Luxury… at any cost
Jasmine Singh

Porsche Panamera
Porsche Panamera
Top speed 285km/hr
Acceleration 5.6sec(0-100kmph)
Price Rs 1,41,74,000

Auto Expo Delhi, 2008, there wasn't a single soul that didn't flutter seeing the black glistening Mercedes Benz and BMW lined up at adjacent halls. Mobile cameras captured the 'Oh-my-god-so expensive cars' from all angles. It was difficult to take your eyes at the machines that personified class and royalty. Cut to 2011, parked at the traffic lights, an Audi 8 screeches to a halt.

"Nice looking machine", says a friend burying herself in the cell phone. No ooh and ahs, no eyeballs turning left, right and centre! It is just another car, we are now used to seeing Bentley, Porsche, Beetle, Land Rovers, BMW five series, in fact seeing just about any car, one got to see on posters only.

Its here..the Indian auto market has been growing at the rate of 30 per cent in the past few years. The luxury car market sale was 18,000 units in 2010, is expected to double in the next couple of years. Not to mention the price tags, rising with every brand, which an average Indian can only dream of, the super luxury car market is growing faster than you can think of. Affordability is no longer an issue. EMI is the answer. What makes people buy the rich priced cars, at all costs?

Style ke liye kuchh bhi karega!

A Continental GT luxury Sedan with a price tag of Rs 1.9 crore (ex-showroom Delhi), SUV Porsche Cayenne priced between Rs 66 Lakh and Rs 1.27 crore approximately, Maserati for Rs 1.2 crore or Rs 69.5 lakh for new BMW X5 Drive 50i, price is a secondary factor.

As Vivek Gohil, manager marketing, Mercedes, puts it, "Cars are no longer simple pieces of transportation, they are everything you stand for-they are definitely a status symbol, which is why you have car companies dishing out models in the Indian market." Besides, Vivek says the price tag is no longer an issue, as most people find EMIs a safe bet. "The northern region houses a good clientele for super luxury cars, give them a new model and they wouldn't think twice before booking it."

Luxurious necessity!

From a necessity, cars have become a luxury, a lifestyle for many. In fact many people buy a car before they buy any property. Banks offer umpteen schemes that would 'for once' buying any luxury car as simple as buying a refrigerator. Says Aneesh Sharma, working with a car loan section of a private bank, "These days a family of four has almost 20 credit cars. People don't mind shelling money in easy instalments." There is a catch here- people buy cars that are much bigger and costlier than what they can afford and need. "Jaguar, Mercedes Benz and BMW, Cadillacs, INR 60-70 lakh is nothing for the working class too!"

Dream come true

Owning a super luxury car would be a dream come true for many. Some realise it, while others wait for the right time. Agampreet Sandhu, a Ludhiana-based businessman, bought a Maybach last month, he has already has a Porsche, and not to miss the BMW parked in his garage. "I wouldn't deny that I work to buy cars. In fact, the higher the price tag, more I work so that I can buy that car," he smiles. "My friends tell me it is a wastage of money, I don't think so. I like driving expensive cars."

Many designers, many inspirations
Manpriya Khurana

A design by Alpna & Neeraj
touchwood: A design by Alpna & Neeraj

Day four of Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week had just the right dose of designers and the accompanying drama expected of a fashion week. There were as many as 18 designers on the show schedule, including some big names like Gaurav Gupta, Niki Mahajan, Anamika Khanna, Abraham and Thakore.

Starting with the journey of the Pink City in historical Jaipur, the theme of designer Pallavi's collections. Deriving inspiration from its architecture , her autumn winter collection had proportions and materials taken from hidden small elements of the city. From the history of Jaipur to the woods to the paradise land of Kashmir, the influences were as myriad as the designer portfolio. Alpna & Neeraj used wood finished mouldable material in their collection Wooden Fashion. The show comprised sculptured gowns and dresses made after the wood was twisted and shredded to lend the right texture. Niket andJainee's debut show took the fashion week's philosophy of exploring old crafts further.
A model wears a design by Gaurav Gupta
Subtle moves: 
A model wears a design by Gaurav Gupta

The duo took inspiration from a craft called Mandana, popular in rural areas of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Their collection Indo Western World had sarees and anarkalis in subtle embroidery. Moving on Sonia Sarin's all white collection played around with silhouettes in minimal embellishments.

