Creative vision
It is these special children from various schools in the city who make Diwali brighter for many of us and how!
Neha Walia

Festive season is a special time of the year. Special for special reasons, but one thing that this season of lights and delights does is to spreading the feel of joy, especially among these specially abled students from the city who through their creativity light up the celebrations for many.

Well, their joy comes in moulds and matkis, self made candles, diyas and traditional crafts that is an essential part of Diwali. “Candle making and earthen lamps have become signature element for us. What started as a vocational activity has now become an important trade and a special skill for these students,” says K.R. Sood, secretary cum principal, Institute of the Blind-26. The seasonal activity of crafting Diwali candles and diyas has now turned into a serious undertaking, both for the institute and the children. Apart from encouraging and developing special skills in the children, it has become a symbol of their independence. And they master something that needs expertise in both, hands and minds. “Right from heating the wax to putting it into the moulds and cooling them in cold water tubs, everything is done by our children. Though the process of heating the wax is little risky, so we make sure that the older children who are partially sighted do it under the supervision of our teachers,” informs K.R Sood. The candles are made from pure wax, probably a better option than the toxic ones sold in the name of the festival. “It is something that we don’t do for business. It’s an effort to promote creative activities of our students,” says Anagtha Soman, principal, Vatika School for Deaf and Dumb-19. Floating candles, in all shapes and sizes, they have a room for variety as well. Small earthen lamps with holes and patterns in between, ethnic hanging clay lamps and wax lamps become the epicenter of their artistry. Work starts 15 days well in advance, “Teachers and students both are a part of this activity and the enthusiasm of the students is worth watching. Once they are through with the manufacturing part, they let their creativity loose by decorating them with lots of embellishments and colours. The younger kids help out with wicks and the older ones are actually involved in making the candles,” adds Soman. Though the profits go into the school funds, their work has been displayed at better platforms too. “We have our stalls at the annual CII fair, earlier exhibitions like Oktober fest at Mountview, Vanity Fair at Whispering Willows, Chandigarh Club and various other events. It helps in increasing our funds as well as bringing appreciation to the children’s skills,” says Soman.

The buzz may be seasonal, the items short on shelf life, but what lingers on is the feeling of being a part of some ‘special’ festivities.

Light moment
They may not be able to see, but these children bring us light
Gagan K. Teja

Floating candles in different colours and designs, especially animal shaped ones, are a big hit with the city kids and guess what make these candles really special- the hard work of special kids who have been working since two months to manufacture these candles- not only out of interest but also to run their school in a better way.

While the entire Patiala city is planning to have a blast this Diwali, the kids of Patiala School for the Deaf and Blind, Saifdipur (behind Punjabi University), Patiala, are busy manufacturing candles for their self dependence and dignity. This school with a strength of around 150 is managed by the Society for the Welfare of the Handicapped and the government does not provide any aid for running this institute.

Throwing a light on this project, school principal Renu said the work begins two months before Diwali. “We purchase 10 quintals of wax each year and teachers and students together start making these candles to be sold near the festival. The enthusiasm of the students is worth watching. They take out moulds, start cleaning them and ones they are through with the manufacturing part, they decorate it further to make it more attractive.” She adds, “They make candles in almost 50 designs, and many are floating ones. After that they fix appointments with big city schools and put up stalls for the sale of these.” Rajni and Salma, both teachers of this school, said the response of the schools was overwhelming. “With a large number of candles sold each day, it acts as a morale booster for these special kids. Also, the other kids get inspired when they see the work of these kids.”

Col Karaminder Singh, secretary for the society, informed that Punjab Government till four years back was giving them a grant of Rs. 15,000 per annum whereas their monthly expenditure was Rs 2.5 lakh. “We asked them to give us a suitable grant or stop it entirely and now we haven’t received even a single penny in four years. We have now put written to the Government of India and hopefully we would get suitable grant to run our school, he added.

But still the kids are having fun and so are the teachers. And the end result for the children and teachers who participate is satisfaction and word of appreciation.

Chiraag couture
The humble diya has gone so very designer that it can even burn a hole in your pocket! Sample its myriad shapes and styles…
Jigyasa Kapoor Chimra

— Photo: Parvesh Chauhan
— Photo: Parvesh Chauhan

— Photo: Vinay Malik
— Photo: Vinay Malik

Nothing quite says light better than the flicker of candle and glow of a diya. Lending that flavour of festivity, creating warmth, hope, relaxation and comfort, it's the candle and diyas that spell Diwali for us Indians. And since the D-Day is approaching near, we explore what's best in the market.

