Clones and classics
The Pussy Cat Dolls flaunted stylised saris on the red carpet in New York recently. The reinvented six-yard wonder sure is travelling far, but isn’t it also losing its original face in this journey? We check out
Ashima Sehajpal

Pussy Cat Doll: Nicole Scherzinger
Pussy Cat Doll: Nicole Scherzinger

The noodle strap blouses that Mandira Bedi flaunted while anchoring a cricket world cup TV show, were in the eye of a storm some years back. But today, those same skimpy tops are what make young ladies opt for. Yes, as we already know, it's not just the blouses have gone hip but the sari too has been reinvented. So much so, the five-member American rock band, Pussy Cat Dolls, walked the red carpet at a New York fashion show recently in black shimmering saris designed by Rocky S, and the ladies dazzled, quite literally.

Nearer home, we see the sensuous Shilpa Shetty wearing these stylised saris in the Bigg Boss show. Everything in the frames seems fine except for the fact that these 'saris' hardly look real.

As homegrown designer Dimpy Gujral puts it, "At times, the modification is so much that it seems saris have become more or less a western outfit." She doesn't mind the alterations though, as change is natural and is the demand of the day. "I believe that the clothes we wear reflect our personality and present day saris reflect the change in the personality of Indian women.

Today, the mindset has changed. People no longer raise eyebrows when a Bollywood hottie wears noodle strap blouses. But here is a word of caution, "Alterations are important to make Gen Y girls develop a liking for it, but we should be careful not to turn it into a vulgar garment." The costume known for its inherent grace is today worn with corsets and halter blouses and is even available in a stitched form.

The models too, who display the creations of various fashion designers, feel positively about the new variations. Aanchal Kumar, a renowned model from the city, opines, "If pants have undergone changes to become bell bottoms or straight fits, a slight adaptations in the shape and design of blouses is not a deal at all."

On the contrary, Nandita Bachhawat, a lecturer, holds the view that the sari as a traditional wear has lost its significance. "We wrap a sari around our body to cover ourselves, but now you see girls going for it because its stylised version aids more exposure.”

There are some people who feel experimenting with the look of saris is fine as far as it helps in increasing its popularity and feel that its westernisation is just a passing phase. Babi Grewal, a designer, shares the same thought, "The thing to be kept in mind while sporting such a sari is that one should be able to carry it with grace and confidence and have the body to flaunt it well."

She justifies the change in look of the sari, "Indian fashion is now going global. Indian designers are making clothes for Hollywood celebrities, which means that some westernisation of the Indian costumes, including the sari, is quite expected".

Building bridges with brushes
Parbina Rashid

Given a choice, Marion Colomer would rather paint than travel long distances to address huge gatherings or meet the Press. But then, when duty calls, she would not hesitate even for a moment to shake off that shy mantle of hers, and get into action. For, this 25-year-old French artist's purpose in life is not just to be a good artist but also build a cultural bridge between India and her own country, which she has been doing for the past three years.

This period has brought about quite a change in Marion's life, both on the personal front and professional. "India happened just on an impulse," says Marion, a little tired after her five hours' drive from Delhi and then getting things organised for a lecture-cum-slide show at the Government Museum and Art Gallery auditorium on her work and her perception of Indian and French art. We catch her at Alliance Francaise de Chandigarh -36.

Marion's knowledge of India was based on the usual beggars and snake charmers' stories that do the rounds in the West. Her first visit to India was with her teacher from her art school in Paris when a group of six landed up in Chennai to attend a workshop on banner making. So, when she came in 2004, her destination was Mumbai where she dabbled in making banners for films. She did not last long. She went back, only to come back in 2006 to New Delhi this time and here she is, spending nine months in the capital and then remaining three months in her native place. "I'm not ready to go back yet," she laughs. "Well, being a foreigner one feels a little unsafe in Delhi in comparison to Mumbai, but there is so much to do here," she confides. Her 'so much' involves exploring the Indian sensibilities and blending it with that of French. "This is how I want to build a cultural bridge," she avers. The huge frames, which are on display at the Alliance Francaise Art Gallery, says it all - in her portraits the concept of colour comes from the West while the motifs and embroidery (yes, she embellishes her figures with real embroidery and patch work) is all Indian.

"I started painting street people from my own locality, Malviya Nagar, and then I graduated to the royalties and well-known personalities, but now I am mostly choosing my subjects from the middle strata," she says. That's because first, interacting with all kinds of people is opening up a self-learning process and second, the West may have a very romantic viewpoint when it comes to India, with all its maharajas, palaces and all, but life has its own complexities here, and as an artist, that is exactly what she will be trying to convey to the world.

