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Downtown: The Delhi-Mumbai Gazette

A swami and his quirky ends; Coke gets a Lift; artist Khantastic and a new FedEx-pression...

Downtown: The Delhi-Mumbai Gazette
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Playing Frozen Music

I am a channel to receive creativity," says Swami Devi Tarshito (whose passport name is an unlikely Nicola Strippoli). This disciple of Osho, an architect by training and interior designer by learning, was seen last week—in red trousers and an iridescent violet shirt—at the inauguration of The Gold and the Clay: Confluence of Traditions. But Tarshito’s personal outré seemed a bit jaded in comparison to his works, which were variously described in glowing terms, ranging from breathless to approving.

These included candles the size of humans, ceramic turtles, a wicker boat with a gong (something the kids found immensely engaging), gold-plated pottery and Madhubani and Kantha wall-hangings with quirky designs. The star exhibit, however, was a huge shrine of candles that produced light, heat, a shower of wax and, of course, a bagful of compliments. This energetic confluence was made possible with craftspeople from India, Nepal, Tibet and Tarshito’s native Italy, and presided over by the Italian embassy and the ministry of textiles. It was all meant to be, says Tarshito, a tribute to the people with a "gift to transform materials". However, that gift required a dash of ideating, which the architect-turned-collaborator gladly provided. The result, as Delhiites will be able to see till May end, is unprecedented originality.

Dhiraj Singh


Keys To Her Success

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan applauded energetically, as did the invited audience which sat spellbound through a 40-minute performance by French pianist Arianne Gray Hubert at the French Embassy in New Delhi recently. Hubert enthralled with her technical virtuosity sliding from Bach, Beethoven to Scribin with an ease of a trapeze artiste. The budding star has in the past few weeks performed at Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata. But that’s not all, the real test, she says, is to compose music for Bollywood. Is Anu Malik listening?

Bishwadeep Moitra


Getting Hot Over Cold Dinks

It’s time for the Coke and Pepsi annual slugfest that starts in April and continues right through the festive season of October. But the summer of 2001 will be a bit different, ostensibly because of two diametrically opposite marketing gameplans. Market leader Coca-Cola India, which notched up sales of 190 million cases across the country for a 14 per cent growth last year, says it will aim to increase profits through its newly devised ‘hub and spoke’ gameplan that focuses primarily on the country’s burgeoning rural bazaar (villages with a population of less than 5,000), a market many say continues to remain largely untapped.

The company, say insiders, also plans to launch a health drink (Lift), new variants (orange, mango and pineapple) of its Maaza brand and 500 ml Kinley bottled water at a low of Rs 4 per bottle.

Pepsi, which also notched up impressive sales last year, calls its move ‘shoulders of the season’ and wants to ride the forthcoming domestic cricket season with its carryaway 1.5 litre pet bottles that will now be available with freebies like chocolates and candies.

"Each summer is a different summer and a new battle because sales peak. Our urban base did not increase last year as per our expectations. The cricket season is starting and we would definitely like to cash in," remarks PepsiCo India executive director (marketing) Vibha Paul Rishi. The cola giants are fast realising that instead of trading charges over ad campaigns, it’s important to penetrate areas where chances of success are high.

Shantanu Guha Ray


Glamour Clamour

It was an art show with more beautiful people than paintings, what with Bollywood stars Rekha and Feroze Khan and the fashion world’s Rohit Bal alongside Delhi’s beautiful set gathering at India Habitat’s art gallery to celebrate the birth of an artist from their own midst.

The invites for Laila Khan Rajpal’s first solo show took care to spell out that the opening would be "at 7 pm sharp". It had little effect: Laila’s father and chief guest Feroze Khan walked in with the other chief guest, Rekha, more than 40 minutes late. But he made up by complimenting his daughter on the impressive turnout: "More than I got for my first film." Not that Laila’s works were any less eyecatching, with ghostly Meena Kumaris flitting among Roman ruins, but the audience won hands down, especially when reclusive beauties like Dilshad Khan and her daughter as well as cousin Suzanne, Hrithik Roshan’s bride, entered in a show of the legendary Khan khandaan solidarity.

Sheela Reddy


Image To The I-Max

Men are obsessed with size alright. And so there’s the Adlabs promoter Manmohan Shetty’s grand imax dome in Mumbai. Built at a cost of over Rs 50 crore, the imax dome-screen spreads over 13,700 sq ft and its theatre can seat 520 people. It was thrown open to the public by CM Vilasrao Deshmukh. Since Bharat Bala seems to have patented the exhibition of that slice of digital India where rural folks walk in long lines and dark children laugh for no reason, it was not surprising that one of the inaugural films was his India on imax. He has already been commissioned to direct the first exclusive Indian imax film, which will star Aishwarya Rai as the lead. The two imax flicks being shown now are Mysteries of Egypt and Blue Planet. Shetty plans to stretch the theatre into a multiplex, which will seat over 1,300. Only he wanted the CM to cut a different kind of red tape. Deshmukh promised to look into it. Now to if he keeps his word…

Manu Joseph


Express Intent

They’re calling it the ideal marketing exercise. And if successful, it could be a classic deal for the record books in India’s Rs 3,500-crore cargo business. Federal Express, which works in India through a tie-up with Blue Dart and dominates more than 60 per cent of the domestic market, wants a bigger share of the Indian pie. All this through a magazine that will tell Indian clothes makers everything about global fashion (read exports). But aren’t there enough magazines on the subject? Not so, because FedEx honchos believe a magazine will help their company target designers with exports on their minds. With Ritu Beri and Co’s recent overtures to the lucrative West, this one may just be a great idea.

Shantanu Guha Ray


A Show Of Flaming Passions

A bright shaadi ka mandap and bottles of bubbly from Moet & Chandon to go with it, all set up in a five-star discotheque—the perfect setting, one would say, for a typical Delhi wedding evening. This one, though was a departure from the usual—it was designer Suneet Varma’s bold dedication to a certain businessman, Vikas Malhotra, who tags along with him to invariably all parties. His latest muse and "not boyfriend", as the designer has graciously clarified.

Beyond that, Varma’s ‘Raptures’, his new spring-summer collection which was unveiled in New Delhi’s Hyatt Regency last week, had all that one has come to expect from the master designer—splashes of bright colours, amber chiffons and georgettes embellished with coloured beaded work and embroidery. The overplay of orange, yellow and pink on the short tunics with pants and two-piece sarees lent a young and breezy air to the evening’s show. And yes, there were the churidars too. It all went well with the mood that the designer appears to be in these days. For, Varma says that he is feeling rapturous, and the thanks for that went to Malhotra, for all his support and ‘inspiration’.

"These days I am creating and am not at all bothered about selling. I am doing it for myself," says Varma. And the show was a testimony to the designer’s labour of love—the sequences were pretty, the women even prettier. The clothes? They were beautiful, and shouted of femininity and wearability.

Bobby John Varkey

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