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Textile protagonists who have glamorised the sari

From Kota to Ashawal to Patola, traditional weaves are being kept alive thanks to some enterprising creators and connoisseurs of the sari

Anshu Khanna

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I have been told that it is World Sari Day this Monday. This is something laughable for me, because, at a subliminal level, for a sari addict like me, every day is sari day. It is my Osho pants, my pair of blue jeans, my comfy kaftan and also my answer to formal, occasion wear. Simply put, it is my only preferred mode of dressing. And the best part is that people like me can drape the sari in five minutes flat.

VIDHI SINGHANI
BELA SANGHVI
NIRMAL SALVI

All through the pandemic, the one thing I missed most was rummaging through the sari closet, hand-picking a perfect weave and then matching it to the many funky blouses that keep the drape tradition exciting for sari wearers like me. So, this World Sari Day, I have decided to list five textile protagonists, whom I love, admire and collect a piece from with money I save up for that proverbial rainy day. Although my best pal and soul sister, Madhu Jain, is guilty as charged for ensuring I add an inimitable piece by her every year. Someone whom everyone calls the Ikat queen, Madhu has over the years actually dabbled in many a forgotten weave tradition. From the art of telling the Ramayana in a Baluchari, to the depiction of the Devi in Kalamkari, the sharp and chic treatment of the Teliya rumal to the sheer beauty of a Thai Ikat… Madhu has woven them all. It is she who recreated the classic red, white and black combination in bold horizontal stripes and larger-than-life checks, a design that changed the Ikat landscape forever.

Then there was the ubiquitous kota, a fabric developed as a mosquito net by the royal family of Kota, later turning into a gossamer cousin of the cotton—very everyday wear and predictable in its treatment—till Vidhi Singhania started working with the weavers there. She brought in the Banarsi Jangla, the Mughal boota and the Rajasthani leheriya into Kota, added pure zari to the warp and weft and changed this textile forever. And then suddenly, kota, now woven in half-silk and half-cotton, was being worn at summer weddings too.

In a similar vein, the ombre-dyed chiffon, a signature of royal India, was turned into a treasure by the mother-daughters trio behind Sritanabana. To every vegetable-dyed chiffon in many hues of the same colour, they added hand-woven borders in a host of vintage designs, each custom-created nine-metre-long border blending two counts of silk and one count of pure silver and gold. The soft feel of chiffon and the rich touch of the borders are truly lustworthy.

As for the collectors and the connoisseurs, the textile protagonist to turn to is the maestro Bela Sanghvi. For, in her textile world stands recreated the weave tradition of the Ashawal, founded many eras back in the court of Emperor Akbar, brought to Gujarat by the rich traders and thereafter forgotten for years till it was restored, revived and made available by Bela. A single weave takes as long as six months to finish. Interestingly, the Badshahnama shows Jahangir wearing a stunning jama in the weave.

From Gujarat as well comes Nirmal Salvi, the name most synonymous with Patan Patolas, with each of his pieces fetching a price as high as Rs 2-3 lakhs and every one of his weaves gracing the wardrobe of collectors from the Marwari and Jain communities. A master weave that has become a synonym for craft perfection, the Patan is the highest on every textile lover’s list, and a treasure to aspire to.

This World Sari Day, all I can say to first-time buyers is to invest in a weave and save the weaver, simply because the weaver does not spin just threads, but an era of heritage together.

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VIDYA BALAN’S COMPELLING PORTRAYAL OF A FOREST OFFICER HELPS AMIT MASURKAR DELIVER THE PERFECT FOLLOW UP TO ‘NEWTON’

Murtaza Ali Khan

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After a hiatus of 4 years, Amit Masurkar, the writer-director of Newton, has finally returned with his next film, Sherni, released as an Amazon Original. The film stars Vidya Balan in the lead role of an honest and tenacious forest officer caught at the centre of human-animal conflict. If Newton was a satire on the power dynamics that governs the lives of the tribal people inhabiting the Naxal-prone areas across India then Sherni can best be described as a satire on the power dynamics that governs the lives of the village people living in the periphery of densely forested regions of the country and the forest officers guarding them. Sherni, based on a screenplay co-written by Aastha Tiku, Yashasvi Mishra, and Masurkar himself, also stars Sharat Saxena, Vijay Raaz, Mukul Chaddha, Satyakam Anand, Neeraj Kabi, and Brijendra Kaala in pivotal roles.

