It's getting Haute!
Chandigarh Fashion Week is here again and it's only becoming bigger and better
Neha Walia

It's time for catwalk, haute couture and designer dreams. The second season of Chandigarh Fashion Week is here and set to hit the city fashionistas hard. If the first one was the curtain raiser, the second one promises to be the grand opening.

The star-studded runway show will have over 22 designers showcasing their best collections over three days at Hotel MountView. Some prominent names include Bollywood regulars like Nida Mahmood, Rina Dhaka and Satya Paul along with top models like Diandra Soares, Bhawna Sharma, Dipannita Sharma, Simran Mundi, Zulfi Syed and Shawar Ali.
Manali Jagtap
Manali Jagtap

"After the fabulous response to the first season, we have got big names this time along with the local talent. The collections will be a mix of prêt, couture and bridal wear. It will be bigger and better in terms of quality, quantity and celeb quotient as well," says JS Jattana, president, Chandigarh Fashion Council.

And where there is a fashion week, there are celebrity showstoppers. So the list includes, Jimmy Shergill, Hazel Croney, Sanjay Suri, Arya Banerjee (of LSD fame) and Mugdha Godse. And, a surprise showstopper from our very own City Beautiful.

"Last time was the beginning. So, the focus was mainly on local designers and talent. But this time we have a combination of the famous and the first-timers. Similarly, we are expecting a combination of buyers, local as well as NRI clientele," adds Jattana. Well, in simple words, it's for anybody who is interested in fashion.

With clothes, there is also jewellery to complete the deal. Geetanjali will be showing its creations in tie-up with Riyaz Gangji's label, Libas and Tiaraa by Rahul and Vishal from Surat will be another highlight. Babi Grewal, Sattvika by Nidhi Gupta and Karrat 22 will be representing the city.

Pret & pretty

Announcing the inaugural, Riyaz Gangji and Manali Jagtap too got candid about their collections at the CFW. While Riyaz has participated in the first edition as well, for Manali it's a new market to explore. "I came here two months back with Luxury Weddings and now I am ready to showcase my bridal collection at CFW. It's a bridal sequence with designs for wedding, reception, cocktail evenings et all," says Manali.

A mix of lehengas, gowns and short dresses, experimentation is the word for today's bride. "Why not? Weddings have become a grand affair, with lots of fun and funky elements," says Manali. She will have Mugdha Godse and Rahul Vaidya as showstoppers while the two are still under wraps.

Having designed clothes for high-profile brides at her mother Tejaswini Jagtap's store Nupur in Bandra since the age of 16, Manali is now proficient in the art of garment designing. And wedding planning is another thing she is passionate about, with Wedding Satva. "Our team comprises of professionals who have worked on high profile weddings of Karishma Kapoor, Akshay Kumar and the elder son of Maharashtra Chief Minister, Vilas Rao Deshmukh." Swearing by the popularity of theme weddings, she says it can only get more innovative. "Las Vegas is the hot favourite for cocktails and weddings are a royal affair. I have some clients from Chandigarh as well."

Well, the lady is a one-stop shop for weddings.

MODEL look
model Sahil Salathiya says models are much more than hot bodies
Jasmine Singh

Models and mannequins - the two words have a stark similarity. Often on FTV (Fashion TV), watching the models (largely anorexic) tip-toeing on the ramp, one can't help but notice their close resemblance to the 'cold' mannequins. And suddenly out of the blue, a good-looking and not-so-famished model—Sahil Salathiya from Chandigarh—makes us look at the models in an absolute different light!

One look at this model (okay we admit it was more than a good look! We actually oogled), and we back step from our model is equal to a mannequin notion!

"From where do you get this idea that models bear a resemblance to mannequins? Do I look one? (Sahil haven't you heard exceptions are always there). I have been a part of 32 national campaigns, been the face of Grasim suitings campaign, walked the ramp for all major designers etc. I was selected for Kingfisher Calendar in 2007. Do I qualify as a 'mere' stoic impression figurine that you see at stores?" he questions in a lighter vein.

And before we want to scream the exception rule, Sahil has a little more to explain. "Shooting for advertisements requires me to get under the skin of the character. This does not mean I stand in front of the camera and let myself be captured from all angles." We buy this one. So, what's up with this Chandigarh lad, who was noticed by a photographer when he was 18? Now, a part of the 'good -look' industry, Sahil feels there is no flip side to the happening life of his profession.

