NOTCH �������� PARIS HILTON The hotel heiress opens up on her Indian sojourn
MASABA GUPTA The young designer takes on Satya Paul TROUSSEAU TURNAROUND Black & white is the new red of bridal couture
ROBERTO CAVALLI Italian fashion guru goes the desi way
SOMETHING FISHY Indulge your tastebuds with sumptuous Goan seafood
BLACK TO BASICS Nargis Fakhri shares style tips of a dark hue
INDIAN CUISINE ROCKS Nigella Lawson and Vikram Vij give their verdict
SALMAN KHAN Chulbul Dabangg Pandey gets locked and loaded, again
THE QUEEN OF HEARTS Rani Mukerji longs to work on the small screen
ANUSHKA SHARMA The IT girl of Bollywood tells it as it is
WILLIAM DALRYMPLE The acclaimed historian reveals the Indian inside him
DARK OBSESSION Ram Gopal Varma on tackling 26/11
WILDCARD ENTRY Poorna Jagannathan on her meteoric rise in films
ALIA BHATT B-Town’s fresh faced youngster gets chatty
A DIFFERENT BEAT Sophie Choudry takes a musical leap of faith
DEVDUTT PATTANAIK The mythologist talks religion
BEAUTY INSIDE AND OUT Skin expert Jacqueline Bhagavan gets candid
CELEB FORTUNES What lies ahead for newsmakers in 2013
YOGA FOR CLEANSING Deepika Mehta’s video tutorial
NOTCH LIT In our digital library
ITALIAN DAZE Sunny Leone gushes about her favourite holiday spot
MYSORE MYSTIQUE Varun Gupta’s photo essay explores a melange of sights
variety CLONK MARRY BONK - ARNAB, RAJDEEP, KARAN There are only three courses of action one can take
DECOR GETS HAUTE COUTURE India’s top designers marry high fashion with interior design
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Roberto Cavalli, the iconic Italian style guru talks about his love for art, Indian women and why he chose to open his very ﬁrst store and café in New Delhi Asmita Aggarwal
e kisses your hand with such love that he makes you feel you are the only beautiful woman in a room full of divas, maybe that’s the secret of Italian maverick Roberto Cavalli’s stupendous success – his ability to deal with people!
In the country, to launch his first-ever exclusive boutique at DLF Emporio and Cavalli Caffé (complete with his beloved prints — this time the zebra gets a monochromatic tribute), Roberto, like most Italians knows that the way to a woman’s heart is through her shoes, bags and couture. “It is a great honour to be here and to launch my store, I am an India lover and this is not my first trip here. The country beckons me – it has a great buzz,” he ���������
grinned as he flashed a smile at Bollywood beauty Neha Dhupia who sat coyly beside him wearing an animal print dress designed by him. “I love women – look at Neha, she is a big fan of mine and I always say she equals a million fans,” he laughs, without taking off his sunglasses despite the lovely sunshine on a balmy winter morning. “You know, I love my sunglasses, if anyone comes to my store, they must go back with these – they sell superbly all over Europe,” he reveals. A lover of Indian colours, which he says are rich and vibrant, he admits that the sari is a big inspiration for him and in sync with his design sensibility. “It just cascades down a woman’s body making her look so sensual. I love the embroidery. Indian touches are intricate and detailed. The
Cavalli says has been the secret of his success for the last 16 years. “Look at what I did to jeans, the sand-blasting which has become so iconic now that all the jean making companies use it,” he adds. But that’s not all of his achievements. He also worked with ‘stretch’ as he calls it, not lycra, which revolutionised the jean making industry. “It gave women the perfect fit. All sizes could enjoy a fashion moment. Fashion must empower women – make them feel sexy and confident. When I added stretch to jeans, it made men appreciate their ladies more, plus it made women comfortable too.Fashion has the power to add colour to your life, and enrich you,” he says.
workmanship is extraordinary. And if you add a little print to a sari, it will be Cavalli fashion,” he says with a throaty laugh. “I love the people of India. I was waiting to come here when the time was right as my fashion sensibility is quite strong and powerful. I was an art student, I studied at the Academy of Art in Florence. My grandfather was a painter (Impressionist Giuseppe Rossi) and I wanted to be one. But fashion happened by chance, so my collections are all based on my love for painting,” he says. Art gives you the liberty to enrich your soul, to create something new and that ���������
Cavalli says he will pay a tribute to India in his blog www.robertocavalliblog.com. “It is a big day for me, a happy day. Manav (Gangwani) visited my café in Florence and he urged me to open one here. It is because of his company Infinite Luxury Brands that I am here. Manav appreciates good food and fell in love with our specially prepared Florence chocolate. Like my fashion makes women happy, the food will make shopping fun,” he adds. Capturing feline spots and jungle themes has made Cavalli a rich man, a celebrity and an industry icon, but life hasn’t always been so easy.He was an unusually small child with a stutter, and had to overcome a series of obstacles and setbacks before achieving the current level of success.
Cavalli’s mother was a tailor and he grew up in a humble abode. His spunky prints won him fans like Cheryl Cole and Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Halle Berry. He did see a slip in his popularity as his label, which was a favourite of Brigette Bardot’s in the 70s, lost its prime position, but Cavalli was not one to give up. He re-launched in the 90s with the help of his second wife and former beauty queen Eva Duringer. “Eva saved me. She is phenomenal. She told me to carry on. Do what I do best. Nature remains an inspiration for me. Now I hope to bring my Club Cavalli, which is doing so well in Florence, Dubai and Milan here so that fashionistas can party all night long!” he concludes. ���������
Tell us about your launch in India and how have you Indianised your collection to suit our tastes? My launch in India was wonderful and very elegant. It was a great success and so many of my Indian friends came to celebrate this important event with me. Everything about the event was made Indian and this is surely why it was so beautiful and magical. How much of India will we see in your line? I am very inspired by India, its culture, its people, its colours, its style and uniqueness. I will surely incorporate India into my next line, but you will have to wait and see. I do not want to unveil any special surprises! How much has India inspired you? It is always important for Cavalli to be associated with glamour, style and sophistication and India is a perfect example of this. To be specific, Bollywood in my opinion is the embodiment of new glamour, refinement, elegance and style. I have already dressed many Indian stars such as Sonam Kapoor who are an inspiration not only for me, but for women around the world. Everyone in India who loves glamour, a luxurious lifestyle and being different will want to be a part of the brand India experience. Tell us about your collaboration with Manav Gangwani? It’s an honour for us to have partnered with someone who has such an extensive knowledge of the market. The collaboration between Manav and me will surely be a successful combination. Prints have been your forte, how many of these will you be incorporating into your Indian line? Prints are an integral part of the Cavalli DNA, so I will probably incorporate a lot of prints into my Indian line. Furthermore, I believe India is a reference point in the fashion world with regard to colours, prints and embroideries. Generally my aim when creating and designing clothing is to make women feel sensual, special and confident when they wear my dresses and even more so when you have women as beautiful as you do in India. There is nothing more glamorous than a woman who exudes freedom and independence and in this regard I think prints help do exactly that! The Cavalli woman expresses duality through prints: she is powerful, but romantic and feminine at the same time.
NOTCH ������� d n a f i a K a n i r t a J K H , T J K R g S n i r u d a k h Anus
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e know SRK grows fond of his co-stars, but looks like he’s taken the title Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi a bit too far. King Khan seems to be unwilling to let go of Anushka, even when he’s getting affectionate with the lovely Kat. Now we know what SRK means when he says his hands are full. Images: Yogen Shah
MONOCHROME BRIDE Bridal couture has taken a 180 degree turn with monochromes ruling the roost because the new-age bride wants to experiment with a more sopisticated color palette Asmita Aggarwal
hen Rina Dhaka decided to tie the knot with Ajay Sharma, 22 years ago, she knew her trousseau had to be well, different. So she decided to go with black, which is considered an ominous hue, but she confesses it was her soul’s calling. “There is no colour like black to make gold stand out, it works like magic,” she smiles.
Monochromes seem to have become the favourite of colour-crazy designers and are slowly seeping into the discerning bride’s wardrobe. “Remember those Ganga-Jamuna (double bordered saris with borders in contrasting colours) saris we wore, with lots of ivory and zardosi which made you
look like you were stepping out of a Raja Ravi Varma painting? Similar colour themes are catching the fancy of those who like to take the road less travelled,” she adds. Couture seems to have taken a decidedly 180 degree turn, maybe that’s why blacks and ivories dominated the ramp and the frontrunner of this trend was none other than Manav Gangwani. “Looking for a change from the regular rainbow of colours which have been a staple at Indian weddings and related functions, the modern bride now wants a simpler yet dramatic colour story. Black and whites make a striking statement! My couture collections are not restricted to bridal wear, they are inclusive of garments for events such as ring ceremony, cocktails, receptions and so on where monochromatic colour schemes work very well. Besides, my clientele is not just Indian, people in the West love single colour stories,” he says.
Manav feels that the new-age bride wants to experiment as she is adventurous and daring enough to break away from the norm, thereby being extremely eager to choose the offbeat path in terms of colour, as well as silhouettes. “Which is why monochromes have ruled Couture Week,” adds Manav. The crystals and sequins that sparkled on Manav’s full-flared lehengas (long flowing skirts) in charcoal black and ivory bodyhugging dresses as floor
length gowns with spotlights of shimmer, took the catwalk by storm. Even the reclusive designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee decided to go with the power of two and dressed the English Vinglish star Sridevi in an embroidered black velvet blouse and an ornate ivory sari. “These two colours always ensure a power-packed performance,” he grins.
Not alone in his love for monochromes, Varun Bahl decided to adopt the global approach too, so he skipped the heaviness of brocaded bridal wear and eye-popping colours and decided to court black like never before. And this black base gave him a chance to showcase his peacocks sitting pretty on his nattily executed transparent, net layered lehengas. “Black is an acceptable colour, it slims you down immediately, and it gives you a chance to play with placements and proportions. The new Indian girl doesn’t want to look conventional
anymore so this offers her an option away from the traditional reds and magentas,” he says.
But what about marketability? Does black/ white sell? “Yes,” says Pradeep Hirani of the upmarket store Kimaya. “Monochromes evoke a sense of mystery, a prelude always gives you an interesting sneak peek, tempting you to want to see more. Also the advantage of monochromes is that the bride can fill in the rest of the colours. Tired of an onslaught of a riot of colours, brides are now demanding sophistication,” he adds. Textile revivalist and a great believer in the power of Indian crafts, Anju Modi also flirted with whites with hints of black in her
Dhakai prints as she played with volume and layering to give the bride comfort in movement and the freedom to wear a flaming red choli (a midriffbaring, low-necked blouse) if she so desired. “Whites are pristine, they stand for purity and blacks are deep and intense, they make quite an exciting pair,” she says. The queen of minimalism Kolkata’s precious jewel, Anamika Khanna took this passionate love for an unadulterated colour palette a step further in her couture line ‘A Love Song to India’. White lace was converted into fitted jackets just like she did with embroidered, black velvet. Delicate touches could be seen in her dexterously executed peplums or when she courted white with pearls and asymmetry to make a statement. “Autumn-winter is all about black, it is a powerful colour that lets you mould it as you desire. When teamed up with white, it is a match made in heaven,” says Anamika. Ashima Singh of the label AshimaLeena confirms that brides are loving white and that demand has soared, as the colour is no longer considered taboo. “We teamed up pre-draped saris in whites and blacks with laser-cut gotta patti (fabric ornamentation involving gold or silver wire/thread work) combined with modern elements like net to give a vintage-like look to the ensemble,” she says.
