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Books to luxury: Market unlocks but fear remains

Anshu Khanna

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They say luxury begins when necessities end. The luxury to spend, acquire, enjoy. Or revel in the sheer luxury of time. Time to idle, when you can pick a book and read. Or simply go for a concert. As the nation unlocks and a denizen, wary and a wee bit worn, treads back into their official shoes, The Daily Guardian interviews business icons associated with two diverse businesses—one cerebral and the other indulgence personified. Ajay Mago, publisher, and the force behind the book chain Om Books, dwells upon the future of the written word. And Pratiksha Prashant, a scion of the Kishandas family, jewellers to the Nizams, fears the near comatose existence that her industry of refinement—luxury jewellery—will reside in for many months to come.

AJAY MAGO

Q. Quarantine has enhanced reading. But are people going for kindle rather than paperbacks? A. The lockdown and quarantine have ushered in changes in every sphere of our lives, particularly in the way we divide up our work and leisure time. The quarantine is not to be mistaken for a holiday. So, when not on a work-from-home mode, book lovers have rediscovered new gems in their personal libraries, re-read old favourites or gone for new titles on Kindle. Till such time that book lovers can get back to bookstores, that is likely to be the trend. In India, there is a judicious mix of Kindle buffs and those who swear by the printed book. And families with children prefer the printed book over kindle editions simply because half the charm of these books lies in the packaging.

 Q. Now that lockdown is done, do you see people reverting to the print version?

A. While e-books have enjoyed a fair amount of popularity with readers, book lovers shall also continue to buy printed books, get their copies signed by the author after a launch or special session at a bookstore or literature festival, get themselves photographed with the author, add to the pile on the bedside table, and occasionally drift off to sleep with an open book on the chest or face.

Q. What do you see as the future of books?

A. You probably mean the future of the printed book. The printed book is here to stay as an equal cousin to e-books. It is just a matter of time before life primarily online today shifts back in part to life on the ground. 

Q. Do you see non-fiction gaining precedence over fiction in these tough times?

A. Fiction has always moved faster than nonfiction. Having said that, different kinds of fiction appeal to different kinds of readers. Someone who gets his fix from thrillers is unlikely to let non-fiction supplant that unless the reader is equally interested in both genres. Also, school holidays, and festival and election seasons play a considerable role in what sells more during a certain period. I don’t see fiction drying up at all. And we would do well to remember that crisis—political, industrial, economic, religious, cultural, et al—have always spawned great classics.

Q. How can we revive the publishing business and make it profitable to all the parties involved?

 A. Everyone in the publishing ecosystem needs to come together, rethink our existing arrangements and alliances, and work as a united front to bring the industry back on its feet earliest. And we also look forward to concrete measures by the government for the publishing industry

PRATIKSHA PRASHANT

 Amongst all the businesses that reside in the realm of indulgences, jewellery is the veritable cherry on the cake. A cherry that you bite into only when you have what Pratiksha Prashant calls the three ingredients of luxury: “Time, money and mobility. Three things that very unfortunately many of us don’t have today. Time that we have is now getting occupied in the huddle to survive. Money is no longer a disposable commodity, and mobility is a dream.”

 And it is in this light that she fears the near comatose existence that her industry of refinement—luxury jewellery—will reside in for many months to come. “Buying yourself a heirloom piece of jewellery is what we at Kishandas are known for.” Pieces that are so perfect in their craft and beauty that you yearn to hand it over to your daughter in times to come. It is linked to a sense of happiness. “A joie d’vivre that most of us are not feeling today. Business houses are literally jogging, running to remain in the same, safe place they were in, pre pandemic. Corporate families are facing salary crunch, industrialists are not in a celebratory mode anymore. Everyone is in the dock. Then how do you expect luxury retail to move?”

Most importantly, the fact that the “big, fat Indian wedding has shrunk”, is the real demon here. “An average ‘big’ wedding in Hyderabad hosted 1,500-2,000 VIP guests. A normal wedding at least 10,000. Now refer to the 50 people cap imposed presently and the maximum number of 200 guests who will be invited in the near future. Why will anyone buy expensive jewellery any more?”

