The boy next door
 Jasmine Singh

He may be one bright star both on and off the field, but rather than basking in limelight, Irfan Pathan would rather play with Yusuf’s horse 

Much more than a cricketer, this guy comes across as a real star. No, he doesn’t like to walk around with an entourage of wannabes, he will not flash a pair of Bottega Veneta, swirling, twisting ensuring everyone saw it, and he will not pull out two identical blackberry sets to talk at the same time. And, he certainly doesn’t carry ‘people look at me’ attitude. He’d rather do things less ordinary… discuss the architecture of their new home, mollycoddle his younger sister, keep a respectable distance from his brother, talk and talk at family dinners, or take his finance on a cruise.

Irfan Pathan, the all-rounder of Kings XI Punjab, would watch his favourite movie on the laptop rather than getting himself clicked from all angles at a happening party. Life is much the same for the bowler, and yet so different. Even when he wishes it otherwise.

“I don’t like to be the centre of attraction,” smiles Irfan. “I sometimes hate it when they look at me. I’d rather be one amongst them. But, now I understand it is natural for them to give me second glances. Anyone who plays for India will get such treatment. So, now I try to behave normal by mixing around with my fans. I want them to know I don’t have a pair of horns of my head. I am the simple Irfan Pathan.”

Who is buying this ‘simple’ statement, especially when we see him walk down the ramp in designer clothes, when he makes females drool over that dimpled smile, when he has youngsters want to talk and walk like him?

Simplicity is pretty glamourous, aha! He laughs, like any other guy who is too modest to admit he is now an icon. “One, I don’t have to make any effort to look great. I don’t mind wearing designer clothes and walk the ramp. I enjoy the short moment of style and spotlight,” he confesses. However, he adds, “I can feel the pressure when everyone looks at me.”

And, what does he do to ward off the pressure? Indulge in a game of cricket with brother Yusuf? He smiles, “I do what everyone else does. I watch movies on my laptop or I go to the theatre, where I reach early and leave early. I spend time with my friends, I go for along drive, I go to our place at the outskirts of Baroda and play with the animals my brother has kept. A horse and a cute dog. Most important to me is family, spending time with my mother, teasing my younger sister… I do all that. Though I still feel I am missing out on my things.” He carries forward the nostalgic trail. “I miss walking on the streets, eating paani puri. I manage to walk on the streets abroad, not here. Well, this is what it is, ‘fame’ comes with a ‘give away’ and ‘take away’ tag.”

The flip side of fame! This reminds us of Ranchor Das Chanchad! “I loved the movie. 3 Idiots is an amazing flick,” smiles Irfan adding that he could relate to the movie, especially the friendship part. “I have some great friends. Thankfully, I didn’t have to face the pressure of studies. I was okay in studies, the 60-70 per cent types. Our parents were pretty supportive and they encouraged us to play cricket,” he says.

From cricket to something equally glamorous — movies! “ Maybe or maybe not,” the poster boy tries to dodge the question. “I can’t think of movies as of now. I just want to play good cricket. I have to learn acting if I have to work in films. I can’t just get up one fine day and land up on the sets. I had an offer in 2007, but I just wanted to play.”

Hypothetically speaking, what genre would find favour with him? “Of course, the romantic ones,” he adds with a puckish grin. “I am a romantic at heart, though I can be realistic at the same time.” On a real note, when is the cricketer tying the knot? “After my elder brother gets married. Everyone has to get married, so will I.” Before that, where would an ideal date happen? “On a yatch in the middle of the water,” shares a seemingly relaxed Irfan, winds up with a remark, “I am still the same guy, but yes all the travelling and being on my own has made me a little more mature. Else, I am a naughty chap who has the gift of gab.” And, cricket too!

Keeping tradition alive
 SD Sharma

Ustad F Wasifuddin Dagar
Ustad F Wasifuddin Dagar

As compared to khyal, thumri and other forms, dharupad gayaki is the strictest in observing the raga grammar and its fixed presentation style. Because of its rigid code of conduct, some maestros failed to come up to required discipline of dharupad, resorted to more flexible modern khyal gayaki and broadly termed it on the verge of extinction," laments Ustad F Wasifuddin Dagar, in the city on the invitation of HIFA for a concert.

"How can you disregard a musical tradition for being old? Why do not they shun away from the Sun older than eternity, the wisdom of Vedas and the centuries old ragas," he lashes out at the detractors but many of who have again started practicing and playing dharupad, the Ustad claims without naming but hinting indirectly. They must learn to survive like me, now representing the 20th unbroken generation of dhrupad singers in the Dagar family. The Dharupad is gaining ground again in all with invincibility," he professes. It is in our psyche that we value any thing which makes a mark in the West like the sitar got a new avatar when legendary Pandit Ravi Shanker ji won laurels and now Dharupad is there to emulate.