Just like Newton Kumar, Vidya Vincent is a person of principles. When Newton’s father tries to marry him to an underage girl he protests. While serving as a presiding officer during a seemingly impossible mission to conduct free and fair voting in a Naxalite territory, Newton doesn’t leave any stone unturned to ensure that every eligible individual is able to exercise their right to vote. For, he is someone who follows the rules to a tee. And the fulfillment of his duty means everything to him. Vidya, on the other hand, is quick to hand over the notice to a contractor when she finds out that he is not filling up the waterholes which are a lifeline for lifeline for wild animals in the scorching heat. But she also knows when to avoid a confrontation.

In Balan’s own words, her character in Sherni is “passive-aggressive”. As an actor she has played countless strong female characters over the years. But, unlike those characters, Vidya Vincent’s true strength lies in her passive aggression. She is a doer but she doesn’t believe in boasting about it. When a villager gets mauled by a tigress she is quick to defuse the situation by engaging with an ex-legislature on the spot which allows her team to collect the all important DNA samples from the dead body. That’s what makes Vidya Vincent a more complex character than Newton Kumar. And fortunately for Masurkar his casting was spot on. For, a lesser actor would have struggled to make Vidya Vincent so believable.

While working with Masurkar on Sherni, Balan had to let go of her old methods in order to embrace the director’s unconventional shooting style. As part of her preparation, she spent time with real-life forest officers and did forest trails with them to acclimatize herself. She also watched documentaries and read books in order to get a deeper insight into her character. Also, for the first time in her life, she lived in a tent as part of the shooting schedule. All the hard work and preparation has resulted in a compelling film with both Balan and Masurkar going the extra mile to make things look as realistic as possible.

Also, the other actors have played their parts really well. The veteran Sharat Saxena shines in the role of an egotistical hunter, Pinto Bhaiya, who is only concerned about his hunting records. “Just by looking into the eyes of a tiger I can tell if it’s a man eater or not,” he brags. Vijay Raaz is equally brilliant in the role of Prof. Noorani who assists Vidya and her team in capturing a tigress on a killing spree. While Bijendra Kala, essaying the part of Vidya’s superior, succeeds in occasionally delivering some much needed laughs, Satyakam Anand portrays the part of an opportunistic politician with menacing glee. Mukul Chaddha looks believable in the part of Vidya’s husband during the limited screen time he gets. However, Neeraj Kabi is a tad bit disappointing in a rather clichéd role. He certainly ought to choose his roles more carefully.

Sherni is deliberately paced and takes some time to set up its world and the characters that inhabit it. But the narrative picks up pace after a rather slowish first half paving the way for a suspense filled final half an hour. Masukar isn’t merely interested in making a film about a tiger hunt. He aims for something much bigger and succeeds to a great extent in examining the power dynamics and socio-politics that governs the lives of those inhabiting the forest areas. And he does so with a touch of his trademark satire that made Newton so memorable. Had Sherni released in theatres then perhaps it wouldn’t have succeeded in drawing the crowds at it isn’t really that kind of a film. While it is no Tarzan or Jungle Book, it is certainly a kind of film that the OTT audiences wouldn’t mind watching as it would come across as a breath of fresh air amidst the run of the mill content that gets churned out day in and day out.

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KARTIK SAYS SOMETHING DIFFERENT IS COMING WITH NEW POST

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NEW DELHI: Bollywood actor Kartik Aaryan, who was recently speculated to have been ousted of filmmaker Anand L Rai’s upcoming film, on Friday created a sensation among fans by posting a picture of himself in a new mysterious look on social media.The actor took to his Twitter handle and along with the photo tweeted, “Aa raha hai kuch ALAG SA. Take a Guess.” In the photo, the 30-year-old could be seen standing in front of a graphical backdrop, while wearing an overcoat and holding something like a shaft in his hand. Though Kartik’s face was hidden in the dark, his long hair was clearly visible. The foreground of the photo had the date 20.06.21. Coming back to his work front, Kartik recently completed 10 years in Bollywood with his debut film ‘Pyaar Ka Punchnama’ and will next be seen in ‘Dhamaka’ which has been directed by Ram Madhvani. The film will follow a news anchor reporting a hard-hitting incident of a bomb blast in real-time. Kartik’s character will be subjected to circumstances grappling him between tough choices, abidance to his career, or awakening the humanist within. Apart from ‘Dhamaka’, Kartik will also be seen in ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’. Earlier, he also made headlines when reports speculated that the makers of ‘Dostana 2’ dropped him from the film.