“‘It is such a beautiful country. I got treatment worthy of a Maharaja here” Paris Hilton
Goan crazy with
Paris Designer duo Falguni and Shane Peacock spill the beans on Paris Hilton’s trip to India Asmita Aggarwal
f your best friend is Paris Hilton, constant prodding, that they have been friends for many years you don’t have to worry about now, and that their friendship making a splash do you? Mumbai-based style gurus Shane has got better over time as their respective partners get along and Falguni Peacock, who have dressed the likes of Rihanna, Katy quite well. For the uninitiated, River is a young model, whose Perry, Fergie and Jennifer Lopez, done prestigious campaigns for have now set their eyes on the woman who is famous for being, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren. “They make a stunning pair and I well, Paris Hilton. told Paris this when we were partying together in New York The designer duo decided to put last year after the Fashion Week Paris’s DJing skills to the test by was over,” says Falguni. hosting a party for her in the touristy Club Fresh, Morjim, Goa Paris has been a regular customer where Paris was seen with of the Peacock’s in New York and boyfriend River Viiperi, 10 years the hotel heiress is yet to choose her junior. Arriving at the India her final outfit from the six that Resort Fashion Week (IRFW) in have been created for her by the Goa, Paris was brought to India duo. “We hung out after the NY by E-sense Entertainment. Fashion Week and she took us to Lady Gaga’s perfume launch. “I think Paris has a really cool attitude and loves to try out new We’ve established a close bond ever since then and have things all the time. With a managed to keep in touch woman who has the kind of despite our crazy schedules,” wealth she has, she could have smiles Falguni. just sat back and enjoyed it, but she admitted to us that she Interestingly, the style guru doesn’t want to blow up her admits that what she admires money. She wants to invest it about Paris is the fact that she and make some more (like creating her range of handbags), can be pretty cool when she and that’s why we really look up wants to and edgy when the occasion demands. to her,” said Falguni, who prepared a guest list for the “The IRFW’s main event was the coveted party. fashion show. There was also a Refusing to divulge details about fashion village and a music her visit at first Falguni said, after festival where Paris performed on
December 2. She made her debut in Brazil and is no newcomer to the music scene as she has been into music since the age of 15. We have had many talks about her love for music and DJing is really her passion, so our party was almost like a gift to her,” says Falguni. Paris arrived like royalty - astride an elephant - when she made her entry to the grand venue in Goa for the party the duo had thrown for her. Paris said, “I love your (Falguni and Shane Peacock’s) creations. They are edgy and have loads of freshness.” She also admitted that she loved India, “It is such a beautiful country. I got treatment worthy of a Maharaja here.” Shane adds that Paris changed her outfits thrice a day, wearing a different one each time – to the beach and to the party. Even after she went back to Miami she continued wearing outfits designed by the duo and sent pictures of herself back to Shane and Falguni. “I am wearing your clothes in Miami too,” Paris told Shane.
eorge Clooney wears his the best, Brad Pitt comes a close second. Big B sported a nontraditional version on KBC, and son Abhishek rocked the look on the Cannes red carpet. We’re talking about the tuxedo. Described as one of the rarest garments to find in India, the tuxedo has never been attempted by an Indian designer. But Raghavendra Rathore is set to change that with his take on the classic tux and a hand-crafted tuxedo shirt. According to RR, India has a wealth of brilliant artisans who can produce the best handstitched garments. “The special aspect of how a tuxedo shirt is stitched is what makes our design very special and different from other products on the market,” he says.
e r o h t a R avendra
RR ON S E K A T X U T E H T
masaba magic Asmita Aggarwal
“Being an only child taught me how to be independent, instilled conﬁdence in me and helped me ﬁght my demons,’’ says Masaba Gupta, Viv Richards and Neena Gupta’s feisty daughter as she talks about her life and the people who shaped it ���������
t was Teacher’s Day. Masaba, who was in standard X, was forced to wear a sari like all her classmates - it was to be an incident that changed her life forever. She was hugely uncomfortable in the sari - her mother Neena Gupta’s old handloom piece that made it impossible for her to walk freely.
“I wondered what I could do to make the sari more appealing - more consumer-friendly. So I added pockets in order to give women a place to carry their stuff around instead of having to lug things about in a fancy bag. That’s where my journey with this six yard piece of magic began,” she recalls. Years later, the pocket sari was marketed. It didn’t sell but it did get a lot of recognition. But the lack of sales didn’t deter Masaba, who’s recently been appointed fashion director of the Satya Paul label. This is not the only trial by fire that Masaba has faced in her life! She launched a line of ���������
was so disgusted. We as Indians don’t respect our own tradition,” she fumes.
“Either you give up or you Hopefully, her new assignment will give her ﬁght to live enough opportunity to on your own contemporise the sari. But in the meantime she terms, like seems excited about fitting Puneet Nanda’s shoes my mom did -into the designer who - and I am her catapulted the Satya Paul label to fame. I used to daughter”” hear about showstoppers stunning ikkats only to discover that women were happy to pay Rs 20,000 for a blingy sequined sari but did not want to buy an ikkat which is a pure weave. “They would ask me to add sequins to it. Can you believe it? I
and Bollywood actresses making a statement on the ramp. I never believed it till Sonam Kapoor wore a sari at the Cannes 2011 after-party and it became an instant success. Then
Actor Prateik Babbar sports �������������������
Kareena followed suit in a sari from my summer/ resort collection 2012, worn with a bandhgala blouse that had a happy sunshine-yellow border and there was no looking back,” she smiles. This perhaps made Masaba realise that there are only two religions in India - Bollywood and cricket! When she did get a call in October to be a part of the legendary Satya Paul brand, Masaba Gupta couldn’t refuse. She met Puneet who took her down memory lane, helping her understand the brand’s ideology. “A lot of people think my own brand will get diluted, if I do this. But I think otherwise. If you look closely, mine and Satya Paul’s design aesthetic is quite similar.
It is akin to the elder sis meeting the younger sister of the same family,” she explains. Masaba admits that Puneet was much ahead of his time in terms of thinking and interpretation. “The brand had a voice of its own. When I was growing up, my mom, a sari lover, used to wear Satya Paul saris, because for her they represented art, culture and almost a piece of history,” she adds. Masaba liked the plastic sari and also remembers the time when Zandra Rhodes came to the country in the 80s and was so wowed by the drape that she gave it her own touch. Currently, working on a line for the label, which is slated to be out by January 2013, Masaba admits that at a subconscious level, her fashion sense was greatly influenced by her mother. “Mom always told me to respect our Indian identity and that’s where I found my love for textiles dyeing, embroideries, khadi, ikkat, hand block printing etc. I was only 19,
when I launched my line at the Lakme Fashion Week in 2009,” she adds. It wasn’t easy growing up. Masaba has had more than her fair share of testing times, identity crises, trying to understand the relationship between her parents and being born out of wedlock. “People used to look at me with curiosity - my thick black curly hair, my big bottom and my West Indian father who was a mystery to them. But dad always called a spade a spade. He and my mom never minced their words with me. My mom told me the truth right from the Soha Ali Khan
beginning and never stopped me from having an independent relationship with him. In fact my mom has always been very straightforward with me - even as I battled with my weight,’’ she adds. Vivian, her father, Masaba admits has always been extremely supportive of her endeavours. Despite the fact that she took some time to realise what her true calling was: dabbling in music, dance and so on, Viv never urged her to choose a career path. Her ‘mom was strict about studies’, she admits with a laugh.
Actress Sarah Jane Dias
“I wish I had a sibling when I was growing up someone I could share my most intimate thoughts with, my grief and my dreams. I was an introvert, but being an only child taught me how to be independent, instilled confidence in me and I learnt to fight my demons. Life is what it is. Either you give up or you fight to live on your own terms, like my mom did - and I am her daughter,” she shares. ���������������������������� and Alia Bhatt
BLACK MAGIC Rockstar babe Nargis Fakhri selects ﬁve outﬁts that she loves and tells us how you can work your magic with her all-time favourite hue, black Keep It Simple A little black dress is a must-have in any closet. You can dress it up with bold jewellery or just leave it simple.
Leave ‘Em Panting A pair of perfectly fitted black pants could do wonders for anyone. Make sure they fit right!!
Pencil Power I think every working woman must put in a little effort even when she is dressing up for work. So a black knee-length pencil skirt looks great if you could team it up with a formal shirt tucked in.
Short is Hot Well, we don’t really experience biting cold in Mumbai. So I’d say a pair of black shorts is a must. You could wear it to the grocery store with a plain T-shirt, or you could wear it with a pretty top and heels for a girls night out.
Drape Drama My favourite black outfit would definitely be a black sari. The whole outfit makes you look so elegant and lady-like. I think any one would look great in a black sari, with the right clutch and just enough bling.
alman Khan goes has by different monikers – just about hit Chulbul Pandey, Dabangg the screens, and Khan, Tiger Khan and Bhai. Salman Khan But what does he identify with the most? “These conﬁrms that there are names given by you will be a guys!” remarks the actor. with Sonakshi in the “Sometimes I’m Chulbul lead again Pandey, especially when I need to pull someone’s legs. ��Lipika Varma It could be in good humour,
or sometimes, to teach someone a lesson. I turn Dabangg too accordingly, but on the whole I never intend to hurt anybody on a personal level. I’d love to turn into a ‘Tiger’ for those high society folks!” But who are these ‘high society’ people? Salman winks and says, “You just need to guess that, man!”
He conveniently shifts gears as he adds, “I like kids, actually. They just call me Salman or Salman Khan.”
The characters I portray are larger than life and need me to look young.. Until I turn a little older, I’ll continue to jump, do ﬁght scenes
Poor little rich guy We, for one, know that he isn’t kidding. Being a darling of the masses and ensuring that multiplexes run to packed houses, Salman is the top draw in Bollywood today. But despite all his riches, you might wonder, why is Salman still living in a one BHK apartment? He smiles as he says, “Honestly, I feel so comfortable in this apartment that I do not want to shift. I do own another property but this is my comfort zone. Dad
lives just on the floor above and that makes me feel great. But now, I am finding it very difficult to adjust. I don’t have enough space for my clothes and shoes. Jagah kum padh rahi hai. I am thinking of getting a new place now.”
All in the family Salman is all praise for his brother Arbaaz Khan. “Arbaaz is a sincere guy. In fact, I feel he is like Feroz Khan who donned all three hats – that of an actor, director and producer. He is a sensible director and we were very comfortable working together because
we are brothers. We would sort out all the creative differences in an orderly manner. We would have had to be a little more careful with the finances if the money was borrowed from outside. But with Malaika Arora Khan being the co-producer of Dabangg 2, it was simply a khandan affair. Not that we spent money injudiciously, but yes, with our own finances, if something was needed, we would not think twice.” Tere Mast Mast Do Nain Speaking of which, there were no second thoughts about Sonakshi Sinha being roped in to play the role of the curvaceous village belle Rajjo in the sequel, which finds her happily married to Chulbul. Salman remarks, “I find no change in Sonakshi. She has performed her character exuberantly. In fact, after finishing Dabangg we started off with the sequel shortly. She had to maintain her same weight for this role as she had to appear pregnant. Now that she has completed the film, she has shed those kilos. Sonakshi ��������
will be acting in Dabangg 3 as well. Her father will also be in it, but the two will not meet. I cannot disclose any more,” he laughs. Show me the money! With the sequel already generating the expected buzz, a prequel might just be what the doctor ordered. So what does Sallu have to say about those box office collections that have changed over the years, thanks in no small measure to the Rs 100 crore benchmark set by the likes of Dabangg? “We will definitely bring the box office collections to more than Rs 300 crore, but not now. It will take at least three to four years for this to happen. But I promise you, this change will be brought about by us,” the actor explains. Dishoom out the goods Giving us a lowdown on performing action-oriented roles at his age, Salman elaborates, “Today, I am in my mid-forties. To perform action-packed roles, I need to be physically fit. It is necessary for actors to be able to perform all action sequences to the best of their ability. If I do not maintain a good physique, I won’t be able to perform.
