Ratan Kaul’s name is synonymous with Delhi’s Page 3. She is a dynamo that keeps Delhi’s social circuit buzzing, actively associated as she is with several environmental, cultural and social issues.
One line the media uses often, however, describes her, love her or hate her, Ratan ‘humanises the revolving fortunes of the Capital’s high society’. She is one of the most accessible individuals one comes across in a snobbish city.
She is prominent among those social butterflies who never shy away from the camera. Right from being clicked alongside Arun Jaitley and Prakash Javadekar at a book launch to rubbing shoulders with the likes of Indu Jain and Tina Ambani, Ratan Kaul is literally everywhere.
In one of her most candid interviews with Live Mint two years ago, she very playfully exclaimed that Public Diplomacy is her forte but at the same time she denies labelling herself as some sort of one-woman PR company, saying that she picks parties just for the sake of fun. But the bonds that are developed at parties with the elite leads to some serious work done which she visibly enjoys. And gets paid for.
She calls herself ‘apolitical’ but Ratan Kaul is perhaps the best example of what can be described best as the post-political animal one meets on cold winter nights. Warm, welcoming, furry and frivolous but with an intent…to get the best bite of whatever is going.
Often photographed with Sonia Gandhi and Sashi Tharoor, in 2014 Kaul helped promote two books on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. ‘The authors approached me for publicity. I arranged a sponsor and we did the event at the Durbar Hall in the Taj Palace hotel. Senior ministers Arun Jaitley and Prakash Javadekar sat on the dais (so did Kaul) and the audience included A-listers like the chief of army staff, Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, (banker) Naina Lal Kidwai, (former attorney general) Soli Sorabjee, and a battery of ambassadors. I wore a saffron sari.’ At the same time she ensured ‘Kejri’ had one of the most-crowded launches for his book at the Delhi LitFest. In 2012 she helped Delhi get its first Lit Fest under the name Delhi Lit Fest:
Aapka Apna Festival. She is now the advisor of the same Delhi Literature Fest with Parull Mahajan. She says, having lived in Delhi for the past four decades she felt this strong desire to showcase the cultural, social, literary, aesthetic and historical tradition on a social front which eventually led to this gala event. Delhi Lit Fest completed its 5th edition this year and is set to embark on a new literary journey in its 6th edition in Feb 2018.
So, how did a Kashmiri girl get transformed into a Page 3 Diva?
Born in a railway officer’s family, she arrived in Delhi in the late 1970s for her postgraduation. Not long after her marriage to a Delhi businessman, she was hired as a programme officer in a non-profit organisation called the Indian Federation of United Nations Association. ‘That job set me off’, she says. ‘All the time, I was meeting visiting heads of state, and diplomats and ministers. My first high was when I shared the dais with (president) Giani Zail Singh. It was my first photo with a VIP.’