 All, however, is not lost. The connoisseur of craft will come back. Ornaments that are veritable art forms will be bought. “After all, Indians also link jewellery to investment, a safety cocoon to go to on a rainy day. It is their jewelry that the Nawabs and Nizams sold to buy an army. The only possessions displaced Indians brought back with them post-Partition to restart their lives. It is life 2.0 for many of us and Indians will love their gold. Especially with the bullion also loving the metal. I do see hope but not in the near future.”

At a personal level the family was all set, designing a very intricately crafted, beautiful and wearable line for Mani Ratnam’s biopic Ponniyin Salvan which they were going to place online in tandem with the movie releasing. “Now that epic will take time as it involves over 800 people on a single set. But we have begun creating small collectibles that women can add at a whim when things settle down.”

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Katy Perry opens up about being a new working mom

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A month after she gave birth to her first child, a baby girl with her fiance Orlando Bloom, singer Katy Perry on Friday opened up about being a working mother. The ‘Daisies’ singer took to Twitter to talk about working while raising her child simultaneously. She began by stating that the popular mindset that “being a mom isn’t a full-time job” is actually a “popular misconception.” The series of tweets: 

Part 1: “Popular misconception: being a mom isn`t a full-time job.” 

“Part 2: when a mom finally goes back to work (whatever profession they do) it`s not like they been coming from months of “time off…” she`s coming from a full-time job… of being a mom, lol.” 

Part 3: “call your mom and tell her you to love and appreciate her and advocate for paid family leave!,” another tweet by the singer said. She ended the series of tweets by stating she loves her job.” 

Part 4. “I love my job.” Perry and Bloom who serve as the Goodwill Ambassadors of UNICEF welcomed their girl child – Daisy Dove Bloom – in August. 

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Chris Hemsworth to star in Netflix’s ‘Spiderhead’

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 Actors Chris Hemsworth, Miles Teller, and Jurnee Smollett have been roped in to star in Netflix’s upcoming film ‘Spiderhead.’ According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film is an adaptation of the dystopian short story Escape from Spiderhead by George Saunders. The plot of the film is set in the near future and it revolves around two young activists who live in a facility that is run by a visionary who performs experiments with drugs on inmates. The drug is known to alter the emotions for the inmates. The story originally appeared in The New Yorker in December 2010, and was later collected in Saunders’ New York Times bestselling book, ‘Tenth of December’, reported The Hollywood Reporter. The film will be written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and will be helmed by ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ director Joseph Kosinski. 

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Kaleen Bhaiyya unveils Mirzapur 2 poster

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Pankaj Tripathi

Piquing the excitement of fans, actor Pankaj Tripathi on Sunday dropped an intriguing poster from the much-anticipated web-series ‘Mirzapur 2’. The 44-year-old star shared the dark poster of ‘Mirzapur 2’ on Instagram. It showcases the grim reality of the city of bloodshed and guns- Mirzapur. The poster features an open jeep, parked on the pavement, with a number plate that read ‘King of Mirzapur’, while the frame captures the view of a dead person, lying on the ground with a pistol in his hand which is shown covered in bloodstains. In the backdrop is the castle of Kaleen Bhaiyya, the master of the city. “Yahaan sab ka uddeshya ek hi hai. #Mirzapur2,” wrote Tripathi in the caption. While ‘Mirzapur 2’ is all set to premiere on 23 October, fans can binge-watch Season 1 and enjoy the world of ‘Mirzapur’ while they wait for the second season to drop. In Season 1, Tripathi stole the show essaying the role of Kaleen Bhaiyya, the King of Mirzapur, Ali Fazal and Vikrant Massey packed a punch as Guddu and Bablu Pandit, the wannabe gangsters. Jo i n i n g t h e m in Season 2 are Vijay Varma, Priyanshu Painyuli, Isha Talwar, Amit Sial, Anjum Sharma. With all eyes firmly fixed on what happens next on the show, the makers have kept everyone’s curiosity high by not revealing much about the story

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Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein was flop but became iconic: Madhavan

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When ‘Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein’ released in 2001, the film failed to create sparks at the box office. What remained with the viewers was the brilliant act of the young newcomer who shone with his natural screen presence in the film, which also starred Saif Ali Khan and Dia Mirza. Nineteen years later, the newcomer is now the seasoned 50-year-old star R. Madhavan, who has consistently impressed with numerous roles in Hindi as well as Tamil cinema. 

