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The super six who set the Web on fire in Covid times

Anshu Khanna

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Lockdown has made each one of us turn into a house mouse, peering out of our little world only to lock our minds with screens, big or small. All day we are either caught up pounding away on our laptop. Or scrolling frenetically across Instagram, or getting hooked on to the many live streaming platforms that distract our tense heart from the gory news that is gnawing at us.

The Daily Guardian catches up with the super six young minds who are setting the Internet ablaze with their carefully-curated content. Mind you this selection is free of the pout brigade, the so-called influencers who, like the mercenary soldier, jump from one brand to another.

Radhikaraje Gaekwad: History teller

Ever graceful, stunning, a true Maharani and yet so humble at heart. These were attributes the world gave to Radhika Raje all the time. But in these lockdown times she has shown the world how Instagram can also be used effectively to create content and validate history. Creating great, copy-led content, she allowed the history seekers a view into the world of the Maratha kings of Baroda who were instrumental in making the city such a hub for art.

And her collaboration with Siddharth V. Shah (Curator Asian Arts at the Peabody Essex Museum) to celebrate the Baroda Week was a treat to the art seekers. She addressed the Lucknow Chapter of FICCI FLO, spoke on many pulsating Insta lives, and treated us with rare and rich imagery of the Baroda royals. She admits, “It’s been busier for me during this lockdown working with my page on Instagram,” which is, “A very powerful weapon that must be used with caution.”

For her, it was, “A way to reclaim the narrative of my family and present the legacy to the heritage seeker. It is a quest to put history into perspective and unlike other mediums the Internet pages allow you to tell your story in the most purist way.”

Maria Goretti: A real-life chef

She describes herself as, “ZZ’s keeper, Advanced PADI diver, poem maker and mountain climber”. Besides being a Le Cordon Bleu Chef, a gourmand cook book writer and a TV Host. While the Internet burst open with the world’s most celebrated chefs talking directly to you, it was Maria Goretti’s page that stole your heart with her simple recipe, catchy graphics, motherly one-liners and wifely tantrums. She laughs when she admits, “It kept me busy and got me to accept and make my peace with what the world is calling the new normal!”

The posts kept her occupied allowing her “to venture out to find ingredients, experiment, also learn something new”. And did she write? “Not a word. I am doing a book of poems, but I have not edited a word.” Though she feels that once this paused, in-between life ends, “The book will take a life of its own.”

Raghav Meattle: A new drishti cone

His chocolate-boy looks have the girls swooning. His songs capture the angst of the “City Life”, and his way with words make him as good an anchor as he is with songs and writings. Raghav Meatlle, a singer-songwriter, had the young world in splits right through the lockdown with his ‘Coneversations’ on Insta as Cone Daddy. A cult that instantly broke the Internet and created a ‘Cone-munity’ filled with young, aspiring artists. He recalls, “It was purely by chance that I hit upon this filter of an ice cream cone and I decided to sit inside it and start chatting with fellow artists.” Soon it became like a ‘Virtual open mic’ where people came and sang, others pinned comments and “I got to meet so many young artists.”

 Currently he is all set to work on two new Hindi tracts with the group Shor from Hyderabad and the group Khwab. That is when he is not inside that cone having his followers crack up with a smile.

Pranay-Shounak: The new fashion guru

Pranay Jaitly and Shaunak Amonkar, though fashion graduates from Milan, understand heritage design and India Inc better than any other stylists in Bollywood. And it reflects in the way they style their clients: Vidya Balan, Kalki Koechlin, Radhika Apte, Mrinal Thakur, Richa Chadha and Chitrangadha in the most rooted, classic and purist way. With zero histrionics and controlled drama.

Right through the lockdown, their page WhoWoreWhatWhen was possibly the only page that kept its followers engaged as they set off on a self-discovery path offering a window to their own little world. As Pranay puts it, “Otherwise we never spoke about ourselves on the page, so, during this lockdown we decided why not let our followers know who we are… These three months have given us a chance to go inwards and possibly even discover who we are.”

Kamakshi: Songs for the soul

They say that a singer needs his or her audience. Myth will have you believe that music cannot survive if not played to an arena. Yet the young and beautiful singer-songwriter Kamakshi Khanna is finding new and interesting ways to not just keep herself and her followers busy but also do things that her busy life would not have allowed earlier. “This pause has made each one of us stop in our tracks and try something we always dreamt of but never had the time to do.”

