Reviving the handlooms of Banaras

"Growing up I had always seen my mother wearing her saree ulta. Little did I realise that I would be able to drape the saree in 54 different styles, as a single saree or a double. Obviously this is genetic," said BJP spokesperson and designer Shaina NC, daughter of the graceful Munira Chudasama, about her role in reviving Indian handlooms of Banaras under the Make in India campaign which culminates today in an installation at the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum, unveiled in the presence of CM Devendra Fadnavis.

Shaina NC and Munira Chudasama
Shaina NC and Munira Chudasama

"Our story started more than a year ago, when PM Narendra Modi pledged his commitment to the Make in India movement," said Shaina. "His steadfast commitment to his constituency Varanasi, and especially the commitment he has made to the weavers of Varanasi, inspired me deeply. That was when I decided to initiate the Banarasi Textiles Revival Movement," said the politician about the initiative that, in its current avatar, has over 70 designers pledged to the Banarasi Textiles Revival Movement!

"The many designers who have started work include Ritu Kumar and Krishna Mehta, who have been working tirelessly with local Varanasi weavers, and many of the other renowned names in Indian fashion, like Anita Dongre, Gaurav Gupta, Varun Bahl, Rina Dhaka, Manish Malhotra," she said.

"Our ultimate objectives are to ensure that the life of the weaver is enhanced," she said. And to that we add: how nice that after that shameful incident, when Anamika Khanna's exquisite works were not allowed to be shown at the same museum a few months ago by misguided political activists; fashion, textiles and aesthetics are being given their due where they should be.

Barkha's bizarre legal notice
As unabashed fans of Barkha Dutt, we wonder if there could be a more kick-ass interview given by a media icon, than Scroll's recent one with the Emmy-nominated TV anchor this week. ('People say news has become tamasha but don't stop watching it').

Barkha Dutt
Barkha Dutt

Never one to mince her words, pull her punches, or take part in any other tired old cliché, the star journalist and one of India's most respected voices, explains why she's started her own company, how TV has changed over the past two decades amongst other things.

We read through the interview again when we read Dutt's tweet, "In my mail today: a legal notice for being 'immoral' in criticising the Supreme Court judgment on 377 & treating gays a criminals." Knowing what a progressive and humanist she is, we asked the anchor for a comment that would 'knock their socks off'.

And of course we were not disappointed. "The only word for it is bizarre. We should all be fighting for decriminalisation of homosexuality. Taking that position is no disrespect for the judicial process or the judges. We should put pressure on the political class especially to change the law.

The buck stops with them, not the courts," said BD. Incidentally, here's a quote from her Scroll interview, "I reached a point where I don't take either the bashing or the praise seriously. Praise and criticism are two sides of the same coin and I wear both lightly." We like!

Vasant Valley voices
Move over all ye snotty Mumbai schools, this past week the capital was witness to 'Voices in Vasant Valley,' an initiative mooted by enterprising young students Sirhaan Seth and Esha Bharadwaj, that featured the likes of artist Bharti Kher, sarod player Ayaan Ali Khan, cricketer Unmukt Chand and MP Jay Panda.

Esha Bharadwaj and Sirhaan Seth (right) of Vasant Valley school
Esha Bharadwaj and Sirhaan Seth (right) of Vasant Valley school

"All students from class 9-12 were privy to the 30 minute talks. That aside, students from other schools in Delhi were also invited," said a guest adding, "The entire idea was organised by the students to create an inspiration ecosystem that would teach them things that textbooks cannot."

Vasant Valley, as the initiated would know, is an Aroon (India Today) Purie initiative. When will we see a similar initiative by some enterprising Mumbai students now? C'mon, put those expensive educations to good use now.

PC here there and everywhere
We had reported on the Priyanka Chopra sightings at up-market spaces across North America via promos for her upcoming TV debut in ABC's Quantico launching next month. Plastered across public spaces, our foxy desi girl with her celebrated child bearing hips, appears to be the toast of the NRI community.

Mira Nair, Chhabra and Vibha Bakshi
Mira Nair, Chhabra and Vibha Bakshi

Priyanka Chopra
Priyanka Chopra

"In all the years I have lived in New York City, I never thought this day would come — the face of a major Bollywood star, apni Priyanka Chopra on a cross-town MTA bus!" said Aseem Chhabra, director, New York Indian Film Festival, journalist and NYC resident for 34 years.

Always remember
Of course we love it when what we write is appreciated, but we were particularly pleased when Rhea Pillai posted our account of visiting her grandparents' apartment for the Rishi-Queenie party yesterday. "My grandfather Raja Dhanrajgir and Zubeida my grandma," said the attractive former model.

Rhea Pillai
Rhea Pillai

"Dhanraj Mahal, my home where I spent the first 20 years of my life," she said wistfully. We were particularly happy because it is so important to remember and acknowledge the great and the good in our lives.

After all, they can tear down our walls, shut down perfectly running adored little cafes, re arrange our roads, rewrite our textbooks and rename our avenues — but they will never, ever be able to take away our memories. Always remember. It drives your opponents crazy.

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