He is an instinctive couturier, a spontaneous artist, a visual master and a craft juggler. His design eye turns gleefully towards what he creates and like a child lost in a candy store, he allows his heart to prevail as he gets going on a design. Off he goes mixing textures with prints, cutting his textiles into scrumptious silhouettes, adding delectable details and finishing a masterpiece with regal embellishments.
JJ Valaya is an artist who exists in the past perfect. A royal nomad, who in the same breath can think both as a royal and a nomad. He is a visionnaire and a design professional who ‘lives life king-size’, with dollops of guts and perseverance thrown in. He possesses a sense of adventure, which has prompted him to launch the Valaya world online with www.valaya.com. He is working away, pat in the midst of a pandemic, even when many of his contemporaries are in total denial. He laughs, “Just as I returned refreshed from a self-imposed two-year sabbatical, the world went indoors in what is being seen as a global lockdown, or as I like to call it, the forced holiday.” And so, JJ, refreshed and raring to go, did not put a spanner to his thoughts. Instead, he galloped ahead to launch the store online. “It was a simple reversal. We were gearing up to launch our flagship brick and mortar store, which we have predictably put on hold. Instead, we launched an online store.”
He calls it his “doorway to the world, a stepping stone to reach out to heritage seekers across India who can now shop a Valaya, sitting in the comfort of their homes.” It is only after he has reached out to the four corners of India that he will talk to the rest of the world, sharing his India story with heritage seekers, “may they be living in any physical zone of this universe.” Valaya shares, “I like to see myself as a geek, a tech child. We took our first step online as early as the 90s when we launched our website. It was, at that time, a brand piece and not for e-commerce.” Taking it to the commerce side then was just about shifting gears for him. He says, “I have signed off 2020. Let’s face it, most in the industry have. In fact, if you look deeply, half of those who, like us, started 30 years ago have fallen off the grid. The other half is trying to remain afloat this historic year.” Valaya instead is using this time to re-launch, introspect, take the world’s eye towards the many little stories he created this year.
With the launch of his ecommerce site, he brings alive a host of well-conjured design entities that go from uber luxe to bridge lines, seamlessly so. To begin with is a bespoke story that carries forward his muse series. It is a realm where only the most reverent of craftsmanship is allowed entry. These are pieces of indulgence, created for women who are collectors at heart, restless souls who cannot think of wearing anything that is not ‘one of’. He calls this line “Tabriz 19 — 2020” and interprets the magical world of Persia through his three loved design bastions: that of the regal and royal, the vibrant nomad and the glamorous Art Deco era. He says, “For me, everything is instinctive, a visual creation. I don’t want to pretend to be a craft protagonist or a textile exponent. For me creating something is a visual process.”
He also takes his version of the chevron, mixing with its architectural influences of his birth state, Rajasthan. He calls it the “Shifting Leaves Chevron” and explains that his designs are influenced by the Art Deco palaces of Rajasthan as he turns the leaves inwards to create his own version of this classic. Also from Rajasthan comes his menswear line that he calls Jhalamand. Named after the Jhalamand House where he was born to Brigadier J. S. Ahluwalia, who was serving the Indian army and was allotted a sprawling home which must have belonged to the erstwhile noble family of Jhalamand. “It stands demolished today. But it still remains as a collective memory to me as my place of birth.” He shares an interesting anecdote: “Raghavendra Rathore and I were born in the same hospital five hours apart.” And as they say, you can take someone out of Rajasthan but you can’t take Rajasthan out of them. Hence, Jhalamand is a simple monochrome collection of shirts in black or white that are either classic or Mandarin-collared or a range of short kurtas.
Using the versatility of the online realm he will soon also launch his Ika Jackets, which he calls “the younger sibling of the very successful Alika Jacket.” These are DIY and patrons can go online and click away to bring alive their personal version of the jacket. “They can choose the colour, piping, print and embroidery and see their Ika come alive on their screen!” Call him the designer with a vision, a photographer who is a visual genius or someone who creates visual classics, one thing is for sure: anything Valaya does becomes a visual treat.
