A happy beginning
Ashima Sehajpal takes you through the marriage of Kiran, eldest of the 50 children in the orphanage Bal Sadan

THREE FOR COMPANY: Kiran with Nirmal Milkha Singh and Anil Ummat

Kanta Bajaj looks hassled; she slightly lifts the fall of her saree and runs down the stairs to attend the guests. Before that, she was with Kiran for not more than two minutes, the time she took out after assuring that all arrangements were in place.

Then we hear a small boy informing her, "Maji, Mrs Milkha Singh is here." The two ladies greet each other, with tears in their eyes and smiles on the faces! The event is Kiran's wedding; eldest of the 50 children in the orphanage, Bal Sadan, Panchkula, Kanta takes care of. "Although there is no blood relation between any of us, the attachment is immense," says Kanta.

But there isn't any comparison between the marriages we have covered before - Shilpa Shetty, Aishwarya Rai or even Majithia. Yet, we are writing about it for it celebrates the victory of human spirit!

PARTY TIME: Children of Bal Sadan celebrate the union

Kiran came to Bal Sadan 15 years ago after her mother passed away and father failed to earn enough for even two square meals a day. After some years, she lost her father in an accident.

"Pain of losing my family and realisation of being an orphan was there, but the support from my friends and staff here helped me overcome it," says Kiran.

On Tuesday, the day of her marriage, she can't hide her tears. "It's difficult to imagine life out of here, without kids, friends and Maji."

Kalpana Ghai, vice-president of Bal Sadan consoles her: "You are free to come to your house whenever you feel like." Kiran is getting married to Manoj a businessman from Moradabad, "Like every arranged marriage, a meeting with Manoj was fixed by my Maji."

Collection of funds for the marriage was another big task, which Kanta single-handedly managed. "Instead of asking a lot of people, I sought donation from those who I knew would help," says Kanta.

And these were? Nirmal Milkha Singh and Anil Ummat, a businessman, who helped with finances, and Sheila Saxena who gave the gold.

Nirmal's connection with the girl is as old as 20 years. "She was the daughter of the dhobi who used to iron our clothes. She was also my granddaughter's friend. I have seen her grow up all these years but after this day, I don't know when I will next get to see her," she breaks down.

Her in-laws and husband have accepted her irrespective of the fact that she is an orphan. "Our only concern was that the girl should have good moral grounding, which Kiran is endowed with. She is now a family," says Manoj.

After sometime, Kiran climbs down the stairs for the marriage ceremony. She is pleasantly surprised to see the decoration of her three-storey house. A decent shamiana covered the verandah. On the right were food stalls and space at the centre was kept for other ceremonies.

Her friends and children were dancing to the tunes of the DJ on a stage set up on the left. Kiran was in tears again and so was her Maji!

But Kanta's work isn't over yet, after a few days she has to start making arrangements for the marriage of the second daughter of the Sadan, Richa, which is scheduled for July. "I wish my children all the happiness," says Kanta before leaving to attend the guests.

And we are left wondering about her humane nature!


Ageless devotion
Thespian Kamal Arora's name has been announced for the coveted Rashtriya Sangeet Natak Academy Award — 2009
SD Sharma

Bulandiyon par pahunchna koi kamal nahin, bulandiyon par theharna kamaal hai…the couplet is fitting for thespian Kamal Arora, whose name has been for the coveted Rashtriya Sangeet Natak Academy Award—2009.

The award, which carries a citation, shawl, memento and Rs 1 lakh in cash, will be presented by the President of India in March. With many awards already in his kitty, including the felicitation by Nadir Zaheer Babbar at Prithvi Theatres in Mumbai in 2006, Kamal shares his happiness after being named for this honour. "I am overwhelmed with the admiration and recognition of my six decades of service in this field by the apex body. This award belongs to the city beautiful, my colleagues in theatre and friends. I owe and dedicate it to my late wife Asha Arora, who was my inspiration and a discerning critic," he says.

Kamal has stamped his brilliance as an actor, director, make-up expert; costume, light and set designer besides being an excellent orator and stage anchor. But make-up has been his forte, which he religiously learnt from Guru Sharada Charan Chatterjee and other luminaries.

Since then, Kamal has bedecked thousands of artistes for plays, dance dramas, fancy dress competitions etc. He has conducted workshops for young artistes, teachers, school and college students.

