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RITZ October 2013

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As we present to you a very special edition of RITZ, one that is high on style and fashion and even higher on entertainment, we are in the mood for celebration. Not just because the festive season is upon us, but also because October marks the fourth anniversary of our sister publication, Southscope, India’s leading south film magazine. This month will also be a hectic one for us, as the date for the fifth edition of the Audi RITZ Icon Awards, our one-of-its-kind initiative to honour inspirational South Indian icons on a national platform, fast approaches. As usual, expect the most sought-after film stars and the most awe-inspiring icons pioneering different fields and hailing from all over South India, right here in Chennai. Until next month, happy reading!
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As we present to you a very special edition of RITZ, one that is high on style and fashion and even higher on entertainment, we

are in the mood for celebration. Not just because the festive season is upon us, but also because October marks the fourth

anniversary of our sister publication, Southscope, India’s leading south film magazine. This month will also be a hectic one

for us, as the date for the fifth edition of the Audi RITZ Icon Awards, our one-of-its-kind initiative to honour inspirational South

Indian icons on a national platform, fast approaches.

As usual, expect the most sought-after film stars and the most awe-inspiring icons pioneering different fields and hailing from

all over South India, right here in Chennai.

Until next month, happy reading!

4 OCTOBER 2013

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INSIDEBUZZIN’We're buzzin about some sugar and some spice and

everything nice this October!


GLAM BRIGADEA round up of what the glitterati has been up to


SNAPPEDLast month's hot and happening events and launches

through our viewfinder


PORTFOLIOWe join in the fashion extravaganza that took place

at the London and New York fashion weeks while

showcasing some trailblazing designs that set the

runway on fire


HAUTE STUFFOur fash forward lineup includes getting your royal bling

right; the lowdown on quirky, artsy dresses and more


PERSONALITYA candid chat with the versatile Suhani Pittie shows us

why she is one of the top 10 most talented jewellery

designers in the world


74UBER LIVINGFrom the depths of the deep blue sea are harvested one

of the most beautiful gems ever known to man – Pearls.

Find out what goes behind the creation of these coveted

beauties and what makes them so valuable

78HAWKEYEDestination Divorces are slowly gaining acceptance –

we scan the trend of clubbing a holiday with breaking

one’s nuptials!

60ON OUR RADARWe go on a detailed tour of AM:PM designers Ankur

and Priyanka Modi’s plush and fuss-free Delhi home

80TAKE OFFPack your bags and head out for some live music

as we bring you the lowdown on the hottest music

festivals and camping festivals happening around the

country this year







6 OCTOBER 2013

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All correspondence should be addressed to:

RITZ, 7th Floor, Sigma Wing, Raheja Towers, 177, Anna Salai, Chennai 600002. Contact: 42113871 / 2

Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

Edited and Published by Aruna R Krishnan from 7th Floor, Sigma Wing, Raheja Towers, 177 Anna Salai, Chennai 600002.All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is strictly prohibited. RITZ is not responsible for unsolicited material. RITZ assumes no responsibility for the veracity and authenticity of the advertisements published herein. Readers are requested to make appropriate enquiries before incurring any expenses or acting on medical recommendations or otherwise in

relation to any advertisement or article published herein. Also views in articles published herein are those of the respective authors only. RITZ does not necessarily subscribe to these views.

To advertise in RITZ, call Praveen Kumar on 9841973090 / 044 42113871

INDULGEWe're on an overdose of foreign films this month as we

take a look at something to laugh over and something

else to ponder. Plus we get talking to the powerhouse

duo of Adil & Vasundhara on their music and writer

Ashwin Sanghi on his literary influences


MAINCOURSEVidya Singh and her stylish friends check out China XO

at The Leela Palace and come away happy while our

Hyderabad correspondent has an equally awesome

experience at The Olive Bistro


THE RITZ READERShruti Haasan gives us her idea of luxury and ‘the

good life’


OVER A CUPPADirector Guillermo Del Toro takes you behind the scenes of

his fantasy action flick Pacific Rim


VIEWPOINTAward-winning gallerist Sharan Apparao takes you step by

step towards preserving your works of art to be enjoyed

for years after, while Sujaya Chandran tells us why some

aspects of social networking are not working for her




8 OCTOBER 2013

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Diwali Delights from BISCOTTI

Choose from exclusive hand

crafted festive hampers that

you can customise as per your

desire. Take your pick from

traditional sweets and signature

Biscotti goodies like macaroons,

dry fruit halwa, dried apricots,

chocolate truffles, dark

chocolate bars, ladoos, cookies,

dry fruits and more. Available

in a range of festive colours

and sizes, starting at ` 499

onwards. To know more about

the Biscotti sweet surprises,

call Hyatt Regency Chennai

at +91 99620 01647.

Celebrate the weekend with

a difference at the first-of-

its-kind Sundown at 365 AS,

with six hours of unlimited

music, free flowing spirits,

BBQ and delectable food

fare to delight your soul.

Saturdays and Sundays

will never be the same in

Chennai. Starting October

2013 – 2 PM to 8 PM every

Saturday and Sunday at

365 AS at Hyatt Regency




10 OCTOBER 2013


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Lladró unveils the limited edition Ram Darbar

Frame your Style


This Diwali, the iconic 60-year old Lladró has

unveiled a special limited edition sculpture titled

Ram Darbar, at their flagship boutique at the

Bergamo Mall, Chennai.

Ram Darbar summarizes the best expressions

of Lladró’s work and includes the highest level

of excellence that the Lladró family has to offer.

The sculptures of Lakshman and Hanuman

capture the essence of unflinching devotion

to the Divine Couple. Drawing from the Hindu

iconography and embellished in finery, both

Lakshman and Hanuman are depicted in their

traditional posture, next to Ram and kneeling

in prayer respectively. This new creation

is a limited edition of 1800 pieces and is

approximately 46 x 29 cm in size,

available worldwide.

Ram Darbar is a part of The Spirit of India

collection, which includes other sculptures

such as Goddess Lakshmi, Ganesha

series, Divine Love, Radha Krishna, Lord

Krishna, Sacred Cow, Indian dance etc.

The luxurious attributes of the baroque and

enthralling wonders of India are captured in

the various pieces of this collection.

For those who love their shades, the Fall Winter

Diesel Eyewear collection is a collection worth

checking out. It suggests a new vision of style,

mainly inspired by denim, vintage and colorful

touches. Following the previous successful

season, Denimize shades make their comeback

with a full denim edition. Asymmetric temples

and exclusive real denim inserts transform the

unisex Wayfarer shape into an iconic piece

dedicated to real denim lovers. The captivating,

colourful collection, featuring mirror lenses and

unbalanced frames, is inspired by the most

unconventional people and sets a statement

worth your style.

Price: On Request

Availability: Available in all leading optical and

multi-branded stores across country

Spring/Summer or Fall/Winter, shades are a fashion constant. With Diesel and Marcolin collaborating to bring about Fall Winter 2013 collection, we find out more...

Ram Darbar, the limited edition Lladró stands true to the brand’s focus on heritage and craftsmanship…

12 OCTOBER 2013


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Every Diwali, we promise not to overeat

but still end up devouring many boxes of

fattening sweets. This year, why not switch

to healthier options like dry fruits and

chocolates, which are much lighter on the

stomach? For healthy but tasty gifts, head

to Brown Tree this festive season where

you can choose from a wide range of dry

fruit hampers and imported chocolates like

Lindt, Hersheys etc.

It has been four successful years since

young entrepreneurs Dinesh Kumar and

Abhinandan B started Brown Tree. Since

then, they have opened 16 stores, of which

are 12 in Chennai and four in Bengaluru.

The duo plans to open many more in every

major city in the country, very soon.

Says founder Abhinandan B, “This Diwali,

gift health to your loved ones with our wide

range of dry fruit hampers. The advantage

of gifting dry fruits is that they have a longer

shelf life compared to sweets. Plus, a lot

of people are unable to eat sweets due

to diabetes etc., so dry fruits are a good

alternative for them. We have a wide range

of price points as well; we have gifts from

` 120 to ` 4000. So, there is something for

everyone at Brown Tree.”

Perfect gifting solutions

One of their best-selling gifts is the

intricately designed gold or silver-coloured

basket, which features apricots centered

around cashewnuts, almonds, raisins and

pistachios in a pleasing arrangement.

The whole pack is sealed with a thick

transparent film with the dry fruits packed

individually inside. It makes for a great

corporate or private gift. Another fast

mover is the ornate fruit gift box inspired

by the art of Rajasthani royalty, complete

with coloured, jade-like metallic finish,

sure to create a lasting impression. This

compartmentalised gift box contains the

finest quality of cashew nuts, almonds,

raisins and pistachios.

Brown Tree also has a Celebrations and

semi-ornate range which is suitable for all

occasions. This dry fruit gift box comes

with an ethnic touch, using designs inspired

from the traditional block-prints of India. It

comes with a brilliant shine derived from

the glass embedded on the boxes, packed

with loads of healthy dry fruits to fulfill the

nutritious dietary needs of your loved ones.

Healthy yet tasty

Brown Tree also offers organic and natural

foods, gourmet coffee beans, cereals,

biscuits, instant noodles, roasted snacks,

teas and sugar free products. Freshness

and goodness is the driving motto of the

founders at Brown Tree. “All the products

are healthy, yet there is no compromise on

taste. Going forward, we hope to continue

to delight our customers with our healthy

offerings,” signs off Abhinandan as he gets

ready for another exciting festive season.

Not surprising then, that Brown Tree is

fast becoming everyone’s favorite health

food store.

Call the toll free number 1-800-1023360 for bulk orders.

Brown Tree promises to make your festive season extra special and healthier with a even wider range of yummy gift hampers, says Richa Tilokani.


Gift Brown Tree


14 OCTOBER 2013


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Sanskrriti offers a range of custom-made, ethnic, and innovative wedding trousseau packaging, corporate gift hampers and festive giveaways to complement any celebratory occasion. Sanskrriti works closely out an inimitable style to your

celebrations, making every moment count.

Old No. 14, New No. 15, Sulaiman Zackariah Avenue, Casa Major Road, 3rd Lane, Egmore, Chennai - 600008.Ph: 2819 4489, 64992496 | Email: [email protected]

Weekdays: 10am – 7:30pm | Closed on Sunday

Trousseau packing | Gift boxes | Gift packing | Garlands and more...

Celebrating in Style

where celebrations become grander

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With the festive season around the corner, The Chennai Silks is all geared up to make your shopping experience even more special…


style this festivaly


This Diwali, The Chennai Silks brings

you a lot of surprises loaded with some

enviable and exquisite collections. Get

geared up for the grand sale this festive

season. One of their signature designs

this month includes the Perfumed sarees,

which will stir the senses of every woman.

The saree is crafted in a way that it

retains its fragrance for a minimum of 20

washes. This is something that has never

been attempted before in the history of

the traditional saree!

The Chennai Silks has also launched a unique

product in the kids' segment called 'Bublee

- 2500 in 1' for the first time in the world,

where kids can wear a single outfit in 2500

different styles. Likewise, The Chennai Silks

is also launching various innovative clothing

merchandise for boys like reversible t-shirts,

reversible bermudas and convertible pants.

Besides these innovative designs, comes

the 30-metre skirt and top set with shawl for

teen girls, which will definitely jazz up your

wardrobe this festive season.

18 OCTOBER 2013


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Casa Paradox hits French Shores

Raseel Gujral Ansal, drawing

inspirations from the two

facets of India, the sublime

and the irreverent, recently

showcased her much-

anticipated collections –

Neophile and Illustratti – at

Maison et Objet, a major

French trade fair for interior

design. As always, Casa

Paradox transforms the

lifestyle of its clients, by

providing a space that is

novel yet familiar, with the

only constant being luxury

and elegance. The luxury

design brand continues to

deliver the top trends with

distinct and bold collections.


20 OCTOBER 2013


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One Among The StarsWith the introduction of its

Constellation Star in two sizes,

Omega joined hands with Orbis

International and its Flying Eye

Hospital, which delivers high-level

eye care to some of the world’s

more remote regions. With the debut

of its exquisite and sophisticated

Constellation Star 24mm and

27mm, Omega demonstrates its

connection to social responsibilities

and has made it possible for watch

enthusiasts to make their own

contribution to Orbis International

and its efforts to fight preventable

blindness around the world. The

Omega Constellation Star 27mm

features a distinctive sun-brushed

blue dial with applied 18-carat white

gold elements and white Super

LumiNova on the hands. Its stainless

steel case gleams with a diamond-

paved bezel and is attached to a

stainless steel bracelet, giving this

unique wristwatch a timeless yet

bold appearance.


22 OCTOBER 2013


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Combine jewellery and good sound with

these exclusive 18-carat gold earphones by

Stockholm-based Happy Plugs.

25 grams of gold are hand-moulded into

shape by a Swedish goldsmith, giving it

as much importance as crafting a piece

of jewellery. For those who are conscious

about the price, Happy Plugs has also

introduced similar metallic versions in silver

and gold shades, costing ` 2000 (approx)

as compared to ` 90,000 (approx) for the

solid gold ones. Upgrade your look and

make some noise!

Crafted by hand, the new 18-carat gold earphones by Happy Plugs is an aural masterpiece

Golden Hearing

After her successful spring collaboration

with makeup giant MAC, singer Rihanna’s

fall line with the cosmetics brand has

been a much-awaited one. In addition

to bronzer, blushes, mascara, eye

shadow palettes and liners, the Fall

2013 Collection ‘RIRI hearts MAC’

will offer Rihanna's signature lipsticks

including ‘RiRi Woo’, which was a huge

sensation from her previous collection.

All products are encased in rose gold

metallic packaging, a stark deviation from

the usual MAC black. The range releases

internationally on October 3.

Makeup brand MAC ties up with Rihanna to launch an exclusive line of cosmetics titled ‘RIRI hearts MAC’…

A touch of RiRi’s Style!