Most of the characters I portray are larger than life and need me to look young. Until I turn a little older, I’ll continue to jump, do fight scenes and be prepared for all roles. In Sooraj Barjatya’s upcoming film, I will be playing the role of Prem. That was my first ever screen name and it got me a ticket to fame in Maine Pyaar Kiya.” Perpetual lover-boy When probed about his return to the romantic genre, Salman opened up, “In my opinion, prior to marriage, there is a lot of romance between couples, which dies down once they get get married because family problems crop up and take precedence. I feel that by performing a romantic role on screen, I might help keep the passion ignited for couples who have lost their spark. To
keep their love going, I will turn into ‘Prem’ again.” Not the write move Salman’s foray into screenwriting with Veer was a bitter experience. And it’s become a case of ‘once bitten twice shy’ for the actor. “Veer was the very first film I had scripted. But it was too long. I insisted on cutting the running time of the original film, which was almost four hours. I tried to limit it to 2.38 hours, but director Anil Sharma was keen on maintaining the original cut. He believed that historical and period dramas are meant to be long-drawn out affairs. I opted for Anil Sharma as the director purely because he was credited with making a super-hit like Gadar. I have learnt my lessons
now. I feel Aamir Khan is absolutely justified when he demands a say in the final cut. I was always slightly hesitant as I did not like to get into fights or create rifts within the team. I wanted to respect a filmmaker’s vision and did not want them to think that I was throwing my weight around as a star, which I never do. But now, I am putting my foot down. I will make it clear before signing that I shall take the call of the final cut.” “Having said that, I will always be open to the idea of working with Anil Sharma – if he has any good scripts, and also if he executes the film exactly as narrated. In today’s times, one cannot take uncalculated risks,” signs off the superstar.
SUNSHINE Here’s a peek into the mind of Alia Bhatt, the newest industry kid on the block, who believes in charting her own course and taking life one day at a time ����������������
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I don’t want to restrict myself to a particular type of ﬁlm or a particular kind of role. I don’t think that works.
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Ram Gopal Varma talks about how The Attacks of 26/11 changed him as a person, his obsession with the darker side of life, what he feels about the critics and more Arpita Chatterjee
hen asked why he chose to make a film on a subject people have followed in the news and pretty much know all about, Ram Gopal Varma says, “I have gone beyond what people know. I have got into the psyche of the terrorists, the police and the victims. You might know the terrorists came to Mumbai in a boat, but do you know what the terrorists were talking about? Do you know how they were feeling? I have gone into that. Everyone knows Kasab shot a 10-year-old. Does anyone know what was going on in his head? Does anyone know what Rakesh Maria, the then chief police commissioner, was doing when he got the call saying Mumbai was under attack?
He was in the shower when the biggest crisis of his career was unfolding. I have not used any fiction in this film. I have gathered information from all quarters. In the case of 26/11, fact is way stranger than fiction can ever be. This film also worked out to be really expensive because of the scale.” He adds, “Studying the psyche of the anti-terrorist squads and the terrorists has actually helped me understand human nature more. The film has enriched me as a person.” The anti-social element Ram Gopal Varma (or RGV as he is referred to), has made 40 films in 23 years and feels it’s actually not that many! As he says, “It’s
the only thing I do. I don’t go to parties. I don’t have any friends. I just make films. So when you look at how much time I’ve had it’s not that many.” When asked why he doesn’t have friends he says, “Because they are a waste of time. I don’t need them for anything. I don’t want people to waste their sentiments on me.” Despite being a game changer in the Hindi film industry with films like Satya and Shool, RGV has been severely panned by critics in the last few years. Yet he always seems to have producers ready to back him. Says RGV, “Critics are not the final word in the fate of a film. There are three elements that make a
film work, first the box office, the audience response and what critics say. My films always make money because I make them on a tight budget and get my producers a profit. It is as simple as that.” Regular people are boring When asked about his obsession with the dark side RVG says, “I am fascinated by the twisted. That is why I love to study the psyche of gangsters and all kinds of odd people. I find regular people extremely boring. Even when I was a child I would love to tell horror stories and examine the gangsters living in my locality. A senior police official once told me, ‘Ramu, you are the most criminalminded person I have ever met.’ That does not mean I would be a good criminal, it just means I
can get into their heads. I have an affinity for the intense. That’s why my version of a love story is Rangeela. I hate romcoms. I have never watched one in my entire life.” The experimenter Everyone knows what the film is about, but few know the people working on it. RGV has used film students to shoot and edit the film. He loves to experiment with new ideas. When asked why he chose to do so, RGV answers, “People who have worked in the film industry get jaded and have a particular way of looking at things. I wanted freshness. I like working with those who don’t have preconceived notions. Unlike in the olden days one doesn’t require work experience any
more. I allow those who work with me to interpret a scene any way they want to. As long as the action I am looking for takes place. Formula or mainstream films are not even made by a director. They are a product of the cinematographer, the choreographer etc. I have even changed as a producer. Earlier I would force my directors to make what I thought was how the film should be. That did not work well. Now I let my directors make their own film. In fact, the other day I saw a film made by a guy in Nagpur and it is fantastic. He has taught himself how to make films. He shot it on a 5D and edited it himself. I have decided to release this film.” Working with students, releasing some unknown person’s film – RGV seems very different from what he is painted out to be. But when asked if he is actually a do-gooder behind his maverick façade he quickly says, “I am no do-gooder. I am actually exploiting these people. I want to exploit their talent!”
Rani Mukerji talks about her journey in ﬁlmdom so far and says she is eager to work on the small screen � Lipika Varma
have always thought of myself as a youngster in the industry and a learner compared to stalwarts like Salman, SRK and Aamir,” says Rani Mukerji who admits that she is most comfortable working with Aamir and Shah Rukh. “I am not shy anymore. It’s important for me to take suggestions as I want to be guided by them. They are my seniors. So, when we are working it’s always a give-and-take policy. There’s always a room for discussion,” adds Rani. The actress doesn’t compare
outstanding. I don’t judge them on the sets nor do they judge me,” smiles Rani. Rani plays down the adulation she’s received recently, “Talk of whether you’ve put on weight or are seen as a talented actor or spoken of as sexy, only means that you are loved by millions,’’ she says quietly. She is keen to work with certain directors. “I would love to work with Sanjay Leela Bhansali. I had a great time working with him in Black. I also liked the small role in Bhansali’s Saawariya. I
Talk of whether you’ve put on weight or are seen as a talented actor or spoken of as sexy, only means that you are loved by millions SRK, Salman and Aamir with any other stars. “Though I debuted with Shadab Khan and Farhad Khan, I was just 17 when I worked with the three leading Khans - Aamir, Salman and Shah Rukh. So I’ve always had a soft corner for them. I look up to them and can’t compare them with any of my other co-stars. They are all so ��������
would love to work with Shaad (Ali) as well. He’s a great director but he has not offered me any roles,” she says. As for the frustration she feels when her films flop, Rani has this to say, “I don’t wallow in sorrow when my films flop, neither do I go out and party everyday when the film is a hit. Instead, I try and work hard to
perform better in the next film. People sometimes say that my work was good or that I was fabulous despite that fact that the film did not do well. So at least I have that consolation. The story might not have been liked by the audiences but the dances will always be remembered.” Rani feels that actors are not saints or gods. They are workers and as she puts it, “work should never frustrate one. You will always win some and lose some. You have good days and bad days. When one was young one was taught to participate in sport. Not because one needed to win or lose. In fact one never participated with the fear of losing. One participated because one had something to learn.” The actor also believes that change is something one has to live with. “We never used to promote our films earlier. I started shooting for my first film in 1995 and it released in 1996. There has been a huge change since then. The first time I went to various cities to promote my film was for Nayak. I promoted
the film on a serial like CID. Today, promotions have become a part and parcel of films. They are compulsory irrespective of whether you like promoting your films or not. Change has been constant and it has to continue all our lives. But I have always believed things happen for the better,” she says. Asked about the rivalry between her and Kareena Kapoor, Rani says that she worked with Kareena in Mujhse Dosti Karoge. “Now in Talaash she is also my co-star. We have a lot of love and respect for each other. We meet at parties but we don’t make an extra effort to meet each other. In Talaash we don’t have scenes together so there has been no chance to bond,” she clarifies. So, what does the future hold - a foray onto the small screen? Rani expresses her willingness, “I would love to do TV shows. They pay a lot of money. If they are ready to pay me - I would be ready to be on TV!”
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G N I D D BU ANCE M O R WEEN T E B EST D L O COMERS W E N
r o f p u d e n t r i u , t r i a r c h y k l i a F m s a i f g r e a h t N s ’ n n i d l o a he r o e w n y l u l f o s B ’ a t r u p B d o . e h t g t C n o i h g p s g a Yas n e w e s b s e e e u t v g a a n d h e i s r v e o set to m M o . c 2 w 1 e 0 n e 2 c t r y s l u r e o a s e old a e c t n u i b s t , r a d e t e h t a w h t o l l s o toge f m r s i f y a n d o i c l o o n s h a s r i d p s i o h an h t C , ) e y h a t d o U t e ( h e t 9 s 3 o h t d cl o n b a t ) a s i h g t r r a a e i h d e A 33 (N W d . n e a v y o l a d y p U p s r pu e h r t i o e r h b t a h r t e i p h o w t h n n C i w g o n d i t i e l a t t w e s n i s e will i d a l e v i t c e p s e r . r a e y g n i m co
n i s i g t r a a r N a c s ’ y a a r Ud p o h C g n i the r u d l e a r m e n ho u f s ’ i j h Yas Images: Yogen Shah
Scorching the screen She came. She saw. She conquered. We chart Anushka Sharma’s evolution in her own words… � Tushar A Amin ��������
Photographer: Avinash Gowariker l Hair: Gabriel Georgiou Make up: Puneet B Saini l Styling: Allia Al Rufai
Growing up, I used to be quick to pass judgements and call ﬁlms crap. But today I realise how much goes into making one
f late Anushka Sharma’s life has been a frenzy of flashbulbs and sound bytes. She has delivered yet another hit with Jab Tak Hain Jaan and is all geared up for the release of Vishal Bharadwaj’s Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola where she plays the central character (literally, as the title suggests). Juggling an endless round of media interactions, publicity events and award functions you would expect her to be a jangle of nerves. Instead, she is her effervescent, vivacious and professional self, who loves to talk nineteen to the dozen. And it all makes sense. So when she starts talking, you cannot help but straighten up and listen.
