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There was a time when popular music in India also meant Indi-pop, with its own star system and billboard chartbusters. But no sooner was the genre coming of age, it vanished into oblivion, writes Jaya Biswas

Those in their late twenties or early thirties surely wouldn’t have forgotten those evenings when we would it take a little break in between our homework and dinner to watch Chitrahaar, on Doordarshan on Wednesdays at 8:30 in the evening, which was popular because it aired a bouquet of songs from both old and upcoming films. There were no trailers or teasers back then on television so an odd song was often the only sneak peek at a forthcoming film, a peek that the nation seemed to wait for.
Every Wednesday, with baited breath we waited for Chitrahaar. Like much of the offerings on the state run channel, it was shoddily produced and often half-a-song would be edited out to make way for adverts/ news bulletins. But in the difficult and oh-so-far-way 1980s Chitrahaar, since it didn’t have to match steps with satellite music channels, was oh-so-very welcome.
But the early 1990s were a defining period for the Chitrahaar generation. We witnessed the emergence of yet another musical countdown show which made an entire generation dance to its tunes. Our loyalties almost unflinchingly shifted to Superhit Muqabala, aired on the newly launched DD Metro which promised to be more urbane than the staid and Bharatiya DD National. And it was here, in this show, more brazen than DD and more slickly produced that we first caught Alisha Chinai crooning to a shrill Made in India for a breathtakingly handsome Milind Soman. The song caught the generation as if by the collar and became the unofficial anthem of young India.
The story of the ascent of Indi-pop would remain incomplete without mentioning Biddu Appaiah, more popularly Biddu. An Indian-British music producer, composer, song-writer and singer, he not only produced and composed many such hit records worldwide, the credit goes mostly to him for managing to create a non-filmi niche in the 1990s. It was Biddu who made the Indian audience savour the real taste of pop with Pakistani singers Nazia Hassan and Zoheb, a sibling duo whose records, produced by Biddu, sold millions of copies. Nazia and Zoheb were Pakistani singers from Karachi. The group initially gained prominence with their single Aap Jaisa Koi was then featured as a soundtrack for Feroz Khan-Zeenat Aman starrer Qurbani. The song was also part of the group’s debut album Disco Deewane, released in 1981 by Biddu. The album became a best-seller. It also changed trends of music in Pakistan and was the first South Asian album that was also a hit in Brazil, Russia, South Africa and Indonesia. The duo released their second album Boom Boom in 1982 which was also the soundtrack for the Bollywood film Star, made in 1982, starring Kumar Gaurav, Rati Agnihotri, Raj Kiran and Padmini Kolhapure.
Made in India (1995), composed by Biddu, went on to become one of the highest selling pop albums of its times and Alisha, who had made some name years ago singing in Tarzan, became a household name. Biddu, also composer of the Boom Boom track, featuring the then newly minted Anupama Verma made many a heart go aflutter.
Indi-pop or Indian pop music, notwithstanding the distaste that lovers of western pop showed for its denizens, had started taking shape as a subculture. Bollywood was of course there while a singing culture with pan-Indian appeal, started to evolve outside it and very quickly too. 
Next, Biddu turned his attention to Hindi vocalist Shweta Shetty, both writing and producing the Johnny Joker album in 1993. In 1996, Biddu backed another brother-sister duo with Shaan (Shantanu Mukherjee) and Sagarika Mukherjee, producing the album Naujawan. Biddu spent the rest of the 1990s working with various musicians. Into the new millennium, he produced two hit albums with Sansara, Yeh Dil Sun Raha Hai and Habibi.
Biddu was almost a one-man army for the first few years when Indi-pop gained in prominence. But more than just the score, other factors also came into making it popular — creative videos, peppy music, pretty girls and a new group of talented singers. One must remember that Bollywood was on an overdose of Bappi Lahiri and late Laxmikant-Pyarelal, both insufferably kitschy, throughout the late 1980s. While Bollywood turned a new chapter with Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Maine Pyar Kiya, Indi-pop emerged as the music for the nightlife — groovy and clever melange of Indian folk and popular tunes with peppy beats and often heady rap especially of the Baba Sehgal variety in Thanda Thanda Pani. Pop music had arrived and by the time satellites TV invaded the drawing rooms, India finally had its own divas and icons slowly but steadily eating up most of Channel V and MTV’s airtime.
In fact, music videos in the country made a splash with Indi-pop. Film music gave little scope to do videos and Indi-pop took the opportunity to make expensive and often experimental (by Indian popular standards) videos, thereby managing to hold on to the increasingly remote-happy, diminishing attention induced viewership.
Indi-pop soon, perhaps too quickly, touched its pinnacle with artistes like Anaida, Lucky Ali, Mehnaz, Daler Mehndi, Leslie Lewis, Raageshwari, Ali Haider, Ila Arun, Shaan, Anaida, Asha Bhosle, Anamika, Sonu Niigaam, Shubha Mudgal, KK, Babul Supriyo, Shankar Mahadevan and bands such as Euphoria, Silk Route, Stereo Nation, Aryans making Indi-pop a convenient money-minting option with albums sales soaring higher and higher.