“When the film released, it was a flop. They called it a disaster. But after it got out from the theatres it slowly became iconic in nature. Now, everybody is putting the songs up, of them singing and dancing to it,” Madhavan told IANS. ‘Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein’ was directed by Gautham Menon. Dia Mirza made her Bollywood debut with this film. The story revolves around the romance of a boy named Madhav ‘Maddy’ Shastri and Reena Malhotra, and the film was a remake of the Tamil film, Minnale. Madhavan is still fondly remembered as Maddy. How does he feel about that? “People can’t remember movies of bigger actors than me and here I am… I’ve been in the industry 20 years and I am getting so much love. What can I say — I think the audience is awesome,” he added. Madhavan will next be seen in the upcoming thriller ‘Nishabdham’.

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Film industry is beautiful, no toxic culture: Vishal Bhardwaj

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Bollywood filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj has rubbished claims that the Indian film industry has a toxic working culture or an insider-outsider divide, saying some people having “vested interest” are trying to malign its image. Bhardwaj believes that people in the industry are always there to support each other and for somebody like him, who doesn’t belong to any film family, it has been a cherishable experience. During a virtual press conference of Screenwriters Association (SWA) Awards on Friday, Vishal Bhardwaj in response to a question posed by PTI said, “I don’t personally feel there is toxic work culture. I believe there is so much love in our work culture. The film unit becomes like a complete family. There is such a beautiful work culture (here).” The ‘Haider’ director said there are people who have “vested interest” and they are trying to project cinema as a “toxic” workplace

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From humble start to biggest company: Aditya Chopra on YRF turning 50

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On the completion of 50 years of Yash Raj Films (YRF), chairman and filmmaker Aditya Chopra penned a note for his late father Yash Chopra, who had founded the production house and unveiled a new logo of YRF to mark the beginning of the 50-year celebrations of the production house. Interestingly, September 27 also marks the 88th birth anniversary of Yash Chopra. “In 1970, my father Yash Chopra left the security and comfort of his brother Mr. BR Chopra and formed his own company. Till then, he was a salaried employee of BR Films and didn’t own anything of his own. He did not know how to run a business and did not even have the basic knowledge of what goes into making a company. All he had was a strong belief in his talent and hard work and a dream to be self-reliant.” “That conviction of a creative man backing nothing but himself and his art gave birth to Yash Raj Films. Mr. V Shantaram, who owned Rajkamal Studios, graciously gave him a small room in his studio for his office. My father didn›t know then, that the small company that he started in a tiny room, would one day become the biggest film company of the Indian Film Industry,” 

Aditya wrote in a statement. Recalling the making the blockbuster film ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’, Aditya Chopra added: “1995, as YRF entered its 25th year, my directorial debut film ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ released. The historic success of that film gave me the confidence to give wings to some crazy risky ideas that I had for the future of YRF. Besides the immense love that my father had for me, he now also had a lot of faith in my ideas because of the miraculous success of my film. I had foreseen the advent of international corporate studios coming to India and taking over our business.” “I wanted us to achieve a certain scale so that we could retain our independence before they came in. My father contradicted his conservative mindset and bravely indulged all my bold initiatives. And in 10 quick years, we went from a film production house to India’s first fully integrated independent film studio,” he stated. Chopra thanked every person associated with the company over the last five decades. “Across 5 decades YRF, at its core, has been a traditional company with deep-rooted old world values and a conservative approach to business. This perfect balance of traditional and modern is what defines Yash Raj Films,” the statement read. Having worked with superstars Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan, YRF has been entertaining the audiences for five decades with movies such as ‘Chandni’, ‘Silsila’, ‘Darr’, ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’, ‘Mohabbatein’, ‘Veer-Zaara’, ‘Bunty Aur Babli’, and ‘Chak De Indi’, ‘Dhoom’ franchise, ‘Band Baaja Baaraat’ and ‘War’.

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