Punjabi jutti chali phoren

Available in simple shades as well as bright colours with attractive embroidery, the jutti is now making waves in cities like London and New York, writes Anuradha Shukla

Jutti Kasuri Pairin Na Poori, Hayo Rabba Ve Sannu Turna Peya goes the famous line of the Punjabi folk song sung by Surinder Kaur. The damsel in the folk song may be having trouble walking in ill-fitting juttis but the jutti itself has walked far and wide and has reached far-off lands, thanks to the NRPs (Non-Resident Punjabis) and the jutti’s newfound fans among foreigners there.

The juttis from Patiala and not Kasur (now in Pakistan) rule the popularity charts not only here but also around the world. These ‘pieces of art’ are an inseparable part of Punjabi attire. Available in simple shades as well as bright colours with attractive embroidery, the juttis rule the heart of ethnically chic Punjabis everywhere. It is now making waves in cities like London and New York. None other than craftsmen in the streets of Patiala are fanning the rage for the Punjabi jutti among its newfound fans.

The humble shops at Top Khana Mod and Churianwala Bazar have now become export stops for traders from cities like New Delhi, who are busy making big bucks taking these juttis abroad. Ruling hearts of residents of countries like the UK, the USA, South Africa and even Korea, the jutti, is undergoing its share of changes, too, to suit the tastes of connoisseurs in these lands.

Made of buffalo skin and goat skin (despite Maneka Gandhi!), the jutti has come of age from the silver and gold hand-embroidered juttis still made in the Muktsar and Fazilka belt of Punjab to countless colours and embroidery patterns it has acquired now.

The most flexible of all footwear famous in the region, the jutti is made distinctly in states like Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat. The juttis made in Patiala by far win the crown for the sheer variety of designs, shapes and patterns available. “The jutti can be combined with a jean, suit and even a sari or with an anklet on your feet”, says Sarika, a college student. “Going by the price (Rs 125 to 1,500), you can have as many pairs and have fun the funky ethnic way”, she gleams.

“The juttis made in Patiala caught the eyes of traders in Delhi and they decided to sell these to Punjabi NRIs among other export items some three years back”, says Sandeep Narula, who has one of the oldest shops in Churianwala Bazar. “The samples disappeared fast once they were put on the shelves of shoe stores run by Indians as well as foreigners. Of late the latest rage in New York is the Punjabi jutti”, says Narula. Though the simple flat jutti suits summer wear, sales go down only in snowy winters, says Narula.

“The Punjabi jutti covers your feet like second skin and you never have to worry about it breaking because of flexibility. It comes from the refinement the buffalo leather is given at the workshop and makes it score over its counterpart from Rajasthan in terms of flexibility and softness as compared to the hard camel leather, Mangat Ram, an artisan, is quick to tell you. The same quality with features like a cushioned sole for comfort is popular in the UK and the USA, he adds.

Beads, sippi, sitara, dabka and even the bejewelled stone look is in with these juttis getting popular and increasingly accepted by the young abroad. As the local tastes have changed to duller shades nowadays, the UK and the US markets demand more flashy and brighter designs.

“Maharaja Ranjit Singh is said to have got the jutti made for his Rani from Patiala and the craft flourished under his patronage”, says Satish Kumar who heard it from his buzurgs. Peasants beat up buffalo skin and make it suitable for making the sole of the jutti. The upper portion of the jutti is made with softer goatskin. The most traditional of the designs you can still find in the city is the unembroidered plain jutti in skin colour. To add to its looks, the tilla (gold thread) work was added, says Kamal. For daily wear, there was the plain simple jutti for men and women while for a formal do the juttis were hand embroidered in silver and gold tilla. The Khussa jutti with a pointed top was for men while the juttis for women were the simple round edges at the top.

While the men prepared the leather, the designing was always done by the women artisans and no wonder the embroidery patterns readily transferred on to the juttis. So now we have the most popular design abroad of embroidery with shining sitare in heart-shaped juttis known as Lucky jutti in this bazar, says Satish Kumar. “The jutti covered with synthetic silk cloth and in sandle shape is also getting accepted abroad”, he adds. If you are still wondering how to find the best jutti, go for a jutti with a thicker sole and a hard base and don’t worry about it biting your feet for some time because your leather shoes do the same to you, don’t they. 

