From local daj-wari stores to metropolitan wedding souks and extravaganzas like ‘Bridal Asia’, bridal fashion is going bigger and bolder. Chetna Keer Banerjee traces the big change.
With the wedding season almost upon us, it’s not just the stars in the firmament that are set to smile on brides and grooms-to-be. The stars of the fashion fraternity are also set to shine with their wedding collections. Hence the profusion of events to unveil, not brides, but bridal finery.
Streets to souks
Much like the bridal shows and collections that travel far and wide, wedding wear too has traveled far. From City Beautiful’s generations-old daj-wari stores to the first-generation salons showcasing a Satyapaul or a Sabyasachi. From the bylanes of Ambala’s Sadar Bazar or Delhi’s Karol Bagh to the high street of bridal extravaganzas.
Now, with specialty malls like the Wedding Souk coming riding the mall wave, bridal fashion is further poised to leapfrog from boutique windows into a huge window of opportunity. Both for fashion gurus and fashionable brides.
Glittering galas have made bridal fashion bigger, bolder, even brasher. In terms of the spectacular scale, sheer variety and the steep price tags. The Big Fat Indian Wedding now stands clothed in unimaginable grandeur.
The USP of the one-stop bridal bazaars: respite from showroom hopping. By bringing not just wedding wear but the entire baggage of accessories under a single roof, they’re wooing the cash-rich, time-poor trousseau-hunters. They’re the destinations that have married hurry-tage with heritage.
The hype amid which wedding collections are unwrapped these days makes them more about packaging. Or repackaging, of tradition.
Structured lehengas have restructured bridal fashion like never before. Reinvented backless cholis and stylised corsets now vie with grandma’s gharcholas. A mother’s traditional tanchois have stiff contenders in renaissance tissues.
The new fabrics of desire stretch beyond the threads of continuity. The threads that tied generations of Indian brides to traditional textiles. That made Priyanka Gandhi take her wows in the same pink khadi sari that was worn by grandmother Indira for her marriage, and was spun with the spirit of swadeshi by great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru.
The strands of innovation have wedded period class to contemporary chic. It’s a case of age-old textiles flirting with youthful styles.
Wraps and the time warp
Innovative styles have ensured that bridal fashion doesn’t remain in a time warp. Nor does it remain a time (consuming) wrap. Designer saris, be it in dupatta style or with stitched-in pleats, have given a futuristic twist to the traditional bridal sari. From a nine-yard splendour to a 9-minute wonder. Nuptial attire is now tailored to solve the worry of brides in a hurry. Tearing hurry, that is.
Not just textiles, trousseau packing too has gone designer. The muslin-wrapped heirlooms—-potlis from the past—-now pack a hip look in terms of wrapping.
The shift in embellishments is crystal-clear. Loads of crystals, pearls, diamantes and stone embroidery. For, the new-age bride doesn’t quite buy the traditional line of thought when presented with a swarovski-encrusted pr`EAt line.
The new textures and tones have a whole new yarn to tell. Lighter fabrics—-metallic chiffons, crinkled crepes and tulles—-are making light of the heavier Kanjeevaram and Benares silks.
There’s a bit of zari, a lot of the zany. More glitter, less gota. All that glitters on D-day now is not gold. Which gives the new fashion a silver lining.
In some ways, the feel of the wedding wear is getting synthetic. Like the plastic money that buys these designer drapes. Or like the not-all-gold imitation jewellery that can be hired for the big day.
This makes bridal fashion a bit about heirloom, a bit about the hire boom and a lot about a higher dhoom.
So desirably different, so passionately perfect`85and so enchanting to the eye! Well, that’s what every bride dreams to look like on the most special day of her life`85sparkling eyes, glowing cheeks, a shy expectant smile caressing the corners of her lips, glittering jewellery dancing to her every move, and yes, her wedding attire echoing her intrinsic sensuality and charm. So, when it comes to her wedding ensemble, every contemporary bride wants to ooze loads of class, style and glamour. Here are some quick tips for the would-be-brides, who are on a wedding dress shopping- spree.
How important are gems and sparkers? After all, diamonds are a girl’s best friends; the sentence has taken on the proportion of an adage in modern times! However jewellery in India is still associated with the richness of our heritage and the traditions of womanhood—‘ensembles’ that radiate the inner feelings, that distinctive glow that spell the magic of special occasions.