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‘HUM DIL DE CHUKE SANAM’ COMPLETES 22 YEARS

Shweta Verma

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It’s 22nd anniversary of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s iconic film ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’. With his flair for storytelling, cinematic sense, lavish sets, and soulful renditions, the ace filmmaker transported the audience into a different world in 1999. Not only did the film became a massive box office hit, but it also left critics awe-struck as it was the first time anyone had witnessed Bhansali’s grandeur sense of cinema. Even after 22 years of its release, the film still remains fans’ all-time favourite.

The film featured one of the brilliant performances by Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and Ajay Devgn. Be it Sameer’s fun attitude and style, Nandani’s innocence and unparalleled beauty, or Vanraj’s love and generosity, each of Bhansali’s character resonated with the audience and evoked empathy for their pain. Known for his soulful and beautiful music, it was with Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam that Bhansali brought to the table a taste of music that was completely new in Bollywood.

While Dholi Taaro and Kai Po Che delivered the flavour of folk music and became cult festive songs, Nimbooda became the dance anthem for every function. Similarly, the beauty and essence of unconditional love in the title track Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Jhoka Hawa Ka touched everyone’s heart. The brilliant rendition of Tadap Tadap also struck a chord with every broken-hearted lover. The concept of love, separation, patience, and sacrifice, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam received roaring applause from everyone across the nation and bagged several awards, including Filmfare Award for Best Film and Filmfare Award for Best Director.

Now the fans across the nation are super excited to watch Bhansali and Ajay Devgn collaborate again after 22 years. The celebrated filmmaker’s next highly anticipated film, ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi,’ will mark the reunion of this iconic duo, and it will also be interesting to see Ajay and Alia Bhatt together sharing the screen.

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INTERNATIONAL YOGA DAY: LET’S CHERISH WHAT WE HAVE

When the world is looking up to India as a global cultural icon for yoga, it is paradoxical that our educational institutions do not have them as part of their health and value education.

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A huge pan-India yoga and nutrition workshop was organised by a renowned Indian educational publisher on the occasion of International Yoga Day with celebrity health and fitness expert Dr Richa Sood. Over 3000 educators joined the session live on social media channels along with their students and their parents, as a bright start to Monday morning and for the theme “Yoga for Life”, which was the positive side of online education. It was heartening to see so many children, parents and teachers joining in with the expert and asking questions about the impact of yoga in their drastically changed lifestyle during the pandemic, as well as its impact on people’s mental and physical health. Dr Sood also gave nutrition and anti-ageing tips, apart from simple exercises for the eyes, neck, head and back, all of which are affected due to this work from home and online education scenario. She also spoke about the right nutrition in both adults and children which has become extremely important today due to various health issue diagnosed in children like obesity, eyesight, headaches, back pain and so on.

One of the main highlights of the event was about yoga being imbibed into our lifestyle for a healthier and happier life across all age groups, be it children, adults, or the elderly. It has often been a myth that yoga is only for middle-aged and older people who have health issues. On the contrary, yoga needs to become integrated with learning right from our childhood to make it part of one’s daily routine so that it can help prevent a lot of lifestyle-related diseases in the long run. The truth is that yoga is an art form with so much grace and creativity and science because precision is the key.

The NEP 2020 states that students of all levels of schools will be allowed to participate in physical activity and exercise, including sports, games, yoga, martial arts, dance, gardening, and more, following local availability of teachers and facilities. The pluralistic choices of Indians in the integrative healthcare education system makes it imperative to give a basic understanding of yoga with allopathic, ayurveda, sidhha, unani, homoeopathy, community medicine, and paramedical system of medical education (section 17.4).

 Geetika Sahu, aged 11, from DAV Public School said, “This happened for the first time and it is indeed very exciting for all my classmates and friends. Our teachers are doing yoga with us and Richa ma’am has answered our questions too on better concentration and headaches that some of us get due to screen time.”

This is an era of instant gratification. There’s no patience or excitement for anything any longer since those aren’t needed: at the touch of a button and some payment, everything is available at the doorstep or on our screens. With the online education and work from home space making up most of our daily routines, our lifestyles have changed radically with sleepless nights, fatigued days and cravings that most of us have of all kinds. The solution is also the problem: while these apps have tried to make life easier, they’ve ended up making us more lethargic with loads of health issues, stress, and obesity.

Nutrition and yoga go hand in hand. Unless the nutrition is right and local, seasonal produce isn’t part of one’s diet, bad health will reign and cause major health issues later. Eating a balanced diet with simple, home-cooked food with lots of fruits and vegetables, is the key to feeling better and living smarter. This pandemic, we have seen numerous young and dashing CEOs who have been extremely fit, but lost their lives: some to Covid but many others to stress and anxiety due to job losses, pay cuts, and others. The ability to deal with silent killers like stress through meditation and yoga is the new mantra for times to come. It should well become part of our lives, even after this pandemic is over, not only for our body but for our mind and spirit as well.