You have been caught up in a whirlwind of sorts. How has your relationship with work evolved over the past four years? I never planned on becoming an actor, so being in Bollywood was very unexpected for me. I was absolutely unprepared and today I find myself falling more and more in love with my work – becoming passionate about it. I am beginning to respect the people who work in the industry because I realise how much hard work goes into making films. Growing up, I used to be quick to pass judgements and call films crap. But today I realise how much goes into making one. That doesn’t mean I accept every film that comes my way but I definitely have a lot more respect for the people who work here because it is a job that requires a lot of passion and a lot of sacrifices. So, my respect for the people I work with, my love for my work and my passion about delivering my best have all grown exponentially over the past four years.
Has success changed you in any way? As an outsider, I take great pride in what I have achieved but at the same time, I am full of gratitude for the acceptance I have received, not just from those in the industry but also from the audience at large. It is really overwhelming, especially when we go to different cities to promote films and so many people come out to support us. Because, in my head I still don’t feel that I am any different from the girl I was four years ago. So, it is always astounding to me to experience this adulation and attention. But doesn’t it get too much some times? Do you ever crave anonymity? Of course, there are negatives to everything in life. So there are times when it gets a little hard to deal with certain things that happen. But that’s the way it is. The only thing I have learnt over the years is to try and maintain as much honesty as possible – in both my work, and the way I conduct myself. With me, what you see is what you get. And that has simplified my life to a great extent. I was very confused in the beginning as I had no clue how to be. But then I decided that I was just going to be myself, be honest and keep it simple. I think, that is why I have been able to sustain my sanity in this industry as well (laughs). Because you do have to face certain pressures and it does get difficult. One has to figure out a way to deal with those pressures. For me, it is being transparent, honest and simple. ��������
Yes, every profession has some difficulty or the other. It is just because I am an actor, and my life is in the public eye, that my negatives may be a lot more exaggerated but at the same time I also get so much attention and affection. So, it is like the law of nature – how much you give is how much you get.
How has working in films affected the girl from Bangalore? When you enter a field at a very young age – I started when I was just 19 – you are not just learning a new profession but you are also moulding your entire personality. It does not affect just your career but also what kind of person you grow into as well. You are forced to perceive things not just professionally but also as a person. I have grown based on the experiences I had in that field. These have shaped my perspective and developed my outlook towards life. This is my personal perspective because until I took up acting, I had seen life only through the eyes of my protective parents. Being in this particular field has made me more independent today, more responsible for the life I lead and the choices that I make. It has also affected how I express myself. Apart from that, I have developed a more open and accepting attitude towards life and people. I am very idealistic, you know. Things disturb me very easily. Even as a child, I used to question everything and call a spade a spade. For want of a better way, I would say I was a bit stuck-up. Being in this industry, I have become more accepting, because I have matured and
realised that things are flawed but there is no simple reason for them being that way – not everything is black and white. Sometimes, situations make stuff seem a certain way. Over the years I have stopped judging incidences and people. I have learnt that because I am in a position where people are constantly judging me. And a lot of times, those judgements are so off the mark. So, if people cannot judge me correctly, who am I to judge anyone else?
There is so much attention focussed on your body… I was very surprised and upset when all these stories of me being thin came out. People went to the extent of calling me anorexic which is a very strong accusation to make without realising what it is. I have an ecto-morph body type and a very high metabolic rate so I can eat anything and I won’t put on weight. In fact, I have to workout to gain weight. I cannot do cardio; I have to do weight training. And there are a lot of people who have this type of body. It is taboo to call an overweight person fat but I think it is equally wrong to call a naturally thin person skinny! If you cannot go up to someone who is overweight and tell him not to eat, it is unfair to go to a thin person and make comments about how she does not eat enough. I felt so misunderstood because I was going on defending myself for the way God made me! Ultimately I was like, `I am not even going to react to these things.’ I made ��������
my decision to ignore the comments. I love my body. I have worked very hard on it. No matter how busy my day is, I go to the gym. You know, going for a run is easy, lifting weights is bloody hard. I am very careful about my diet and eat every two hours because I start shedding weight like an Alaskan Husky sheds hair! Today, I feel very proud of the way I look and I don’t care what people think. I am naturally the way I am. I am healthy. I have not fainted or fallen sick often. As far as I am concerned, being fit and healthy is more important than how you appear. Fitness is all that matters.
phase of my life where I can date an actor because it takes a lot to be in a relationship. And I cannot afford to devote that kind of time or involvement right now. I am not a very girlie’s girl and that’s why the guys find it easier to be friends with me. They actually treat me like a guy, backslapping and throwing things at me. I come from an army background and have been brought up in an environment where friends are not made based on their gender. And, come on, you cannot be attracted to everyone you work with! Also, I don’t
Come on, you cannot be attracted to everyone you work with! Also, I don’t fall for people that easily And do the rumours and reports of link-ups affect you? Not any more. In this industry, link-ups are part of life. If you are single and working with someone, you will be linked to that person. It is very hard for people to accept that two good looking people who work together can just have a working relationship like colleagues normally do. But that’s the way I am, I am friendly with the people I work with. They are all boys whom I find intelligent, who have also worked hard to get where they are. But at the same time, they are like buddies. There is no ulterior interest. I am not in the ��������
fall for people that easily. I live my life very openly and am not apologetic about it. Just because I am an actor, I cannot stop going out and having a cup of coffee with someone. I have the same rights as anyone else to go out and watch a movie with a friend! It is normal. And I exercise that right to normalcy in my life. Maybe, that’s why people make up these stories. Because, come on, if I were up to something I wouldn’t be going around in the open. There are ways to hide these things. But I have made my peace with the fact that people just want to make up such stories.
It is taboo to call an overweight person fat but I think it is equally wrong to call a naturally thin person skinny!
What kind of relationship do you share with your parents? My father has been my guide and shall eternally be my guide. I share a very special bond with him. I don’t feel as close to anyone else in the world as I do to my father. I think my father knows me inside out. He understands me better than I understand myself. My mother has played the biggest part in my being where I am today. She has been a great motivator. She has worked very hard to give me and my brother the best possible life. There were times when we didn’t have enough, but she sacrificed and went out of her way to make things available for us. She ensured that we got a proper education, that we lived in a bigger city and got the exposure which she did not have.
How did the late Yash Chopra influence you? Yashji’s was the first name that `got attached’ to me when I entered the industry. I was always in awe of the man. I used to hear stories of his warmth and humour from people around me. I had even read a book on the making of Veer Zaara in which there were anecdotes about him. I had a first-hand experience of how funny and warm he was when I worked with him. I think he was such a gentle soul and such a good man. There is no one in this industry that has the goodwill that Yashji had. ��������
Can you describe your relationship with Shah Rukh Khan... Shah Rukh will always be my favourite. I respect him because he does not come from a film background and he has made himself what he is today. The one thing I really like about him is that he is very straightforward. You don’t have to second guess him. He does not have an agenda behind what he is saying or doing. I think that is his best quality. And he is extremely intelligent and writes beautifully. I read a few pages from the book he is writing and I was actually crying when I read the chapter about his father. He is a very amazing guy and I feel really blessed not just to have him as my first co-star but also because of the fact that I got to know him. .. And Ranveer Singh? Ranveer and I had the biggest successes of our lives together. So, we bonded because of that. Also, because we were both launched by Yashji we had things in common. I think he is a very talented actor and extremely hardworking. I wish him well.
And do you feel that women are making a mark in this male dominated industry? I do not particularly agree with the differentiation between female and male roles. I believe that the day we stop looking at roles as gender-centric and try to tell stories rather than balance gender equations will be the day we actually evolve. The story could have a female or a male protagonist, how does that matter? We had a Mother India way back. Now we have Kahaani and Dirty
The ambition is very strong because there is a lot more to achieve. Picture. In all these cases, it was the story that mattered more than the male or female protagonist. We should stop this differentiation. If a story is entertaining, it does not matter. Also there is this perception that women-centric films have to have some kind of heavy subtext. I would love to work in a film like The Devil Wears Prada where the central characters are women, the story is through the eyes of a girl, but it is not life-altering or anything. I would like to be in ��������
a film like that rather than make some feminist statement and I definitely don’t want to discriminate between male and female roles.
Finally, you have achieved so much over the past few years. What are your ambitions and insecurities now that you are in a good place? I have just started. The ambition is very strong because there is a lot more to achieve. I want to work with different directors because I want to become a better actor. When you work with different actors, you discover different aspects of yourself. As far as insecurities are concerned, my biggest fear is that I have just started enjoying this journey. I do not want it to go away. I feel everyone has that fear. When you are in a good place in life, you always feel, `Oh God! I hope I continue to get these kinds of films.’ So, my only insecurity is that I am not the first choice of the directors that I want to work with. And that’s about it. But I have realised that the only way to deal with insecurity is to believe that if I do good work, I will get good work in return. And that’s how it is!
Dilip Kumar, Saira Banu and Randhir Kapoor at a i a b m u M n i party
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DÉCOR GETS A DESIGNER TOUCH
Designers are spreading their wings beyond ensembles to more appealing and dynamic design repertoires that comprise furniture, home furnishings, luxury weddings and more � Asmita Aggarwal
Frontrunners - David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore
Better-known as AT&T, the frontrunners in the fashion industry, David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore started out with soft furnishing and gave it as much importance as they did their ensembles. Décor and home linen was not an afterthought – it was something they did right from the beginning. “The range is essentially for exports and comprises bed linen, cushion covers, bedsheets with an Indian sensibility. We both love textiles so doing this was a not a brand extension but an integral part of our line,” says David.
The Prince Of Jodhpur Raghavendra Rathore His company began migrating from fashion to holistic designing in 2008-2009 and Raghu believes that expanding into varied segments of design has helped him and his team grow creatively. As he explains, “Specialised projects are highly customised and need a different methodology. We did the Nakshatra Store concept in 2011, which was implemented in our Mumbai store. The product offering was a complete customisation of the store’s interior. We designed the �������� ���������
entire product range (inclusive of bags, belts, clutches, sunglasses, wallets and watches etc), keeping in mind the clientele as well as the brand aesthetics,” he adds. Raghu also undertook the Suryagarh Jaisalmer, Rajasthan interior concept in 2009 with renowned architect Ravi Kumar Gupta. “We started at the beginning of 2008 and undertook the complete designing of the hotel interiors and furniture – preserving the heritage yet creating an eclectic mix of modernism,” he smiles.
Raghu has also created a home linen range for Carmichael House (cushion covers, candle holders, bed spreads and quilts), where his designer line was retailed through their 40 stores and 600 multi-brand outlets. “Fifty thousand sets were available as an inaugural offering under the Club Jodhpur label and we used a lot of velvet, gold and satin to make the line luxe,” he says. Penthouses in Gurgaon and villas in Ahmedabad have also been given a designer edge by Raghu. As he says, “I try and do two to three projects every year, but I pick and chose what excites me!”
The King of Embroidery JJ Valaya’s Luxury Weddings
JJ Luxury Weddings is JJ’s foray into the Big Fat Indian Wedding. It is his way of paying tribute to his love for everything ‘royal’. Interiors have fascinated JJ and he likes the idea of creating something magical, almost transforming them into ultra luxe areas. “It is a play of intricate details, dressing up a designated space, creating a world in a contemporary structure. It is a different experience altogether,” he adds. After 20 years of creating some of the most exquisite masterpieces for today’s modern royals, the Indian bride and groom, it was time to expand his horizons into the refined luxury that forms the setting for these unique extravaganzas --- Indian weddings! “There is nobody who understands luxury better than me and I can give people the best of my craft, the understanding of what glamour means, but there has to be a balance between aesthetics and over-the-top glam and I hope not to tilt the scales,” he adds.
