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Vandana Mohan: The real master of wedding planning

Anshu Khanna

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Wedding planner Vandana Mohan.

Vandana Mohan is a genius who can unequivocally be given the credit for bringing the “wedding design” industry alive in India just over a decade ago. And while the industry itself might have gone astray, turned into an assembly line, this purist has ensured that neither does she get sucked into predictability nor does she ever cease to be a romantic gypsy, flittering from one creative bastion to the other.

Spot her at one of her uber lux, VVIP wedding sets and you will possibly be beguiled by her calm demeanor, her composure, and her smile. Maybe you mistake her for the bride’s aunt as she blends into the crowd as much as the crowd blends into her design. Seamless perfection, an aura of minimal elegance and the a sense of design belonging that only emerges once everything is “in place” will tell you this is a Wedding Design Company set and she is the “maestro of this manor”!

 It was in the early 1980s that she and the ‘with it’ crowd burst into the still doddering world of glamour. Sidharth Basu, Rosa (Anita Basu), Lilette Dubey, Vidyun Singh, Rohit Bal, Asha Kochher, Vandana Mohan were storming the scene with their Theatre Action Group (TAG). Ramp shows, designer boutiques, launch events, fashion shows; rock concerts were words being added to the vocabulary of design in India.

Vandana was making a mark as a model right through her years in LSR. To be discovered by Siddhartha Basu, the quizmaster then, who decided to take her on as hisco-anchor and hence she emerged on the telly each week, making her debut into the world of entertainment.

From appearing before the camera to working behind the scenes came naturally to this hard working soul who was hand-picked by DNA to handle the much publicised Michael Jackson Tour and then the Bryan Adams Tour. These two pulsating assignments gave her such an adrenaline high that she realised that this was her world.

 “I launched my own company, Backstage Productions, and began working in the world of fashion which even then, as it does now, had the strongest voice.” Her foray into events coincided with the emergence of a brand savvy corporate world that was also awakening to the digital realm. Events, launches, promotions were discovered as a ‘jargon’ of brand creation and outreach. And soon Vandana was working with them all. “BMW, Mercedes Benz, Digital Talkies, Harvest Gold, all these became my clients.”

Working with brands gave her the threshold to work with luxury. LVMH, Gucci, Bvlgari, Tods all turned towards India and all wanted to work with someone who ‘understood’ their need for finesse. Vandana was the chosen one. “When you work with luxury brands they want you to imbibe their design philosophy. They want their brand ethos to reflect in their events. They want the right crowd to witness their aura. “ And hence Vandana saw herself spending time in the LVMH head offices in Paris, inviting just the ‘right’ crowd for the Dom Perignon black tie, sit down dinners, launching Gucci’s first boutique. “These events gave you an insight into how luxury works globally. The richness of restraint. The art of crafting a perfect ambience.”

It is with this eye for perfection that Mohan also approached the world of weddings. She was reluctant at first. “I wanted to do corporate events. My joke was ‘Ferns and Petals does weddings’. I am not a florist.” It was a good client Surinder Kapoor who foxed her into designing his daughter’s sangeet and Vandana realised she enjoyed it. “Abu-Sandeep (The boys) were working closely with the family and they really supported me with the process.” The boys felt so good working with Vandana that they convinced her to also handle the next wedding “It was Dimple Kapadia’s younger daughter Rinkie’s wedding and I handled it end to end.” And hence was born Wedding Design Company.

 “The first thing I did was start creating a system in this anarchic industry that had no set standards. And no concept of professional fees. And no transparency too. The same set the vendors would create for someone at Rs 100, for another at Rs 200 and for a friend at Rs 50!” Vandana created the SOPs; she structured the functioning, she discovered craft masters as her vendors and then decided to treat each wedding as if it were her first project! “You have to be in love with every project you do.”

So what defines a WDC wedding? “It’s really strange how even if I have worked with a hundred themes, people will still tell me that they knew it was my show. I guess it emerges from always working the scale out, being contextual with your theme, researching and keeping it as authentic to your source of inspiration as possible.” And she smiles as she says, “One thing I ensure that nothing is out of place, no realm of design is compromised and no extra ounce is added for the sake of histrionics.” To her classicism is originality. As is remaining authentic at all times. “The one thing we added was working with all the five senses. The moment you walk into a wedding you should identify with the fragrance that fills the air. If it’s an Indian theme, then attar should titillate your senses.”