Anaida’s ouvre was in churning out a strong storyline in the song, well-choreographed sequences, and tight editing with an eye for the over-all impact. Even ace choreographer Shiamak Davar and superstar Amitabh Bachchan joined the league with their songs Jaane Kisne and Ek Rahein Eer Ek Rahein Beer… respectively, also remembered for the brilliantly choreographed videos. Another big hit on the small screen was Malaika and Jas Arora in Malkit Singh’s music video Gud Naal Ishq Mitha.
Actress-singer Suchitra Krishnamoorthi doled out hit albums like Dole Dole and Dum Tara. Ghazal singer Hariharan and singer-composer Leslie Lewis joined hands to form their unique band Colonial Cousins, in 1996. They fused Indian and Western musical genres which were instantly lapped up by the listeners. Their eponymous debut album broke all records including hitting platinum sales in India. The duo also won the MTV Asia Viewer’s Choice Award and went on to bag the US Billboard Viewer’s Choice Award. The album had two major hit singles, Krishna and Sa Ni Dha Pa; their videos repeatedly playing on various music channels.
Shweta Shetty came up with another one in the year 1998 named Deewane To Deewane Hai. Her album became a huge success and her gravel voice and come-hither-sexiness seem to spill out of the television. 
Siblings Shaan and Sagarika hit the jackpot with the remix of Disco Deewane, followed by Roop Tera Mastana and Love-o-logy. Sagarika released her solo albums Maa and It’s All About Love. Few years later, Shaan scored big with Tanha Dil and Tishnagi.
Baba Sehgal, who is credited as the first Indian rapper, shot to fame with Manjula, Thanda Thanda Pani and Aaja Meri Gadi Mein Baith Ja in the mid-1990s. But he went on a world tour and by the time he settled down again no Indi-pop was left. He turned to playback singing and acting.
Around the same time we saw yet another bunch of singers like Daler Mehndi and Sukhbir who made us sample the heady flavours of Punjab. Daler Mehndi switched from classical music to pop, and in 1995 his first album Bolo Ta Ra Ra… was the best selling non-soundtrack album in Indian music history. He received the Award for Voice of Asia International Ethnic and Pop Music Contest in 1994. He earned Channel V’s Best Male Pop Singer Award, which he received in 1996 for Dar Di Rab Rab and in 1997 for Ho Jayegi Balle Balle.
Sukhbir’s unique Bhangra songs were a fusion of Bhangra with rap, techno and reggae. In Oi Triesto (2002), his music was complemented by Spanish and Portuguese rhythms, while he also uses instruments like tablas, congos, guitars and keyboards. He also stated once that Daler Mehndi and Malkit Singh were his biggest competition in the Punjabi music market.
In 2000, Asha Bhosle teamed up with Adnan Sami to release a collection of love songs named Kabhi To Nazar Milao. The music was also composed by Adnan. The album became an instant blockbuster and topped the Indipop charts for most of 2001. Two songs from that album — Kabhi To Nazar Milao, whose music video featured model Aditi Gowitrikar and Lift Karaa De whose music video starred Amitabh Bachchan — became immensely popular.
Sonu Niigaam was perhaps the only singer who could successfully juggle between film playbacks and private albums. His list of non-film popular albums includes Deewana (1999), followed by Jaan, Mausam, Kismat, Yaad and Chanda Ki Doli (2005) — most of which topped the charts.
But sooner than later Indi-pop came to an abrupt, and as we now know, a definitive end. Actress-singer Suchitra Krishnamoorthi had even said that the decline of pop spelled the death of her music career.
Mohit Chauhan, now a popular playback singer and once a part of music band Silk Route, rues, “Music companies are to be blamed which simply refuse to produce Indi-pop albums in fear of incurring huge loss due to piracy. Otherwise, there is no dearth of talent or listerners.”
Suneeta Rao, once famous for her Pari Hoon Main, released her last album Waqt in 2008 which sank. Alisha, like Shweta Shetty tried making a comeback to the Indi-pop scene with Vouz Soulement in 2003. But after that failed, she went back to doing film playback. And then she struck gold with Kajra Re (Bunty aur Babli in 2005). Alisha won several awards for this song and has since scored several hits.
So, what really went wrong? According to music critics and singers, film music itself went pop and Indi-pop lost its musical exclusivity, definition and identity. Almost 20 years down the line, the concept of Indi-pop may sound worn-out and overdone, but we do carry its essence in our hearts! Those who were better performers in the Indi-pop genre — singers, video-makers, arrangers and choreographers — made a quiet but effective move towards Bollywood. And those were there for publicity and money, faded away.
Indi-pop had a short life. Perhaps because Bollywood proved to be too big to take on! Perhaps Bollywood itself accommodated that kind of music. The item number for example, remains a kind of an offshoot of Indi-pop. Many films now shoot promotional videos to go with promotional music. Is it not a legacy of Indi-pop? Perhaps it is. Or may be with the coming of a new breed of talented and smart musicians — from AR Rahman to Santanu Moitra, from Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy to Pritam — Bollywood music itself became varied, tracing influences to not only music forms in India but often outside. Somewhere down the line, Indi-pop lost the plot.
Though choreographer-singer Ganesh Hegde claims to have brought the pop music scenario with his latest album, Let’s Party, could we really forget Lucky Ali’s O Sanam Mohabbat Ki Kasam… or Pankaj Udhas’s Aur Ahista Kijiye Baatein… or Ali Haider’s Purani Jeans aur Guitar? If not, then that’s the take away from a decade of what was born and died young as Indi-pop!