Luxury with Comfort Rahul & Gunjan
Qboid Design House is a brand founded by entrepreneur and interior designer, Dimple Kohli. To celebrate its first anniversary, the design house joined hands with fashion and art designer duo Rahul Jain and Gunjan Arora to provide a wholesome range of furniture for a better living. Says Dimple, “The amalgamation of two creative forces can result in a highly appealing and dynamic design repertoire. When we execute the design, certain amendments need to be made to ensure that the product is practically feasible. As a team we have worked hard to make this evident in our collaborative works,” says Dimple. Rahul and Gunjan have come up with a collective line of statement furniture that can be loosely defined in these categories… Office/ study: where there are
desks with chairs, seating and shelves. Homes: that showcase beds, side tables, art partitions and bunk beds. The lounge: that highlights consoles, multi-use cabinets and lounge seating. Says Gunjan, “When one is creating furniture and trying to enter predecorated spaces in most cases the colour schemes are kept neutral for effective blending. Wherever we could we have infused warm yet festive tones. We have used rich and simple yet elegant materials which are trendy. The end product is different from what is usually seen everywhere.” Dimple Kohli is quick to add that in today’s stressful times, a person wants his home to be a haven of relaxation and at the same time wants his abode to show off the different dynamics of his personality. Gunjan feels that comfort has to be built in and then made to look luxurious with the use of interesting wood, fabrics and finishes.
Flower Power - Tarun Tahiliani Cembediums, Oriental The Wharton graduate Lilies, Helicons and Spider understands the market Orchids. like no one else and that’s “The biggest markets are how FNP Tahiliani was institutions, weddings, born. Tarun Tahiliani tied up with Vikaas Gutgutia of trousseau floral services and online sales, though Ferns N Petals, to create a we also give consultations contemporary space for occasions, events and revved up with the natural even institutional and beauty of exotic flowers corporate set-ups, as from around the globe. flowers are an integral “Flowers like fashion, part of décor,” says Tarun. express emotions and they are quite inspiring for me,” Floral installations and innovative designer says Tarun. As the only themes for parties are their luxury floral boutique, FNP best sellers. Tahiliani is scented with
Décor Dreams Sabyasachi Mukherjee
The undisputed maverick designer, Sabya hoped to design public spaces, and maybe that’s why his 51 Buckingham Gate, Taj Suites & Residences, London, was inspired by 100 years of cinema. And where there is Sabya, and his Bengali sensibility, there has to be Satyajit Ray. “I have admired Francis Ford Coppola and Bergman, but Ray is my fave,” says Sabya. Interestingly, Majidi, Wong Kar-Wai, Almodovar and the Monroe-inspired bedroom are not far behind. Guru Dutt (Sahib, Biwi Aur Ghulam), ��������
Merchant Ivory (Heat & Dust) and Bimal Roy, also find a place of pride in the suite inspired by 40s and 50s Hollywood as well as Bollywood of the 50s. “I wanted to tell an Indian story which I have done through handmade antique furnishing, art to glassware, rugs to
taxidermy, Bollywood film prints, vintage mirrors, portraits, drawings and embroidered Indian lamps from the 20s. The place is a quirky mix of British architecture, with dollops of Lebanese and Moroccan. I didn’t want it to look like a sterile hotel. I wanted it to look like an expat’s home, well lived in and loved for years,” he says. Sabya also opened a beautiful store spread over 4,000sq feet in Hyderabad where the interiors have been done by him. From the hundreds of clocks on the walls, to intricately embroidered lampshades, and the curated living artefacts from the Sabyasachi Art Foundation, the store is Sabya’s homage to what he considers dear. “The store carries the complete range – Sabyasachi Couture, Bridal, Sabyasachi for Sabyasachi and Chotu Sabyasachi. But if you notice closely only a small area is reserved for clothes, sales and marketing – the rest is all textiles and old paintings that give you the feeling you are entering a museum,” he signs off.
Image: Vijit Gupta
A late start and an unconventional role did not stop 38-year-old Poorna Jagannathan from becoming a critically acclaimed Bollywood star and a style icon. Here’s what Poorna has to say about her new life and new avatar… � Arpita Chatterjee
FROM NYCto DELHI BELLY
India is a wholly different story. There are a lot of meetings, there are a lot of social events and appearances, and trust me when I say my beach and combat boots wardrobe isn’t equipped for this lifestyle! So I got a stylist who perfectly understands my sensibilities and body type. I think the biggest style influence is not a particular person – it’s the streets of New York. Every corner, every neighborhood, every subway platform is inspiring and has something to offer in terms of style. I used to live in Williamsburg in Brooklyn, (hipster mecca), and there would be style and art everywhere, scrawled on every wall, dancing on every street corner. NYC breeds and celebrates individuality. I’ve lived in countries like Brazil, Argentina, Ireland and spent a few years in India but I’ve never felt like I belonged like I did in New York.
Image: Amyn Hooda
My sense of style has always been informed by my lifestyle. When I was living in New York City, my days would be jam-packed: a yoga class in the morning, two auditions in the afternoon, a business meeting in the evening and rehearsals for a play at night. What I left the house wearing in the morning had to pretty much work throughout the day. Most times, I’d carry a change of clothes and shoes but my style in NYC became very utilitarian. Brands like All Saints saved me – their clothes are uber stylish but I can still make a mad dash to catch the subway in them. In LA, I was at the beach every other day. So my style ended up being much more bohemian and loose, and everything had to work with my birkenstocks!
I never know how to answer questions like “Would you like to be part of mainstream cinema?” or “Can you imagine yourself running around a tree?” It’s not like mainstream cinema has come looking for me and I’ve rejected it. I think we both agree to disagree and we haven’t sought each other out. I never know how to answer questions like “Would you like to be part of mainstream cinema?” or “Can you imagine yourself running around a tree?” It’s not like mainstream cinema has come looking for me and I’ve rejected it. I think we both agree to disagree and we haven’t sought each other out. In India, I start filming Phone Thief in January. It’s directed by Pia Sukanya. In the States, I’m doing HBO’s Criminal Justice. I play a Pakistani woman whose son is accused of murder. It’s an extremely intense, realistic drama on the legal system. I have Thanks for Sharing releasing next year. There are a lot of directors I’d love to work with here. There’s Ashim Ahluwalia who directed Miss Lovely. I was so inspired when I heard him speak about his approach to filmmaking. While everyone is making independent cinema within conventional structures, Ashim actually went for a completely unconventional, documentary style approach while filming. And he’s smart enough to pull it off. I’d love to work with Anuraag, many of the female directors like Kiran Rao and Anusha Rizvi. And I really hope to see many more women directors and writers – I think that’s going to be the real game changer in this business.
Always in the fringes
I moved from New York to Mumbai right after Delhi Belly released. My husband got a job offer here as well and I was open to exploring new possibilities. In retrospect, it’s been the most challenging change. I was suddenly part of an industry I didn’t quite understand and still don’t know how to fully navigate. My entire acting career has been in the States and so of course, my sensibilities and approach is very westernized. I believe that the holy grail of any film is the script. In India, the script and the writer are just now gaining the kind of respect they deserve but we have a long way to go. I get offers for projects that are going to shoot in a month and there’s no script for it.
Image: Chris Fanning
But I think there are a lot of opportunities here. There’s a lot of room for change. There are people like Anuraag Kashyap who aren’t satisfied with the status quo and are ushering in a new wave of cinema. And while I bitch and moan, there’s not much action I’m taking to shift things. So I really do admire people who just “shut up and do”. And what I have to contend with is that although my sensibilities are western, there are still very few roles for Indian women in Hollywood. I get stereotyped on a daily basis and that’s the battle I fight over there. In India, I truly believe anything’s possible and if you have the drive and conviction, you’ll get a pretty interesting version of your vision made. I did expect many more interesting offers right after Delhi Belly but I’ve found that material here is still not as strong as I thought it would be. I remember the thing that drew me most to Delhi Belly was the writing – I read only a couple of pages for the test, but I immediately wanted to be part of it because the writing was exceptional. I haven’t come across a script that tightly written since, which is why most of the projects I’ve done since Delhi Belly have been in the States. I filmed Thanks for Sharing in NYC, which stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Mark Ruffalo and now I’m part of this HBO series called Criminal Justice which also films in NYC. ��������
Poonam Bhagath designs costumes for opera
arlier Bibhu Mohapatra designed costumes for Giuseppe Verdi’s epic Aida, and now designer Poonam Bhagat has joined the hallowed circle by designing costumes for Opera Lafayette’s staged production
of Felicien David’s Lallah Roukh in Washington DC at the famed Kennedy Centre. An excited Poonam says that she got a call from David who contacted her through word-of-mouth recommendations, after which things shaped up at whirlwind speed. “Everything was decided in a jiffy and I started work on the costumes after WIFW got over,” she smiles. The play set in the 18th century and is based on Thomas Moore’s 1817 poem titled Lalla Roukh, and Poonam has loads of plans on how to recreate the look of that era. “I will be making 23 costumes in total, which includes 16 dancers, 4 attendants and maids. Everything will be hand-made, appliqued and embroidered, because that’s real art behind getting a 3-D effect, unlike a flat digital print that has no beauty in it. The story is an energetic romance which celebrates true love, and I’m a romantic at heart, so this was just up my alley,” she concludes.
Myriad Moods of Mysore Lensman Varun Gupta captures Mysore’s mystic past and showcases its vibrant present day attractions in this sublime photo essay � Images and Text: Varun Gupta ��������
ith a recorded history going back over a thousand years, Mysore has a rich cultural heritage that draws visitors from all corners of the globe. Until India gained independence in 1947, the Kingdom of Mysore flourished under the Wodeyar Dynasty. At present, it is the second largest city in Karnataka and is slowly becoming a wellplanned metropolis, built around architecturally interesting monuments and museums. The relatively clean air, the streets lined with blooming Gulmohar trees, and a relaxed energy among the local populace gives Mysore a warmth that draws me back again and again. My first visit to Mysore was in early 2006, and the purpose was simple - seven days of photography! The dusk to dawn regimen, and a staple diet that involved chasing the light through the landscape and the monuments. Working outdoors around sunrise and sunset and ducking indoors in the afternoons when the light is unflattering. My goal was to capture in broad strokes all that Mysore has to offer for visitors; I intended to include a few day trips to explore the surrounding areas.
Mysore Fruit, Vegetable & Flower market As I set out on the first day, full of energy and eager to make pictures, I found my way to the famous Mysore market. The early morning hustle and bustle of flower vendors as they unloaded stack upon stack of colourful flowers, the din of traders selling their produce, the patches of light and shade and the incredible amount of activity in the surrounding lanes had me fixated with my camera for almost 2 days. One must make it a point to visit the market when in Mysore, try to drag yourself out of bed early and try to catch the farmers as they bring in fresh flowers.
Jaganmohan Palace & Art Gallery is an architecturally interesting building located in the heart of the city; it features a museum housing an incredible collection of Indian art including several early works of Raja Ravi Varma.