24 OCTOBER 2013


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A new mode of travel has been conceptualised by UK-based designer Mac Byers, which

allows guests to reach a wide range of destinations in a short time, while enjoying some

of the greatest views imaginable. The airship looks like one inspired by Star Wars and the

NASA space shuttle. The interiors are as open as possible encouraging social interaction

like a full service hotel in the sky with at least one restaurant and a bar. Take a look at these

awe-inspiring pictures.

Mac Byers’ concept airship is a blend of Star Wars and a NASA space shuttle, and

can hit long distances in the shortest time

A new concept of travel

26 OCTOBER 2013


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Canali hits Chennai!

Adding to the brand blitz that's hitting Chennai this year, famed

Italian luxury menswear brand Canali launched its boutique at the

Bergamo Mall in the city. The occasion brought the glitterati of

the social circuit together while showcased on mannequins was

their stunning AW 13 Collection. Paolo Canali, third generation

of the Canali family and group commercial director of the brand,

was present at the event.

Deepika & Radhika Shobha & Swati Heeba & Omar SaitPaolo Canali & Karti


Lanka Lingam

Ajay & Garima Agarwal

Celebs at Rehana's store launch

Designer Rehana launched her latest collection at her new store

on Harrington Road. The event was graced by actresses Urvashi

and Lakshmi Rai as well as Lizzy Priyadrashan, who were all

spotted checking out the clothes.

28 OCTOBER 2013


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Gatsby Re-invented

The launch of the all-new Gatsby

store at Kakani Towers, Khader

Nawaz Khan Road, and their

fabulous new brand, Aliph, featured

a stylish and classy range of

ethnic, western, formal and casual

wear for men. Soon to make an

international debut, Aliph wows

with its excellent attention to detail

– from the most luxurious and

well-priced clothes to accessories

such as a range of ties, bowties,

cummerbunds, pocket squares,

cufflinks and stoles to custom-

made shoes, the store has it

all. At the launch, long-time

customers who dropped in to wish

Rafiq and Omar Sait were heard

complimenting the father-son duo

on their great new venture.

VBJ Re-loaded

Last month, the well-

known and trusted

Vummidi Bangaru

Jewellers (VBJ) re-

launched their exclusive

flagship showroom, on

Anna Salai, in Chennai.

The all-new showroom

houses what VBJ, over

the last century has been

best-known for – a large

and stunning variety of

gold, diamonds, platinum

and gemstone-studded

jewellery. The heirloom

bridal jewellery collection

will also be launched at the

new showroom, soon.

36 OCTOBER 2013


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Achievers Galore

The prestigious Jaguar Land

Rover Women Achievers

Awards were given away in

Chennai recently. Recipients

included well-known

transgender television

presenter Apsara Reddy,

actress Lissy Priyadarshan

and Sonika Jain, Vice

President, Taj Group of

Hotels, South India. Sanjeev

Subramanian of VST Grandeur

presented the Awards. The

wine and cheese affair,

which was hosted by Pooja

Malhotra, also saw a special

focus on the sensational new

Jaguar F-Type.

OCTOBER 2013 37




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The Mentalist engages


Celebrated performer and mind

reader Lior Surchard, who has

been publicly declared as the

next Uri Geller, was in Chennai

recently and he awed the

audience with his unique set of

mental skills. Surchard engaged

with members of the audience to

perform his acts, interacted with

them and elated their senses

by taking them on an exciting

adventure built on drama,

tension and astonishment

doused with a huge sprinkling of

humour, comedy and fun. The

event was conducted by MMRT

3 and MMLC 4, both part of the

Round Table of India movement.

38 OCTOBER 2013


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Asmita Aggarwal takes alspin around the intrepid andinnovative designs that hit the runway at two of the ‘BigFour’ of international fashion weeks – London and New York – and finds that ‘simplicity’ issometimes overrated.

The recently-concluded annual installment

of both the London and New York Fashion

Week – which are touted to be two among

the big four of fashion weeks that include

Milan and Paris – was definitely an event

that the updated fashionista must follow.

Especially since the designs showcased

here annually define the trends and styles

for the rest of the year! Of course, while it

is still the most trend-setting and intrepid

among the four, the London Fashion Week

has always screamed youth, rock n’ roll and

the irreverent lifestyle, be it in attitudes or

fashion. Meanwhile, the New York Fashion

Week took on more sombre tones, leaning

towards the professional. Here’s a roundup

of our favourites from the runway.

Cropped white tops teamed up with

striped floor-length skirts, inspired

by the Kinetic Art Movement, a

takeoff from the Impressionist

painters of the 1800s. Simply put,

it was a tribute to 3D, and that’s

why there was an extensive use of

organza giving the line a dreamy

look. Venezuelan artists Carlos Cruz

-Diez and Jesus Rafael Soto being

her muses, Carolina Herrera played

with optical illusion to give her

geometric motifs a stunning angle.

40 OCTOBER 2013


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Carolina Herrera

OCTOBER 2013 41




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Delicate, flowery and fit for a lover of all

things divine, Marchesa flirted with tulle

and lace to give 20s and 30s glamour

a new twist. What were endearing

were the 3-D flowers and dip-dyed

feathers in the hair that gave models

a sylph-like look. Georgina Chapman

and Keren Craig’s storyline was ultra

feminine and super glam, perfect for

the glitzy red carpet.

42 OCTOBER 2013


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Marchesa Spring 2014

OCTOBER 2013 43




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Jack McCollough and

Lazaro Hernandez

paid a tribute to all

things comfortable yet

on-trend. Their gold

pleated silk skirts and

Moroccan weaving,

low necklines, superbly

crafted coats with

clean, architectural

lines and wood

platforms spelt pure

sophistication. The

foil print dresses

were structured and

the silver and bronze

plates crafted into

cropped tops were

worn with natty

culottes. Monochrome

fiber prints and multi-

layered suits brought

back the softer look.

44 OCTOBER 2013


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Proenza Schouler Spring 2014

OCTOBER 2013 45




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Rose Pink and lemony shades

made a Burberry girl’s summer

quieter with Christopher Bailey

playing with Scottish cashmere

and Merino wool. Interspersing

lace and transparency, he created

a romantic mood with a subtle and

gentle line which also had plastic

jackets and laser-cut leather.

46 OCTOBER 2013


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Burberry Prorsum

OCTOBER 2013 47




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It was Emma Hill’s swan song, her last

line, as she bids farewell. Her knee length

coats in divine white, wide legged pants

and florals made it a spring to remember.

Cara Delevingne, with her bushy eyebrows,

carried the silk jacquards to perfection,

but who can forget the delicious bags the

company is known for!

48 OCTOBER 2013


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Glittery, shimmering and

ideal for a woman who

likes, well…a lot of bling,

Tom Ford, fashion’s

poster boy, sent down

models in body hugging

catsuits, zebra prints and

cobweb-like designs.

The man who reinvented

Gucci in the 90s taking

it to new heights, this

time dresses the sexy

woman in safari suits,

monochromatic tuxedos

and of course, bondage


52 OCTOBER 2013


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Tom Ford

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Floral jacquard shorts

by Red Valentino


ida P


in S

anchita a


Cannes fi

lm festival

Starburst embellishment

on jacquard top

by Marks & Spencer

Metallic brocade and

stretch wool peplum jacket

by Prabal Gurung

Sequin embellished crepe dress

by Victoria, Victoria Beckham

Cream pearl

embellished pencil skirt

by River Island

Embellished cotton jersey

sweatshirt by Lanvin

Forest fern strappy top

by French Connection

Embellished metallic jacquard

mini dress by Balmain

With the festive season upon us,

this fall trend is sure to make you

go back in time, look and feel like

a real queen at every social do.

Eye-catching embroidery, oversized

gemstones, rich fabrics and

statement jewelery characterize this

more-is-more look, while maintaining

a modern edge. Step up your style

quotient next time you’re stepping

out, but don’t forget the bold

attitude and loads of confidence!

Vira Shah tells you how to get it right with the royal bling

All hail the Royal Bling!

Gold sequinned bodice

dress with mesh skirt

by Forever New

OCTOBER 2013 55






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Baroque pearl clutch

by Accessorize

Mesh clutch with pearls and crystals

by Rachana Reddy

Tone on tone pink clutch

by Balmain

Pearl and gold studding

by Marchesa

Vine evening bag

with floral beadwork

by Hidesign


use o

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Statement bracelet by House of Chic

Gold rose sunglasses

by Dolce & Gabbana

Embellished heeadband

by Deepa Gurnani

Chandelier earrings

by Notandas & Sons


Pearl and gold bracelet

by Alexander McQueen

available at Kitsch

56 OCTOBER 2013


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Metalwork with stones on

pumps by Bruno Magli

Thread and stone embroidered platforms

by Metro

Mosaic heel mary jane pumps

by Dolce & Gabbana

Vintage floral inlay pumps

by Roberto Cavalli

Beaded and sequinned slippers

by Roger VIvier

Jewel like nail sparkling

powders by Dior


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by S



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DNA,” says Jayesh.

Quirk Box offers dresses from ` 2,000

onwards, and they have interesting concepts

like Dream Factory, Solider, Dolls and Toy

factory designs. “We also have stationery,

home décor items, cushion covers, coasters,

wall art, furniture and mugs. For our Lakme

Fashion Week collection, we have knew

that we were addressing a prêt audience,

but have played with loud prints, and added

colour blocking to make them sparkle,”

says Jayesh.

Most fabrics are georgette and silks,

as the focus remains colour – lots of it.

“Indians love colour, and even though we

don’t believe in trends, prints will remain

our mainstay, irrespective of whether they

are internationally ‘in’ or not,”

concludes Jayesh.

After working for an advertising agency in

Singapore, Jayesh quit to return to India

and immerse himself in art. He has also

painted canvases for the screening of Ketan

Mehta’s film at the Cannes Film Festival.

“Art must not be restrictive, that’s why I

like Andy Warhol’s work. It was fun and

everyone could get it,” he says.

The design sensibility of Quirk Box is well …

quirky and what distinguishes it from other

labels is that all the artwork is original, done

by Jayesh. Their forte is prints … so you

will see offbeat, unconventional ones in the

most eye-popping hues. Nothing is subtle,

everything is a bit over-the-top, ranging

from the fuchsias and neons to tangerines.

“We wanted to give women something

that was original. I am quite inspired by the

Japanese Manga comics too, so you will

see some bits that come into the label’s

Jayesh Sachdev loved art and honed his

brush strokes in Singapore, but little did he

know that he would win the British Council

Award in 2008, and meet another awardee

Rixi Bhatia, and that it would be a life-

changing event.

“Being an artist you can only paint 10-

15 canvases in a year, restricting my

audience to a few people who understand

and appreciate art. I thought this was a

bit elitist, as art must be accessible to

everyone, and that’s how the idea of Quirk

Box, our lifestyle and fashion label came

about in 2011,” says Pune-based Jayesh,

who graduated in Visual Communication

from the Lasalle College of the Arts,

Singapore. He has founded his own art and

design studio under the name of Emblem

Studios, and admits he is inspired by

greats like Andy Warhol and Peter Philips.

Two designers from Pune give Asmita Aggarwal the lowdown on some original artwork on natty dresses…

Making Quirky Cool

58 OCTOBER 2013


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Elephants have been an integral part of the

rich culture of Asia. They occupy a very special

place in India, as they are worshipped in our

country. Yet, as is common knowledge, Asian

elephants are widely subjected to various forms

of cruelty and abuse and their numbers are

fast dwindling. For centuries, they have been

part of circuses and are routinely subjected

to extremely hard labour. In our country, they

have even been made to beg on the streets.

Of late, there are several movements being

spearheaded to liberate the elephants and help

them regain their lost freedom. Besides the

conservation programs and other such, many

people have sought to raise awareness about

and love for elephants through art.

In 2006, father and son duo Marc and Mike

Spits initiated the first open air art exhibition

called the Elephant Parade with a strong motive

to conserve Asian elephants and ensure their

welfare. The parade includes creative life-size

models of elephants from various parts of

the globe that are created by reputed fashion

designers. And for the very first time the parade

witnessed a jewellery designer extend her

support to the cause. Mirari, a premier name

in luxurious jewellery in India, designed one of

the marvelous elephants for the parade. Mira

Gulati of Mirari is the first jewellery designer in

the world to have participated in this globally

renowned Parade.

Mira says, “Elephant Parade is a brand in

itself, and over the years, has shown immense

growth all the while helping in the best possible

way to conserve elephants. My support is

minimal in the context of the entire Parade

but this being my first exposure I gave it my

best shot. Elephants are an essential part

of the diverse Indian wildlife and saving this

endangered species is a must. The elephant

designed by us stands in majestic testimony to

the rich culture of India and my love for it.” Each

year, the elephant models designed as part of

this exhibition are auctioned, and the proceeds

are donated to the Asian Elephant Foundation.

Mirari is possibly the first jewellery designer in the world to

have designed for the globally-renowned Elephant Parade

Mirari �� ���

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AM:PM designers Priyanka and Ankur Modi don’t like a dressed up home gleaming with silver or expensive art, as

their contemporary home is simple, fuss-free, plush and airy! Asmita Aggarwal takes a detailed tour...

60 OCTOBER 2013


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Beaming with sunlight, and peace,

despite being in Friends Colony, a posh,

bustling area in the national capital, the

quiet, organic feel of Priyanka and Ankur

Modi’s home is refreshing. And as the

AM:PM designers say in unison, “We

wanted it to be welcoming and inspiring.

Not opulent and bursting at the seams

with Lladro and Royal Doulton. In fact,

we don’t understand the concept of

showpieces, a house must be functional

and we have made it effective in our own

innovative way.”

Living with her mom-in-law, the veteran

designer Anju Modi, has been rewarding

for Priyanka, who belongs to the Birla

family, and moved to the city six years

ago from Kanpur after she tied the knot

with Ankur and today their two boys,

Aryaman, 3, and Adhiraj, 7, are the light

of their lives.

