Black & Beautiful
City girls say no to fairness creams & are proud of that
dusky look once again
Saurabh Malik

You may still be unfair to the not-so-fair femmes, while looking for all those fair-complexioned beauties offering themselves for matrimony through newspaper advertisements. But the dark and dusky sirens in the city are bright and cheerful about their ebony looks.

And now that dusky-eyed Bipasha Basu has again bagged Asia’s sexiest woman title, they have another reason to say no to the fairness preparations dazzling like in city’s cosmetic stores.

That’s right fellows! For them, fairness creams and lotions, promising to change the colour of their lives is not an essential part of their beauty kits. No, not any more. And, light is not lovely for them. Dark is beautiful, indeed. And they are simply proud of their chocolaty elegance. Many of you may still be in the dark about the brilliant reality, but it’s all there in black and white. Go to the college or varsity campuses and you will find pretty gals with deep tan complexion making the most of their lives in short spaghetti tops over low-rise jeans that scream “admire me”. Look at Neetu Sharma. The undergrad from a local college, is “pretty comfortable” with her refreshing appearance. She wears the colours she likes, passionate scarlet being her favourite.

“Some think dark is the colour of night. It is the shade of what is strange and secret in the human spirit. But I do not agree,” she asserts with a smile. “For me, dark is the colour of sensuality, exotica and intense emotion.”     

Fashion photographer Anuj Parti cannot help but agree with her. “Even now beauty parlours are playing colour politics with promises of bleaching the darkness away. And serials on the television are bringing to the fore colour discrimination by projecting the ups and downs in the lives of two pals — one dark and the other fair. But, the maidens nowadays are just not dissatisfied with their skin tones,” he says “And bringing about the change are a dozen of mega models and a handful of actors.”

Just in case you do not know, Nethra Raghuraman, Carol Gracias and Nina Manuel are among the models that showed light at the end of the tunnel. And now, city-based fashion choreographers like Jeet Brar have over half-a-dozen dark and dusky budding models eager to bloom on the ramp.

“Even the fashion market is getting less discriminatory,” he says. “For talent hunters from advertising agencies have started to realise that dark women photograph much better than the fair ones. They exactly know what Bipasha, Nethra and Kajol have achieved and are now making the masses realise that dark women are more exotic and sensual than some of their fair counterparts.”  Quoting examples, he says campaigns like Maybelline and L’Oreal have projected models as they are without digital touching or make-up that interferes with their complexion. “Times are changing indeed,” he says.

Now guys, you know beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, so don’t be blinded by colour.

Black Beauty

Black is beautiful. And it’s something that started in the US way back in the 1960s. The cultural movement aimed at dispelling the widespread notion in western cultures that black is not attractive. The movement also encouraged men and women to stop making attempts to lighten or bleach their skin.

 Sultry Charm

Bipasha recently claimed the title of the sexiest woman of Asia, for the second time, as announced by the British newspaper Eastern Eye. People chose her out of the list of 100 names published online and in the newspaper.

Dark Lady

There is a dark lady in Shakespeare’s sonnets. Since the 154 sonnets were first published four centuries ago, there has been constant speculation about the brunette who repeatedly appears in the later poems. Worldwide, Queen Sheeba, Nephrodite and Cleopatra are included in the list of black beauties. 

 Who is afraid of the cold?
There are ways to keep yourself warm & look chic on the D-day
Aman Minhas

You want to dazzle as a bride and you have the looks and resources to do so. But there is a hitch. It’s shivering cold and chances are that without the aid of warm clothes you might just turn blue. So, what do you do? Walk to the mandap shivering or look like a polar bear in a pile of woollens? No, you can’t compromise on your looks or health on your D-day. We’ll tell you to look like a million bucks and be warm too.

Start with the ensemble.“Chose heavy materials like brocades, raw silk, tissue and velvet, for they are thick as compared to the lightweight nets and chiffons,” says Babi Grewal of Babi-8. Thin materials provide least resistance to cold and even look awkward in winters.

The colours also plays an important role. Scientifically speaking dark colours absorb more heat. Red, green and maroon are not just the traditional bridal colours, but ideal for winter too. Moving to the designing bit. “Gold, zari and metallic embroidery is not suitable for winters. So line the outfit with a thick material like cotton instead of flimsy linen,” says Salil Gulati of Gulati’s-22. If you want a georgette or net outfit then go for a thick lining like jamawar.