 

 

Jaya Biswas
 

Film: Luv Ka The End
Director: Bumpy
Cast: Shraddha Kapoor, Taaha Shah, Shenaz Treasuryvala, Pushtiie Shakti, Jannat Zubair Rahmani and Ali Zafar
Rating: Good

Luv Ka The End is all about one crazy night as three girls discover love, life, friendship and more… Now, that’s not something which Yash Raj Films hasn’t tried before. It was attempted earlier in Pyaar Impossible and more. With the new Y-Films coming into picture where the focus is on making films of, for and by the young, one can expect the production house to go full throttle keeping youth in mind.
The story of Luv Ka The End also runs somewhat on the lines of Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na or Wake Up Sid! in the beginning, with the plot revolving around a gang of girls just out of college, but soon takes a twirl and an interesting one at that.
The film focuses on Rhea (Shraddha Kapoor), who is the quintessential girl next door. She is lovable, cute, lively, vivacious and always dressed in funky clothes that she puts together for herself. Her dream is to watch her favourite rockstar, Freddie Kapoor. Rhea is madly in love with Luv Nanda (Tahaa Shah), the richest and the most popular boy in college. Luv, who so far has been easily befriending almost every hot chick in college, and has even ‘made out’ in the library with a treacher Miss Naaz, now eyes Rhea for a reason. He wants to be the highest scorer at ‘Billionnaire Boys Club’, an online portal that ranks them in the order of their ‘female conquests’. It is Luv’s personal mission to take Rhea’s virginity.
On the eve of her 18th birthday, Luv and Rhea plan to take their relationship to the ‘next level’. Accidentally, Rhea finds out that Luv is not as nice as she thought he was. Rhea decides not to cry but to give it back, in style — to get even and bring Luv Nanda down — and all in the span of one night with the help of her two friends. While most rom-com musicals start with a mushy number, this one is different as it aims to put love to an end.
The song, Tonight by Suman Sridhar is a slow, dreamy number about a young girl in love. Suman has really crooned the song well, effectively capturing the mood. This is followed by the title track of the film Luv Ka The End, sung by Aditi Singh Sharma, which is definitely the second best in the album.
Another interesting fact is debutant director Bumpy’s Hitchcockian screen presence. In almost all of his films, Hitchcock made an appearance much like Bollywood’s showman, Subash Ghai.
Last but not the least, popstar Ali Zafar’s special appearance as Freddie Kapoor adds cherry on the cake. Performancewise, Shraddha Kapoor and Taaha do justice to their roles. However, Pushtiie as Shraddha’s friend is the real show stealer.
Overall, Luv Ka The End is hip and zappy; a fun film worth a watch.

