Daily Archives: Oct 17, 2014
In the coastal city of Pondicherry, we find heritage hotels that offer a slice of history peppered with a dash of the contemporary
On your next visit, look beyond the beach, night life, liquor and seafood, as the French town beckons with a cluster of elegant and classy heritage hotels. From Le Dupleix by Hidesign to De La��orient by Neemrana and the newest, La Villa by Sylvain SA�giyane Paquiry, therea��s plenty to choose from. Hoteliers like Dimitri Klein and Paquiry, who believe that therea��s more to a building than bricks, talk to us about what it takes to breathe new life into old walls. Read on:
By Preeti GT, Mrinalini Sundar, Ryan Peppin
Seeing potential for adaptive reuse and heritage conservation tourism in the country, India-born French citizen, Sylvain SA�giyane Paquiry, is making waves one hotel at a time. Raised in Pondicherry by parents of Indian origin, Paquiry was 18 when he decided this would be his calling. a�?It was an age where I sought an identity for myself a�� shuttling between two countries, it was India that tugged at my heart,a�? says Paquiry, who initially wanted to convert beautiful ancient havelis in Rajasthan into comfortable hotels. But facing a curve ball with every step in an unknown state, he decided to emulate his concept in the beautiful French colony of Pondicherry. Thus was born La Villa Shanti, which developed a following in no time. And in August, together with French architects Tina Trigala and Yves Lesprit, and Spa Housing and Constructions in Chennai, Paquiry formed a team that restored a 19th century colonial home, turning it into a six-suite boutique hotel, La Villa.
With a mid-segment heritage property already established in La Villa Shanti, Paquiry hopes to offer luxury with La Villa. He explains that it is a�?modern, yet nostalgic, with ideas that are young, fresh and inspirited.a�? La Villaa��s restoration took four years and has resulted in a colonial building fused with contemporary chic a�� large, open and clutter-free spaces, high ceilings, thick walls, and the use of modern materials like mosaic and iron. It is refreshing to find the bygone eight-faced pillars alongside earthy teak wood and humble linen, merging well with western design elements of glass and metal. a�?Our vision was clear a�� build a product that has soul. We wanted to bring about modernity with a local identity, using the property as a platform to showcase this and more,a�? Paquiry explains.
True to his words, we find unique ideas punctuating every square inch of this 6,000 sq ft property. Kalimadu wooden doors from antique shops are reincarnated as furniture at the hotel (beds, desks, tables, chairs, etc) and the famed Karaikudi tiles from Kanadukathan form the flooring. The corridor floors are made of a coloured oxide, in a traditional red-white and modern silver-grey colour scheme. For shade, the property relies on mango and Ashoka trees that are 100-years-old, while the interiors are radiant, with natural ventilation and antique silver cutlery.
With chequered lungis for curtains, the decor borrows directly from the streets of Tamil Nadu, and the hotel uses only locally- sourced ingredients in its food. The food is simple and tasty, but enhanced by the use of techniques like sous vide. If you want to take back some of the lovely things you see at La Villa, the boutique at the hotel is full of interesting knick knacks. Handmade aluminium door knockers, intricate handicrafts and more, seem like precious gifts one could cherish forever.Rooms are from Rs.12,000 to Rs.14,000 inclusive of continental breakfast and Wifi. All rooms are for adults only. Details : 0413 2338555 and 2348555
On your plate
All CGH Earth hotels and resorts focus on serving food that is local and seasonal. a�?Our food reflects Tamil culinary traditions as practised in Pondicherry. The curry leaves grown on our terrace are the key ingredient in our house special a�� karuvepilai varutha meen,a�? Jose points out. Taking a step towards promoting local cuisines, Maison Perumal offers cooking demos for guests every day. a�?Introducing guests to local ingredients and local cooking utensils, the class is a window into the traditional kitchens of the region. As part of the class, we teach and encourage our guests to cook with local and seasonal produce,a�? she adds.