While Isha and Kartikeyan explored 'Myriad Possibilities'. The most prominent feature of their collection were the embroideries in wool and silk threads.

Jenjum and Jasleen's show began with water drop sounds followed by the classical trance setting. The duo's collection Rippled Geometry highlighted their colour picking sense. Think greens with coral reds and antique golds with lighter golds.

Moving onto the shows scheduled later in the evening, Gaurav Gupta, portrayed a picturesque collection themed 'Refined Subtlety.

A Fine blend
Jasmine Singh

Designer ensemble on display
cover story: Designer ensemble on display

"Follow your heart", simple words scribbled unmindfully on a cover of a magazine that Bhavna Batra was reading during her stint as financial analyst in Rolls Royce Energy Systems in the US brought her back to her roots. She came here to do what she always felt was her calling…. designing. Guess who joined her in this journey of following dreams, her sister, Anisha Batra a degree holder in Financial Economics. Thus started their Cover Story.

Meet the designer duo from Chandigarh who unveiled their latest collection on Sunday. The collection unveiled by Bhavna Batra consists of bedspreads, throws, cushions, pillows and furniture satiated with a richness of style and elegance of heritage. The siblings have a passion for old as well as new.

Bhavna shares, "Our collection has a marked vintage and contemporary feel to it."

Cover Story is the artistic fusion of contemporary art, Mughal Art and Eastern textiles. The bottomline remains clear-experimentation. "We use materials like silk, satin, velvet, which bring about versatility in each ensemble piece. Each piece in the collection is fabricated flawlessly and hand-woven by skilled craftsmen's from all over the country. In this collection too we have emphasized on creating an amalgamation of two periods. This is what makes Cover Story," she smiles.

When designers find inspiration "in the life around", Bhavna credits her father Naresh Batra, chairman and managing director, Batra Group of Industries, for getting her involved in textiles. "It is because of him, I have art and design in my life."

Bhavna has brought down her experiences in travel and culture into her designs. "Might sound cliché but the Indian culture is an immense source of inspiration. My collection incorporates contemporary styles and Mughal designs, making it easier for the customers to mix-n-match the products that they wish to purchase." Designing is no longer about intricacy or weaving, it is about acknowledging the fact that consumers are bothered about every single thread in the fabric.

"Textile industry is growing rapidly, there is a huge potential in this category. I am planning to tie up with major hotels in India and abroad and with Middle East companies. A collection inspired from Indian heritage is valued both in India and abroad," she goes back to her collection!

chatter box

TurnTables : Wasna AhmedWasna Ahmed in Phulwa

Colors’ Phulwa has major drama coming up. As Phulwa has been kidnapped by Shankar, he shocks her by revealing he has no plans to kill her. He is instead searching for Bhawani, ever since he lost his sister Bindiya and because Phulwa is Bhawani's rakhi sister, Shankar thinks he will come searching for her. Shankar holds Bhawani responsible for his sister Bindiya’s death. Actress Wasna Ahmed has been signed in to play the role of Bindiya, in a flashback sequence. Wasna Ahmed is also Shorr on Sahara One.

TurnTables: Wasna Ahmed

Reel to real: Kshitee & Soumya SethSoumya bonds with on-screen mom

They play on-screen mother and daughter in Swastik pictures' Navya on STAR Plus but off screen too Kshitee Jog and Soumya Seth share a great bond. Their friendship reflects on-screen and brings their mother-daughter relationship alive. Their chemistry is generating good feedback, which the two are thrilled about.
Reel to real: Kshitee & Soumya Seth

He Is Different: Harshad ChopraHarshad Chopra loves STAR World shows

Television actor Harshad Chopra, of Tere Liye fame, loves to watch television. He isn't into the typical saas bahu dramas but he enjoys Friends, Heroes, White Collar and Two and a Half Men. He has a quirky sense of humour, maybe the source of his inspiration are these shows .

He Is Different: Harshad Chopra

Nishant Malkani's accident

Nishant Malkani, the protagonist of Zee TV and Rajita Sharma's Preet Se Bandhi Ye Dori Ram Milaayi Jodi, survived a major accident last night when his car collided into a truck. Nishant was on his way back home and was travelling on the highway when his driver fell asleep on the wheels. In that split second, the car collided into a truck. Though the driver and Nishant received a severe jolt, they escaped without any injuries. The car's front got completely damaged.