Taking The Tour

On the top-most floor of the building,

the third, the house has a drawing and a

dining room, a lovely terrace and the kids’

rooms. The beauty of this contemporary

home lies in its simplicity and elegance.

You won’t find any expensive silver or

brocades, but what you will is muted,

warm colours, and demarcations all

executed in glass to give it a seamless,

free-flowing, light feel. The sliding doors

which divide the dining area from the

gallery offer an illusion of space too. “We

got a wall broken down to make it into a

glass window so that we could allow the

greenery to come inside,” says Priyanka.

The drawing room has a big sofa, a low

lying and unconventional table, floor

cushions and to spice things up a bit, they

have a stone wall to add a rustic charm.

The dining room has a cosy, marble top

table and the adjoining room is a puja room,

but what makes it sparkle are the dull green

walls combined with pure white. “My mom-

in-law’s bedroom is her sanctuary, it has a

massive laser-cut stone door with a floating

bed inside. The textured wall is where the

TV is placed and the long book rack that

hits the ceiling is really the best part. Ma

likes to work in her room, so we have a

small desk and chair. But she also has a

walk-in closet that is quite expansive. After

all she is an established designer who has

been in the fashion business for more than

twenty years,” she smiles.

On the other hand, Priyanka’s bedroom

has almost meditative walls, and she has

the privilege of enjoying the balcony. “I sit

and sip my morning cuppa here and it is

as if everyday I send out an invitation for

the leafy trees to join me! I like natural light,

so the glass allows us to enjoy this simple

luxury. We don’t put things where they fit,

rather we try to keep everything in harmony

with what is existing,” she says.

With most of the furniture in light grey and

white, Priyanka has kept her abode free

from any ornamentation or heavy, rich-

looking fabrics. Instead, she has played

with soft lighting to maintain equanimity.

Featuring straight lines, a clean flat plan and

shaded lamps carefully placed to brighten

up nooks and corners, this modern

home is tasteful and graceful. “I think

OCTOBER 2013 61







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thoughtful design is all about less is more

and keeping it clutter-free and airy. So our

home is luminous with lots of open spaces,

unhindered ventilation, smart lighting

and touches of white which add purity

and a certain rhythm and tranquil fluidity.

Maybe that’s why we leave our windows

undressed,” she explains.

That Special Vibe

What makes the home special is her two

boys, who add unconditional love and

happiness in her hectic life. Adhiraj’s room

is more practical, it has wooden flooring,

thereby eliminating the need for exotic

carpets. “Hardwood floors are versatile

and to tell you the truth we couldn’t

decide between walnut, hickory and wild

oak, but liked the wider planks to give the

feeling of more space, so we opted for

them. The wooden floors add a colonial,

old world charm to the room and make it

fuss-free for kids, who leave their toys on

the floor. It is also easy to clean,”

she explains.

The blue room also has a huge sofa so that

Priyanka after a hard day’s work can hang

out with her son, read a story or simply

play with him. “Adhiraj loves music and

responds to it like a true musician; he gets

so immersed in the beats that it is a treat to

watch him. We have kept a music system

in his room, and he listens to whatever

catches his fancy – from Bollywood to

classics,” she confesses.

Aryaman’s room has a low bed, white

wooden flooring and three walls painted

with farm animals that he loves to identify,

giggling every time he gets it right. “He has

bright, green shelves and a small wooden

cabinet with colourful handles which perks

up his space, instantly. We crafted a play

area within the room so that there are many

things that will spark his imagination, like art

projects, Lego or word games, which are

engaging and meaningful, rather than just

mindless TV watching,” she says.

In a world that has an over-stimulated,

commoditized culture the Modis prefer an

unadorned home that simplifies life down

to the essentials. As Priyanka concludes,

“It may be cheesy, and an adage often

misused, but home is where the heart is.”

62 OCTOBER 2013


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Jullaaha, the eco boutique run by Jayadevi Cholayil is home to exquisite handicrafts, garments, soaps, spa products and so much more, as Richa Tilokani finds out.

������������ ������������������

64 OCTOBER 2013


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Jullaaha’s four exotic ayurvedic soaps are

orange and cinnamon; melon and aloe

vera; saffron and sandal; and goat milk

and jojoba and honey bathing bars. The

orange and cinnamon bar is an effective

anti-wrinkle soap, which imparts a radiant

glow. It is made of jojoba oil, coconut

butter, kokum butter, avocado butter and

glycerine. The melon and aloe vera bar

helps to gently purify and remove dead

cells. It is made from vegetable glycerine,

olive oil, grape seed oil, loofah and aloe

vera extract.

The fragrant saffron and sandal bar is

effective in whitening and depigmentation

and is made of natural ingredients

like sandal, saffron, sweet almond oil,

wheatgerm oil, and vitamin E. The goat

milk, jojoba and honey soap helps

to whiten and soothe the skin and is

made from cocoa butter, jojoba butter,

grapeseed oil, shea butter, papaya extract

and honey.

Wide Range of Ayurvedic products

Jullaaha also offers a number of other

new Ayurvedic products like, “Aloe vera

gel, natural hair colour, anti-dandruff hair

oil, virgin coconut oil, golden glow oil (for

enhancing fairness) and a herbal body

wash, which are already in demand. At

Jullaaha, we believe in leading a sustainable

lifestyle with minimum damage to the

environment. All our products are made

using natural processes and organic

materials, so you get a sense of wellness

associated with our brand,” shares Jaya.

Jayadevi’s keen sense of observation

inspires her to learn from both the ordinary

and the exotic around her. Her travels

around the world also give her a unique

perspective and a keen insight into

consumer mindset and the overall market.

Giving back

It's not surprising that the Cholayil Group

(which also manufactures the famous

Medimix soap), has pioneered the

contemporary use of Ayurveda in our

country, earning the trust of millions of

Indians and was recently included in the top

100 brands in an Economic Times country-

wide survey. The Cholayil Group also plays

an important role in society, bridging the

gap between the ethical consumer and the

poor craftsmen of the country. Jayadevi’s

initiatives at Jullaaha have improved the

overall well-being of the local communities

and made them self-sufficient. Under her

trained and watchful eye, the inherent and

untapped manual skills of the talented

artisans have been skilfully mobilised in

designing for Jullaaha. They transform

traditional kalamkari and batik prints into

eclectic creations, which are then worn all

over the world.

“We are very proud of our traditional craft

and it is important that we support them so

they can retain their rich legacy. Our country

has a rich resource of excellent weavers and

craftsmen and their talent needs to be shared

with the world,” says Jayadevi happily.

Looking ahead

Jayadevi is also excited about the future

of Jullaaha’s new Ayurvedic products. They

provide a healthy alternative to the mass

produced and non-natural options available

in the market today. The packaging lends

a contemporary glamour to the products,

blending seamlessly with the Indian design,

giving them a unique look.

“I want the users of the exotic soaps and spa

products to feel luxurious, even royal as they

pamper themselves with the goodness of our

ancient heritage,” ends Jayadevi as she gets

busy with the new products at Jullaaha.

“Be the change you want to be” said

Mahatma Gandhi. And Jayadevi Cholayil

is one to take his advice seriously. Tired

of the empty words of support to the

handicrafts industry from the fashion

world, Jayadevi decided to take matters

into her own hand. Combining her twin

passions of fashion and philanthropy, she

started Jullaaha with the aim of helping

poor local women. Today, Jullaaha stocks

a wide variety of products made by these

women and various NGOs who support

impoverished communities.

Jullaaha reflects Jayadevi’s love for colour,

travel, excellence and all things beautiful

and exotic. No wonder, it is renowned for its

high quality handcrafted garments, exotic

Ayurvedic soaps and spa products. With a

background in Ayurveda and soap making,

it’s not surprising that its exotic Ayurvedic

segment is doing well both nationally and

internationally. Jullaaha is also known for

its beautiful and warm ambience, which

has been decorated with knick-knacks

collected by Jayadevi during her travels

around the world.

Exotic Ayurvedic soaps

Says Jayadevi, “I recently travelled to

Singapore, Dubai and Bologna for a series

of exhibitions and showcased our exotic

Ayurvedic products there. The response

was overwhelming and showed that the

market for our Ayurvedic products is very

large and widespread.”

The Jullaaha soaps are the latest

offerings from the green boutique and

are based on our ancient 5000-year-old

Ayurvedic system. Made from fruits,

spa oils and all things organic, these

hand-made soaps are a great way to

bring wellness into our lifestyle, sans

chemicals and harmful products.

OCTOBER 2013 65






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choices, sending you on a delightful

gastronomic adventure. The USP of the

Lobby Café is that it offers live cooking

options for a variety of cuisines like Indian,

European, and Chinese. “You can sample

some of the best herb spiced Indian

delicacies, aromatic Chinese and live

traditional Italian oven-baked pizzas and

pastas right here in the city. Lobby Café

also serves buffet breakfast everyday and

brunch buffet on all Sundays,” says Sanjoy.

The live kitchen attached to the restaurant

provides a lot of add-ons which are freshly

made according to the different choices of

the guests. It also offers food connoisseurs

a delicious spread of healthy soups, salad

bars, dessert bars and even live music to

keep them company. The a-la-carte menu

features pre-plated options, with cuisines

from around the world to suit every palate.

Best of Southern hospitality

An offering from the Radha Hotels, the

Radha Regent is a premium hotel with

great infrastructure, amazing service and a

reputation that precedes it. Located just a

few metres from the biggest bus terminus

in Asia and close to the Chennai airport, it is

easily accessible to everyone. It is especially

convenient for corporates who do not have

many options in that area. The restaurant

seats 100 people and includes an exclusive

personalised dining hall.

The Radha Regent has been a trend-setter

among city hotels, after ushering in the pub

culture with their Geoffrey’s Pub a decade

ago. Now with Lobby Café, the hotel delights

diners with remarkable interiors, great service

and competitive pricing, making it one of

the most popular restaurants in the city. The

elegant ambience adds to the charm of the

place and creates a wonderful atmosphere to

relax and unwind.

The Lobby Café is located at Hotel Radha Regent on 171, Jawahar Lal Nehru Salai, Inner Ring Road, Arumbakkam, Chennai. For reservations contact +91 44 66778899.

The relaunched Lobby Café at the Radha Regent Hotel, Chennai, is the best place to enjoy an extra large buffet and a good conversation, as Richa Tilokani finds out.

Cuisines & Conversations

Chennaiites have a great new place

to hang out – the all-new relaunched

Lobby Café at the Radha Regent Hotel

at Arumbakkam. The Lobby Café is a

round-the-clock multi-cuisine restaurant,

which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner

buffets. A 17-year-old establishment, the

Lobby Café has now been renovated and

completely refurbished to offer the best

of Southern hospitality in a contemporary

manner. It is open 24 hours and situated at

the lobby level, hence the name.

Shares Sanjoy Kumar Das, General

Manager, Radha Regent Hotel, “Earlier the

restaurant was known as the Café in the

Park, but now it has been relaunched in a

modern avatar. The new Lobby Café brings

an extraordinary contemporary ambience

with an extra large buffet spread, which will

appeal to all our patrons.”

A gastronomic adventure

The Lobby Café offers one of the most

lavish spreads in the city and exotic cuisine

66 OCTOBER 2013


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All of 32, she has recently been listed by the World Gold Council as one of the top 10 most inventive and ingenious jewellery designers in the world. She has won several Awards including the prestigious Audi RITZ Icon Award 2012 and has been named by Vogue Italia as one of the 5 designers to watch out for in India. Even the iconic Jimmy Choo has praised her designs and her jewellery is regularly worn by A-list film stars and well-known personalities across the country. Presenting the super talented Suhani Pittie, in conversation with Vinita Nayar.

Guts n' Glitter

Powered by Bols

68 OCTOBER 2013


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Wardrobe and Accessories by Suhani Pittie

Hair and Make up by Sandy

Photography by Sucharitha Rao

Location: The Park, Hyderabad

OCTOBER 2013 69






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70 OCTOBER 2013


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Suhani Pittie never planned on becoming a

jewellery designer; she was a gemmologist

who turned to jewellery design by chance.

But what a chance that has been!

Today, this talented young Hyderabad-

based designer has gained national and

international recognition and awards that

have catapulted her into a league of her

own. She has also launched her online

store www.suhanipittie.com/shop, another

successful venture from this gifted lady. The

younger sister of India’s most sought-after

fashion designer Anamika Khanna, Suhani

opens up to RITZ about her business,

the challenges she faced, her passion for

design and her own style quotient...

What inspired you to become a

jewellery designer? Tell us how you

took your interest forward.

My career as a jewellery designer was

absolutely unplanned. I was teaching

gemmology in Kolkata before moving to

Hyderabad in 2004. One fine day, I was

toying with some old silver. I heated it, and

made something for my mum-in-law and got

orders on it from most people who saw it on

her. Thereafter, I participated in Bridal Asia.

My work got picked up by some leading

stores, and suddenly I found myself a career!

My first love was gemmology. I was never

inclined towards design or jewellery.

I have always enjoyed getting into the

thick of the technicalities. Whether its

gadgets or cars or even the refractive

indices of gemstones, I am a sucker for

detail and love researching and reading

up on topics. As a child, I would always

be toying with the rocks and pebbles in

the garden. When I was seven, I saw an

amber in a book and got drawn to the

world of gems. Of course, I didn’t know

then that there was a whole subject

related to it that I could actually study.

But somewhere I always felt I wanted to

do something with stones and after class

12, I went to study at the Gemological

Institute of America. When I got back,

I started teaching at a gemmological

school and went on to start my own

school of gemology very soon. This was

all at age 20. At 23, I got married and

moved to Hyderabad... And like

I said earlier, everything including my first

design and executing my first order, was

unplanned. In 2004, by God’s grace,

within a month of my starting, things

started spiralling forward very quickly;

my husband Stouvant joined me and we

floated our company Zorya Fashions.