Sports and yoga not only make students keep up their physical stamina, but also helps to develop the habit of obedience, discipline, the determination to win, willpower — all of which are essentials of life. Academic learning and sports education complement each other; they resemble the two sides of the same coin. If sports education is accompanied by the academic curriculum, the overall personality of the student is increased to quite an extent: qualities of leadership, sharing, team spirit, and tolerance are learnt from sports. 

Yoga and team sports can teach inner strength, calmness, concentration, teambuilding, equality, discipline, inclusion, perseverance, and respect. It has the power to provide a universal framework for learning values, thus contributing to the development of soft skills needed for responsible citizenship. Therefore, it is imperative to integrate fitness, sports, classical music, classical dance, and yoga into formal education.

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UNIQUE GIFT IDEAS FOR FATHER’S DAY 2021

Noor Anand Chawla

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It is that time of year again — a specific day invented by card companies to honour fathers. Though in reality, the celebrate the bond between father and child should be celebrated every single day, there is no harm in demarcating one specific day for an extra celebration. The occasion can be marked through culinary treats or through an exchange of thoughtful gifts. If there is one thing most of you would agree on, it is that men are notoriously difficult to shop for. Some men hate shopping, tending to hold on to their precious favourite things for years on end, till they are in tatters! Even when asked what they want or need, most often the simple answer is ‘nothing’. This year, one should consider giving them something useful as well as unique — customised ayurvedic hair care products based on their individual needs from the Vedix brand. 

The way it works is, you take a quick dosha quiz on their website vedix.com, along with your father. Based on his responses, you receive customised hair care solutions for him, which can be purchased in a beautiful gift hamper, to make sure that your father has an effective hair care regimen, formulated especially for him. Here is a little glimpse of the products on offer. 

Most men of a certain age are battling variations of male pattern balding. Even if they are blessed with a fine head of hair, they often have to deal with a slowly yet steadily receding hairline. What then will they appreciate the most? A hair re-growth serum that is easy to use, with no smell or grease. The Vedix Men Care Hair Re-Growth Serum, retailing for Rs 1299 treats follicle roots on a micro-level. 

Since it is water-based, the serum is easily absorbed into the scalp for maximum effectiveness. This helps the hair follicles absorb the benefits of the herbs and essential oils directly, and keeps the hair healthy, bouncy and shiny. The product contains gunja to promote hair growth, kumari to repair damaged hair, grapeseed for conditioning and cedar for its anti-inflammatory properties, along with japa for thickness, bakuchi to control greys, and bhringraj to make the hair lustrous – a mix that ensures healthy growth of hair.

For those men who battle dandruff, the Vedix Men Care Hair Re-Growth Serum with Dandruff Control is the best option. It prevents dandruff through hand-picked anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal ingredients. The serum is quick-absorbing and non-greasy and easy to apply. It contains nimba which is a proven cure for dandruff, doorva to cool the scalp, tulsi to prevent scalp infections, along with gunja, kumari, grapeseed and cedar. 

For those on a tight budget with the desire to gift their father something he would truly appreciate, the Vedix Men Care Anti-Hairfall Shampoo comes in at just Rs 499. It is free of harmful ingredients like sulfates and parabens and is a natural coconut-surfactant shampoo with no added synthetics that cleanses the dirt, pollution, excess oils, dust and other particles thoroughly. It also works well in conjunction with the Vedix oil and serum. This product contains yashtimadhu to treat patchy baldness, kumari, gunja, bhringraj, and quinoa protein to add shine. 

The shampoo works best when used with the Vedix Hair Conditioner, which is also made from herbal ingredients and protects the hair from external damage. It contains aloe, bhringraj, brahmi, and hibiscus for hair growth, and shea butter, cocoa butter and mango butter for tangle-free hair. It is designed to keep your hair bouncy and voluminous all day. 

The last of the products that can be added to this Father’s Day gift hamper, is the Vedix Men Care Anti Hair Fall Oil Aloe Vera + Licorice. It is well known that oiling the scalp is an essential step in a holistic ayurvedic hair growth regimen. The Vedix Anti-Hair Fall Oil is customised with 12 herbs that work together to nourish the hair and keep it healthy. This product contains yashtimadhu, kumari, shatavari to arrest hair fall and reduce scalp dryness, amalaki to promote hair growth, and tagara to reduce hair fall caused by hypertension and stress.

This Father’s Day, gift your dads a hair-care range made uniquely for them, and they will never forget the gesture!