Food talk on Yahaan Main Ghar Ghar Kheli

There's not a single person on the sets of Zee TV's Yahaaan Main Ghar Ghar Kheli who is grumpy about bad food provided during shoots, because they have a mommy on the sets, who is ever ready to rustle up something tasty in a jiffy. The mommy in is Smita Jaykar, who has a makeshift kitchen in her vanity van replete with a toaster, cooker and a grill. Rajshree productions are known for their homely atmosphere and camaraderie on the sets. At least once a week, they set up pot lunch where every member gets one dish for the entire unit of 70 heads. Everyone loves Suhasi's Gujarati snacks and amazing sweets sent by Mehul's wife.

Measles attack Manish Paul
Manish Paul
Sick leave: Manish Paul

Manish Paul is a busy man. He not only hosts shows but also has a serial Star Plus' Pyaar Mein Twist on hand. So when he fell ill recently, his schedule went for a toss. Manish had to take a break and rest at home as he had contracted measles. As it is contagious, Manish stayed away from the sets and recuperated in peace. He hasn't been shooting for six days now but thankfully the doctors have told him that he would be hale and hearty to start shooting soon. Manish was most worried about shooting for his new show Zee TV's Dancing ke Superstars. — HRM

Angad is a shopaholic
Shop till You drop: Angad Hasija
Shop till You drop: Angad Hasija

While he might love acting the most and bodybuilding comes second, Angad Hasija also loves shopping a lot. He enjoys shopping on his own, unlike many actors who either have their wives pick out their clothes or stylists. He loves designer clothes especially Versace and Levis. His favourite shopping destination is Bangkok. He exclaims, “From my last trip abroad, I came back with 10 luggage bags full of clothes!! My family gets very irritated when I buy new clothes. I usually wear a new T shirt twice and then give it to my younger brother. That way I can buy new stuff and not worry about my old clothes."

astro turf
P Khurrana

ARIES: It looks like a very busy day ahead but any partying and indulgence of previous evenings could be catching up withy you. An important task to maintain a sound relationship seems difficult. Your chances of success are better today than ever before. Take the yogic help to relax. Tarot Message: Be firm and stand your ground. Lucky colour: Pink. Magic Number: 59.

TAURUS: The Prince of Wands rides in his flaming chariot of gold to instigate dynamic changes at work. Don't trust unreliable friends or relatives. Traveling will yield valuable information. Don't depend on others. Take advice from people you see as your ideal. Try breathing exercises. Tarot Message: Remember never to fall for rash promises. Lucky colour: Purple. Magic Number: 52.

GEMINI: Today mixing with friends could be tricky. Choose a companion who is least likely to irritate you. Don't get involved in petty arguments. Plans for an overseas vocation materialise. Make a plan for the future and stick to it. Tarot Message: Consolidate your gains instead of throwing security to the winds. Lucky colour: Grey. Magic Number: 58.

CANCER: Passionate emotions are likely to accompany your actions and you might be more impulsive than usual. You will have a better chance of getting through odd jobs. New ideas and ventures provide scope for expansion. A Libra friend might let you down unintentionally; so just relax. Tarot Message: Lack of confidence can lead to losses. Lucky colour: Rust. Magic Number: 45

LEO: "The Hanged Man" helps you to move into new and better situation. Spirituality beckons, and you are inclined to try and find out more about it. You struggle to keep your temper in check today. This is an appropriate time to buy a car. Take your partner or a friend to the movies. Tarot Message: Focus on your dream project. Lucky colour: White. Magic Number: 56.

VIRGO: Plan for future business expansion. Relax with your mate in the evening; it's just the antidote for the trials and tensions of the day. Someone you are attracted to at work feels the same way. Make the first move. Eat wisely. Tarot Message: Take limited risks while speculating. Lucky colour: Crimson. Magic Number: 55.

LIBRA: Today is open for excitement and extraordinary. Conquer your fear and take a chance to reality live. You may be worried about family issues. There could be delays in business ventures. Socialising can be costly. You could be the centre of attention in a party. Tarot Message: Outline your goals ahead of time. Lucky colour: Deep Red. Magic number: 28.

SCORPIO: 'The Queen of Pentacles' blesses you with the finest of quiet and subtle qualities today. Things happen quickly and you need to take sharp decisions. You are sharp and aware to catch opportunities. Children will be a source of joy and pride. Work out. Tarot Message: Don't build into accepting situations you dislike. Lucky colour: Yellow. Magic Number: 34.

