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Creating colonial castles and heritage havens

With three decades of experience and some iconic projects to back
her illustrious journey, Payal Kapoor likes to work her way stealthily
through a landscape of luxury villas, VIP homes, heritage hotels,
chairman offices and resorts—not to forget heritage locomotives, with
the Palace on Wheels being her contribution to contemporary history

Anshu Khanna

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“Classic colonial is at the heart of Indian sensibility. As a nation, we love to dress our spaces with warm colours, lyrical designs and good art to add depth. As an interior designer and architect, I find this realm of design as my inner calling. I cannot fathom either pale minimalism or over the top maximalism,” says Payal Kapoor about her body of work. 

Payal Kapoor is a quiet player in the world of architecture and design. With three decades of experience and some iconic projects to back her illustrious journey, she likes to work her way stealthily through a landscape of luxury villas, VIP homes, heritage hotels, chairman offices and resorts — not to forget heritage locomotives, with the Palace on Wheels being her contribution to contemporary history. A graduate in design, she has been instrumental in working on many revivalist projects, including the very prestigious work of renovating parts of the Rashtrapati Bhavan and Umaid Bhavan Palace. In fact, she renovated 166 rooms in the palace, both in the zenana and the staff quarters. “I also converted the rooms resided in by Their Highnesses into luxury suites,” she said. Seeing her efficient work on parts of the Umaid Bhawan, Gaj Singhji, the Maharaja of Jodhpur, entrusted her to restore and recreate his quaint Bal Samand Lake Palace, a WelcomHeritage property flanked by a pristine blue lake. “Bal Samand needed lot of work, including structural changes. I worked on both restoring it to its past glory and then decorating it in sync with how it looked originally,” said the designer. 

Payal was also on the team that turned the Imperial Hotel into the heritage trophy that it is today. However, she truly catapulted to fame when, as a young woman, she was awarded the contract to turn around Palace on Wheels, a train that was going from narrow to broad gauge and needed to be kindled and created from scratch in a record 90 days. From completing the civil work on the coaches, to adorning gold infused frescoes on the wall, to creating luxurious bedrooms, sitting rooms and an elaborate dining hall and bar, Payal slogged dawn to dusk and handed over the train to the authorities in record time. 

She says about the project, “Palace on Wheels was possibly the most challenging project, not just for the time span given, but also the technical aspect of creating something that was able to keep it all calm even when the train was gushing through the countryside at breakneck speed.” Since then, in the past 20 odd years, Payal has worked closely on projects assigned by discerning clients with a taste for heritage and a hunger for history. “Heritage buildings speak to me. I find it exhilarating to turn around the large ramparts of royal palaces and forts, and erstwhile royal residences, into hotels equipped with all the amenities we take for granted.” To her credit also goes the restoration of the Hari Niwas Palace, the summer home of the Royal Family of Jammu & Kashmir. It is now run as a hotel by Dr Karan Singh’s younger son, Ajatshatru Singh, and is not only a suitable location for destination weddings, but also a lap of luxury to relax in after a trip to Vaishno Devi. On the list of heritage properties Payal has worked on also comes the ball room of the Savoy Hotel in Mussoorie, for which she not just designed the furniture, but also custom created the carpet, the cast iron balustrades and the voluptuously beautiful lights. “The ball room built in 1870 was dilapidated and down and out when I took it over. I took over the entire project which, I must admit, was Herculean,” she says. Payal also shares, “Redoing royal homes is not tough. 

For one, the design vocabulary is already well defined. Plus, there are existing treasures that simply need to be made functional. I love pottering through their old furniture, chandeliers, statues and art d’objets. Just absorbing their intrinsic design inspires me to create what I call contemporary classic or contemporary colonial spaces.” Cut to her recent projects and Payal shares that she has created the Sambhar Express — not just the locomotive, but also a railway station. “Sambhar Lake is the largest saltwater lake in India that attracts a host of tourists all year round. The park itself is huge and the train helps visitors to see it at leisure,” she says. “I like doing turnkey projects that are large and allow you the space and creative freedom to add your touch to it,” says Payal. An example of this is the TDI complex, a mammoth 400 acres township, a large portion of which was handed to Payal to create. “I started my journey with the group, creating the penthouse for the owners inside Aman Hotel. They loved it so much that they asked me to take over their star project, the luxury villas, and create the look and feel of the show house. High-roofed, sprawling, and a home that lends itself to entertainment and comfort living, I tried to create a modern look with hints of colonial warmth,” she shares. However, it was also the TDI resort that she enjoyed creating. “I love challenges, and hence, also adapted the tennis court, football field, the pool, the gym, and the garden landscaping,” she says.