Supreeta Singh

Film: Haunted
Director: Vikram Bhatt
Cast: Mahaakshay, Tia Bajpai, Achint Kaur, Arif Zakaria, Mohan Kapoor, Sanjay Sharma
Rating: Poor

A ghost film is the perfect opportunity for couples to cosy up in a darkened hall. At the first show of Vikram Bhatt’s Haunted, the number of boyfriends and girlfriends that turned up could give fair competition to any public park. But giggling school girls with their teenage lovers seemed to enjoy the antics of the ghost the most. At every shriek, crash and boom, they burst into peals of laughter and settled back into the arms of their boyfriends. Unfortunately, Bhatt himself would not be so amused if he heard the comments that they made. Even without the 3D option, the film is scary for all the wrong reasons.
To be fair, the plot has a twist to it. Haunted by the screams of a young woman, our hero, Rehan (Mahaakshay), goes back 80 years in the past to save the girl from the clutches of an evil professor who tries to rape her, when alive. In his bid to change the destiny of the girl and free her from her sorry state, Rehan must put his own life at risk. Unlike other romantic ghost tales, the story has an unusual end as well. But like most Bollywood films centering on the supernatural, the film turns a turkey.
After giving a stylish and slick film like Raaz that employed scare tactics to its right effects and boasted of hotties like Bipasha Basu and Malini Sharma, Vikram Bhatt has steadily deteriorated in his casting choice. Mahaakshay looks like a kid and consistently carries just one expression throughout the film — whether he is sad, happy, angry or romantic, his facial muscles seem to go on a strike. Tia Bajpai as the victimised girl Meera, should have worked on her appearance. Her plight too fails to arouse pity. Mahaakshay does not look mature enough to shoulder the responsibility of saving a girl and Tia does not look worth saving!
This is largely due to the character of the villainous professor, Iyer (Arif Zakaria) — a lecherous man with an enormous sexual appetite. Just imagine, he traps Tia’s soul when she commits suicide and rapes her for 80-long years! It is torturous to watch a spirit undressing another spirit and deflowering her again and again!
Moreover, the otherwise serene, chiseled and artistic face of Zakaria was hardly suitable for portraying a beastly character.
The background score is jarring and loud. Even the songs are average and do not leave any haunting impression. Bhatt has also unnecessarily dragged the plot. Check the film out only if you have no other place for PDA!

Sohini Dey

Film: Fast And Furious 5
Director: Justin Lin
Cast: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster
Rating: Average

Fast And Furious 5, the fifth film in the series is a no holds barred action entertainment, full of every masala from hot girls, hotter cars, goofy humour, elaborate chase sequences and ricochetting bullets to camaraderie and family bonding, all in the right proportion.  The lack of an engrossing plot has been compensated by spectacular visuals of car chases and crashes in this Justin Lin directed film which sees a re-union of all the stars from previous films in the same series. After Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is rescued from police custody by his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and her ex-FBI agent lover Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker), they decide to plunder the corrupt businessman Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida) whose path they have crossed. To pull off a $100 million heist, they round up a team of sleek and stylish criminals who, in between chalking out the plan and rehearsing it keep the quotient of entertainment high by prattling enthusiastically. Obstacles to the task are two. For one, Reyes has locked his wealth up in a safe in the police station and secondly, DSS special agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), who is equivalent to an entire police force, is after Dom and his gang.
The stunts performed are entertaining no doubt, with some heart-in-your-mouth moments, but seem too convenient to be plausible. Take for instance the final chase scene where Dom’s and Brian’s cars drag the humongous safe along crowded roads manoeuvring the safe itself to smash enemy cars into smithereens. But you know it’s an action film and you know how it will end, so after a point of time you stop worrying about the truth value of whatever’s shown on the giant silver screen. Somehow you don’t even mind the predictability of it all and lie back and enjoy.
Everybody plays their parts well. Malleability is not a trait Diesel’s face is famous for, but in a film that requires him to display only three emotions at the most, and a lot of his rippling muscles, he is perfect. The same holds for Dwayne Johnson. But the physical and behavioural similarities between the two in the form of a chiseled body, shiny bald pate and steely determination make the chaser and the chased two sides of the same coin.
Apart from the unexplained bit about Vince’s betrayal and return, there are a couple of questions the film raises — Is the huskiness of a mafia lord like corrupt businessman’s voice an acquired trait or a pre-requisite for the role? Is the impending birth of a child in the family the only incident that can swerve criminals by choice off the path of crime?