Again, it wasn’t a planned move. He

was looking at something new to do

and felt this business looked lucrative.

Personally, I always knew I would start

my own business. My entire childhood

was inspired by dad who is the most

hardworking person I know. At 14, he

started taking me to his office. So a life

without doing anything worthwhile was

never an option. As for entrepreneurship,

it’s hard but there is tremendous


You must have faced several

challenges when you started out…

Oh boy...many! Eight years back there

was very little of the concept of alternative

jewellery in the mainstream market. When

I was trying to establish my team of

workers, every now and then one of them

would rebel saying this was not the kind

of jewellery that the market would buy and

that I was wasting my time. It took many

years for them to have faith in what they

were making – and nothing comes out right

till you believe in it. Now I don’t even have

to sketch, they can just read my mind!

It’s amazing.

India has all along been a patron of

precious jewellery. Suddenly to break into

this market of ‘Let the jewellery be a sound

investment’ and create a market that

says ‘Let’s have jewellery for pure delight’

needed thorough planning. Fortunately

for me, two months after I started work,

the first store to pick up my work was

‘Ensemble’ and with their acceptance came

terrific self-confidence.

I must admit that it (Hyderabad) was a

new city for me. I had to deal with a new

language and culture, and undertake

a new search for raw materials and for

people. In fact, it was a new business

model altogether. But it’s all been good

and I would change nothing about it. My

experiences over the years have taught

me a lot and moulded me immensely. For

instance, I don’t panic even in stressful

situations. I just switch on some Bollywood

music and work out on paper, a flowchart

to solve the issue.

Tell us about your online business.

Our online venture is a massive step toward

business expansion and by God’s grace,

it has taken off very well. Our aim is to

reach out to every city and town in the

country. We get so many requests and

orders from towns that are not the metros,

and naturally, we want to reach out. With

very good prices and a cash-on-delivery

option, I’m sure we would be able to attract

a very large clientele. I am thrilled that we

have had a good beginning. We are getting

orders from all over the country, including

places like Varkala, Wayanad etc. It’s

exciting to see how even the B-towns are

appreciative of our work.

What do you love the most about


My designs reflect my love for many things

– metal, my mood, my surroundings, the

old city, the Charminar, a 200-year-old

haveli, dancers on the streets, women with

their ringing anklets, the bangle maker,

the local kumhaar (potter), the by-lanes,

old photographs, tall buildings, brass,

steel, history, books and many more. So

I guess what I love about design is that

it’s an expression of emotion. I think it is a

fantastic opportunity to be able to express

so vividly what you are feeling at that

moment and the freedom and liberation

that comes with it.

So what moves and inspires you

enough to express?

Each of my collections brings with it

a mood, a feeling and an emotion. It

begins with the first impression, which is

initially vivid, then intense and then gets

slowly ingrained into the subconscious.

I like to collect these feelings, memories,

connections and observations. This time,

for example, was about the free spirit, the

naivety of the heart, about pure love. Earlier

it was a stronger mood, about cultures and

I met Jimmy Choo at a very private dinner. He touched my necklace and said those kind words“ OCTOBER 2013 71






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Style CheckTell us about your personal sense

of style. How fashion conscious are


I always take the classic route. I don’t follow

trends at all and more often than not you will

find me in something that’s really vintage-

inspired. I’m a sucker for all things old. Give

me an old winding watch over a new one

any day or an old skirt from the by-lanes of

Rajasthan and I would get all glassy-eyed!

Name four people who have

influenced the way you style, dress

and carry yourself.

Anamika Khanna, Blogger Nadia Sarwar,

Roisin Murphy and Vivienne Westwood.

The one thing you wouldn't be

caught dead wearing?

Animal print anything!

Your favourite accessory brand?

Alexis Bittar. I admire the way the brand has

become so mainstream.

A piece of jewellery that is not your

design but blew your mind?

The Hermes Centaure necklace. What a

brilliant way to express the brand’s perennial

equestrian subject!

Three celebrities you would like to

see wearing your designs?

I would love for Tilda Swinton to wear our

fierce ear cuffs or Keira Knightley to wear

the very strong collars. There’s a whole lot of

people who are on my wish list.

What/who would you call your

design muse?

Anyone who has a mind of her own and is

not a victim of changing trends. Someone

who has the courage to foray into the future

on her own terms but takes along with

her all her cultural values. Anyone who is

unapologetically individualistic.

72 OCTOBER 2013


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I remember her (Anamika Khanna) doing all my art and biology homework because she was so good at drawing“ I'm so proud of her and so in awe of her. She is really

amazing at what she does. Anamika is probably the only

person I know who eats, sleeps and dreams design and

works extremely hard at making it all happen. We all know

what a terrific artist she is, but it’s inspiring to see her always

strive to do better and never say 'this is it'. That, to me is

the sign of a true achiever!

You seem to only wear your sister Ananmika Khanna’s

designs. Tell us about that.

I do wear others as well. In fact, I wear a lot of old vintage

clothes too. But yes, my wardrobe has a very large section

of Anamika Khanna. What to do. she is my favourite! Would

you believe that my sister doesn’t really give me fashion

inputs? That’s an interesting thing about Anamika Khanna.

She lets you be.

What are you working on now?

We have just finished samples for the Diwali collection. I’m

working on designs for New Year now – both jewellery and


What is a typical day like for you?

6.30 AM to 8 AM is workout time, whether it’s just running

or running and then some weight training. At 9.25, we

leave for office and get back at 8.45 PM. Then it is coffee,

anagram, Uno, video games or just tons and tons of


How do you unwind after a long day?

Photography. Dancing… and when my body tires out,

reading. I am a history buff. So I read books on world

leaders, on independence, on economics and political

history of countries. I am also a self-proclaimed movie critic

and the biggest Harry Potter fan there has ever been! And

of course, there’s the Xbox in our life! And anagram! Or

organising my sticker collection.

You live in Hyderabad. Would you say that being based

out of a South Indian city has inhibited your growth

in anyway, since most people in the fashion industry

prefer to work out of Mumbai or Delhi?

Not at all. On the contrary, it's so nice being in this

historic city away from all of the fashion noise.

I do my own thing. I have a life after 9 PM. I'm not stuck

in traffic or on the road trying to make it home. I believe

that Hyderabad, with its cultural background and

history, has really given me an eye to appreciate beauty.

Any pointers to our readers on using jewellery to

enhance a look?

Treat jewellery like the main feature of your dressing and see

how the entire wardrobe becomes new

about strength; it had within it depictions of Shiva or

Islam, as also tribes and temples. An earlier collection

was inspired by a jatra dancer I saw in Begum Bazaar.

Yet another time it was the history of the Nizams. This

time it was a story of the tribal lifestyle. I do not follow

trends. I follow my heart and my thoughts. Maybe

that’s why the collections are so varied. My work is an

unexpected combination of contradictory elements. It is

fiercely individual and fiercely honest.

How did it feel to be featured in Fortune

magazine? And to gain recognition from the World

Gold Council? Even Jimmy Choo has praised you.

I don’t think I have achieved much yet. But yes, it’s all

very encouraging. The biggest industry body coming

forth and patting you on the back and putting you in

the top ten in the world surely feels like you are doing

something right. It’s a high; but it keeps you on your

toes and pushes you to get better. Fortune magazine

analysed and talked about our business. So I’m really

happy to know that it is not just the brand but also

the business model that is getting the right kind of

appreciation. I met Jimmy Choo at a very private dinner.

He touched my necklace and said those kind words.

We chatted for very long about it.

I think I did not breathe through the entire conversation.

I think I died and came back!

A very exciting event was when we were chosen

to showcase for the British Royalty by the Birtish

Council. It brought with it a trust factor – that a very

important body had trusted us to do a very, very

important show for some very, very important people.

That trust has kept us on our toes. It’s like you

can’t let anyone down. You HAVE to be darn good

everyday! That experience, that solid belief gives me a

very firm ground to work on.

Your sister is India’s most sought after fashion

designer, Anamika Khanna. How exciting was

growing up with her?

Ana is 10 years older to me. So she is almost like my

mom. I was very young when she got married. But

I remember her doing all my art and biology homework

because she was so darn good at drawing. I remember

her first show. I wasn’t allowed inside because I was

underage. I still remember it was called the Shoowa

collection. The next day her picture came in the paper.

I remember cutting it and sticking it on my cupboard

next to a picture of Jonty Rhodes. That’s how young

I was when I started admiring her. From big sis she

was slowly becoming this big designer, all through hard

work and talent. I've seen her go through the grind and

I respect her for all her courage.

OCTOBER 2013 73






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74 OCTOBER 2013


Page 75: RITZ October 2013

Monicka Vadera explains, “Today, there are

many types of pearls available at affordable

prices. Vendors label these as cultured

pearls, and they are are simply defined as

man-made pearls created under controlled

environments to produce the desired

colour, type and size of pearl.”

Under natural conditions, a pearl is

formed when an irritant finds its way to

an oyster. In response to this, the oyster

starts secreting nacre which is a smooth

crystalline substance. In time, this becomes

a perfectly silky and lustrous pearl.

To make a cultured pearl, a tiny piece

of mantle tissue from a donor shell is

transplanted into a recipient shell. Monicka

says, “Live pearl oysters are opened and

parts of a live oyster bead and mantle is

inserted. This bead is the centre around

which the oyster secretes a substance that

forms the pearl. The nucleated oysters are

quickly returned to an enclosed part of the

sea or simulated tanks. The oysters feed

and grow in sheltered bays and over a

period of time are cultivated and processed

as well as sorted into the pearls we see in

the market. They are marginally cheaper

than natural or deep sea pearls as these

are mass produced and easily simulated

whereas natural pearls require sturdy

conditions and trained divers to locate or

hunt them and the resources are slowly


“There are a number of options for

producing cultured pearls: use freshwater

or seawater shells, transplant the graft

into the mantle or into the gonad, add a

spherical bead or do it non-beaded. The

majority of saltwater cultured pearls are

grown with beads. The majority of beaded

cultured pearls are mantle-grown in

freshwater shells,” explains designer

Alpana Gujral.

Natural pearls

Natural pearls are found in the Persian Gulf,

the South Pacific, the Gulf of Mannar, the

Gulf of California and the Gulf of Mexico.

They can also be found in the Pacific coast

of Mexico, Europe, Japan as well

as Australia.

Freshwater pearls are found in freshwater

mussels, which live in lakes, rivers, ponds

and other fresh water bodies. However,

most of the cultured pearls sold today

come from China. Saltwater pearls grow

within pearl oysters, which live in oceans.

Saltwater pearl oysters are usually

cultivated in protected lagoons or

volcanic atolls.

Akoya pearls which take their name from

the Akoya oyster are bred in hatcheries

to ensure their safety. They take about

ten to eighteen months to be ready for

harvesting. Then they are processed with

light bleaching and drilling to ensure all are

of uniform shape and size.

South Sea pearls are found in the waters

off the Philippines. Tahitian pearls are found

across the central and south Pacific but

mainly in the atolls of French Polynesia.

Cultured pearls are readily available across

countries and continents. The primary hub

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Pearls have been around in human

consciousness for the longest time, since the

days of ancient Greek lore. A lot has been

written about the beauty of the natural pearls,

which occur in the wild, while pearls that are

commonly available today are cultured or

farm pearls and are taken from oysters.

For the uninitiated, a pearl is a hard object

produced within the soft tissue of a living

shelled mollusc. It is made up of calcium

carbonate in crystalline form. What makes

them different from other gems is that they

do not need any polishing or treatment

before being sold. They are created perfect

by living beings, in the deep seas.

But that is just the basics. What makes

these shiny round beads so valuable and

so revered? Well, a pearl enthusiast or

collector may take on the hobby or interest

out of pure fascination for the quality pearl

while for many others, it has grown into a

massive social status symbol and proof of

your affluence.

Harvesting Beauty

For many hundreds of years, pearl oysters

were hunted in the most brutal fashion.

Tons of them were gathered, opened, and

thus killed, to find a single wild pearl. Divers

would pull oysters from ocean floors and

rivers to check them individually. Out of

the many tons hauled, only three or four

oysters would have perfect pearls making

it an extremely laborious and tedious affair.

For the longest time, this was the only

way to obtain pearls, making them very

expensive indeed – until cultured pearls

came into existence. Jewellery designer

OCTOBER 2013 75





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a natural pearl is determined in the same

way as it would be for other ‘precious’

gems. The valuation factors include size,

shape, colour, quality of surface, orientation

and lustre.” Lustre is the most important

quality of the pearl – the way it reflects

light is graded high, medium and low. The

highest grade pearls are the brightest and

the smoothest of them all. Their surface is

unmarked by any bumps, pits, scratches

or any other such defect. “A wild pearl

often has imperfections. One way to tell

a natural pearl from an artificial pearl is to

rub it against your teeth. A natural pearl

will feel gritty, and an artificial pearl will feel

smooth.” Adds Monicka, “To compare for

example, a string of certified genuine South

Sea pearls will cost you upwards of

20,000 rupees and the cultured ones are

available from 2,500 rupees onwards.”

Queen of Accessories

Pearls have always had a special place in

the hearts of fashionistas. Who can forget

Audrey Hepburn with her chain of pearls

and a little black dress, setting the gold

standard in fashion for women around the

world? You too can jazz up your outfits

with classic pearl earrings or necklace. Just

wear a string of pearls with your little black

dress for an uber classy look. Or team them

up with ethnic clothes for the festive season

-- you can even try out pearl bangles or

bracelets. Truly, with their luminous beauty,

pearls are a joy forever.

for cultured pearls in India, for example,

is Hyderabad.

Spotting The Difference

So, how do you distinguish between the

two? Monicka explains, “Cultured and

natural pearls generally tend to look alike

unless seen by the trained eye. So, many

women go for the more economical option.

To truly distinguish between a cultured

and a real pearl you can get a test done

at any Gem Laboratory or run it under a

microscope,” shares Monicka.