SAGITTARIUS: Dear Gemini; there is a good news on the cards. You will be in a relaxed and happy mood. For personal decisions, go with your gut feel. Romance will lead to happy moments. Using credit cards can run into difficulty; so watch the transactions. Tarot Message: A bird in hand is worth more than two in the bush. Lucky colour: Orange. Magic Number: 36.

CAPRICORN:The wisdom of "The Hermit" inspires you to make new beginnings and move in a creative direction. It is best to watch and wait for things to change by themselves. A casual conversation can lead to romantic good times. Tarot Message: Beware of depleting your energy or resources on others. Lucky colour: Forest Green. Magic Number: 46.

AQUARIUS: "The Magician" conjures up some travel and business opportunities. Partnership, business problems, past disappointments - all need your attention today. You will be hearing from someone very unexpected. Tarot Message: Trust your heart and intuition rather than confusion yourself. Lucky colour: Sky Blue. Magic Number: 54.

PISCES: You are articulate and others are ready to tune in to what you are offering. A fine time to make a public speech or presentation. Business deals are on the boil but still inconclusive. If need high pay? Speak to your boss. Work will progress satisfactorily. Tarot Message: Avoid frictions with business partners. Lucky colour: Brown. Magic Number: 62.

the year ahead
Madan Gupta Spatu

If your birthday is April 11...

This year ,your birthday falls on Durga Ashtmi of Chaitra Navratra , considered to be very auspicious day. You may celebrate it either observing fast or feeding 9 kanyas[ girls below the age of 9] to experience the blessings of goddess Durga Maha Gauri. Those who are unmarried may seek blessings from Mata this day who is believed to fulfill all desires. The vibrations of your basic number 2 and that of year 's 4 are very favourable in 2011. Shift to new place, office, organization , newly acquired dwelling is indicated in 2011-12. September has very important matters like acquaintances, contacts and contracts, friendships, new relationships. August is good to start new projects or revive the dead one. Home position in relationship will improve in September. Business ties and trips are foreseen in December. The first quarter of 2012 will prove rewarding for investments.

Mohit SuriMohit Suri (April 11, 1981) director known for his films Kalyug and Awarapan , also joins you in celebrations today but in Mumbai.He is member of the Bhatt family.

He started his career as an assistant director, and made his debut as a director with the 2005 film Zeher.

It followed it up with Kalyug, which is his biggest success so far. His third film Woh Lamhe (2006) did not do as well but was critically acclaimed.

beat it

Track: Dead Space

Singer: Umek

Genre: Techno

Umek is a Slovenian producer/DJ who has become one of the biggest names when it comes to techno. The track Dead Space is available on Toolroom Records. I like its structure, the breaks in the track. The timing of the effects and sweeps in the track are really very nice. If you hear the track carefully, you would know that the lead, harmony, baseline, all are so full of energy that they will make anyone move their body while listening to it. A groovy and experimental track.

(As told to Jasmine Singh)

Fergie to concentrate on hubby

family time: Fergie
family time: Fergie

Pop singer Fergie says spending quality time with her husband is one of her top priorities for the year. The Black Eyed Peas singer, who married actor Josh Duhamel in January 2009, won't be releasing a second solo album in the near future as she wants to concentrate on her personal life, reports

"I have got a lot on my plate and this year is more about simplifying and really paying attention to the projects that I have on my plate and spending some time with my hubby," she said. One of the domestic projects Fergie has in mind is clearing out the clutter in her house.

"We will be cleaning out closet. I finally am at the place where I'm letting it go. I am cleaning things out and I am starting to make more purchases for myself," she said. — IANS

Self praise works for Jennifer Lopez

Hollywood actress Jennifer Lopez believes negative thoughts can be harmful and praises herself to build her confidence.

The 41-year-old actress, who avoids negative thoughts about herself, uses the method of self praising with words like "awesome" and "amazing" to gain confidence, reported Cosmopolitan magazine. "I know it's hard for women to tap into that feeling of self-worth. We need to get the message out that you are valued, you are a goddess and don't forget that. It is about stopping those thoughts of negativity and insecurity. I think changing that and really recognising yourself triggers control of how you feel, so you're able to go, "No, I am awesome man, I'm amazing, there's nobody like me.' I think that's the big secret to body confidence," said Lopez.

