was there in ten minutes and graciously offered to bail us out by conducting a chat with me on stage. Close buddy, Ravina Raj Kohli regaled guests by reading out a rather provocative passage that dissed the Delhi ladies who lunch. And my wife, Simone Singh sportingly dramatised a Bollywood-centric excerpt, enacting four different characters that had everyone in splits.
Despite all the drama of the previous day, the Delhi launch party was a triumph. We had a packed house and sold a record number of copies of Scandal Point.
Invitees, who had arrived at the dot of 7.30 pm, tottered home well past midnight, nicely buzzed on the heady cocktails that Diageo Premium had so kindly provided that evening.
Greatly relieved and grateful to all my friends, I went to bed exhausted but elated.
I woke up the next morning with a fuzzy head and the realisation that I now had to repeat this feat in Mumbai. Then Bangalore, Chandigarh, Pune…
Writing a book is relatively easy. Selling it is the hard part.