SONAKSHI SINHA RECITES A ‘TRIBUTE TO THE HANDS THAT FEED US’ - The Daily Guardian
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SONAKSHI SINHA RECITES A ‘TRIBUTE TO THE HANDS THAT FEED US’

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MUMBAI: Sonakshi Sinha on Wednesday extended support to the ongoing farmers’ protest. Sonakshi posted a poem on Instagram, which she has recited and dedicated to the hands that feed us. The Hindi poem is titled ‘Kyun’ (Why) “Nazarein milake khud se poochho- kyun? A tribute to the hands that feed us… a beautiful poem written by @varadbhatnagar. Shot and conceptualized by @gursanjam.s.puri and narrated by me. #farmersprotest,” the actress wrote on Instagram.

‘Kyun’ tries to explore the reasons behind why farmers have left the fields and taken to the streets, and why the protesters are being tagged as rioters. This comes a few days after the actress shared a note on her Instagram story that speaks about journalists being harassed, internet being banned, and the protesters being vilified. 

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RAKUL PREET TO ESSAY DOCTOR’S ROLE IN ‘DOCTOR G’

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MUMBAI: Rakul Preet Singh will be seen sharing screen space alongside Ayushmann Khurrana for the first time in Junglee Pictures’ campus comedy-drama ‘Doctor G’. The film also features Shefali Shah and the makers have recently unveiled Rakul’s much-awaited first look from the movie.

To essay an author-backed role and play the rooted character of Doctor Fatima, Rakul had to learn medical terminology and also the nuances of some important surgical procedures. In order to make everything related to the medical world appear authentic on-screen, the makers had arranged for experts to conduct special sessions with the cast–Rakul, Ayushmann and Shefali, and train them as part of their characters’ prep.

Directed by Anubhuti Kashyap, ‘Doctor G’ is a campus comedy-drama, co-written by her, Sumit Saxena, Vishal Wagh and Saurabh Bharat. The makers have wrapped up an extensive shoot schedule in Prayagraj recently and the film will be completed by the end of this month.

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PRIYANKA REACTS TO ‘THE ACTIVIST’ CONTROVERSY

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MUMBAI: Priyanka Chopra Jonas is feeling sorry for unintentionally hurting the sentiments of a section of people with her upcoming show ‘The Activist’.

For the unversed, ‘The Activist’ is a competitive series, which aims to pit several activists and public figures against each other in order to promote their causes on social media with the goal of securing the highest amount of funding to win the game. However, the format of the show did not go down well with many and it faced a huge backlash.

As a reaction, the makers changed the format of ‘The Activist’. They shifted its five-episode format to a one-time documentary special. Addressing the ongoing controversy, Priyanka, who is one of the hosts of the show, took to her Instagram on Friday to apologised to people for disappointing them. “I have been moved by the power of your voices over the past week. At its core, Activism is fuelled by cause and effect, and when people come together to raise their voice about something, there is always an effect. You were heard. The show got it wrong, and I’m sorry that my participation in it disappointed many of you,” she wrote. “The intention was to bring attention to the people behind the ideas and highlight the actions and impact of the causes they support tirelessly. I’m happy to know that in this new format, their stories will be the highlight, and I’m proud to collaborate with partners who have their ear to the ground and know when it’s time to hit pause and re-evaluate,” Priyanka added.

She said, “There is a global community of activists who fight the fight every single day and put their blood, sweat and tears into creating change, but more often than not, they are rarely heard or acknowledged.”

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MUSIC, MATHEMATICS AND ART: DIFFERENT FACES OF THE SAME TRUTH

Nithya Rajendran

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A ‘Kalpana swara’ (creative compilation of notes done impromptu on stage by the artist) in Carnatic music often involves what is known as a ‘Korvai’. A Korvai is a set of swaras or notes that are arranged in a creative yet mathematically precise format that brings the long Kalpana swara notes to a beautiful closure. 

I use Korvais in my Kalpana swara presentations very often. And somehow in a Carnatic concert, it is almost always the climax point for the artist, the accompanying instrumentalists and of course the audiences. I have often wondered about the reason behind this. Is it the synergy between the artists that somehow comes to a satisfying coordinated close? Is it just melody or rhythm, or is there something more to it?

I found my answer one day when I was imparting music to a student of mine. She was struggling to understand note patterns, and I tried two methods to explain this to her. Firstly, I explained the mathematical pattern behind it. This means that if I was attempting to teach a pattern say Sa Re Ga, Re Ga Ma, Ga Ma Pa and so on, she could understand it mathematically, using the order in which notes appear. So, for example, if Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni corresponds to the numbers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7, the pattern would become 123, 234, 345 and so on. Secondly, I asked her to visualise the pattern as if it were a sketch painting itself to the notes. A higher note would mean there would be ebb and the lower note would be a trough. The extent of the ebb and trough of course would be decided by the extent of ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ in the music itself. So the aforesaid pattern would probably become a sketch that may look like forward-moving waves. This attempt led her to understand the note pattern much better. And moreover, it added immensely to her pleasure when she sang it. 

