No one ever needed another thread to add to his or her burgeoning wardrobe, yet retail thrives, even in the time of a pandemic. Human body and mind innovate, adapt and evolve through crisis to find a new normal and also learn how to revel in it.
In the past seven months since the deadly day of 25 March when the nation went into a lockdown, humans of the universe have lived through many phases. First a sinking feeling sparked by a fear of the unknown, then a submission to definite doom, only to re emerge with a ray of hope, and finally live it up with a reckless feeling of looking the virus in its face. And all through this ‘real’ life crisis, the world of make-believe too, the one that lures you into the candy shop of desire has turned turtle. Fashion, luxury, jewellery, travel, hospitality… All these industries are thriving with a song, a story, a moving video or compelling content
Anyone who is continuing in the same path he or she did in 2019 is in denial, like the ostrich with his head dug into the sand. No, your mall fests, exhibitions, shows, lukewarm sales and incentivised buying is not gonna cut ice. What will is a soothing story, a lullaby of emotions that will bring the buyer out of his stupor and have him say ‘I do’ to your product.
I, for one, keep my ear to the ground for a good story and feel elated seeing real content emerge. And for sure I jumped with joy when asked to create content for an incredulous story rustled up by Hyderabad’s heritage house of jewelry Kishandas & Co. They called the project: India’s precious people and asked a few accomplished women to feel the preciousness of their jewels against their equally priceless persona.
Pratiksha Prashant, the brain behind this campaign, shares, “Jewels are rare, people who are jewels even rarer. I love the way we call someone a rare diamond or a feisty emerald. Hence this salutary photo shoot that compares a few accomplished people to rare jewels. Women and men who have smashed the glass ceiling, taking their persona to great heights “
It was actually the brand’s grand patriarch, Shri Krishan Das, a jeweller to the Nizam and a legend in Basra pearls, who prompted the family to create this campaign which “is an ode to our father, who, even today in his 80s can sketch a brilliant piece of jewellery. Not to forget his sharp eye that recognizes a precious jewel from a mile.”
The campaign finds India’s most acclaimed wedding planner Vandana Mohan and her dynamic young daughter Vedika dress in classic jadaus. As emcee, actor, polo player and educationist Shivani Wazir does total justice to a crafted gold neck piece from Jaisalmer. Art gallerist Anu Bajaj, known for her annual spiritual show, wears a temple piece with immense elan as celebrated artist Jayasri Burman does poetic justice to her ruby strings. Eka Lakhani, the stylists to the stars, shows the way to wearing jewels with a crisp white shirt, as the blue-blooded designer Archana Singh flashes the proverbial pearls with such elan.
Precious and rare, this campaign not just salutes real heroes but also proves that you don’t have to be svelte and influencer to do justice to jewellery on the instagram. Real women do a much better job of that.
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DEEPIKA STARTS DUBBING FOR SHAKUN BATRA’S FILM
MUMBAI: Actor Deepika Padukone has started dubbing for Shakun Batra’s film.
On Thursday, she was spotted visiting a dubbing studio in Mumbai. In the pictures that surfaced on the Internet, Deepika can be seen wearing a black baseball cap and a black mask, matching with her casual black outfit. Apart from Deepika, Shakun Batra’s directorial also features Siddhant Chaturvedi and Ananya Panday. The film’s title and plot are yet to be disclosed.
SHEYKHAR RAVJIANI REVEALS WHY HE NAMED HIS RECENT SONG ‘RANG’
MUMBAI: Sheykhar Ravjiani is surely a force to reckon with when it comes to his soulful singing and magical compositions. The award-winning and multi-talented artist has always been one to push his boundaries and produce magical tracks for music lovers from across the globe.
Recently, the hit record singer-composer released the teaser of his upcoming project, Rang, which marked his foray into the world of non-film Hindi pop music. Ask the man with a magical voice why he chose to title his track Rang and he says “In the past couple of years during the lockdown, when everything felt dark, the one thing that brought light and colour into my life as always, was music. While I composed a number of songs during this time, ‘Rang’ was a song that resonated the most as it has the essence of a classic, it was a song that took me back to who I was before the world told me who I should be. I remember playing Rang for my mother who listened to it repeatedly with so much happiness in her eyes, that’s when I knew that the world needs to hear this track too.”