Diya dazzle

Reflecting ancient traditions and design sense, clay diyas reflect the art and craft of India. Crafted in various shapes, sizes and designs, these days you can even find mitti ka diya embedded with zari and mirror work. Well, that's not all, some imaginative diyas have sharply cut edges also, and are filled with bright coloured wax. It is available in different shape and sizes like China leaves and shaped roses, Parvati Ganesha lamp shapes etc. All these beautiful style of diyas come in vivid colours like golden, blue, yellow, pink, silver, red etc. Available at Leepakshi, an exhibition at Lajpat Rai Bhavan-15 (till October 12), there is some great variety to be explored. Says Rawal an exhibitor of clay items at the exhibition, "Clay items are always liked and when it comes to Diwali, people definitely buy some pieces of clay diyas for shagun." Available with him are jaduai deepak, Ganesha diya stands, hanging diyas etc. And the price range starts from Rs 25 onwards.

If you are looking for a lalten (lantern) then at the exhibition you can also a pick wrought-iron lalten where you can place a diya inside for a traditional yet contemporary look. This lalten is priced at Rs 900.

That's for the traditional stuff but nowadays designer diyas are also available in the market, which has the aesthetic appeal with imaginary crafting. Colourful and stylish, these diyas are high on design and packaging. Available at various shops in the city you can look for some slick pieces at Archies-22, Dollar Shop-35 etc.

My friend Ganesha: This diya stand will bring light into darkness
My friend Ganesha: This diya stand will bring light into darkness. — Photo: Vinay Malik

Candle in the wind

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness, runs a popular adage. And since it's Diwali, there is variety waiting. From desi to designer ones, they are the most popular decorative idea that can spell creativity with elegance. Available in different shapes and designs depicting animals, flowers, birds, popular figures etc, it's the aromatic candles that are in vogue these days. While the variety available can leave you wanting for more, you can check out Dream Home Store-26, Rosebys, FabIndia-8, Empire Stores-17 etc for some good-looking candles.

Glow slow

Electrical lights is another option that quite catches fancy during Diwali. However, the deluge of options in the market ensures you can make your pick from T-lights, to hanging lights and piped runners to light up your homes.

Shops all over the city right from the bustling Shastri Market-22 to rehri market-19 and inner sector markets in the city are brimming over with electrical lights to suit ever pocket. These start at a modest Rs 25 and go up to Rs 200 for the more fancy options, which include coloured bulbs, silk lights, flowers and smiling daisies, Chinese lanterns etc. Available at almost all electrical shops in the city, electrical lights are the most popular options largely due to economical pricing and the varied options available.

"A very popular option in this range is the piped lighting," says Rajesh, who runs an electrical goods shop in sector 35 market. Available in the range of Rs 150 onwards these piped lights can be used easily along the walls and are great for lighting up exteriors of houses. So, go light up you homes.

Vanity flair
The bi-annual event is back once again with almost the same stuff but new packaging
Jigyasa Kapoor Chimra

It was Vanity (Fair) once again, an bi-annual exhibition of Indo-western wear, accessories, artifacts, home accessories and more at Whispering Willows, Zirakpur. More or less the same affair every year with minute changes here and there, the fair sees almost the same faces, of buyers and sellers. Well, that’s not imperative as the exhibition pulls a mass crowd.

So, the exhibition that was all decked up with fancy stalls and smart decors, on one side we had flowing fabrics, twinkling trinkets, shiny handbags and chic footwear, along the other was home décor and elegant artifacts. But what we have for you is something that was different than the usual.
Plum Pleasure: This dress from Ruxsim will sure make you stand out in the crowd
Plum Pleasure: This dress from Ruxsim will sure make you stand out in the crowd

Crystal calling: From diya stands to candle pieces, at Rupan’s stall you can pick stuff made from white metal, brass and even crystals
Crystal calling: From diya stands to candle pieces, at Rupan’s stall you can pick stuff made from white metal, brass and even crystals.

Pret & couture

A paradise for shoppers, here you can pick anything from tunic to kurtis to skirts, saris, suits and tops. But what we found interesting was woolen and cotton tunics from Huns. Smart and elegant, with smart motifs and little embellishment these wool kurtis came in varied hues like red, black, peacock blue etc. Priced at Rs 1500 and above, they definitely make for a smart wear.

Since winters are drawing near, another stall that attracted our attention was of Jyotsna Gokhale from New Delhi. She has hand knitted sweaters and accessories with her. Wool was on our mind, so a stall by Mona Jawandha Chahal, from city added to the charm. Here we saw pashmina stoles and kurtis made of it.

Well, if you are looking for some heavy embroidered and embellished stuff in fabrics, Nirwana by Poonam Nirwan is the stall to look out for. RUXSIM, a label by designers Simrit Tiwana and Rukmani Singh has its display for the first time.

The label is based on the use of vibrant colors, construction techniques such as fluting pleating and ruching, surface embellishments and detailing in harmony with one another.

Simrit has worked with garment designers such as Ranna Gill, Suneet Verma and Meera and Muzzafar Ali as well as French accessory designers Jamin Puech. She has also worked on a designer bag collection under the name of Stanley Joseph.

