The art of appreciating luxury

New Show

For a ‘serious’ journalist and columnist, Vir Sanghvi has an almost unapologetic view of all the good things in life. “I really don’t care. If you do things because of how you want others to see you then you never do the things you want to do,” he says  candidly. Since he began his TV career with the staid Doordarshan way back in 1994, we’ve seen him put politicians, industrial czars and other sundry celebrities on the hot seat. But as the private channels mushroomed, and India got hooked on to the pleasures of food, fun and fashion, Sanghvi took us to the dinning halls of erstwhile maharajas sampling their century-old recipes and sipping vintage wine. 

With NDTV Good Times’ new show Custom Made for Vir Sanghvi on air every Sunday at 10 pm, you can now catch Sanghvi indulge in the kind of luxury that can only be custom made here in India. He begins, but of course, with the royal experiences in Rajasthan, the foothills of the Himalayas to the beaches of Chennai, backwaters of Kerala and the lush forests of Karnataka.

In his journeys, he gets himself made to order luggage, ‘ittar’, shoes and candles; personalised service of a soothsayer who knows all about his past life and even foretells his future! And what better for a self-confessed foodie, Sanghvi gets himself custom made desserts and a tea blend just for him. Excerpts from an interview.

After a successful TV stint, it would seem the show has been custom made for you. The ultimate?

It was the NDTV Good Times’ idea. I take no credit. It should go to Smeeta Chakrabarti, Shibani Sharma Khanna, Seema Chandra and my boss Monica Narula.

Luxury in today’s recessionary times is..

It’s a fine mix of — quality and craftsmanship without snobbery and a hankering for brands.

Any other book on food after your first ‘Rude Food, India — Then and Now’?

Will do a second Rude Food. I am not going with Penguin this time but am talking to two other excellent publishers. It should be out in a few months.

Your favourite food/lifestyle show/anchor on TV?


I like Nigella Lawson a lot. In India, I like Rocky and Mayur of Highway On My Plate.

In one of the episodes of ‘A Matter of Taste’ on Discovery Travel & Living, you did the ‘milk trail’. For someone who is lactose intolerant how did you do all the tasting for us?

It was terrible. But in the interest of TV etc. etc. More seriously, even though I am lactose intolerant... there are things I make exceptions for. I love good quality ice-cream. I adore a good, fresh custard. And I could eat Benares’s very own ‘malai’ all day!
Some similar off-camera experiences and anecdotes about people and places that touched you.

The one thing that struck me again and again while making Custom Made for Vir Sanghvi was how much we liked South India. My producers are Punjabis (though Tanu Ganguly is half-Bengali) and so was the researcher and the director of photography. Even the second camera man was from Bihar. But all of us were bowled over by the level of civilisation cleanliness and culture we found in the South. People were genuinely nice, helpful and thoughtful and never wanted anything in return.

A very nice man did a Tanjore painting for us completely free! It turned out he has been teaching the art to hundreds of young people completely free. We met a brilliant Malayali magician who has the talent to be a huge success but who was so modest and unpushy. I would love to do a show only on South India. It is easily the most civilised place in the world!

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