‘ILLEGAL 2’: FLAWED YET BINGE-WORTHY AND THOUGHT-PROVOKING LEGAL DRAMA
Towards the end of the film Section 375, a female lawyer tells her mentor, “Sir, I don’t think that the justice was served.” The senior lawyer retorts, “We are not in the business of justice. We are in the business of law.” The lawyer’s remark makes it absolutely clear that justice and law are not synonymous. At the end of the day, all laws are subject to human interpretation and a good lawyer understands that there are enough provisions and technicalities to be toyed around with. It all boils down to one thing—whether you can prove it in the court of law. ‘Illegal 2,’ the second season of the Voot Select series ‘Illegal,’ elevates the high stakes showdown between Niharika Singh (played by Neha Sharma) and her former mentor-turned-adversary Janardhan Jaitley (essayed by Piyush Misra) to the next level as the idealistic Niharika navigates contentious legal cases, high profile rivalries and a complex personal life while trying to establish her new firm which she has started in partnership with her adversary from the first season, Puneet Tandon (portrayed Satyadeep Mishra). Directed by Bollywood veteran Ashwini Chaudhary, ‘Illegal 2’ also stars Akshay Oberoi, Parul Gulati, Tanuj Virwani, Sonnalli Seygall, and Achint Kaur.
The first season of ‘Illegal’ had ended with the promise of a rather sadistic and macabre revenge arc with Deepak Tijori’s character orchestrating the kidnapping of his illegitimate daughter Niharika in order to punish her for framing his rapist son. But ‘Illegal 2’ abandons that storyline as we get to learn that Niharika’s father had succumbed to a massive heart attack. Instead, the second season of the show seems invested in exploring the mentor v/s mentee battle between Janardhan Jaitley and Niharika Singh with the former embarking on an ambitious campaign to be the next Chief Minister of Delhi and the latter starting her own firm. Other than following their rivalry, the season also endeavors to offer an insider’s look at the treacherous world of unscrupulous lawyers, manipulative business moguls, and incorrigibly dirty politicians. The big question, however, always remains: will justice ever be served in the world of law?
Now, over the years, we have seen a lot of Indian films and series set in a courtroom making a mockery out of the judicial processes. We all have seen legal dramas which are all about loud dialogues and histrionics. And wherein the courtrooms are depicted as circuses and the judges are supposed to be ring masters yelling “Order! Order!” again and again. But all that has been changing gradually with filmmakers striving for realism in place of melodrama. In recent times, we have witnessed a decent number of well-made courtroom dramas which have brought some dignity to the genre. Speaking of ‘Illegal,’ the series isn’t essentially a courtroom drama as most of the events unfold outside the courtroom. It can be more appropriately called a legal drama. The same is true of ‘Illegal 2’. Interestingly, the show is at its best when it explores the personal lives of the characters: be it Janardhan Jaitley, Niharika Singh, Puneet Tandon, or others.
In comparison to the first season, Neha Sharma’s acting in ‘Illegal 2’ suffers from some inconsistency. Niharika, most of time, is the quintessential damsel in distress and so when she suddenly unleashes her shrewd side to outwit her formidable adversaries, it’s a little difficult to accept her character as realistic as it’s intended to be. Sharma’s performance in the first season was far more consistent. Yes, Niharika is fast evolving as a ruthless professional in the legal arena, but the transition ought to have been a little more subtle. In comparison to Sharma, Piyush Mishra’s performance in ‘Illegal 2’ is far more measured than his over-the-top act in the first season. But the real star of the second season is Akshay Oberoi who is absolutely brilliant to watch in the role of Akshay Jaitley, Janardhan’s son. It’s a deeply nuanced performance with multiple layers. One ought to watch him in the Eros Now series ‘Flesh’ to truly appreciate his versatility as an actor. After the promise he offered in the first season, Satyadeep Dubey is terribly underutilised in ‘Illegal 2’. The same is true of Parul Gulati. Another standout performance comes from Achint Kaur who proves to be a real scene-stealer. Tanuj Virwani is also solid in his role.