That is when my answer came to me. We usually see music as a separate entity, devoid of logic and reason, devoid of anything visual. We see painting, music, mathematics and science as disparate fields of study. The magic lies in the fact that they are all integrated at an innate level. As they say in physics, energy and matter are just two manifestations of the same thing. Which is why when I sang a Kalpana swara in, say, what would make a pyramid pattern or maybe something that would be a geometric progression of notes, it subliminally excites the audiences without their own conscious knowledge. Because our deep inner beings know that in a fundamentally spiritual sense, we and the world and everything it consists of coming from one source – God or the source of creation. 

Polymaths like Leonardo Da Vinci, Jagdish Chandra Bose, Aristotle and Helen Keller shared an amazing ability to view the same thing from different lenses and make equal sense of it. No wonder they were gifted geniuses who had the privilege to see that the path of spirituality and the path of science can both lead towards the truth. Understanding that duality is a mirage and that we are bound as one is also a similar depiction of the truth. Recognising that the world, with its apparent duality and division, has an underlying harmony, is one of the deepest realisations that human beings gifted with consciousness and intelligence can aspire to.

When we engage in aspects of music that allow us to see synergies like this, we are, in fact, stepping into a zone where we begin to understand this larger truth about God and creation. I believe that, over time, I have become a lot more spiritual, tolerant and accepting of the vagaries of life and the many colours that it manifests itself in. Music had a crucial role to play in this, and for that I am thankful.

The writer is a vocalist of both Hindustani and Carnatic Classical music, with over three decades’ experience. She is also the founder of Music Vruksh, a venture to make classical accessible for its aesthetic and wellness benefits.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF EDTECH FOR GRADUATES STUCK IN A CAREER RUT

Noor Anand Chawla

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It has always been difficult for a large chunk of the Indian population to access good quality higher education, for a variety of reasons – inability to pay the fees, having to work in order to earn a living for themselves and their families, lack of interesting vocational courses or the paucity of seats at good universities. This is proved by the fact that only 26.3% of people in India enrol for higher education, as per recent studies. Fortunately, the rise of edtech platforms and people’s increasing access to and dependence on smart devices has finally offered a solution. 

New-Delhi based Learntoupgrade, an edtech startup helping graduates to upgrade their skills by learning courses that are relatively new to the Indian market, is a fine example of this. Launched in March 2019, their focus is on helping students develop an interest in courses in biotechnology and bioscience like medical coding, forensic sciences, cyber security, ethical hacking, drug designing and drug discovery, food microbiology, and pharmacovigilance. 

With a market reach that goes well beyond India, they have over 50,000 enrolled students, a large number of whom have attained certificates in various programmes. This success has enabled them to tie up with several colleges and universities to provide faculty training programmes as well.

“We launched Learntoupgrade with the idea of enabling students to become job-ready,” says the founder of the startup Hardeep Puri. With a Masters in Computer Applications and a background in management, people planning, business development, financial planning, and marketing strategy, he is well-placed to spearhead this edtech startup. 

“The vision of the company is to provide industry learning for every willing student. We came up with this idea during the pandemic when we hit a block and were not able to physically visit colleges to provide vocational training, which was our model earlier,” explains Diktesh Singh Puri, who is the advisor to the team.

He adds further, “We plan to remain virtual from now on, to reach the masses and if we need physical lessons for performing offline activities like lab experiments which are not possible online, we will look at avenues to have a physical setup for them in particular.”

Learntoupgrade works on the basis of a model where students are provided learning on a particular topic. Each topic falls under a different price ranging from $50 to $500. Flexible plans are in place to provide the courses as bundles for economic feasibility. For those who are unable to attend virtual live sessions for any reason, recorded sessions are provided. There is also a section dedicated to addressing the doubts of students and getting them resolved.

A panel of over 3000 professors and industry mentors provide a gamut of knowledge on varied subjects. These teachers are selected on the basis of interviews conducted by the team and also on the basis of any past online training experience they may have. 

Though free webinars are organised frequently to introduce the subjects to students, attendance to these webinars is not certified. However, there are other courses where certification is provided. The website displays details of whether the course comes with certification or not, upon completion. The wide range of courses includes options in management, engineering, biotechnology, life sciences, and pharma, to name a few. 

When asked if it has been challenging to attract students to the platform, Hardeep responds with, “To be honest we have been in this industry for six years and we were quickly able to reach 50,000 learners. If we maintain our current pace we should reach five lakh learners by 2023, so it has not been challenging for us.” They use social media and varied digital platforms to spread the word about their services.

Since they provide specialised learning to graduates, postgraduates and professionals, the ages of their students vary from 18 years to 45 years. Though India is the major operational base, they have students from Bangladesh, the Philippines, the US, Indonesia and Nepal as well. Edtech startups like Learntoupgrade are all set to revolutionise vocational education and in turn the job industry for graduates.

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

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MY CLOTHES ARE TRADITIONAL CHIC: SAWAN GANDHI ON HIS EPONYMOUS INDIAN-WEAR LABEL

Some of the prominent personalities that have adorned Sawan Gandhi’s garments include Madhuri Dixit, Sara Ali Khan, and Kriti Kharbanda, among others. The Delhi-based designer tells us more about his brand.