In addition, he has acted in as many as 120 plays, TV plays, serials, feature films and has directed more than 100 plays. Since 1961, he has produced 30 plays for Abhinet Theatre Group of Chandigarh and more than 70 plays, one-act plays and dance dramas for other groups. He has also produced the light and sound play Anarkali under the direction of Vilayet Jafri.

Some of his recent plays include Andhar Yatra, Bhookh Aag Hai, Agni Aur Barkha, Shayed, Jis Lahore Nahin Vekhya Oh Jamya Hi Nahin, Pagla Ghora, Haya Vadan, Madhyam Vyayog, Jar-Jar Haveli, Mitti Ki Gadi, Adhe Adhure, Chandra Gupt, Macbeth, Andha Yug, Athwan Sarg, Aashad Ka Ek Din, Suno Janmejay, Sanu Ki, Apni-Apni Rahen and ballets for his institute Tagore Niketan college, artistes from where, under his direction, performed at the festival of India in Paris in 1985 and later in UK.

"Theatre in the region is growing and matching the standards of Bengali or Marathi theatre now." At 68, Kamal is never complacent in his pursuit of excellence and working for an Abhinet production as of now.

Catching them young
Inculcating eco concerns at school level is a firm step forward
Manpriya Khurana

In a protest against  Bt. Brinjal
In a protest against Bt. Brinjal

Finally…it's happening. And gleefully, someone seems to have realised that concern for conservation ought to begin in the classroom rather than at Copenhagen. Thankfully, they now know, that great ecological renaissance involves planting a sapling rather than measuring carbon footprints. Past few weeks have seen an overdrive of environmental activities. The more, the lesser. And, when there's good news, it ought to be exaggerated. Overstretched, amplified, inflated.

In barge a couple of students on a clean up drive, meanwhile another school adopts a heritage site. Yet another pledges support for a garden…

Taking care of the Rock Garden
Taking care of the Rock Garden

Opines Punita Singh, counselor, Carmel Convent-9, "I'd see a lot of students doing fictitious projects, downloading from the Net. We thought why not make them do something real, something that'll educate them practically and work out well with the environment. Our project was a big hit." She's referring to class IX students adopting the Rock Garden, cleaning it up, taking its care… "We've adopted the Rock Garden in the sense we'll be taking care of it, that'll include clean up drive, walks, quizzes, seminar, popularizing it, treasure hunts."

The new directions given by the Central Board of Secondary Education as part of latest Adopt Your Heritage being just a pointer in this direction. All this while Government Model High School-28 adopts yet another city's landmark, the Rose Garden. Alongside Mount Carmel's busy with the Sukhna Lake. There's report of tiny tots from yet another school putting up an exhibition of recycled materials. Meanwhile, their senior counterparts at Panjab University just a week or two ago were preoccupied with a signature campaign to spread awareness on environment. This, excluding the painted face rally against Bt Brinjal.

Says Annie Charles, vice-principal, Mount Carmel School, "Our school adopted Sukhna Lake, wherein as part of project they cleaned up a stretch of 3 km or so. One of the students also composed a rap song." She adds, "Even otherwise we have a very eco-friendly environment at our school; there are birds, there's a mini forest. Love for nature, environment, heritage needs to be inculcated while they are young. It's very important." There's an echo.

Says educationist Madhvi Bhatnagar of ABC designers, "Starting as young as possible is more important than said or imagined. In our thematic curriculum courses there's emphasis on the environment from pre-nursery itself. At that level there're small activities like picking up pencil shavings and putting them in the basket. Songs like 'Bits of paper' lying on the floor. Catching them young is half the battle won.' Catching them young is half the habit inculcated.

In the din of information, did we miss out; Hansraj school, Panchkula adopts Pinjore Gardens. Great news. Keep rolling.


Where sports is a culture
In addition to academics, the Sri Guru Gobind Singh College, Sector 26 offers excellent facilities for sports
Manpriya Khurana

It's bang amid the educational hub; the crossroads of schools, institutions, colleges and even the similar topography of yellow pink buildings don't much camouflage the Sri Guru Gobind Singh College-26. Which is why, it's right in the centre and quite apart! The grounds begin right away, it's quite a walk up till the administrative block and there's a lane of trees guiding you along.