There are two main styles of dharupad namely Darbhanga style and most popular Dagar-vani , distinct in many characters.

Since the age of five his systematic training unfolded under his uncle N. Zahiruddin Dagar and his father N. Faiyazuddin Dagar, worldwide known as Dagar brothers. They presented him in a Guru- Shishya Festival at Bharat Bhawan in Bhopal. Since then Wasif has not looked back and performed in various countries.

Wasif is indebted to those old masters, who have given an enviable treasure to hold on to and admire it. West is imitating us copying out our 12 musical notes while we remain much ahead having explored the shrutis microtones and even micro beats in rhythm.

Since the demise of his uncle in 1994, Wasifuddin is carrying on the Dagawani tradition in solo — his rendition of dhrupad is a unique blend of his uncle's training, his father's quality of voice and temperament his own personality and his in depth knowledge of the characteristic styles of his elders. His powerful gamaks, are fast and sonorous, yet retain the softness and sweetness of the raga. Over the years he developed a liking for numerous subtle variations and musical improvisations on a single phrase bringing out, thorough modulations in volume and sound application, many diverse shades of meaning. The overall effect of his singing is a middle path, merging techniques and styles of both his gurus. He is very popular with young listeners for his lively lecture-demonstrations illustrating Vedic-old technicalities through metaphors from daily life. He recorded for Music Today with his uncle and also went solo for an American film on World Devotional Music.

In 1998 on a concert tour to Europe he performed for the UNESCO, apart from touring Switzerland, France, Holland, Belgium and Hungary. In Feb'99 he performed in Maheshwar near Indore where his grandfather the legendary Nasiruddin Khan Dagar was a court musician. There he recorded for a Swiss music company, an album wherein he has performed several ragas, singing each raga at its appropriate time at the historic fort.

Musical high
 SD Sharma

Aloke Dasgupta believes in improvisation to make music palatable to all age groups

"We, the Indian musicians are best known and respected for being maestros and performers abroad because of the established superlative splendour of Indian classical music," saying it with pride is the Los Angeles-based renowned sitar virtuoso, Aloke Dasgupta in the city, on the invitation of Pracheen Kala Kendra.

"Last time while opening a Kendra centre, Guru Madan Lal Koser advised me to create any Indo American classic in which the sanctity of Hindustani music and my personal contribution should be eloquently felt in the composition. This resulted in my venture of recording Indian gana with all Western instruments and later I teamed up with the oldest Cheap Trick Music Ensemble of America for another wonder," says Aloke.

"We reproduced the 40 years old works of legendary sitar wizard Pandit Ravi Shanker with the Beatles and the Indian ragadari-based compositions, with me as the lead Sitarist and delighted the 17,500-strong ticketed crowd. Adept at the Jazz and other Western music genres, I will be performing with the noted clarionet maestro Dam Geeping in many countries. But another venture titled "Pastoral" , a jugalbandi of western Ballet and Kathak partly directed by Guru Shobha Koser will be taken around the world for which the music is being finalised. Along with classical vocalist Sanjukta, partner in his profession and life, he also runs the Raga Ranjani School of Music in LA with five centres in the US. Students of my five Kendra's are awarded degrees. My son Abhigyan Dasgupta and his batch mates have cleared Vishard and formed a group called Anhad in their college. All artistes creates voice of respective instruments even tabla through the mouth only and the format is known as Aka Pillo," he explains.

Aloke is among the most outstanding and original sitar players in the North Indian classical style. With his mature style and compositions all his own, he draws the memory back nostalgically to the past greats of sitar, while at the same time revealing an awareness of contemporary, international movements, such as Jazz, new-age and world music. Though grounded in the Maihar gharana of Allauddin Khan Saheb, Aloke has rapidly assimilated phrasing and tonality from other gharanas, which has really embellished his original style of playing. Holding a master's degree in ethnomusicololgy from San Diego State University, Aloke made his debut in 1981 at the New York Folk Festival and rest is history. 

Remembering Saigal

Encouraged with the popularity and appreciation by one and all, the Chandigarh Sangeet Natak Akademi presents the fifth edition of the musical soiree Yadon Ki Kasak on January 18 at the Randhwa auditorium of Punjab Kala Bhavan-16.