Each piece is handpicked. Design books and magazines are pored over and ‘investments’ are made on the purity of the gold! With the wedding season around the corner (albeit late this year!) and the festive season in full swing, jewellery takes on different hues.
The latest trend to ‘jangle’ age-old traditions is semi-precious jewellery like the exquisite pieces created by renowned jewellery designer Asha Kamal Modi of Art Karat. The patterns reflect the finesse of traditional pieces with the affordability of semi-precious stones and sterling silver with 8 micron gold plating, which incidentally is guaranteed for a lifetime.
Delicate filigree work, chunky necklaces, real kundan with rubies, emeralds, turquoise, corals; chokers, malas, haars or kanthas; bajubandhs for brides, old traditional designs for flexible karas, floral payals and unusual maangtikkas all create a mosaic of designs and varieties to choose from.
According to Nirmal Mahesh Chand who brings the Art Karat jewellery exhibitions to the city, "We are providing an alternative to a more affordable range for people. Even the big pieces from our bridal collection can be changed to smaller, more wearable pieces later." With a price range to suit every pocket, the pieces are a blend of the classic look with the contemporary.
However, Anil Talwar of Talwar Sons in Sector 22 is of the firm belief that real jewellery will never go out of fashion. "There are several occasions in one’s life that merit the real thing. Gold is a must for brides in most Indian families. However, customers should ensure that they must buy hallmarked jewellery only for purity and quality." With people getting design-savvy, the jewellers too need to be completely up-to-date with the latest designs and trends from all over India, says Anil Talwar.
So what is the trend for this year like? "Pearls are a royal item and will always be in fashion," says Nirmal Mahesh Chand, a sentiment echoed by other jewellers. Jogesh Malik of Malik Jewellers, Sector 8, believes diamonds are the big rage this season. "The purchasing power of people has gone up. They can now look at options other than gold."
To get the ‘diamond look’ in jewellery, there is the ever-shining zircon. And of course the trend is towards lighter weight with an elegant yet chunky look. With the vibrancy of celebrations in the air, the weather turning towards the wonderful season of a plethora of festivals, there will never be a better time to invest in these little rocks and nuggets that always gladden a woman’s heart.
Their eyes sparkle and lips part in an instant smile`85And why shouldn’t they be enthused when we talk about the festival time`85for, it’s the time to dig their teeth deep into delicious laddoos, dazzle in those Kaumolika earings and Tulsi sarees (thanks to the daily addictive dose of soaps!), and yes, tap their feet to the Dandia beats. Festival season for the city’s youngsters spells loads of fun. With a slight chill in the air, that creeps in with the advent of this season, the unlimited rows of decorative lights on almost every nook and corner, and the Dandia Dhoom catching up, they can’t help feeling anything but overwhelmed. We catch them totally wrapped in the romance of it all.
Chips in Pankaj Sharma, a city-youth who’s almost addicted to festivals, "I simply love this season, with Diwali, Durga Puja and Dandia in the air. And not just because of their religious significance, but also because of the spirit with which we celebrate them." Gagan, a designing student, is quick to add, " Oh, our festivals are so downright lovable. They are the force behind bringing different communities together. No wonder, Bengalis are not the only community celebrating Durga Puja and Gujaratis not the only ones celebrating Dandia."
Malika Sharma, another festival-fan from the City Beautiful, quirps "Being a religious Hindu, I fast during the Navratras and the season has a lot of religious value for me. But what I like the best is the cultural aspect of our festivals." For Hardeep Kaur, a NIFDian, dancing is the best part, "It’s the time to Dandia," she sings excitedly, adding that besides the warm glow of colourful candles, it’s the Dandia that fascinates her the most.
Well, the city-youth’s all caught and trapped in the festival charm`85and why should anyone be left far behind? So let’s all load our shopping bags with Dandia sticks, candles, festive decorations and new clothes, fasten our seat belts, and get set go!
It is stage, lights and action! Rama and Laxmana kill Tatka in Sector 17; famous kings aspiring to marry Sita attempt to lift the Shiv Dhanush in Sector 20; Kaikai urges Dashratha to banish Ram to the forest in Sector 27; Ram consoles the weeping Kaushalya in Sector 22; and the Kevat washes the feet of Ram, Laxmana and Sita in Sector 29.
