Monthly Archives: May 2014
Teaming up with James Patterson this year, the writer comes clean on myths and famous people who matter
After multiple rejections, with publishers citing a�?a convoluted storylinea�?, the self-published The Rozabal Line by Shawn Haigins (anagram of Ashwin Sanghi) finally hit bookstores in 2006. The book, along with Amish Tripathia��s series, was soon to lead the wave of historical fiction in the country after being picked up by Tata-Westland. Three bestselling novels later, Sanghia��s much-awaited collaboration with acclaimed author James Patterson, Private India, follows the adage of less is more.
a�?There are some chapters in this book that are just about a paragraph long. It stems from the Patterson style of saying absolutely nothing that does not advance the plot,a�? he says. Collaborations between artistes can have their exhausting moments and creative differences, but Sanghi assures it was a seamless process. a�?James provided a guideline as well as an existing set of international characters that need to be woven into the story. Using his guideline, I developed the plot outline and we divided the drafts between us,a�? he explains. Even as Sanghi considers self-publishing a boon, he cautions, a�?Not all books sell, and not all sell the same volume. If you get published, advances and royalties vary wildly.
Plus, book pricesA�are very low and the vast majority of books sell fewer than 5,000 copies. Do the math. Ita��s rather depressing. Dona��t quit your day job,a�?A�he advises, before sharing his views on the mythologies that need retelling, his favourite eras in history and possible reincarnated forms of famous people (see right).
A�Favourite eras in history
? Tudor England: Simply because Henry VIII and Elizabeth I were probably the most fascinating monarchs ever
? Second World War: The rise and fall of Hitler is probably the most gripping story ever told
? Indus Valley: To me, the Indus Valley (or Saraswati) civilization represents the genesis of India
? Roman Empire: Nobody ran an empire the way the Romans did. The period also coincides with the life of Jesus
? Rise of Islam: The advent of Mohammed and the subsequent period of conquest, learning and enlightenment fascinates me
Mythologies thatA� need retelling
? The story of the Persian god Mithras: to understand how much it influenced the story of Jesus
? The story of Vaivasvata Manu: He saved humanity from the great flood and it would be interesting to see the links to other flood myths
?A� The creation of the world as recounted in the Srimad Bhagavata Maha Purana: It would be exciting to correlate this to the big bang theory
? Platoa��s criterion: Simply because the myth of Atlantis is far too enduring
? The Chinese myth of Yinglong: It would be fascinating to know what caused the Chinese dragon to become so famous
Famous people and reincarnated forms
? Queen Elizabeth I asA�Margaret Thatcher
? Mahatma Gandhi as Nelson Mandela
? Howard Hughes as Steve Jobs
? Babe Ruth asA�Sachin Tendulkar
? Franz Joseph Haydn asA�A R Rahman
Besides organising clever social media marketing strategies, these multitaskers are bringing a whole new dimension to regional theatre
When it is Tamil theatre, you expect stereotypes: preachy family dramas, oldies exchanging dated dialoguesa��barring, of course, the likes of S Ve Shekhar, a�?Crazya�� Mohan and Y Gee Mahendra who have stood the test of time. Added to this is the glaring gap between English amateur theatre and their Tamil counterpart. All that promises to change, as a new breed of theatre-loving folks are responding to the need for relevant theatre in the language spoken by the majority of the state. Their mantra is simple: clean comedies that appeal to the family audience and content that is relevant to the smartphone-toting crowd. Promotions on social media platforms are strategically handled to bring in maximum viewers. Meet Chennaia��s new young a�?uns, who are making waves in the sabha circles.
playwright, director, actor Chennai Drama House
RAJAGOPALANa��s tryst with theatre began with small skits for school culturals and elaborate productions during his college days. They abruptly stopped when he and his friends joined the work force. In 2008, they re-grouped to revive their passion and stage a play.A� a�?We approached a�?Crazya�� Mohan who suggested that we perform under Kartik Fine Arts,A� as they premiere the Tamil plays in Chennai,a�? he says about how Chennai Drama House and its first play, Kandabadi Kandupidi, came about. Since then, they have staged four plays. The artiste, who holds a managing position with a hospital chain in Bangalore, commutes to Chennai for rehearsals andA� shows. a�?It gets tiring, but the end result makes it all worth it,a�? says the 29-year-old, adding, a�?a�?Content is most important, if you have to draw young audiences to you. We have to bring in new elements. CDH hasna��t managed it yet, but wea��re working on it!a�?