CGH Earth, Maison Perumal
CGH Earth always has a little heritage attached to its buildings. Maison Perumal, on Perumal Koil Street, originally belonged to a Tamil Chettiar and, at one point, was the registration office of the local government. a�?With the help of INTACH Pondicherry, we restored the structure back to its original residential form. The traditional Franco-Tamil architecture of the building was retained, while giving it new life in the form of a hotel,a�? begins Mridula Jose, the groupa��s vice president of product development and media. There is another property in the French town, Palais de Mahe. Each time the Kerala-based hotel chain works on a property, restoring the heritage and culture of the region is always key. In the industry for several years, Jose shares that tourism can play an important role to show the owners of these old buildings alternative ways to protect their beautiful but dilapidated structures. a�?There are government bodies like the ASI that protect and conserve the more prominent structures, but what happens to the small house owners who cannot afford to maintain their old homes? This is where CGH sets an example to show the economics of protecting and preserving our heritage,a�? she elaborates. With Beach Gate Bungalows in Fort Kochi being their latest offering, the CGH Group hopes to expand to other cities soon. Cost of room at Maison Perumal is Rs.5,500 for a night. Details: 0413 2227519
Dimitri Klein, Dune Eco Group
Considering his mother was the go-to person for byzantine icon restoration in Paris, ita��s not surprising that Dimitri Klein has turned expert revivalist himself, with projects like The Dune, Tanjore Hi and Elephant Valley to his credit. But he insists that getting into the business of reviving heritage structures happened only by chance. a�?My mother had a workshop at home and I grew up around artefacts of the 10th and 12th century. But I got into reviving when I came to India,a�? begins Klein, who used to run an advertising agency in France. a�?I was helping Hidesign with branding and ended up partnering with Dilip Kapur to work on Le Dupleix and Promenade,a�? he adds. But that was 13 years ago and needless to say, Klein found himself hooked and gave us his first solo project, The Dune Eco Village & Spa.
The Frenchman says he is proud of having reclaimed three mandapams. a�?These structures were built along the roads of Tamil Nadu as shelters for pilgrims on their journeys,a�? he explains, adding that today, hundreds of these structures are destroyed or disappearing. a�?We reclaimed three and rebuilt them at Dune. One is the reception and the other two are guest houses now. These are made of 50 tonnes of stone and each structure took us a year to dismantle and reassemble,a�? he shares.
Kleina��s view is that today, everything is getting lost, which is why he believes that vocational education is the need of the hour. He runs Artisan Academy, a nine-year-old NGO that gives youngsters a choice of two verticals a�� hospitality or fashion a�� with job placements at the end of their training. Also an advocate of organic farming, he has his own nursery at Dune (that happens to be his home as well) and takes his orchids seriously. a�?I have a collection of 500 from around the world,a�? he smiles, promising us a tour. And when hea��s not busy reclaiming something, Klein beams that his three children keep him occupied. Rooms at Dune cost Rs.5,500 per day. Details: duneecogroup.com
After his latest project a�� Spice Fort in Kochi, a landmark building from 1868 that is now a hotel with 27 rooms, displaying and explaining the history of a spice each a�� Klein is coming up with a health resort that he promises will be a a�?unique one in Keralaa�? and should take a year to launch.
Max Laederich Mango Hill
They love Auroville and they love their cheese. Max Laederich takes a minute to count the different varieties of cheese on offer. a�?We have 10 and Blue cheese is most popular,a�? he smiles, adding, a�?It was Olivier Laederich and my father, Arnaud , who came to Auroville 10 years ago and started this hotel, Mango Hill.a�? Lost in nostalgia, Laederich says that they wanted a separate cheese cellar while building the resort, a�?because we did not want to make cheese the industrial way. We wanted to make it the artisanal way, promising good quality. That is how it is made in France.a�? For the past two weeks, French cheese-making expert, Marion, has been organising a cheese making workshop. The class is Rs.2,500 for a day. It ends with a cheese and wine tasting. Rooms from Rs.2,400 onwards. Details: 0413 2655491
Picture 1 of 9
Besides T-shirts from Hurley, Rhodes prefers the Goa collection designed by Diti Kotecha. “I like the T-shirts because they are very comfortable during summer,” he says. Other options from the designer brand, No Nasties, have motifs like churches, boats, beaches and even fish on them. Priced at Rs. 1,599. Details: nonasties.in
Cricketer and Chennaia��s favourite surfer, Jonty Rhodes shares nine must- haves when riding the waves
Besides being an ace cricketer and coaching the Mumbai Indians team, South Africa-based Jonty Rhodes is also the surf ambassador of the country. He makes it a point to attend the Covelong Point Surfing Competition every year and inaugurated the surfing competition, Spice Coast Open,A� in Kerala, in 2013. A regular at Kovalam beach, the cricketer is a fan of the US-based brand, Hurley, and when not riding the waves, likes sipping on tender coconut water from the local vendors. Applauding the enthusiasm shown by young surfers, the 44-year-old shares tips on the right gear and attitude for the beach.