"I love my work. It gets me to travel and meet different people. Today, at this moment I am doing MTV's Eristoff MTV Male Fantasy 101, which is dream come true for me," adds Sahil. Male Fantasy, this sounds interesting! "It sure is," he winks and sets to explain. (He sure is good at explaining things. Girls you'd love this). "This show is about four friends living out their male fantasies in Thailand. I did some really crazy stuff, - drove my dream bike Mazda RX 8, super bikes, attended a beach party at Pattaya and drove a private yacht. Isn't this awesome?" he sure sounds excited. Half of the episode has already been shot, any fantasies left? "Oh yes, loads. I want to go to Vegas, get drunk and party with my friends. I also want to go swimming with the sharks and fish. (We thought you wanted to say babes!).

All play and no work? "I am doing a lot of work too. In fact, I have been doing a lot of good stuff. Walking the ramp for designers like Vikram Phadnis, Manav Gagvani and lot more. I am getting a lot of television and movie offers as well. I would want to do something that is youth-oriented and happening. Crossover cinema, shows with MTV and a lot of ramp, advertisements. I have all the time in the world," he smiles.

You sure have. Ever heard about models and a shelf life? "Yes, I have. I don't have any fallback options because I love my work. I am educated and I want to assume that I am intelligent, which means I can do many things. With time I see myself grow in this field, and do great stuff," says Sahil who hates to shop and clearly puts it, "a model and mannequin is different. Got it!"

Side Lanes
A biker's raid
Joyshri Lobo

The recently concluded Raid de Himalaya had a number of winners and losers. Young men and women took home trophies and memories, bruises and battered vehicles. Above all, they walked taller for they had participated in an endurance test that gave no quarter and recognised no weaklings. Two thousand kilometers of barely tarred roads, dirt tracks, slush, rain and often freezing weather conditions, can frighten most of us. However, year after year, these participants take up the challenge because it is there. Are they monetarily richer by the end of it all? From what I can gather, hardly so. The sponsors are few and far between and would rather not allow the generosity of their coffers towards a sport that is not media or cash worthy.

For me, the story of this race is also the tale of a young lad I have been watching since his school days. He was short, reed thin, with the angular, scruffy appearance of a restless child who was finding his feet, but often got bogged down by the insecurities of growing up. He never did the expected, which made his parents throw up their hands in despair. After class XII, as he grew taller in stature and confidence, he asked for a little monetary help and wended his way into New Zealand. He worked and earned his colours at a patissarie. However, his mind was always on his beloved motorbike, which had also taken him across the country from Chandigarh to Mumbai. For days on end, there was no news, but then the lanky youngster would drive home, roaring in through the gate, a cloud of dust in his wake.

Three years in the land of the Maoris, and with a few well-earned pennies in his pocket, Parishrut Jhina came back to the tricity to take part in the Raid. With an unmodified, 150 CC, Indian Bike, he won the first place in category 'D'. Bikers Denz helped him with service discounts. The large, shiny, silver-washed trophy was not backed by any cheque, otherwise it would have overflowed with champagne! The lakhs are flashed across our TV screens only when cricket mania hits the sub-continent.

Even in Raid de Himalaya, cars get pride of media coverage. The bikers struggle on through inclement weather, numbed and chilled limbs, frequent tosses and shattering, spinal jerks. As the hill folk cheer them on, they continue fighting against the odds, to win a sport, barely recognised as such in our country.

Parishrut will go back to New Zealand to earn some more, but his heart is in adventure sports, which he hopes to start in India. His elbow and knee pads are from Maori-land, as are his six kilo boots, padded jacket and helmet. Does he practise in his adopted country? Of course he does, by taking part in motor-cross-circuit-racing. His long time mentor, Vikram, takes him around in a trailer truck with special clamps to hold bikes. Parishrut pays NZ$ 100 per day for the privilege of practice on the track.

First we had the brain drain. However much we convince ourselves otherwise, it continues. Then we had the sports drain. Worthy youngsters have left our shores to seek sponsors, cash, support, recognition and better facilities in other countries. If courageous children like Parishrut are keen to return to the motherland to impart their skills, lets welcome them back with open arms. Let us also, like Digvijay and Pratibha, trust our children in their endeavours, however hair brained they may seem.

Objet D’ART
For GOD’s sake
Parbina Rashid

Goddess Lakshmi by Sonam Jain
Goddess Lakshmi by Sonam Jain

The evenings at Kalibari and Banga Bhavan are back to normal. We are no longer interested in whether John Abraham actually visited Bipasha Basu's native town, Kolkata, and went pandal-hopping with her. Pictures of Muslim artisans giving final touches to the idols of Goddess Durga, which took the centrestage in most newspapers as the symbol of secularism, have been saved in their respective archives for future reference. In other words, the spotlight has shifted from Maa Durga!