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

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LIFE IS AT AN EXCITING PHASE: ZEBA KHAN ON HER FORAY INTO THE FILM INDUSTRY

Actor, social media influencer and model Zeba Khan spoke about how an ad campaign opened up new avenues for her and the power of social media.

Noor Anand Chawla

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The world may come to a standstill but the enduring attraction of the film industry and consequent stardom never fades. Even with the pandemic upon us, talented actors continue to pin their hopes on the big prize — recognition and fame for their acting ability. Actor, social media influencer and model Zeba Khan, who first set foot in the industry two years ago, has set her sights firmly on achieving this goal. In this candid interview with The Daily Guardian, she talks about her journey so far and her plans for the future. 

Q. Tell us about your foray into the industry. What has it been like till now?

A. My journey so far has been very exciting. I have learnt a lot about harnessing my training correctly and realised the traits required to succeed in this industry. All this led to my recent feature in an international ad campaign to spread the message of ‘No Smoking’ helmed by professional Bollywood technicians.  

Q. What are the skills that set you apart from others in this field?

A. I have done numerous acting workshops and learnt professional gymnastics from renowned trainers. I have also learnt horse riding professionally along with dance, martial arts and other fighting techniques.

Q. Did your role as a social media influencer come before you ventured into the film industry or afterwards?

A. I have always been active on social media way before my acting and modeling assignments kicked off. My most popular posts are my daily workout routines that are followed and adored by many of my followers.

Q. Which one do you prefer — social media or acting? What is a faster route to success these days, according to you?

A. I believe the fast pace with which social media is booming and evolving today, it allows people to show their skills to millions. These platforms can become a solid launching pad towards short films/feature films.

Q. Has it been difficult entering the industry without having a ‘backing’ or a ‘godfather’, so to speak?

A. In every field, it helps to have someone to back you or be your go-to person, especially during hard times, but as I said earlier, new age social media is evolving so much with audiences ready to embrace any kind of talent served to them. Hence, it is easier to show your work without backing.

Q. Have you faced any struggles or low points in your chosen career so far?

A. In the early stages of my fitness journey, it used to be difficult to create a strict regime and I would tend to slip up in my training routine. This would make me feel guilty and I would also feel physically and mentally weak and complacent. At such moments, it was tough to uplift myself. I would suddenly enter a zone where I did not like anything happening around me and tend to surround myself with negativity. Fortunately, I have overcome that phase now.

Q. We would love to know about some of your memorable moments. What is the biggest recognition you have received?

A. All the appreciation I have received across the globe on my No Smoking ad campaign made me feel great. I have been approached by many NGOs to help them spread awareness on this subject amongst the youth. I could see the positive results of this campaign through the amazing response I received. Right from its inception to the execution stage, this project allowed me to work with some of the best names in the industry. It was because of this campaign that I got a chance to showcase my acting skills on the big screen. Mainstream newspapers have also picked it up and that has been very encouraging. Currently, the campaign is under review by the Health Ministry of India, as they are planning to launch a pan-India campaign for spreading awareness against smoking. 

Q. How was the experience of working on this campaign?

A. It was an amazing experience and led to some interesting offers. Life is at an exciting phase at the moment. I am not rushing into any hasty decisions and carefully choosing the right projects going forward while concentrating on training harder.

Q. Was the pandemic difficult for you professionally? How did you ensure that you keep moving ahead in this tough period?

A. The pandemic hit everyone either professionally or on the personal front. The film industry suffered a lot during this time. Before the pandemic, I was working for 16 to 17 hours a day for seven days straight but due to the pandemic and lockdown, life came to a screeching halt which was difficult for me to handle. During this phase, I tried maximising my social media platforms by creating content related to staying fit at home. To my surprise, these posts caught the eye of many fitness enthusiasts who started following my content. So, in that way, I discovered a new avenue.

Q. What advice do you have for people who are aspiring actors — what is the one quality they need if they are to succeed in this industry?

A. Every year there are over 2,000 films produced in India in various languages, making the Indian Film Industry one of the biggest industries. India has been fortunate to keep producing some of the best talents which have represented us on the global front. I would only advise all aspiring artists looking to set their mark in this industry to remain patient and stay focused on their goals. Good work never goes unnoticed and someday they will see the desired results. 

Q. Any exciting projects you are currently working on or planning for the future?

A. Yes, I am working on a couple of music albums in Hindi and Punjabi and I am also in talks for a few films. Just taking one step at a time. The release of the No Smoking music video campaign in movie theatres pan-India is also in the works.

The interviewer is a lawyer who pens lifestyle articles for numerous publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on nooranand@gmail.com.

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