Chamundi Hills offers a spectacular view of Mysore city, particularly at night. The winding road takes you to the top of the hill from where you can walk to the Chamunda Devi Temple, which is a stunning structure with intricate carvings. Thousands of devout visitors make their offerings at the doorstep of the temple; these individualized rituals are incredible to observe and photograph. One can take a quick detour to visit the massive statue of Nandi (The Bull).
Lalit Mahal Palace, is now a converted five star hotel that allows you to enjoy the opulence of royalty. A visit in the evenings for High Tea is strongly recommended.
Mysore Zoo is a well-landscaped zoo with large enclosures and a unique collection of animals that include several ‘big cats’ as well as zebras and giraffes.
Srirangapatnam, an hour’s drive from Mysore is an absolute must-visit. The stronghold of the renegade warrior prince Tipu Sultan, the Srirangapatnam area has an incredible array of well-restored monuments, palaces and the occasional ruin to offer. One can take an exhilarating coracle ride on the river, as well as marvel at the massive canons and artillery on display. If time permits, you can extend this day trip by visiting the Ranganatithu Bird Sanctuary where you can see a wide variety of bird species alongside crocodiles sun-bathing on the rocks.
Bylakuppe - Another must-do is a visit to Bylakuppe, this Tibet-in-exile community is extremely active. A full functioning monastic complex, includes a series of boarding facilities for monks of all ages, and a vast main prayer hall. If you have the time to spare, try to spend a night in Bylakuppe so you can immerse yourself in the daily worship rituals. Small prayer rooms line the monastery compound, and everyone is welcome to sit down silently and listen. While in Bylakuppe, one should also visit the nearby Sera Ling monastery, which is home to around 30,000 monk scholars; as your drive through the campus the sight of hundreds of red robes drying in the sun is wonderful sight.
Sunny Leone wants to head back there as soon as she ﬁnishes shooting her next Bollywood ﬁlm Ragini MMS 2 .
IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN ITALY
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LIVIN’ LA VIDA Chef Rego from the Taj Holiday Village, Goa shares two heavenly dishes from the heartland of leisure that’ll whet your appetite Goan style
hef Urbano do Rego has been with the Taj Group for 37 years and has been a cultural ambassador of sorts for the cuisine from his home state of Goa. The quiet and unassuming chef hails from the tiny island of Dewar that lies between the Chorao Island and the mainland of South Goa, separated by the River Mandovi. Ferrying across from the land of dense forests and lush paddy fields, Chef Rego has made the Taj Holiday Village at Candolim, Bardez his home, second to none. He started off as an avid and passionate footballer, and like every Goan youngster, dreamt of becoming a professional player. But an unfortunate ear injury brought an abrupt end to his footballer days. Football’s loss became hospitality’s gain as he went on to join the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Mumbai as an apprentice, and thus began the journey of his Goan culinary flavours. He has represented the Taj hotels and been an ambassador of Goan cuisine on many occasions. Having served eminent personalities like Henry Kissinger, Gerald Ford, George Bush Sr., Anwar
Sadat, George Harrison of the Beatles, Heads of State at the World Economic Forum and other prestigious national and international ceremonies, Chef Rego has done quite a bit to ensure the globalization of Goan cuisine. As Chef Rego likes to say, “You have to live life one moment at a time. Goans believe in enjoying life – with food, feni, music and dancing. We work hard, but we are aware that money isn’t everything. Honour is more important. Family ties are very strong in Goa. Every Sunday after church, families visit each other and the table will overflow with large wonderful meals! Most of the time, someone will sing a mando (a form of Konkani music) and we all join in. After that, it’s time for a siesta!” If you’re looking at a rock and rolling meal of epic proportions, look no further than what Rego has to cook up. You can choose from the Prawn Peru Peru, stuffed squids, smoked mackerel, Chicken Xacuti, Bolinhas de Batatas (pellets of potatoes), a ������
slice of Batica (a coconut and semolina cake), clam cutlets, delicious homemade hot pie, the Goan flat bread, a spicy Ambotik with Sannas (Goan rice cake), stuffed crabs and lobster, all washed down by the homemade drink Kokum Saar (no alcohol there). Goa is famous for the Mapusa market spices and dishes like Balchao Prawns, Xacuti Masala in Chicken, Jirem Mirem Chicken, Sol Kadi, Crab Xec Xec, Beans Foogath, Pork Sorpotel and specialties from the whole Karwar belt. These dishes bear an influence of the colonial Portuguese and the local Hindu Saraswat flavours as well. Chef Rego gives us the recipes of two special dishes that would leave you craving for more. About Taj Holiday Village Goa: Chef Rego’s restaurant started out initially as The Bamboo Bar and eventually became a full-fledged Goan cuisine restaurant now known as The Beach House. He was the executive chef at the Fort Aguada Taj initially and then took over the Taj Holiday Village Goa.
Chef’s Note: ���������������������������� �������������������������� ����������������������� ����������������� ����� ������������������������ ���������������������������� ������ �������������������� ���������������������������� �������������������������� ������������������������ ����������������������� ��������������������������� ����������������
Rock Lobster Beach House
Ingredients Quantity Fresh lobster ........................ 350 grams Roasted spice masala ........... 1 tablespoon Turmeric powder .................. ½ teaspoon Tamarind pulp ...................... 1 tablespoon Coconut milk fresh............... ½ teaspoon Chopped onion.................... 2 no’s Chopped tomato ................. 1 no Chopped coriander .............. 1 tablespoon Palm fenny (local wine) ........ ½ teaspoon - for flame Salt to taste Olive oil - to fry the onions Chopped garlic .................... 2 tablespoons Chopped ginger................... 1 teaspoon ������
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Method: Slice the lobster topside and open it. Remove the meat (lobster) from the shell. Cut the lobster meat into chunks and marinate with salt, turmeric powder, lemon juice and keep aside. Boil the lobster shell, dry it and keep it aside. Take a saucepan with a little olive oil and sauté the chopped onions, garlic, ginger and tomatoes. Add the marinated lobster meat to it with roasted spice masala and cook till it gets dry. Add the palm fenny and hammer it with coconut milk and chopped coriander. Fill the lobster shell with lobster meat and serve it with local vegetables. Bon Appétit!
Ingredients Quantity Fresh medium pomfret......... 4 no’s Juice of two lemons Dried red chilies ................... 6 no’s Cloves .................................. 6 no’s 1 inch cinnamon stick........... 1 piece Cumin seeds ........................ ½ teaspoon Peppercorns......................... 8 no’s Turmeric powder .................. ½ teaspoons Garlic................................... 3 cloves Toddy vinegar....................... ½ teacup Salt to taste Oil to fry ������
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Method Clean the pomfret and make a slit along both sides. Apply salt and lemon juice all over the fish. Keep aside. Grind the following to a fine paste - red chilies, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, peppercorns, turmeric powder, ginger and garlic in the toddy vinegar. Apply the aromatic masala all over the fish. Heat oil in a frying pan and shallow fry fish over medium heat.
INDIA’S CULINARY CONQUEST Indian cuisine is going places. From Vancouver to Mombasa and from Kuala Lumpur to Adelaide, foodies are wolﬁng down variants of desi dishes. Two internationally renowned gourmands, Chef Vikram Vij and sassy British TV hostess Nigella Lawson conﬁrm that Indian ﬂavors will rule 2013
South Indian ﬂavours, the next big thing V
ikram tells us, “Having just come back from a tour of South India and Sri Lanka, I think the new and upcoming flavours are definitely going to be cooking with whole spices and then finishing the dish with a splash of fresh, creamy coconut milk. The flavours are going to get bolder and stronger and people are going to enjoy more regional cuisine rather than just curries. In fact, folks who are well travelled are going to ask which part of the world the cuisine is from, and restaurants are going to have to be more astute in making sure that the flavours are unique and true to the region.” He goes on to add, “One of the things that totally fascinated me about South Indian cooking is the use of chillies with dried fish. They use a combination of coconut, chillies and dried fish along with tamarind as a side dish which ������
enhances the main course or sometimes even tones it down! Every restaurant has its unique style of a side condiment that is either learnt from a very senior chef or grandmother that the chef is proud to showcase. I’m happy to note that in the coming year, the future of our Indian cuisine is very bright and healthy.”
Chef Vikram Vij who owns the restaurants Vij’s and Rangoli in Canada, swears that regional South Indian ﬂavours will dominate global cuisine trends in 2013
Smitten by the desi palate A chef for all seasons, the droolinducing Nigella Lawson confesses that Indian cuisine paved the way for her very ﬁrst experience dining out
Nigella says, “I absolutely love Indian food. I always feel slightly impudent to try and stake a new claim in a cuisine that wasn’t my own or happened to be from a country that I haven’t travelled to. So the first thing to rectify is the travelling. However, the London of my childhood was full of Indian food. An Indian restaurant was probably one of the very first restaurants I ever went to. Of course, these days, we have a highly varied mixture of Indian cuisines represented in London. I personally could not ever really do authentic Indian food. What I could do is translate Indian food into my own repertoire, which means bringing my own way of cooking to it.” So what’s unique about Indian cuisine? Nigella reveals, “I just find the dishes remarkable, sensual and beautifully fragranced. I love those distinct characteristics of Indian food. I certainly have amassed Indian recipes and I’m always grateful. If anyone gives a recipe which comes from their own family history, I would be grateful to receive it because those are the recipes that mean the most to me, the recipes that have stood the test of time in people’s families and within friendships.” As her parting shot, the lady quips, “I’m always ready to cook. So, readers send in your recipes and I would love to try them.”
Nigella Kitchen airs every Tuesday at 10 pm only on TLC
Sophie Choudry talks about her new video Hungama Ho Gaya, how she hasn’t got the right break in ﬁlms and why she decided to go digital with her latest single Asmita Aggarwal
It has been quite a ride for actress and singer Sophie Choudry, specially because she was a student of political science and French in Britain before she was smitten by the glamour industry. Sophie was singing by the time she was 12, had her girl band while she was still studying. But she always knew she wanted to try her hand at show business, despite being a nerd, a straight A student. “I loved studying!,” she adds. Famous for gracing the covers of glossy magazines no one would have thought, that music would be her inner calling. “You know, a lot of people ask me if music is your first love or movies? It’s not fair to make people choose if they are blessed to be able to do both. In the West if you can sing, dance and act you are known as ‘a triple threat’! I don’t think I’ve really been able to showcase my talent in films yet. Pyar ke Side Effects was my best, but I really hope to change that and do more work. Films are a passion, a certain madness. Music is oxygen. I can’t breathe without it,” she smiles. With her new video Hungama Ho Gaya just released, Sophie admits it is definitely the hottest, raunchiest, stylish and strongest video to date. “I’m very proud of it because we worked so hard on the song and video and the project is produced by me. I was frustrated with the non-film music scene and the fact that we aren’t making cool pop videos like we used to. Once we had got the song to sound exactly as we wanted we decided the video needed to live up to the hungama of the song,” she adds. Sophie thought it would be interesting to look at a breakup from a stronger, more fun point of view. Instead of sitting weeping about the failed relationship, this girl goes out and celebrates herself. “She is still beautiful, desirable and is not answerable to anyone but herself! The video is very sexy so I was quite confident the guys would watch it, but what means much more is the awesome response I got from women,” she laughs. Shot in Tryst, Mumbai, most people from the industry ��������
cannot believe it was shot in one day because songs usually take several days. “My director Shiraz Bhattacharya, choreographer Arvind Thakur and I were all on the same page and it turned out to be one of my most fun, exciting shoots ever,” she admits. Interestingly, unlike most song writers, Sophie has always written the lyrics for original songs. In fact, when she was part of the girl band, Sansara her debut song Yeh Dil Sun Raha Hai was a huge hit. “I was 17 when I wrote it and people loved the lyrics of the song! My guru and mentor is the pop king Biddu. Despite having huge hits like Made in India, Aap Jaisa Koi, Disco Deewane, the irony is that he can’t speak Hindi. I met him when I was 12 and since then he encouraged me to write lyrics. I have no idea how I do it because I don’t write poetry, but I love playing with words, and I speak many languages, hence it’s something I really enjoy,” she says.
