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Shopping for luxury in a virtual world

A list of the finest things available for seekers and collectors of luxury, who will have to acquire their new possessions on the online marketplace this year.

Anshu Khanna

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For compulsive luxury shoppers, collectors and connoisseurs, acquiring another object of desire is turning into a pipe dream this year. With no auctions, art shows or museums to go through in this pandemic, luxury markets are facing an all-time low. The forecasts have not been very rosy either, with a recent report by Bain & Company predicting a 35% drop in sales by the end of 2020 and the Swatch Group estimating a sales drop of about 40%.

Luxury made in India is usually handmade and steeped in heritage. It is reliant on festivities, weddings and other happy moments. Indian markets see a substantial jump in shopping the moment winters set in too, and collectors start adding to their treasures. For some, this year is no different. Though locked up in their whimsical castles, luxury seekers are resorting to armchair travel through the very verbose online landscape. This year, it is all about ‘staying home, staying safe’ and enjoying the finer things in life.

All through this week, I ravaged through some online stores and Instagram pages to compile this list of seven rare collectibles that lotus-eaters can add to their repertoire of possessions.

The first is the Italian Atelier series curated by Casa Paradox. Hand-pick the finest from this series and add a spectacular timepiece made from fine onyx and gold-plated carvings in brass to your work desk.

Of all the ornamentation that the king of Indian couture is renowned for, the Calcutta sling by Sabyasachi Mukherjee takes the crown. It rings in nostalgia, conjuring an instant imagery of that town dotted with Thakur-badis, Victorian architecture, puchkas, the Howrah Bridge and laidback high teas with cakes from Flurys.

If you want vintage art, go to Artisera, the one website that offers the rarest of all vintage art. My pick is the gold dusted Kinnala busts. Tracing its origins to the 15th-16th centuries during the reign of the mighty Vijaynagara Empire, Kinnala idols are known for their vibrant colours, shining gold and beautiful detailing. It is believed that the intricate work on the magnificent wooden chariot in Hampi was done by early practitioners of the art form. Today, Kinnala art is practiced by just 25 families in the village of Kinhal, 55 km from Hampi.

Fourth on the list is a rare carpet from Carpet Cellar. During the reign of the Mughal dynasty, the taste for naturalistic floral sprays reached an apogee of artistic expression. Mughal design drew heavily from South Asian and Persian designs, with each flower and blade of grass painted with perfection, every petal abloom and positioned to please the viewer to the best of the artist’s ability. Add this carpet to your drawing room today.

Next we have a love settee, carved from the rarest of rosewood, swathed in a sheet of silver and furnished with the finest chintz—a part of the Victorian era when lovers had a chaperone seated next to them. This piece by Sanjeev Bali Lifestyles is a delight.

Arras, or embroidery in French, is captured to artistic perfection in this pichwai created by Dhruv Dhir within the Ateliers of Shanti in Benaras. One of the fifty pieces ever made, this Radha-Krishna in Sunderban piece is a sight for sore eyes. Measuring six by three feet, it has used over 300 silk threads for embroidering each foot—a feat of handicraft indeed.

And the last pick is a real feast for the eyes, a nostalgia rush. Many swear by the handlooms of Varanasi but it is at Delhi Vintage Co that you find them coordinated to such perfection with an embellished kanchli to match.

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VIR DAS TO DEVELOP AMERICAN COUNTRY MUSIC COMEDY SERIES

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WASHINGTON: Actor-comedian Vir Das is developing a country music comedy series titled ‘Country Eastern’ for Fox.

As per Variety, Das is attached to co-write and executive produce the project with Sam Laybourne, with Laybourne also attached to serve as showrunner. Das might also star in the upcoming project. Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer and Ali Bell of Party Over Here will also executive produce along with Reg Tigerman. CBS Studios and Fox Entertainment will produce.

Titled ‘Country Eastern’, the single-camera show has received a script commitment with a penalty attached. The show is about a young wealthy man from India who restarts his life in America with his family. While attempting to rebuild their lives in Memphis, Tennessee, he decides to pursue his passion and become a country music singer. Only problem: he’s shit. Total shit. He’s going to have to gain some life experience in the States if he wants to have something real to sing about.

This would mark Das’ first US series lead and his second series regular role following his stint on ABC’s spy dramedy ‘Whiskey Cavalier’. Das also created, executive produced and starred in the Netflix Indian dark comedy series ‘Hasmukh’. 

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SELENA GOMEZ TO PRODUCE TRUE-CRIME DOCUSERIES

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WASHINGTON: Singer-actor Selena Gomez has inked a deal with Univision, marking her first producer role for a Spanish-language series.

