Remembering the Father

It doesn’t get bigger (or taller) than this. Tomorrow will witness the unveiling of a massive 120x150 foot mural of Dadasaheb Phalke the father of Indian cinema painted by Mumbai-based artist Ranjit Dahiya (of the Bollywood Art Project) on the MTNL building at Bandra Reclamation.

And, in what appears to be an inspired choice the St+art India Foundation, has requested India's tallest actor Amitabh Bachchan (along with ace ad maven Piyush Pandey) to do the honors.

Dadasaheb Phalke
Dadasaheb Phalke

Fitting, too, that the father of Indian cinema will now be able to cast an approving eye at the booming industry he helped foster. Wonder what he would have thought of Action Jackson though.

Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan

Patrons of the loom
“Hand-woven textiles are India’s biggest gift to global fashion,” says Shalini Sharma the vivacious editor of Hi! Blitz, about her latest issue that hits the stands tomorrow featuring a rather unusual cover. “I was tired of the same old same old, the usual film stars models etc on the cover,” says Sharma, originally from Hyderabad.

The cover of the magazine
The cover of the magazine

“All the glossies run through the same six or eight personalities to front their issues. So, to highlight the theme of Indian textiles, Sharma decided to ‘eschews famous faces and instead chose to respect the regular Indian fashionista wearing her vintage style with panache and pride.’

“These connoisseurs of hand-woven textiles are deeply connected to master weavers across the country, and keep a curious and admiring eye out for their latest creation coming off the loom.

Profoundly knowledgeable and appreciative of the art of hand weaving, these ladies are quietly spearheading a demand for the finest, almost extinct handcrafted textiles of our country, she says.

And without further ado, presenting: Chhaya Jariwala, Bina Kanade; Shilpa Sagar, Hemal Shete; Radhika Mehra, Sabina Manekia, Shobha Menon, Neepa Sheth and Piya Reddy displaying their beautiful handlooms.

“But persuading them to pose for a cover wasn’t easy,” says Sharma. “A big thank you to Pallavi Dutt, who worked on these shy ladies to step out of their comfort zones for this beautifully styled shoot,” she says.

The iconic Ritu
Long before there was Indian fashion, way before Rohit Khosla, when crushed silk dupattas were still a gleam in Abu-Sandeep’s eye, there was Ritu Kumar.

Ritu Kumar
Ritu Kumar

Back in the seventies, her tiny shop at Breach Candy, (which happened to be located in the building I lived in,) gave Indian women, who were shyly starting to discard their saris for something more ‘adventurous’ to wear, their first taste of designer-wear.

Kumar’s distinctive hand blocked silks, paisley motifs and embroidered Indian wear, were a rage amongst Sobo’s most stylish and well-heeled women, starting with the Ambani women Kokilaben, Nina and Dipti. And such were the times that from a mile off, you could spot and admire ‘a Ritu’.

Now in town to oversee the expansion of her empire after receiving Rs 100 crore funding from Everstone Capital, we pinned down the iconic Kolkata-based designer for some fashion gyan.

Namely, how has the scene changed?

“There is a sea change in the fashion scene in Mumbai,” said the lady. “Earlier, less was more and underplayed retail spaces were the norm,” she says.

Does the Mumbai woman dress differently from her Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore counterparts?

“No does not dress differently but yes, the market place has become layered with different women of different tastes dressing in niche ways, which were not there at the time we opened,” she says.

Anything else?

“There is, of course, the addition of bling,” sniffed Ritu. “Net clothing, which was at one time thought to belong to the films, has perforated in the country into wedding and festive wear,” she says.

But don’t for a minute think Kumar is out of step with the times.

Only recently, called upon to dress actress Diya Mirza for her wedding, Kumar chose to put the bride in an unconventional green & gold outfit for her big day.

Once a game changer, always a game changer!

A kiss from Kashmir
What is it about Kashmir that brings out the best in people? First we had PM Modi looking quite fab in a ‘pheran’, and now this picture of ace NDTV anchor, the lovely Barkha Dutt, in Srinagar to cover elections, brings a smile to our hearts.

Barkha Dutt
Barkha Dutt

“This one is for keeps! Lovely moment on the streets of Srinagar with a perfect stranger,” she said about a picture showing her receiving a ‘jadoo ki jhappi’ from a local. “It was like a benediction,” she said later.

Nice!

Stylish Art Soiree
Word comes in that the Mumbai Art Room benefit auction held on Monday night at the lovely old Edward Cinema went swimmingly well.

The Mumbai Art Room benefit auction was held at the lovely old Edward Cinema
The Mumbai Art Room benefit auction was held at the lovely old Edward Cinema

Created in 2011 to promote the understanding and appreciation of contemporary art, design, and visual culture in India, the not-for-profit arts organisation reportedly raised R20 lakh from the sale of works donated by noted artists such as Reena Kallat, Sudhir Patwardhan, and K G Subramanium among others.

“Attendees included prolific art collectors like Sunita and Vijay Choraria, Riyad Oomerbhoy, Samantha Nayar, Shaunaq and Krupa Amin, Roddy Sale, and Mark Prime, as well as many illustrious members of the Mumbai Art Room benefit committee, including Roohi Jaikishan, Gayatri Shah, Gaurav and Pratima Bhatia, Priya Jhaveri and Thierry Betancourt, amongst others,” we were told.

What’s more, the setting was quite spectacular. The ornate blue plaster decor within the theatre evoking the cinematic palaces of days of yore is said to have reminded Roohi Jaikishan about her family’s own movie theatre antecedents, (her family had owned theaters in both Mumbai and Karachi), while Moscow-based Zain Masud, formerly of Art Dubai, who had just landed in Mumbai from Delhi, is reported to have said she was already in love with all the city had to offer!

It didn’t hurt, either, to have delicious cheese platters by R R Oomberbhoy, champagne by Chandon and sumptuous desserts from La Folie to set the mood!

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