Shauli Chakraborty

Film: Bidehir Khonje Rabindranath
Director: Sanghamitra Chowdhury
Cast: Abhishek Chatterjee, Arpita Mukherjee, Angshuman
Rating: Average

This year being Rabindranath Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary, a lot of people have decided to commemorate the occasion in different ways. Filmmaker Sanghamitra Chowdhury too has, in her own way, paid tribute to Tagore through this film.
Sanghamitra explores Tagore’s grief after suffering various personal losses. He saw the deaths of Notun Bouthan Kadambari Debi, his wife Mrinalini Debi, his daughter Madhurilata and son Samindranath. Tagore is said to have attempted planchets in order to reach out to the souls of the departed.
It is a film within a film. Jeet (Abhishek) is a filmmaker who is planning a documentary on Tagore. He loves Bolpur and makes it a point to visit Santiniketan whenever he can. Jeet’s brother has a gang of friends who think this is the perfect opportunity for a weekend getaway and convince Jeet to let them accompany him to Bolpur. Like most youngsters these people know very little about Tagore and are on a constant lookout for opportunities to dope and booze and show very little respect for all things Rabindrik. How Jeet deals with this bunch and manages to shoot his film is for you to find out!
The music is heartwarming and soulful. In fact, it is the music which keeps much of the film afloat. There is a tribal dance sequence that has been shot in Bolpur and is pure delight to watch.
As far as performances are concerned Abhishek Chakraborty alone is worth a watch. None of the other actors manage to make an impression. From body language to fake accents — nothing seems to work for this motley crowd, most of whom are first timers. They seriously need to attend grooming classes before attempting another celluloid appearance.
The film deals mostly with Tagore’s dealings with the supernatural and the kind of impact those episodes had on his life. It is more of a docu-feature than a full fledged documentary. However, editing is poor and a number of scenes could have been easily done away with.
This is not a great film – as the filmmaker has acknowledged herself. But this is
definitely a positive beginning. We hope such films encourage other filmmakers, old and new, to make more documentaries on Tagore and other greats
as well!

Film: Just Go With It
Director: Dennis Dugan
Cast: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Brooklyn Decker, Nicole Kidman
Rating: Average

Imagine how wonderful or awful it feels, depending on which film industry you swear by, to see a Hollywood romantic comedy being ‘inspired’ by a Bollywood one. Remember Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya, a romantic comedy starring Salman Khan, Sushmita Sen and Katrina Kaif, where Salman plays the doctor falling for the much younger bimbette Katrina and Sushmita plays the assistant who has to pose as his soon to be divorced wife- well, Just Go with It is a little less complicated and a lot more sexed-up version of the same. That’s what should strike the audience who don’t know that the Hindi film itself was ‘inspired’ by the 1969 comedy Cactus Flower. So there, illusions put to rest, let us proceed with the story.
Adam Sandler is a huge-nosed would-be cardiologist simpleton Danny Maccabee, who turns smart and sly, becomes a plastic surgeon and gets his nose in shape, after discovering that his is a marriage of convenience for his scheming bride. But the ring remains on his finger, drawing sympathy and favours of a physical nature alike, at the expense of an imaginary adulterous and shrewish wife, till he meets the right girl (Brooklyn Decker). To marry her he needs a divorce and to get a divorce he needs a wife. His long-time assistant plain-Jane Katherine (Jennifer Aniston) comes to the rescue. A regular comedy of errors ensue and yards of yarns are spun till a praise-each-other session and a passionate Hula dance competition brings the truth out.
Adam Sandler is the perfect choice for a role he has played so many times before that by now it must be difficult playing anything else. Brooklyn Dekker in spite of all her prettiness is bland as the good and kind-hearted girlfriend. One wishes her character wasn’t this flat. Jennifer Aniston clearly carries the film forward with her natural smartness and sparkling eyes. She does the ugly-duckling turning beautiful swan act gracefully but every now and then you spot good ol’ Rachel peeking out of the screen. It is no surprise that Nicole Kidman makes her presence felt even in a cameo. Bailee Madison and Griffin Gluck are adorable kids, the former playing the role of a precocious little girl with elan.
Though the concept is cliché, there are some genuinely funny moments. However, most jokes are discriminatory, in bad taste and at the expense of people who have undergone and are suffering from the negative effects of plastic surgery. Sometimes the jokes and the acts, especially the ones by Nick Swardson are so gross that they are anything but funny. There is no chemistry whatsoever between Sandler and Brooklyn, but he and Aniston make a very warm, cute couple, past their prime. The comfort between the two that seems to reflect in the camaraderie they share on screen easily makes the film a one-time watch. — SD