The annual event, a musical memoir of olden and golden melodies immortalised by legendary KL Saigal and other great maestros is being organised in honour of senior citizens of tricity. This particular edition is dedicated to the memory of SK Sharma, founder president of the Environment Society of India, Chandigarh.

According to Kamal Tewari, chairperson of the Akademi, nostalgic songs of yesteryears originally sung by Saigal and his contemporaries like Pakaj Mullick, Talat Mahmood, CH Atma, Noorjahan, Suraiya, Shamshad Begum and also younger generation artistes like Muhammad Rafi, Mukesh, Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey, Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar will be sung by the participants.

As many as 15 amateur artistes will present songs of those above mentioned maestros.

Saigal's 63rd death anniversary falls on January 18.

Walk down the memory lane
The Environment Society of India will hold another musical programme to commemorate the death anniversary KL Saigal in collaboration with the Government Post Graduate College for Boys-11. The society director JS Grewal said over 20 amateur artistes and students from tricity schools and colleges will present private and film songs of Saigal in the competition. The programme will be dedicated to the cherished memory of late SK Sharma, the spirit behind the formation and running the society and annual musical tribute function to commemorate the birth as well as death anniversary of Saigal. 

The Mural Man

Artist Krishen Khanna to interact with tricity art lovers

The Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi is organising a lecture and slide show titled Making of Mural by Krishen Khanna, who is one of the most celebrated names of contemporary art.He is the pioneer in the field of modern Indian art who motivated a whole generation of artists. He started painting at a time when there was not much glamour in art along with his friends M.F. Husain, Tyeb Mehta, Ram Kumar, Raza, Ara, Souza, Gaitonde and others. And his perseverance and interest fetched him rewards and accolades.

Basically a self-taught artist, Krishen Khanna has also taught art in the US. His works reflect a socio-political commitment. Depiction of violence and death is rather common, perhaps stemming from his experiences during Partition. The artist's empathy towards the downtrodden and ordinary people is vivid in his paintings.

Most of Khanna's work is figurative; he chose to not explore the abstraction that most of his contemporaries were delving into.

Bordering on the narrative, Khanna's work captures moments in history, much like photographs do, but the artist's technique is far from photo-realist. Khanna transfers his observations onto the canvas with spontaneity and exuberance, keeping the representational elements of his subject matter intact. The artist's use of colour and his expressionist brushwork make the mundane rise to the challenge of the creative.

Khanna was awarded the Rockefeller Fellowship in 1962 and was Artist in Residence at the American University in Washington in 1963-64. He won a fellowship from the Council for Economic and Cultural Affairs, New York following the travel grant they had awarded him in 1962.

Apart from several one man shows he has participated in group shows like the Tokyo Biennale 1957 and 1961, the Sao Paulo Biennale 1960, the Venice Biennale 1962, the Festival of India in the then USSR and in Japan in 1987 and 19 88.

Khanna has held several important positions in decision-making bodies of the Lalit Kala Akademi, National Gallery of Modem Art and Roopanker Museum, Bhopal.

Recognizing his immense contribution to Indian Art, the Government of India has bestowed several honours upon him including the Padma Shri in 1996 and Lalit Kala Ratna from the President of India in 2004. Krishen Khanna lives and works in New Delhi.

The lecture and slide show is being held at the Government Museum and Art Gallery-10. —TNS

An artist recalls...

In good old art-college days, during this festive season, I, like most of other artists, used to hand paint scores of cards to be sent to greet people. A few years later, I could afford to get my drawings printed to be used as greeting cards. The whole process used to be very exciting, from making special drawing for the occasion to getting the line-block made from the then famous block-maker Roshan (at whose workshop even the stringent smell of acid would appear aromatic) to getting it printed from a small press on a treadle machine overlooking the process so that each one of them is printed finely. A few years later the offset printing process that could make the cards look still sleeker also became affordable at least in black and white. Now the colour ones are within ones reach. CLKA made an excellent effort and produced professional looking cards of paintings of various local artists, including that of mine.

However, the charm of greeting people on new-year through printed cards seems to have lost in the labyrinth of Internet. It has made these things easy, convenient and 'cheap', but perhaps the real charm of greeting a person with a handmade card, speaking of a personal warmth, have apparently got lost in the world wide web! 

Visual treat

Haryana’s first contemporary art exhibition gives a glimpse of the state’s rich heritage

HIFA’s First Haryana Contemporary Art Exhibition is another effort to promote creative talent from the state and compiles a selective display of visual art with a four-day cultural treat.With an itinerary that has art exhibition, book exhibition, terracotta exhibition and a slide show giving insight on the works of eminent artists from the country, it promises the whole deal to art lovers in city.