 Another one of her favourite projects was the chairman’s office, which was made into something beautiful. Already in the post-lockdown stage and gushing through drawings, Payal informs, “I have a few projects that are ready to go off the ground. The name of the game for me is to go on working. I believe in Karma and results. For the rest, one should leave it to God.”

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GAUTAM GULATI GETS CANDID ON NAILING THE MENACING LOOK TO PLAY GIRGIT IN RADHE

Uday Pratap Singh

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There are characters that come to you once in a lifetime, and Girgit from Radhe is just that for actor Gautam Gulati. Ever since the movie released, his phone has been ringing off the hook on what a good job he has done when it comes to playing the villain. Incidentally, all of Gautam’s favorite characters till date have been the ones that are either all out negative or have negative shades. So, when the dream role of Girgit came his way, he knew exactly what nuances to add in order to enhance the character further such as the smile, something that can be so genuine but in the case of a negative role, it must give you chills down your spine and that is exactly what Girgit succeeds in doing.

Gautam affirms, “I watched several shows on OTT platforms to just gauge and see how to nail the negative character shades right from the look to the expressions and more. And then I added my own shades to Girgit along with Salman sir’s conviction and that is how the character was brought to life. The tattoo and haircut was also conceptualised and decided by Salman sir. The action scenes did require a lot of training, and it has surely paid off.” the transformation was tough, time consuming and mentally draining, but when you see the results that are now visible, we know it was totally worth it!

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‘WE WANTED TO CREATE SOMETHING ICONIC AND INDIAN’: MOHIT BHAGCHANDANI ON COPTER7 BEERS & ARTISANAL CHOCOLATES

Noor Anand Chawla

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A love of everything sporty and a passion for high-quality food and beverages, led Mohit Bhagchandani, Founder of 7InkBrews, to launch Copter7 beer and artisanal chocolates. The brand gets its name from cricketing legend M. S. Dhoni’s iconic ‘Helicopter Shot’. Dhoni is also a shareholder, brand ambassador and enthusiastic supporter of the brand and its vision. Mohit Bhagchandani, spoke about this exciting homegrown brand and everything it has to offer. Excerpts:

Q. What was the reason for choosing beer and chocolates?

A. Artisanal chocolates are a relatively new segment with immense potential for growth. We were keen to enter an uncluttered space and make a name for ourselves. As for beer, we felt the market is changing rapidly in India, which made it exciting for us. Internationally, numerous beer brands are synonymous with sporting platforms, with sport intrinsically linked with them. Inspired by that concept, we wanted to create something iconic from India, which would be appreciated around the world.

Q. Who is your target audience?

A. Our target audience is people who have a passion for beer and can drink responsibly. Copter7 beers are aimed particularly at people who appreciate unique taste profiles and a variety in commercial beers.

Q. What sets your beers apart from others made in India?

A. We focus on producing great quality within a strict price bracket. Our USP is our brand ideology and unique approach. Copter7 Beers come in two variants:

COPTER7 STRONG BEER

Brewed along the lines of Strong German Märzen lager with imported Munich, Vienna, and Pilsner malts, Copter7 Strong is a malty amber lager with a toasty aroma. Lighter on the palate due to its low bitterness levels, the drink has a caramel sweetness which makes it smooth and flavourful. The hop flavor is minimal, giving it a mildly spicy and herbal tinge. This one is sure to evoke a celebration of tastes in your mouth, leaving you with the feeling of having bit into a freshly baked loaf of bread.

COPTER7 PREMIUM LAGER

This light, crisp beer is meant to refresh and quench your thirst. Brewed majorly with 2 Row Pilsner malt for a smooth and clean malt flavor, this maize-based drink has a distinctly fruity flavor to entice your taste buds.