Bag the deal

The exhibition has some good collection of handbags, footwear, belts and jewellery. More in vibrant hues, it was a riot of colours in this section, but what we found a little different from others was a stall named ANZ by Asif and Nazia Merchant. They had some interesting potlis and clutches in brocade, sequins and pearls. And the best was their clutch made out of corals. Says Asif, “This design of mine has been featured in London also.”

Talking trinkets, Sirjana has some wonderful trinkets in traditional and contemporary designs. Silver and gold-based, check this out for some fab earrings, bangles etc.

Flower power: Beautiful stepping stones from Vatsal Chhaya to brighten your garden path
Flower power: Beautiful stepping stones from Vatsal Chhaya to brighten your garden path.

Butterfly effect: These butterfly sticks can sure turn your garden into nature’s paradise
Butterfly effect: These butterfly sticks can sure turn your garden into nature’s paradise.

Wood and more

Home décor is one field where this fest scores. With ample stuff for your home, here you can pick furniture, decoration pieces, candles and even garden accessories and plants.

If you are looking for bed linen than Home & More is the stall to look out for. From apni city, they have smart range of bed linen and tablecloths and for designer bed-spreads, quilts, table linen and curtains look out for Rasberrie.

The Art Treasure stall is another stall where you can have your fill of stylish artifacts. Though it could burn a hole in your pocket they definitely have things zara hatke.

Since its festive season and apart from your home you would like to bedeck you garden too, the stall of Exotic wraps has some trendy glass lamps, laltens, candle stands etc.

For furniture, look out for Sohrab’s stall. Furniture in wood and wrought iron here you can pick easy chairs, coffee tables, wine holder stands, pot holders etc.

Candles, they were everywhere. From designer to aromatic here you can pick candles for your whole family. In willow bazaar, Rupan’s stall showcased diya stands, candle pieces and other artifacts made from white metal and brass. From the designer diya stands that looked like chandeliers to terracotta ones embedded with mega crystals, there was a blend of styles and mediums.

Whither willows!
What do the well-heeled do when they find no space for their wheels…
Chetna Keer Banerjee

Oh October! These damsels save themselves from the scorching sun with this designer Jaipuri umbrella
Oh October! These damsels save themselves from the scorching sun with this designer Jaipuri umbrella.

Call it plastic Punjabiyat or a scene that’s quintessentially Yash Chopra: glamour queen descending into sarson ke khet to do a Dil Bole Hadippa.

Well, we’re not talking of film shoots here but of the scene from the bi-annual presentation, Vanity Fair. The warm Saturday morning saw all the tricity’s varnished vanity taking the road to what has now become the destination for the well-heeled and well-wheeled.

Alas! The ride’s becoming bumpier by the year, thanks to the builder brigade that cares less for willows that whisper and more for coins that clang loud. The jungle of concrete that’s engulfed this stretch of willows left little space for all those hot wheels—Toyotas, Lancers and what not that ferried our moneyed denizens---to find respectable parking position. Poor those pedicured and pedigreed heels had to descend from their luxe wheels into what is left of the humble paddy fields in the vicinity. Now that’s designer heels digging into a dash of desipann, a la Kareena in the desi beats commercial.

As for all the skin show on display, from the spaghetti straps to tube tops, do we blame it on localised triggers like peer pressure, demonstration effect or on matters more universal, like global warming? Well, going by the blazing October sun, it was either the sizzling babes at the event that set the temperature soaring or the mercury that sent the necklines plunging.

To screen all that celestial sizzle, the chicks unfolded the best in brolly couture. From embroidered umbrellas to glam glares, they were a sight to behold.

And the concrete-encased willows did little to soothe the scorching. Wither the willows!

Crack the fun
Eco-friendly crackers make a mark

Abhishek Bajpai

The anti-cracker campaign in run up to Diwali has grown over the years and sensing which way the wind is blowing, firecracker manufacturers have come up with an "eco-friendly" version which will let you enjoy the festival without worrying about the cost to the nature.

"People have become aware of environmental issues, so we have introduced a wide range of eco-friendly crackers which are safe, non-polluting and cheaper," Gulsher Azad, who runs a wholesale business, told PTI. Additional Director General of Police Shailjakant Mishra, who is spearheading the anti-cracker campaign, said as per rough estimates, crackers worth Rs 30 crore go up in smoke in the state capital every year. "Other than money, the amount of noise and air pollution, besides waste created by the firecrackers on Diwali poses serious threat to the environment and human health," he said.

"The Supreme Court norms, limiting the intensity of crackers at 125 decibels, are being flouted with impunity which can affect hearing ability of a person," he said. Azad, however, claimed that unlike traditional fire-crackers, which emit smoke and fire, these eco-friendly crackers work on vacuum method. —PTI

Dragon in less demand
Dim demand for Chinese decoratives this Diwali

The global slowdown seems to have held back the colourful Chinese dragon that used to rule Diwali shopping in the national capital.