Top the chill

With the weather taking a chilly turn at dawn and dusk, time has come to leave climate controlled environs behind and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer in our patios, porches, decks and pergolas, which enhance our winter living.

Today’s patios are much more than just a place to dump unwanted stuff. They are a part of our lifestyle; extending our family rooms into the outdoors to take advantage of nature, sun, and fresh air. They are transitional spaces that blend the best of indoor and outdoor life. More than ever, patios are where we entertain guests, spend time with families, or just get away from it all.

With a little imagination, a simple patio can become a cloistered retreat resplendent with lush plantings and quiet nooks, an extravagant entertainment center with dining areas and extensive seating for guests, or a luxurious spa complete with a hot tub, swimming pool, and shady cabana. An upstairs bar opening onto a terrace patio or a living area extending onto a teak decking with stone cascade is always delightfully irresistible.

You may opt for an open patio to take maximum advantage of fresh air and sunlight with minimum visual obstructions and plenty of natural greenery around. You may even divide the given area with arches, fences, hedges, and gates to create several intimate spaces, which serves various family and entertaining needs.

Covered patios usually are constructed next to the house, where extended eaves or an overhead structure shelters the patio from sun and rain. Alongside abundant potted plants and suitable figurines, hang lots of ferns and vines from the extended overhead structure to create this room with a view. Wicker furnishings replete with charming detail, while thick cushions add luxurious comfort to the chaise and chairs.

Connected with a path, getaway patios are located away from the house. They are usually small, intimate areas surrounded by plants and landscaping features that provide a sense of privacy. You can create an external fireplace, fire pit, bar our a bar-be-que if you wish for both family fun and entertainment. Getaway patios can be open or covered by a simple gazebo-like structure and include simple furnishings, such as outdoor benches, tables, chairs and stools in brown or mint natural stone.

Poolside patios offering open areas for sitting or sunning, must have durable, waterproof surfaces, slip-resistant surfaces such as bush hammered sandstone or split-face flagstone. Imagine a lovely dining area sitting next to the pool appropriately lit, offering a beautiful view across the water and back toward the home.

Entry patios are built at the front of the house. These public spaces are relaxing and inviting. They are characterized by wide, paved areas and often include landscaping features such as built-in planters, casual seating, and pathways leading to side yards and garages. A pretty fountain in sandstone or marble lends charm to your patio and adds the sound of water to help screen out street noise.

Regardless of where you create your little patio haven, it’s the lighting which will create the magic. Pendant lights for indoor patios, lettice patterns for teak gazebos, glass lanterns for stone paragolas and strategically placed ground level uplighters to light up your trees in the garden. Not forgetting of course to use loads of pillar lights to light up your pathways.

With the hardwork of patio designing behind you, would you now like to chill out on a natural stone bench with your better half. Or opt for combination of teak and wicker seating united by cushion color and tone. Alternatively, chose small grouping of retro-look chairs to bask in the sun and enjoy the view.

Courtsey: A.P. Singh Besten & Co

The grass is always greener…

Despite having to queue for miles and miles with an almost assured prospect of rejection, thousands of Punjabis flock to various embassies in New Delhi for visas to take them to any country that will accept them. They sell everything they have, spend ridiculous sums of money on preparation for visa interviews and language exams and are willing to move to any country that will take them. Why is this the case? Why is it that a large percentage of people from the most prosperous state in one of the fastest growing economies of the world are willing to sacrifice everything to move anywhere else, literally anywhere? What is this lure that the prospect of becoming an NRI has?

Having spent a little over the last three years in the UK as a student, I came across scores of Indian and Pakistani Punjabi immigrants, not one of who was satisfied with life in the UK. All that I heard them do was reminisce about how good life in the homeland was and how they would love to return as soon as they get a chance. Yet if you have ever heard an NRI in India talk, all that you’ll hear is how good the quality of life abroad is and how much money there is to be made. Why is there so much disparity in the stories you hear the same people tell when they are on different continents?

The answer to this, in my opinion, is false pride. People who sacrifice so much to move to another country, labour for extensive hours at jobs that they would be ashamed to do in India, live lives of third rate citizens in ghettos and slums where the indigenous population never ventures, probably feel that a few lies will not do any harm. Added to the strengthened purchasing power they enjoy in India (thanks to nothing but the exchange rate), these tales of glory help them get some respect and awe in the eyes of the simple folk from the pind. However, these lies and false pride together paint this rosy picture for another generation of aspiring immigrants who will soon be working at gas stations and taxi stands around the world, spinning new tales of lands with streets paved with gold.

