<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Twas a year for scandal, with fatal acts of passion, messy divorces, public spats and corporate soap-operas. All of India’s well-known faces decided to rumble with each other. And we had front row seats to the biggest shows of the year…Twist of the yearDecember 2016 threw in a twist in the Sheena Bora case: that her step-father, media baron Peter Mukerjea was allegedly a co-conspirator in her abduction and subsequent murder.The Sheena Bora murder case broke in August 2015, when her mother Indrani Mukerjea, stepfather Sanjeev Khanna and Mukerjea’s driver Shyamvar Pinturam Rai were arrested by the Mumbai Police for allegedly abducting and killing her and subsequently burning and dumping her corpse; and the case got murkier over the course of 2016.Mukerjea, whose son Rahul’s engagement to Sheena was supposed to have enraged Indrani, was assumed to be an innocent bystander. But public prosecutor Bharat Badami said Mukerjea played a “very crucial role” in the murder. He presented the long list of emails and messages exchanged within the family, especially between Peter and his son Rahul, and his calls to Indrani. Badami pointed out a pattern in the calls and messages between Indrani and Peter. “After a call to Sheena, Indrani immediately called Peter and they spoke. They spoke even when she reached and found a spot to dispose of the body. Similarly, she had exchanged messages at every step with Peter,” Badami told the court.A few months in prison seems to have served as a spiritual and personality cleanse. While Peter has already started penning his memoir, Indrani has been transformed by the suffering of her fellow inmates, and has plans to donate her organs and 75 per cent of her property. She has also said to have translated 700 shlokas from the Gita, while we hope for a good kiss-and-tell bestseller.Creative divorcesAshima and LeenaIn February, designer duo Ashima (above left) and Leena (above right), who wove magic for over 20 years for their eponymous label ‘Ashima Leena’, decided to part ways. While Ashima Singh was the creative force, Leena Singh handled the brand’s business and management of production cycle. However, the ladies managed the creative divorce with the elegance one associates with their clothes. Leena Singh retains and continues to work under the brand name ‘Ashima Leena’, while Ashima launched her own label, Ashima Singh. She chose a different retail route, to make sure her new label did not clash with her old one, launching her store at Visaya Hotel in Panchsheel Park in Delhi.Armaan-AimanIn March, another designer duo’s creative partnership hit the rocks. Fresh flavour of the indie-crowd, designers Armaan Randhawa (below left) and Aiman Agha (below right), who designed under Armaan Aiman, went kaput. The duo had only been together for barely three years, showing first at GenNext at Lakmé Fashion Week (Winter/Festive) in 2013. They soon gained entry into the cool and quirky crowd, and announced their split the millennial way—through social media.On March 1, their Facebook page announced that the label was now simply called ‘Aiman.’ Agha refused to comment on her departure, while Randhawa said the reasons were personal and they remain good friends. When Lakme Fashion Week came around in August, Randhawa was back with his solo collection, EKAM.Art arrestIn 2015, artist Chintan Upadhyay was arrested for murdering his estranged wife and her lawyer Haresh Bhambhani. He allegedly even dumped their bodies in a Kandivli drain. Understandably, the art world dropped a few fine brushes over the news.The arrest only enhanced the price of Chintan’s work outside prison. In May, one of Hema’s friends, Sanchu Menon, wrote to prison authorities questioning why Chintan was getting unwarranted privileges in jail. Apparently, not only was the artist getting home-cooked khana, he was also allowed to paint in his cell and then sell those paintings for a handsome sum outside. Menon alleged that not only was this illegal, but Chintan was using this money to help the main accused Vidyadhar Rajbhar to stay in hiding.It was in Rajbhar’s art workshop that Hema and Bhambhani were allgedly murdered on December 11, 2015, and Vidyadhar, aka Gotu, remains an essential link in the case. It was reported in June 2016 that Rajbhar was working in a Chennai suburb.In August 2016, a 13-page confession was made before a magistrate by Pradeep Rajbhar, who used to work and live at the art workshop, Bansraj Art Company, where Hema and Harish were allegedly murdered. In his confession, Pradeep said he lured Hema at Chintan’s behest to the workshop with the promise of giving her a sex tape of Chintan with another woman. It was all allegedly part of a ruse to finish her off for filing a false complaint against him in court. In November, a sessions court in Dindoshi rejected Chintan’s second bail