The confetti of cheap Chinese goods like electric streamers, gift items, idols of Hindu deities like Ganesha, Lakshmi and Shiva, crockery and other decoratives in the markets has failed to spark demand, unlike the preceding years.

In fact, traders in Sadar Bazaar, the biggest wholesale market in North India, had placed far less orders in anticipation of the demand slump.

"This time the market is very dull because of the slowdown. Not only have there been less arrivals of Chinese goods in the market, the traders are concentrating more on selling off their previous years' stocks," Sushil Agarwal,a trader, said. He said in the previous years Sadar Bazaar looked abuzz with Diwali trading, a month in advance. "Traders from Punjab, Haryana and J&K came here to procure these goods. But now the regional traders form groups and get the Chinese goods delivered to save costs," Bari Market Traders Association Chief Paramjit Singh Pamma said. Security and parking concerns also discourage them to come to Delhi. — PTI

Discount deal
Tribune News Service

India’s third largest PC brand Acer today announced the launch of its special Diwali offer. This Diwali, Acer, offers its customers great cash back on purchase of Aspire Notebooks across India.

As per this offer, customers can avail a discount of Rs. 1000 on all Aspire series of Notebooks.

Announcing Acer’s Diwali initiative, S. Rajendran, CMO Acer India said, “The cash back offer, is Acer’s way of brightening up homes during the festival of lights. Acer aims to be a part of each individual household celebrating Diwali, by extending this exciting offer.” In keeping with the company’s philosophy of offering cutting edge technology at mainstream prices, Acer has been rolling out exciting offers for its end customers all through the year. The Diwali cash back offer enables customers to avail better price with superior technology, on Acer’s notebooks.

This limited period offer, valid from October 8 to 20.and is available only on the Aspire series of notebooks across all Acer brand stores and LFRs, which may in select cases run alternative offers which would equal the present offers during the time period.

Spinning wheels of words
Art lovers eulogise Inderjeet Singh Hasanpuri as an epoch-making Punjabi writer
SD Sharma

Inderjeet Singh Hasanpuri
Inderjeet Singh Hasanpuri

Atul Sharma
Atul Sharma

After the legendary Punjabi poet Nand Lal Noorpuri, none of the Punjabi lyricists have elicited as much admiration of art lovers as the invincible poet Inderjeet Singh Hasanpuri, whose sudden demise marks the end of an era of meaningful lyricism in Punjabi. A prolific author of about sixteen books of poetry, prose and children literature; story, screenplay writer and filmmaker Inderjeet appeared on the Punjabi lyrical firmament way back in 1959 with his first anthology of songs, Ausian and reigned supreme as film lyricist, poet and prose writer. All his writings are reflective of his own life struggles from the age of 15 when he lost his father, a contractor in Delhi and constrained to settle at his ancestral house in a sleepy village of Hasanpur near Ludhiana. He did petty jobs before starting a painter shop for livelihood but his passion for writing songs remained paramount in his life. It was the compelling charm of his innate songs, weaved close to the pulse and heart beat of Punjabi pastoral life which found instant popularity with the masses, connoisseurs, local folk singers and the Bollywood singers. Sample the popular hits Kurti mulmul di, dhai din na jawani nal rehndi sung by ghazal singer Jagjit Singh and charkha mera rangla, vich sone dian mekhan by Chitra Jagjit Singh, Gadba chandi da immortalized by Punjabi nightingale Surinder Kaur. Why the lyrical gems created by Hasanpuri in sixties still retain their superlative elegance notwithstanding the subsequent influence of modern trends? Here are the opinions expressed by some of the personalities in the field music.

"There is no dearth of talented lyricists but somehow the content of their songs lack the social responsibility, failing to uphold moral and humanistic values unlike Hasanpuri's creations," observes Shamsher Singh Sandhu, prominent Punjabi songwriter and winner of the President's award winning Kachehari. "In fact, it was an impassioned obsession for writers to sculpt songs for magazines, albums or films but over the years, unfortunately, it has been turned into a mandi where the commercialisation over rides the ethics," says Sandhu. Normally the songs are not considered to be a literary creation but the songs by Hasanpuri had the literary touch being free from double meaning menace. "His versatility lies in embellishing his otherwise romantic songs with either a social, religious or patriotic message which made him a class apart," he adds. "His recitation of own ambiguous poetry at mushairas was a treat to watch," recalls Haryana Sahit Akademi awardee poet Gurbax Saini.

Dolly Guleria, acclaimed Punjabi singer recalls discussing about the humble Hasanpuri with her mother, legendary Surinder Kaur before recording any of his new compositions. Both never compromised on quality of lyricism and the result were just smashing hits. "But being into literary singing, I somehow felt otherwise about the dominating rustic flavour in his songs," opined Dolly. "Nevertheless, Hasanpuri ji was a genius and dedicated artists put him in high regard in India and abroad."