Now so what if the Sonam Kapoor-starrer failed at the box office, it did good to our brides-to-be, by bringing back long sleeves . “A corset style choli with long Sawaariya style or churidaar sleeves will not let those goose pimples embarrass you,” says Bridal Asia CEO Divya. Or go in for deep neck and let the duppatta and jewellery cover the exposed area. Another safe suggestion is to wear inners under your lehnga. Also you can pin-up and layer the duppatta with a warm pashmina shawl. A shawl in the same colour as your lehnga and with similar embroidery will keep you cosy and look fancy too.

And even post wedding, look smart and not stuffed. Go in for reds, burgundy, blues, copper, gold. Or pick embossed velvet or raw silk. or achkan-style long coats Short jackets will look chic as well,” guides Ritu Kochar, INIFD director.

Remember that you should dress according to the season and a pretty looking but under-clad bride doesn’t leave a good impression.

 BIG ruled the roost
Bright colours, bold prints, trends of the 70’s, sequined kurtis, layered tops, skinny denims...the city sported it all
Aman Minhas


Fashion got bigger and better this year. Big shades, big bags and even big kalis in suits. All was indeed bigger. Even the fashion stretch was big. Everything seemed to work. Stretch jeans or straight fits, tank tops to the long kurtas and tunics, or long kurta or the long mughal cuts. There were a host of options for the fashion conscious breed to pick from!

Western Look

Be it malls, shops or even our reasonable patri market all had long tops and tunics hanging, waiting to be taken away. Kurtas and cotton no longer remained synonymous. Embellished with swaroski crystals and sequins, the kurtas in chiffons and georgettes and even crepes wrote a different story.

Bright colours and big prints made women and men buy shades that were considered too loud a couple of years back. Bright red, purple and dark green were no longer shades to shy from. Big belts and bigger buckles managed to survive another season and were worn not to keep trousers in place but to keep pace with fashion. Belts remind low waist denims and we are thankful that waists didn’t go down any further this year.

Lycra’s stretch qualities ruled. Stretch jeans and skinnies swept the young off their feet by making themselves available in all possible cuts.

As the mercury was rising so was the slim look and this craze is keeping the winters warm as well. Another rage was the glow stripes that one saw in shirts, t-shirts and trousers that lent a hint of jazz to whatever we wore.

Layering has never got bigger that this. If summers saw layered tops winters catered to layered and two piece sweaters. The trend wasn’t even spared by stoles and mufflers. They layered to keep us warm. Vaskets with halter necks in crochet, satin and denim came as a real pleasure. Ensuring spunk they serve dual purpose of wearing a vasket and layering.

Retro Fever

The making of OSO ignited a trend, much before it released, that 2007 will be remembered for — revival of the retro look of the 70s. The designers incorporated happening trends of the era in the latest materials, giving rise to to a rage.

Back came the Shashi Kapoor style bold printed shirts for men in the most striking colours, Leena Chandravarkar style big hair bands, Nanda style tight fitting churidaars, Sharmila style blouses with tie-ups at the back, Hema Malini style jet black hair and Zeenat Amman style big shades. And it was not just the attire; even the make up took a u-turn back to the 70s. Winged eyeliners, dark kohl smeared peepers, nude lips and oil-based foundations changed the party look!

Traditional Charm

The ding and bling was definitely ruling, not alone but with a lot of mix and match. Whereas last year the sequins, dabkas, goota patties and zardosi maintained a safe distance, this year they all came around to party. Seeing the embroidery clan making merry, the colour palette too joined in with all its brothers and sisters. So we saw long lost relatives like faun and turquoise coming together. But the major comeback was of the colour mustard. Wedding outfits to simple suits, mustard was all over the place. But amidst all this merry making and reuniting care was taken that nothing was over the top. Subtlety was the bottom line.

Short kurtas and staright cuts sabotaged the longer ones two years back not realising that life in the fashion industry is shortlived. Back came the long kurtas and how! It appeared as if the kalis and yolks and the long kurtas conspired against the short ones and ousted them. Mughal kurtas with shimmering brocade yolks and empire waists that reached almost the ankle didn’t leave any chances of survival for the short kurtis.

New Shades

The big shades that cover up the entire face were a runaway hit. Even the age old Tom Cruise favourite aviators too became big. Pink, red, yellow or for that matter any striking and sparkling colour was welcome as far as the shades were concerned.

Mane Concern

New rules were spelled out for the crowning glory. Streaking was striked away and overall colours became the unwritten law. The different and wilder the colour the better it would be.

