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Simar Dugal: A model, muse and mother

To define model-turned-designer Simar Dugal in one mould would be doing the greatest disservice to a woman who was first and foremost a mother to her dashing son.

Anshu Khanna



“She’s kind of a walking poem, she’s this perfect beauty… but at the same time very deep, very smart.” — Johnny Depp

Browsing through Internet today in search of a quote to define her, this is the one that popped up. Not a word from Wordsworth or another poet, but one that so perfectly defined this dream that wafted through our lives, like a cool breeze to simply fly away, at too early an age, too soon in life.

Simar Dugal — the eternal beauty within and without — to define her in one mould would be doing the greatest disservice to a woman who was first and always a mother to her dashing son, Arjan. In fact, she even walked into the world of fashion with him in tow. She was married then to Premjit Dugal (part of the Dugal family that built half of Delhi during the Raj) and was the daughter of the firebrand, Rita Sawhney, a landscape photographer who got widowed early and brought both her kids up with much resilience. The Sawhneys, amongst other things, own the Plaza cinema and Tonino, and are possibly the most respected family of Sikhs in India. Prem was equally enriched in his lineage. This sense of calm belonging is what reflected ethereally on Simar’s face. The contentment of not wanting to hustle, push or run roughshod over others.

She was cajoled into the world of fashion by good friends, whom I call the “fashion’s originals”: Mehr Jesia, her friend; Ritu Kumar, a pal to Rita; the with-it gang: Rohit Bal, Suneet Varma, whom she partied with, and patrons of finesse like Meera and Muzaffar Ali. Fashion then was an emerging animal in the world of popular culture, and a restless one at that, as it promised to overpower all other forms of expression. As a young writer then, I recall attending a concert by Pandit Jasraj one day, a play by Feisal Alkazi on another and a dance recital by Sonal Mansingh on day three — until fashion overtook everything and observers of culture were made to write on fashion first.

 Simar’s debut made the world sit up. The only other time I recall being awed instantly was when I had heard Shubha Mudgal at her debut concert. Seeing Simar walking down the ramp was as spiritual. In the words of Meera Ali, “It was around 1993-94 when Mehr Jesia told Muzaffar and me, ‘I’ve found the perfect face for Kotwara’.” And sure enough, the face was perfect and beautiful, reflecting an inner peace. The face was Simar Dugal’s, the statuesque new model who did her first ramp show with us at the Crafts Museum in Delhi, choreographed by Mehr. “We were around the same age and her son, Arjan, was a couple of months younger than my daughter, Sama. We worked together many many times over the years,” reminisces Meera.

Those were the days when models looked like themselves and not as clones of each other. There was Madhu Sapre, Ruchi Malhotra, Nayanika Chatterjee, Aparna Sharma, Mehr Jesia, Aishwarya Rai, Bipasha Bas — all of them walking the ramp and then hanging out together. However, the most haunting face among all of them was that of Simar Dugal’s.

Her beauty was eternal. A dear friend who met her two days before she passed shares, “I met her as she sat on a wheelchair, in a kaftan, waif-like but beautiful. There was not a blemish on that porcelain skin.” Yes, her end was calm, surrounded, as she always was, with friends and family — with her soulmate, Rajeet Nabha, proving that true love still existed, and her best friend, Radhika Kapoor, at her bedside. “Sim was in my DNA. I don’t know how I will live now. Whatever she designed, she made me model first. She was like my daughter’s second mother,” she shares. Married into the family known for Hitkari Potteries, and being a great jewellery designer herself, the beautiful Radhika was by Simar’s side right through her treatment in the US and ever after. Radhika never left her side. It was cancer that took her away, spreading from the pancreas to the liver. Simar reigned supreme on the ramp for years. Not only on the ramp but also in fashion editorial shoots. She was perfect for the era when ‘truly Indian’ designed reigned. Although for pal, Suneet, she shot a few gownesque photos. His obituary for her says, “My delicate white rose wilted this morning — but the memories of her beauty will forever remain in my heart.” Adding to that, Rohit Bal says: “Uncountable memories of moments filled with joy, laughter, love, caring… memories of her beauty, elegance, charm and caring. It leaves the heart singing a slow and sombre song of sorrow. Her grace, gentle, affectionate embraces of pure friendship. And her struggle, her spirit of being the ultimate warrior… leaves us only with tears of loss.”