Value of a Pearl

Alpana explains that quality natural pearls

are very rare jewels. “The actual value of

76 OCTOBER 2013


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Of Destination Divorces...

Credits: Shutterstock

Photograph used for illustrative purposes only.

78 OCTOBER 2013


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Imagine this. Clear blue skies, the sweet

sound of the ocean and nothing but a crisp

breeze running through your hair. As she

stands there with the man she loved – or

sort of loved...or maybe sometimes hated

even? (yes, we're getting to the context) – a

deluge of emotions engulf her. He looks into

her eyes and says the four magic words

that would end everything forever. "Will you

divorce me?” Well, this is the setting for

the perfect sine qua non to the end of a

marriage – the destination divorce.

Divorces of today, for some at least,

aren’t necessarily a heartbreaking affair.

Well, of course, while breaking off any

relationship is a bad thing, some of these

couples don't seem to think so!

A different time, a different set of people

and a different set of rules, indeed. But

here's the interesting fact – while we all

know that marriages in our subcontinent

often tend to be expensive affairs, most

people think that divorces entail only

a separation of both parties involved,

paying your lawyers and be on your

way. But then, if we're celebrating the

union of two people in such pomp and

splendour, why should we not celebrate

their separation too? That's what some

folks are thinking now. Fair enough,

some divorces are indeed meant to be

celebrated and what better way to do

that than plan a holiday divorce, where

you step out of the comforts of your own

space and take a trip with your other

'half' and come back a 'full' person!

While many couples may feel excitement

at the thought of a destination wedding,

they may look at their lawyers a bit

perplexed when they hear of the idea of

a destination divorce. However, this new

concept is starting to take root as a new

means to an amicable and court-free

divorce proceeding.

Now, why do folks prefer to get divorced

outside their own vicinity? The answer

is quite simple – to be free from snoopy

neighbours, curious relatives and annoying

friends who can rub salt on the wound

called divorce and give you an even worse

time trying to get over it.

While this practice is only quite recent

and fairly restricted to the very rich and

famous who want to avoid thrashing things

out in court and wish to break free from

prying eyes, studies show that Britain fares

among the top overseas destination for

divorces, followed by the Czech Republic

and Spain. Well, why not, because if they

can afford to get married anywhere in the

world, they can afford to get divorced

anywhere too, right?

So, what exactly is the deal with destination

divorces? Couples take a trip, usually with

a marriage counselor or a 'concerned'

relative, to some expensive, exotic

European or Mediterranean destination

(if you can't afford expensive Europe,

there is always Tantalising Thailand on the

'middle-class' bracket.s Of course, no

place better than Thailand to celebrate a

divorce, we say!). They try and sort out

their differences and if that doesn't work,

amicably decide to go their own ways.

While going abroad is the popular option,

some tour operators are also making do

with some ‘in-house’ options like Shimla,

Goa or exotic backwater resorts in Kerala.

The idea is to remove oneself from the

everyday stresses and pressures of daily

life so that the couple can focus solely on

the divorce. Wow, that's actually a service

these days!

We all have that dream wedding, but now as it turns out, some people can have a dream divorce too! Separation doesn't always have to be tedious and stressful for a few ... they take a trip, relax and end the marriage. Yes, that's a service being offered these days, finds Rohit Panikker.

OCTOBER 2013 79





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It's the festive season of the year again – and though not

religious in nature, these festivals do command an annual

pilgrimage from fans. In fact, this is the time when music fans

across the country wait in anticipation for event promoters

to make their announcements as to which acts they will

be featuring in the year. Considering that widely popular

international acts like Metallica, Swedish House Mafia,

Testament and Enrique Iglesias were among the major

international acts to headline various festivals in the last

two years, this year too promises an interesting line-up with

different promoters having announced headliners ranging from

Mutemath to Meshuggah, Avicii and Steve Aoki. So, for those

who are planning their annual dose of the festival air, we do a

round-up of the biggest music festivals – from outdoor camping

festivals to high-energy EDM gigs, it's pumping adrenalin from

now on all they way until December!

Mark your calendars! Siddharth Kumar shows you the hottest music festivals and live events that you shouldn't be missing this year...


80 OCTOBER 2013


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What’s happening: The Great Indian October Fest

Where: Bengaluru

When: October 12-14

Launched in 2005, the Kingfisher Great Indian October Fest is

into its eighth edition and it’s no surprise that this year’s lineup

features some of the best bands in the Indian music scene.

With killer acts like Moksha, Thermal and a Quarter, Parouisa,

The Ministry of Blues, Pentagram, Brahma, Them Clones,

Motherjane, Avial, Inner Sanctum and Indian Ocean on the roster,

TGIOF is the perfect excuse to take that long weekend off to

unwind with some chilled beer and some awesome live music.

What’s happening: goMAD Festival

Where: Fernhills Palace, Ooty

When: October 25-27

Following up after a hugely successful debut last year, goMAD

is back with some of the best music, art and dance acts from

across the world. The picturesque Fernhills Palace in Ooty

plays host to the event this year, and the organisers have gone

all out to ensure attendees come away with a truly artistic

experience. Whether it’s camping out in the wilderness that you

prefer or living it up in style at the palace while you take in the

performances some of the best artists in and around the country,

goMAD is a three-day celebration of art in all its glory.

Whats happening: Oktoberfest

Where: Goa

When: October 25-27

Into its third edition now, Oktoberfest has become one of the

mainstay events of the electronic scene in India. The three-day

festival to be held at Baga Grounds at the end of October will

witness a host of performances by electronic artistes, both

international and Indian. Besides the amazing music acts,

Oktoberfest stays true to its German roots – the event will have

on offer over 15 varieties of beer coupled with some amazing

food at the many grill and barbeque stations that dot the venue.

What’s happening: Sunburn

Where: Mumbai, Bengaluru & Goa

When: November 15-17 (Mumbai), November 16-17

(Bengaluru) & December 27-29 (Goa)

Having featured some of the world’s top electronica artists

including Armin Van Buuren, Tiesto and Swedish House Mafia

in their past editions, Sunburn has come to be one of the

most sought after and widely attended electronic dance music

festivals in the country. With their early bird tickets selling like

hotcakes already, this is one electronica extravaganza you do

not want to miss, especially with Avicii being one of the biggest

acts announced.

What’s happening: NH7 Weekender

Where: Pune, Bengaluru, Delhi & Kolkata

When: October 18-20 (Pune) November 23-24 (Bengaluru),

November 30-December 1 (Delhi) & December 14-15


With the title of “India’s best music festival” firmly tucked under

their belt, NH7 Weekender features some of the biggest names

in the independent music scene, including the likes of Dualist

Inquiry, Karsh Kale Collective, Big City Harmonics, Pentagram,

Shankar Tucker and The Raghu Dixit Project. With multiple stage

areas playing host to the best indie acts around, you can take

your pick from the wide variety of genres ranging from rock and

soul to EDM and dub. This year features headliners Meshuggah

and Mutemath, performing in the Delhi/NCR region.

What’s happening: Sound Awake Festival

Where: Bengaluru

When: December 1

The second edition of the Sound Awake electronic dance music

festival has electronica buffs going ga-ga over the fact that

American DJ/producer Steve Aoki will be headlining the main event

at the Supernova Arena in Yelahanka, Bengaluru. With four live

stages being set up at the venue, electronica fans sure are in for a

treat — what’s more, early bird tickets are beyond nominally priced.

So what are you waiting for?

OCTOBER 2013 81




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Sharan Apparao tells you how you can preserve and protect your art collection for posterity.

Art for Posterity82 OCTOBER 2013


Page 83: RITZ October 2013

Thomas Danielle give us a glimpse of what

India was like under the rule of the British

and it is clear that even they appreciated

the marvels of what they saw in India. In

Ladakh, there is a monastery in the little

village of Alchi, which has perhaps, the

best example of immaculately preserved

centuries-old paintings and sculptures.

Here, the vibrancy of the jewel-like colours

of the murals and frescoes remain intact till

today. The breathtaking vision of the dim

interior and extraordinary skill of the Alchi

murals and closer home, the Vimana of

Gangaikonda Cholapuram in Tanjore district

of Tamil Nadu, are visual feasts that linger

in one’s memory for decades. The intensity

of the beauty and drama is timeless and is

as piercing as it must have been when it

was first created. These fine examples of

art have survived only because of how they

have been cared for over the years.

Yes, there are professional consultants

whose advice will certainly add a timeless

quality to your art collection but in order

to begin to preserve and protect works

of art, one needs to look at the following

simple steps to maintain the freshness,

the life and the value of the artwork.


One of the most underestimated culprits

of decay is harsh light. Sunlight is

perhaps the worst poison for canvas

or paper artworks. Paintings especially

water colours or pencil drawings should

be shown only under very mild, soft and

low lights and never ever near harsh

sunlight. Oil and acrylic paintings on

canvas or wood need controlled light

even though they are not as sensitive as

works on paper.

When we start living amidst beautiful

objects and works of art, often the

aesthetics and the placing of the objects

becomes an act of the owner’s budding

relationship with the work and how they

view the objects that give them pleasure. In

this act of desire, one sometimes forgets to

care for the life and safety of the artwork.

With time, the value of art increases (quite

like other assets) and it thus becomes even

more important to preserve and protect the

work of art.

Art is a chronicle of the mind and a

documentation of time. We have learnt

so much of our collective psyche and

past from the architecture, sculpture and

paintings that surround us. It can be said

that art thrived under the patronage of

the kings and the rulers of the day. The

inscriptions and sculptures on temple walls

and the calligraphic documents of the

Mughals bear testimony to this. The steel

engravings and lithographs of William and

OCTOBER 2013 83





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Moisture and air circulation

Paper, canvas and other natural materials

need to breathe. They need to be

kept open or in situations where there

is a circulation of air. In damp, moist

environments these works can develop

mould and fungus. It is a good idea to keep

paintings on the wall by creating a cavity/

gap/space by placing little stoppers on the

corners at the back of the artwork.


Today, many options are available to enhance

and preserve an artwork in a frame. However,

while this is done primarily to keep out insects

and moisture and prevent any damage

through handling it can also be viewed as

an additional accent to the work. While

choosing a frame and mount, keep in mind

that acidity affects works of art. The glue, tape

and mounts/mats need to be acid free. The

selection of wood for a frame is important,

when commercial frames are not an option.

The frames should be made of seasoned

wood so as to avoid warping and bending

of the wood with the passage of time. This

movement happens when the wood used is

young and full of natural moisture.


In India one has to be very wary of pests.

Squirrels love the taste, smell and texture

of canvas, so be wary of these cute

creatures if you find them running around

the inside of your spaces. Storage rooms

need to be airy and without humidity. It is

best to store works wrapped in muslin and

stand them up vertically. An even better

way to store them is to hang them on a

wall! In the case of a lack of wall space,

a rack that is off the floor with works

standing up will work well too. Make sure

you have something (cardboard/ply) to

separate one work from the other. Or,

allow the frames to rest on each other.

Never allow anything to rest on a canvas.

Glass should also always be stored

vertically as the weight of many glass

sheets lying on top of one another will

crack the glass.

Humidity and the sea air

This is the one factor that can create

fungus, dampness and discolouration

of the artwork. Sea air has a lot of salt

content and this combined with humidity

can create a film or layer over a painted

surface that can lead to corrosion. In

such a situation the artwork would need

professional cleaning.

Dehumidifiers can help in these

circumstances as can constant air-

conditioning. Keep in mind, however, that

extreme temperature changes can be very

harmful to artworks. Putting on an air-

conditioner for long periods and not using it

for equally long periods can sometimes lead

to condensation and this could be harmful

as the work is being put through the stress

of two temperature extremes.

Transporting and packing

Artworks need to be cared for just

as one would care for a one-day-old

baby. While packing the focus should

always be on over-packing and an

anticipation of manhandling of works.

Most handlers don't understand art, so,

packing works to protect it from bad

handling is indeed a great way to pack.

Never attempt moving large glass works

without adequate protection and the

right handlers. Wooden crates protect

work in most cases. Sculptures need to

be packed in a cavity. Cushions, quilts,

polystyrene and sponge make for great

packing material.

84 OCTOBER 2013


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We live in an age when technology is being

integrated into our daily lives on a constant

basis, nowhere more so than with social

networking. Myspace, Twitter, Facebook,

Instagram....the list goes on. Now I am all for

social networking, I have an account on most

of these sites. However, there seems to be an

increasing number of “random” attempts of

contact from unknown people. Surely social

networking is for people to stay connected

to people they know. I think the pre-requisite

for making contact on a social networking

site should be that you have met or spoken

to the other person at least once. What’s with

the random requests that are being sent out

to people you may have never met and don’t

share common friends with?

I have increased the privacy settings on my

social networking profile to ensure that people

who do not know me cannot find me, people

who do not know me cannot see my updates

and every other possible setting which the sites

offer...Yet I find myself inundated with inbox

messages from people claiming to have “Come

across my profile” or “have mutual friends”

or just “wanted to be friends because I have

pretty eyes”. Come on! What a croc! Not only

are these strange requests and mails irritating,

they also show the lack of decorum or social

etiquette on the part of these offenders. You

wouldn’t just walk up to someone on the street

and say “Hey, let’s be friends!” What makes it

acceptable in the cyber world?

And God forbid if you make the fatal error

of responding politely with, “I think you are

mistaken / I don’t know you / I have never

seen you before / I was not at the place you

claim to have met me…” The conversation

does not end there. The standard response

would be, “I’m sorry, but we can be

friends anyway?” Really? How generous

that they are offering up their friendship

as a consolation prize for my not actually

knowing them. When I politely decline,

they take offence and offer up a plethora of

replies, “You think you’re so beautiful... You

think you’re better than the others.... I’m

being so polite as saying let’s be friends…

”And the one that takes the biscuit for me

– “What makes you so wonderful anyway?”

Or “Why are you acting so pricey?”

