Vaishali S takes rare Karnataka Khun weave to NYC
While Indian handlooms remain fashion’s humble counterpart in their own country, designer Vaishali Shadangule, who divides her time between New York and Mumbai, loves working with Indian traditional textiles and taking it to the international market. Her latest collection Bisra (The forgotten past) is based on a little known traditional handloom fabric from Guledgudda, a village in the northern area of Karnataka called Khun. Vaishali’s Khun collection won major accolades at the recently concluded LMIFW, New Delhi when it was showcased on the ramp. This fabric, says Vaishali, is just waiting to be discovered by the fashion world as she explains why the Khun should be the fabric of choice this summer.
“Khun aka Khand is a lightweight weave made entirely from silk. A rare and beautiful weave that comes in bright colours like reds, orange, green and purple. Khun is a very soft and comfortable textile, easy and malleable and light on the skin. The motifs on the fabric are weaved together tightly,” Vaishali says.
“There are now only 40 looms that produce Khun making it a rare weave and not easy to find. The weavers at one point used to be paid Rs 4000 per 10 mts of fabric, now they get only Rs 400 for the same because fashionable people are not aware of this textile. My brand Vaishali S supports all 40 looms and 800 families all over Maharashtra, Karnataka and West Bengal,” she adds.
“Khun was used as offering to the goddess and so you can see the goddess’s face on the borders, along with flowers, and temples. It retains its colour and lustre even after several washes and can be used as a modern silhouette.”
As a designer, Vaishali’s focus is to bring India's centuries-old weaving technique to the forefront in the global fashion scene. The label uses a modern and innovative approach that blends modern fashion trends with ancient textiles. Vaishali has successfully produced and presented several collections at prestigious events such as the New York Fashion Week. She sums up, “The themes for my collection’s beautiful weaves are inspired by my love of travel and cultural experiences, so the connections between these references and the product are naturally communicated to our consumers around the world. Now my collections based on the traditional weaves like Khun are successfully finding wearers in USA, Italy, London, Middle East and Asian markets.”
Mohnish Malhotra puts the spotlight on South Asian LGBTQ on Voice America
A frontrunner in the fight for the rights of the LGBTQIA community, Mohnish Malhotra, the Delhi based media professional will now be producing a radio show for Voice America with Lovely Kass Thomas, bestselling author and Life Coach for access consciousness. The show will be called Beyond Love, Sex and Other Drugs and the format will be a live talk show with the programming based in Phoenix, Arizona. The programme’s intention is to reach out to the LGBTQ community of South Asians in the United States. Mohnish says the show will deal with drug abuse, sex or no sex addiction, love and abusive relationships. The series will go on air in a few weeks from now.
Mohnish who was the organiser of the first-ever gay pride in New Delhi and as such was instrumental in working towards the decriminalisation of homosexuality in India, wears many hats. Only recently, he entered the retail business with a special range of wedding couture, Balance by Rohit Bal, and is currently busy with the production of UFF-Unfamiliar families, a web series that focusses on the relationships and un-defining of relationships of the Indian LGBTQIA diaspora. He will be launching his webs series UFF at the World Dignity Forum in Los Angeles in June this year. The series will work as a forum that offers solutions by experts from various fields who come together to discuss how to end problems and improve lives for everyone.
Mohnish says UFF is about LGTBQIA people coming to talk about their stories with their parents, siblings, spouses and partners and each episode will be one where we get to hear all sides of the story. As he explains it, “My personal experience has helped to keep me motivated to continue working towards a better understanding between all sections of society. The TV series Modern Family has also inspired me greatly. My being a founding member of the Gay Pride in New Delhi and my work on gay rights has given me a deep understanding of the issues faced by this community. Our target for this web chat show is literally all generations from grandchildren to grandparents and we want everyone to see our situation exactly as it is… unscripted and original. The series has been conceptualised by me with the support of organisations like the Keshav Suri Foundation and Flying Elephant who are doing an enormous work in this area. Hopefully, it will work towards building bridges within and also outside the community.”
Global Philanthropist Meera Gandhi’s Giving Back Foundation turns 10 and it’s just the beginning
NYC based philanthropist Meera Gandhi flew in last weekend to host a high powered celebration at The Oberoi in New Delhi to commemorate 10 years her The Giving Back Foundation. The beautifully curated rooftop event with a sit-down dinner and a musical performance had many top celebrities such as the Khemkas, Robert Vadra, Suhel Seth and his new wife Lakshmi Menon, Tikka Shatrujit Singh, members of the Rana family of Nepal, Ramola Bachchan, Rohit Bal and others showed up to congratulate Meera. The evening also had the guests discovering a hidden talent in brand consultant Suhel Seth who regaled them with his rendering of the Frank Sinatra hit number I Did It My Way!