Back in 2004, Star One used to air a legal drama series by the name of Siddhant with Pawan Shankar in the titular role. I personally learned so much about the Indian legal system watching that show as a teenager straight out of school. Also, it was thrilling to watch. Now, I don’t think that anything since then has come close to the brilliance of Siddhant as far as the long-form narrative is concerned (whether Indian television or web). The first season of ‘Illegal’ although not in the same class as Siddhant did a good job of tackling issues such as rape, capital punishment and euthanasia. As far as ‘Illegal 2’ is concerned, the show is both binge-worthy as well as thought-provoking despite some obvious shortcomings and flaws. And the credit goes to Ashwini Chaudhary and team for their fearless approach in examining juvenile justice, cybercrime and digital stalking, and the rise of toxic culture on social media platforms.
KATRINA, SIDDHANT, ISHAAN’S ‘PHONE BHOOT’ TO RELEASE IN JULY 2022
MUMBAI: 15th July 2022, will be a special day for movie lovers as Katrina Kaif, Siddhant Chaturvedi and Ishaan Khatter-starrer ‘Phone Bhoot’ is releasing on the particular date.
‘Phone Bhoot’, starring Katrina Kaif, Ishaan and Siddhant Chaturvedi went on floors last year and has been conversational owing to the popularity of the horror-comedy genre and its interesting casting coup. Directed by Gurmmeet Singh, written by Ravi Shankaran and Jasvinder Singh Bath, ‘Phone Bhoot’, is Excel Entertainment’s newest offering after ‘Gully Boy’ and ‘Toofaan’. In July last year, Siddhant, Katrina and Ishaan shared the first look of ‘Phone Bhoot’ to announce their upcoming film.
THE PERSON IN A RAAGA
Today, as I was sitting down with my Riyaaz of the Carnatic music equivalent of the Asavari Raaga, I brought back mixed memories. It evoked a collage of emotions, making me feel nostalgic about the warmth of my grandparents’ home, while also reminding me of a particular school day when I stayed homesick. Raaga Natabhairavi, as this Raaga is known, is a unique combination of flat and sharp notes, and has its own way of weaving a heady mix of emotions in both the listener and the singer. The first part of the scale has largely major notes, which signify upbeat and happy emotions. The second half of the scale has flat notes that usually evoke more tense and negative feelings. No wonder my emotional state, while doing my Riyaaz, mirrored this. This scale brought back associations with my childhood memories of both when I was sick with jaundice, and also of when my grandmother would exclaim and sway in joy when she heard this piece.
This experience got me thinking about how the emotive potential of music is almost like that of a person.
When we relate to other people through relationships, we connect as human beings with sentiment, emotion and sensitivity. People come in a mix of hues, shapes and personalities, and evoke certain distinct feelings in us. For example, I associate laughter, comfort and cosiness with one of my best friends. I associate a very different feeling with one of the staff members of Music Vruksh, my music venture. In this case, the feeling is one of dependability, trust and collective inspiration towards a common goal.
Raagas in Indian classical music are no different. They are living, breathing sound energies that evoke emotions in us. These emotions are distinct and powerful. This, in my opinion, is one of the reasons why they have an amazing power to heal.
Just as we get to know layers beneath a person over time and start relating to them at deeper and deeper levels, similarly, as we hear and sing Raagas repeatedly, we unearth deeper aspects and begin to appreciate the significance of the Raaga. This makes our relationship with the Raaga stronger, and it means much more to us than just a bunch of flat and sharp notes. It starts to attain a formless yet powerful identity, both in the hearts of the singer or performer and in those of the audience. In fact, the mark of a true musician is to introduce these ‘sound personalities’ of the Raagas to the audience and bring them alive in their hearts and minds. When an audience can feel joyful or moved and can experience the gamut of emotions that is so typical of the Raaga, the musician can be certain he or she has done his or her job well. The identities of the Raagas should be brought out clearly by the musician so that we can recognise them just as we would recognise our friends and loved ones even in a crowd.
