Between August 6 and 12, Lakme India Fashion Week is predicted to proceed smoothly in Mumbai but without the presence of some top city designers a la Shahab Durazi, Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla and Hemant Trevedi. Clarifying his position, Sumeet Nair, executive director of the Fashion Design Council of India, which manages the event, says: "All designers in the country were invited. If some chose not to participate, it was their personal decision. I don’t think there is a larger picture." But Mumbai designers complain in public and in private that the national body greatly favours Delhi designers (whom Anna Singh describes as "clannish"). Manish Malhotra, though, does not find anything wrong with that, putting into words what a lot of people in Mumbai don’t want to hear. "Fashion is in Delhi. The market is there. In Mumbai people are casual. In Delhi they are dressy. And they have extreme climatic conditions which breed a good fashion market." Oh no, says Anna: "There is only politics in Delhi. Most of the major fashion events are in Mumbai. On what basis does the Design Council decide who are the worthy designers to forecast trends in India?" But unlike last year, designers are careful not to be too expressive. Delhi designer Rohit Bal says he doesn’t want to talk about it. Will that stop the others?
Shui-Struck And Shining
Feng Shui, some may point out, came about as a method of selecting burial sites in China but over the centuries, it has moved away from being anything remotely morbid. Among the nervous, who flock to the Chinese art of correcting destiny, are falling stars of Bollywood. When Ajay Devgan lost about Rs 10 crore after the Raju Chacha tragedy, he approached author and Feng Shui master, Mohan Deep. "Money was leaving his household for the last two years till his mother sent him to me. After my tips, he has made good money by distributing two films," Deep says. He is not the only ‘master’ famous people are flocking to. Shekhar Suman, when Sony TV was apparently tormenting him, approached a Feng Shui guru, "who gave all the wrong tips", according to his friend. But, a change of master later, things started looking up and good. Karan Johar got Feng Shui done on the sets of his new film Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam. Amitabh Bachchan is another confirmed disciple. And, as Bollywood grapevine goes, a popular hero’s wife has approached a Feng Shui guru to "stop the man from sleeping around".
AB At Jaypee
The summit may have failed but those at Jaypee Hotel have still not forgotten the experience of hosting the leaders and their entourage. PM A.B. Vajpayee, who stayed in a relatively simpler suite, bereft of the hype and hoopla of the Amar Vilas Taj view, was satisfied with the hospitality and was confident that talks will continue. The optimism is evident in the note he wrote after the talks had failed. "I’m confident and I sincerely pray that the Agra Summit will ultimately prove to be a useful milestone along the high road to peace...," wrote Vajpayee. Musharraf, who penned his note while the talks were still on, wrote: "History is in the making in this hotel." The smartest one came from home minister L.K. Advani, who avoided mention of India and Pakistan and concentrated on the hospitality and the food. "The food was delicious and the service impeccable," he wrote. And there was no dispute on that.
B.B. Huria has been preparing crossword puzzles by the dozen every day. Now he launches his portal myxword.com where you have a crossword on everything, for anyone. "I have crosswords on politics, economy, engineering, medicine, architecture, sports, including those on kbc and Jeeto Chappar Phad Ke," says Huria, whose portal records more than 30,000 hits a day and is being linked with the country’s schools and colleges. His revenue model? Well, Huria, who’s helped by his mba daughter to update and add new puzzles everyday, just isn’t interested. Why? "Crossword is all about education and that can’t be priced." Priceless logic.
So you thought that mythologicals were a speciality of the idiot box. Tune in to radio. WorldSpace, the world leader in satellite radio that is slowly trying to build up a listenership in urban India, recently aired the Mahabharata on its literary channel. The WorldSpace Letters Channel broadcast the Mahabharata in English over a span of 13 hours via both its satellites—AfriStar as well as AsiaStar—making it the first time ever when the complete, uninterrupted Mahabharata (all of 1,00,000 stanzas and 107 stories) was presented to an international radio audience. The Letters Channel version of Mahabharata was based on the 1951 translation by well-known statesman and first Indian governor-general C. Rajagopalachari. "Though the Mahabharata comes from India, its great message speaks to all of us. We created our satellite radio infrastructure so people of all lands could share the riches of their culture with the world," says Noah Samara, chairman and ceo of WorldSpace Corporation. Next on the menu are more such classics from Africa, Arabia, East Asia and Latin America.
If it eventually happens, this could be a landmark for the Indian entertainment industry. His stint as Enron India ceo done, Sanjay Bhatnagar now plans to power his way into the entertainment business. And his coup would be pop music giant Quincy Jones’ possible association with Bollywood.
Bhatnagar, who resigned last year from Enron (following his shift to Singapore), has set up venture fund company ThotCapital Group, and is close to finalising a host of plans, both in India and for nris worldwide. Initial discussions about the project were formalised at Davos where Bhatnagar met Jones during the last World Economic Forum. Jones, credited for shaping the career of the legendary Michael Jackson, is said to have evinced interest for both music videos and scoring music for Indian movies shot in international locales. "Experimenting with Broadway theatre, Jones is also keen to replicate such possibilities in Indian cities through a joint venture," says a company official.
Analysts say ThotCapital’s idea makes sense. A large number of filmmakers of
Indian-origin (like Manoj Night Shyamalan and Tarsem Singh) have been, of late, making
films in Hollywood. Then, a host of Western filmmakers are producing films based on
Oriental themes; also, domestic filmmakers from both Mumbai and southern states are
increasingly travelling abroad to shoot their films due to whopping discounts offered by
various governments. ThotCapital is also contemplating producing for domestic channels
Indianised versions of globally popular gameshows in collaboration with international
channels (like cbs of the US). Whew! is all we can say.
Shantanu Guha Ray