Leaving behind a dream home in Mumbai that she had just taken up with her roommates, she hit the ground running with Insta lives, online concerts and her own little sojourns with her voice in her maverick backyard or in her Bohemian room filled with art of yore and energy of present. That is when she was not busy creating the visual content for her next single Qareeb, using mediums that are lockdown-friendly. “These are trying times that call for thinking beyond the ‘tried’ bastions.”

And she is doing that through a series of collaborations: With artists like Tejas Menon for whom she sang for the fun musical that punned on the conference call. With Rashmeet Kaur, the soulful Sufi singer, together they sang a cover of Lal Ishq and both singers got a major thumbs up. With pal and singer Abhilasha Sinha, with whom she connected right from Boston where Abhilasha is locked up right now. As they say when in lockdown, unlock your inner reserves.

Sumiran Kashyap: Sari Sartorialist

She makes every sari seem like poetry in reality. Her style personifies the aura of that proverbial apsara lost in her ethereal world. She goes from image to image supporting the creative sojourn of many hand-made legacydriven brands of the country… Sabyasachi Mukherjee in her own confession being her constant. “No denying that his design has my heart. Ever since I learnt to drape the sari and also got a moment to interact with the maestro and his creation up close I have never stopped loving his heritage story.”

A young lifestyle brand writer, Sumiran sees herself getting drawn to artisanal craft and the inherent connect beauty has with wellness. Her page Thinking Totty, through these three months, had filled the Insta world with beauty regimens of the past urging us to look inwards and pursue a life filled with nature. “I think I am an old soul who is reliving a past life dream.” Besides treating us with her visual grace she also is using the lock down to talk of forgotten practices of tarot and spiritual healing.

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Lifestyle & Entertainment

DISHA PATANI GROOVES TO‘YEH KAALI KAALI ANKHEIN’ SONG

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MUMBAI : Actor Disha Patani seems to be enthralled by Netflix’s latest offering ‘Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein’. On Saturday, Disha took to Instagram and shared a video of her grooving to the show’s title track.

For the unversed, the Netflix series has derived its title from Shah Rukh Khan’s hit song ‘Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein’ from the film ‘Baazigar’. With her video, Disha has started #YKKAGroove Instagram Reels Challenge.

Talking about the same, Disha said, “I’m a fan of 90s thrillers – the pulp, the catchy music, the drama and the action – they are complete entertainers that keep you hooked. Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein takes inspiration from these! When I heard that Netflix is also coming out with a new rendition of the iconic song, I was super thrilled to listen to it. It was a lot of fun performing this reimagined version! We are all very excited to kickstart the #YKKAGroove Instagram Reels Challenge and I cannot wait to see what the fans are going to do with the challenge to make it their own!” ‘Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein’ features Tahir Raj Bhasin, Shweta Tripathi, and Anchal Singh in the lead roles.

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VICKY KAUSHAL, SARA WRAP UP LAXMAN UTEKAR’S UNTITLED FILM

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NEW DELHI : Months after working for filmmaker Laxman Utekar’s untitled film, actors Vicky Kaushal and Sara Ali Khan have wrapped the shooting in Indore.

Actor Sharib Hashmi, who is playing a pivotal role in the movie, took to his Instagram handle and shared two pictures from the wrap party on the film set. The post that was shared on Saturday night features the whole cast and crew of the yet to be titled film.

Sharing the pictures, Hashmi wrote a heartfelt note that read, “Made beautiful memories on the sets of this beautiful (yet untitled) film with a dream team. Produced by the awesommme @maddockfilms @pvijan”

The ‘Filmistaan’ actor also praised Utekar, Sara and Vicky in the caption. “Director Saaab @laxman.utekar sirrr matlab aapne dil jeet liya ekdum ich @raghav_dop mere bhaii you’re a sweetheart [?] @vickykaushal09 ab main aur bvada wala fan ho gaya hoon yaarrr tumhara @saraalikhan95 aap staron jaisa behave .. kyun nahin karti yaarr. you’re such a sweetheart really,” Hashmi wrote.

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SHAH RUKH SENDS HANDWRITTEN NOTE TO ‘GOOD SOUL’ EGYPTIAN FAN

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UMBAI : Shah Rukh Khan has once again proved that he’s the king of hearts by his touching gesture of sending an autographed picture and handwritten note for an Egyptian travel agent fan.

On December 31, 2021, a Twitter user, Ashwini Deshpande, had shared that an Egyptian travel agent trusted her during a money transfer issue because she is from the country of Shah Rukh Khan. She tweeted, “Needed to transfer money to a travel agent in Egypt. Was having problems with the transfer. He said: you are from the country of @iamsrk. I trust you. I will make the booking, you pay me later. For anywhere else, I wouldn’t do this. But anything for @iamsrk. & he did!”