Q. What sets your chocolates apart from others made in India?

A. Indian artisanal chocolates are finally receiving their due recognition. We offer high-quality bean-to-bar products which are priced significantly lower than their competition, without compromising on quality. Except for our Mulberry variant, the process of making each of our chocolates, right from the bean, is carried out by us. We use strictly Indian origin cacao and our chocolates are made with natural products. They are also vegan and GMO free. Collaborating with famous chocolatier David Belo made the process of producing these artisanal chocolates, smooth and exciting. We offer bespoke flavours using local ingredients, such as:  Mosambi Zest,

-Strawberry and Coffee (a dark chocolate variant), Mint, Mulberry (made with cocoa butter/non-vegan)

Q. What is the story behind the name? How did it come about?

A. Many sporting legends and celebrities have their own brands, but most are unable to make a connection with the audience. We like the word copter as it was inspired by M. S. Dhoni’s iconic helicopter shot and 7 is his Jersey number. Hence, we felt it was a beautiful fit and makes our brand story unique.

Q. What have been the biggest challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?

A. Setting anything up from scratch is a difficult task, and a brand of this magnitude came with its own set of challenges. It has taken us many years to put this together. The segment of beer in the food and beverage industry, is extremely competitive and difficult to enter. On the other hand, artisanal chocolates are completely niche, so we had unique issues to tackle. COVID-19 also led to tremendous delays and further uncertainty cropped up during the new wave. I believe there will always be challenges to deal with, but we should instead focus on the opportunities at hand.

Q. How did the collaboration with M. S. Dhoni come about?

A. The planning of this brand has taken over three years. The idea was to create something big in India and present it to the international space. Dhoni has been involved since its inception and it was the synergy between the vision and the thought process that made him believe in what we stand for.

Q. How can one access Copter7 products and what other products do you offer?

A. Copter7 products are currently only available in Mumbai, Pune and Goa in wine shops. They will be available in Bengaluru soon. Once lockdowns cease, they will be available across other cities of India in pubs, restaurants and other places. 

The interviewer pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on nooranand@gmail.com.

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SINGER SHAAN COMES UP WITH HIS NEXT SINGLE ‘YE FAASLA’

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NEW DELHI: A unique blend of peppy composition coalesced with a well accomplished voice of the stature of singer Shaan was an icing on the cake, and the Bengali song Mon Dubey Jaai went instantly viral in the social media. The song which released on Bengali New Year had so overwhelming response that noted singer Shaan decided to recreate the song in Hindi using the same tune on public demand. The song named ‘Ye Faasla’ has been written by Kunwar Juneja and the lyrics has been penned against the backdrop of second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a candid conversation the renowned singer says, “Every language has its own poetic charm, it does not translate well so we decided to use the same melody with different thought in Hindi like lockdown love. I wanted to keep it in a subtle way. Ye Faasla is a romantic song and gives a hope to couples who have been separated due to the pandemic that they will meet again and this time it will be forever. Many people felt that the tune is good and I should do it in Hindi also. While the Bengali song was poetic remembering someone whom you love and she may comeback, in Hindi people will relate it to yearning to be with our loved ones in these unprecedented times.

The ace singer who rose to fame with his song ‘Tanha Dil’ has conducted three shows earlier this year and his next song features a Holi celebration song for Yash Raj Films.

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RADHE’ BECOMES MOST WATCHED FILM WITH 42L VIEWS ON DAY 1

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Bollywood star Salman Khan’s much anticipated film, ‘Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai’ has made a record of being the most watched movie with 4.2 millions view on it’s opening day. Following his tradition of releasing his film on Eid as a token of love for fans, Salman Khan this time too kept his commitment intact. The film had a hybrid release, with theatrical release also premiered on OTT.

The film is available on pay-per-view service ZEEPlex, Zee5 and leading DTH operators. Salman Khan thanked his fans for all the love showered on his latest film. Taking it to his Twitter handle, Salman shared a poster of the film and announced that his movie has broken the records on the first day of its release and that the film was watched by more than 4.2 million viewers on the OTT platform.