application.End of an affairFarhan Akhtar and Adhuna BhabaniMore than a little faith was shaken when Farhan Akhtar and Adhuna Bhabani parted ways after 16 years together. There were whispers that his co-star Aditi Rao Hydari’s presence could have caused a crack in the marriage as they grew close on the sets of Wazir.Their cool and unconventional marriage (Adhuna was older and more successful of the duo, and always maintained a non-star-wife identity) was surpassed only by the camaraderie with which they conducted their divorce.They filed for divorce on October 19, and both are attending the mandatory counselling sessions before it is finalised. There has been no mudslinging, allegation of affairs or fighting over their children (they have two girls together).They’ve concentrated on their careers. Adhuna’s B:Blunt launched a line of hair products and a funky ad promoting them using only bloggers; while Farhan starred in Wazir, Dil Dhadakne Do and Rock On 2.Farhan is also said to have moved on with Rock On co-actor (co-stars seems to be his dating pool. How’s that for minimal effort?) Shraddha Kapoor, with her allegedly moving into his bachelor pad in Bandra (until papa Shakti Kapoor apparently pulled her out and told her to take it slow).Though Adhuna still works on movie assignments, there seems to be an unwritten agreement that neither she nor anyone from her team will style Farhan for a while. In October, she apparently refused to style Farhan for a chat show after spotting his name on the guest list and requested that none from her team be asked to do so either.Jaidev Shroff and Poonam BhagatA couple that is not being elegant over the end of their association is art patron Poonam Bhagat (left) and industrialist husband Jaidev Shroff (inset). The two have hurled serious, criminal and even fantastical allegations at each other each other as they speed towards divorce.Shroff met Bhagat in 2000, when he was in the midst of divorce proceedings with first wife Romila, because of her alleged involvement with a Dubai-based businessman.The Shroff-Bhagat union was solemnised in 2005 and in October 2015, Shroff filed for divorce on grounds of “cruelty” towards him and his two daughters with Romila.In April, 2016, Shroff filed an FIR at Khar police station alleging that Bhagat performed black magic on him by administering a ‘magic potion’ in a glass of orange juice, allegedly obtained from a Bengali baba.In her application, Bhagat accused Shroff of domestic abuse for eleven years. She said he started hitting her within six months of their marriage and “giving her a black eye, and (breaking) her tooth by stuffing a mobile phone down her throat.” In 2008, Bhagat — then, pregnant — said she confronted Shroff about taking a former girlfriend to a family event.Bhagat says Shroff then slapped, pushed her to the ground and kicked her, which resulted in a miscarriage.If we were handing out an award for the messiest divorce of 2016, the Bhagat-Shroff saga would win hands down.Arbaaz-Malaika AroraThe Malaika Arora-Arbaaz Khan (impending) divorce has gained traction as the year ends. It served as a classic case of ‘are they-aren’t they’? Hints of the divorce started doing the rounds after Malaika dropped ‘Khan’ from her name at a dance reality show. Then they were spotted at the Bandra family court with their lawyers.Slowly, we heard of Malaika moving out of the house with son Arhaan and Salman trying to play ‘fixer’. But apparently bhai wasn’t able to forge a reunion, because they don’t share a close bond. Salman allegedly did not approve of her work, her clothes and her close circle of friends.The reasons for their split are supposedly more material than emotional. Sources say Malaika was not happy with Arbaaz’s unsuccessful career and did not like the fact that her husband “lived in the shadow of his superstar brother”. She is also said to have always felt like an outsider in the Khan family.Why do we feel this celebrity divorce may continue to make headlines in 2017?Best story spinnerIf Priyanka Chopra sneezed on the sets of Baywatch, we’d hear about it. The PR machinery for our export to Hollywood worked itself to exhaustion this year. When she had dinner with Gerard Butler, we heard they were dating. When she presented an award with actor Tom Hiddleston (above), she was said to have helped him get over his break-up with Taylor Swift. We hear Priyanka’s press agent has unrealistic expectations of her team, demanding a story about the star in the media every day. So don’t expect PeeCee, and her team, to slow down in 2017.Meltdown of the yearVikram Chatwal, a New York hotelier, came back on our gossip radar after he was accused of setting two dogs on fire outside his Manhattan home. Forty-four-year-old Chatwal, whose family owns a chain of hotels, has had a long turbulent history with drug abuse. He was admitted to rehab at Masina Hospital in Mumbai in 2009. In October 2016, Chatwal allegedly rushed out of his New York home to the street and attacked the two pups belonging to a passer-by saying, “They must die!” He then tried to set them on fire using a lighter and aerosol can.