But the festive mood is still lingering, moreso in the 'art-scape' and that brings us to city-based artist Anjali Aggarwal, who is busy doing her series Maa Tujhe Salaam. And she makes her creative offering not just to Goddess Durga, but also to her two daughters — Goddess Saraswati and Goddess Lakshmi — in her recently adopted block technique.

What is more intriguing than her technique is her philosophy, "We grew up with this notion that Goddess Saraswati and Goddess Lakshmi, though physically inseparable, are poles apart in spirit, but my conviction is that when one truly devotes oneself, one can get the blessings of both."

That reminds us of someone whose misfortune began when he went a wee bit experimental and painted both deities in the nude! Well, no prize for guessing the name here.

"Controversy or no controversy, you cannot deviate from the norms specified by Indian iconography while painting divine forms," says Tirthankar Bhattacharya, an iconographist and assistant professor at Fine Arts Department, Panjab University. Like Saraswati in pearl white attire holding a book, a rosary, a pot of sacred water, the veena and a white swan at her feet. As for Goddess Lakshmi, her golden colour spell opulence flanked by elephants and always with a lotus that symbolises the fertile growth of organic life, showering coins of prosperity.

Tirthankar's description takes us to Raja Ravi Verma's paintings in which both deities were depicted as full-bodied, very Indian-looking women attired in silk sarees and gold jewellery. But unlike Raja Ravi Verma, more and more new-age artists are opting for a tangential take when it comes to painting the two deities. Anjali, in her series Maa Tujhe Salaam, incorporates all the symbols one associates with the deities — Goddess Durga's eyes, Goddess Lakshmi's kadam and Goddess Saraswati's veena, among others.

Sonal Jain too gets a little experimental with her Goddess Lakshmi painting, and depicts the deity as a contemporary woman who is independent and keeps the home and hearth going. Sonal, a freelance artist who plays with puppet and playing card symbols, has used both to give her deity a unique look.

Madan Lal, city-based artist, too uses the symbolic representation of the deities in his work. "I like to capture the Indian sensibility in my frames and hence I liberally use motifs like the lotus and the swan. And I prefer to bring divinity in bits and pieces rather than the figurative way," he says.

So, what about iconographic specifications? Well, this new brigade believes in the famous saying — 'To learn art you must know the rules but to do art, you must break them all'. "If we are doing iconographic art those rules apply but not when it comes to creativity; it all depends on the perception of the artist," says Anjali. And she is within her rights while saying so, for Tirthankar does assure us that iconographic specifications do not frown on such creative pursuits.

Melodious affair
SD Sharma

The 33rd edition of the Chandigarh Sangeet Sammelan, organised by the Indian National Theatre (INT), commences on October 29 and is set to feature the best from the world of music.

Recalls Navjivan Khosla, founder president of INT, "When Prithviraj Kapoor came for the inauguration in 1967, he emphasised that art and culture should be promoted in this beautiful city. With the concerted efforts of INT members, we have brought music stalwarts like Bismillah Khan, Pandit Kumar Gandharva, Ustad Vilayet Khan, Kishori Amonkar, Pt Bhimsen Joshi, Parveen Sultana, among others, to the city."

And this year too, the list of those who will perform at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan concert hall in Sector 27 is grand.

Ustad Saeed Zafar (sitar)

The extravaganza opens with a sitar recital by Ustad Saeed Zafar Khan of Delhi Gharana. Coming from a family of acclaimed music exponents, vocalists and instrumentalists, it was but natural that he picked up the sitar. An 'A' class artiste of AIR, he has regaled audiences in numerous concerts, both at home and abroad.

(October 29)

Jayateerth Mevundi (vocal)

Jayateerth Mevundi hails from Hubli, the land of great artistes like Pandit Sawai Gandharva, Bharat Ratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, among others. Jayateerth is following in the footsteps of the Kirana Gharana. He has been decorated with 'Young Maestro Award' by the then President Dr Abdul Kalam, Pt Jasraj Gourav Puraskar and many more.

(October 29)

Omkar Dadarkar (vocal)

Mumbai-based Omkar Dadarkar was initially trained by Ram Deshpande till he received a scholarship from CCRT, New Delhi, and fell under the tutelage of legendary vocalist Manik Verma. As a scholar at ITC Sangeet Research Academy, he underwent training under Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar and later Vidushi Girijadevi as well as Srinivas Khale.