“Haryana doesn’t have good art galleries, any Lalit Kala Academi or even a platform to promote its art.

So, HIFA as an cultural NGO has taken the responsibility to hunt for fresh talent from the state and give them the means to show their art,” says Dr Piyush, 
from HIFA.

The art exhibition displays 60 contemporary works of 40-selected artist from Haryana chosen by a jury having names like Viren Tanwar, Diwan Manna, Naveen Jindal, Anand Dev etc.

The slide show projecting 500 works of artists who have not been able to participate will be another attraction.

“There will also be a book fair which will have books on art and culture written by internationally known authors, some of them being Padma awardees, organised by the Marg publications, Delhi.”

HIFA has been around for a while now to rescue the artists from Haryana, supporting them in their endeavors.

They give away biggest awards in the field of arts and crafts in the state an also lend a hand in organising art shows outside Haryana.

It’s getting fishier

Take your pick from the newly opened aquarium and souvenir shop at Rock Garden

Gold fish, parrot fish, angel fish, pencil fish — they couldn’t get fishier than this. Calling all the nature lovers, water world enthusiasts, aquarium buffs, souvenir crazies in one go. The UT administration opened its doors for the ‘oh so imposing yet so beautiful’ aquarium along with a souvenir shop. Round pebbles, colourful marbles, aquatic plants, electric paraphernalia, neon water, foreign elements—it’s like a child in a candy shop. Who cares for the why’s and what’s?

Beginning with the cold and the beautiful, the teeny weenie water creatures; there’s gold fish, the most popular, good luck fengshui fish. Then the gentle giant, Tiger Shark that grows up to two feet, Gourami, very hardy colourful variety that can live up to 20 years.

Oscar, the catchy aggressive black fish with attractive orange and golden patterns. For the more interested, it becomes a very responsive pet.

Cutting in between with the logistics, the twin attractions and additions to tourist destinations have been constructed at a cost of Rs 55 lakh approximately. Continuing with the wonder world, there’s Parrot Fish, created by fish farmers of Singapore and Taiwan, it can live with other fish provided there are hiding places in the aquarium. Cichlids, with a beautiful display of colours, that lives with their kind only. And then of course the Angel Fish, as beautiful, sparkly as the name suggests. Dragging on, there’s Piranha, Blue Danios, Zebra, Guppy, Malina Carp, Tin Foil…the list’s probably yet not exhaustive! Numerically speaking, there are 18 sub aquariums housing 26 species of fish. What are you getting photographed with? And of course, the aquatic plants, that grow only in water in natural conditions with twelve to fourteen hours of light and plant feed and who’ll dry in minutes, once out of water. Sure there was an audience, as restless as the fish inside. A bunch of kids who just couldn’t figure out, couple of curious who couldn’t get enough, a few posing while some reposing.

Not collecting souvenirs just isn’t an option. Adjoining shop spreads out an array of options; mugs, tees, paintings, cups, cushions, plates, wall clock, greeting cards, key chains, open hand monuments, crystal glasses, mouse pads, photo frames, paper weights, book marks, towels, pen holders, table lamps, breathless! To be precise there are 125 varieties, and all strictly Chandigarh, very Le Corbusier reproductions of works of art. For the more literary, there are a couple of books on the city. What are you taking home?

—Manpriya Khurana 

Sculpted smile

Say cheese and smile please! That beautiful curve right under your nose which these guys claim to set straight! Arete’ Dental Practice—8 (read aa-ree-tay) launched its clinic that brings to the city the concept of designed smiles.

Explains Dr Amit Singh Brar, prosthodontist, implantologist, “Basically in this we look at a smile from a complete perspective in context of noise, eyes, jaw line and finally we create a smile which is perfectly in sync with facial features of a person. We are trained to spot any flaws in the smile.”

No wonder, they can lengthen, shorten, straighten, tighten, redesign, restructure, align, close gaps, reduce protrusion, (huh! did we leave anything?) with the best and the latest equipments, including the 6 Axis Laser Scanner ‘the only one in the region’.

A look all over and there are ‘smile technicians’ at work. A ceramist who can bend the German porcelain to give the teeth as desired, heat press glass and ceramic with machines, special wavelengths of light to create resin teeth…Guess that’s just part of the explanation for poles apart ‘before after’ pictures?

As for the trend, says Dr Brar, “Though mostly young people, especially women come for aesthetic and cosmetic treatments, like would-be brides and upcoming models.” He laughs, “But yes, older people too come. I had this man around 83 plus who came here for treatment from Canada.”