Jaya Biswas

 
Film: Thank You
Director: Anees Bazmee
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Bobby Deol, Suniel Shetty, Irrfan Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Celina Jaitley, Rimi Sen
Rating: Average

Men hate him, women simply adore him. Anees Bazmee’s latest film, Thank You, sees Akshay Kumar playing a detective who specialises in extra-marital relationships. Akki tells heartbroken wives about their promiscuous husbands, enlightens them with signs of a cheating man and how to catch him red-handed. He educates women and makes them wiser. Well, now you know why!
The basic premise of the plot dwells on ‘Men are dogs’ and ‘Women are dumb’ philosophies. Raj (Bobby Deol), Vikram (Irrfan Khan) and Yogi (Suniel Shetty) are three married men trying to have some fun outside their marriage. Sanjana (Sonam Kapoor), Karthika (Rimi Sen) and Radha (Celina Jaitley) play their lovely wives.
All seems to go well until Sanjana senses something fishy about her hubby’s smooth-going life. On Karthika and Radha’s suggestions, Sanjana hires the perpetually flute-playing private detective Kishan (Akshay Kumar), who promises to teach the three philandering husbands a lesson that they’ll never forget. Sounds familiar? Thank You, sadly, comes across as a not-so-appealing concoction of erstwhile releases like Shaadi No. 1, Biwi No. 1, Masti et al. But most prominently, it is hugely inspired by Bazmee’s own film, No Entry.
While nothing significant happens in the first half, the storyline gets slightly better post interval. But just when you feel the end credits are about to roll, it starts stretching like a chewing gum with Raj’s ‘realisation’ phase in focus. That’s not all. It’s followed by an unnecessary and predictable flashback of Akshay and his wife played by Vidya Balan.
Pritam’s music is uninspiring except for Mika’s Pyaar do Pyaar lo number (from Jaanbaaz-1986), which is already climbing the music charts. The song sounds more like a remix and looks very much like trying a re-do of Apni To Jaise Taise from Housefull.
Akshay delivers an average performance; he does nothing that we haven’t seen him do before. One wonders if Akki doesn’t get tired of playing clichéd roles. Irrfan Khan is simply brilliant with his superb comic timing. Suniel Shetty’s character seems an extension of Hera Pheri. Bobby Deol is decent. As far as the leading women are concerned, Rimi Sen is good but not very different from what she did in Dhoom, Sonam Kapoor looks the prettiest of all. But that’s about it. As far as performance is concerned, this is certainly not one of her best performances. Celina Jaitley doesn’t really stand a chance as she remains absent most of the time. Mallika Sherawat with her item number fails to tickle you.
Annes Bazmee should perhaps say “I’m sorry” for directing Thank You. Watch it for Irrfan, if you must.

 

The sterling metal can be your style statement for every occasion. For young and old alike, it’s the new gold

 

Supreeta Singh

 