Chennai Drama House, Dummies Drama
THIS 29-year-old Gujarati with a passion for Tamil theatre insists that a�?Ia��m more Tamilian than Gujarati.a�? Born and brought up in Chennai, the practising chartered accountant got interested in theatre while in school. a�?I grew up watching S Ve Shekhar and a�?Crazya�� Mohan on stage. My friend Rajagopalan and I used to frequent the Mylapore Club as well, where therea��d be a lot of amateur theatre,a�? he says. Though actively involved in the founding of Chennai Drama House, when CDH took an involuntary break in 2010, Bhat began working with other drama troupes. It started with Dummies Drama calling him for a role in Shyamalam. So far, Bhat has acted in over 130 shows for three theatre groups, including Shraddha. a�?I played the lead role of a school boy in Shraddhaa��s Pariksha,a�? shares the actor, whose boy-next-door face has had him play roles of a teenager more than once.
director, stage management Dummies Drama
Growing up in Thiruvarur gave Ganesan virtually no exposure to drama and theatre. Three years of chartered accountancy training with theatre veteran N Sreevathson of Dummies Drama changed all that. a�?a�?He is a chartered accountant, and he regularly teaches. So when I joined his training class, he took me under his wing,a��a�� says the 26-year-old. In the beginning, Ganesan just assisteda��whether it be organising props or costumes or managing the lights. Eventually, he took over the gamut of backstage work for Dummies Drama. Then, when the 15-year-old theatre company decided to bolster youngstersa�� participation in theatre, and started a spin-off troupe called Team D, Ganesan pitched in. So far, he has acted in, directed and managed both the plays theya��ve stageda��Memory Minus and Womena��s Rea. a�?a�?If you need to attract young viewers, you need material that appeals to thema��everyday topics like college and school life, love and relationships, etc,a�? says Ganesan, adding, a�?a�?We try to make the plays as relatable as possible to my generation. People appreciate things better if we put it in context, and it is best done with humour. Plus, humour that appeals to the entire family helps connect to a wide range of audiences. So we dona��t just have young people or old people. We have both.a��a��
actor, director, scriptwriter Maham Enterprises
Being the daughter of a theatre and film veteran, Madhuvanthi Arun is unfazed by the size of the shoes she has to fill. In fact, training under her dad, Y G Mahendra, is what led her to start Maham Enterprises, an arts and media company, with her group of friends. Mahama��s first outing was a serious affaira��a story about a visually-impaired girl. The second was a breezy comedy named Siva Shamboa��a very gen Y story about two women rooming with a man in New York. a�?a�?Since I run a school, my focus is on youngsters. When we give them good material, they take it up pretty well,a�? she says. Siva Shambo played in Chennai every weekend during the Margazhi season and is now being staged abroad, too. She says, a�?I dona��t believe in comparing English and Tamil theatre. They are different genres. That said, the trend is changing. A lot of youngsters are involved in Tamil theatrea��as performers and audience. a��a��
Top Indian designers are finally ready for e-commerce, but they have individual rulebooks
The year has seen big designers launching their online stores, with Tarun Tahiliani being the latest entrant in the e-space. Perniaa��s Pop-Up Shopa��which became popular within six months of its launch in April 2012, and now has over 80 top fashion designers on boarda��could have been an instigator. Brisk sales on the site led to many designers looking for their own space.
The trend kicked off with Neeta Lulla launching neetalulla.com last year, with Manish Malhotra, Anita Dongre and Tahiliani following suit. Siddharth Lulla, the director of the company, says, a�?Online was our obvious next step. We have a lot of international clientele and ita��s easy for them.a�? Meanwhile, Dongre says, a�?Todaya��s internet savvy generation look at convenience in shopping, and online stores are open 24/7.a�? However, for Malhotra, it was the success of an affordable range that pushed him to this new avenue. a�?Last year I launched my diffusion collection, with lighter outfits at lower price. It pulled in good response and encouraged us to move to e-commerce,a�? he says.
Made to order
Couture has demand online, too. Ritu Kumar, whose e-store has been functioning since the mid-90s, says, a�?The majority who buy couture are international customers as we dona��t have any stores abroad.a�? However, Lulla adds, a�?Selling couture needs great customer service at the back end, to field calls about fitting, customisation, etc.a�? Like Lulla, Tahiliani also has a couture team for direct dialogue with customers.