Turbaned heroes seem to be the current flavour of films. After Akshay in Singh is Kinng, Salman and Saif head in the same direction
Sanjay Ganjoo

Turbaned Sikhs as central characters seem to the flavour of Bollywood films these days. After Akshay Kumar donned the role of a Sikh in Singh is Kinng, which has done reasonably well at the box office, it's now the turn of Salman Khan and Saif Ali Khan, who will be seen in turbans.

Salman is playing the role of a Sikh soldier in the upcoming multi-starrer film Heroes while Saif Ali Khan is busy shooting in Patiala for opposite Deepika Padukone in an upcoming film.

Actor Mangal Dhillon says Sikhs should be proud of these characters.

"Akshay did very well in Singh is Kinng and that seems to have prompted filmmakers to have their main characters as Sikhs. The positive thing about this trend is that turbaned Sikhs with beard are being cast as central characters and all Sikhs should be proud of this," says Dhillon, who has acted in many Bollywood films and television soaps.

"It is also a sharp contrast from the past when Sikhs were often portrayed as clowns, jokers or alcoholics.

"It clicked for Sunny Deol in films like Gadar-Ek Prem Katha and Jo Bole So Nihaal and it has been the case again in Singh is Kinng. And so other top actors are hoping their films will be success. In Heroes Salman also grew his beard to sport a real look. His respect for the turban made him stay away from cigarettes," says Dhillon. — PTI

Wear a cause on your wrist
Six endangered animal species have inspired a watch collection 
Manpriya Khurana

Another company. Another cause. And we love social causes. Specially, when it involves some endangered species, we can’t stop raving about it. So please excuse any digression from objectivity! On Monday, Titan launched its WWF (World Wildlife Fund) collection of watches inspired by some of the endangered species.

The collection, consisting of just 13 watches, makes up in its quality for what it loses in quantity. And with colours ranging from black to light green, it certainly has the potential to cater to a wide range of clienteles. The best part, each piece is inspired by and named after one of the six endangered species, namely, tiger, rhino, the Gangetic river dolphin, the red panda, whale shark and Red River panda. Who needs to visit a zoo?

We’ve always liked the famous trademark Titan tune, and now that it’s singing a corporate responsibility tune we would like to know more about it. Sandeep Badoni, ASM, Punjab, fills in, “Our main endeavour is to spread awareness about highly endangered species. And these watches reflect not just the six species we’ve named but the whole of endangered species. These 13 watches are only symbolic.” And he likes to add, there are only 300 Gangetic river dolphins are in existence.

Their target segment? He says, revealing the red panda watch that he was wearing, “We want to target the segment that feels for such a cause.” Quite an innovative way to spread across the message. Any other way in which they are doing their bit? Says Sandeep, “For our packaging, we are making use of biodegradable materials.” He further adds, “This is not the first time our company has employed deaf and dumb people in manufacturing units. Our Baddi plant holds the world record for using minimum amount of water.” Quite impressive! And does he feel corporate association with causes can make a difference? “Why not? The more the merrier. More and more companies need to come forward and adopt causes,” comes the reply.

Only one apprehension, hasn’t the advent of cell phone reduced the popularity of watch? He smiles, “Watch is not just a utility piece. It is an accessory and a fashion statement.” To prove his point he displays the collection that comes fully loaded with features like sweat absorbent, sleek designs and beautiful engravings of animals in its body.

The collection is priced between Rs 3,000 and Rs 3,800. So, here is your opportunity to make a fashion statement and be socially responsible at the same time. Wrist some control. 

Gem packed
Manpriya Khurana

If there’s one thing that’s associated with a wedding as much as the groom and the bride itself, it’s the jewellery! With the heavy-duty wedding season ahead, it’s again that time of the year when families scout for ornaments, the bride is even ready to make a trip to the Bermuda triangle to get that ‘perfect ring’ and the groom finds it tougher than quantum physics to find something ‘just right’ for his gal. To solve most of the problems of demanding customers, Sant Ram Mangat Ram, a city-based jeweller, launched a five-day Volcanic Wedding Collection in Chandigarh on Monday, showcasing 250 pieces.

Volcanic? The name of a collection? Answers Rajan Jain, the man behind the project, “Volcanic means dhamaka.” Elaborating on it, he says, “The whole of the collection has been crafted by us. But the detailing, manufacturing, etc has been done in different parts of the country like Mumbai, Kolkata, to give the authentic touch.” That’s not all. As many as 625 manhours went into its production.

The exhibition consists of pendant sets, chandelier earrings, cocktail rings, bangles and bracelets. Priced between Rs 50, 000 and Rs 25, 00, 000, it certainly is not affordable. The pieces include not just white but coloured diamonds as well. What about gold’s popularity, given its spiralling prices? He adds, “The yellow metal is hardly anywhere to be seen in European and American countries .”