So, the apprehensive reds and light browns and deep purples were embraced wholeheartedly. Just like long kurtas, long tresses have even managed to grab the spotlight once again.

 A proud achiever
Purva Grover

Twenty-two-year old Veena Parashar had just completed her masters in Psychology and Music when she appeared for the Delhi auditions of Filmy’s Bathroom Singer. A show for the search of a singer with a combination of singing and entertainment quotient, the Delhite sang Nayi nahi yeh baaten from Parineeta and secured first an entry and then a title in the show. We chat up the first girl winner of a reality show on Indian telly.

Richer by a whopping Rs 25 lakh prize money, a title in the kitty and a huge fan following eager to receive her back home in Delhi, the budding singer cannot help but giggle with excitement. “I’m happy to have fulfilled the dreams of my parents,” she says. And did she think she’d make it this far? “Initially no, but later as things progressed I decided to give my best to grab the title.”

On how it was facing a 38-year-old singer as a finalist, she says, “I respected him for sure, but on the show we were competitors.” And for the finale she sang her lucky Parineeta number and Aao na gale lagalo na.

A student of classical music for two years, she dropped her M.Phil (Music) to be part of the show. “It was the right decision. We underwent one-hour training and practiced for five hours each day,” she recalls.

So what made Bathroom Singer different from other talent hunts? “Our show didn’t see fights between judges or walkouts,” she says. “There was no politics, only encouragement,” as she puts it. Talk favouritism and she confesses, “I was Ravi Kishan and Shibani Kashyap’s favourite.” About her fave judge, Veena is politically correct, much like a star in the making, “I liked and learnt from all the three.”

So how does it feel to leave Mumbai after being a part of the show for four-months? “Oh, I’ll be back soon as a playback singer,” she smiles. And, what will she be singing? “Peppy numbers,” she says. On her wish list is an opportunity to sing with Asha Bhonsle and A.R. Rahman. And, till then it’s back to pursuing M.Phil in music.

 Through the eyes of Karun

It’s almost a decade since we have heard from him. When Naresh Kumar ‘Karun’ brought his paintings for an exhibition at the Government Museum and Art Gallery-10 in 1997, he exemplified the fact that if one has the potential and the right source of inspiration, nothing can stop one from excelling in a chosen field — not even a demanding teaching job in a college!

That’s what Karun stands for. His feelings of gratitude for his wife Samidha Shikha, who encouraged him ‘to do his own thing’, is still very much intact. So is his style of painting nature — capturing its the mystical elements and beauty in abstract form. And the good news is that we get to meet the artist and see his work during a five-day exhibition at Punjab Kala Bhawan-16.

“I am bringing 35 frames, all in acrylic on paper and canvas,” says Karun, who is excited about his solo exhibition in the city.

About his journey into the world of art, he says, “I have been painting since my childhood, but took it up seriously only in 1993, after my marriage.” He has widely exhibited not only in India but also abroad. He has dozens of solo and curated shows to his credit. Karun is also the winner of Best Artist Awards from All-India Fine Arts and Crafts Society, New Delhi and Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi. The exhibition titled Musings will be inaugurated on January 5.

Parbina Rashid

 Matka Chowk
Temporary Dwellers

Albeit real estate prices in Chandigarh are skyrocketing – almost toppling Manhattan prices, the boom in buying and building have reached a feverish, almost uncanny proportion. Nice old houses are being torn down in what seems like a heartbeat and ultra modern villas of almost obscene proportions are being erected in their place.

A number of new constructions are underway behind our house. Nothing seems to have been spared – the best tiles and woodwork, the fanciest stairways and porticos, the most opulent gazebos and terraced roofs are being constructed for what seems like an eternity – by an entire army of labourers – many of whom have come from outside Punjab and I believe, never had a house to live in.

When the construction began, I gritted my teeth in chagrin – for the deafening noise of bulldozing followed by the multitude of building sounds sent me reeling into my bedroom. Worst – the construction people did not care about when they started. They would start at six in the morning on a Sunday. They would continue even when the night guard has retired.

When the structure came up and started looking like a house without doors and windows and the noise subsided a little – I heard new sounds – a baby’s cry in the morning along with young voices singing unknown songs. As I peered over my balcony – I saw the new denizens of the empty house – some of the labourers were actually living there with their family. Little children played around amongst rubble and bricks despite the bitter morning cold. They had lit a fire – and some others sat hunched over it, stirring something in an earthen pot. The young wife in a pink saree and a heart shaped face, lit golden by the morning rays smiled coyly and whispered into her husband’s ears.