Raagas in Indian Classical Music have the potential to form deep, meaningful relationships with us. Even if the Raagas come to us through the medium of the popular culture of Indian film music or folk songs, they have the ability to come alive in our minds and bring myriad emotions to the fore. We can have loving and trusting relationships with them much as we do with people. They can allow us to feel safe, cry or laugh and express difficult emotions without the fear of judgement or hurt.
I have always championed the cause of making classical music training and appreciation accessible to everyone. In Indian Raagas, we can find the seeds of deep, trusting relationships that we can carry with us forever. In this lies the ability of Indian music to touch and heal.
The writer is a vocalist of both Hindustani and Carnatic Classical music, with over three decades’ experience. She is also the founder of Music Vruksh, a venture to make classical accessible for its aesthetic and wellness benefits.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING IN EARLY CHILDHOOD
Early childhood is a tricky age. Children grow at a rapid pace, and so do their cognitive skills. In this overwhelming phase, they may not be able to understand or cope with the myriad emotions and social situations they encounter, which leads to them acting out in and being difficult.
Mental health professional Drishti Goenka who is also the Founder and CEO of learning design venture Journey Matters says, “Managing a class full of three-something-year-olds can be very challenging. There is a dearth of well-trained teachers. The ages 3-6 are foundational years not only for academics but also social-emotional development (SEL).”
This was the reason she decided to launch her own set of alphabetic flashcards aimed purely at the social-emotional development of young children. Called the A-Z of You and Me, these flashcards offer an SEL word for every alphabet, which is defined in a child-friendly manner and accompanied by illustrations of a situation depicting that word as well as a reflective prompt for the adult to discuss with the child.
Goenka shares, “There are some great learning products out there, but none that focus on alphabets. The most unique thing about my product is the sheer simplicity of the concept. Every child learns the alphabet. All these years, educators and parents have been teaching A for Apple without much thought. All over the world, in small towns and villages, when a child is introduced to the English language, they are taken through A for Apple and B for Ball. Why can’t we capitalise on this basic structure of learning and make it a more meaningful experience for children? It builds on the child’s social-emotional vocabulary, which will help them to understand themselves better and connect with people as well.”
Her alphabet flashcards can be ordered directly from their website journeymatters.co.in, and soon will be available on third-party retailers as well. The product can also be shipped internationally and is well-suited for children of the age of four and above.
“With this product in hand, teachers will have all the information they possibly need to ensure that the child has understood the word. I will also release an open-source YouTube channel with more facilitation ideas lasting 2-3 minutes for each alphabet. When children don’t understand their own feelings or are unable to express their thoughts, they exhibit behaviours that can become difficult to manage. Our product equips teachers and parents with the tools needed to foster growth in the classroom,” explains Goenka.
The words used in this set of flashcards were decided collaboratively by the illustrator, content head and Goenka herself. They went through a ‘word dump’ exercise, where for each alphabet they brainstormed all SEL related words they could possibly find. After this, they sent out a google form to educators and parents with young children asking them which words would be most suitable for their target age group and which ones they would want their children to learn. Based on those responses the words were finalised. However, she says, “Parents and educators can certainly go ahead with more words for each letter. It needn’t be restricted to what we have chosen. The idea is to kickstart such conversations between the adult and a child.”
Goenka’s A to Z of You and Me is a great example of the kind of learning tools required for the children of today. With screen addictions on the rise and lack of access to physical schooling, children are grappling with many issues their parents and teachers never faced before. It is therefore essential for caregivers to ensure a sense of normalcy and wellbeing for their children while creating an environment for healthy learning.
These kinds of SEL products focus on normalising the concept of talking about feelings, and in turn, making children more empathetic and more compassionate. They also help in the formation of healthy relationships. There is definitive research available to show that when SEL is introduced at an early childhood level and continues all through a child’s schooling, it significantly reduces the possibility of future mental-health-related concerns. This is a wake-up call that all parents and educators should adhere to.
The writer pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on email@example.com.
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