Known for exploring new trends and genres, Shilpa Rao is back to win hearts with her latest song Roz Roz, which is in collaboration with The Yellow Diary. Joining NewsX for a candid chat as part of a special NewsX India A-list, Shilpa spoke about the journey of creating the song Roz Roz, especially amid the pandemic, and reflected upon her journey so far.
Reflecting upon the year gone by, Shilpa expressed that the last year was weird and it was particularly difficult to record songs but they made it happen through emails, voice notes, and recording from home. Expressing her gratitude to all the love and appreciation coming her way for Roz Roz, Shilpa said, “It feels really special when people point out a particular line and say that they can relate to it.”
Exclaiming how “creators can’t sit still”, Shilpa said that as creators, their mind keeps on working all the time. Previously it was hard to manage the time as they had to travel a lot, but now, when they are at home, all the energy goes in one direction and it’s easy to finish the work. She added that artists are always up for something creative. “Not only I, but so many artists came up with brilliant music in the year 2020. Professionally, it was weird to see a drastic change in the year 2020 but it was a good year.” She also mentioned that although we all were scattered during the pandemic, art kept everyone connected.
2020 was also special for Shilpa on a personal level as she tied the knot with Ritesh Krishnan. On opting for an intimate wedding ceremony, Shilpa said, “Our parents are elderly people, so we chose to have a simple registered marriage at home. We kept it plain yet it was a perfect wedding. We officially registered for the wedding and all my friends and family members from all over the world, joined in to see the ceremony on a video call.”
According to Shilpa, ”Tose Naina Lage” has been the game changer song of her life. “It comes from a different world altogether, we made it done. It was the most special song for me and will be, Mithoon & I really work hard on this song and to know what I and Mithoon were in 2006, one should listen to the song,” said Shilpa.
Addressing the coronavirus pandemic, Rao said, “We don’t need complex people, we need empathic people.” Sharing a piece of advice with aspiring musicians, Shilpa added, “All are running a race and want to do much more to get success but the world right now needs the pacifiers.”
The interview ended on a musical note with Shilpa singing one of her favourite song, Tose Naina Lage from the film Anwar.
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THE UNEVEN PLAYING FIELD OF UNNATURAL ALLIES
As Maharashtra’s Maha Vikas Aghadi government goes from crisis to ICU mode, there is a larger lesson here on coalition politics. At the very outset, the alliance was termed as an unnatural one that saw ideologically opposite parties like the Congress-NCP join hands with the radical right wing Shiv Sena. For the coalition to tango, one side had to give in and interestingly it was the Sena that took most of the backward steps. It compromised on its hardcore Hindutva ideology, toned down its rhetoric and tried an image makeover under the aegis of Uddhav Thackeray and his heir apparent Aaditya Thackeray. The politics of both Uddhav and Aaditya were progressive, they talked new age concerns like environment and sent the right feelers on governance from the financial capital of the country. The one mistake they made perhaps was not to involve all the stakeholders, it is now clear by Eknath Shinde’s comments that they felt left out of the governance pie and also resented the hold that individuals like Sanjay Raut, Sharad Pawar and even a first time MLA Aaditya himself had over the party. (An interesting factoid is that in 2019 Aditya was the first Thackeray to contest polls and his father the first Thackeray to sit on the CMs chair. Usually Bal Thackeray preferred to appoint a nominee as CM and run the state by remote control from Matoshree.) Whatever the reasons, if the government topples, it would set the Sena back on the path of regressive, chest thumping hardline politics and that would be a tragedy. But that’s another column.
To come back to the topic of unnatural alliances, the first sign of rebellion from Shinde and his men was regarding the MLC elections when they were not happy with the party dictat to support a Congress candidate. The hold of the NCP over governance and powerful ministerial portfolios was another grouse. In the end, it was not so much about ideology about power. But then, that’s how it always is.
Take a look at the Mahagathbandan in Bihar, where again, two political foes—Lalu Yadav’s RJD and Nitish Kumar’s JD(U)—came together on one platform. That did not last long with Nitish soon finding his way back to the BJP. Or even the not so unnatual alliance between two UP Ke Ladke that had Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi contesting from the same platform in the 2017 state assembly polls. When one side did not pull its weight in the ballot boxes that alliance broke with the two taking pot shots at each other. Ditto for the alliance between the SP and Mayawati’s BSP in the 2019 Lok Sabha where the cadres on ground found it difficult to canvass for a party they had spent a lifetime taking pot shots at.