Moving on, they have been designated as the official Smile Designer of the Chandigarh Fashion Council. Says Dr Brar, “Gary would be taking care of that.” Chips in Dr Gary Sandhu, who’s quite a combine himself, an orthodontist and model. “ We’ve tied up with them. We will evaluate the models and then on teach them on things like how to smile on camera, on the ramp etc,” says Gary. So smile for that winning stride.

—Manpriya Khurana

Eeco drive 

Auto Expo 2010 gave us a peek-a-boo into the world of cars of all types and genres. And now, it is time to see them touch the gravel.

Maruti Suzuki launches an all-new spacious family car Eeco in Chandigarh on Thursday.The five-door, C segment vehicle has been specifically designed for India by the auto-major. Eeco comes with a new, powerful and highly fuel efficient 1200 cc engine. This new engine delivers 73 bhp of raw power @6000rpm, a high torque of 101Nm@3000rpm specifically designed to meet the Indian driving conditions.

The Eeco comes with a flexi design, offering 7-seater and 5-seater options. It also offers air-conditioning.

Eeco performs the twin objectives of being a spacious family car and a dependable vehicle to run businesses. Maruti Suzuki engineers have especially developed its new powerful engine, and a new transmission system to meet the diverse consumer aspirations that look for a vehicle that fits a large family and at the same time provides flexibility for dual use. Towards this objective, Eeco will be a new powerful attraction.

Maruti Suzuki is spearheading the adoption of more stringent BSIV norms and Eeco is the fourth model to meet these norms well ahead of the April 2010 deadline.

In line with the Maruti Suzuki philosophy of making its range of vehicles environment friendly, Eeco is yet another offering.

The Eeco in Chandigarh will be priced at Rs 2,60,117 for five seater, Rs 2,89,558 for five seater AC and Rs 2,75,856 for a seven seater. — TNS

Side Lanes
Year-end burnout

It was the last day of 2009. We tucked ourselves into bed after a lot of good food and dancing at the DSOI. It was a particularly cold night and as our bedroom is the original Alaskan freezer where ham, fresh meat, eggs and dal can last for weeks without turning rotten, we put on the slick looking tower heater with carbon rods, guaranteed to provide a lifetime of safety and warmth.

Around 2.30 am I awoke to gentle plopping sounds as if a tap dripped near my bed. There were flames from the heater and molten plastic flowed onto the linoleum, which sent out tiny orange tongues of flame. The 71-year-old husband snored and the 21-year-old-son was oblivious to the acrid smoke. The 2-year-old-cocker spaniel just watched from her basket. She is a veteran of many bonfires that signal barbeques, picnics, joyous, laughter filled parties and left over bones.

Foggy in head and heart, I pulled out the plug from the socket and then woke the men of the family. Raoul wanted to cover the flames with his blanket, a nylon one, sure to melt into his skin and hands. I snatched it away from him, too overwrought to give an explanation. Oz went to the loo and brought a mug of water. The flames died out but the smoke was unbearable. We opened all doors and windows, put on every fan at full speed and stood out in the garden, wrapped in blankets, shivering uncontrollably in temperatures below 3 degree C.

An hour later, we came in, donned surgical masks and tried to sleep. The crunching sound heralded the cocker’s middle of the night feasting. She ate as if there was no tomorrow. Perhaps she celebrated the fact that we were still alive and had escaped serious burns and maybe the Grim Reaper by just a couple of minutes. If I had not woken up, my poly- filled quilt was a foot away and two book cases with papers and books were just six inches to the right and left. If the flames had gone higher, it was curtains for the Lobo clan. We have read so many heroic tales of rescues by pets. Surely Stelli Minelli could have warned us of the fire? We have to remember these are urban dogs with mutated instincts. Do not expect them to rescue you from the jaws of death. In Goa, our flat was flooded with over 8 inches of water from a broken pipe. Our pointer, another Stella, just sat on the sofa and watched as the waters rose.

The morning saw us looking like smoked out firemen from a burnt out slum. It took a lot of hot water and soap to wash off the greasy residue from skin and clothes. Colds and coughs followed. Oz and I went to the shop where we had bought the piece. We carried the offending tower in our hands. The melted plastic casing was straight out of “The Lord of the Rings,” black, scary and warped. As we walked, people looked in horror. Customers at the shop took snap decisions and bought steel encased radiators instead. The owner wanted no explanation at all and immediately changed our three-year-old heater for a new one.

A friend said that eight years ago he had lost half his home, in a similar blaze. We gave grateful thanks to our Maker for saving our skin for another day. 2010 bodes well!

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