(October 30)

Ruchira Kedar (vocal)

Ruchira has been in the field of music since 1993 and won several awards over the years. An ITC Sangeet Research Academy scholar under Guru Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar, she was also trained by Guru Girija Devi. She is now an 'A' grade artist of AIR, Doordarshan and empanelled artist with ICCR. Ruchira has been the lead vocalist of Anuradha Pal's 'Stree Shakti', an all-woman musicians' ensemble.

(October 30)

Dhondutai Kulkarni (vocal)

Eighty-three-year-old vocalist Ganyogini Dhondutai Kulkarni will perform at the grand finale of the event. Born in Kolhapur, Dhondutai's became an AIR artiste at the age of eight. Initially trained by Ustad Bhurji Khan, she later learnt under the tutelage of Kesarbai Kerkar, ending up as her sole disciple. Dhondutai was given the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1990.

The artistes will be accompanied by Avirbhav Verma, Vishwanath Shirodkar, Sridhar Padhye on tabla, and by Seema Shirodker on harmonium.

(October 31)

Visual treat
Manpriya Khurana

It's too much of art for the eye to take in at one go, but the splash of colour slowly takes to forms, progressively assumes meaning; works that are appealing to the eye and provoking to the mind. Like always, the Annual Art Exhibition-2010 by Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi has some signature art and some staple art. Which is essentially what it is, an exhibit showcasing the entire spectrum of the art scene from the Tricity. So it's curtains up on 81 artworks by 74 artists from Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali.

There's a very spiritual human art form hanging parallel to the very geometrical After the Rain. There's a wishful tree juxtaposed against a summer hill. On display are paintings, sculptures, drawings, graphic prints, installations, photographs; multimedia art works. So there's a same subject, tree being depicted through an entire spectrum of media. The photograph titled The Trees underscores the powerful roots, the fallen leaves; the dynamism of the entire structure.

While 31 prominent names make it to the invited artists category, the rest of the exhibit consists of the competition section comprising professional and the students' category. Welcome aboard all the upcoming, young, senior, established artists including all the genres of visual art, plastics art; let alone oil on canvas, watercolours, acrylic, there's wood and glass, paper card board, marker on cartridge, even natural termite formation as one of the tools of exhibit.

Among the students' displays, there're promising works and there are thought-provoking works. Starting with a very dark heavy depiction Machine, a human face dissected into spare parts. Shares Robin Singh, "I wanted to show that humans these days have become a machine. Their faces remind me of the mechanical like cold appearance of a machine." The acrylic on canvas Good Morning captures the beauty of a morning through the crayon like colours and the drawing sheet like designs.

Moving on to the invited section, there's something as soothing as the parallel images of a Buddha merged against the barks of a tree in hues of green titled Gambling. The Countryside Tea Stall by Bheem Malhotra subtly brings out the beauty of earthen rustic environs and the bare minimum tea utensils, a pot, a kettle, a sugar box. A step away there's Freedom, a photograph highlighting the irony and the starkness of the archaic material, the sight of a paper work dumped together. A sight so ordinary, yet so absorbing! Shares Diwan Manna, of his work, "It's titled Freedom because there's so much trapped inside, so many secrets, files, facts and what not."

The work titled Her Desire perhaps draws the dilemma if the proverbial eve and the forbidden apple. Acrylic on canvas A Dialogue with Time and Space, paints the complicated relationship between time and space through the complexity of forms, creates textures and depicts meaning through those textures. Shares Ravinder Sharma, artist, "Space is the embodiment of almighty, space is divine and that's the basic idea behind the work." The sculptures and the installations carry the quintessential three-dimensional touch and dynamism. For the rest, there's a story behind each canvas, some titled, others left to the audience's imagination.

(On till November 1 at of Punjab Kala Bhawan -16)

Tolerance, terror & art

A unique exhibition by an Indian contemporary artist at the Art Institute of Chicago tries to connect Swami Vivekanada's speech on tolerance and the 9/11 terror attacks.

The exhibition titled Public Notice 3 by artist Jitish Kallat attempts to link two important events in history — Swami Vivekananda's speech at the First Parliament of the World's Religions on Sept 11, 1893 and the 9/11 attacks, 108 years later.

Words from Swami Vivekananda's speech on the foundations of Hinduism and universal tolerance is being displayed in each of the 118 steps of the historic Woman's Board Grand Staircase of the Art Institute of Chicago.Kallat, a Mumbai-based artist, uses LED displays to illuminate the speech delivered by Vivekananda on September 11 on that very site in 1893.

The exhibition, which started on September 11 will be on till January 2. —PTI

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