— Angad Sodhi

Family drama from Rajshri

Sooraj R. Barjatya’s biggest release Vivah is a melodramatic family entertainer—a heart-warming story of unconditional love. Vivah, stars the young pair of Shahid Kapoor and Amrita Rao. Besides being a refreshing love story, the film is also the first to tackle the relationship between a couple bound by the bond of engagement rings and the special rights they give each other. Rajshri Productions’ Vivah will be released today at Batra, Chandigarh, Fun Republic, Manimajra and K.C., Panchkula. The supporting star cast includes Anupam Kher, Alok Nath, Seema Biswas, Lata Sabharwal, Samir Soni and Manoj Joshi. Ravindra Jain has penned the lyrics. Sooraj R. Barjatya has written the story and screenplay himself.

Money matters

Comic capers are season’s flavour and Subhash Ghai, in association with Sangeeth Sivan, brings yet another comedy Apna Sapna Money Money. The film stars the young team of Ritesh Deshmukh, Shreyas Talpade, Riya Sen, Koena Mitra and Celina Jaitley. The supporting cast includes Jackie Shroff, Chunkey Pande, Suneil Shetty and Rajpal Yadav promising a spicy comedy. The promos are on air and have generated a good pre-release interest among the viewers. Trendy music composers Pritam and Vishal-Shekhar come up with a fine set of comical and lively soundtracks. It will be released today at Neelam, Chandigarh, and Fun Republic, Manimajra. — D.P.

Pushing the limits

Coimbatore-based rallyist V.R. Naren Kumar is all set to be the first and only Indian to be part of the World Rally (2007) and European (2006) championships. Sukant Deepak talks to the veteran sportsman with a never-say-die attitude

A fleeting look at this bespectacled man and you’re bound to think that he has come straight from some boardroom meeting—or a golf course. But then, appearances can be deceptive. Dwell a little deeper and you discover a brilliant set of skills that make him all set to be the first Indian to participate in the FIA Production 2007 World Rally Championship (WRC) next year and the 2006 European Championship as part of Italy’s Fiat Abarth works team where he will be driving the all-powerful Fiat Grand Punto S2000, a two-litre, 270-bhp vehicle.

V.R. Naren Kumar, winner of the Asia Championship Rally-2001 besides five national championship titles, is not just another rallyist despite humility being his hallmark. This Coimbatore-based champion, with his never-say-die attitude, has to his credit 28 rally wins, including three international titles in the Asia Zone Rally Championship held in Thailand, Indonesia, and India.

But what makes a champion out of a guy who loves wildlife and golf? “Look, rallying is a sport. You have to have a basic ability and talent to drive. The capability of driving the car faster, pushing its limits and the peculiar gift of predicting how it’ll react under diverse conditions… that’s the key,” smiles this metallurgy engineer.

For Naren Kumar, motorsports was an early call. “When you’re living in Coimbatore, the hub of motorsports in India, it’s really tough to ignore the lure of speed. The background and foundation of this game is really rock solid here,” says Naren, who adopted speed as his religion as a teenager after seeing an uncle of his “punishing” his car in different rallies.

Honestly, what do you prefer—racing or rallying, considering you’ve done both? “Well, both have their charm but truly speaking, rallying fascinates me no end. It’s more exhilarating—every corner poses a unique challenge. Car control, judgement and reflexes come into play more boldly in rallying than racing. The latter tends to become so monotonous—exploring the same circle repeatedly.”

It is surprising that someone as talented as Naren is not into Raid-de-Himalaya? “First of all, ‘The Raid’ is not part of the national championship. Moreover, I am not really a Raid guy—the format is not just meant for me,” smiles the man who has virtually been the best in rallying for the past several years and has been christened ‘King of the Circuit’.

The cool and composed speedster answers instantly when asked what makes motorsports participants from down South so natural in the game. “Well, there are several factors, in fact a bit of everything. Traditionally, South India has been a motorsports bastion where the infrastructure for the game is highly developed. The people are passionate about it and the game is taken quite seriously.”