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DIANA SHOOTING IN ABU DHABI FOR HER UNTITLED-NEXT
MUMBAI: With the teaser of ‘Adbhut’ and the release of her first Malayalam film, Salute, on the horizon, Diana Penty has all our attention right now. After treating us with some scenic, Instagram-worthy content from Shimla recently, the actress has now jetted off to Abu Dhabi for her next project. Taking to her Instagram handle, Diana posted a stunning image of the city of Abu Dhabi. The caption wrote, “Woke up to this beautiful view of Abu Dhabi.” While there hasn’t been any official announcement yet, our sources have revealed that she is shooting her soon-to-be-announced film in Abu Dhabi.
A source revealed, “Diana Penty has a packed calendar with back-to-back shooting slates this year. Currently, the actress is working on an untitled project in which she plays an interesting character and audiences can expect a surprise in a never-seen-before avatar.” From the looks of it, cine lovers and Diana’s fans are in for a treat as she has a number of interesting, diverse projects in the pipeline. The actor makes her Malayalam debut in “Salute” starring alongside Dulquer Salmaan, but what has most people intrigued is the supernatural thriller, “Adbhut”.
TAAPSEE’S ‘SHABAASH MITHU’ TO HIT THEATRES IN FEBRUARY 2022
MUMBAI: Marking legendary India’s Test and ODI skipper Mithali Raj’s birthday, Viacom18 Studios on Friday announced the release date for ‘Shabaash Mithu’, a biopic on the star, featuring Taapsee Pannu in the lead role. The movie is all set to hit the screens worldwide on 4 February 2022. ‘Shabaash Mithu’ is the coming-of-age tale of women’s cricket in India as witnessed by the most successful woman cricketer the country has ever seen. The film chronicles the highs and lows, setbacks and moments of euphoria of Mithali’s life with Taapsee essaying the titular role. Also seen in the film will be the talented actor Vijay Raaz in a key role.
‘Shabaash Mithu’ has been shot across domestic and international locations to aptly bring alive Mithali’s iconic journey and her meteoric rise to the world stage. Directed by Srijit Mukherji with the script written by Priya Aven, the movie is produced by Viacom18 Studios.
ALI FAZAL BAGS NEW HOLLYWOOD FILM ‘KANDAHAR’
MUMBAI: After ‘Death on the Nile’, actor Ali Fazal has bagged a pivotal role in a new Hollywood film titled ‘Kandahar’.
The film is being directed by Ric Roman Waugh, who has previously helmed films including ‘Angel Has Fallen’, and ‘Felon’. Popular Scottish actor Gerard Butler leads the cast as an undercover CIA agent called Tom Harris.
‘Kandahar’ is based on the screenplay developed by Ric Roman Waugh with former military intelligence officer Mitchell LaFortune. The story is based on Mitchell’s experiences at the Defense Intelligence Agency in Afghanistan.
KARTIK EXPRESSES HAPPINESS AFTER ‘DHAMAKA’ SUCCESS
MUMBAI: Actor Kartik Aaryan is on a roll. His latest release ‘Dhamaka’ has been making waves.
Since its release, ‘Dhamaka’ has been trending in the Top 5 Non-English Films worldwide on Netflix. It is also trending in the top 10 in films in 10 countries on the streaming platform. Talking about the same, Kartik said, “I am extremely happy to see the response to my performance in Dhamaka. I was looking for a role that was something different from what I had done before and this was exactly that! Dhamaka is a unique story of ambitions and how far one will go to change their life. It will compel you to always think while making decisions that ‘aap ne apni zindagi mein kya khoya, aur kya paaya’. To see the international level where this story travelled – with it trending in the top 10 films in more than 10 countries including UAE, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and many more along with it trending in the Top 5 NonEnglish Films worldwide on Netflix is simply mindblowing.”
‘BOB BISWAS’ REVIEW: ABHISHEK BACHCHAN’S CASTING AS BOB LEAVES A LOT TO BE DESIRED
We first got introduced to the character of Bob Biswas in Sujoy Ghosh’s 2012 film ‘Kahaani’. An insurance sales agent who moonlights as a contract killer, Bob came across as a rather uncanny yet believable character. Brilliantly portrayed by Saswata Chatterjee while combining an equal dose of eeriness and dark humor, the character became an instant favorite. And, after years of anticipation, Sujoy Ghosh in collaboration with Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment has finally come out with a full-fledged film for ZEE5 based on Bob and with Abhishek Bachchan essaying the part instead of Chatterjee. The film, directed by Diya Annapurna Ghosh, also stars Chitrangada Singh, Paran Bandopadhyay, Ditipriya Roy, Purab Kohli and Samara Tijori in the pivotal roles.
