Streets of Gold: Mumbai
There is a family like them on every street, the competitive neighbours who always have to go one better than everyone else.
A posher car, a noisier barbecue party . . . a bigger skyscraper. It’s really irritating.
My heart goes out to Indian billionaire Jimmy Mistry, who probably feels cheated of all satisfaction in his 22-storey home and corporate HQ, Della Tower in Mumbai — based on the mythical splendours of ancient Persia’s palace of Persepolis.
From his penthouse, Jimmy explained in Streets Of Gold: Mumbai (BBC2), he can look down on the roof of the humble family house where he grew up. Unfortunately, he can also see super-rich neighbour Mukesh Ambani’s 27-storey monstrosity, Antilia, built at a rumoured cost of up to £1.5 billion.
With three helipads, parking for the Ambanis’ 168 luxury cars, and a ‘snow room’ where real snowflakes swirl, Antilia looks worryingly like a tower of Jenga blocks about to topple. It is home to just five people . . . and their 600 live-in staff.
CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: Streets of Gold: Mumbai is a three-part series, which reveals what life is like for the residents of India’s boomtown
CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: Silent Witness is a crime drama produced by the BBC
Locals living in the tower’s shadow were guardedly diplomatic, insisting that the billionaire family were all awfully nice. Apparently, one of them even waves occasionally. Well, it’s important to get along with the neighbours.
This three-part series, which reveals what life is like for the residents of India’s boomtown, is also careful to give no hint of offence. The cameras follow various tycoons, self-proclaimed celebrities among Mumbai’s one-percenters, touring their mansions and hanging out at their PR events.
Fashion designers Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla showed off their art collection. Their treasures were bought in bulk and crammed onto every inch of wall and shelf, the way doting grandparents display their grandchildren’s finger-paintings.
Novelist Shobhaa De, billed as ‘the Jackie Collins of India’, allowed us to see her being feted at a book launch for her memoir, Insatiable. By the time we arrived at Abu and Sandeep’s latest catwalk show, this documentary was starting to resemble a corporate video.
There was no hint of any darkness behind the sheen and glitter, and definitely no awkward questions. Director Philip McCreery met mogul Gautam Singhania, whose own skyscraper, JK House, at 36 storeys is even taller than Antilia.
CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: The episode was lifted by star turns from John Hannah as a retired pathologist and murder suspect, and Josette Simon as a detective trying to solve a case that has haunted her for 20 years, as every TV copper facing retirement always does
Much was made of his business acumen, but not a word was mentioned of his divorce from fitness coach Nawaz Modi, who is believed to be demanding 75 per cent of his fortune.
Instead, the focus on trivia was relentless. Jimmy Mistry, in his Persian palace that by now began to seem barely more than a bungalow, was complaining of a bad back. He called in an ‘astro architect’, Neeta Sinha, whose job title implies she could build him a skyscraper that touches the stars.
Sadly, she was just an astrologer with a penchant for interior design, who recommended trailing plants (to channel ‘bad energy’ down to lower floors) and yellow fabric (to cheer the place up).
Emilia Fox, as Dr Nikki Alexander in Silent Witness (BBC1), was on the trail of a serial killer with decidedly gothic tastes in interior design: trees festooned with dead crows, corpses posed with candles at church altars, that kind of thing.
The episode was lifted by star turns from John Hannah as a retired pathologist and murder suspect, and Josette Simon as a detective trying to solve a case that has haunted her for 20 years, as every TV copper facing retirement always does.
For Dr Nikki and her colleague Jack (David Caves), this was an unwelcome distraction from their soupy love-in. They begin each day at the morgue by holding hands and gazing into each other’s eyes with gooey smiles.
This is so mawkish, you could almost envy the bodies on the slab. At least they’re oblivious to it.