Text: Mrinalini Sundar
Four global travellers tell us why the central Italian region is where a lot of Chennaiites are headed
Of late, Indians have been turning their backs on the crowds at the Colosseum and Pantheon, and heading north, to the vistas and vineyards of Tuscany. We asked a few of our favourite Chennaiites, who recently holidayed in the region, how to make the best of the art, wine trails, cuisine and culture in the area. And if that werena��t enough, cartoonist Biswajit sketched us his opinion, too.
By Surya Praphulla Kumar
On her 60th birthday last year, Vidya Singh didna��t sit around eating cake; she went on an eight-day cycling holiday in Tuscany that her children had gifted her. a�?Ita��s a great place to cycle as it is full of vineyards, olive groves, beautiful villas and the visuals are spectacular,a�? she says. a�?But you need to be very fit as the whole area is hilly.a�?
The holiday was planned by Giro Libero, a bike tour organiser. a�?Theya��d give us the daya��s route (with distances, heights, etc) and wea��d head out after breakfast,a�? Singh explains. The three took their time cycling, stopping at olive farms for tastings and to see how the oil was pressed. a�?Or wea��d stop at a vineyard for a walk through. Wea��d also pick up a bottle of wine, find a shady tree and enjoy a drink,a�? she reminisces, adding that the city of Siena was her favourite.
Singha��s tip is to take your time. a�?There are so many quaint towns to explore, so dona��t rush about,a�? she says, recalling how theya��d caught
an impromptu violin concert outside a church and dined in a town square during a local fashion show.
Snapshots and cheese
While adman and photographer Sharad Haksar did pack his camera, his recent holiday to Tuscany was not about finding the perfect frame. It was about family time, exploring the Italian countryside and tasting the local cheeses. a�?The best way to experience Tuscany is by road. So hire a car,a�? says Haksar, who stayed in Montepulciano, a town in the Siena province.
a�?I prefer the smaller towns, built on hilltops, which have so much character and unreal vistas,a�? he describes, adding that one must visit the artisanal shops, a�?where people work with silver and ceramic.a�? And when they were not exploring, they were eating. While his daughter worked her way through plates of pasta, Haksar says he gorged on pizzas and cheeses, loving the fact that a�?everything was homemade.a�?
He suggests that travellers book rooms at local villas. a�?The people are warm and the serviced apartments beautiful,a�? he shares. If therea��s anything to be careful about, ita��s where you park your car. a�?You may see a parking board, but it could be just for residents. So double check as the penalty is steep,a�? he says.
Ita��s no surprise that Vipin Sachdeva��s holiday was all about eating and drinking. But the owner of Tuscana insists that, while the food was great, a�?Therea��s nothing to beat the pizzas we serve.a�?
His driving holiday with his wife and two daughters panned out very organically. All they took was their luggage and his TomTom (car GPS system).
a�?We drove from Florence to the Chianti region. We didna��t plan which town to stop at; we went by gut. If we liked a villa in a vineyard, wea��d get a room. Then wea��d spend the day driving to nearby towns,a�? he says. However, Sachdev made sure to stay away from touristy trattorias. Instead, hea��d ask locals where they ate. a�?Before we sat down, wea��d make sure it was full of locals and that the waiter didna��t speak English,a�? he chuckles, adding that they tasted everything from risottos, pastas and pizzas to a variety of desserts, the staple being tiramisu. a�?Wea��d also ask the maA�tre da�� for wine recommendations,a�? says Sachdev, who loves his whites.
His only word of caution: dona��t over speed. a�?You will get caught and the penalty is very high (around 175 Euros),a�? he explains.