This brings us to the larger issue at play—while on paper, it is all very well for strategists like Prashant Kishor to talk about bringing the entire opposition on one platform to take on the BJP in the Lok Sahba polls, the reality on ground is very different where the Congress and various regional parties are fighting each other at the state level. Bringing diverse parties and egos on one platform post polls is also not easy as Dr Manmohan Singh found out when he tried to run a coalition with both Mamata and the CPM. Which brings another twist in the BJP vs The Rest version of the Game of Thrones, and again, as with most political turns these days, it’s one that works in Modi’s favour.
FATF SHOULDN’T BRING PAK OUT OF GREY LIST
Pakistan is all set to come out of the FATF grey list, according to a report in The Sunday Guardian, the sister newspaper of The Daily Guardian Review. The report suggests that China has been quietly lobbying Pakistan’s case with the Financial Action Task Force, which has put India’s western neighbour on the grey list of countries that require monitoring for money laundering and terror financing. Apparently, the ongoing FATF plenary in Berlin will take a call on Pakistan’s continuation on the list and there is a high probability that Islamabad will be seen to have fulfilled the 27th of the 27 conditions put on it. The last condition is of prosecution of senior leaders, and the 33-year-long term jail term handed to terrorist mastermind Hafiz Saeed will be seen as positive action. It is a different matter that Hafiz Saeed will serve several of these sentences simultaneously and may not be in jail even for five years and if pardoned in certain cases, maybe even less. Even otherwise, we have seen what a farce Pakistani action against its pet terrorists can be. Take the case of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attack case. He had untrammelled access to television, mobile phones, internet and several visitors. He was allowed conjugal visits and fathered a child when “in jail”. In fact Hafiz Saeed’s stay at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail last year was a farce because he was found to be at home when a car bomb exploded in front of his house in June 2021. There have been reports about Daniel Pearl’s killer, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, being given home-like facilities at Hyderabad Central Jail, courtesy his closeness to one of then Prime Minister Imran Khan’s men.
Also, given terrorism is state policy for Pakistan, it will be too much to expect it to turn off the tap of terror—which it uses against India and other countries at will—when the international community seems more than eager to believe its case.
As for China, it has a long track record of using non state actors against its adversaries, sometimes through its proxies. More often than not, Pakistan acts as China’s proxy to keep India’s western borders restive. Pakistan and North Korea are anyway the two proxies that China has to keep India and Japan, respectively, on the “nuclear edge”.
Apart from this, supporting terrorism is part of China’s “political” warfare against India. There have been credible reports of Chinese generals establishing contacts with terrorist groups that Pakistan uses against India, including attempting to revive an India-specific group known as Al Badr, which had gone defunct. It was because of China that it took 10 years—from 2009 to 2019—for India to get the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad commander Masood Azhar listed as a global terrorist by the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee, and this in spite of India having the support of the other members of the UNSC. China is believed to have paid—or is paying—protection money to terror groups functioning in the Af-Pak area to secure its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, as these groups have stepped up attacks against Chinese interests. If we look at India’s Northeast, China has been funding insurgencies there. Reports are that this has happened in Myanmar and Thailand as well.
China and Pakistan apparently are “iron brothers”, and the deeper a bankrupt Pakistan slips into China’s trap and becomes its client state, it is but natural that to stabilise the situation and complete the Chinese projects, China would want Pakistan out of the FATF grey list. China has sunk billions of dollars in CPEC and that money is stuck, with CPEC not going anywhere at present. So it is in Beijing’s interest that Pakistan comes out of the FATF grey list.
But that will be a major mistake, and no amount of economic difficulties faced by Pakistan justifies taking it out of the grey list. It is hoped that whatever be the pressure from, or lobbying by PRC, the FATF will not forget that Pakistan will never mend its way. It is a terror state and will continue to be a terror state.
Decoding gender-neutral clothing
In simple terms, Gender-Neutral clothing or androgynous clothing can be classified as unisex clothing. However, it is much more political than that. To know this, we must understand the difference between gender and sex. Sex is something which is biological and assigned to us by birth, gender however is a social construct. Gender roles are defined and shaped by society, history and social conditioning of the time. Gender Neutrality thus breaks away from this conditioned notion of gender and acquires a more free and inclusive space. Gender Neutrality is a move towards a world that doesn’t distinguish between genders through societal forms like language, colours or even clothing.