The American Idol judge however admitted to being influenced by negative opinions on her work.

"If I am performing for 200,000 people and there's one person near the front row who's not enjoying himself, it'll be that one person who's going to bother me." It is important to remember you're special," added Lopez. — PTI

Facebook founder’s portrayal unfair

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's father Edward Zuckerberg has reportedly criticized his son's portrayal in the Hollywood film The Social Network. Edward Zuckerberg, who is a dentist in Dobbs Ferry, New York, told the Los Angeles Times that the film was unfair to his son, and described it as "inaccurate" and "disturbing", reports the Telegraph. But the 26-year-old billionaire has been publicly diplomatic about the movie, which depicted him as ruthless back-stabber with no social skills, and even took his staff to a cinema to watch it. — ANI

I don’t know how to beat my own drum: Amitabh

Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, who supports social activist Anna Hazare's stir against corruption, says he supports every movement for the betterment of the country, and he doesn't need to publicise his support all the time.

“Koi bhi kaam ya yojana jo desh ke hit mein hoti hai, uski sarahana karte hain hum...aur iska dhindora hum peetana nahin chate...aur na hi hame is ka gyaan hai ki who peeta kaise jaata hai!! (I support any work or plan for the country's betterment. But I do not like to publicise it, and neither do I know how to publicise it),” Amitabh posted on his blog

The 68-year-old reacted when Pooja, one of blog readers, raised questions as to why Big B didn’t choose to be vocal about Hazare's fast-unto-death, unlike other actors. — IANS

Big B thanks Bollywood for wishing Jaya

Actress Jaya Bachchan might not be on Twitter, but this did not stop Bollywood from wishing her on her birthday on this micro-blogging site. In return, Amitabh Bachchan thanked them all on her behalf.

Jaya turned 63 on Saturday. On the occasion, well-wishers from the industry greeted her via Big B and son Abhishek. “Wishing Jayaji a very very happy birthday,” posted director Ken Ghosh.

Actor Aftab Shivdasani wrote: “Here's wishing the very beautiful and kind hearted Mrs Jaya Bachchan a very happy and blissful bday! (sic).”

F.A.L.T.U. star Jackky Bhgnani's wished her through Abhishek and posted: "Hey Abhishek bhaiya please wish Jaya aunty a very happy birthday from my side too.” Actress Priyanka Chopra also sent a message to Amitabh saying: “Here is wishing the amazing Jaya maam a very happy b'day sir (sic)." Abhishek couldn't be with her on this occasion as he is busy promoting his upcoming movie Dum Maro Dum, he took the charge of conveying all these b'day wishes to her. Jaya's hubby thanked them all on her behalf. How sweet! — IANS

Katherine Heigl to return on telly

Katherine Heigl is returning to television with HBO's adaptation of The Knitting Circle. The former Grey’s Anatomy star will produce and act in the tele film.

Based on the bestseller from Ann Hood, the story revolves around a married woman (Heigl) struggling to overcome the death of her young daughter who finds solace in a knitting circle, the Hollywood Reporter said.

Heigl will produce the telepic with her mother and producing partner, Nancy Heigl, via their Abishag banner along with Pine Street Pictures. Her recent credits include the feature Life As We Know It, which she starred in and was the executive producer for. She'll be seen next in New Line's comedy New Year's Eve. — PTI

Tobey Maguire in Life of Pi

Spider Man star Tobey Maguire will join Indian actor Irrfan Khan and Tabu in Ang Lee's movie adaptation of Yann Martell's best selling novel.

The American star will play a small role of a scribe who interviews the grown-up Pi. Oscar-winning filmmaker Ang Lee is directing the film. Lee is shooting for the film in India.

The story centres on a 16-year-old Indian boy, played by Suraj Sharma, whose passage to a new life in America aboard a freighter ends in a shipwreck in the Pacific. He is left to fend for himself on a life raft with an orangutan, hyena and Bengal tiger, the Hollywood Reporter said.

Irrfan, best known for his roles in A Mighty Heart and Slumdog Millionaire, is playing the adult Pi, who is being interviewed by a reporter. Maguire is playing narrator Nick Carraway in Baz Lurhmann's adaptation of The Great Gatsby. — PTI

Salman gets painted under zero gravity conditions

A 27-year-old girl from the city, Ankita Joshi, has painted Bollywood superstar Salman Khan in a zero gravity flight.