Recalling his association with Inderjeet Hasanpuri, well known music director Atul Sharma, veteran of ten feature films and over 5000 albums, observed that he had a profound knowledge of Urdu poetry and prosody (Arooz). "Besides me, other composers too felt his capability to amend the lyrics to music parameters at the spur of the moment but not disturbing the basic theme while in a recording session," claims Atul Sharma.

"Working with Inderjeet Hasanpuri in recording studio was always a learning experience, " recalls Kanwar Iqbal, noted music director of 20 Punjabi feature films including a Hindi. "His vision and literary prowess were remarkable as his single couplet could reflect the song theme with gamut of emotions," says Kanwar, citing a prestigious T-Series project Mele dian raunkan. "He could immaculately depict the Lok rang shelly in a film song. Most of the modern writers must study literature deeply and rise above the commercial considerations to emulate the legends of Hasanpuri," signs off Kanwar Iqbal.

Something for everyone

What all are you looking forth to buy on Diwali? Clothes, home décor stuff, furniture, handicrafts, crockery, eatables…just about everything is available at the Diwali shopping cum kids festival on at Sector 34. A must check here is Aditi Kalakriti, which has on display a variety of artwork. Designer pottery, miniature paintings, mina kari, glass etching, wax murals and textile designing works are available here. The range of the paintings is very reasonable up to Rs 7000. "We expect a lot of buyers for Kinhal art, which finds its origin in Orissa and mostly has paintings of Radha Krishna", informs Monica Sharma Abha of Aditi Kalakriti.

— Photos: Vinay Malik
— Photos: Vinay Malik

The silk, woolen and synthetic carpets at the Indian Carpet industries stall here will sure attract many customers. "It is usually in the beginning of the winter season that people change their upholstery. We have carpets in all colours to complement the interiors of any house," says Nizammuddin Ahmed.

Woolen clothes, pashmina shawls and suit pieces, silk dressing materials at the FH Pashmina stall and Gulmohar Handicrafts here reflect the weavers' skill of Kashmir.

Ceramic crockery from UP is another attraction. One can buy from here a set of six cups in just Rs 40. Also check out the dry flowers at the Nagaland stall. Furniture in teak and brass, calls for some attention too. — TNS

Confessions of an icon
On his 67th birthday, the Big B of Indian cinema shares his ups and downs; highs and lows with Lifestyle

Amitabh Bachchan Completing four decades in acting is not an easy task. By the blessings of almighty and unending love and affection of countless admirers I have been able to sail through all these years. No, I will certainly not call myself a mega star or the most prolific actor of the nation. Motilal, Balraj Sahni, Dilip Kumar, Uttam Kumar and Shivaji Ganesan are far superior to me talent wise. So was Sanjeev Kumar who was the best parallel actor of the 70s and 80s.

My height and voice, which are attributed as my greatest assets now, were my liabilities in my initial days. My voice was rejected by All India Radio, and I was thought to be an absolute misfit as an actor. A series of humiliations and insults inspired me to prove my worth and reach the top. The x-ray eyes of Mrinal Sen noticed my talent and he used my voice in the background of his classic, Bhuvan Shome. Satyajit Ray very well used my voice to deliver the background narration for Shatranj Ke Khiladi. I was to have acted in an English film, written and directed by Ray in the middle 80s, based on the Bhopal gas tragedy. Due to government pressures Ray abandoned the ambitious project. Till date I lament I could not work with internationally reputed directors like Ray and Sen.

The journey of Amitabh Bachchan the actor from Saat Hindustani and Anand is nationally known. There is nothing new to say about it. I really miss the masterly Hrishikesh Mukherjee who cast me as the true common man in my earlier days as well as in the late 70s and 80s. Here was a director to whom no actor was larger than the script. He cast me in films like Anand, Abhiman, Namak Haram and Chupke Chupke films, which I cherish in my memory. These were the films for families and not the multiplex oriented audience. I really regret I cannot perform the common man anymore as my image has become too powerful to break. I still don’t understand why a brilliant film like Alaap flopped so badly.

The label ‘Angry Young Man’ given to me by the media is something I abhor. Yes, I achieved popularity with my angry, intense performances in films like Zanjeer, Deewar, Sholay, Adalat, Trishul and Shakti. But why call me an Angry Young Man? I have performed serious, comic, action and simple family characters in many films. It is insulting to call Dilip Kumar a mere tragedy king and Raj Kapoor just the tramp. They proved their abilities far beyond such images. Even Dev Anand did prove very well in Hum Dono and Guide that he was not merely a chocolate hero.
There has been a lean phase in my career from the late 80s to the middle 90s. I must admit not all my films are memorable. It is wrong to say that a film is good just because my own performance in it has been upto the mark. A film needs to be good in totality and mere success at the box office does not assure quality. I am a spontaneous actor and do not go by any style. Yes, I follow the method school to perform certain characters as it helps me with my involvement and study.