Naren agrees that India needs more powerful cars in motorsports. “Our vehicles are so underpowered that it’s almost unbelievable. It’s high time that the Motorsports Association of India (MAI) relaxes its rules and allows faster cars to 

Optimistic that the future of motorsports in India is far brighter as opposed to what is predicted in some periodicals and newspapers, Naren elaborates, “More and more youngsters are showing interest. Sponsors are coming forward. We already have two major tyre companies backing several rallyists. Of course, one can do with more corporate houses looking at this sport.”

Sharing that even he’s facing sponsorship problems with respect to the 2007 WRC, the champion shrugs, “I am the only one in the country to be offered by the official Fiat (Italy) Factory Rally Team to do the WRC (Production Class), but am still looking for enough sponsorship!”

The conversation concludes. Naren drives off, his vehicle absolutely tamed. The dust in the air bears testimony to a conversation with a potential WRC winner.

School Mall
Gayatri Rajwade

Photo: Parvesh ChauhanThis is a mall with a difference! No Calvin Klein jeans, nor Paloma Picasso perfumes and neither any haute Donatella Versace couture draped strategically in interesting corners but it is a mall nonetheless—and one for schools! Surprised? Well that is exactly what Mayor School Mall’s USP is.

Clad in red (yes its exteriors stand spiffily out from its other neighbours in Sector 34), this Mall promises to house all things essential and sundry in the life and times of school going children.

So from school uniforms to bags to shoes, tiffin boxes, water bottles to stationary, art and craft material and even fancy dresses, jewellery and underclothes are spread over 4000 sq feet of area. Complete with a small rail track with sit faux-bogies for the children to play or seat themselves in, the Mall even has a projector for cartoon films to be played.

The brainchild of owner Surinder Sood, who insists that the idea came from watching parents closely. “We have been into supplying fancy dresses to schools for the past fifteen years and we saw mothers and fathers running around in all directions trying to collect things before start of school. It is then that the idea struck of having everything under one roof,” he explains.

He calls it “economics”. Greater the number of items leading to passing on lowered margins to consumers in the form of lower prices.

And there are all sorts of interesting things to look into:

The pen that lights up while writing, throws bubbles too and has a stamp at the back to decorate your pages with or the invisible ink-pen which needs its own special light to be able to read the writing back and of course the piece-de-résistance the snazzy fancy dresses in different series ranging from sea animals (600 varieties!) to cartoon characters to national costumes from countries around the world to even salad drill costumes (fruits and vegetables!).

With the original store in Panchkula where hundreds and hundreds of costumes sit pretty to a store in Chandigarh to plans of expanding to children’s furniture too, Sood has come a long way. “Earlier I used to be criticised for going into so much detail where the fancy dresses were concerned. People said no one does this sort of thing and no one wants it. But I live by one mantra, do everything well, with care and with pride,” he beams.

Case in point being a brief from one of the well-known schools for providing costumes with the bacteria E Coli featuring in them! “This is a bacterium and so I consulted professors, encyclopaedias and finally searched the net for seven hours before finding a picture of what this bacteria looks like from a site of an American University,” says Sood.

The perfection is there, the desire to give you the best is there, so if you want something real bad, just tell him and he can research it and get it for you, even if it is one of those slipper shaped erasers he showed us with élan! 

A Family ‘Bond’

“The name’s Bond, James Bond.” A name that is almost synonymous with death defying stunts and feats of gallantry. Here’s another name for you ‘Powell’, the name that little known to us all has been behind all of Bond’s stunts.

This name does not belong to just one man, but rather like the Phantom passing his legacy down in the family, the Powell clan have performed stunts in every Bond movie ever made. Starting with Dinney and Nosher Powell, who worked on the first Bond film, Dr No, to Gary and Greg, Nosher’s sons, who are still part of the Bond legacy.

Gary, who is stunt co-ordinator for the Daniel Craig starrer Casino Royale claims, “I reckon Bond stunts are the best job in the world.”

“My dad and uncle did the Sean Connery films, my brother did the Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton ones and I’ve been lucky to work in front of the camera on the Brosnan movies and now behind the camera on Daniel Craig’s first film.”

Fairytale wedding

Hollywood stars Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are all set to tie the knot in a private ceremony at a romantic Italian castle.

The ceremony to be held at the 500 year old Bracciano Castle is said to be a three-day affair. And no it won’t be an Indian wedding, but will be three different events thanks to the different religious beliefs of the couple. Holmes, a Catholic, wants a religious do, while Cruise is a firm believer in Scientology.