Ankita is the first woman in the world to paint under zero gravity conditions and being a big fan of the Dabangg actor's, she chose Salman to start with.

“I am a huge fan of Salman Khan... he is my favourite and I loved his film Dabangg. He has a great personality. I wanted to start with him,” she told

She painted Salman - as Chulbul Pandey-within two eight-second trajectories above Florida, USA, on March 27. Ankita plans to gift the painting to the 45-year-old actor. She flew in a Rockwell Commander aircraft along with a doctor, under the supervision of space agency NASA. The aircraft nosedived to create zero-gravity conditions for about four minutes, when she painted.

“I was able to experience the void of gravity, not just physically, but mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. I painted series of canvases,” she said.

Prior to the flight, she underwent training with an ex-NASA astronaut, Greg Claxton. Painting in the space was not easy as everything from the canvas to the crayon was floating. “We tried to fix the canvas with rods but it did not help. I was constantly banging my head on the ceiling... I remained dizzy and sick,” she said. Ankita will display her zero-G paintings at the Jehangir Art Gallery here from April 21 to 27. — PTI

Indian animation needs to go beyond mythology: Ranvir Shorey

India has a huge market for animation films but the homegrown industry has to move beyond mythological themes, says talented actor Ranvir Shorey, who has just given the voiceover for the Hindi version of the 3D Hollywood film RIO.

"India has a huge market for animation films yet to be explored. Hollywood has a festival out of every release of the animation film that they do. It is like a carnival for the grown-ups and for the kids," Ranvir said.

"I don't think we have managed that in the Indian film industry as yet," he added. The actor of films as diverse as Khosla Ka Ghosla and Singh is Kinng is certain that homegrown animation would definitely have an audience if it improved.

"Hollywood coming out consistently with good products right from Jungle Book in the 60s? They are cultivating animation and it is not an overnight thing," Ranvir said.

"We either locally produce a TV serial or like a Bollywood film with singing and dancing but not do a good animation film of it," Ranvir said.


The journey continues
Thespian Rani Balbir Kaur is all set with her latest production The Courtesan and the Monk

Director, actor, musician Rani Balbir Kaur is back on the theatre scene with The Courtesan and the Monk after a hiatus of five years. Culled from Bhagwat Ajjuke, a seventh century Sanskrit text, this play, farcical in tone conveys profound truths. The play is about a courtesan and a monk whose souls are exchanged accidentally by a 'yamdoot'.

"One's physical appearance reflects one's inner conscious. So if you want to look beautiful, work on your inner state, is the message that the play gives," says Rani Balbir, who is all set to stage the play in Chandigarh. "There's been quite a change in theatre scene when I started working some 35 years back and today. I had to reorient myself to work with artistes now," shares Rani who gets nostalgic when talking about the beginning of the career. "We were a dedicated, focused lot back then. Today actors are much more commercial," she says.

But in no way, is Rani against theatre actors working in TV and cinema. "World over theatre and cinema go hand in hand. In fact, theatre, cinema and TV are very closely weaved, sister arts. A production house that brings all these three together is a sure success," she adds.

About The Courtesan, Rani whose journey in theatre progressed from a musician to an actor to a director, shares, "I have always been interested in tradition. This play will echo in those who have some background of our scriptures."

The play that intimately merges music with action is pretty challenging for actors. "It demands lots of strenuous movement, speaking and singing in a stylised form, it's been a huge challenge," confesses Rani.

Along with theatre, Rani is dabbling with writing. Busy penning down her autobiography and a play Kasturba, A Life Untold. "The play reflects my aspirations, thinking and ideology that takes persona of Kasturba to unfold," she shares.

Not ready to stop, Rani's guru mantra to artistes is, "Learn the grammar of the art before you perform."

On a parting note, Rani shares her fondest memory from her eventful journey in theatre, "I played Rani Brinda at Broadway in the US. Not only I got wonderful response from mixed American and Indian audience but after the show people came back stage to touch my feet for I was a queen. I felt honoured by the reverence people showed to the character."

Rani's'The Courtesan and the Monk will be open to the public soon. We will keep you clued in.

Be airbag safe!
Deepak Verma

Whether you categorise it as a small or a luxury segment car, when it comes to safety there isn't a category it could be slotted into. Every car company ensures that apart from providing luxury and packing it with hi-end facilities, it also lays a major focus on safety. So, here comes-air bags, a standard safety device. Though the device is suggested to be a hi-end device but not many people know that it uses harmful chemicals as well. Here are things that you wouldn't.