The tweet went viral and after meeting SRK’s fan, Deshpande requested Red Chillies Entertainment for an autographed photo of SRK for the Egyptian fan’s daughter.

She tweeted, “My husband & I finally met the man in this story today! I told him about the tsunami of good cheer his story generated. @RedChilliesEnt: he would be delighted with a photo of @iamsrk, autographed in his daughter’s name if possible. Please DM me if this can be arranged, thanks!” Their wish was fulfilled, as on Saturday, Deshpande updated that they have received three signed pictures of SRK along with a personalised message. She shared, “A very happy ending to this story. 3 photos signed by SRK arrived today, one with the nicest message for the Egyptian travel agent, one for his daughter & one for mine @Ketaki_Varma. Thanks @pooja_dadlani for getting in touch & of course to @iamsrk for the gracious gesture.”

In the handwritten note for his fan from Egypt, Shah Rukh wrote, “Thank you for being kind to my fellow Indian. Very gracious and generous of you. May your kind of good souls multiply.” 

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DEEPIKA REACTS TO HER CHEMISTRY WITH HRITHIK IN ‘FIGHTER’

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NEW DELHI: Siddharth Anand’s highly-anticipated film ‘Fighter’ starring Deepika Padukone and Hrithik Roshan has already created a buzz on social media.

While ‘Fighter’ marks the first collaboration between Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone on screen. In a recent interaction with a news agency, the Chhapaak’ actress opened up on her chemistry with Hrithik Roshan in ‘Fighter’. The actress explained that she always wanted to work with him.

According to her, sometimes it’s not just about wanting to work with someone, she just feel like there are so many things, it has to be the right script, it has to be the right director, it has to be the right time in your life.

Elaborating further, Deepika added that there are so many things that decide. The actress feels that it’s the right time for us to come together.

Meanwhile, the actress is gearing up for the upcoming Shakun Batra directorial romantic movie that have been going on in full swing since the makers dropped the film›s trailer on January 20. It also stars Siddhant Chaturvedi, Ananya Panday, Dhairya Karwa, Naseeruddin Shah and Rajat Kapur in pivotal roles. The movie will have its OTT world premiere across more than 240 countries and territories on February 11, 2022.

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CLASSICAL MUSIC CAN BE YOUR SAFE SPACE

Nithya Rajendran

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I had an interesting session today with a student of music. This session was one that had to combine therapy with music, since the student in question had approached me with a specific purpose. She wanted to see how learning and engaging in classical music could help her through some life challenges she was facing. The first five or six sessions with her, over the past few weeks, were simply about trying to understand her life and difficulties. Through these sessions, I had taken her through some breathing and singing exercises that involved stabilizing her voice, breath and mind. I had also begun doing some music exercises with her. In today’s session, I began by asking her how she was feeling. This was just a general question I had posed, since I did not expect our sessions to have started influencing her mental state just yet. But what she said took me by pleasant surprise.

She said that she was already feeling very deeply helped because she felt ‘safe’ in the presence of music. She felt like she was in the presence of something pristine and beautiful, and that that itself was immensely healing. She had, in addition, been listening to links to my classical music concerts, and said that the sound of classical music made her feel safe and happy already. I responded by saying that I had not even begun doing the meatier stuff with her, and that this may actually be a placebo. She said with gratitude and conviction that, as a scientist herself, she was sure that what she felt was genuine and real. This was one of the most gratifying moments for me.

I have been advocating, for a while now, the use of classical music to develop mindfulness and awareness, and harness its immensely healing attributes. But I did not expect that I would see such profound effects even before beginning work that I thought was substantial enough to start helping someone. Today’s session made me realize that classical music, when served with compassion and kindness to the learner, has an almost instant healing impact. Music intrinsically has the ability to disarm and make people engage. If we can couple that with an environment that is understanding, forgiving and loving, we can create the perfect setting for emotional healing and catharsis. The learner can become aware, still and totally committed to the present.

Another attribute of classical music which can help us connect emotionally to the learner are Raagas. Due to their versatile mood content and emotive powers, Raagas can give us the ability to connect with the learner’s mood and bring them out of his or her shell. This may have happened in my session with the lady today. As I embarked on teaching her a ‘bandish’ in Sarang, a bright and soothing afternoon Raaga, she felt energized, happy and peaceful, a state far removed from the worries and concerns that had been plaguing her.

