An Outsized Birthday Celebration Portrays Jugal Malani’s Love of People!

Avnie Malani (left), Atman Shukla, Jugal Malani Nikita Shukla, Raj Malani, Pankaj Malani. Photos: Roy Photography

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: In the center of the main ballroom, there were life-size black and white cutouts of photos of a young, handsome Jugal with a far away look, standing next to his sweetheart, the demure Raj. Even back then his taste in fashion came through – the bell bottoms, a slim fit shirt, a few buttons open at the chest. His fashion sense has stayed a constant even today, as many of us admire his attire – mostly the formals – and would like to take a peek at his wardrobe closet!!

Even greater than his love of clothes is Jugal Malani’s love of causes and people, both of which he has spared no expense in investing in. Over the past two decades, Malani has become legendary for being the first to donate for a cause that benefits the South Asian community, be it India House, Hurricane relief efforts or the Howdy Modi! event in September 2019 which was the epitome of his generosity.

Jugal and Raj Malani in front of the nine-tier cake at the gala birthday party.

Nine-tier birthday cake depicted Jugal Malani’s life story.

Malani’s gregariousness has been passed along to the next generation, his two children, Pankaj Malani and Nikita Shukla, who support their own causes. Pankaj has taken over part of the family business – Unique Industrial Products – and shares his passion for investing in the people who work there and the workplace.

So, it was only natural for Raj, the Malani offspring and their spouses Avnie Malani and Atman Shukla to plan a 70th birthday bash for their dad, the likes of which most of the people had never seen before. Held last Saturday, April 8, at the Hilton Americas downtown next to the Convention Center, the party drew an estimated 800 people to the main ballroom which was converted into a huge nightclub.

Jugal and Raj Malani on the dance floor.

Prema Malani (left), Raj Malani, Kanta Malani, Indu Nawandar, Kiran Bhutada, Bhagwan Malani , Ramesh Bhutada, Shivratan Malani, Jugal Malani , Sharad Nawanda

Seating was limited to hightops, tables and sofas scattered over the floor, with the main attraction the dazzling shiny dance floor in the center and a huge backdrop digital screen. Fabulous DJ Yogi, Pankaj’s childhood friend, played his best mix-ups and pumped up the crowd that stood mesmerized at the dance floor edge. Jugglers on stilt legs, walking mannequins in LED strands and dancers whisked across the ball room.

And standing on a table at the back was a nine-layered, pyramid peaked birthday cake; each layer telling the story of Jugal’s life journey till now: from his childhood home, getting married, having Pankaj, moving to the US, working at Star Pipe Products, starting Unique Industrial Products, the marriage of both his kids and having 5 grand kids.

Apart from the two full center bars, six more were scattered across the ballroom as well as food stalls featuring different cuisines and desserts. There was no assigned seating, no name tags, you just entered from the lobby to the Malani’s Club!!

Pankaj Malani made an emotional speech about his love for his dad, Jugal Malani.

A close family friend, Naresh Mittal took charge of the entire food arrangements and Nikita took charge of the entertainment program, even convincing her mom, Raj who naturally shies away from publicity, to speak in public, but called him “her soulmate”. Jugal calls Raj “his wonder woman” for helping him launch his business with her secret savings of $300,000!

Atman Shukla, Radhika Lohiya, Nikita Malani, Avnie Malani, Yash Shukla, Aavya Shukla, Kiaan Malani, Karina.

On this huge, milestone 70th birthday, Jugal Malani was surrounded by his extended family: his sister Kiran and her husband Ramesh Bhutada, founder of Star Pipe Products, who gave Jugal his start in business in the US. Jugal’s elder brother Shivrathan and wife Prema; younger brother Bhagwan and wife Kanta and younger sister Indu and husband Sharad all flew in from India. Also attending were nephew Sachin with Shruti and their two daughters Aarna and Raisa; and his aunt Geeta Pallod and the Vijay Pallod family.

For a legendary man, Jugal Malani sure packed a legendary milestone party that will be talked out for years to come.