I personally feel my present innings as an actor has given me maximum scope to exhibit my potential and versatility. Directors like Govind Nihalani, Ram Gopal Verma, Rituparno Ghosh, Raj Kumar Santoshi and Sanjay Leela Bhansali are highly gifted and innovative and have experimented with me like never before. Khaki, Dev, Black, Sarkar and The Last Lear have given me immense satisfaction as an actor. Earlier Prakash Mehra, Yash Chopra, Ramesh Sippy and Manmohan Desai did good work with me. I still cannot believe my mentor, Prakash Mehra (Lullah) is no more with us.

I have been fortunate enough to work with superb actors like, Jaya Bachhan, Rakhee, Rekha, Smita Patil and Tabu. According to me Tabu, Rani Mukherjee and Aishwarya Rai are the ideal performers today. After Cheeni Kum I am keen to work with a versatile actor like Tabu again. Aamir Khan, Akshay Khanna and Abhishek Bachhan are very talented. So are Manoj Bajpai, K.K. Menon and Rajat Kapoor. I see a lot of potential in Perizad Zoraben.

 My tryst with television has been very successful fortunately, thanks to KBC and I hope Big Boss will also hit the bull’s eye. Television is a medium, which is growing amazingly and has huge potential. I am banking on Alladin and Pa my forthcoming releases a lot. I will carry on acting as long as my health permits and I will never wield the megaphone. Direction is not my cup of tea. To my countless admirers I convey my deepest regards, as without them I could have never been what I am.

(As told to Ranjan Das Gupta)

And the award goes to...
Yash Chopra honoured as filmmaker of the year

Yash ChopraIndian movie mogul Yash Chopra was honored as filmmaker of the year by one of Asia's top film festivals. Pusan International Film Festival director Kim Dong-ho presented the award to the 77-year-old veteran director and producer at banquet in the South Korean beach resort city. Chopra, who founded one of India's top studios, Yash Raj Films, said awards are a great motivator because they force you to justify your laurels. "You have to prove that you're good once again. You're only as good as your last film," he said in a brief acceptance speech. Asian cinema's elite were on hand to pay tribute to the Indian filmmaker, including the Korean-American star of the US hit TV series Lost, Kim Yun-jin, 1989 Venice Film Festival winner Hou Hsiao-hsien of Taiwan, Hong Kong director Johnnie To and South Korean actor Ahn Sung-ki. Chopra made his debut with the 1959 film Blossom of Dust and in 1970 set up Yash Raj Films, which became one of the industry's top production houses and distributes Indian movies abroad. Last year, Yash Raj Films teamed up with The Walt Disney Co to release the animated film Roadside Romeo.

A pioneer in shooting Indian films abroad, Chopra and his company have worked with the industry's biggest stars, including Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan.

Past winners of the Asian filmmaker of the year prize include Hou, the late Taiwanese director Edward Yang and veteran Hong Kong actor-singer Andy Lau. The Pusan festival is also screening four films that Chopra either directed or were made by Yash Raj Films _ Lamhe,Dhoom 2, New York and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, a romantic comedy starring Khan and directed by Chopra's son, Aditya. — AP

Preity, my favourite!

Salman Khan Bollywood superstar Salman Khan says that actress Preity Zinta, who has done an item number in his upcoming film Mr and Mrs Khanna is his favourite co-star.

The actor, whose last film Wanted has been a box office hit, revealed his fondness for Preity, whom he described as a blunt but happy person, on an episode of Dus Ka Dum.

When the guest stars of Himesh Resahmiyya starrer Radio Shehnaz Treasurywala and Sonal Sehgal pinned him down to name his favorite heroine, he took his own time before answering.

While the audience waited, Salman grinned and said, "Preity Zinta. I love her bluntness, her jovial nature, her positive thinking. I like her happy personality." Salman and Preity have worked together in a couple of movies including Chori Chori Chupke Chupke. However, their last two films Jaan-e-man and Heroes flopped at the box office. — PTI

Picks & piques
Acid test
Johnson Thomas

Inspired (read copied) by Columbian film Unknown which was as good as it’s name both critically and at the International Box office, this Sanjay Gupta produced venture is built basically on a lot of hot air and nothing else.

The film has a flimsy premise and the plotting is hopelessly inept. Director Suparn Verma, who was Sanjay Gupta’s long-standing assistant and had the opportunity to cut his teeth as director on an earlier film doesn’t venture beyond the known. He appears to have used the same standard tricks that every Sanjay Gupta film extrapolates, to represent his story.  And the end result is the same too. A disastrous, unconvincing, short on intelligence narrative crammed-in with superficial thrills and spills that even a gaming enthusiast would find passé.