The man says he has been in the business for 48 long years. So what changes has he noticed in the jewellery buying tastes in the city? He answers, “There have been perceptible changes in the residents’ tastes. Earlier, people focussed more on buying jewellery for storing purposes, now it’s more for wearing.” “Nowadays, the girls themselves come and select 80 per cent of their wedding pieces.”

So what are the trends for the season? “Jewellery of the Indo-western kind, with precious and semi-precious stones, is going to be in.” 

Models on malfunctions

The models, dressed in black, and posing readily for the jewellery exhibition, might not be the Ujjwala Rauts or the Naomi Campbells, but they had something to say on serious issues, much like seasoned professionals. Jonsi, a Bachelor’s in fashion designing from NIFD, has done shoots for Tanishq, Trendz besides shows in Delhi and Ludhiana. So, what’s her take on the wardrobe malfunctions that happen? Without flinching, comes the reply, “I think, at times, they are publicity gimmicks. They’re not good and should not happen.” Nice to get politically incorrect answers.

The other model, Kamal Gill, is a graduate with lots of prints and two commercials in her kitty. The girl might not be from city but loves its quiet and greenery. On the size-zero fad, she says, “It’s unhealthy. At least I eat and am also trying to put on weight.” That’s refreshing.

Healthy move

Lifestyle disorders are reaching serious proportions in urban living today. Although Chandigarh used to pride itself for being a small, green and clean town with almost negligible levels of pollution, the scenario is fast changing. The city is emulating the metros very quickly, with all the evils that lead to lifestyle disorders, the most basic of them being stress. Be it commuting through endless traffic or long working hours or tempting junk/quick food outlets or EMIs that allow you to live a life larger than your means, or even bringing up a child in a highly competitive scenario, the stress levels in urban existence are the real killers. It is due to the rapidly changing synthetic lifestyles that cardiac disorders are mounting by the day, and are prevalent in a much younger age group than a decade ago.

It was to deal with these and other disorders that Fortis Hospital, Mohali, started a two-day World Health Mela on its premises on Monday. Visitors to the event got a first-hand view of the latest advancements in the health arena. They were able to get a wide variety of health-related information as well as get free tests done. According to Dr. Ashok Chordiya, its medical director, “Our objective was to bring, under one roof, a wide gamut of information that would help the patients. This would help increase awareness of health-related issues and benefit the community.”  A large number of stalls were put up.

These included stalls by the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition, Clinic Rejuve, Fortis City Centre, Department of Nursing, Pharmacy, Department of Physiotherapy, Saffola and AHA.

 According to Dr T.S. Mahant, executive director, Cardio Thoracic and Vascular Surgery, Fortis, Mohali, “Cardiac ailments are not uncommon anymore in the age groups of the twenties and thirties too, and stress is a major factor for this”. — TNS

Light relief

As a photographer, Swarnjit Savi wanted to disseminate every concept of this art form, that photography is a technique of recording pre-existing subjects. His frames, which are on display at Government Museum and Art Gallery, do not show any object. He plays with light to bring out its abstract nature.

As many as 55 photographs on display under the banner ‘The Dancing Line’ have been clicked in and around Ludhiana but, as we said before, no familiar landmarks or city scenes are to be seen here.

Using a Sony R1 10 mega pixel camera, Savi went on chasing the lines that only light could create.

A poet, artist and photographer, Savi gives equal emphasis to colour. “As for technique, I just use slow-apparatus technique,” says Savi. Earlier, he had exhibited an extensive series on nature called the ‘Talking Tree’ in Delhi. — TNS 

Gay grant

Hollywood filmmaker Steven Spielberg has donated $100,000 to a campaign to keep gay marriages legal in California.

Spielberg and his wife Kate Capshaw gave the cash to the anti-Proposition 8 campaign, which helps activists oppose a high-level state vote to ban same-sex marriages, reports

The vote is due to take place during the upcoming November 2008 elections. "By writing discrimination into our state constitution, Proposition 8 seeks to eliminate the right of each and every citizen in our state to marry regardless of sexual orientation. Such discrimination has no place in California's constitution, or any other," the couple said in a statement.

Gay marriages were legalised in the state in May 2008.

Actor Brad Pitt has reportedly donated $100,000 for the campaign.

Scarlett gets knotty

Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson has married actor Ryan Reynolds in a quiet wedding ceremony in Canada. The 23-year-old actress tied the knot on Saturday at a remote resort outside Vancouver, British Columbia.

The wedding guests included Johansson's mother Melanie Sloan and her brother Adrian Johansson, her representative confirmed.

The couple began dating in the spring of last year shortly after Reynolds split from then fiancée, singer Alanis Morissette, and announced their engagement on May 5 this year.

Scarlett Johansson has earlier dated actors Josh Hartnett and Jared Leto.— IANS

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