This song was released as a digital single because Sophie truly ��������
believes people don’t buy full albums anymore...they buy or download the songs they like. However, the response to the song has been so fantastic that the music company is now making a party album for the coming season with other songs and remixes built around Hungama Ho Gaya. “I tell everyone it feels like a baby because it has taken nine months to conceptualize and realize this one project. I’m a mad perfectionist and it was important to get the song as we wanted because it’s an old song that we were completely reworking. I’ve had famous people come up to me and say mine is way better than the original which is a massive compliment. I don’t look at it like that though. I feel the original was so cool and thats why we could remake it albeit with new lyrics, a new melody and a fresh arrangement,” she confesses. But if you ask Sophie, what makes good music soulful lyrics or good presentation, she admits that though her mentor is known for commercial music and that’s what she loves,
she quickly adds that lyrics should say something whether it is a party song or a romantic one. “Hungama Ho Gaya is very unapologetic in its writing. We refer to double standards, to a one-night stand, to being free and in essence its a fun, masti wala song. Not all songs can have soulful lyrics, they need to be relevant and the presentation correct. It all depends on what kind of song it is and what you are trying to say. The best combination is great lyrics and fabulous presentation,” she says. Keeping in mind, the tastes in music which have seen a metamorphosis over the years, Sophie who was born and raised in the UK, grew up listening to everything from hip hop, pop, opera, Arabic, French rap and Hindi music. “India over the past 10 years has been exposed to the outside world a lot more than it was. Plus, with technology you can reach out to everything within seconds. Even film music has become
much more pop/ Westernised. Pancham da (RD Burman) was always modern, but today with the non-film scene dying, all those styles are incorporated into films,” she says. She confesses that T-Series owner Bhushan Kumar once told her that through songs ‘either make people dance or make them cry’. “That’s exactly what people like. However people like clever songs too and ones which are ironic, talk about situations today as well as humorous songs.DK BOSE, Sadda Haq, Kolaveri, Gangnam Style epitomize what GenNext likes,” she smiles. And with hoping that her songs will be liked from anyone between the age of 15 to 50, Sophie says that anyone who has rhythm, likes to dance, this song will certainly make them do the jig.
NOTCH NOTCH ������ ��������
inside & out
Traumatic experiences have not scarred Jacqueline Bhagavan. She’s gone from strength to strength. Today, she has her own cosmetic line called Lavanya, is a reporter on the show Give Back Bay Area in San Francisco and runs a blog that reaches out to women all over the world Ruchira Hoon
two things one, that she owed the life she’s living to her parents and two, that she had to be a strong independent woman to live the life she wanted to. “My parents paved the way for me. And when my father passed away 13 years ago, I realised that no matter what, us siblings had to be there for my mother.” At 68, Jacqueline’s mother is her pillar of strength and it was for her that Jacqueline started working on her beauty products. “My mother wanted an easier way of taking care of her skin and was always apprehensive about what she put on her face. Because she had worked in the fields in Cambodia, her skin had been damaged by the sun and she had major pigmentation problems,” says Jacqueline. Plenty of research later, Jacqueline figured that there was hardly anything in the market for Asian and South Asian skin types which had a lot more melanin. A big believer in natural products, she ended up concocting things which have fruit acid and natural ingredients such as peptide. ��������
beauty, make-up and diet advice on her blog, another venture she’s really proud of. When she started this blog three months ago, little did she know it would become such a big hit. “I was only looking for a way to reach out to women, “But,” she adds, “if it hadn’t especially those who do not have the time to take been for my husband care of themselves. I Mukund, I’d never have been an entrepreneur.” So wanted women from all over the world to join the how did somebody from journey and share their Cambodia, marry an Indian? “It’s a funny story,” stories.” she says, “we met online, In her blog Jacqueline tells days before meeting the stories of many women, someone online was scary all of whom are strong and or sleazy. When I first saw have come out of a life of his photograph on hardship. “I help them Friendster, it reminded me woman to woman - I help of my father, and I wrote them improve themselves to him. He wrote back a inside and out.” month later and several emails and phone calls Currently Jacqueline is on afterwards, we decided to the Board of Directors of go on a date. But it didn’t Healthy Food in Schools seem right.” Much later, when Mukund and is also the host of an approached her again, she upcoming video series on beauty on the local San decided that not only was he bold but he was honest Francisco channel KQED TV. But Jacqueline is still not too. “And today I am married to a man I respect quite done. So far, she feels, what she’s done is and admire and have two only the tip of the iceberg, children with -Akhila and “I want to do for the Gautam.” Internet what Oprah did for television,” says this As a licensed aesthetician, mother of two. Jacqueline also gives out
“Currently my product line includes anti-ageing and lightening products. And while I started rather small – only online – my products are now going into goodie bags at international award events.”
ometimes, Jacqueline Bhagavan can still hear the sound of the gunshot that startled her over three decades ago. After all, she was barely three-years-old when a man was shot right before her eyes in the forests of Cambodia.
“In the late 70s, during the Khmer Rouge (Cambodia) border raids into Thailand, my father decided that it was too unsafe to live in Cambodia anymore. So we decided to leave, or rather flee to Thailand,” says this 37-year-old entrepreneur. “And when one of the guides betrayed us, the other shot him in the head.” Woman 2012 during the Mrs California-America You’d think, a traumatic pageant. experience like this would have scarred her forever, But all this didn’t come but instead Jacqueline has easy. After crossing the gone from strength to Thai border, Jacqueline and strength. Today, apart from her family were sent to a being a wife and a mother, UN refugee camp in the she has her own cosmetic Philippines. “It was here line called Lavanya, is a that the Americans taught reporter on the show Give us English. This is where Back Bay Area in San we learnt what hardship Francisco (where she really meant.” currently lives), runs a blog that reaches out to women In 1981, Jacqueline’s family all over the world and was decided to relocate to recently awarded the title France, but instead landed of Outstanding Married up in the United States. ��������
“We relocated to Texas, and this is where my parents started their lives all over again. They had to provide for four small children and had to build everything from scratch, especially since we had carried literally nothing back with us. And then we moved to California, which is where I finally grew up,” says Jacqueline, who graduated from California State University with a BA in Communications. Growing up amidst lots of turmoil made her realise
NOTCH NOTCH �������� ��������
A QUESTION OF ORIGIN The second in our series featuring renowned mythologist and author Devdutt Pattanaik, focuses on the roots of religion – its concept and structure Audio Credit: Bijoy Bharathan
THE DEFINITION OF
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isualise the first human being who had no reference point to culture. He is self aware. And he is asking himself what the meaning of life is – how do I locate myself in this world?
I don’t have an answer. Nature is not going to give you an answer. So you have to create your own answer. That answer is myth. The word religion is extremely problematic, as it assumes the existence of a formal structure, where the notion of God exists. Buddhism and Jainism are religions. But there is no concept of God. Religion is a social structure where the concept of God exists. God is a mythical idea. Justice, human rights are mythical ideas. The notion of ‘right’ ����������
is mythical. Property is mythical. Anything that stems from the human imagination is myth – beauty is a myth. Satyam Shivam Sundaram – what is true, what is good and what is beautiful. This is essentially a philosophy and a myth. What may be true for you may not be true for me. Religion is a form of mythology. Secularism is another form of mythology. One bunch of people say, `we don’t want to live with this notion of God. Let’s take this God out and let’s create a society without God.’ So that is another mythology. If I remove God from the equation, we’ll have a better society, but there’s no proof of this concept.
Dr Devdutt Pattanaik is one of India’s most respected mythologists. Trained as a physician, he worked in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector for over 15 years before taking on the role of a leadership consultant. His fascination for sacred stories, symbols and rituals and their impact on Indian culture paved the way for his emergence as the most definitive voice in Indian mythology in recent times. Credited with authoring 25 books and 500 articles, Dr Pattanaik serves as the Chief Belief Officer of the Future Group. His core area of interest is management, on which he writes extensively and lectures, drawing parallels to mythology. He is also a story consultant to STAR TV. He says, “It began with a book by Kamala Subramaniam. I read her Srimad Bhagvatam for the very first time. And I realised what was being conveyed in Amar Chitra Katha and Chandamama was very limited. There was a vast body of knowledge that we didn’t have access to. So I started reading up more on the subject and figured that nobody else knew these stories. So, I began writing about them.” He adds, “My intention was to only familiarise people with unfamiliar stories. My initial books are more like databases. They were just stories. But over time, as I kept writing, I saw patterns and I started writing about them. These patterns seemed to be part of an even bigger canvas of ideas. And it confounded me that nobody had written about them!”
Detoxing with Yoga
he primary series of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, known in Sanskrit as Yoga Chikitsa, or quite literally yoga therapy, is a healing process that involves the cleansing and toning of the body, mind and senses.
On a purely physical level this ancient practice comprises synchronising the breath with a progressive series of asanas (postures). The asanas that include bending and twisting postures create an internal heat in the body that makes you sweat. Sweat is an important aspect of this practice as it facilitates the deep cleansing of the body. Squeezing and twisting your muscles can be likened to squeezing and twisting a soiled washcloth. This action, which will clean the washcloth, will open up your tissues so that you receive more nourishing fluids. These motions are great for the intestines. The inverted poses at the ����������
end of the session are a good way of bringing more blood flow and nutrients to your head and scalp region. These are also great for the glands, brain and hair.
Yoga Chikitsa helps cleanse the system, reduce stress and has transformative beneﬁts that go beyond the body, replenishing your full potential as a human being
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Videographer: Subash | Stylist: Sonali Subbaiah
After the body has been detoxified, it is possible to purify the nervous system and then the sense organs. These first steps require consistent practise over long periods of time, eventually leading to greater mind control. Thus, not only is yoga a perfect form of exercise, but it is also a great way of
detoxifying the body, cultivating cardiovascular and musculoskeletal strength as well as flexibility. Yoga can tone up every organ system, decrease stress and can have transformative benefits that go much deeper than just the body - restoring your full potential as a human being.
A ROYAL REMINISCENCE
Renowned historian and author William Dalrymple who has launched his new work of non-ﬁction opens up about India and his adventures in writing � Bijoy Bharathan
Over the course of 30 years India has changed everything in my life.
t the guest cottage located amidst lush foliage at Chennai’s iconic Madras Club, we find Scotsman William Dalrymple sprawled on a bamboo divan, soaking in a sensuous southern breeze. The adjacent teapoy plays host to a microcosm of the acclaimed historian’s literary life. Haphazardly strewn across its circular space are sheets of paper with a must-do list, born from the frantic urgency of a book tour. Jostling for space are the laptop, Blackberry and a cup of coffee. There is also a hardbound copy of his latest work, Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan 1839–42, which he deftly autographs for an old friend. And then we see it – a Bose radio that faithfully accompanies William on all his tours. As he gently tucks away the contraption and gets into Q&A mode, we realise that the old school romanticism of a radio might just be the perfect counterpoint for the millennial storyteller.