The beneficiaries of Meera’s Foundation are carefully chosen existing charities around the world with a special emphasis on those who work for women and children. Meera also gave the guests a sniff of her new perfume, the sale proceeds of which will also go to her foundation. One of the biggest achievements and projects of the Giving Back Foundation is the adoption of New Delhi's St. Michael's School in India. As a result of the program, the children of St. Michael's School are provided with meals on a daily basis.
Meera is a part of the global celebrity circuit and uses her huge social clout to further her charity ventures by raising funds for The Giving Back Foundation. Only last month, Meera was a special guest at an event by The Maestro Cares Foundation founded by Marc Anthony and Henry Cardenas along with several prominent personalities. She has previously been honoured by the Maestro Cares Foundation for her philanthropy work and continues to work closely with them. The recent New York event brought together many notable dignitaries like Vicente Fox, Hamilton Star, Lin Manuel Miranda, Oscar winner Rita Moreno and Fast and Furious Star Vin Diesel. The Maestro Cares Foundation is a non-profit organization established by Marc Anthony and Henry Cardenas to help build orphanages for children in Latin America. The night raised $4mn to $5mn for centres all over South America. As Meera says, “It was one amazing night in NYC and another amazing night in New Delhi!”
Delhi Preview of 'No Fathers In Kashmir’ was a star-studded show
The crème de la crème of Delhi attended the special screening for family and friends in support of filmmaker Ashvin Kumar and his latest film No Fathers In Kashmir. Ashvin is the youngest filmmaker to have been nominated for an Oscar for his first short film, The Terrorist, in 2004. Not surprisingly, the audience who showed up at the PVR ECX Chanakya in New Delhi was quite excited about his latest film.
The star cast of Soni Razdan, Shivam Raina, executive producer Varoon Vesuna along with the director himself were present for the preview evening. The guests included Ashvin’s parents Ritu and Shashi Kumar; Sharmila Tagore, filmmaker Mira Nair, Samar Jodha, Anju Modi, Yasmin Kidwai, JJ Valaya, David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore, Poonam Bhagat, Anupama Dayal, Neesha Singh, Shivani Wazir Pasrich, Gallerist Sunaina Anand, Bina Ramani, Vidyun Singh to name a few. No Fathers in Kashmir revolves around British-Kashmiri teenager Noor (Zara La Peta Webb) who visits the Valley to find her father, who disappeared many years ago. She is helped by a local boy, Majid (Shivam Raina). Love and heartbreak ensue amidst the backdrop of militancy and conflict in the state. The supporting cast includes Kulbushan Kharbanda and Anshuman Jha.
The film was initially given an A certificate by the censors despite it having “no sex, no violence, no vulgarity, no nudity, no drug abuse” and is a tale of hope and forgiveness set in an area of conflict, says Ashvin. The run-in with censors was resolved after the filmmaker made some cuts and now it is playing in the theatres with a U/A certificate. Obviously, films dealing with the Kashmir situation are always going to be a sensitive matter and not an easy subject to capture! Now let’s see how well audiences take Ashvin’s creative portrayal of the human issues at stake in this stunningly beautiful land.
Vidushi Mehra stages a theatrical coup
Theatre actor Vidushi Mehra, wife of designer Nikhil Mehra of Nikhil and Shantanu, who played a short role in the film Who killed Jessica has gone from just acting to also producing and directing theatrical productions. Her first venture as director and producer and actor, Death and the Maiden, is currently on at the Capital’s Odd Bird theatre at the Dhanmill Compound in South Delhi.
The vivacious artiste says, “Samar Sarila (my co-producer) and I chose this play because of its universal themes. Even though the writing is from 35-years-ago, it still echoes relevance to the times we live in. Justice, betrayal, sexual politics, gender battles, human misery, complicated power dynamics are the play’s concerns. Though I have produced and directed this play, it’s acting that I enjoy the most, because of the immersion in a character. This is my directorial debut and since I am producing and acting as the lead, it was always going to humongously difficult. But I always love taking on the impossible. It's been very gratifying and people's feedback to the play is very encouraging and overwhelming at the same time. When you act, direct and produce you are setting yourself up for a great deal of complication. You don't have a third eye, you become your own third eye and production is conflicted at the same time. As a producer you are constantly worried about budget, sponsorship, collaboration, ticket sales, as a director you want the best vision executed and the acting comes last. In the beginning, when we were still contemplating about Death and the Maiden and the play needed a very special type of energy and commitment, we looked at finding an appropriate director who would have the necessary skills to shape the play. But unfortunately, we didn’t find a suitable person. However, the play was already deeply entrenched in me and I had to do it. So I took on being the director as well.”
Vidushi says that as an actor she has been approached for various film projects and but she would love to direct for films too. Her first film was Aisha, subsequently, she did No One Killed Jessica, Bajaate Raho, Fugly, a cameo in Saath Khoon Maaf and Moh Maya Money.
Vidhushi says, “Anyone who loves theatre will know that theatre needs love and encouragement and I hope this production of mine will get both in plenty to keep me going on!”