An air bag hits with a lot of force when used. A standard airbag deploys at 200 mph (coupled with deceleration involved in an accident). So, you know you cannot use an air bag for fun, unless you are interested in knowing the dynamics of force!'

Avoid sitting with your kid in the front seat, especially on a long drive. Some cases where reported in the US where kids got hurt because of the release of air bags. Road experts recommend that children under the age of 12 should sit only in the back seat to avoid this kind of injury.

Incidentally, smaller, taller and especially overweight people are at a risk of getting injured on the release of air bags. Smaller people tend to hit by airbag at a greater speed, while taller people can get hit the airbag with chest, which can damage bones and ribcage. As for the overweight, they are anyways strapped to the seat belt, so chances of injury are more. This does not mean the safety feature is a hazard. It is the best possible cushion from injury. Using it at the right time is what I suggest.

It is said an airbag releases a chemical when it inflates leading to an illness called Airbag Syndrome. New cars these days do not stand a risk to anything like this. They are user friendly without causing any damage.

Refilling an airbag is quite pricey. You cannot afford to play with it. It is suggested that the driver should be seated at least 10 inches from the steering wheel because of the air bag.

If you thought there is not a single good thing about the safety device, well then here it is. Driver side air bags reduce the overall fatality risk of the driver by 11 per cent.

(Verma is a Delhi-based auto expert)

Pure harvest
Plain gold jewellery, diamond trinkets, semi-precious stone studded pieces, coins or bars, MMTC's Gold Festival offers purity and surety.

Wedding, anniversary, birthday, first job or retirement, whatever the occasion, gold is considered the best gift in Indian society. To mark Baisakhi, MMTC (Minerals And Metals Trading Corporation Of India) Limited is holding a Gold Festival at Phulkari Punjab Government Emporium, Sector 17, Chandigarh.

"Gold market is upbeat in India, despite high prices, buying is increasing. MMTC's corporate philosophy underlines the need to touch people's lives by adding value. We do that by purity and trust associated with us," says Rajeev Jaideva, director, MMTC limited.

A variety of designs, coins for investment purposes and hallmark that guarantees purity is what this exhibition is all about. Sourced from different regions of India, heavy look-light weight ornaments from Chennai, sea stone studded jewellery from Goa, finest diamond pieces from Mumbai, Moghul style jewellery from Delhi, there is a range to choose from.

Rising prices are no deterrent to gold buyers. "From housewives in not so high income bracket to companies, the range of people investing in gold is huge," says Jaideva. To suit every pocket the exhibition has lightweight pendants priced Rs 3,700 and 0.5 gram gold coins for some Rs 1,700 to huge pieces and gold bars weighing up to 1 kg.

A visitor, Dr Mamta scanning various stalls at the exhibition shares, "Gold serve dual purpose. Not only one can flaunt jewellery but it's also the best investment. Gold gives better returns than any bonds, shares or even property." Pretty stone studded pieces that one can match with one's dress, tradition bangles, bracelets with ruby and emeralds, to heavy look Ganesha engraved tikka, necklace, earrings to precious pearls from Hyderabad, this exhibition has plenty to offer.

(On till April 17)

Silver stock

The exhibition has silver medallions from 10 grams to 1kg bars priced around Rs 770 (10 grams) and 76,500 (1kg) from Sanchi. Idols, dining table silver ware and gift items, there is ample to choose from . Check out the 58 pieces dinner set priced at 4.75 lakh.

BAG IT: Jute wonders
BAG IT: Jute wonders

Colours of India

Fab of India brings a diverse range of handicrafts to the city. On at Kisan Bhavan, Sector 35, Chandigarh, master craftsmen from across the country, Banaras, Gujarat, Rajasthan - have set up their stalls at the exhibition.

An array of fabrics, stitched kurtas, stone and silver jewellery and home furnishings are on display.

Special attractions here are chikan fabrics as well as trendy jute bags.

(On till April 18)

What's special about reading?

A study has found that the only out-of-school activity that will really enhance a teenager's career prospects is reading. Oxford University academics have found that 16-year-olds who read books at least once in a month were significantly more likely to be in a managerial or professional job at 33 than those who did not read books at all.