 Equally devastated is Ritu Kumar whom she shot with on many occasions and also posed as her muse for the famed book on royal costumes penned by her. She shares, “I have known the family for a long time, from my childhood in Amritsar where they lived. Initially, they were conservative and wary of her desire to become a model. Her first assignment was a rather naive shoot at our showroom, when she was in her teens. Subsequently, Simar moved on to become one of the most known faces on the Indian ramp and was a muse for many design houses. She was special to me, and modelled for my book The Costumes and Textiles of Royal India, as well as for a dozen or more ‘Tree of Life’ shows that we did, telling the story of Indian crafts. We all travelled all over the world and she was particularly interested in history and content. On the ramp, she brought to the table a grace, attitude and intelligence as well as beauty which was all her own and rare in the world of fashion. Her body language told a story which conveyed much more than the clothes she wore. She was highly intelligent, a wonderful human being and a friend as we both shared a love for textiles.”

It was this zen for design that got her to dabble in art. In this field as well she went towards the contemporary masters: George Martin, Binoy Verghese, Pratul Dash and Laxma Goud. Binoy recalls, “She was a goddess. She had such an eye for art. In an instant, she knew. ‘Binoy this is a good piece,’ she would say.”

 Her role as a designer was her true swan song, and it was one that reverberated with the same richness and sense of the pristine. This beauty took the silhouette of the Kashmiri phiran to a new high, adding to it the sherara, the farshi and the gorgeous craft of gotapatti and other forms of applique. “Simar Dugal”, the brand got worn by the film industry’s front runners, was included in every trousseau, and became part of every young girl’s Indian look. Shares the famed merchandiser Gurleen Mehta, who promoted her in Evolutione, “It was as if a dam had burst and a volcano of design was erupting. She had such a distinct design language. So unique, that every bride wanted to buy it, hands down.” Just back after witnessing her final moments, she adds, “It’s incredible how beautiful she looked even on her last journey.”

 She was a good soul, and for everyone who knew her, including me, a pal who I could connect with on many grounds. I am convinced someone like her will never ever walk the ramp again.

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MUMBAI : Touted as a versatile performer and one of the most bankable young stars, Aditya Roy Kapur is gearing up for his next release, ‘OM’. Transforming into a completely new avatar, the versatile actor is leaving no stone unturned to get into the skin of a ripped action hero.

According to a source, Aditya is also keeping busy reading scripts and has been offered 4 projects which he is considering. A source revealed, “Ahead of the release of ‘OM’, various filmmakers have approached Aditya with some cream projects owing to his rising popularity. Currently, he is taking time to choose as he wants to challenge himself as an artist and wants to take up roles that are diverse.”

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In Bollywood, an array of celebrities have got infected within a span of a few weeks.

With a total of 4,14,188 new COVID-19 cases being recorded in the last 24 hours, India again reported its highest single-day spike on the second consecutive day.

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Expectant and new mothers need more protein during pandemic

Dr Aalika Banerji Shah



As we continue to feel the tremors of the Covid-19 pandemic in different waves, a largely affected group is that of expecting and new mothers. The world is aware about the significance of the care and attention that pregnant women and new moms need but the pandemic has only increased concerns. With prolonged periods of isolation, lack of in-person doctor interventions and limited interaction opportunities within the community, pregnant women and new mothers need additional support. This year on Mother’s Day, it is crucial to create awareness for ‘pandemic moms’ and their healthcare, immunity, strength and nutrition, especially for overlooked deficiencies of essential macronutrients such as protein.


Protein develops the building blocks of organs, muscles, skin, and hormones. While adults need it for tissue maintenance and repair, children need it for growth. This is exactly what makes protein such an important pillar of health for pregnant women and recovering new moms. Babies need to be supported with micro and macronutrients for better growth and nourishment. Good health for the baby and the mother is supported by a mindful consumption of the right nutrients by the mother. The most important dietary guidelines for all new moms or mothers in general are:

• Ensure you have the right amount of protein in each meal, balanced with healthy unrefined carbohydrates and good fats

• A good dose of vitamin C, iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium and vitamin D are also required which you can get from fruits, nuts and veggies to keep your immune system up and running

• Stay hydrated and away from sugary foods, refined carbs, oily and processed foods

As protein is responsible for the development of hormones, it ensures that women have adequate hormonal levels that are required to be maintained during pregnancy and for post-pregnancy recovery. Furthermore, protein assists in adequate production of milk and development of neurotransmitters that help women avoid postpartum depression. It also plays a crucial role in maintaining muscle mass to carry out their daily activities and maintain good health even after pregnancy.


The general rule of thumb is that 25% of a plate in every meal should include protein. Protein consumption is no rocket science. It is available in plenty in most Indian dietary preferences. However, the variety of options is yet a mystery to many. In 2020, the Right to Protein’s Protein Paradox Study revealed that mothers could identify only basic sources of protein which probably continues to the larger protein deficiency challenge of the country. Therefore it is crucial to know about several easily accessible sources of protein from which pregnant women and new moms can receive their nutrition. These include foods like:

• Meats such as chicken, turkey, duck, mutton, etc.