NEED OF THE HOUR
Not only gender-neutral clothing is “trendy”, but it is also the need of the hour. Individuals need to feel more free, comfortable, and occupy a safe space without the fear of being judged for any choice that they make. The clothes under gender-neutral clothing don’t come with the label “for men” or “for women”. It is also a move towards the larger ideology that fashion is genderless; it is neither masculine nor feminine. It is for everyone, for every fit, size or body type.
INCLUSIVE FASHION IS ON THE RISE
Fashion has always evolved with people and also can significantly influence them. With the world becoming bold, free, safe and inclusive, it is fair that fashion had to comply. To suit the needs of individuals to be accepted as they are and make choices that are gender fluid, there have to be options available. There are several collections and lines by leading brands which are a move toward a genderless world. The value of self-worth is over everything. Equl store is one of a kind and India’s first complete gender-neutral clothing brand. From sizing to design, everything is very thoughtfully crafted. Their sizes are kept bigger than the usual standard size to promote physical and psychological ease. Their “Feel Good Collection” is crafted to make you feel good, of your choices and also to highlight the fact that they use sustainable fabric.
GENDER-NEUTRAL FASHION IS MORE SUSTAINABLE
Gender Neutrality is not just a fashion trend; rather it’s a fashion revolution for which the world was waiting for. It makes a positive political and sustainable statement. With the same number of options available, there is no need to rebrand the market or fit them separately thereby reducing the burden on the planet.
PROMOTES A POSITIVE BODY IMAGE
Gender-Neutral fashion also promotes a healthy body image. It breaks away from the notion of what is “desirable” and normalises both petite and plus sizes. Each style is available in all sizes promoting that there is no one normal or accepted body size. Fashion and style exist for everyone and there is no play of size in the same. There are brands that are trying to break this notion by basing their entire market positioning on neutral and sustainable clothing.
HELPS YOU OWN YOUR CHOICES
Since gender-neutral clothing doesn’t conform to one gender or one size, it enables an individual to be unapologetically themselves and own their choices. It is a move away from what society or generational conditioning has taught us to be like: Skinny girls should wear fitted clothes, boys shouldn’t wear pink, and people who weigh more should wear loosely fitted clothes. Gender-neutral clothing promotes being unabashedly you. To reinforce this idea, Equl store’s collection name is ‘The Feel Good Collection’ which as its name suggests is made to help you feel good about yourself and also the planet since they use sustainable hemp and cotton fabric. “It also promotes you to be effortlessly bold and expressive. They have curated a contemporary range of clothing that features fits, sizes, and colours that are completely gender-neutral and break away from the conditioning of “Pink is for girls and blue is for boys”. The tagline for the Feel Good collection is ‘Your Voice Can Change The World’ inspired by the famous quote “Be the change you want to see”.
The writer is Managing Partner, EQUL Store.
NO CUSTODIAL CRIME TO HAPPEN IN TAMIL NADU ANYMORE, SAYS STALIN
In the wake of the custodial death of Vignesh, who mysteriously died on April 19, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin said, “accused in police custody should not be tortured physically or mentally”.
He assured that there will be no lock up crimes in Tamil Nadu any more. Stalin further said that the government had not hid anything. “We have given required instructions to prevent custodial deaths in future”, the CM said.
Stalin added that those who were arrested should be presented in front of the magistrate following due procedures.
The death of Vignesh who used to offer horse rides as livelihood in Marina beach in Chennai, became a subject of political slugfest between the ruling party and opposition in Tamil Nadu. The 25-year-old suffered multiple injuries and fractures on his body, indicating custodial death due to torture.
The post-mortem report too indicated a foul play. However, the state police claimed that the death was natural.
Milan awaits its visitors after the pandemic
Milan is an important centre whose main activities are industry, trade and finance. It covers a total area of 182 square kilometers and has an establish- ished population of over one million nine hundred thousand. The earliest history of Milan dates back to 400 B.C. with the settling of Gallic tribes in the heart of the Po Valley. These tribes mixed with the already existing Insubres, and the Etruscans, whose splendid historical era was about to close. Both the age of foundation and the origin of its name are derived from tradition. Historians base their theories on archeological findings which have been dug up from Milan’s sub-soil.
The ancient name ” Mediolanium ” might have its origin in the settling of Belloveso and his tribes in the centre of the Plain of Lombardy, that is in the centre of the triangle between the rivers Po, Ticino and Adda. Legend has it that the name is derived from the “ scrofa semi lanuta “, that is half-woollen sow, (from the Latin: medio = semi and lanum=wool), but this seems improbable although the sow may have been used in the coat of-arms. In 222 B.C. the Romans invaded Milan and development has been going on ever since. The once small village grew larger and greater, and out of the original few acres of the early ” Castrum ” it reached the peak of its splendor in the third and fourth centuries.
