Our Very Own Rico Suave

Many thanks to mediabistro and tiffinbox for linking the yesterday's Kaavya Viswanathan post to their sites. My readers will be satisfied to know that, despite urging from some quarters, I do not intend to see my ridiculous connection to a teenage plagiarist to the logical pr conclusion: that is, mention from gawker.com, article in trendy 'zine, artful pose in fashion magazine, book deal, high-profile boyfriend, Page Six mention, major network tv appearance, catfight, diva attitude, lawsuit, reality show, talk show, hell. Unless, of course, Kaavya starts doing any more of that shit, in which case we'll have to just throw down. She may be rich and overachieving but I'm older and ornery and I fight dirty.

Meanwhile, does anyone else feel that we are just not paying enough attention to Vikram Chatwal. Who is he, you ask? This 30-something Sikh billionaire graduated from Wharton and is ostensibly an executive in his father's empire and some sort of creative consultant (don't ask celebrity photographer Dave LaChappelle about it), but what he's mostly known as is the "turban cowboy," known for partying with Gisele and Leo (he has a "G" on his arm), crisscrossing through every velvet rope between here and Kolkata and Mumbai, but not Chennai, baby, that's a little too lower east side for him. This character has been nightclubbing his way into my party-going unconsciousness; he travels in a pack, usually all indian guys, and is supposed to be the messiah of the new Cool Indian American Party Animal. Think Paris Hilton with facial hair and a turban. And a shirt open to the hairy navel.

Well, I say, let's keep him around. Wherever he goes, unintentional comedy ensues. For example, I urge you to check out the hilarious New York magazine article about his wedding. (Yes, it happened over a month ago, but what do you want from me? I've been in a publishing-induced coma). It's hard to point out the particularly fine moments of mirth--Vikram's Svengali father pushing a "nice" Indian socialite (with flat abs, natch) at his still-partying son, or a reference to the aimless Dustin Hoffman, lost in his own rites of passage, in The Graduate. The wedding apparently out Bollywood's Bollywood, which means there wasn't an elephant or dance choreographer in all of India that wasn't involved in the preparations. So all of you who get your jollies reading about exotic Indian marathon--er, weddings--will like that as well.

I was hooked up for a "job" for Vikram Chatwal back in 1996--to do a "treatment" for a movie about a Sikh hero. I use quotes because that's what he told me--even though he had no idea what those words meant. What the turban cowboy wanted from me was a full screenplay, for under a thousand dollars. I delivered a treatment, as promised.

Six months of phone calls later, he still hadn't paid me. So, naturally, not knowing his father's supernatural powers or Vikram's own innate star quality, I fired up my relic fax machine and faxed his father a letter threatening to sue. As my attorney, I put Nolan Ryan. I had meant to put Nolan Jackson, my father's boss, but for some reason, no one at Chatwal HQ seemed to recognize the famous baseball pitcher's name. Apparently he wasn't going to the right clubs.

This resulted in a phone call from Vikram in ten minutes. After much legal threatening both ways, I realized that the idiot truly expected me to write a full screenplay around the legend of Guru Gobind Singh (a screenplay-for-hire, with battle scenes, is rarely under $20,000. Rarely) and, instead of dealing with it, just hoped I'd go away. But the man clearly knew that hell hath no fury like some impoverished Indian girl, so he finally relented, saying that a driver would come over with a payment within the week. But he didn't. I called. Vikram blamed the driver. I gave him my address again, and waited. Nothing. I arranged to pick it up at one of the many glorious Chatwal restaurants. No check.

About two weeks after that phone call, I walked over to the lobby of some hotel and got my check. Apparently, all the FOB drivers (his term, not mine) were getting lost on the way to the West Village. The check was made out from a checking account by the name of Sant Chatwal. His dad.

I was angry then, but I'm elated to have him around now. Now Indians can celebrate their very own celebutante, watching him party around and try to be taken seriously as an entrepreneur and artist while his wife pursues her "acting" career, decorates the houses, pops the kids (keep those abs, honey!) and pretends not to notice. My verdict of the guy? I found him boring. Couldn't finish a sentence. None of that "deep spiritual calm" that Deepak Chopra claimed was in his soul. Maybe hungover, but still, no excuse.

But the restaurant served a mean salmon, and the Dream Hotel has a great bar. And Vikram? I predict big things for him. I predict...coverage in non-New York publications. Coverage in non-Indian publications. Coverage in national media...perhaps, dare we say it, US Weekly? In Touch? People? Maybe...now I'm just grasping here...a reality show? Other than MTV Cribs??

One can only hope. I rejoice in the stupidity of all people, but I celebrate it most when it comes in the form of a flashy, cheap Sikh guy who tried to stiff me.