There is a slight chill in the air as people keep strolling in and out. Vendors of peanuts, revadis and other goodies add their own colour to the fun and frolic while the police keep a watchful eye. And it is not the middle-aged and the old alone who are among the audience; there is a sizeable and enthusiastic segment of the young. The saga of the Ramayana on stage caters to all age groups.
In Sector 29, the stage is impressive, and the ground is jam-packed. The grownups can be seen seated on chairs, some preferring to sit on the ground, children invariably occupy the front rows, and the young can be seen standing at the back ground, chatting with one another and as they watch the performance. " The young come not only to watch the performance, but many want to be on the stage. Others help out backstage," says C.M. Nair, one of the organisers of Ordinance Cable Factory Sanskriti Manch.
Moving over to Sector 27, we again find an impressive stage and an interested audience most of them munching groundnut or gachak. "The Sector 27 ground was the first chosen place for Ramlila alone according to the Chandigarh master plan," says Rajesh Modi of Shri Ramlila Committee Sector 27.
Azad Dramatic Club of Sector 20 has been in the field of Ramlila for nearly 45 years. "I find that children are very enthusiastic about coming to our show and parents naturally accompany them. There are many young artistes in our club, though we have some who have been performing for over 35 years. Veteran artiste Mohinder Batish has been doing female roles for 38 years, and Ashok Chaudhary who plays the role of Ravana has won many acting awards," says Rajinder Gupta, an organiser.
The huge colourful stage of Sector 17 is impressive. As Tatka challenges Rama and Laxmana on stage, makeup artists are giving their final touches to the faces of Ravana, Laxmana and Dashratha. Jatinder Pal, Secretary of Shri Ramlila Committee, Sector 17. "The children of our senior performers show a natural interest in opting for various roles that we have. And it is encouraging to see people from all age groups coming in increasing numbers."
Cult of the goddess
It is goddess time all over the country. The time to celebrate shakti or female energy. The place to be at this time of the year is Kolkata where the cult of the goddess is the strongest and Durga Pooja is the event awaited all year. But the festival is celebrated in big and small ways all over the country. Chandigarh too has its share of the Pooja revelry with Kalibarhi Temple becoming the little Bengal.
However, the goddess connection of the city as such is very strong. Although born of the hands of the Swiss-born French architect Le Corbusier the city takes it name from Goddess Chandi. Thus the city becomes a happy coming together of the male and female energies: a fusion that is the basis of all creation. It is the fusion of the Yin and Yan energies, the meeting of Shiva and Shakti. Thus the spirit of the city is that of Ardhanariswara _ a single entity that has the androgynous and the androgyne.
The philosophical construct of Ardhanariswara in the Indian context is most interesting. It is not just the coming together of man and woman. It is also representative of the inner and outer worlds and at a more cerebral levels the physical and the metaphysical. Now if we were to transfer this concept to this city of ours to see how it manifests itself in the character of the place called Chandigarh, it would be a fine cultural exercise. The very concept of giving birth to a new city is symbolic of female energy and yet it was not without the destruction of Shiva as many villages had to be demolished and people displaced for this new Capital envisioned for Punjab after Independence. Built on Mother Earth, it was yet the city of Nehru’s dreams that would be free of the shackles of tradition and truly modern to represent the forward-looking spirit of India.
But in a culture like ours tradition is very deeply rooted and it becomes nearly impossible to shed it completely in our transition to modernity. And there is no need either for doing so because that is something that makes us different and more valuable than the rest. It is the harmony of tradition and modernity that makes us so special. One might say that would philosophically be yet another manifestation of the Ardhanariswara.
Now putting aside philosophy_ even if we were to see it from the actual physicality_ Chandigarh has ample female energy. It is the abode of two famous goddess temples. There is Chandi Mandir, of course. But we also have the famous Mansa Devi temple. Interestingly, Chandi is the manifestation of Durga destroying evil and oppression and Mansa is the goddess that grants boons and fulfils desires. Blessed by the benign goddesses the city in itself is a wish fulfillment. And as it moves on in years it continues to take the best of the feminine and masculine impulses to be a happy destination and a meeting place of opposing energies.