Reports claim there will be a party on November 16 followed by a ceremony the next day and a Scientology service on the 18th.

Proud Parents

They say that parents are proud of everything their children do. Everything? Maybe this family takes this notion a bit too far. Reportedly Kathy and Rick Hilton, parents of heiress-turned-international celebrity Paris Hilton “are proud of everything Paris has done, including the X-rated video that launched her to this international stardom and infamy and fame.” That is according to a new biography by Jerry Oppenheimer titled House of Hilton. The biography also claims that the Hilton’s are “a bizarre family” and that behind the scenes her (Paris’) parents are not opposed to the video because that totally launched her.”

Talk about weird Hollywood families, watch out Jacksons the Hiltons are here!

Polished perfectly
Anandita Gupta

Priyanka Khosla. Photo: Malkiat Singh
CAT WOMAN: Priyanka Khosla. Photo: Malkiat Singh

Ever wondered what preparation a soon-to-be wed ought to make before taking the plunge? Of course, those shop-till-drop-sprees, pampering beauty treatments at prestigious parlours, honeymoon planning, romantic dates and candlelight dinners take top priority. However, how about the mental and emotional preparation, for handling the pressures of a totally changed (or do I say new) life post marriage?

Perhaps no one thought about it, till grooming guru Priyanka Khosla racked her brains, and came up with Polished Cats. “My course called Polished Cats focuses on the pre-marital mental grooming, besides dealing with the physical grooming part. We teach soon-to-be weds how to deal with marriage, make adjustments, build new relations and cope up with marital pressures that most youngsters don’t even anticipate,” she smiles a miss-know-it-all smile.

And miss-know-it-all, she definitely is, especially when it comes to marriage. “In my large circle of friends and cousins, I’ve always closely observed the excitement we build around marriage. Most girls, therefore, perceive marriage just as a bed of blooming roses—honeymooning, eating out in plush hotels, shopping and wearing fancy jewellery. But marriage has its own complexities. Like all good things in life, it comes with a price.”

So, is Polished Cats an endeavor to prepare people to pay this price? “In this grooming course, we discuss each and every aspect of getting married and how to handle relationships and situations. The course also deals with grooming professionals, like teachers for example. But brides and grooms remain our focus, since very little has been done in our country, to groom them right!”

Swirling her grooming wand over soon-to-be-marrieds, Priyanka is presently preparing soon-to-be-weds with the lessons no textbook or friend teaches. Right from building cordial relations with in-laws, making a place in the spouse’s family, giving each other space to handling the first night blues, it’s all there in this course. “Experience is the best teacher in all these real life situations, but by the time most of us learn from it, it’s generally too late. So we’ve roped in experienced married people to share their experience with our students.”

At a time when event managers are girding up their lions to organize the grandest of weddings, Suraj Barjatya has on his family-drama-platter, yet another marriage-based blockbuster (literally called Shaadi,) and wedding resorts are chock full, could the city’s grooming gurus be far behind?

Arty Trio
Gayatri Rajwade

This is truly a happy week for art—an exhibition of paintings and drawings by three of India’s senior artists, Jivan Adalja, Prem Singh and S. K. Sahni throws up a tremendous body of work, technique and creativity.

On show at Panjab University, this trio has been exhibiting together for the past two decades (since 1985) simply for art’s sake.

“Art plays a vital role in the search for relationships and we celebrate our togetherness by exhibiting together,” smiles Prem Singh.

What they saw was that touching quality in each other’s works. “We like what each of us do and respect that individuality which brings us all together,” explains Singh further.

Delhi-based Adalja’s work is marked by his figurative forms. His faces in muted tones in a variety of mediums that range from crumpled paper to paper napkins to even gauze reflect his playful spirit but it is his subject, his expressions that hold true meaning for him. “I draw from the mundane-ness around me. People sitting, working, thinking—in different moods, with different emotions flitting across their face—that tiredness welling around their eyes at the end of a long day softened by a single glad thought—these things move me,” he explains.

So his faces in water-colour washes and black ink are stark reminders of a life filled with sadness and happy moments, “except those blissful moments are few and far between”.

Fisher-folk, homes, lanterns, birds—everyday images find moving life in his art. “I say to God if you have put me into art, make me swim otherwise you should not have given this to me,” he smiles.