I hate to break it you, Oh Random One,

apparently I am that “wonderful” based on

your decision to make the effort to contact

me! And if you think for a moment that a

random friend request from a person I don’t

know from Adam is going to make me

giddy at the knees, you are quite mistaken.

My lesson learnt from these wonderful

interactions, is to simply ignore and avoid.

I am sure many of you agree that

sometimes ignorance is bliss.

If you have a topic you’d like to see

discussed, please mail it to

[email protected]

Sujaya Chandran feels that in this age of easy communication and social networking, basic etiquette is on its way out.

Social ‘not’working

OCTOBER 2013 85





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Rohit Panikker takes a closer look at the vision and childhood fascination behind the epic monster battles in Pacific Rim with director Guillermo del Toro

Cancelling The


86 OCTOBER 2013


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The depths of the ocean have always

held a fascination for people, but we have

always assumed that its wonders — and its

dangers — are of our own world. We were

wrong. A breach in the floor of the Pacific

Ocean unleashes a cataclysmic threat to

the human race. That intriguing premise

gave rise to Pacific Rim, a power-packed

sci-fi action flick from Warner Bros. Pictures

and Legendary Pictures.

Director Guillermo del Toro, who first

gained worldwide recognition for the 1993

Mexican-American co-production Cronos,

a supernatural horror film, and later, the

Oscar-nominated fantasy drama Pan’s

Labyrinth as well as the action adventure

sci-fi thriller Hellboy, also co-wrote and

served as a producer on the film. With

Pacific Rim, the director has mashed

together every kind of giant monster and

mecha battle fantasies we may have had

as young, impressionable children, yet

creating a story, concept and premise

that is refreshingly original and high on

the adrenalin inducers (not to mention a

mindblowing score by Ramin Djawadi). The

film has already garnered polarized opinions

and while box office revenues do not deem

it as a box office trendsetter, it does hold

the distinction of being the fastest to garner

a loyal army of fanboys and followers in

the recent past and shows all possibilities

of pulling a Firefly and turning into a cult

classic, a franchise even.

On the premise of the film, Del Toro

explains, “Through that portal come

creatures that are larger and more ferocious

and brutal than anything we have ever seen

— the Kaiju. In order to grapple with them,

mankind pulls together all its resources and

invents the largest, most dynamic and most

versatile weapon ever devised. They create

the Jaeger Program — towering 25-story-

high robots, each operated by two pilots

whose minds are neurally linked together.

Paired together, these pilots are humanity’s

last hope of survival.”

He continues, “It was a project that

encompassed every single thing on my

wish list, visually, atmospherically and

emotionally … an unstoppable, thrilling

adventure about human pilots and giant

robots up against monsters, the likes of

which we’ve never seen.” The film features

an international cast, led by Charllie

Hunnam and also starring Idris Elba, Rinko

Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Rob Kazinsky, Max

Martini, Clifton Collins, Jr., Burn Gorman,

and Ron Perlman. Del Toro’s enthusiasm

was not only contagious to everyone

involved in the film, but is also largely the

reason he has become an unequivocal

favourite among genre fans. In fact, he

would be the first to count himself among

those collectively known as “fanboys.”

“We want people to be taken by the

spectacle and the sound and fury,” Del

Toro says, “but it is all meant to illuminate

the courage of the central characters.

Physically, the human beings are the

smallest thing in the movie, but their spirit

is the largest thing in the movie. They show

you the makings of real heroes.”

Behind The Scenes

Pacific Rim was shot using the RED EPIC

camera, marking the first time Del Toro has

used a digital camera for one of his films.

One of the main tasks for cinematographer

Guillermo Navarro and his department was

protecting the cameras from the sometimes

torrential artificial rain being generated by

the special effects group, as well as the

resulting steam from the water under the

hot lights. The VFX team also produced

digital re-creations of San Francisco,

California, where the Kaiju begin their reign

of terror. “We wanted to show that this was

a global occurrence,” Del Toro states. “The

adventure takes you to completely different

arenas — from densely populated cities to

the bottom of the sea to the edge of the

Earth’s atmosphere. And it’s also a movie

that, every time you think you have it figured

out, it changes. When you think you know

how the battle is going, the battle shifts.

When you think you know the stakes, the

stakes are raised. So, like the Kaiju, the

action continues to evolve.”

The expanse of the production took up

every soundstage at Toronto’s Pinewood

Studios, including two of the largest

shooting stages in the world. One set,

called the Conn-pod, was constructed on a

large gimbal to make the actors — outfitted

in specialised suits created by Legacy

Effects — actually feel like they were

engaged in battle. “We wanted to put the

audience right there in the pilot seat. It will

make you feel what it is to suit up, hook up,

and take the robot for a ride,”

Del Toro explains.

The Jaegers and the Kaiju were brought to

life onscreen by the visual effects wizards

at the renowned Industrial Light & Magic

(ILM) whose major claim to fame is yet

another cult classic, Star Wars, and were

collaborating with Del Toro for the first time.

“How do you frame up a Kaiju or a Jaeger

that’s 250 feet high and get the audience

to identify with something that large? We

needed to convey the scale, both in water

and on land. Having them together in any

one arena required very specific effects,”

Del Toro shares how his vision was finally

brought on screen.

He continues, "The scope of the film

required a lot of different looks, from

Hong Kong to Tokyo to the various

interiors, like Shatterdome and Hannibal

Chau’s lair. We were building almost

everything on stages, so from a design

standpoint, it all had to be manufactured

from scratch. We put on the layers of

about 15 years going into the future…

a future that does not appear hopeful.”

Del Toro observes, “In the time the film

takes place, we tried to show a little of how

society would be altered and geography

would change. There’s a whole domino

effect caused by these creatures showing

up on our shores. We didn’t want it to look

too futuristic because I think what would

happen is the reverse. All our technology

would go to creating weapons to fight

them, and other advancements would

slow down.”

The Players

The director delves deeper into each of

his characters and points out why they

were written the way they did. Starting

with his top Jaeger pilot Raleigh Beckett,

played by Charllie Hunnam, Del Toro

comments, “Raleigh is a man who is

basically goodhearted and genuinely

earnest and brave. He knows he has

a dangerous job, but he has a code of

honor that makes him willing to put his life

on the line to save another life, despite

any risk. Charlie Hunnam was the perfect

choice to play Raleigh because he is

able to convey that sincerity and purity

of heart, and that mix of toughness and

vulnerability. I’ve admired his work for

years and believe he is on the brink of

movie stardom. I was so happy to have

the chance to direct him on this film.”

Then comes this young woman who shows

tremendous promise as a Jaeger pilot,

although she has been held back by forces

without and within. Rinko Kikuchi was cast

as Mako Mori, whose appearance belies

her true strength. Del Toro reveals she had

been his choice for the role from the start.

OCTOBER 2013 87






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“I love Rinko,” he states. “Alejandro

González Iñárritu first introduced me to

her years ago when they were touring

for Babel. What really impressed

me was how tough and yet delicate

she was. That was essential to the

character of Mako, a girl who dreams

of being a pilot more than anything in

the world.”

Idris Elba plays Stacker Pentecost

who had been the commander of the

Pan Pacific Defense Corp before the

Jaeger Program was cut when the

world leaders decided to shift their

resources to other forms of defence.

Now he leads those who are willing

to follow his mode of resistance. The

director says, “Stacker Pentecost has

to be the ultimate warrior — true north

in a world full of chaos. When the

world appears to be crumbling around

him, he is just steely-eyed. Idris was

the man; I can’t imagine anyone else

in that role.”

Avoiding stereotypes was exactly what

Del Toro was trying to do with the

characters of Geiszler and Gottlieb.

He details, “In a movie where you

have to explain different environments

and the creatures that function within

them, there often comes a point

where you need a science guy. And,

unfortunately, this science guy can

sometimes be the most boring part of

the movie. So we studiously tried to

avoid that by dividing the exposition

duties between Charlie Day and Burn

Gorman, who guide you through the

science of the film in the funniest and

most entertaining way.”

He then talks about the very vibrant

character of Hannibal Chau, the Kaiju

parts smuggler and a new breed of

racketeer in a changed world. Del Toro

says, “Hannibal is a pirate. I knew Ron

(Perlman) would have fun with the role

and let the audience have fun with it,

too. He created a character

I think they will love to hate.” Reflecting

on the shared mission of the story’s

heroes, Del Toro affirms, “The movie is

very much about sticking together. Not

because we’re great, not because we

are invincible, but because, ultimately,

we need one another and embrace

everyone’s uniqueness. And we

protect one another; we have each

other’s back. So it’s coming from a

88 OCTOBER 2013


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point of view of solidarity and strength and

a belief in humanity.”

He concludes, “I want this film to be an

inspirational adventure, like the movies

I used to watch as a kid. It is my hope that

after you see Pacific Rim, you’ll want to be

a Jaeger jockey. No matter what age you

are, you’ll want to jump on board a Jaeger

and head right into a Kaiju brawl.”

film in conjunction with an elite band of

concept artists, illustrators, sculptors,

and designers. “We had some of the best

creature designers in the world involved in

the making of the Kaiju.”

Del Toro began with a group that

brainstormed for weeks, beginning in

a windowless room they appropriately

dubbed “the submarine.” Together, they

examined everything: from sizes, shapes

and colors to how the immense beings

moved and fought. Del Toro says, “We

wanted to evoke the sheer awe and terror

that one would feel when coming upon one

of these monsters.”

He set down certain parameters: an

example being that any animal kingdom

inspirations were primarily limited to lizards,

crustaceans and insects. For the most

part, however, the think tank could let their

imaginations run wild, taking a tag team

approach as they pooled ideas.

The designers gave the Kaiju different

nicknames that were indicative of their

most prominent physical attributes, like

Knifehead, Axehead, Leatherback, etc.

Some are viciously calculated, others

are more raw power. “They are living

weapons,” Del Toro says. “They are

blind instinct combined with tactical

intelligence, capable of making instant

decisions in battle, so there are definitely

a few surprises.”

Meet The Jaegers (yâ’gar,

German) Hunter

Just as every Kaiju is unique, each Jaeger

is distinct in both design and function, with

its own array of weapons, “so every time

you see a Jaeger go up against a Kaiju, it’s

a completely different fight,” says Del Toro.

Although the Jaegers would exist only

on screen, a great deal of planning went

into the mechanics of the robots. “From a

technical standpoint, we decided to build

them from the inside out in diagrams,”

reveals Del Toro. “We determined the way

the pistons, the relays, the torque, the

transmission, the engines, and every other

element worked in detail. Then we pulled

back and started figuring out the vents,

the thermal insulation, the outer skin and

so on.”

Del Toro emphasises, “The robot is only

as good a fighter as the fighters inside.

Ultimately, the most important dynamic that

determines who pilots the Jaegers, and

how effective they’ll be, is the relationship

between the people.”

Early in the Jaeger program, it was

discovered that the complexity and sheer

size of the robots made it impossible for

one person to handle alone. The neural load

proved fatal for a single brain. Eventually,

they learned that it could only be done with

two pilots: one controlling the Jaeger’s right

hemisphere; the other, the left. But in order

for that to work, they had to be in perfect

sync — connected to the robot in body,

and to each other in mind.

The once mighty Jaeger fleet has been

reduced to four surviving robots. The

director wanted the huge war machines

to appear combat-worn, with markings

that flaunt the number of enemies

downed. Their shape, colour and

insignias reflect their country of origin, as

do their fighting styles.

Gipsy Danger

Del Toro equates the look of the U.S. of

A.’s Gipsy Danger to “a classic gunslinger

heading into a fight. A mixture of a deco

skyscraper and John Wayne. Gipsy has

swagger and is made to resemble a WWII

fighter jet in paint job and details.” A Mark

3, it is considered an old Jaeger and,

although it’s been refurbished, it still carries

the scars of war… as do its pilots.

Cherno Alpha

Russia’s Cherno Alpha is a T-series Jaeger

with an oversized nuclear reactor. Its

exceptional brawn makes up for its more

lumbering gait. It is the oldest, heaviest

Jaeger in the surviving fleet. Brute force and

blunt trauma are its calling cards.

Crimson Typhoon

China’s Crimson Typhoon is a Mark 4,

the only Jaeger with three arms, thanks

to its three-man pilot team. Its moves are

as close as a massive Jaeger can get to

martial arts.

Striker Eureka

The Resistance has one Mark 5:

Australia’s Striker Eureka. Being the latest

model, it boasts faster speed and better

maneuverability. “But it’s an Aussie brawler,

so it has a lot of bravado and a bit of a

strut, like a guy who would pick a fight in a

bar,” Del Toro teases.


“In order to fight monsters,

we created monsters of our own.”

The global nature of the war against the

Kaiju is reflected in the design, colors

and insignia of the Jaegers, all giving

nods to their country of origin. The four

main Jaegers seen battling in the film are:

Gipsy Danger, from the USA; the Chinese

Crimson Typhoon; Russia’s Cherno Alpha;

and Striker Eureka, from Australia. No

less attention was paid to the creation of

the dreaded Kaiju, which are destruction

incarnate. Del Toro assembled some of

the top concept artists in the industry to

design what he calls “the most terrifying but

majestic creatures you could ever imagine,”

each with its own distinct silhouette and

lethal capabilities.

What is a Kaiju? (kaijû, Japanese)

Giant Beast

Del Toro was largely responsible for

shaping what are, literally speaking, the

biggest stars of Pacific Rim, the Kaiju.

“I love monsters,” states the director who

conceived all the various monsters in the

OCTOBER 2013 89






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is black. The same treatment is meted

out to his son and her only grandchild

too. While both Ousmane and the child

try hard to be nice to Paulette and seek

her approval, she doesn't see beyond her

racial prejudice.