Noor Anand Chawla

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September brings with it plenty of festivities and fun. No industry celebrates this time of the year better than the fashion industry, with designers launching their exclusive winter-festive collections. Delhi-based Sawan Gandhi, Creative Director and Founder of his eponymous Indian-wear label, also launched his collection ‘Taahir’ this week. In a candid chat with The Daily Guardian, he shares insight into his design journey and his new line. Excerpts:

Taahir by Sawan GandhiNayaab by Sawan Gandhi

Sawan Gandhi – Creative Director and Founder

Q. Tell us about your journey in this business so far. What makes you stand apart in this competitive industry?

A. Soon after college, I decided to pursue my interest in the creative field and stepped into the fashion industry. With no prior experience or knowledge, I started my own label in 2011 with a few creations which I shared with my relatives and friends. I was always intrigued by my mother’s collection of lightweight chikankari sarees and their understated elegance, which is where most of my design inspiration stems from. My first showroom was launched in 2013 in Hauz Khas Village, followed by my flagship store in Mehrauli which was inaugurated in 2017, and now we also retail on our website www.sawangandhi.com.

I term my signature style as consisting of ethereal ensembles, soft colour palettes, and intricate craftsmanship and I believe these components give my designs a distinctive flair. My creations offer a young perspective to Indian attire while relying on beautiful old-world elements. I draw inspiration from vintage styles and combine them with our signature chikankari embroidery and sequin work. Also, I ensure that our garments are wearable and light. 

Q. What does label Sawan Gandhi stand for as a brand? 

A. Our philosophy is to make every occasion unconventionally beautiful. We do this by using soothing colours that are sure to make the wearer stand out in a crowd. Each outfit is designed so that it can be styled in multiple ways, which also engenders a sustainable approach towards fashion choices. Ever since I started out, I have tried to consciously step away from the heavy looks adorned by brides and grooms by using traditional techniques and contemporary hues to elevate each creation.

I believe a loyal client base is the bedrock of any label and word of mouth has been our primary source of PR since the beginning. My clientele includes customers from across the country and our collections are showcased at multi-designer showrooms like Aza, Ogaan, Pernia’s Pop Up Shop, and Fuel. Along with this, our brand also has an international presence in London, Jakarta, Bangkok, Dubai, Canada, and Los Angeles. 

Q. Tell us about your latest collection? What techniques have you used for this collection? 

A. My latest collection ‘Taahir’ has been curated specially for the new age Indian wedding. Breaking traditional rules of Indian weddings, the collection highlights the radiance of festivities and celebrations through lightweight attire, soft palettes, and flowy drapes. The colour palette is in themes of ivory, beige, soft pinks, blues, and yellows. It’s a fusion of traditional with chic with interplay of light and shadow, structure and fluidity, volume and lightness, to create subtle drama. 

Our outfits make people feel confident in their own style and individuality. An array of alluring colours, appliqué motifs, subtle tonal embroidery highlighted with Swarovski crystals and hand-dyed beads used by our studio artisans, gives each outfit a reflection of bespoke elegance. 

Q. Many celebrities and eminent personalities have been spotted in your clothes. What do you believe attracts them to your work?

A. Some of the prominent personalities that have adorned Sawan Gandhi garments include Madhuri Dixit, Sara Ali Khan, and Kriti Kharbanda, amongst a few others. I believe they are most attracted to the light wearability our clothes offer that allow them to look and feel gorgeous. It has been great to witness the evolution of our brand in the fashion industry and it makes me feel really positive and excited. 

Q. What have been your biggest challenges in recent times? How have you overcome them?

A. Lockdown weddings are a recent trend and now the focus has shifted from big fat Indian weddings to small intimate weddings. Fortunately, the excitement and happiness of the occasion is the same even though there has been an indefinite halt to larger gatherings and festivities. These micro weddings take place in more relaxed environments and in turn need relaxed outfits in beautiful colours to complement the various functions. 

Q. What have been the most rewarding moments for you so far?

A. Watching my designs being recognised in the Indian fashion industry and witnessing my collections being received so well internationally fill me with tremendous happiness and contentment. 

Q. What are you working on next?

A. Currently, I am working on my next cocktail wear collection which we’re hoping to shoot by the end of this month. 

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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FORMAT OF PRIYANKA’S NEW SHOW, THE ACTIVIST, CHANGED

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WASHINGTON: After facing huge backlash, Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ new series ‘The Activist’ is now being reconfigured. As per Variety, the makers have shifted its five-episode format to a one-time documentary special. Many social media users slammed the show for being tone-deaf and insensitive. CBS and producing partners Global Citizen and Live Nation issued this statement, “The Activist’ was designed to show a wide audience, the passion, long hours, and ingenuity that activists put into changing the world, hopefully inspiring others. But it has become apparent the format of the show distracts from the vital work these incredible activists do in their communities every day. The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort. So we are changing the format to remove the competitive element and reimagining the concept into a primetime documentary special (air date to be announced), it will showcase the tireless work of six activists and the impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in. Each activist will be awarded a cash grant for the organisation of their choice.”

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