Prem Singh’s work contrast’s sharply with the others. For, his art is inspired from nature. “There is a celestial song playing all the time weaving patterns and design in nature and it is this lyricism which inspires me. So much so I see with my ears and listen with my eyes and visa-versa.”

Singh’s beginnings in art were figurative but then having realised that unlike a raga there is no bandhish (binding) in art he decided to set himself free from forms, from conventions and conditioning, and interpret his nature in a free-flowing style. “It is a dialogue with the canvas for each blank space is a challenge so why not deal with that first? I fill it with colours from a passion and meaning that wells up inside me and after that I fill in the strokes, consciously, working on the rhythms that sprung up in the first play with the canvas,” he explains.

The result is a riot of colours capturing the silent, evolving activity of nature, the dancing cadence of nature in hues from icy blue to warm yellows, startling reds and even brooding blacks.

S. K. Sahni’s turns the “pure, unsentimental, unconditional” straight line into evoking different moods, emotions and feelings while placing them in conjunction with other lines. Exploring this, his art traverses to realms unknown, flowing, converging and making forms that are strikingly appealing. No two works are the same and that perhaps is the challenge, which this artist has mastered so admirably in the past three decades and continues to do so.

A must see, this exhibition is on at the Museum of Fine Arts, Panjab University till November 14 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. 

For an equal world
Anuradha Shukla

Manjit Indra
Manjit Indra

She paints the canvas of life with her words of poetry. Realistic, straight and at times stark in presenting the truth, Manjit Indra loves to experiment. Delving into the labyrinth of human relationships and emotions, Manjit has come out with yet another experiment in the shape of her latest book of poetry Alakh. Talking to Lifestyle Manjit pours her heart out.

“My inspiration has always come from the strengths and the frailties of human relationships. Passion, love, deceit, manipulation, suffering—our lives are shaped out of such emotional experiences. The basis of it all has always been the many deep layers of emotions that a woman has,” says Manjit.

But how did the monologue of a man in the shape of a book of poetry come through? “Man and woman compliment each other and instead of just blaming the man, I have tried to look at the sensibilities of a man in his own words in my latest book. And why not have a man say all the things he feels on the inside about his own failings, weaknesses and his confessions of his deceit when it comes to his desire for a woman”, she says.

“If a woman says the same things, she is bracketed as a ‘feminist’, a term that has acquired the ‘stigma’ of cry for freedom of a woman. The thought of having a man talk about his failings and manipulations was interesting as well as challenging.”

What about the criticism she may have to face for writing a book like that, we ask. Manjit says if her thoughts become a subject of open discussion, she will be more than happy. Because when it comes to relationships, society has changed a great deal and so have the dynamics of modern-day relationships. What has not changed, however, is the position of a woman. She is still relegated to clichéd patterns of relationships to bind her and make her comply.”

She says the dynamics of modern-day relationships have serious repercussions, such as female foeticide. “Society is not yielding to a girl the ground she can walk on fearlessly. Until this happens, problems such as killing daughters in the mother’s womb will not end,” feels Manjit. “Merely saying that men and women are complimentary to each other is not enough till the consciousness is not there on both sides for the sake of a better society.” 

Mirza Ghalib in Punjabi 
S. D. Sharma

Kuchh to padhiye ke log kehte hain, Aaj Ghalib ghazal sra naa hua.

Acclaimed across centuries by poetry lovers for his visionary literary genius, Mirza Ghalib is regarded as the eternal poet, an epitome of wisdom and rare emotional sensibility. Historians and scholars hail “Urdu, Ghalib and Taj Mahal” as the wondrous gifts of cultural and architectural significance to humanity of the Mughal era.

Endowed with subtle thought and deep emotions, each couplet from Ghalib is in itself a little poem, complete with its own metaphor, weaved into themes close to the life of a common man.

If the foremost disciple of Mirza Ghalib and legendary poet Altaf Hussain Hali had immortalised Ghalib through his classic tribute Yaadgar- e-Ghalib, then the Panchkula-based eminent poet T.N. Raz has introduced the non-Urdu readers to the innate beauty of Ghalib’s poetry. After his five literary creations, including Ghalib aur Durgat in Urdu and Ghalib— Sangeet ke sanche mein dhali ghazlein in Hindi, he had endeavoured to bring alive the compelling charm of Ghalib’s poetic grandeur exclusively for Punjabi readers with his latest offering of Ghalib, Jeevan, Shayri Ate Khat.