The poet Ausonio called it “Roma secunda ” (the second Rome). Massimiano, who shared the empire with Diocleziano, established his residence here, and undertook to embellish it with great new buildings and wider walls. In 313 Constantine proclaimed his famous edict of free worship, here in Milan. In this period the paleochristian basilicas were built. In 374 St. Ambrose was appointed bishop of the diocese, and on his death, in 397, the Milanese Church took up the Ambrosian Rite which is still used today.
The most admired and remarkable remains of the Roman ” Mediolanum ” are the sixteen columns of St. Lorenzo in Corso Ticinese, while the Massimiano walls are partly incorporated could be begun. The castle was victim of more great damage during the bombing of 1943, but alter the war more reconstruction work was clone cn the buildings, the Ancient Arts Museum and the halls of the forts. The front of the castle with its round towers on each side, laces the city, in the centre of the front we can see the Tower of Filarete, rebuilt in 1900 with Beltrami’s refacing. The interior is divided into the great courtyard or military square, and, looking towards the park, the fort on the left, and the ducal courtyard on the right. Between these two, rises the tower added by Bona of Savoy in 1477. The two massive towers on the park-side corners give it the appearance of a fortress. The north tower houses the Hall of Assi (boards), while the other, called the Castellano Tower or Treasure Hall, contains the remains of Bramante’s fresco painting of Argus.
The Ancient Arts Museum contains varied artistic material, and is interesting to visitors also for its Renaissance period halls. It is world famous for its works by Leonardo and Michelangelo, the greatest artists Italy ever produced. The museum winds through the halls on the ground and first floors of the ducal courtyard, from the Chancellery Hall one can walk along the battlements, through the tower of Bona of Savoy to the fortress hall which houses a collection of ceramics and musical instruments. In the hall once called the Scarlioni Hall because of its decorations, we find the ” Pieta Rondanini ”, Michelangelo’s last — unfinished — work. Among the other sculptures can be seen the lving statue of Gastone of Foix bv Bambaia. In the Hall of Assi, so called because of the panelling which covers the walls, Leonardo created the most prodigious decorations which transform the vault of the ceiling into a dome of extraordinarily beautiful green leaves. One of the halls is dedicated to ancient armourv and houses armoury, halberds, shields, spears, spiked clubs and helmets, most of which were produced bv Milanese armourers. Other rooms are the homes of antique furniture, and the picture gallery is rich in the works of Lombardic painters. The fourteenth century frescoes in the room which is a reconstruction of a room once lound in the Roccabianca Castle near Parma, are also interesting as they represent the ” Story of Gualtieri and Griselda ”.
Finally, a must-see in Milan is the church of Santa Maria Delle Grazie, where Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous painting of the Last Supper of Jesus is located. You can see this work in the refectory section of the church with a guide by booking a last supper tour.
MAKING OUR PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE GOOD
The present becomes the past after some time, and the future is just a little while away; once we reach there, it will be the present, before it too becomes the past. This play of the past, present and future goes on all the time.
How do we make sure that our past, present and future, all are good? The key is attention to what we are thinking and doing. The past is being created in the present; once the time has passed, we cannot do anything about it. But when we utilise the present prudently, being the best we can be, there is great satisfaction when we look back on it later, knowing that we used our time and other resources well. Do we live in the present in such a way that once it has become the past it is a source of inspiration for others?
Coming to the present, we can make it such that it really is a present—a gift—for everyone who meets us. A gift makes everyone happy—no matter how agitated, sad, or upset someone is, when they receive a present given with genuine love, they experience a wave of happiness. The value of a gift is determined not by the thing that is given but by the love that accompanies it. That is what gives joy to others and brings the giver their blessings and good wishes. The easy method to spread joy and live a life full of blessings is to freely give others presents such as love, cooperation, encouraging words, and good wishes. These are the presents needed the most today by almost everyone, and when we bestow these in the present, our past becomes such that it inspires regard and gratitude in the hearts of others.
What about the future? Our features can give others a glimpse of the future. How? When our eyes, smile, behaviour, and relationships are imbued with peace, love, compassion, and dignity, it shows others that it is possible to live an elevated life in today’s world; it creates a benchmark for them to follow. This is how each one of us can contribute to creating a better future for the human family.
B.K. Atam Prakash is a Rajyoga teacher at the Brahma Kumaris headquarters in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.
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