No other activity, from sport to socialising with friends, going to museums and concerts, or doing practical activities such as cooking or sewing, affected their careers, unless they were also reading.

Education experts said that the findings are proof of the importance of reading.

"Reading makes children more empathetic and helps them socialise," says Sue Palmer, child development expert and author of Toxic Childhood, as saying.

"It actually changes the architecture of their brain.

"Not only are they more academically able. But they are also better at relating to other people and therefore more capable of holding managerial positions in the workplace," added Palmer.

The lead author Mark Taylor, of Oxford, said: "According to our results there is something special about reading for pleasure."


"Reading makes children more empathetic and helps them socialise,"

— Sue Palmer, child development expert

Designs on everyone
The three-day fashion event The Woman 2011 brought in designers under one roof
Charu Chhibber

fabric fiesta: Neha
fabric fiesta: Neha

Jewellery designer Devleena's designs are incredible, very much like the accessories worn by divas around the world. The delicate stone-embedded bracelets, chandelier earrings in pearl, statement necklace in real gemstones and Swarovski-studded strings have a striking universal appeal as do the other jewellery pieces in pure silver, coloured crystals and mish-mash of various elements. Each piece exudes power, elegance, style and oomph. "All these creations are the fruit of hard work and labour of my team of designers and artists," she says in a modest tone, giving away all the credit to her artisans back home in Bangkok.

Devleena elaborates on her collection of fashion jewellery: "All my creations are made of nickel-free, skin-friendly, allergy free material and most of them have been crystallised by Swarovski." She further tells you that her range is nominally priced between Rs 600-12,000 and is aimed at the chic, urban, luxury-loving middle-class women, who always loved designer jewellery but could not afford it. "I know the market forces well and have chosen the price tags to carefully suit every pocket," Devleena says as a matter-of-fact. Devleena was in the city to participate in the three-day fashion extravaganza 'The Woman 2011' that concluded at Majestic Park Plaza.

Vintage charm
dream collection: Sandeep
dream collection: Sandeep

The delectably rustic lifestyle inspires her and recreating the vintage charm of the traditional Indian handiwork on contemporary fabrics is her style. For fashion designer Neha, her creations speak louder than words. This pretty much explains the reason why this small-town girl had the crowds swarming her stall.

The fashion designer's collection of contemporary kurtis, salwars and dupattas boasts of an amazing mix of Mughal, Kashmiri, Punjabi and Gujarati touches. "My USP is the fusion salwar, which also happens to be the garment of my primary interest," avers Neha.

Inspired by the traditional Indian rural menswear, the designer, who has been into the business for almost a decade-and-a-half, has presented the 'dhoti' salwar in a never seen before refreshing avtaar. She remarks: "Interesting patterns in really heavy handworks of phulkari, Swarovski, gota patti, Kutch work, sequins, on sheer fabrics make my 'dhoti' salwar so different yet so loveable." Her price range starts from Rs 1,000 and goes upto Rs 5,500.

Fashion for all

For any young designer, establishing his name in the world of fashion may be the accomplishment of his dream. But for Sandeep, it is just the beginning of his journey towards his ultimate goal - that of taking designer wear from the shelves of chic, upmarket stores into the wardrobe of every woman. And this enthusiasm is precisely what sets this dynamic Delhi-based designer apart from the crowd at the ongoing three-day fashion expo 'The Woman 2011' at Majestic Park Plaza. "To be able to cater to every client regardless of her class, strata and financial status and to dress her in the finest of designer wear is my dream," says Sandeep, somewhat dreamily.

A specialist of the traditional Nizam work, Sandeep seems to be averse to the idea of an exquisite store or fashion studio, dedicated exclusively to a select few. "What is the fun of opening a designer studio in an upmarket place where only the rich can shop?" questions Sandeep, who has been exhibiting his collections at various fashion and lifestyle expos across the nation for over a decade now. Sandeep's clothes are rich, exquisite pieces with the finest of jewel work, replete with emeralds, rubies, crystals and other precious and semi-precious stones set in luxurious gold and silver work of various genres. "I love gemstones and like to splash my clothes with a generous amount of these in combination with heavy embroidery, giving an imperial feel to the apparel," says the designer. The designer boasts that his clothes line, aptly named Studio Dream Collection, is very pocket-friendly and is reasonably priced between Rs 4,500-8,000. "I want to be known as the people's designer," Sandeep says on a cheerful note.

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