In a lifestyle like ours so enormously influenced by cinema, Bollywood in particular, it is not strange that our daydreams be about the stars we so cherish. When not daydreaming, we try to emulate the dresses, hairstyles and manner of our favourites. Many young girls may be secretly hoping that some magic wand would come and turn them into an Aishwarya Rai and young boys must be wishing to have a charisma that a Shahrukh Khan enjoys. In the older days the icons used to be Madhubala and Dilip Kumar and before that K.L. Saigal and Devika Rani. Thus the game goes on with new stars coming to take place of the old.
Star struck young ones when lolling around would love to be in the shoes of their favourite actors. Wouldn’t it be fun to romp around doing Salaam-Namaste on a Melbourne Beach like Preity Zinta and Saif Ali Khan; or for that matter hitchhiking all over the country crooking people any even selling the Taj Mahal to greedy and rich firangs as did Rani Mukherjee and Abhishek Bachchan in Bunty or Babli. Sounds fun doesn’t it?
This fun turned real for the students of Applied Arts in the Chandigarh College of Art when they got a very interesting project to work on. They were to put up an exhibition celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema and in that do poster play with a difference. Taking posters of their favourite films or those in which their favourite stars had featured they had to replace the picture of their idol with their own. Some of the work that emerged thus is interesting as it is mirthful.
Nisha Pillai chose one of the
greatest classics of all times for this poster play. The film that she wanted
to go back to was Mehboob Khan’s classic Mother India in which the famous
star Nargis played the coveted role of the iconic mother figure who ploughs
the earth to rear her suns. She is symbolic of all that is good and pure.
Unafraid of struggle, she will hold onto her cherished values even if it means
killing her own son. Her famous image is that of holding the plough and this
went onto the posters. Nisha has replaced the face of the star with her own
picture and thus become the part of a great experience.
Rashleen picked another old classic for stepping into the shoes of her favourite star. Well, it was Nargis all over again But this time in romantic lead with her Raj Kapoor in Shri 420. The most lasting image from this film is the romantic couple of the Fifties singing Pyar hua Iqrar Hua with a shared umbrella on a rain-drenched night on Mumbai’s Marine Drive. The difference is that instead of Nargis it is Rashleen’s own profile looking deep into the late Kapoor’s eyes. Some people have all the luck even after they have long gone. Showman Raj Kapoor was of that variety.
Well, this is not to say that young students prefer only the old classics of the golden era. There are students who have chosen modern classics. Young Surabhi’s choice is Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayeinge with Rani Mukherjee and Shahrukh Khan merrily singing Mere khwabon mein jo aaye`85 So willy-nilly Surabhi is at a place that she wanted to be; right next to her dear Shahrukh Khan. Well girls, carry on with your khwabs because art and life are after all made from dreams.
— Nirupama Dutt
Talking sex to
Why are we so prudish when it comes to the bare facts of life? One did not know how to answer the query. The occasion was a panel discussion in a college and the audience comprised teachers, most of who were parents as well. The discussion meandered to the need to give today’s young grounding in morality. A swamiji quoted Vivekananda and spoke how sex should be sublimated for a ‘higher purpose,’ only to be countered by another participant who termed this ‘abnormal.’ A collegiate shot back, "Most of our attitudes are abnormal anyway." Yet another speaker stressed the need to focus on health risks involved and how the young need to be ‘educated’ in this era of AIDS.
Just as one thought the conversation was warming up, came a hysterical response: "Why are you going on about the disease? Not everyone jumps into bed and not all those who do contract AIDS." As the angry panelist spat out her retort, many in the audience looked uncomfortable. A fairly innocuous discussion turned potentially explosive. The undercurrents and chance remarks were self-explanatory. If the attitude to mere talk of sex and sexuality can be so volatile, what if one encounters a ‘real problem?’
We might have the second-highest number of AIDS patients in the world and of the 300 million youngsters (roughly in the age group of 12 to 24), a considerable number might become sexually active early on (by 15). What do we do? Most of the time, we adopt the classic cat-and-pigeon stance and believe if we don’t look at it, the problem will go away on its own. When the BBC World Wide was making its programme for South Asia, Sexwise, the response was, "Oh yes it is very important. But of course, you can’t talk about sex on radio or television in India."
We may not talk but it is a fact that the youngsters are exposed to a barrage of rapid-splice images and flood of information from the Net, TV channels and peer group. Add to this the age at which puberty is attained being lowered and sexual activity being initiated much earlier, coupled with the surge of hormones. You have a situation that is potentially volatile. Parents say, "After all our children cannot behave ‘like this.’ "We too learnt, did we not?"