• Seafood such as salmon, mackerel, pomfret, etc.

• Pulses such as soybeans, kidney beans, mung beans, etc.

• Nuts such as soy nuts, peanuts, almonds, etc.

• Grains such as oats, quinoa, millets, amaranth, etc.

• Seeds such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, etc

The best way to increase protein intake is to consume complete proteins. Complete protein foods are those that contain all nine amino acids essential for the human body that are not synthesized and need to be consumed through daily diet. These include animal protein sources such as poultry, fish, eggs, etc. Vegetarians can find their complete protein in the newly emerging superfood, soy, which has all essential amino acids and is comparable to any animal protein produce. Soy, in its many forms as soy chaap, chunks, milk, nuts or mock meat, which are alternative protein options for non-vegetarians too, can help meet one’s daily protein requirements easily.


It is true that navigating into new motherhood is not an easy feat and doing it during a pandemic has evidently added to the challenges. According to UNICEF, reports indicate that a quarter of women of reproductive age in India are undernourished. It could lead to more babies with lower birth weights and severely impact a child’s growth and development and the next generation of kids may not be able to perform to their full potential. Therefore, it is crucial that this Mother’s Day we call out for nutrition-aided immunity for new and to-be mothers and watch out that the basics of consuming balanced meals with adequate protein is no longer ignored.

The author is a medical nutritionist and aesthetic physician and a supporter of the Right To Protein initiative.

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Noor Anand Chawla



The advent of May indicates another month spent indoors with constant news of the suffering of near and dear ones due to Covid-19, the collapse of our healthcare system, and systemic failure to grapple with the sheer volume of cases. With each day, our hearts are more affected and our resolve to weather this storm is further weakened. Many people are running from pillar to post in search of adequate healthcare for their loved ones, and the ones fortunate enough to be well are cowering indoors, praying with all their might that the deadly virus does not pay them a visit. In times of uncertainty, many Indians turn to traditional wisdom for advice or to help them cope.

The practice of yoga, particularly breathwork involving Anulom-Vilom, has helped many manage their Covid-19 symptoms. Additionally, many have turned to consulting the stars and numbers as per ancient traditions like astrology and numerology. Sidhharrth S Kumaar, Astro-Numerologist and Mantra Healer as well as the founder of the popular online portal NumroVani, shares easy and practical tips that one can adopt in these difficult times. These will keep the coronavirus at bay as well as help with a speedy recovery, in case the virus has already struck.


Apart from regular prayers and hygiene measures mandated by the government and medical guidelines, one can turn to the following advice given by Kumaar:

• A swastika symbol should be made with red vermilion or sindoor and placed at the absolute centre of the main gate at the entrance of the house. This will act as a protective symbol.

• One must maintain proper cleanliness in the house and mop the entire house with a solution of rock salt mixed in water at least once a week, every week.

• It is advisable to listen to 528 MHz of music every day for at least 10-15 minutes with headphones plugged in to tap into the positive vibrations emanated by music.

• Chanting or listening to the Navarna Mantra dailyhelps greatly in these situations.

• These numbers should be written with blue ink on one’s left palm, exactly as shared below, with spacing intact:

o 42 41 750

o 71 72 510

o 13 13 514

o 24 27 483

• Other simple advice that can easily be implemented includes the remembrance and worship of one’s family deity every day.

• One can also greatly benefit from including turmeric milk in their diet on a regular basis.


If you have already contracted the virus, there is no need to panic or jump to negative conclusions, as negative thoughts can manifest and come true. You should instead focus on thinking only positive thoughts that will manifest into positive outcomes such as good health and happiness. Here are a few simple remedies to explore on Kumaar’s advice:

• One should listen to 741 MHz music for at least 24 minutes three times a day to benefit from its healing vibrations.

• For deeper treatment, one should listen to 852 MHz music for 15 minutes once a day.

• The following numbers should be written on a piece of paper with blue ink and that paper should be pasted on a transparent water bottle, so the numbers are clearly displayed on the side. Make sure to maintain the correct spacing:

o 38 89 332

o 33 89 847

o 88 81 643

o 51 56 886

• The Udana Vayu Mudra or proning position should be practised for 6 minutes three times day.


Instead of worrying excessively about a family member in the hospital, one should adopt the following measures:

• The Mahamrityunjay Mantra or the Kunjitha Padam Saranam should be chanted to help them.

• On a piece of paper a swastika and the Mahamrityunjay Mantra should be written, and pasted near the bed of the affected person. If the person is in the hospital, then this symbol should be placed where the person usually sleeps.

Most of all, it is imperative to keep a positive mindset and believe in the imminent recovery of those who are affected. To consult Sidhharrth S Kumaar for any Covid-19 related queries, you can reach him through email at

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