College Speak

Doesn't almost every institution, essentially academic, boast of everything extra-curricular? A couple of steps inside and the sports culture is quite evident. Huge grounds, vast lawns and a lot many groups, all game for something or the other. A few are busy with the basketballs, some practicing in the nets, a couple of athlete's resting. Onlookers soaking in the spectrum of different sports. Wonder who's inside the classes?

Shares HS Sohi, principal, while overlooking the sports arena, "Our College's USP lies in the academics and sports. Very recently we won Sir Shirdilal Trophy and there's point system under UGC in which for sports we got the maximum points received by a college ever."

Style File

Literally anything works. Unlike some of the girls' institutions, trends aren't very obvious or that apparent. Sweaters, sweatshirts, suits, kurtas; everything, anything, regular and comfortable. For guys the sporty tracksuits seem to outnumber the neat blue jeans, white shirt look. Shares Priyanka, first- year student, "Compared to so many other private colleges, it's quite big and it's not like everybody knows everybody by name. Maybe by face but that's it. Also one rarely finds anyone suffocating in fashion."

Beyond Classrooms

Apart from the huge lawns, open area, vast ground, there's a radius of buildings. A multi-purpose hall, a gurdwara, a pharmacy college in construction, a girl's college on one side and a school on the other. "Where you'll find the maximum crowd, all depends on the weather; in between the classes we just hang around here and there, under the shade, in the sun, on the benches all around or just so many other places in the college," shares Tejinder, another student. No wonder, alongside the long lane of trees dotting the college entrance, there're a few idling around, soaking up the sun, watching sports.

Canteen Connect

Whoever said canteens are bursting and classrooms all blank? With the huge seating areas, canteens get to see a lot of empty chairs too. Without exception, every table has atleast one samosa plate. Ubiqutous snacks apart, the menu's quite the same: a regular, average, typical college canteen. "You wouldn't find a very elaborate or fancy menu but it's more than sufficient for a quick grub in between lectures. And it has all the regular fast snacks," shares another student.


Working hard, playing harder

They're back! To 'play' in the day and 'rock' at night. Patchwork, the annual fest of the Department of English and Cultural Studies, Panjab University, rolls out yet another edition and promises to be a three-day marathon of literary events, including a cultural extravaganza.

Beginning this Friday, essay writing, caption writing, extempore, creative expression, short story writing, quiz, turn coat, rangoli, collage, poetry writing and recitation, poster making, face painting, graffiti, ad mad show, dance and singing…among the all and sundry competitions characteristic of students fests, there's thrown in a rock show and a play to top it all.

Push the play button and now we're talking. Exclaims Ridhima, final year student; "We'll be staging a play Aik Thee Nani, A Granny for all seasons by Shahid Nadeem, as part of the fest. It's a real life story based on Zohra Sehgal and her sister. Out of these two sisters, one is left in Pakistan and the other one's in India and what happens when they meet after 25 years."

The melodrama set against the backdrop of conservative Urdu family has a happy ending. She says, "I play the character Rani, the housemaid." Needless to say, it's been non-stop rehearsals. Shares Prity Chawla, department representative, "Oh, we've been busy in the event for almost three weeks now."

Adds Ridhima, "We've been practicing for three to four weeks and yesterday we were here till 9 pm, busy with our roles and lines."

Never mind the glut of cultural nights at every alternate student festival, they didn't have rock show last year, right? Says Prity, "We wanted to give a larger platform and this was also the demand of university students. Moreover, our department's name got changed to Department of English and Cultural Studies, so we wanted to make culture also a part of the show, apart from the hardcore literary events."

Anyways, more about the rock show, she adds, "There will be three rock bands performing, Area 231, Hangover and TSG." Play on. — Manpriya Khurana

Hunting fresh talent
The Chandigarh Institute of Performing Arts and The League, a media production house, have come together to launch a series of fashion and beauty contests

In an effort to provide a platform to talent from the region, the Chandigarh Institute of Performing Arts and The League, a media production house, have come together to launch a series of fashion-cum-beauty contests.

"Model of the Year 2010 and Super GLAM Model of the Year 2010 is a unique series that will have contests in Shimla, Mandi, Dharamsala, Ludhiana, Patiala and Kurukshetra apart from Chandigarh," says Shyam Juneja, director, CIPA, a known theatre and TV personality, and filmmaker.