To Vandana it is like recreating the bride’s home. “A client’s house is a reflection of his taste and I try to create it as close to his world. I like to layer my design, give it many levels, create a central piece that catches your eye with its sheer drama.” Add to that the penchant for new and original linen. “I design fresh linen for every wedding. I even travel up to Banaras to get the right zari silk for my cushions. If you have paid for luxury you should be able to bask in it.”

Flowers too are approached with a child-like freshness. “They are never anything more than props and I don’t try and fill every space with a zillion flowers. It is how you treat them that matters, the vase that goes with it, the settings.” And hence Vandana will never bring in flowers for the heck of it. “My backdrops needn’t be only floral. If I am creating a club theme I will not insist on adding flowers.” If given a chance Vandana will always go for Indian flowers: “The rajnigandhas, desi gulabs, the mogras… all used for stringing which we have mastered the design of by creating our own set of beaten brass urns, candelabras, diyas and thaalis to fill them in.”

 The woman behind many a destination weddings including the nuptial of all the Jindal scions, the Bharti Mittal wedding, the DeepikaRanbir wedding, Vandana has become synonymous with weddings in the exotic locales of Monaco, Florence, France, etc. “I fell in love with Florence when I visited it with the family. I mentioned in a magazine interview that I would love to design a wedding there. A client read it and there I was: In Florence, designing a wedding!” And thence there was no looking back.

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Katy Perry opens up about being a new working mom

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A month after she gave birth to her first child, a baby girl with her fiance Orlando Bloom, singer Katy Perry on Friday opened up about being a working mother. The ‘Daisies’ singer took to Twitter to talk about working while raising her child simultaneously. She began by stating that the popular mindset that “being a mom isn’t a full-time job” is actually a “popular misconception.” The series of tweets: 

Part 1: “Popular misconception: being a mom isn`t a full-time job.” 

“Part 2: when a mom finally goes back to work (whatever profession they do) it`s not like they been coming from months of “time off…” she`s coming from a full-time job… of being a mom, lol.” 

Part 3: “call your mom and tell her you to love and appreciate her and advocate for paid family leave!,” another tweet by the singer said. She ended the series of tweets by stating she loves her job.” 

Part 4. “I love my job.” Perry and Bloom who serve as the Goodwill Ambassadors of UNICEF welcomed their girl child – Daisy Dove Bloom – in August. 

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Chris Hemsworth to star in Netflix’s ‘Spiderhead’

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 Actors Chris Hemsworth, Miles Teller, and Jurnee Smollett have been roped in to star in Netflix’s upcoming film ‘Spiderhead.’ According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film is an adaptation of the dystopian short story Escape from Spiderhead by George Saunders. The plot of the film is set in the near future and it revolves around two young activists who live in a facility that is run by a visionary who performs experiments with drugs on inmates. The drug is known to alter the emotions for the inmates. The story originally appeared in The New Yorker in December 2010, and was later collected in Saunders’ New York Times bestselling book, ‘Tenth of December’, reported The Hollywood Reporter. The film will be written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and will be helmed by ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ director Joseph Kosinski. 

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Kaleen Bhaiyya unveils Mirzapur 2 poster

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Pankaj Tripathi

Piquing the excitement of fans, actor Pankaj Tripathi on Sunday dropped an intriguing poster from the much-anticipated web-series ‘Mirzapur 2’. The 44-year-old star shared the dark poster of ‘Mirzapur 2’ on Instagram. It showcases the grim reality of the city of bloodshed and guns- Mirzapur. The poster features an open jeep, parked on the pavement, with a number plate that read ‘King of Mirzapur’, while the frame captures the view of a dead person, lying on the ground with a pistol in his hand which is shown covered in bloodstains. In the backdrop is the castle of Kaleen Bhaiyya, the master of the city. “Yahaan sab ka uddeshya ek hi hai. #Mirzapur2,” wrote Tripathi in the caption. While ‘Mirzapur 2’ is all set to premiere on 23 October, fans can binge-watch Season 1 and enjoy the world of ‘Mirzapur’ while they wait for the second season to drop. In Season 1, Tripathi stole the show essaying the role of Kaleen Bhaiyya, the King of Mirzapur, Ali Fazal and Vikrant Massey packed a punch as Guddu and Bablu Pandit, the wannabe gangsters. Jo i n i n g t h e m in Season 2 are Vijay Varma, Priyanshu Painyuli, Isha Talwar, Amit Sial, Anjum Sharma. With all eyes firmly fixed on what happens next on the show, the makers have kept everyone’s curiosity high by not revealing much about the story

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Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein was flop but became iconic: Madhavan

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When ‘Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein’ released in 2001, the film failed to create sparks at the box office. What remained with the viewers was the brilliant act of the young newcomer who shone with his natural screen presence in the film, which also starred Saif Ali Khan and Dia Mirza. Nineteen years later, the newcomer is now the seasoned 50-year-old star R. Madhavan, who has consistently impressed with numerous roles in Hindi as well as Tamil cinema. 