I sat sown on my plastic chair with a revelation. How must it feel for these homeless, indigent people to build arched hallways and spiraling staircases fitted with mahogany balustrades? We talk a lot about the building that is engulfing us – the outrageous amount being shelled out at auctions. Somehow, I have never thought of the people who spend months and sometimes years to create the house that we live in.

Since then, I have stopped gritting my teeth. I often observe from the verandah, the family chores that these people carry on – hanging up their sarees to dry in the sun, filling water in the evenings – the older siblings carrying around the crying infants. The house is almost done now. The final touches are being put. The prosperous owner is bringing in guests for a darshan. Soon, it will be time for them to move out – and find another job, another temporary shelter. If it were like the movies, the hardworking folks would end up with their mehnat ki kamai and get to live in a place of their own – with a real kitchen and make rotis on a tawa. I wonder if that would happen to these people?

 First Day First Show
Total letdown
Rajiv Kaplish

Showbiz: Avoidable

From the sublime to the ridiculous — a week sees it all. Seven days ago, stars descended on earth along with Aamir Khan. As Taare Zameen Par turned us into a community of stargazers, we realised may be it was not time to write an obituary of meaningful cinema. How wrong we were! We had not contended with the likes of Raju Khan who was miffed at us for not seeing the ugly of Bollywood in 2007.

We submit to his wishes. He takes it upon himself to shake our renewed faith in the dream factory and directs his ire at the media. News hungry TV channels, their over ambitious CEOs, cunning journalists and their yen for sensationalism form the core of his offering — Showbiz. But Khan also believes that there is no biz like showbiz and throws in a superstar, Rohan (debutant Tushar Jalota) and his girlfriend Mrinalini Sharma, who are fodder for the crafty media.

The result: A surfeit of meaningless song-and-dance sequences, skin show of the leading lady, the breaking up of Tushar and Mrinalini’s relationship after the hero’s involvement with a prostitute, their car accident and finally the lovers’ reunion after the sorting out of all misunderstandings.

Coming as it does from Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt, the flick is a big letdown. So obsessed are the makers with the idea of “exposing” the “wrongdoings” of newspersons that they do not hesitate from portraying them as blackmailers and ruffians who chase the hero, a la Princess Diana and Dodi, and force him to consume liquor when he lies soaked in blood after a car mishap. They then shoot his pictures to prove that he was drunk while driving. They enter into physical fights every now and then and flaunt guns at every possible opportunity.

The channel CEOs are always conspiring against each other, move along with armies of private security guards and behave more like mobsters than professionals.

Tushar Jalota is a washout. Though he does not fit the bill to be even a hero, the director shows him as a superhero of the glamour world. Mrinalini Sharma looks fetching. But she also fails to do anything worthwhile to mitigate our sufferings. Gulshan Grover and Saurabh Shukla jointly deserve the award for the worst performance of the year. Sukant Singh is the only one who is highly impressive as a devilish reporter. Thanks Khan, for showing us Bollywood’s (or, should we say your) ugly face.

Showing at: Nirman

A jumbled show
Hanuman Returns:

Hanuman Returns, the sequel to Hanuman — which its producers refuse to call as a sequel — fails to create the charm that Hanuman did, released almost two years earlier. Or, was it that we expected too much? Whatever be the reason, Hanuman Returns tries hard to impress, but fails miserably. This movie is an attempt to blend mythology with the present day world and to make kids see that ultimately good prevails over evil. 

The problem is of trying to showcase too many things —enlightening, mythology, naughtiness and humour — all at the same time. In the end, it leaves the audience nonplussed. Here, we see Hanuman, who has come to earth in the form of a small boy, trying to save the world from Rahu and Ketu — Shukracharya’s half serpent, half-human immortal creations. In the meantime, he also saves a boy from bullies and fights bandits. But the film has tried to raise a very important topic — of the devastation being caused by increasing pollution levels. However, what could have been an excellent medium to create awareness about environmental issues in children becomes a mere predecessor to the climax. Somewhere in the middle, we even have a bandit modelled on Sholay’s Gabbar Singh and a gorilla modelled around Shahrukh! Even the climax, comprising a celestial battle and unnecessary volcanic eruption, seems stretched. Although animation and artwork are good, one could not see any improvement over Hanuman. Kids might find the movie entertaining, but adults fail to digest Kashyap’s take on mythology. In short, the magic we felt while watching Hanuman seems to be missing in 
Hanuman Returns.  —TNS

Showing at: Kiran, Fun Republic

 Hollywood suffocates Keira

Keira Knightley has blasted Hollywood residents for leading a narrow-minded life. The Pirates Of The Caribbean star says that she could never survive in such a suffocating environment.