I have observed many a time that there is often a dearth of compassion and love in the way music is taught. Musical teaching sometimes lacks the handholding approach that a learner really needs. The reason this is the case is because, so far, classical music has been reserved for the few who are ‘deserving’, musically ‘gifted’ ones. My argument is that if music is meant to soothe and heal the spirit and is indeed a conduit to the divine, why should only some partake of this privilege? People may derive immense pleasure from listening to music. But they derive even more validation and pleasure when they can be taught to produce music, even if it is not perfect. It is beautiful and healing because it bears the student’s unique signature and comes straight from his or her soul. There is a reason we use the phrase ‘singing one’s heart out’.

Today’s session with my student taught me to have conviction in my belief that classical music has to break barriers and reach every soul. Because it is the birthright of every soul on this planet to have access to happiness and healing. It is right of every human being to ask for tools to be happy, and it is the duty of every classical musician to share the healing power of music with those who seek it. Classical music is not a property to be kept or preserved. It is a life force that needs to set free for people to thrive in.

So why should we wait any longer? Let us find our own safe space in music and allow others to find it too. A space to experience timelessness and bliss.

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HOW TO SET REALISTIC FITNESS GOALS FOR 2022

Noor Anand Chawla

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Come January, the topmost things on everyone’s mind are their health and fitness goals for the year. However, crash diets and barely-used gym memberships are not the correct way to approach one’s fitness journey, if the idea is to stay on track long term. This was the lesson that Sahil Bansal and Mehakdeep (Mac) Singh learnt the hard way, before joining hands to simplify the fitness journeys of others through their unique fitness app – Fitelo.

In his fat-to-fit journey, Bansal’s biggest learning was that fitness is about building habits and changing one’s lifestyle. Singh was overweight since childhood and tried every possible weight loss solution but his weight would always come back. Finally, he lost 60 kgs when he made the switch to natural foods.

Their own weight loss journeys taught them valuable lessons, and together they launched Fitelo in 2019 to offer assistance to people in achieving their fitness goals. They do this by designing wellness plans customized and personalized as per individual needs on the basis of the person’s age, their body’s needs, their goals, lifestyle, diseases, family history, stress and activity levels, and other factors.

“We have experience of working with corporates and startups, and we understand human psychology as well as technology. We are also passionate about fitness. With more than 10 years of industry experience each, we have built a high-performance team that understands health, psychology, and customer service,” declare the founders.

Fitelo offers a subscription based model. Once a customer purchases a plan, a health coach is assigned to them, and throughout the journey, they are managed by the AI-enabled platform. The plans vary from ₹3000 monthly for weight management cases to 50,000 annual plan for disease management cases. With over 50 expert coaches on board, Fitelo has facilitated a number of amazing transformations.

The founders say, “Exercise has a 20 percent role in weight loss and diet is 80 percent. Therefore we mainly focus on the diet. We encourage you to do a 20 minute walk every day or get involved in household chores or take part in a home workout session to supplement the diet goals.”

Since the pandemic, fitness apps have gained tremendous momentum. According to a World Economic Forum study, India recorded a 156 percent increase in the download of health and fitness apps in the first two quarters of 2021. Hence, Fitelo is poised for success.

“Every fitness journey is different. So are each individual’s goals. As such, the length of the program could vary from 6-12 months. Habit building takes time. We request our users to enrol in our programs for a long-term period to see permanent changes in their bodies and lifestyle,” say the founders.

In the next five years, Fitelo plans to be a one-stop shop for sustainable and natural weight loss and fitness. The team is looking to make Fitelo into a platform where an unhealthy or unfit person can search for awareness on the subject, consult experts, and purchase products or services that can help them achieve their long-term fitness goals.

“Fitelo is the easiest way to get seriously fit. We work on modifying the lifestyle of an individual step by step. So, our clients get fit and are able to stay fit in the easiest possible way. Our methodology is completely natural. Our program doesn’t require having access to any gym, any fitness equipment. In fact, we don’t even recommend any fad diets or the use of any supplements or medicines. We help our clients gain better understanding of their behavioural habits and improve their nutrition and lifestyles on the basis of that,” share the founders.

The bedrock of being fit is to make a lifelong habit of it. One can only build a habit when they take small steps repeatedly over a period of time. Every weight loss product or service on the market, promises people instant results. As a result of this, unfortunately, people lose weight but regain it after a few months – and enter a vicious cycle in the process. For true fitness, one must inculcate healthy habits into their daily life. This is the only sustainable and long-lasting way to lose weight, stay fit and avoid diseases.

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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