A man (Fardeen Khan) wakes up in a deserted acid factory. He appears groggy and seems to have lost his memory. On further exploration he also finds a few other people around – one (Danny) is tied to a chair, another (Manoj Bajpayee) is hanging by his wrist, hand-cuffed to a railing somewhere above, and two others are also lying around unconscious.

They all appear to have amnesia and after the usual ghisa-pita dialogues oft-used in such situations, they start receiving phone calls from another man (Irfan Khan) who appears to be a gangster and knows each one of them.

The story unravels within minutes and we get to know that among the motley group, one is an undercover cop, two are hostages and the rest are crooks.

From there on it’s just a matter of guessing who is who and why they have all assembled at the abandoned factory. The whole sequence of events and the manner in which it is presented is reminiscent of the Sanjay Gupta school of filmmaking. You are not allowed to question the plotting or the logic behind what transpires on screen, all you need to do is sit in your seats and hope you can enjoy the silly antics of a bunch of misfits.

It’s Kaante all over again but there’s no surprise here. The stunts are downright silly, there is hardly any development of the story, the plot is riddled with holes and there is no real atmosphere being created to convince us that this could happen. The dialogues are downright stupid. 

The treatment is so amateurish that the spiffy pace, short-on-length runtime, textured camerawork and competent production design don’t add on to the enjoyment quotient. Even the actors appear to be completely clueless about the character they are playing.

Come to think of it, this is quite a boon for non-actors like Fardeen, Dino, Aftab and Dia. For most of the film they don’t know who they are supposed to be so they probably thought they did not need to look the part. They wear fancy clothes, have made-up faces and just strut around looking important.

Manoj Bajpayee, Irfan Khan and Danny are the only ones who lend some respectability to this unexciting rip-off of a bad original.

Matka chowk
Gift evolution
Sreedhara Bhasin

Sreedhara Bhasin Gift business is a booming business in our city. I read with interest, accounts of the shopping spree that engulfed the city on the eve of Karva Chauth. Nothing ordinary for the women of this extra-ordinary city. Gone are the times when women wanted decorative bangles and a nice suit for Karva Chauth. Now, the wish list contains platinum and diamond jewellery, designer watches and designer beauty aids. A new trend made its mark this year. The many beauty and health clinics saw the rise of the much-hyped Botox treatment - an injection of botulinum toxin, giving one an instantly smoother skin, a condition that usually lasts six months.

This is a truly amazing interposing of techno-beauty (something that is hugely popular in the USA) into our good old traditions of fasting and feasting by devoted Indian wives. What an odd fusion! Imagine, the surprise of the husband when the wife demands a chemical peel or a sitting of microdermabrasion as a Diwali gift! I actually asked my husband to buy me gym clothes for Diwali this year. He politely declined - since in his book, gym clothes don't make the mark as Diwali gifts. Now, that the bar is being raised and the yardsticks are morphing, gift giving will become a tricky and unpredictable affair - at least for most men.

I never liked sending e-Diwali cards. However, with the number of e-cards that we receive on birthdays and most of those with the cutest of messages and jingles, my resistance is crumbling. Verka now has many traditional sweets in cans. My daughter sniggered when we offered her a rasgulla from a tin. "Tinned rasgulla? Why would I ever want to eat those?" Her discerning taste is a result of eating the real thing in genuine state, fresh and delicious, on many of her trips to Calcutta. But, then, aren't we getting very convenient friendly in India? We have adopted the gift pack concept -you can go to the store and buy pre-packed items reducing strain on your thinking and decision-making faculties. Most of those gifts are recycle friendly as well, meaning, if your neighbour gives you one and you don't want it, you can always give it to your yoga instructor.

Now that the Diwali countdown has begun and the shopping areas have begun to resemble a scene from the Clash of the Titans, this would be an ideal landscape to gauge our gift-giving psyche. I might charge out into the mélange and take notes, maybe after fortifying myself with some genuine Punjabi laddoos.

Sleep well
Tribune News Service

Godrej Sara Lee has announced the launch of its new ad campaign for ‘GoodKnight Naturals’, a moisturizing mosquito repellent cream. Mosquito repellent creams are generally chemical based and not so skin friendly. The ad aims at bringing out the natural essence of the product endorsed by Bollywood’s own Vidya Balan who personifies the brand proposition – natural and caring.

The new campaign focuses on communicating the effectiveness of a moisturizer based mosquito repellent cream with the goodness of natural herbs like tulsi and lavender that help fight mosquitoes naturally while keeping the skin nourished and protected with milk. The ad campaign and concept developed by JWT, communicates the powerful combination of safety from mosquitoes and protection of the skin as never before.

Speaking on the launch, Tarun Arora, VP sales and marketing, Godrej Sara Lee said, “GoodKnight has always offered products which are based on strong consumer insights.  The biggest challenge was to overcome the existing mental barriers of people being precarious about using mosquito repellent creams as they are associated with being sticky and harsh on the skin.  The new ad positions the product in a way that cues in safety and credibility in a reassuring manner”.