Journeyman’s blues .”Some writers hate going on tours and dread going off anywhere. I love going on tours. Particularly when it means leaving cold, wintry New Delhi and coming to a gorgeous place like Chennai. What not to like, you got Eucalyptus, parakeets in the trees and warm sunshine. Before this, I was in Hyderabad feasting on biryani and haleem (thick stew made of meat, lentils and pounded wheat). And before that, it was Bombay (sic) with the Writer’s Festival. This is the much deserved reward you get for writing a book, which by the way, is a laborious task.”
Assimilation by design .”Over the course of 30 years, India has changed everything in my life. I live here, my friends are here, the way I live, the kind of food I eat, the way my body operates, my taste in things, my interests, my taste in music, everything has been totally transformed by this country. But it’s very difficult to tell at any given moment how something is changing you. With regard to my previous book Nine Lives, I think it came out of something that was already there, which is the fact that I hail from an extremely religious family. My uncle is a priest and so is my father.” Through the looking glass .”I have always been trained to look at the world through religious spectacles. And the world is divided into those who do, and those who don’t. And for those who don’t, religion is often a complete mystery. Mani Shankar Aiyar, when he was reviewing that book in Outlook, said, “It’s a beautifully written book, but these are all madmen. Why is anyone bothering?” So if you don’t get it, you don’t get it. But equally, there are millions of people who do get it. Intriguingly that’s certainly my bestselling book in India – 50,000 hardback copies, which is more than White Mughals.” Little joys of literature .”I had a lot of fun writing Nine Lives, an in-between project of mine. It’s a short book and it was almost like a holiday penning it. While researching the book, I had the wonderful opportunity to hang out in Kerala in the middle of the night and witness a performance of Theyyam (a Hindu dance ritual native to North Malabar). ��������
Ambition in prose .”I want my book to be enjoyed in the same way that people would enjoy an Amitav Ghosh novel or a Vikram Seth novel. But it’s a work of non-fiction just like Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City. His creation is one of travel, journalism and reportage. Mine is a work of history. Suketu elevates journalism to something wonderful, I hope my book takes the discipline of history and the research of a scholar and turns it into a literary work.” Taking a celluloid flight .”I am not a screenwriter and I don’t know how to do it. But White Mughals is becoming a movie. The producer of the American TV series Game of Thrones is teaming up with Ralph Fiennes (who plays Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter
The Fort at Charikar, near Bagram, where the British and Gurkha forces were surrounded and slaughtered. Only two men out of 2000 escaped alive.
movies) and making this film. I am just working with them in the capacity of an unofficial advisor. They send the script to me and I comment on it. Now I am re-reading the screenplay of White Mughals, 10 years after I had written the book. And all sorts of stuff that I had absolutely no memory about are surfacing.”
Tales from the home front .”I am certainly not easy to live with, at least when I’m writing. If it’s going well, you are obsessing about it. And it’s there in your dreams. It’s there during your meal times. And the better it’s going, the more you tend to inhabit it and the lesser you can concentrate on anything else. Probably as a species, writers are more interesting to live with, than say chartered accountants. But I am sure, as my wife would say – I am deeply frustrating to live with on a variety of other fronts. After a marathon session of writing, I try to unwind by watching a lot of DVDs, some nutty science fiction, episodes of 24 or The Killing. But 10 minutes in, and I am snoring away.”
Image: William Dalrymple
It was very interesting to tour the length and breadth of India with the subjects of my book, the bauls and the fakirs. In the midst of all the promotional activities for my new book, I am also running around in my capacity as the co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival. So it’s quite a head rush at this point in time.”
WORD UP! Wondering what to read? Here’s a selection of some of the e-books making waves in the subcontinent
Publisher: Random House, India Stand-up comedian and prankster Cyrus Broacha is one of the funniest people in India. Naturally, you expect his debut novel to tickle your funny bone. And he does not disappoint. The book weaves a hilarious story of two average Mumbai lads Karl and Kunal who nurture dreams of making it big in Bollywood. They fly to USA to sharpen their acting skills only to end up as big losers there. Fortunately back in India, they get their break in Bollywood and churn out blockbusters. As the duo explore this new world, Cyrus takes a dig at filmy clichés like ageing stars wanting to play the lead in campus romances. It might be a jungle out there but Cyrus’s debut makes for a light-hearted read.
Publisher: Random House, India IIT as one of India’s premier educational institutions has always conjured up images of students passing out and receiving stupendous salaries and cushy jobs. However, the authors take a look at those who have chosen to take the road less travelled and branched out as entrepreneurs. They have chronicled the success stories of 20 entrepreneurs like Krishna Mehta, Sunil Gaitonde, Arvind Kejriwal, Anuradha Acharya, Sam Dalal, Suhas Patil and Kiran Seth among others. These are IITians who have dared to look beyond the safe precincts of a privileged job and start their own businesses. Authors Yuvnesh Modi and Rahul Kumar are undergrads at IIT Kharagpur while Alok Kothari is an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and founding member of the IIT Kharagpur Entrepreneurial Cell.
Publisher: Penguin Books, India The protagonist Kaveri at 29 is a successful interpreter and a career woman par excellence. But she has not kissed a man yet. Quite the bookworm, she knows seven languages and has devoured every book under the sun on men and dating. However, that dream lover stays out of her reach. She dates different men, a bit desperately at times. The episodes are hilarious, especially when she meets a filmy type, Raj Malhotra replete with dark glasses and an overpowering perfume. The writer even pokes fun at the middle class obsession with degrees. When the protagonist finds a man she likes and realizes he does not have a college degree, everything comes crashing down. It is chick lit that’s fun and easy on the mind.
Publisher: Penguin Books, India Countries like India have witnessed colonization leaving a major impact on their identity in every way. The author laments the fact that even after six decades of freedom, English still maintains its sway as the most powerful language in the country. He observes that our classical literature and arts are neglected while popular culture is dictated by Western trends. Pawan stresses the importance for the country to pull itself out of this situation and reclaim its identity and cultural freedom. He feels this gains even more credence in today’s world of globalization where dominant Western culture is likely to overshadow our own.
Publisher: Harper Collins, India Today’s world throws up its own unique challenges. There are so many philosophical questions that remain unanswered. Modern sage, U.G. Krishnamurti has grappled with these complex issues and comes up with answers that are simple, clear and can be easily grasped. His moment of transformation as he calls it was not quite as dramatic as you may think. In 1967, he moved into that wonderful state of natural being and feels it’s a physical transformation rather than one in the mind. Questions like ‘Is there a soul? Is there a God? What is enlightenment? Is there a life after death?’ have been handled deftly. It’s something to clear the cloud in your mind.
Publisher: Harper Collins, India Anita Nair’s debut collection of poems finds her letting her mind lead her wherever it fancies. She dives into the business of everyday life and surfaces with some pearls and unusual moments of sheer magic. She captures deftly the fabric of Malabar, from the non-stop drone of television newscasters during war time to contented cows chewing cud blissfully. The poems are filled with human emotions, love, failure, humor, irony, lust, hope, anguish – she manages to find a place for everything. Her lines have an airy feel that allows the real and corporeal landscapes and mindscapes to flow through the reader.
Dadhichi Toth, world renowned Vedic astrologer and face reader reveals what the stars have to say about the most talked about celebs and what the future holds for them in 2013 Dadhichi Toth can be contacted at www.astrology.com.au
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
he planets continue to bless Aishwarya throughout 2013. Saturn in its exalted sign of Libra works well for her. But the first part of the year is not as good as Saturn is in a negative star of her Lunar birth position. As indicated by Jupiter, excellent prospects await Aishwarya with strong connections, as do new business alliances in the areas of partnerships. There may be some long-standing difficulties with her marriage. However, she could make great strides in her career.
Kareena Kapoor Khan
013 may be a difficult year for Kareena. There are indications that some significant rift or split may take place in her most important relationships. Jupiter could also bring with it some health issues after April. These difficult transits not withstanding, her career will continue to do well.
here will be progress for Rahul. However, there are indications that he is entering a difficult and also politically perilous period in his life. There may be some sensational revelation that could affect his reputation. If he decides to come clean early on, it will reinstate his credibility. After this he may have to walk alone - but at least his integrity will be intact.
odi will be successful if he travels in 2013 but he will find himself more introverted than usual. The transit of Jupiter is not particularly favourable as far as his expenses go or if he tries to rescue or assist someone else - possibly a family member or a friend. He will find himself between a rock and a hard place. If he manages to navigate through this slightly unfavourable phase carefully, he could come out on top of 2013 much stronger.
onia’s new cycle of Ketu is favourable and she is blessed by Lord Ganesh if she chooses to connect with this deity throughout 2013-14. Ketu is friendly and indicates a strong positive movement in her political career. Her family life will not be too happy as Saturn transits through the zone of Venus. Sonia needs to balance both professional and domestic responsibilities very delicately indeed. She may suffer mental unrest and sickness in the middle of 2013.
mitabh is in an unusual phase in 2013 with Saturn passing through his Lunar star. Although this is usually difficult, he will weather the storm well and actually develop a higher spiritual awareness. Others will approach him for help and those who discard him will miss out on the blessings he has to offer. Saturn for Amitabh is powerful and fully influences his career zone throughout 2013 and 2014. Both his professional and spiritual aspirations will continue to develop.
odi will be successful if he travels in 2013 but he will find himself more introverted than usual. The transit of Jupiter is not particularly favourable as far as his expenses go or if he tries to rescue or assist someone else - possibly a family member or a friend. He will find himself between a rock and a hard place. If he manages to navigate through this slightly unfavourable phase carefully, he could come out on top of 2013 much stronger.
amir will enter a phase of intense domestic change and possibly even upheaval. If there is a question of litigation, he is advised to use restraint as this could snowball into a long term problem for him. There is also an opportunity for him to relocate either himself or his family. But in any case he will express an interest in purchasing and investing in property that is at a distance from his place of birth.
lthough there are dense clouds hanging over the global economic scenario, Mukesh will remain unscathed and will in fact capitalise on the situation and earn well. A new business alliance will strengthen his position. This will commence a five or six year period which will culminate around 2016. There may also be new developments for him as shown by the transit of Jupiter in his marital house but this may not fully materialise until 2014.
n spite of everything MS will be forced to carefully reassess his financial circumstances throughout 2013. With careful management, his monetary situation will improve. If he takes an informed risk he will see a lift, at least temporarily in his financial situation in the first quarter of the year. There may be some cause for him to separate from his family for a while and after June 6 may reconnect with someone from his past who will be significant in his life thereafter.
uvraj must be careful to watch his back as friends may turn on him and enemies may undermine his successes with gossip, slander and even malicious blackmail. When Jupiter passes through his Lunar star in the second half of the year he will be agitated, weary and ready to throw in the towel. This will only be temporary. But he should nevertheless choose his friends and business associates very wisely in the coming year.
roblems in marital and personal relationships will be evident in the early part of the year for Gautam. But it will consequently improve with the aspect of Jupiter on Saturn after the second quarter of 2013. His quick thinking ability will slow down as he will be required to carefully acknowledge and accommodate those in his immediate circle. This may cause him some inner frustration. The powerful position of Mars as the year commences, promises some illustrious wins as well as accolades for him.
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