 
Like every woman, actress Koneenica Banerjee loves to dress up in traditional wear and resplendent silver jewellery is her favourite pick. Wrapped in a classic black saree, her delicate bangles and earrings generate lilting melody as she shares her fashion mantra. “I love authentic silver ornaments. I used to have a huge bag of jewellery worth `12,000 which I would carry to the set every day. Since I have many friends in Delhi and Jaipur, I prefer getting it from there since the designes are exquisite,” says Koneenica.
Silver jewellery is fast gaining popularity among women and men alike as more functional and practical piece of ornament that can give gold diggers a run for their money. “Affordable and fashionable, silver has been in fashion for quite some time now. But more and more designers are experimenting with the metal in the way it is crafted in terms of designs and polish. And customers are more than eager to try different looks,” says Anargha Chowdhury of Anjali Jewellers.
At present, jewellery designers are captivated by floral and geometric designs. Green is the colour of the season and the use of precious and semi-precious stones embedded in silver is the latest trend. Globally, the demand is more for light-weight and delicate pieces that can be worn at both informal and formal occasions. Designer Manas Ghorai says, “Gold and platinum are expensive. So silver could be a good substitute. Currently, silver jewellery is combined with materials like wood, beads and glass to make it more contemporary. I also use enamels and stones like agate which has a remarkable variety of colours and texture.”
Unlike gold, which is shiny and bright, silver is known for its subtle charm. Its beauty lies in its simplicity. In a bid to enhance or combine that subdued elegance with art, Manas has recently launched a collection based on Pat paintings. Manas has done a course from Gemology Institute of America. “I was always fascinated by Orissa’s folk art. Because silver is enriched with tribal connotations, I decided to use Patachitra encasing them in silver pendants and earrings,” informs Manas. His workshop at Howrah employs 10 craftsmen from the surrounding areas. Priced between `500 and `15,000, each piece is handcrafted and exclusive.
Silver is also popular because of its affinity with the Indian skin tone. Jewellery designer Nilaanjana Chakraborty says, “Indian women look gorgeous in silver. I get orders for both light-weight and heavy jewellery. But most often, women want a single chunky piece, like a statement necklace or chandelier earrings or a chunky bracelet. Abstract shapes in brushed silver that look neither golden nor silvery are in vogue.” The designer has her craftsmen in Jaipur who chisel out the designs sent by her.
According to Nilanjana, the enthusiasm for silver began to gain momentum when socialites and celebrities flaunted the chic metal. She reflects, “I have experienced that the demand for silver increased when it became more visible in the media. Whenever a celebrity sports a certain piece of jewellery which is nice and exciting, people flock to the shops and it becomes a trend.” For example, in a recently concluded television series called Gaaner Opare, the protagonist only wore silver jewellery supplied by Anjali Jewellers.
Earlier, silver didn’t have as much re-sale value as gold, but now buying siver has become a good investment policy. “The price has increased from `56 to `65 per gram in the last few days. So hoarding silver accessories isn’t a bad idea after all,” says Manas.
Manas adds that most of his clients are high-profile. The age bracket hovers somewhere between 16 and 60 years, reveals Anargha. This means that silver can go beyond age factor and make anyone look attractive, trendy and stylish. No wonder, women are donning silver jewellery with Western wear like dresses and trousers too.

 

Supreeta Singh
After a parachuting accident, that almost broke his back, Bear Grylls went on to win the Guinness Book of World Records (1998) at the age of 23 for climbing Mount Everest.  Almost paralysed, it took him 18 long, difficult months to recuperate. It was then he realised that when life gives you a second chance, one should just grab it without thinking twice. Putting behind the stuff that nightmares were made of, Grylls is back in the game as the action-driven host of Discovery Channel’s extreme adventure series, Man Vs Wild.
The new season sees him travelling to remotest places on the globe, including Australia’s northern territory, the Republic of Georgia’s Caucasus Mountains, a deserted island south of Papua New Guinea, the snowfields of the Canadian Rockies, sharing invaluable survival strategies along the way. Grylls loves adventure. “These places are unforgiving and you have to keep your enthusiasm intact. There’s no alternative.  Adventure sports make the world a hard place,” he says.
For a man who lives life in the extreme, survival strategies are a must. Grylls says that it’s important to let people know the route you are planning. Then comes water, a knife, a map, flint and a compass. “I always have a little laminated picture of my family that I tuck in the sole of my shoe. Carry whatever gives you hope. That’s a big part of staying alive,” adds Grylls.
After endless close-shaves with near-death experiences, Grylls now defines his work by the times he gets it right, not the times he gets lucky. However, he does have several funny moments too. “I remember once I was filming in the black swamps in Sumatra. It’s a place where the Tsunami had hit and all these crocodiles had been feeding off 65,000 human corpses and it was just a desolate, dead, stinking, infested area full of snakes, mosquitoes and leeches. I remember getting out and thinking never again back there.”
Since adventure-sport is often touted as counter-culture by many, Grylls has come across parents afraid of letting their children be part of such extra-curricular activities. He says, “My agenda is to encourage young people to follow their dreams and live their adventures. I get responses from parents saying their kids who only wanted to play computer games before are now wanting to climb mountains. Isn’t it great?”
After traversing almost all adventure sports destinations, Grylls believes he would need 10 lifetimes to tick off all the activities on his list. He hopes to visit India soon. “I have been to the Himalayas for hiking. There are so many wild places, great jungles, huge mountains and amazing deserts. I’d love to film in India,” he chuckles.

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