"The auditions will be taken by professionals in various colleges and institutes," says Ekta Sharma, proprietor, The League. "Professionals only will train the fresh talent for the ramp walk," she adds.

The contest will have three rounds - traditional, western and sports (in which models will display sports gear and choreography will use sports equipment as props). The contestants will get grooming guidance as well.

The contest is open to male/female models in the age-group of 16-25 years and the minimum height criteria is 5'-10" for males and 5'-6" for females.

"CIPA has earlier organised Model of the year 2006, 2007 and 2008, Mr and Mrs CIPA India (North) 2007, 2008 and 2009, which were quite a success. Our effort is to make Super GLAM Model 2010 even better," says Juneja.

The winners of the contest will get the opportunity to work in upcoming CIPA and The League productions.


Short take
SD Sharma

One has to create an imaginary world for writing a novel while it requires one to be precise and articulate in sculpting a short story," opines the young short story writer Jatinder Haans who has carved a niche for himself in this literary realm. In the city for the release of his latest book Ishwar da Janam he shared his views on his works.

A teacher by profession Jatinder discovered the writer in him while pursuing his master degree in Punjabi. The works of eminent short story writer Prem Parkash impressed and inspired him to translate his feelings sincerely into a literary form.

Otherwise introvert, Haans proved himself a successful Yatharath vadi kahanikar with his maiden publication Paave Naal Banya Kaal in 2005, which not only had gone into repeat editions but also was translated into Hindi by Subhash Neerav.

Proclaiming his admiration for story writers Prem Parkash, Mohan Bhandari, Gurpal Litt and others young Haans is optimistic of the future of meaningful Punjabi literature. "After an edited book Begum te Gulam, another Punjabi novel is in the offing," says Haans.

"His writing is very close to the pulse and heart beat of the pastoral life," says Prof Nirmal Jaiswal while conducting a critical appreciation seminar on his new book Ishwar da Janam at Uttam complex.

Merc-ing a new beginning
Tribune news Service

Mercedes-Benz has launched the 2010 M-Class in two variants for India. The Sport Edition of the M-Class is priced at Rs 55 Lakhs while the Luxury Edition is priced at Rs 60.9 lakhs.

The M-Class is among the safest cars in its class. Equipped as standard with seven airbags, belt tensioners, belt-force limiters and crash-responsive NECK-PRO head restraints, the SUV ensures its occupants an excellent standard of protection in case of an accident.

In terms of technology, the 2010 M-Class takes forward exciting features like permanent four-wheel drive and 4ETS traction systems to the next level by incorporating additional functions such as Downhill Speed Regulation, acceleration skid control (ASR) and the off-road ABS system.

The Sports Edition includes interior sports package consisting of interior lighting package, sports instrument cluster, sports pedal system made of brushed stainless steel with rubber studs, Alcantra/ARTICO man-made leather upholstery with contrasting topstitching, electrically adjustable front sports seats), and the exterior sports package consisting 19 inch 5 twin spoke light alloy wheels, rectangular tailpipes with chrome trim, aluminum-look roof rails, chromed waistline trim strip, load sill guard on the rear bumper in chrome and simulated front underguard in stainless steel.

The luxury edition includes a wood/leather multifunction steering wheel, thermotronic 3-zone automatic climate control, harmankardon Logic 7 Surround Sound system and anti-theft protection package and leather seats.

"The M-Class has been a popular model series in India. The "Sports Edition" and the "Luxury edition" are very aggressively priced considering the loadings and features of this marque. We are confident that customers who expect highest standards from their vehicles will find the M-Class a vehicle that exceeds their expectations- both on and off the road." Summarized Dr Wilfried Aulbur, managing director and CEO of Mercedes-Benz India.

Launch Pad
For your eyes only

Smoky eyes and the gothic look is the hottest trend this season! Lotus Herbals has introduced Hypnotica Eye Contour Definer, a premium twist-up, water-proof eye liner that ensures well defined and radiant eyes all day long.