Commenting on the unique amalgam of words and illustrations by T.N. Raz, literary icon Khushwant Singh wrote, “That Punjabis will owe you a debt of gratitude for introducing them to Ghalib. I have found the meanings of the couplets most enlightening.”  Similarly the Hindi luminary Kamleshwar has called this book as a grand research work full of comprehensive information regarding the life, works and other aspects of Ghalib and his literary voyage. The eminent Punjabi litterateur Surjit Patar has lauded the efforts of Raz, hailing the book as a milestone in Punjabi literature. 

Real vivah?
No way…
Parbina Rashid

REEL OR REAL: Shahid Kapoor and Amrita Rao
REEL OR REAL: Shahid Kapoor and Amrita Rao

Hello, I am Shahid Kapoor”—the voice over the telephone sounds polite but friendly and your mind darts to the image of the cute-looking guy dancing for some shampoo ad on television. He sounds excited about his latest release Vivah, so the conversation naturally revolves around the film. “I am playing the character called Prem who is an embodiment of love and I have tried to play him in the way I interpret him.”

Interesting interpretation, but we do not want a long-distance call to go waste learning about a fictitious character. Curious to know the real Shahid, we probe a little, “When is the real vivah happening?”

“Not immediately, not for a couple of years,” comes the shy answer. So we have to be content with the reel version of it for the time being. Turning the conversation towards professional footing, we ask him about the latest projects in his life.

“At present I am going through scripts and looking back, trying to evaluate myself in terms of my work.” He calls it discovering himself professionally and also taking that well-deserved break. In his words, “I have been working non-stop for the past three years and this is the time I stop and look over my shoulder to find out what are the mistakes I have committed.”

Fair enough. He tells us that he is looking for a new storyline and good characters of all shades. But what, according to him, is a good script? “A good script is like batting on a good pitch, it makes things easier,” says the actor who has his feet firmly rooted to the ground.

And why not, despite being Pankaj Kapoor’s (remember Karamchand?) son, films just did not happen to him. “I was not lucky enough to have someone making a film for me. I had to go through auditions and faced rejection also. When Ishq Ishq Ishq happened, it was a big moment for me,” Shahid says. And except for a small stint of a dancing session with Shyamak Davar, he had no stage experience to fall back upon.

“After Ishq, Ishq.. I did about seven or eight films. I was a newcomer and could not afford to be choosy. But now I am doing one film at a time and want each film to be a learning experience.” Wise decision! 

A complete artiste
S.D. Sharma

Striking a balance between his passions and profession, the acclaimed academician, film actor, prolific playwright and above all, a wonderful human being, Dr Surinder Sharma is a man of m yriad talents.

Rightfully honoured and admired for his comedy roles in over 12 bilingual films, fifteen TV serials, 150 theatre productions, including 80 directorial assignments and 200 stage performances abroad, he had maintained the tradition of excellence as a professor of chemistry at Punjab University here. His research-based articles on organic chemistry had been published in the International journal Polyhedron, a rare achievement. 

Sharing his views on contemporary theatre and film scene, especially ‘comedy’, Dr Sharma says: “From an ideological standpoint, the spirit of comedy, with all its realistic, satirical and didactic purpose is essentially a social phenomenon but it has to be meaningful, in all its varied manifestations.” Be it films, theatre or the overpowering laughter challenges, the comedy content should be a delightful mixture of satire, romance, humour and insight, says Dr Sharma. 

Though he had started acting on stage at the age of eight, but his entry to films got off with a small but impressive role in B.R. Chopra’s Karm in 1976. Then followed a spurt of films, about 60 so far, including six in Hindi, three in Haryanvi and well acclaimed award winning Punajbi films like Sarpanch, bilingual Dhiyanu Bhagat, Lambardarni, Nimmo, Dil Da Mamala, Tabahi, Batwara, Yaari Jatt Di and new release Rustam-E-Hind to name a few.

Theatre, however, continues to be his first love. Even after an experience that span over 41 years and productions like Samajhdaar Log, extensively staged by the National School of Drama, Dr Sharma is modest enough to say he is still an avid learner. 

Ruing at the lack of literary passion, disciplined dedication and commitment among young theatre enthusiasts, he feels advancement in technical infrastructure is not enough. Actors should be loyal to its people, language, tradition and have social awareness, says Dr Sharma. Undeniably, these are the qualities one needs to be a complete artiste. 