The designersa�� target audience is between the ages of 20 and 50a��those who are diverse, fashion forward, digitally savvy and upwardly
mobile. And they are not looking at overseas buyers alone; they also have their eyes set on smaller cities in India. a�?Our aim is to reach patrons overseas as well as in tier two and tier three cities, who dona��t have access to our brick-and-mortar stores,a�? signs off Tahiliani.
Dongrea��s AND and Global Desi starts at Rs. 1,299 and Rs. 1,099 respectively, while the price range of her prA?t line is Rs. 4,000 to Rs. 20,000. Kumara��s Label line is priced between Rs. 2,500 and Rs. 15,000. Price range for Malhotra, Lulla A�and Tahiliani starts at Rs. 18,000 and can go up to several lakhs.
Details: manishmalhotra.in, shop.anitadongre.com, store.neetalulla.com, ritukumar.com and taruntahiliani.com
From multiple sclerosis to autism, Devimeena Sundarama��s mind-boosting exercises promise to tackle it all
Exercise is quite mindlessa��innumerable repetitions that burn calories and tone muscles. But what if we told you that a certain brand of exercise can boost your IQ, make you fit and alert and even help those with special needs like Alzheimera��s, autism, Parkinsona��s and multiple sclerosis? Devimeena Sundaram is a fitness specialist who recently turned master trainer (the first in India) for an innovative new programme called Super Body Super Brain. a�?This is a form of physical training that combines balance and coordination in the same movement, thus maximising brain activity and giving you a challenging workout,a�? says Sundaram, who is currently working with the Chennai chapter of Multiple Sclerosis Society of India.
The idea behind the workout is to charge the brain and make its left and right sides work together, thereby helping neurogenesis (the process of creating neurons) and improving neuroplasticity (creating new neural connections). a�?We get people to do a series of exercises, like bicep curls while simultaneously lifting their heels or doing exercises with their eyes closed, which will force the brain to think, create new memories and connections. Even a 10-minute workout can give you great results,a�? says the instructor who is also a certified sports trainer and conditioner, with expertise in Zumba, Bokwa (a cardio dance exercise workout) and working with the elderly.
Super Body Super Brain was created by Michael Gonzalez-Wallace, a popular fitness trainer in the US, in conjunction with top neuroscientists, neurologists and psychiatrists. According to Wallace, when the programme started showing results in regular people, many medical centres approached him. a�?I began working with kids with developmental disabilities including ADD, ADHD and Aspergera��s. Parents told me their children became more grounded, more focussed, and more in control of their bodies after doing this,a�? says Wallace. Sundaram also talks about great results achieved. a�?I am working with an MS patient who had 11 lesions in her brain. After doing this programme for the last four to five months, seven of those lesions have healed,a�? she says.
Except for the MS Society, Sundaram doesna��t want to be involved in too many one-on-one classes for now. a�?I feel it is important to spread awareness,a�? says the trainer who plans to start a teacher training course in July. She also wants to initiate talks with neurologists at Apollo, MIOT and Global Hospital to explore how she can bring the programme to them. a�?We dona��t prescribe any diets, but we do advise a low carb diet with plenty of essential fatty acids,a�? says Sundaram, who started her career as a computer engineer with an MBA in e-commerce, but changed track over five years ago to follow her passion for medicine and physical fitness.
-Surya Praphulla Kumar
Bojanam serves up authentic Iyengar food for Triplicane, Royapettah and Mylapore
Every morning, even before the cock crows, a kitchen in Triplicane is bustling, making idlis, dosas and pongal, while glistening rows of tiffin carriers await servings of rice, vathakozhambu, poriyal and more. Bojanam is an eight-month-old outlet in Triplicane that is making a name for itself with its authentic Iyengar breakfast, lunch and dinner services. a�?Bojanam is part of the Sweet Karam Coffee company that I started in September of 2012. Ita��s a family-run business, with my wife as the main cook and my sisters and sisters-in-law pitching in,a�? says B Venkatakrishnan, who quit his job as an administration officer in a marine engineering college to turn entrepreneur. a�?At first we only made sweets and savouries, which we distributed around the city. Then we started catering for functions before deciding to launch daily home-delivered meal services late last year,a�? he adds.