What do the ‘kids’ say? "So many times I want to speak to my mom about tons of things that I am curious about, but I am sure she will hit the roof and ask me to concentrate on my studies and not think like this," says a bright 17-year-old. Another one wishes her mom could talk of the pill and pregnancy rather than she getting half-baked info from friends.
Are the Net, peer group, books and teachers not sufficient to fill the gap and give info without moralising? Apparently, information and cold facts do not put things in perspective the way a heart-to-heart talk does. We need to equip and reorient ourselves to learn to confront issues, which we ourselves are uncomfortable with. What is needed is a comfort zone at home so that your teenager can talk.
Just name the glamorous Meghna Naidu, and the song Kaliyon ka chaman begins to play in the ear. You prefer this vision to the body bountiful images that her jaunts in films. Meghna is not one to get defensive or apologetic and she says, "It’s work and people like me are trying to make it without a godfather. We are not star children who make the A grade with just a couple of films."
Watching Meghna at home was a far cry from her man-eating image. She comes across as a regular South Indian girl from a regular South Indian home, and you wouldn’t want to mess with either the regular girl off screen or the seductress on screen.
Having moved into Bollywood two years back, Meghna looks back at her days from Kaliyon ka chaman to now and shrugs, "I never planned all these... not the music video, not the movies. I was quite happy doing my share of south films and stage shows." It was while accompanying a friend for audition that she was approached by Vinay-Radhika duo for the music video
"They insisted that I do the music video. It was the same thing with my first film. I was to do Shaukh with Karan Razdan, which never took off. And when he started off with Hawas, he insisted that I do the film," recalls Meghna, who is quite amused to find herself slotted with the sexy sirens after that.
"The film came about post Jism, which started the slew of sexy film trend. And I got caught in the sex trap like a lot of heroines. I don’t regret the films that I did or am doing. As an actor I have to try doing all kinds of roles. But I am always improving and look out for films that give me scope to perform," says Meghna who’s looking forward to films like Rain, Ishq Deewana, Bad Friend and Eight.
The trend of music video stars signing films began with Meghna, what does she have to say about the current lot music videos? ‘Kaliyon ka chaman’ was quite different from all these music videos. It was neat, clean and could be discussed among friends and family. What’s happening now is just the opposite. They are overexposed, gone overboard and messed up," says the original `music video’ girl. Does that mean music videos no longer feature on her agenda? "I am not off music videos. Give me that what will be as good as or better than ‘Kaliyon ka chaman," she quips.
U share your birthday
today with Rekha...
An ungainly-duckling turned into a svelte-swan, a sensuous damsel whose reigned in Bollywood for almost a decade, the leading lady in memorable films like Khoobsoorat, Ghar, Jhoothi, Mr Natwarlal, Muquaddar Ka Sikandar, Do Anjane, Khoon Bhari Maang, Agar Tum Na Hote, Aastha and Khilarion ka Khilari, the girl of star parents (born on October 10) who started acting at the age of 12, learnt Hindi in three months and yes, dance-in just one month! The beautiful Umrao Jaan, whose classy dance performances captivated the audiences like never before... Well, she’s none other than the vivacious and versatile Rehka!
With a face as enigmatic as her photo-spreads in the glossies, dusky soft supple skin and eyelashes like a row of commas typed on a page, this actress has marched ahead in the journey towards fame and filmdom with an unflinching faith. Her determination to transform her plump, darkish frame into a beautiful, agile body is indeed unparalleled in the history of Indian cinema. No wonder, her favourite number remains- ‘Self Control’ by Laura Branigan.
This National Award winner (with 3 Filmfare Awards and the 1998 U.P. Award for the best Kathak dancer in Hindi films) who loves to drive Lamborgini, Porche, Volkswagen Beetle, Jaguar, delights in flaunting Kanjeevaram saris and Oxidized Silver old Jadhau Pearls jewellery. And guess what, this charming Libran is a hard-core romantic, who fantasizes about suddenly smelling the body of her man, when he’s miles away from her, and getting overwhelmed by his memories. Undoubtedly, this epitomizes the philosophy of her favourite song:Salame-Ishq meri jaan zara kubool kar lo`85