He wrote, “Wishing everyone a very Happy Eid. Thank u all for the wonderful return gift by making Radhe the most-watched film on day 1. The film industry would not survive without your love n support. Thank u.” This is the first time when celebrated actor like Salman Khan released his movie on OTT platform, paving the way for other leading actors to go for OTT release. From filmmakers to Exhibitors, all were spectacular over the film’s hybrid release format. The actor himself was not sure of film’s performance.

Salman Khan said, ‘I apologize to all the theater owners that we are currently releasing this film on digital but this is true. Earlier our plan was to release in theaters after the epidemic is over but if the epidemic is not over. You may remember a few months ago on social media, theater owners were requesting that the film should be released in theaters on Eid. We agreed to it but this has not happened. The film has been released on OTT and in 20 to 25 theaters abroad. Once again theaters will open and if you like this film, we can re-release in theaters as well. ‘Salman Khan will soon be seen in’ Tiger 3 ‘and’ Kick 2 ‘. Trade Analyst, Taran Adarsh took to Twitter on Friday to express about the movie’s overseas performance on Day 1. Radhe’s day 1 box office collections in Australia amounted to AUD 62,988 (Rs 35.71 lakhs) while in New Zealand it was NZD 11,199 (5.90 lakhs). Adarsh also mentioned that ‘Radhe’ had a flying start in the UAE.

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ROBERT DE NIRO INJURED OFF-SET WHILE FILMING FOR ‘KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON’

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WASHINGTON : Hollywood star Robert De Niro returned back home to New York after injuring his leg off-set in Oklahoma while filming for ace filmmaker Martin Scorsese’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’, in which he is starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio.

The Apple Original Films production has been shooting in Bartlesville, Pawhuska, and Osage County, Oklahoma. TMZ reported that De Niro flew back to New York on Thursday and would be seeing a doctor Friday. A news outlet reported this week that the streets of Fairfax, Oklahoma had been covered with dirt to give it the look of 1919, while antique cars were brought in and De Niro was photographed sporting a pin-striped suit with a fedora. De Niro was already planning to take a few weeks off the production, according to TMZ, and it’s not known whether he will be returning to the set at a later date.

The film is based on David Grann’s bestselling non-fiction book about the newly-formed Bureau of Investigation, which tries to solve the serial murder of members of the Osage Nation. The project also stars Jesse Plemons, Tantoo Cardinal, Pat Healy, and Lily Gladstone. “We are thrilled to finally start production on ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ in Oklahoma,” Scorsese said in a statement when production started last month.

Talking about the upcoming movie he added, “To be able to tell this story on the land where these events took place is incredibly important and critical to allowing us to portray an accurate depiction of the time and people. …We’re excited to start working with our local cast and crew to bring this story to life on screen and immortalise a time in American history that should not be forgotten.” 

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BOLLYWOOD’S LOW-KEY EID CELEBRATIONS

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MUMBAI: On the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr 2021, several celebrities took to their social media handles to pour their wishes and urged people to stay safe. While the big parties and celebration have been cancelled, everyone have to celebrate the festival following coronavirus protocols.

Celebrities have shared cherishing pictures and wishes for their fans. Sanjay Dutt celebrated the festival with his kids and wife Maanayata Dutt while Shahid Kapoor and wife Mira Kapoor shared their photos on their respective Instagram accounts wishing fans a happy Eid Mubarak. Bhumi Pednekar, Emraan Hashmi, Isha Koppikar and others tweeted wishes for fans.

Television celebrities like Aly Goni, Jasmin Bhasin and Divyanka Tripathi Dahiya also took to social media to share wishes. This year actors from Shah Rukh Khan to Salman Khan all have celebrated Eid in a low key.

Bhumi Pednekar who has turned a corona warrior by helping and funding people for treatment had a special message for fans. Bhumi, tweeted, “Eid Mubarak. Today’s plan is to eat sheer khurma and keep going on with tons of positive energy and strength 🙂 Am missing My Eidi and the excitement we would have as children on getting it #nostalgic #CovidWarrior.” Emraan Hashmi posted, “Eid Mubarak to all !! Wishing everyone good health and happiness ! Stay safe and stay strong.”

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