Currently they offer three services: Amutham (sweets and savouries), Vivaham (wedding catering) and Bojanam (daily meals and corporate lunches). a�?Our food is fresh and use only homemade ingredientsa��from our chilli powder to our pickles. Since ita��s Iyengar cuisine, we dona��t use onions or garlic,a�? says the 49-year-old, who recently added Royapettah and Mylapore to his ambit. a�?We launched breakfast services this Monday. Next up we have plans of starting a bigger kitchen and delivering food around the city,a�? says Venkatakrishnan, who now delivers meals to over 100 customers daily and recommends their chappatis (for dinner), poriyals and kozhambus.
Breakfast at Rs. 50, lunch at Rs. 100 and dinner at Rs. 60. The menu changes daily. Details: sweetkaramcoffee.in/9176686377
-Surya Praphulla Kumar
Library Blu at the Leela Palace takes the martini on a textured spin that may niggle purists but offer others sweet variety
WHETHER you are nursing a single malt or throwing back some tequila, The Library Blu is a good sanctuary. It helps that you dona��t have to elbow your way to the well-appointed bar, and that you can carry on a conversation. Plus, its discreet bartenders a�� like the lanky Rajneesh a�� know a trick or two when it comes to creating new age cocktails. Which was why, when the hotel announced its textured martini promotion, we were quick to visit.
The line-up features five carefully crafted cocktails that give a martini staple, vermouth, the cold shoulder. What you get instead are heady concoctions starring the silky, single-batch Absolut Elyx, the premium Bombay Sapphire gin, Ketel One vodka and some Irish whiskey. Introducing another level of flavour are the foams our mad scientists in black suits conjure. Cointreau, Kahlua, Baileys, Campari and a trusty iSi whipper is all it takes. Little details, be it a torched star anise or aniseed, vanilla bean, applewood (for the smoked effect) or calamansi lime, add fitting punctuation. The evening sees assistant F&B manager, G Subbaraman calling the shots a�� occasionally revealing his dexterity behind the bar, earned during long stints at Blue Bar and Orient Express in the capital.
We begin with Wild Lady, their version of the Irish Mist. With the Baileys and Elyx vodka, it makes for a good aperitif. The Martini de Granada does like a palate cleanser, before the smoke-infused whiskey martini, Novel Fashioned, makes an appearance. Ita��s a hit and, if less contact with ice is guaranteed, can be a bar signature. That and some practice with the smoking apparatus. Next up, Mandarin Elation, featuring Absolut Mandarin, followed by Madras Caffeine. With Ketel One, a dash of Kahlua and coffee beans, the latter is a fitting end to the liquid tasting menu. These foamy cocktails make the cut thanks to the premium products used, even if Agent 007A� might look askance at all the fruit and garnish. As for the texture, choose between luxurious and light, but they are all smooth on the way down.
From June 1 to July 31. Rs. 695 plus tax. Details: 33661234
Ka:Sha debuts at MaalGaadi with a collection that takes inspiration from the palette of migrant workers
Chennaia��s one-stop quirk shop, MaalGadi, launches unconventional designer Karishma Shahani Khana��s collection this Friday. Known for her colourful motifs and meticulous surface treatments, Khan who hails from Pune, brings to us a�?Kaam Kaaja��, a collection inspired by the work wear of our Indian wage workers (bais). a�?Work and celebration are two extremes that make up the life of a single person. The motifs of this collection draw inspiration from stripes and checks seen on work wear, while floral depictions are elicited from the various flowers used in rituals. They depict the idea of functionality and comfort, with different layering options,a�? Khan explains.
What sets this line apart from previous collections is that it has been enhanced through hand-embroidery and ajrakh block printing, and made with natural dyes such as indigo and madder. Perfect for the season and for Chennai, Khan has used only pure cottons in differing weights, from light mal to handwoven cotton. No stranger to our city, she says, a�?We feel MaalGaadi as a store is perfect for our label because of their eclectic product range and aesthetic appeal.a�? The collection reflects femininity through its dresses and skirts. Her favourites from the collection are the baag shirt and mal skirt for the easy to wear silhouette a�� they can be worn from morning to evening with ease.