“When the film released, it was a flop. They called it a disaster. But after it got out from the theatres it slowly became iconic in nature. Now, everybody is putting the songs up, of them singing and dancing to it,” Madhavan told IANS. ‘Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein’ was directed by Gautham Menon. Dia Mirza made her Bollywood debut with this film. The story revolves around the romance of a boy named Madhav ‘Maddy’ Shastri and Reena Malhotra, and the film was a remake of the Tamil film, Minnale. Madhavan is still fondly remembered as Maddy. How does he feel about that? “People can’t remember movies of bigger actors than me and here I am… I’ve been in the industry 20 years and I am getting so much love. What can I say — I think the audience is awesome,” he added. Madhavan will next be seen in the upcoming thriller ‘Nishabdham’.

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Film industry is beautiful, no toxic culture: Vishal Bhardwaj

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Bollywood filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj has rubbished claims that the Indian film industry has a toxic working culture or an insider-outsider divide, saying some people having “vested interest” are trying to malign its image. Bhardwaj believes that people in the industry are always there to support each other and for somebody like him, who doesn’t belong to any film family, it has been a cherishable experience. During a virtual press conference of Screenwriters Association (SWA) Awards on Friday, Vishal Bhardwaj in response to a question posed by PTI said, “I don’t personally feel there is toxic work culture. I believe there is so much love in our work culture. The film unit becomes like a complete family. There is such a beautiful work culture (here).” The ‘Haider’ director said there are people who have “vested interest” and they are trying to project cinema as a “toxic” workplace

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From humble start to biggest company: Aditya Chopra on YRF turning 50

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On the completion of 50 years of Yash Raj Films (YRF), chairman and filmmaker Aditya Chopra penned a note for his late father Yash Chopra, who had founded the production house and unveiled a new logo of YRF to mark the beginning of the 50-year celebrations of the production house. Interestingly, September 27 also marks the 88th birth anniversary of Yash Chopra. “In 1970, my father Yash Chopra left the security and comfort of his brother Mr. BR Chopra and formed his own company. Till then, he was a salaried employee of BR Films and didn’t own anything of his own. He did not know how to run a business and did not even have the basic knowledge of what goes into making a company. All he had was a strong belief in his talent and hard work and a dream to be self-reliant.” “That conviction of a creative man backing nothing but himself and his art gave birth to Yash Raj Films. Mr. V Shantaram, who owned Rajkamal Studios, graciously gave him a small room in his studio for his office. My father didn›t know then, that the small company that he started in a tiny room, would one day become the biggest film company of the Indian Film Industry,” 

Aditya wrote in a statement. Recalling the making the blockbuster film ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’, Aditya Chopra added: “1995, as YRF entered its 25th year, my directorial debut film ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ released. The historic success of that film gave me the confidence to give wings to some crazy risky ideas that I had for the future of YRF. Besides the immense love that my father had for me, he now also had a lot of faith in my ideas because of the miraculous success of my film. I had foreseen the advent of international corporate studios coming to India and taking over our business.” “I wanted us to achieve a certain scale so that we could retain our independence before they came in. My father contradicted his conservative mindset and bravely indulged all my bold initiatives. And in 10 quick years, we went from a film production house to India’s first fully integrated independent film studio,” he stated. Chopra thanked every person associated with the company over the last five decades. “Across 5 decades YRF, at its core, has been a traditional company with deep-rooted old world values and a conservative approach to business. This perfect balance of traditional and modern is what defines Yash Raj Films,” the statement read. Having worked with superstars Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan, YRF has been entertaining the audiences for five decades with movies such as ‘Chandni’, ‘Silsila’, ‘Darr’, ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’, ‘Mohabbatein’, ‘Veer-Zaara’, ‘Bunty Aur Babli’, and ‘Chak De Indi’, ‘Dhoom’ franchise, ‘Band Baaja Baaraat’ and ‘War’.

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