While the character of Paulette is animated

by herself, adding a lot of colour and yes,

not to mention the string of abuses from

an old woman's mouth, there are a host

of many memorable characters you'd

see here from Walter, Paulette's amorous

neighbour, the approval-seeking Ousmane

and Vito, the drug dealer who seeks to

be "a trailblazer" or even Paulette's friend

Renee, who is mockingly referred to as

Alzheimer! The characters are very real

and each lovable in their own way – with

their own moments in the film and their

own one-liners although the best ones

go to the protagonist herself! Moments

to watch out for include Paulette going to

the store to buy a TV set and of course,

the old woman's attempts to sell her

hashish on the streets! Maybe it is because

it comes from the mouth of an old lady, a

highly unlikely place to hear such stuff, but

even the cuss words seem funnier.

If you think the world has gone too serious

or has forgotten to laugh, pop this one in

your player for a quick watch and it'll just

crack you up! Enough said.

Verdict: Supposedly based on real-life

events, the film is as outrageously funny as

its premise.

Rating: 4.5/5

Hot: Bernadette Lafont, who plays the

titular character, is the biggest strength of

the film along with some beautifully-written


Not: Not to nitpick, but the film's running

time is awfully short and you barely get into

the narrative when it's over, especially when

you're enjoying it so much.

PauletteYear: 2012

Language: French

Director: Jerome Enrico

Cast: Bernadette

Lafont, Carmen Maura,

Dominique Lavanant

What turned Paulette,

an extremely grumpy and prejudiced

old French woman into a darling of her

neighbourhood? Well on first look you

might say it's her wonderful cakes which,

funnily enough, have all references to

feeling light or flying or travelling in space.

But then, it all depends on the secret

ingredient, a tinge of marijuana and

hashish! Seems to set the scene for a

series of interesting events? Definitely.

Paulette, a widow living on minimum

monthly pension is almost forced out of

her apartment when she stumbles upon an

easy fix for her problem – get in touch with

her local drug dealer and work for him.

After all, who would suspect an innocent

old woman, right? And indeed, Paulette

becomes the most well-known dealer in

their area, made famous by her hashish-

infused baked goods. All goes well for

a while. But here's the catch. Paulette's

daughter is married to Ousmane, a police

officer, whom Paulette hates because he

This month, Rohit Panikker reviews two recent French comedies that are a must-watch!

�������������with The French

90 OCTOBER 2013


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brothers Feruz and Muzafar are boarding

their flight to France, but get rerouted to the

tiny island of Corsica, from where they have

to find their way to the Paris. From local

prejudices to half-baked information on

French life, women, language and culture,

the two stick out like a sore thumb from

the very beginning, even managing to get

themselves captured by another terrorist

group! From time to time you can get a

sense of deja vu from a horde of other

similarly-themed films like the British dark

comedy Four Lions or even the heavily

Borat-esque protagonists in terms of its

in-your-face comedy that can sometimes

scandalize you yet still make you laugh out

loud because of the sheer ludicrousness

of it all -- even if you realise that people

can actually sometimes be this daft and

ignorant in their prejudices in real life too!

At a running time of just about 90 minutes,

this film is the perfect companion for a

Sunday afternoon when you want to do

nothing but curl up and spend your time

laughing away or giggling uncontrollably

at the subtle gaffes throughout! In fact, be

sure to walk away with hilarious one-liners

and scenes that will certainly stick with you

long after you're done with it!

Verdict: Absolutely hilarious, yet makes

you think about how some attitudes and

prejudices we deem mundane or not

important can make a difference,

good or bad.

Rating: 3.5/5

Hot: Watch out for the brilliant play on

language and the multi-layered references.

Like for example, the protagonists get

chased across a field in Corsica by two

massive dogs named, ironically after it's

most famous resident, Napoleon

and Bonaparte!

Not: This film would be a little hard to

digest if you're easily offended. On that

note, at least it isn't Borat.

Perhaps nothing

explains this

French comedy

better than its

own opening line;

"When the world

was created, God

decided to create

the most beautiful

country of all

and put all of the

world's wonders

in it. He called that

country France. But

so that the other

countries wouldn't

feel deprived, god

decided to fill it with

... The French!"

Lampooning modern day geopolitics and

nationalistic prejudices, Vive Le France

follows two step-brothers from the very

tiny nation of Taboulistan – a self-contained

central Asian nation state whose only

claim to fame is the 200-year old recipe

for the Tabouleh dish, which they claim the

Lebanese stole from them, thus rendering

them void of the only identity they have as

a nation. Even the UN is unaware of their

existence. And to make their presence

felt in the world, the Taboulistanis decide

to follow the path of world terror groups

and plan an attack on the Eiffel tower to

get noticed. But unfortunately, they have

a horde of quirky French people and their

own stupidity and ignorance to deal with

if they have to successfully complete their

mission. What happens after the two

brothers board the plane to France forms

the hilarious premise of the movie.

Vive la France engages you from the very

first frame at the airport where the two

Vive La FranceYear: 2013

Language: French

Director: Michael Youn

Cast: Jose Garcia,

Michael Youn, Isabelle


OCTOBER 2013 91




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This movie is a strong case for pro-abortion

laws all over the world. It is hard to imagine

that there still exist countries where it is so

difficult to get an abortion. 4 months, 3

weeks, 2 days is set in 1987, one of the

last few years of the Ceaušescu regime

which was basically Communist Romania.

Abortion which was previously legal was

made illegal except in a few cases through

Decree 770. After the fall of the regime,

abortion became legal again in 1989.

That the movie is cold and hard-hitting

would be a definite understatement. It

opens with the two friends, Otilia (Marinca)

and Gabita (Vasiliu) talking about an

impending plan and preparations for it.

Have you packed the tissue? What about

the soap? And the plastic sheet? The

viewer is left wondering what they might

be talking about. What are they packing

for and why is Gabita so nervous? Slowly,

the movie unravels itself on you. Otilia

books a room in a hotel for 3 nights. She is

extremely insistent about booking a room

in a particular hotel but that doesn’t work

out… and yes, we are still wondering!

Otilia finally manages to book a room in

another hotel and then heads to meet a

Mr. Bebe at a previously decided meeting

point. Things start to look a bit fishy now.

Mr. Bebe (Ivanov) seems a strange sort,

someone you might want to keep away

from. Otilia gets into his car and they drive

to the hotel where Gabita is waiting. Slowly

it starts falling into place in your head now.

We realize that Gabita is pregnant and

Mr. Bebe is going to perform the illegal

abortion for her…with a probe, some

medicine and no anaesthesia. As they

start to talk, it is revealed that Gabita had

lied to him about being just two months

pregnant. He realises she is actually closer

to 4 months and therein starts the downhill

roll to misfortune.

This is a heart-wrenching movie with

carefully etched characters. It makes you

ponder over just how much of a stake the

rest of the world makes on a woman’s

body. There are a couple of side stories as

well, like that of Otilia and her boyfriend,

Adi and their roller-coaster relationship.

Watch this movie to know just how lucky

we are to live in a country where abortion

is legal.

4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days

Year: 2007

Language: Romanian

Director: Cristian Mungiu

Cast: Anamaria Marinca, Laura

Vasiliu, Vlad Ivanov

This month, Urmila Pullat reviews two random, unconnected movies – one from Romania and one from France.

Verdict: I’d say it’s a must watch.

Let’s give the choice over what

a woman must do with her body

to the one who owns it – the


Rating: 4/5

Hot: Heart-wrenching.

Not: Heart-wrenching.

Romania & France!

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The Beat that my heart skipped is

a delightfully named French film about

a real-estate thug, Tom (Duris) who is

constantly pulled by his dreams, while

continuously being pulled back by his

reality – of crime and easy money, the

power of force and the rush it brings. It

seems as though Tom’s one true purpose

in life is to be a real-estate goon. His

father, Robert (Arestrup) is a dodgy real-

estate dealer who asks Tom for help to

deal with difficult customers.

Tom meets his father at a restaurant

and his father reveals that he wants

to marry his girlfriend and would like

Tom to meet her. Tom doesn’t seem

particularly excited at the prospect but

agrees nevertheless. We realise that he

has grown to be protective about his

father, especially since his mother’s death

because his immediate reaction is to be

unfriendly, disapproving and insulting

towards her.

The movie doesn’t move very much. It

starts off very excitingly and looks like it

will be a racy one, filled with gangs and

petty crime. That is not so and instead it

takes you on a journey of torn ambitions.

Tom’s one true desire is to be a concert

pianist, just like his mother. He enlists

the help of his mother’s ex-manager who

tells him to audition. He starts practicing

and begins piano lessons with a young

virtuoso, Miao Lin to help him perform

at the auditions. The scenes between

the two make for an interesting watch as

Tom can speak only French and Lin can

speak only Chinese, Vietnamese and a

little English!

But, Tom is unable to complete the

audition. He is stressed out and

overworked and finds his father murdered

in his apartment. Tom knows that the

Russian gangster, Minskov is behind

this. What becomes of Tom? Does he

become a pianist as his heart wishes

or does he stick to his low-life career of

crime, exploitation and easy money? The

character of Tom is wonderfully portrayed

and his innocent excitement about all

things piano is heart-warming. Watch the

movie to know whether Tom gives into

easy money or lets his passion take him

on the journey called life.

The Beat that my heart

skipped (De battre mon

cœur s'est arête)

Year: 2005

Language: French

Director: Jacques Audiard

Cast: Romain Duris, Niels


Verdict: Slightly slow but a very

interesting take on the assumed

polarities in a criminal’s life –

easy money or chasing one’s

dreams. Can they both co-exist?

Rating: 3/5

Hot: That a criminal nurses such

sweet dreams inside him.

Not: Slow. The movie could’ve

been faster-paced keeping in mind

that it is about a criminal after all.

OCTOBER 2013 93




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Writer Ashwin Sanghi gets talking to Rohit Panikker

about his favourite literature...

The Master Of

Historic Thrillers

At a recent book club event talk on the rise

of historic fiction or the literary equivalent

of "period flicks" in Indian literature, an

observation by one of the members should

do as the perfect introduction for writer

Ashwin Sanghi – "If you say J.K Rowling

made the world read again and Chetan

Bhagat made India read again, it is Ashwin

Sanghi who made India read up on our own

history and mythology!" True enough, this

author of bestselling novels like Rozabal

Line, Chanakya's Chant and The Krishna

Key, is among the few who spearheaded

India's renewed love affair with our own

past. "We keep following the fantasy stories

of Rowling and Tolkien while we have an

impressive bank of stories, folklore and

vibrant characters to explore and write

about," he shares as he gets talking on the

literature that is close to his heart.

As for what he's reading right now, the

author has his nose deep in between

the pages of a paperback copy of

The Cuckoo's Calling – a book that hit

headlines recently because of its author,

declared in print to be a man called

Robert Galbraith, but who turned out

to be the legendary Harry Potter author

JK Rowling. This seems to reflect his

love for storytellers who delve deep into

their characters, and these storytellers

have influenced him the most as a writer,

like he explains. "My favourite author is

Jeffrey Archer. He made me realise the

difference between great writing and great

storytelling. I have always seen myself as a

storyteller rather than writer." Indeed, that

shows in his writing, as does his penchant

for adventure, even from his childhood

favourites. "My favourite book as a child

was Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure

Island for its vivid storytelling."

With his books going deep into India's

mythology and manipulating aspects of the

country's politics, literature and even its

geography into his wildly interconnecting

plots, the author is known for his detailed

research and thrilling Dan Brown-esque

chases that could have you riveted to his

writing until you're completely done. It's

not hard to see where the need to get his

facts straight comes from and where he

gets his in-depth interest in politics and

administration as evident in his Chanakya's

Chant. "My most favourite book is Robert

Penn Warren's All the King's Men. This was

the book that taught me that while politics

is the second-oldest profession in the

world, it strongly resembles the oldest one."

Ask him about his favourite literary

character of all time, and almost

immediately comes the response, "Agatha

Christie's Hercule Poirot! Although if anyone

cast me in the movie adaptation of a book,

I would like to play Vito Corleone from Mario

Puzo's Godfather..."

As an author himself, I wonder what

usually drives him to write. "My muse is the

ancient and the hidden. More importantly,

its connection to the present and future,"

he answers cryptically, adding jokingly that

it is usually a few swigs of whisky that do

the trick.

"I've always been wanting to read Gabriel

Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years Of

Solitude," admits the writer as he shares

his aspirations as an author ... and that

one compliment he would love to hear

from his readers, "would be that when they

were reading my book, the pages turned

themselves well into the middle of the

night," he signs off.

94 OCTOBER 2013


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The stage was nothing less than prophetic.

A studio. That’s where Adil Manuel, a

guitarist, met Vasundhara Vidalur, a vocalist,

for the first time – and like they say about

a lot of epic musical collaborations – the

molecules just changed! Well, it’s not too

hard to guess that from what the duo of

Adil & Vasundhara have been up to in the

last four years since then – touring the

world, presenting their interesting blend

of influences that heavily rely on elements

of Jazz Fusion, Funk, RnB, Blues and

Gospel, and releasing a rather impressively-

produced debut album titled Ampersand in

March this year. Based out of New Delhi,

the duo recently performed together in

Chennai for the first time. “We have been

wanting to play in the city for the longest

time. The audience here knows their music

and they are always open,” shares Adil,

as we catch them after a power-packed


With a large bi-lingual repertoire of

standards and original compositions, their

shows have a mix of songs in French

and English. Both Adil and Vasundhara

admit that the main aspect that brought

them together was being able to relate

to each other’s tastes in music and how

they just felt it. "When Vasundhara and I

got together, we had a similar outlook on

music and the collaboration just felt right,

you know," shares Adil. "Both of us, we like

to do collaborations, and now, what we

hope is that this opens up more avenues

for music other than just tried and tested

popular formats; that this will open up

doors and windows for other bands to

explore ... That's how we'd like to see it,"

shares Adil.