As per The Hollywood Reporter, under the deal, Gomez will expand her brand into Spanish-language TV and film production. The 29-year-old singer-actor, along with her production company, July Moon Productions, signed a deal to produce Univision’s true-crime docuseries ‘Mi Vecino, El Cartel’ (which means The Cartel Among Us).

The project will air on Univision’s forthcoming subscription streaming service.

The upcoming series will follow the murder of Juan Guerrero Chap, a former cartel lawyer and high-level cooperator for the US government. In a release, the network said the case “rocked a quiet suburban town in Texas and launched a multiyear international investigation.”

Speaking about her production venture, Gomez said, “As a true crime fan, I was immediately captivated when I heard the story surrounding the homicide of Juan Guerrero Chapa. Not only did it take place close to my hometown in Texas, but it was also a story, unlike anything I’ve ever heard.”

She added, “I am excited to partner with Univision and really pull back the layers of his double life.” Blackfin, under Hasbro’s eOne umbrella, is also on board as a producer. 

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GOT UNFIT OVER THE LAST FEW MONTHS: ALAYA F

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MUMBAI: Actor Alaya F feels she has got “very unfit” over the last few months.

On Wednesday, Alaya took to her Instagram account and gave a brief update about her health and fitness. “Got very unfit over the last few months, I was so caught up in my work commitments that I stopped taking care of my body and lost a lot of my strength.. things that used to be so easy to do now feel so hard.. which can be so demotivating. But I’m slowly and steadily taking back control and inching towards a healthier, fitter, stronger me again,” she wrote.

Alongside the note, Alaya posted a video of her doing work out. Reacting to the clip, her ‘Freddy’ co-star Kartik Aaryan quipped, “Ye unfit hai?” Alaya, who made her Bollywood debut with Saif Ali Khan’s ‘Jawaani Jaaneman’ in 2019, will next be seen in ‘Freddy’ and ‘U Turn’. 

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WOMEN WILL LOVE MY CHARACTER IN ‘ATRANGI RE’: SARA

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NEW DELHI: Ahead of the release of ‘Atrangi Re’, actor Sara Ali Khan opened up about her character of Rinku in the film.

According to her, women will definitely fall in love with her role. “I absolutely fell in love with Rinku during my process of playing her. Rinku as a character, is loud, assertive and confident as her external characteristics, but then she also has a tinge of innocence in her, which was something very interesting, exciting and challenging for me. Aanand ji really made me fall in love with her, and seep into the character. I think every woman in today’s generation will love Rinku. She knows exactly what she wants and goes for it without any apprehension or hesitation. Playing ‘Rinku’ on screen was in a way a very fulfilling and an enriching experience,” Sara said.

‘Atrangi Re’ is directed by Aanand L Rai. It also stars Akshay Kumar and Dhanush.

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CELEBRITIES JET OFF TO JAIPUR FOR KATRINA, VICKY’S WEDDING

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JAIPUR: It’s time for the wedding of the year! Bollywood stars Katrina Kaif and Vicky Kaushal will tie the knot on December 9 at Six Senses Fort Barwara, Rajasthan, and guests have already started arriving for the big fat wedding.

Radhika Madan, was spotted at the Jaipur Airport on Tuesday. Katrina Kaif’s ‘Baar Baar Dekho’ director Nitya Mehra and Vicky Kaushal’s close friend and actor Malavika Mohanan were also seen at the airport. Other celebrities who have arrived on Tuesday include Vijay Krishna Acharya and ‘Bunty Aur Babli 2’ actor Sharvari. Neha Dhupia and Angad Bedi were also spotted at the Mumbai aiport.

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SARA TURNS EMOTIONAL AS ‘KEDARNATH’ COMPLETES 3 YEARS

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MUMBAI: Yesterday was a special day for actress Sara Ali Khan as her first film ‘Kedarnath’ completed three years since its release.

Taking to Instagram, she penned a heartfelt post. “3 years ago my biggest dream came true. I became an actor, and my first, and most special film released. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to explain how much Kedarnath means to me- the place, the film, the memories, all of it,” she wrote.

The film’s third anniversary has also made Sara emotional as it brought back her memories with late actor Sushant Singh Rajput, who had essayed the role of her love interest. “But today I’m really missing my Mansoor. It’s only because of Sushant’s unwavering support, selfless help, constant guidance and compassionate advice that Mukku was able to reach your hearts. From Kedarnath to Andromeda. Miss you forever Sushant,” she added.

Sara also thanked director of the film Abhishek Kapoor for giving her the opportunity to act in ‘Kedarnath’.

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