Mapping your journey
? Getting there: Book Singapore Airlines and enjoy
flat beds, 15.4-inch LCD screens and the a�?Book the Cooka�� service on board their Business Class. (`3,30,000 onwards for
a return trip)
?A� Stay: Ita��s difficult to find a
bad villa in Tuscany, say visitors. Check out tuscanynow.com or to-tuscany.com to book luxury villas
?A� Must do: Visit a winery. Our picka��Marchesi Antinori (antinorichianticlassico.it), Brancaia (brancaia.com) and Castello Banfi (castellobanfi.com)
?A� Food: Try the local beef, wild boar and pici pasta at the trattorias and osterias. Our picka��Ristoro di Lamole, in Greve (Chianti) and La Taverna di San Giuseppe, in Siena
?A� Bring back: Pici pasta and pecorino cheese from Pienza, panforte biscuits from Siena, the wines (Chianti, Brunello), olive oil, truffles and leather shoes
Till Sunday, Multiple restaurants
Foodies across town should exercise their taste buds as the Groupon Gourmet Week ends this Sunday. With three and four-course meals starting from Rs.499, on offer are Middle Eastern, French, Italian and Hyderabadi cuisines at restaurants like Boardwalk, Southern Aromas and Earthen Oven. Details: gourmetweek.groupon.co.in
Today & tomorrow,
Arm yourself for the Diwali party ahead with designer Sagiri Dayala��s latest jewellery collection. After wooing buyers in London, Hong Kong and New York, she arrives in Chennai to showcase her vintage collection inspired by Parisian flea markets. Comprising necklaces featuring silver, gold beads and semi-precious stones like amethyst and smoky quartz (strung together using the ancient form of Chinese knotting with leather cords), the collection is priced from Rs.9,000. Details: 28333627
Today, Taj Coromandel
With Diwali fast approaching, exchanging gifts is a given. Walk into Taja��s in-house lifestyle store, Taj Khazana, which is offering exquisite hand-woven saris, shawls, stoles, artifacts, home accessories and more, in traditional and contemporary designs, at a 20 per cent discount today. Details: 66002012
Tomorrow, Ashvita Bistro
After hosting three successful sessions of organic terrace gardening, Offshoot (an organic gardening service initiative) is back with a new season at Ashvita Bistro, where youa��ll learn about pests and disease management in terrace vegetables and seed collection from crops. From 4 pm to 6 pm. To register, SMS a�?Terrace Gardena�? with your full name and email ID to 9791088189. Details: 30853614
Kolkata-based designer-cum-weaver Soumitra Mondal will be showcasing his latest collection, Woven Royalty, for the first time in the city. With predominant use of weaves like Jamdani, khadi, silk and cottons in beige, pink and gold, youa��ll find saris with resham borders, bandhgalas with parallel pants, capris with kurtas sporting tonal embroidery and more. Details: 42333314
Till stocks last, Peek-a-boo
Peek-a-boo Patterns has brought out a Diwali collection, Amazing India, with cotton bed sheets, quilts, bean bags and more, featuring our national flower and bird. Priced from Rs.600. The store is also offering up to 40 per cent discounts on furniture and kidsa�� stationery till the end of this month. Details: peekaboopatterns
Strike a chord
October 20-24, Kancheepuram
Here is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for aspiring music bands to get trained by the world-renowned multi-Grammy nominated bassist, composer and producer, Ric Fierabracci. Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music (SAM) is hosting a five-day workshop with the musician, who has performed with the likes of Shakira and Stevie Wonder, which will offer hands-on experience with top-notch equipment and studio facilities. Priced at Rs.20,000. Details: sam.org.in
Fun @ Lady Andal
Today, Madras Seva Sadan Ground
The Momsa�� Club of both Lady Andal Venkatasubba Rao School and Sir Mutha School are hosting a carnival to celebrate the festive season, from 3 pm to 8 pm. Apart from having stalls selling apparel, accessories and home dA�cor, there will be a food court offering frankies, rolls, chaats and more, besides a photo booth, horse riding and balloon shooting games for kids. In the evening, youa��ll get to watch a dance performance by SPIN, a pet show and a magic show, after which the dance floor will be opened for a dandiya night. Details: 28363404
Music for the soul
Tomorrow, Phoenix Market City
Groove to an evening of soulful music at Phoenix Market City as Bangalore-based band, White Mug, will be performing numbers influenced by rock n roll, electric blues and hard rock. Starting from 6 pm tomorrow, the event is open to all. Details: 30083008
Director: Jake Kasdan
Cast:A� Jason Segel, Cameron Diaz
The story revolves around a married couple who discovers that the sex tape they had made the previous day has gone missing. Did you know? In a recent interview, Diaz said, a�?a�?Ia��m not opposed to doing nudity, as long as ita��s part of the story.
Ia��ll do whatever has to get done if ita��s the right thing.a��a��
Director: AR Murugadoss
Cast: Vijay,Samantha Ruth Prabhu
After escaping from a Kolkata jail, Kathiresan (Vijay) bumps into Ankita (Prabhu) and falls in love. However, things get complicated when Kathiresan meets his look-alike, Jeeva. Did you know? Several student bodies had asked for the film to be banned, stating that it promoted the economic and political interests of Sri Lanka. The movie is being produced by Lyca Productions, a Sri Lankan company.