It is an innovative eyeliner enriched with botanical extracts and vitamins that relaxes your eyes. It is 100 per cent vegetarian and free of animal products. This innovative eyeliner comes with a two-way auto mechanism that has a unique in-built sharpener which helps in re-shaping the tip. Rich in texture, Hypnotica is water-proof and long lasting making it ideal for all weather conditions. Its hassle free application allows you to create that perfect line every time, without creating a mess.

So while you reshuffle your make-up pouch, make sure that this eye candy is part of your goodie bag. Available in black, Lotus Herbals Hypnotica Eye Contour Definer is priced at Rs.195 and is available at select beauty and department stores across the country. — TNS

Bag it

Da Milano, the affordable luxury brand, has recently launched an elegant range of lamb skin handbags for women as part of its spring-summer 2010 collection. Conforming to international fashion trends, these beauties are crafted with lamb skin leather making them extra soft, supple and extremely durable. Fashionably chic and luxurious, this exquisite collection is available in signature, classic and contemporary urban styles ranging from the classic day bags, stylish satchels, shoulder bags and totes.

Da Milano's lamb skin collection of handbags is crafted from buttery soft lambskin leather that has a luxurious texture. These ultra sassy handbags, designed with great attention to detail, feature zippered compartments, elegant chain handles and stylized gold plated hardware that spells opulence

This soft beautiful collection of lamb skin handbags are available in striking colors ranging from hot pink, apple green, canary yellow, tangerine orange, angelic white, wine red, and tones of black and brown. Priced between Rs 8,495 and Rs 8,995, this collection is available at all Da Milano exclusive stores and large format stores across the country. — TNS

Copy this!
Mausam has nothing to do with Top Gun, says Shahid Kapoor

Shahid Kapoor is amused that his father Pankaj Kapoor's directorial debut Mausam is being likened to Tom Cruise's Top Gun just because he plays an Air Force officer in the film.

"I am relatively new to the industry but at least respect my dad's credibility as a film personality. Mausam, which actually is a working title, has nothing to do with Top Gun except for the fact that Tom Cruise played the role of a naval flight officer while in I play an Air Force officer," said Shahid.

"Other than that there is no similarity whatsoever since my dad has written an entirely original story and screenplay of the film," he added.

The young actor said those floating rumours that Mausam is a remake of Top Gun should keep his father's credibility in mind.

"My father's career spans more than 25 years and he has been known for his original work even as an actor. This is the reason why he has acted in only 35-odd movies despite getting so much critical acclaim. Do you think that for his own film as a director, he would end up remaking another film?" he questioned.

"I don't know how someone just picked up the Tom Cruise angle just because I play a uniformed officer in the film. On the contrary, Mausam is a love story," said Shahid.

The leading lady of this 'love story' has not yet been decided, but work is on to get the entire pre-production in place for Mausam, which will go on floors in April.

"I am glad that I have full two months to prepare for the role. I have a lot of time now to give to the film and since I am not working on anything else in the interim, I have requested dad that he allow me to work on some other departments in the film as well," said Shahid.

"I am quite interested in contributing to Mausam other than just as an actor and I am sure dad would be sympathetic enough to give me an opportunity."

Shahid is not signing up for any new film as of now. So will it be only one film at a time from now on?

"That's not really the case. Also, it's not that just because it is dad's film that I am giving it any extra attention. Mausam is the kind of film that an actor should be doing in a single stretch without working on anything else," he said.

"The script is such that as an actor, I have to dedicate all my time and attention to it. It's more to do with the subject and the character than anything else and you'll see it for yourself once the film releases," said Shahid.

Shahid would next be seen in Ahmed Khan's Paathshaala, which releases in April, Milenge Milenge with Kareena Kapoor in the same month and Parmeet Sethi's directorial debut for Yash Raj Films in June. — IANS

Older the better

Bollyowood actor Chunky Pandey, best remembered for his role as Anil Kapoor's friend in Tezaab, says he has no regrets in his 23-year-old film career and draws inspiration from B-town's evergreen hero Dev Anand for getting better with age.

"I have no regrets...I could have done better. I was born on Dev Anand's birthday so I believe...the older I get, the better I become," said Chunky.

The 46-year-old actor will be seen with Shreyas Talpade in Sangeeth Sivan's horror flick Click, which is releasing this week.

"I play a author who writes books on spirits. The movie has turned out to be very scary," he said.