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian-American hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal on Monday organised a special prayer service in New York seeking blessings for the victory of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on the eve crucial elections. Head Sikh priests from the New York area assembled at his luxurious penthouse apartment in Manhattan early on Monday morning and conducted traditional Sikh prayers.Joined by his wife Daman Chatwal and prominent New Yorkers, Chatwal, who is Chairman of the group Indian-Americans for Democrats and Friends of Hillary for President, led the prayer service. The priests chanted hymns and offered prayers in front of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs.Invoking the Almighty, the priests in their prayers said that Clinton is a good friend of the Indian-American community and hoped for victory for her in the elections tomorrow that has her in a tight race with Donald Trump. Chatwal said the prayer service aims to garner blessings for Clinton, who will be the deserving leader of America and is a special friend of the Indian-American community.”Whenever we start something good, we take the blessings of the Almighty. Now 24 hours before the election, we organised the prayer for her so that tomorrow she is assured a sure-shot victory,” he said. He said Clinton is a friend of the Indian-Americans, stressing that she is the leader who will grow the economy further and boost jobs.”She will create more employment, more business opportunities for Americans and will offer durable solutions to tackle problems facing the nation,” he said.Noting that America is a land of immigrants, Chatwal said Clinton will bring in strong policies to deal with the issue of immigration.”We did Ardaas for Clinton’s success. We want that that candidate should win who will be the voice of the Sikh community and will work for the betterment of the American people and humanity. We also pray that she creates history and becomes the first woman President of the US,” said Das Gyani Bhupinder Singh, Head Granthi Gurudwara Sikh Cultural Society New York.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian-American hotelier Vikram Chatwal has been charged with criminal mischief for allegedly trying to light two dogs on fire, an allegation his lawyer has denied.Chatwal, 44, had turned himself to the police early on Tuesday morning and has been charged with criminal mischief, torture and injure animal, reckless endangerment and arson.The charges stem from an October 7 incident in which Chatwal allegedly got into an argument with a woman walking the dogs outside his home in the city. Chatwal, accused of allegedly pulling out a lighter and aerosol can to hurt the two dogs, pleaded not guilty to the charges during his appearance in a Manhattan court on Tuesday. Chatwal’s bail was set at $50,000 and the next hearing in the case is set for December 8.His attorney Arthur Aidala told PTI that Chatwal denies all the charges and “proclaims his innocence”. He said he is a non-violent person who would never injure an animal or human being. “His personality and disposition in his 44 years is not of somebody who would injure another animal or another human being,” Aidala said. He informed the judge that Chatwal’s “personality and disposition is that of a calm, peaceful and non-violent person” as Chatwal himself owns many dogs and even takes care of a horse.”He is known as being an animal lover. We vehemently disagrees with the set of facts that the prosecutor put forth in court,” Aidala said. Aidala said he also informed the judge that the dogs in this case were not hurt and were not even taken to the veterinarian until days after the alleged incident occurred.He said even the case the prosecutor puts forth says that some of the hair on the dogs’ back was burnt but none of the dogs were burned and neither did they suffer. It was among Chatwals’ priority to make sure that the dogs in question were unharmed and were well-treated and cared for, Aidala said. “The big takeaway from this is that the dogs were never hurt, that was very important to Vikram and his whole family to make sure no one is accusing him of actually hurting the dogs. Even the prosecutor said the dogs were never hurt.”What flies in the face of the charges is that Chatwal is just not the kind of person who is going to attack anybody, let alone the dogs walking down the street,” he said. Aidala said he would meet with the prosecutors in the coming months and explain to them what really happened. “We will try to work out some sort of disposition regarding case,” he added.