Gift wrapped

UK-based brand of home furnishings Rosebys, introduces a set of dazzling gifts for your loved ones this Diwali. The collection offers a widespread range of accessories, including table lamps and candles. The latest range of adornments from Rosebys symbolises imagination in its design sense. Rosebys is not just a store that offers great products and solutions or offers a great gifting options but it is much more than that.

The new offerings at Rosebys are unlimited. Rosebys has introduced beautiful aroma candles that can be gifted to your loved ones. Rosebys has an exquisite cache of products that are available under one roof. The price range starts from Rs 300 to Rs 1000. — TNS

Walk it out

Clarks, an 180 year-old brand of footwear from the UK known for its comfortable footwear, offers a range of formal and casual footwear for men and women. Since its beginning in Somerset street, Clarks has been manufacturing and retailing comfortable footwear around the world. No one thought that men's formal and women's court shoes could have the best of the technologies for a day-long comfort.

And now it offers everyday casuals, dress shoes, sports casuals, sandals and slippers for both. It has a wide range of court shoes, everyday formals and everyday casuals. Priced at Rs 2499 onwards, the range is spread across 350 styles in total. In Chandigarh, it is now available at rock bottom discount at the big bang sale organised at the Hotel Aroma- 22. — TNS

P. Khurrana

ARIES: “Nine Cups” full of light & lotus blossoms brings happiness. A personal dilemma is going to work out much quicker and much better than anticipated. Someone may be trying hard to make you look bad. Be discreet about new career related opportunities. Tip of the week: Check your diet chart. Lucky colour: Purple.

TAURUS: “The Moon” brings change, opportunity. Love, celebration and romance are on the cards. Produce the best you are capable of and as effectively as you can. Conjure up this power created by a force of people who all share a common goal. Tip: Meditation will bring in mental peace & comfort. Lucky colour: Brick red.

GEMINI: “The Hierophant” takes you through a variety of experiences to learn from. Your success will come through areas of work that deal with communications. Remember that your own mind and will are the only things stopping you from getting to where you want to be. Tip: Listen to others point of view and give them some leeway. Lucky colour: Metallic grey.

CANCER: You draw “Ace of Wands” which puts you in a refreshed and relaxed mood. Spending quality time with loved ones may be a priority today. Romance will be good and singles could meet someone special. Trust your intuitions. It’s the time to take care of your health. Tip: Do not expect too much from others. Lucky colour: Blue.

LEO: “The Hanged Man” is firing up tour key planet Mars today. Tempting you to set big changes in motion. Think twice before moving into action, for anything you do will have a greater impact than you may realize. Tip: Learn to rely on your mind and trust your intellectual abilities. Lucky colour: Creamy white.

VIRGO: The “Queen of Cups” clouds your vision with emotions. You may be worried and concerned about certain family issues and need to make the time to sort things out. There could be delays with certain business ventures or personal projects. Tip: It is best to get a clear perspective and balance your energy before making important decisions. Lucky colour: Black

LIBRA:  “The Moon” takes you through a difficult karmic situation. Work will progress satisfactorily. You may be in an irritable mood and will be prone to losing your temper with friends and family and may resent their advice or well-meaning efforts. Tip: You shall prevent a lot of trouble by taking timely action. Lucky colour: Saffron.

SCORPIO: You draw “The Fool” today, you feel free, unburdened and happy.  No matter how much you try, you can't fully control the object of your love without changing it into something different. You may not conform to social norms. Tip: Do what is right and watch your best interests. Lucky colour: Green.

SAGITTARIUS: “The wheel of fortune” spins in some good fortune.  Your sense of humour and willingness to help others will put you in the spotlight at work and at home. Romance will improve. Unrealistic expectations about financial dealings could result in disappointments. Tip: Try not to give money to strangers. Lucky Colour: Coffee.

CAPRICORN: “The Priests” usher in a pure, exalted and gracious influence. You don't want anything rough edged, or gritty, unpleasant or stretching. There will be moments of leisure and romance with person you love. Tip: Don’t enter into a conflict in a matter that doesn’t concern or affect you. Lucky colour: Pale yellow.

AQUARIUS: “The Lovers” facilitate you to be open and inspired by new ideas. Don’t waste time in conflicts; life is too short for that. Yoga & walking are great for you. Don't let anyone dictate what you should do. It has to be your own decision. Love is in the stars if you are true to yourself.  Tip: Unfinished business will unleash new problems. Lucky Colour: White.

PISCES: “The Queen of Swords” brings mental clarity and perspective in chaotic situation. Sweep some things under the carpet; it's not as if anyone will know. Activities away from home will bring extra pleasure and broaden your viewpoint. Tip: Seek out solid; well researched information before making any moves. Lucky colour: Dark red.

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