Chunky is also looking forward to Sajid Khan's multi-starrer Housefull, in which he plays an Italian Punjabi. The movie is scheduled to hit screens on April 30.

The actor debuted in 1987 in Aag Hi Aag opposite Neelam and shot to limelight with his role as Anil Kapoor's friend Babban in N Chandra's Tezaab, a year later.

Unfortunately for Pandey, many of his films in which he had the leading role never did well at the box office. It was always his secondary leading roles that made impact. He was noted from his pairing with Govinda in the blockbuster hit Aankhen (1993) and with Sunny Deol in Paap Ki Duniya (1988), Vishwatma (1992) and Lootere (1993) all of which were box office hits.

Even though his career declined in the mid-90s, Chunky said he was satisfied with his last releases like Apna Sapna Money Money, Daddy Cool, Paying Guest, ShortKut, De Dana Danand Sankat City. — PTI

Glam no more

Bollywood actress Udita Goswami, who will return to the big screen with the supernatural thriller Rokkk, says that she chooses to do less work because she does not believe in "over exposure".

The former model, whose bold roles in films like Zeher and Aksar earned her the tag of a sex symbol, said that she is satisfied with the way her film career has shaped up.

"Even though I am just five films old, I am content doing less work and don't care what people say about me.

I am satisfied and don't believe in over exposure," Udita, who made her debut with Pooja Bhatt's Paap, said.

Rokkk, which releases on March 5, is directed by Rajesh Ranshinge and produced by Krishan Chaudhary for Ikkon films. The movie stars Tanushree Dutta and Shaad Randhawa.

Udita essays the character of Aahana, a MBA student from Delhi who comes to Goa in search of her missing sister. The actress is super excited about her role in this genre.

"Even though horror and supernatural genre is not very popular, I think Rokkk is by far the best super-natural thriller made in India. Success of a film depends on how the story is handled and brought on screen by the director irrespective of its genre," she said.

Fresh after the shooting of Jagmohan Mundra's Chase opposite Anuj Saxena, Udita will shortly start dubbing for the film.

"Chase is an action thriller and I will be seen in an unglamorous avatar," she said. — PTI

DiCaprio engaged?

Hollywood heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio's days as a footloose bachelor seem to have ended, as his long time girlfriend, model Bar Refaeli, is now sporting an engagement ring.

With Sunday being Valentine's Day, it would have been the perfect opportunity to propose and DiCaprio seems to have done just that.

So when the Israeli beauty stepped out with DiCaprio and his mother for a charity dinner at the Berlin International Film Festival, she had a sparkling ring on her left hand.

Leonardo took her along to the Cinema for Peace Gala 2010 charity dinner and the model kept her hands hidden under the table most of the time, but gave onlookers a peek at the ring as she clapped her hands.

Last month, the actor and the 24-year-old swimsuit model were pictured together at a basketball match, setting tongues wagging that they had rekindled their tempestuous relationship.

They split in June 2009, reportedly because 35-year-old Leo was not ready to settle down and move in with her. — PTI

Action replay

Academy-award-winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro are reportedly planning a sequel to their 1976 cult drama Taxi Driver. The new movie is rumoured to be a collaboration between The Departed director and Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier. De Niro will reprise his role of a troubled New York taxi driver Travis Bickle.

Von Trier and Scorsese, whose new movie Shutter Island premiered at the Berlin film festival on Saturday, have yet to confirm any plans.

But Von Trier's production partner Peter Aalbaek has fuelled the rumour about a possible collaboration, saying an announcement about the project will be made shortly.

Taxi Driver screenwriter Paul Schrader, who is also making a movie with Bollywood collaboration, said Scorsese has been considering a follow-up film for years.

Schrader tells the New York Post, "I was talking with Martin Scorsese about doing a sequel to Taxi Driver, where (Travis Bickle) is older." — PTI

Nicole, Joel set to wed

Socialite Nicole Richie, who got engaged to rocker beau Joel Madden this Valentine's Day, is "beyond thrilled" and "so excited" about planning for her dream wedding.

The 28-year-old actress was spotted wearing a new ring while dining out with Madden. The Simple Life star and the rocker from the Good Charlotte band have two kids together.

"She's beyond thrilled and so excited to start planning her dream wedding," said a source. — IANS

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