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The Fascinating History Of The Mumbai Property That Is Now Shah Rukh Khan’s Mannat


Shah Rukh Khan greets his fan from his house Mannat in Mumbai

The Jawan fever has gripped the entire country and how. The Atlee directorial has minted over Rs. 500 crore at the global box office. Shah Rukh Khan, the man of the moment, has been receiving love from all corners of the world. Amid all the craze and excitement around SRK’s record-breaking film, The Paperclip, a digital media house, has narrowed down a “strange connection” between the superstar and a “group of people” who helped in shaping art for modern India. In a thread on X (formerly called Twitter), The Paperclip wrote, “While the Shah Rukh Khan frenzy has gripped the whole country, we are hung up on a strange connection between the superstar and a group of people who helped shape the world of art for modern India. It included a man who had escaped Nazi-occupied Austria.

In follow-up tweets, The Paperclip narrated the story which began with “two houses, one called Villa Vienna, now a place of pilgrimage, standing on the Bandstand in Bandra; the other, almost next to it, known as Kekee Manzil, a place which holds a tapestry of art and a little bit of important history.” 


Back in the 19th century, Raja of Mandi Bijai Sen built a property for his wife on the Bandstand, which was reportedly named “Villa Vienna.” 

“Once upon a time, both houses were owned by members of the same family. To get to the bottom of this story, we need to go to the latter part of the 19th century when the 16th Raja of Mandi, Bijai Sen, is supposed to have built a property for his wife on the Bandstand. Back then Bombay, as it was called, was a mere shadow of what it is today. But even then, the Bandstand was a beauty to behold. The Raja’s property was supposedly named Villa Vienna,” the post read. 

After the demise of Bijai Sen, the property was reportedly sold to a “Parsi gentleman” Maneckji Batliwala, who was the maternal grandfather of Kaikhushru Minochair Gandhy, fondly known as Kekoo Gandhy. 

Who is Kekoo Gandhy? According to the media house, he was “born into a Parsi family which had a tobacco business. Kekoo was first educated at the Cathedral and John Connon School in Bombay and later went to Cambridge University.”

“But the story is not just about Kekoo Gandhy,” the Paperclip reported, adding that a fine painter from Austria fled to Bombay amid the 1938 tensions in Europe, especially among the Jewish community. 

“In 1938, tensions were mounting in Europe, especially among the Jewish community as they were being ruthlessly persecuted by the Nazis. It was then that Walter Langhammer, a fine painter from Austria, decided to flee to Bombay, owing to his anti-Nazi leanings and his wife being Jewish. In Bombay, thanks to his connections and profound knowledge of art, he was made the Art Director of the Times of India,” the post added. 


It is said that “Walter Langhammer and Kekoo Gandhy met at art circle socials and immediately bonded. Kekoo was impressed by Walter Langhammer’s knowledge and enthusiasm about Indian art.” 

In the early 1940s, Kekoo Gandhy also met “a fine gentleman from Belgium, Roger Van Damme. Roger’s father was a traditional frame maker. Roger’s idea that India would be a great market to sell frames, instantly hit Kekoo.” 

Following his meetings with Langhammer and Roger, “Kekoo Gandhy and his brother Russy Gandhy decided to set up a company for manufacturing frames for paintings in 1941. It was named Chemical Moulding Manufacturing Company, which was later abbreviated to just Chemould.” 

“But Kekoo Gandhy didn’t just want to create a business for profiteering. He saw that Indian artists were lingering on the wayside with little or no space to sell their art and make a living. So, it became his lifelong struggle to provide that space to them,” the Paperclip reported. 

Reportedly, Kekoo Gandhy “would roam around the country trying to search for the best young talents, making exhibition spaces, and lobbying various institutes to open up their doors and encourage more Indian artists.” 

According to the reports, Kekoo Gandhy played a crucial role in forming the Jehangir Art Gallery, the National Gallery of Modern Art in Bombay. He also played an instrumental role in establishing Lalit Kala Academy. Kekoo  “would also open his own home, Kekee Manzil, for young budding artists which included the likes of M.F Hussain.” 


Kekoo Gandhy had claimed that Ratan Tata’s father, Naval Tata, was so generous that he had once bought 10-12 paintings. Meanwhile, in the 1950s, Kekoo’s framing business had become the largest in Asia. In 1963, he established the Gallery Chemould on the first floor of the Jehangir Art Gallery. 

According to the Paperclip, “It was India’s first commercial art gallery. For as long as he lived, Kekoo did the things he loved, creating a space where so many young minds over the years have thrived and gone on to become something big.” 

A documentary on Kekoo Gandhy’s life was released in 2020 by his daughter, Behroze. 

As reported by The Paperclip, Kekoo Gandhy’s father bought the plot next to Villa Vienna. He created a “huge sprawling mansion” and named it after Kekoo, Kekee Manzil. As a young boy, Kekoo had access to both houses, which stood next to each other.

However, Kekoo’s maternal grandfather couldn’t keep Villa Vienna; it was passed down to his sister who, as per the digital media house, ultimately sold it to a promoter. Years later, Shah Rukh Khan bought the property and transformed it into what is now called Mannat.

During the launch of his wife Gauri Khan’s coffee table book My Life in Design, Shah Rukh Khan shared that when he had bought the bungalow “it was kind of broken.” Read the full interview here. 


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