Almost all origin stories are weighed down by expectations and comparisons. The fans of the original of course are keen to watch it and yet at the same time they are usually a little wary. Sometimes the high expectations and the emotional attachment to the original can also make them overly critical in their scrutiny of the new offering. The best origin stories are always mindful of two things, above everything else. First, there has to be enough on offer for the fans of the original as one certainly doesn’t want to antagonise or alienate them. Second, it should also be able to stand on its own for the benefit of new viewers as one obviously wants to grow your viewership. Often the worst origin stories fail on both these counts.
Now, Bob Biswas is neither a great origin story nor a particularly bad one. The film has its moments but it is also flawed in so many ways. Speaking of the film’s strengths, Sujoy Ghosh’s screenplay stands out for its great attention to detail. Although, the storyline is nowhere near as fascinating as ‘Kahaani’ or ‘Badla,’ there are enough twists and turns to keep the viewer hooked until the end. Paran Bandopadhyay’s performance as Kali Da is a major highlight of the film. Here’s is a fascinating character that deserves a spinoff of its own. Purab Kohli also delivers a memorable performance. Ditipriya Roy and Samara Tijori are also solid in their respective roles.
The Bob Biswas from ‘Kahaani’ is a cold-blooded killer who doesn’t hesitate before pulling the trigger regardless of who the victim is. He has no remorse in even pushing a pregnant woman onto the rail tracks. His only credo is to fulfill the mission that he is assigned. And Saswata captured the character’s mannerisms so well in ‘Kahaani’. Now, there is no denying that Abhishek Bachchan is an earnest actor. Regardless of what his detractors say, he takes his work very seriously. And the same is true of his portrayal of Bob. In fact, this really is the farthest he seems to have pushed himself till date in a bid to make his Bob as identical to Saswata’s as possible. But, the trouble is that a well-known actor like Abhishek Bachchan may never play an out-and-out bad character. And it’s not just the case with Bollywood. In Hollywood also we have actors like Tom Hanks who wouldn’t play out and out bad characters. During the golden age, there were James Stewart and Cary Grant who wouldn’t play killers.
Now, even when Abhishek plays a killer in say ‘Breathe: Into the Shadows,’ the character’s outrageous villainy has to be balanced using an alter ego. Similarly, his Bob has to have a redeeming quality. In the film, we meet Bob who is a family man. He dearly loves his wife and children. Yes, he is an assassin but he refuses to kill a woman who is trying to fight the drug mafia. Therein lies the rub. For, the moment you associate those redeeming qualities, he ceases to be what he is supposed to be—a remorseless killer. Bob Biswas is Bob Biswas because he is a killing machine. He isn’t supposed to think or feel before carrying out his missions. And, so, Abhishek Bachchan’s casting as Bob leaves a lot to be desired.
Interestingly, in his defense, Sujoy said that he wanted to steer clear of ‘Kahaani’. And yet the manner in which he ends the film, deliberately connects Bob to Vidya Balan’s thread from ‘Kahaani’. Another problematic aspect of ‘Bob Biswas’ is the weak chemistry between Bachchan and Chitrangda Singh who essays the part of Biswas’ wife. Also, the film is not really a proper origin story in that it doesn’t take us to the very beginning of Biswas’ journey; we only meet him mid-way. It certainly would be an interesting exercise to explore Biswas’ true origins, starting with his childhood. Perhaps, Sujoy has a few more films for the ‘Kahaani’ franchise in his mind.
‘I WAS DEEPLY MOVED’: AKSHAY LAUDS TEAM ‘CHHORII’
MUMBAI: Superstar Akshay Kumar on Friday gave a shout-out to the whole team of recently released Amazon Prime Video film ‘Chhorii’ for bringing out the social issue of female feticide in a subtle way through powerful storytelling and strong narrative.
While the audiences are catching up with ‘Chhorii’, it most certainly caught the eye of Akshay, an actor who has been a frontrunner towards highlighting social issues predominate in society through his films. Akshay took to his social media, to share a video that rightly so, highlights what women have been doing and achieving. Akshay wrote in his post, “As father to a girl who is my lifeline, I was deeply moved, and equally concerned, about this. Kudos for taking up this sensitive topic, @vikramix @Nushrratt @Abundantia_Ent . Power to you.”
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