Health tip of the day

People with Low Back Pain may sleep on their back with a pillow under the knees or sleep on the side with knees bent and pillow between the knees.

— Dr. Ravinder Chadha

What the cards say today...

ARIES: You have come to a stage in your life where ‘karmic speed breakers’ and circumstances will compel you to put aside gray thoughts and aim for the sunbeam instead. Pets, children, home, gardens can take much of your time. A father figure comes to your aid. Weigh pros and cons wisely. Lucky colour: Silver grey. TIP OF THE WEEK: Avoid gossip sessions. 
LIBRA: “The Hanged Man” helps you to move into new and better situation. Miscalculations or written errors may provide new insights into present business problems. Remain patient and listen to your inner voice. This is an excellent week to adopt new routines, foster friendships or develop unique hobbies. Lucky colour: Sea green. TIP OF THE WEEK: You are advised to focus on professional changes.
TAURUS: Though “Knight of Swords” gives you a new vision. Be attentive toward the ones you love. Start off with a clean slate. Do not get tied down by any promises, especially regarding money matters. Temptation to criticise a family member must be avoided. Lucky colour: Cherry red. TIP OF THE WEEK: Plan your life to avoid the inbuilt delays that comes your way. 
SCORPIO:  The card “Hermit” invites you to take an astute and honest look at your close relationships. Hurried actions and judgment can lead to confusion. Appreciation and respect for others begets your love and support in turn. A heavy investment is on the cards. Lucky colour: White. TIP OF THE WEEK: It is best to get a clear perspective and balance your energy before making important decisions.
GEMINI: You will be discussing expansion plans but try to resolve disputes, if any, amicably. Keep your mind open to ideas and new offers of work. You may be concerned about your mate or beloved who has not been keeping well or may be depressed. Lucky colour: White. TIP OF THE WEEK: Be articulate to prevent people for making their own conclusion.
SAGITTARIUS: Just go ahead and do what your intuition tells you, advises the “Five of Cups” card, and adds that you are on a winning wicket. Students get good grades in tests and are well prepared for the approaching examinations. A balance in all areas of life is recommended. Lucky colour: Emerald. TIP OF THE WEEK: Avoid confrontation and making personal remarks as they can be taken seriously. 
CANCER: “The Princes of Cups” infuses you a youthful disposition so you will be flirtatious, but be careful not to ignore or hurt the one who counts most in your life. Love can take a turn if you aren’t thoughtful, generous and loyal. Listen to what others have to say. Lucky colour: Saffron. TIP OF THE WEEK: Allow a sick situation blow over before starting new. 
CAPRICORN: Total love and togetherness as revealed by the “Page of Pentacle” card is the positive start of life together. Setting up home, interior decoration and putting things an order would take up a good part of the week. A gentle and friendly approach can resolve an old conflict. Lucky colour: Golden yellow. TIP OF THE WEEK: Act righteously and do your duty on time. 
LEO: “Nine Cups” full of light lotus blossoms and greet you as loving relationship flower with commitments. Follow through, do your best and promote whatever you believe in. On Monday your best approach is not to confront people but to go about your own tasks with a great dedication. Lucky colour: White. TIP OF THE WEEK: You need to act for yourself and for no one else. 
AQUARIUS: You draw the “Wheel of Fortune” good times are just around the corner. Children, family and loved ones gather to celebrate the event. You fulfill a heart’s desire. Do not allow emotions to influence professional matters. Lucky colour: Wine red. TIP OF THE WEEK: Delays are the only obstacle in your way to success.
VIRGO: You draw “The Ace of Cups” which brings beauty, pleasure and happiness. Subtle pressure within organisations or even on friends, seem necessary to get things done. There are shakeups in relationships on Tuesday. Focus on meditation, exercise and yoga. A Taurean friend is supportive. Lucky colour: Burgundy. TIP OF THE WEEK: Do not delegate your tasks to anyone do it yourself.
PISCES: The “Princes of Wands” spins gracious influence in your personal relationship. You are relaxed a work and content at home. You may indulge in shopping for presents, elegant clothes and luxuries, which dislodges your budget. Remain receptive and flexible on Tuesday. Lucky colour: Black. TIP OF THE WEEK: Wait and watch. Do not try to end all the deadlocks at one go.

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