Though Knightley, who bagged a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in Atonement, has become a well-known name in Hollywood, she cannot bear to live amongst her movie-obsessed contemporaries. The British beauty has instead chosen to stay in London, as it offers so much more variety. “It’s a funny place. I could never live in Hollywood, because there’s nowhere to escape to. You find yourself sitting around a lot and every conversation you have is about the movies,”she said.

“I think you have to be in a city that has different walks of life that you can observe and for me, that’s London,” she added.


Stress Buster
Saurabh Malik

Call him Guru Stress Buster, or just a motivational speaker, Bangalore-based Anoop Kapoor tells you how proactive conscious living helps you cope up with day-to-day mental and physical stress that comes as an interest on fat pay packages.

Oh yes! For leaving you with a fresh and a relaxed feeling, he offers a healthy and a new concoction of sound breathing techniques, soothing meditation practices, time-honoured Indian philosophy and experiential learning.

All set to hold a workshop on stress management at Saini Bhawan, Sector 24, Chandigarh, on December 30, Kapoor says his techniques are holistic practices that conjoin the body, breath and mind to enhance physical, mental and spiritual well-being and personal growth.

As he talks, Kapoor leads you through his techniques into a calming experience that involves positive engagement of mind. “It not only helps you cope up with stress, but also leaves you feeling all the more energetic,” he says.

Kapoor with roots in this part of the region knows what he is talking about. After a top position in the demanding corporate world, he has been successfully holding workshops across the country for over a decade now to help people manage stress.

Ask him about transcending stress and he says it’s not really difficult once you adopt the right approach. “All that’s required is basic understanding of Indian philosophy and meditation practices. Once you know how the techniques function individually and in combination, you tend to gain the maximum out of it,” he asserts.

Kapoor claims his procedure is very different from the usual television stuff you are overdosed with. “Wellbeing exercises require time to relax and reflect. You just cannot perform a series of asanas for an hour or so daily after sitting in front of the small screen and stake your claim to wellbeing,” he says. Now, that’s what you call healthy and interesting.

 Write to Renee
at or C/o Lifestyle, The Tribune, Sector 29-C, Chandigarh

n I am 21-year-old and every relation I have had till date, be it family or others, has not been strong. I feel I am not important for anybody. I am not even confident. At home my hands shake if I do some housework because I think whatever I am doing is going wrong. This way I will have lot of trouble after marriage. Please advise.


Life is about joy and laughter, what are you stressing over. Most of the problems we carry in life are attitude problems. The moment you change your attitude, life changes. Learn to have faith in yourself. So try and give yourself love and remember only when you love yourself and accept yourself the world will love and accept you. All you need to do is change your views about yourself. The day you do that people will change their views about you. Confidence comes with knowing that you are sure of who you are.

n I am a 21-year-old girl who has come from Delhi to a small place in Punjab to study. Since my family comes from Punjab, it has always fascinated me to be a part of things over here. But now I find that I am not really able to relate to any of the other students. Boys seem to stay away thinking I am a big city girl and girls pass snide remarks. I am in a confused state, whether I go back to Delhi or stick here and learn about my culture and traditions. Please guide me.

Gunveer Kaur,

It is wonderful to know that youngsters like you are beginning take serious interest in their own culture. We all need to make a great effort to preserve our cultural heritage, but that can only happen if we will take serious interest. I am happy that you are actually making the effort to do that. Please do not be affected by people’s attitudes towards you. It always takes a while to get accepted in a new set up . If you ignore a few snide comments, I’m sure the others will finally stop treating you like an outsider. Indulging in your passion is important thing.

n I am an 18-year-old boy still trying to find my way in life, but I feel my parents have always tried to suppress me and make me do things their way. I have tried very hard to make them happy but nothing really seems to work. My father being an engineer wants me to follow his footsteps but somehow my heart lies in being a scientist. Do you think it would be fair on my part to shatter my father’s dream, as I am the only son? Please help

Sumit Malhotra,

Just follow your heart. I am sure when you excel in your particular field of work your parents will be very proud of you. Do not allow any of your frustrations to deter you from your main passion. It is good that you are so focused and know what you want. Do not hesitate and feel confused at all. Parents always think for your good but from their own perspective. If you can prove that you can excel in your field they will be more than happy.

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