"When you start out as a band in India, first

you look at the market. You look at what

sells. But we didn't look at any of that, so

I was a little bit antsy," reveals Adil about

how they managed to brew their music

away from set norms or templates, to

build a wholly original sound. "If you listen

to us, you'd realise that we are not really

Jazz; there's a lot of funk involved, some

heavy RnB and other influences. So what

we do is, we fine-tune it and we get some

kind of a connecting sound," shares Adil

as his bandmate chips in, "yeah, that's

something a lot of people don't do ... like

there's no point playing something if you're

not adding anything to it ... it needn't be

original. Of course, there's really no chance

that you can come up with something

entirely original, but having said that, it still

takes time to evolve your sound and to put

something like an album together – to stick

within a frame yet explore your sound."

Extensively working with artists based in

India and abroad, their focus has been

the creation of new sounds and energies

through collaboration, exchange and

cross-influence. Their debut effort also

features a rather powerful roster including

jazz pianist Louiz Banks, drummer Ranjit

Barot and Indus Creed’s Zubin Balaporia.

And that is exactly why they named the

album Ampersand, reasons Vasundhara,

“The album is called Ampersand because

it’s bigger than us. It’s not just about Adil

& Vasundhara. Everybody just stepped in.

Everybody’s contributed.”

Talking further about their debut album,

Adil explains that although they have

been touring extensively before and after

the release of their album, in the last six

months since its release, the support and

feedback that they have received has

been phenomenal. "We never actually

expected to garner so much attention

for the album. It just happened on its

own. We released the album in March

and between April and July, the album

went viral and we got featured so much

in the media. It was not something we

worked towards, but it just happened.

At one point we just lost count of

the publications – both mainstream

newspapers and other publications that

had run articles on Ampersand. That was

what really worked for us."

Adil further explains that the response

that they've got for the album is proof of

the changing popular tastes in music. "Of

course, the support we've got for the album

actually shows that at some level, people

are exploring 'genres' and listening to music

like this."

As a group that has toured both within the

country and outside, the duo has been

witness to the growing live music scene

in India. Vasundhara shares that this is a

relatively new phenomenon, especially of

the last few years with so many venues

opening up that invite musicians and have

live sessions on a regular basis. "Also,

I believe it has a lot to do with the access,"

she says. "There are a bunch of music

schools all around the country churning out

batches of musicians. Live music became

a trend of sorts and it created work, word

went around and people started trying it out

and taking chances ... and well, some of

these chances really worked out!"

For Adil & Vasundhara, a collaborative project based out of New Delhi, music is not about what sells but rather about what connects. They delve deep into their musical influences in a chat with Rohit Panikker.

OCTOBER 2013 95




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virgin mojito which I asked for without mint

is served instead, with some raw mango

deliciously garnished with roasted

cumin powder.

The food follows – with the soups leading

the way. We sample a cold smoked

mushroom veloute served with a slow-

cooked confit of cremini mushrooms and

a roast tomato and mandarin broth which

had a fresh mozzarella-filled tortellini. The

mushroom veloute doesn’t have a single

flavour out of place and the tomato soup

has a refreshing aftertaste of orange.

This is followed by a roasted beetroot,

ricotta, arugula and candied walnut salad,

dressed in mild balsamic vinegar and

Acacia honey dressing; and the Olive

Bistro Chicken Caesar salad. The beetroot

salad is a must-have, especially if you are

vegetarian – you might even be tempted to

try this at home. The Chicken Caesar salad

served with bread baked in-house is a large

enough portion to be a meal in itself.

The soup only stokes up our appetite

further and if the taste is anything to go by,

I know we are in for a gourmand experience

with the rest of the food. Starters included

the Spiked Green Harissa-marinated

Prawn skewer, Chermoula spice-marinated

Chicken and Cottage Cheese Skewers

(served separately); the House Special Falafel

in pita pockets with hummus and Crumb Fried

Ricotta and Thyme Stuffed Cremini Mushroom.

The prawns were delicately flavoured and

far tastier than the Chicken skewers. The

mushrooms though were delicious as were the

pita pockets.

We also tried the all-veg pizza on a thin crust

and the Smoked Jerk Chicken Pizza – both

were laden with toppings and the blend of

colours of the peppers, onions, jalapenos and

chicken made it a very tempting option.

Mains included the fennel and chilli flavoured

Indian basa which was pan-seared basa lined

with fennel, served with a chilli sauce and potato

puree as well as the flash-baked stuffed chicken

rubbed with thyme, where a whole deboned

chicken with a stuffing of walnut and spinach

was served with herbed linguini. The basa was

cooked really well and the flavours had been

absorbed by the fish completely so one could

taste the herbs with every bite.

I always make it point to have dessert after

every meal and this time, I was happy I stuck to

my rule. The two dishes we tried left me craving

for more and if I weren’t so stuffed already,

I would have had a second helping. We tried the

Vanilla Panacotta served with a pink peppercorn

and orange sauce and milk chocolate ice cream

filled Profiteroles topped with a hazelnut and

bitter chocolate drizzle. The desserts were

simply divine.

Now, if after eating way more than my usual

quantity of food and dessert left me wishing

I had a bigger appetite – that should tell you

how good the food at Olive Bistro is. Head there

at the earliest if you haven’t been there already.

O'live' It Up!When a well-known restaurant chain from Mumbai decides to open a branch in Hyderabad, the curiosity factor is very high. If it lives up to its name and reputation, you can rest assured the place will become popular very soon. Minal Khona finds out that it is exactly what is happening with Olive Bistro, which was launched recently and is already packed on most days.

Despite its slightly out-of-the-way location,

people are flocking to this Mediterranean

style restaurant. Despite its picturesque

location, the European décor and setting,

it is obvious that the food is the star here.

As one enters, besides the stark white

of the walls, there is lush greenery and

steps lit with tiny lights to brighten the

path that lead down to the seating areas.

The restaurant, with indoor and outdoor

seating has eclectic décor. Blue tiles on

the floor, mismatched chairs and tables,

the Olive trademark cup and saucer

chandelier and a bar that has a telescope

are part of the interiors. For the outdoor

seating, there is a large fishnet and a boat

on display to go with the mood of the lake

below. The terrace seating is still being

finished however.

Retaining most of the dishes from its

flagship diner in Pune, the Olive Bistro has

food that is predominantly Mediterranean

with special dishes conceived by Chef

Mayank Tiwari. The only tweaking done is

with some seafood dishes where the fish in

the original recipe has been replaced with a

local one. That still doesn’t take away from

any of the flavours.

Attentive staff brings out the starters and

the mocktails as soon as we settle. The

Olive Bistro is on Road 46, Near Durgam

Cheruvu, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad

For reservations call +91 40 69999127

The restaurant is open from noon until

11.00 PM. A meal for two would cost about

` 2000 to ` 2500 excluding alcohol.

Olive Bistro doesn’t have a liquor licence yet.

96 OCTOBER 2013


Page 97: RITZ October 2013

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Page 98: RITZ October 2013

Entrepreneur and socialite Vidya Singh savours the delectable flavours of the Orient with a group

of friends at China XO, The Leela Palace's new offering to Chennai...

An Extraordinary

Journey to the


98 OCTOBER 2013


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From left to right : Ratika Haskar, Paloma Rao, Paul Raymond and Vidya Singh.

Photography by A.V.Abhay Kumar

OCTOBER 2013 99






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The Leela Palace is probably the most

elegant of the hotels in Chennai and it

is always a pleasure to be here. There is

a feeling that we are in someone’s very

beautiful home. China XO is The Leela

Palace’s offering to the city and is a

wonderfully stylish space, created to give

a feeling of luxury and every detail has

been planned with this in mind – from the

layout to even the upholstery and artifacts

that have come in from distant places.

This elegant restaurant has certainly taken

the concept of Oriental fine dining up

several notches.

My guests for the evening are the elegant

Ratika Haksar, avant-garde jewellery

designer and a discerning food connoisseur;

the stylish and beautiful Paloma Rao,

television presenter, RJ and travel buff; and

Paul Raymond, restaurateur who owns Moti

Mahal Delux, and has a passion for food and

loves experimenting with different cuisines.

Together, we are ready to do justice to Chef

Dharmen’s creations.

Chef Dharmen Makawana assures us

that the unique menu that he has styled

will feature selections from Sichuan and

Canton, but with several innovations.

This award-winning chef has worked

in Australia, Asia and the Middle East,

especially the Dusit Thani Resort, the

Nikko Bali Resort in Bali and in Sharm el-

Sheik in Cairo, besides working in several

luxury hotels in different parts of the world.

He constantly endeavours to introduce

people to the authentic taste and flavour of

Oriental cuisine.

As we settle in at our table, we realise

that the restaurant is so well-planned that

there is ample space between the different

tables, giving us an instant feeling of privacy

and the impression of being almost the

only diners there! Chef Dharmen first sends

out platters of Dim Sums, both vegetarian

and meat. The signature selections are

the Chilean Sea Bass, the Crispy Prawn

Cheung Fun and the Chicken Prawn

Siumai. I relish mine – the Truffle and

Edamame and the Asparagus Cheung Fun,

which are both fabulous. The colour palette

of the presentation is as pretty as the dim

sums are delicious.

Chef Dharmen takes us across to have

a quick look at the open plan Dim Sum

kitchen where we watch the rolled dim

sums being prepared. The veggie version

had asparagus and the meat variant

was made with prawns, in a variety of

textures. Now we are really beginning to

enjoy the entire experience. The Hong

Kong style Fried Prawns with a garlic oat

crust is truly unusual in its texture and

100 OCTOBER 2013


Page 101: RITZ October 2013

taste. The Traditional Vegetable Hot and

Sour Soup with Bamboo Shoot is simple

and made to perfection.

After this comes the masterpiece that all of

us watch with total fascination as the Chef

brings it over – the absolutely authentic

Peking Duck, made in a wood-fired oven.

Brought whole to our table, it is carved and

different parts are served to us separately,

from the skin to the breast meat and the

thighs. The pancakes and the condiments

are brought alongside, and consist of finely

sliced cucumber and leek, Hoisin Sauce that

is slightly sweet in taste and crushed garlic.

The duck is absolutely tender and melts in

the mouth, and the flavours are balanced

with the accompaniments. A wonderful

experience in its entirety, the Peking Duck

is a big favourite at our table. Just when

Paloma and Paul exclaim that they are done,

the next course is brought in!

Among the mains that are sent out to

us, I am surprised to see the delicious

Chicken Garlic Fried Rice. A staple in

most Chinese restaurants, this version

is especially light and delicate. We have

the Jasmine Steamed Rice as well, as

an option. The Black Pepper Tenderloin

Strips are just superb as is the Clay Pot

Chicken that is made with bamboo shoot

and chilli bean sauce.

We are unanimous in pronouncing the

Braised Eggplant in chilli bean sauce to be

the most delicious we have ever eaten. Trust

me, it can make fans out of even those who

don’t usually like eggplant! No wonder this

platter is sent back to the kitchen completely

empty! The Stir Fried Vegetables with water

chestnuts and mushroom in a sweet onion

sauce is so totally delicious that we simply

attack the dish at the table. Equally drool-

worthy is the Stir Fried Chinese Greens,

with Tofu, a dish that is crisp and flavourful.

Delicious hot Jasmine Tea is constantly

replenished for us in little cups and certainly

helps digest our large meal.

Dessert arrives at the table in platters for

each of us. Paloma and Paul love the

Crisp Sesame Pancake with lotus and

red bean paste, while Ratika declares

that the Almond Jelly is incredibly light

and delicious. I try the rather unusual

Crisp Musk Melon and love the long roll

of a sponge cake with a difference. A tiny

scoop of vanilla ice-cream tops off the

dessert selection.

Dining at this restaurant has been a

wonderful experience and as Chef Dharmen

says, "Food is meant to be shared and

enjoyed with good company." China XO

at The Leela Palace Chennai makes for a

perfect fine dining experience and comes

highly recommended by all of us!

OCTOBER 2013 101






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What does luxury mean to you?

I think luxury is any time that you have for yourself, on a busy day. For me, it would be a

holiday, you know, with lots of sleep. That would be a lucky day.

What is the one luxury you cannot live without?

My phone, although that’s not a luxury – I mean, everybody has one now. And I can’t

live without mine.

What is the one holiday destination you would go back to anytime?

LA. I just love it. Probably because I have this great connection to the place.

Which luxury brands are you a part of?

Man – do I endorse any brands? Wow! (laughs) I mean, I’d love to be endorsing

Givenchy, but unfortunately, I’m not. But I do patronise a few brands I like,

including Burberry, and Chanel.

Is there something you have seen people spend a lot of money on, but you

think is a colossal waste of money?

Colossal waste? Oh god, yes, that would have to be imported cars in India. Why?

Because the roads are so bad, you know, and when you drive, some auto guy

would come by and scratch your car and it’s just really stupid. (grins)

What is that one secret indulgence you haven't told too many people


Oh, I don’t know – nothing in particular, because I’m quite boring. I think

I just buy a lot of clothes I don’t wear. Like, I still have some stuff over from a

launch I went to, with the tags still on, and I’ve never worn them. That’s a

bad habit I have.

What inheritance/legacy would you like to leave for

future generations?

Oh my god – that’s a very heavy question. Very heavy. Um,

I don’t want to leave behind a legacy and all that – I just want

the people who knew me to remember me as someone who

made them happy. I want people to watch my movies, and

have a great time. And my kids to have wonderful things to say

about me.

How would you define 'the good life'? And what aspects

do you think need to come together for you to have a

'good life'?

You need good and positive people around you always. A mixture

of ambition, and the ability to be content with what you have. Most

importantly, you need a lot of love.

Suppose you are going on a minimalist trip. What are the three

things you would carry along?

My phone, my soap (which is very important), and some music. I think

those would be enough, to make me feel good.

Shruti Haasan has come a long way from being just Kamal Haasan’s daughter or ‘just another pretty face’. This incredibly-talented performer (yes, performer, since she is an actor, singer, dancer and a music director rolled into one and still searching for more caps to don!) has become a force to reckon with in no time. Here she is, at her ebullient best, as she answers a round of questions on life, likes and luxury.

102 OCTOBER 2013


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