Most of Khana��s clothes are labelled gypsy chic in style, but she believes there is a luxe factor in them. a�?Variation in styling allows for a lot of individuality. Luxury isna��t always relative to expensive fabrics but also to the idea of uniqueness, of fabrics and dyes that do not damage your skin, and can be passed down through generations without coming apart,a�? she says. This season, Khan is inspired by the styles of migrant labourers, vendors and the local landscape that she came across while travelling from Maharashtra to UP and Gujarat. Floral motifs and muted light and dark colours work for her. a�?This season was blockprint, last season screen print and before that another surface technique. We always focus on creating hand crafted pieces.a�?
Priced between Rs. 4,000 and Rs. 30,000.A�At MaalGaadi, Besant Nagar. Details: 42103242
Therea��s a new address in town for functional return gifts a�� Lemondrop
Six months afterA� graduating from NIFT Chennai, Shivani Patel launched her company,A� Lemondrop Design Solutions, which specialises in return gifts. a�?People are on the lookout for quality products for return gifts, but on a budget. And thata��s the thought behind Lemondrop,a�? says Patel. Though she doesna��t have a brick-and-mortar store, her website lists her productsa��from wallets and clutches to bags and agenda sleevesa��and people can either call her up or place orders on her Facebook page.
In her first collection, launched in April, she played with textured fabrics and leather to create a sophisticated fusion. a�?I have always seen power in simplicity and it is the ideology behind my designs,a�? says the designer who specialised in accessory design. Lemondrop, which retails under its own brand name, also offers products like card cases, iPad cases and more. She is working on a collection called a�?Na��yutama now. a�?It is based on the concept of minimalism. I am creating slim wallets for men and women,a�? she says, adding that she uses 100 per cent original leather and takes orders for a minimum of 50 pieces. Patel is also open to partnering with boutiques that dona��t have in-house designing teams, to create accessoriesa��she is currently designing clutches for Chennai-based boutique, Jullaaha.
Patel aims to cater mainly to women aged between 25 and 40, and is planning on designing footwear, too. Next up are plans to launch an e-commerce store, branch away from return gifts (and get into regular retail), introduce customisation (in a montha��s time) and offer new products like guitar straps and camera bags. From `900 onwards. Details: lemondropdesign.in (or follow them on Facebook for updates)
Infuse an off-duty look with these naturally-dyed cottons
EVEN as crisp cottons and soft natural fibres rule, we insist you keep your cool with our pick of indigo stoles, shirt dresses and kaftans. From Pondicherry-based designer Naushad Ali to brands like Burberry and Mangoa��they offer light, naturally-dyed cottons that
are perfect for the season.
Text: Mrinalini Sundar
Picture 1 of 8
This indigo dress is the answer the question, ‘what do I wear tonight?’ As part of the Virtues Indigo Collection, this dress features dhaboo printing from Bagru and hand-block prints. The collection also sees extensive usage of kantha and aari embroidery. Rs. 8,500. Available at Collage. Details: 28291443
Around the globe, radio as a medium is an information bank for its consumers. If you are in a particular city and you tune into the local radio stations, there will be enough data to keep you well informed about what that place is all about and how it ticks.
From local lingo to where you can get the best shopping deals, from second-hand car prices to what is the best real estate investment, or even the places you should avoid, it will all be there. All you have to do is tune in. Now thata��s what makes radio overseas sound more intelligent and mature.
In India, many stations have a habit of over-cooking a concept to the point that it becomes charcoal. The ability of simplifying the math is alien to many of them. If youa��ve noticed, when the creative pond in any station dries up, they either re-image themselves with new station tunes or have reality-based talent hunts. Ita��s not as if it helps much, but this is just how many of them deal with the situation.
Putting method before madness on radio is the simplest job on earth. Ita��s the small ideas that can be grown into valuable on-air properties. Ita��s a path that every radio station can safely follow in order to achieve maturity and acknowledgement from listeners as well as from advertisers.
In Chennai, we wake up to front page ads in our news papers about real estate almost on a daily basis. Ia��m sure there is a reason for that and Ia��m also very sure that a lot of buyers (not only the first-timers)A� of real estate would like to seek advice or be aware about the nitty gritties.
Is there a show on radio that deals with real estate queries and solutions? If there is, kudos to those forward thinkers; and if there isna��t, you know what is missing on radio in your city. Your favourite station has to be realistic and about the present. Thata��s a fabulous listening experience.
See you next week!
–Niladri (firstname.lastname@example.org)The writera��s views expressed here are entirely in his personal capacity.
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