Cast: Vishal, Shruti Haasan
Touted to be a a�?triangular action n story,a�� the film starts from Coimbatore and ends in Bihar.It follows Vishal, who is involved in a conflict between two groups of gangsters and the police.Did you know? The movie, being released as Pooja in Telugu, will be shown at 500 screens in Andhra Pradesh.
a�� Team Indulge
Producer Suresh Balaji says that re-mastering old classics, and working on colour and new sound is expensive. a�?But the impact is greater and the visual feel is much better. Karnan did really well in its tweaked release. In the US, this is big business. Old classics are retouched and marketed, but more for TV and videos than for a theatrical release. I really cana��t think of any present day films Ia��d feel like revisiting after a decade,a�? he adds.
According to film chronicler, Film News Anand, reviving a film with new sound and colour correction is a costly affair. But it enhances the entertainment value and lets the younger generation enjoy it, too. a�?Karnana��s new version had a longer run than its earlier one. Aayirathil Oruvana��s re-issue ran for 200 days. Sivajia��s Deivamagan is being re-touched, too. But not all restored versions are successful. Paasa Malar was not as successful as the original,a�? explains Anand.
Celebrate Rajini, Kamal
Director-actor-producer Thiagarajan says old films have sound plots and ita��s good to re-present them with modern technology, thus bringing aA�new luster to them. a�?I cana��t think of any recent films that I would like to represent after a decade. But yes, I would like a Rajini-Kamal combination-film to be retouched and re-released. Also films like Sigappu Rojakkal and Alaigal Oyvadhillai,a�? he says.
– Malini Mannath
Another year of wonderfully written and designed stories! Congratulations to team Indulge! And herea��s to another year of being
fabulous! Now on to Bollywood…
MFF gets Bollywood glamour
This week, Bollywood stars are lending their support to the struggling Mumbai Film Festival (MFF). In its 16th edition, this year has been unique. After its principal sponsor backed out, the festival launched a crowd-funding exercise and a�� with generous donations from filmmakers, film lovers and corporates a�� opened on October 14. Imran Khan, Varun Dhawan and Rajkummar Rao are some of the actors who have been roped in to introduce the 16 years the festival that has incubated talent, fuelled successes and forged new partnerships. Sadly, like many properties in our country, sponsors are unwilling to come on board without high-powered glamour attached. Leta��s hope the 17th takes off more smoothly.
Rahul Khanna became a cameo king with his charming guest appearances in Wake Up Sid and Love Aaj Kal. That was in 2009. Then he appeared in Anil Kapoora��s Hindi adaptation of the TV series 24. Then, two years ago, he shot an independent Indian film, Fireflies, directed by ad director Sabal Singh Sekhawat. Fireflies finally releases at the end of this month, and fans of Khanna, the darling of Twitter and fashionistas, have something to look forward to. Co-starring Monica Dogra and Arjun Mathur, the drama tracks the rocky relationship between two estranged brothers forced to surmount their issues in the face of personal tragedy. Khanna also appears in the American TV series, The Americans.
Road to hell
The road has held many fascinating possibilities for filmmakers. In Bollywood, Zoya Akhtar glammed up the road as three gorgeous men travelled through Spain in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. Recently, Homi Adajaniaa��s gang of Goans went on a quest in Finding Fanny. Imtiaz Ali has revisited the theme in Rockstar, Highway and Jab We Met. But the road can also be a scary place a�� a point of no return. Steven Spielberga��s Duel and Dominic Senaa��s Kalifornia present the road as a threatening place. And now Hemant Madhukar has set his latest horror film, Mumbai 125 Km, during one night on a highway. Five friends are caught in an accident.
Does the journey turn into something frightening? Veena Malik and Aparna Bajpai star in this horror film releasing today.
As big as it gets
It will soon be Diwali and the country will be saying Happy New Year along with Farah Khan and her ensemble cast that has travelled the world promoting their film. There is no ignoring Boman Irani, Vivaan Shah, Sonu Sood, Abhishek Bachchan, Deepika Padukone and
Shah Rukh Khan in the film. The actors had the challenge of creating two characters for the film ensuring that each was distinct from the other. In a recent interview, Bachchan said that Shah Rukha��s intention was to make the a�?biggest-looking filma�? and it certainly seems that. With a combination of action, romance, dance and drama, it has checked all the right boxes. We are also looking forward to Farah Khana��s special end credits, in which she films all those who contributed to the making of her movies.
They love their history. From digitising to colour grading, these movie enthusiasts step in to restore and revive our celluloid past
CHENNAI and cinema are inseparable. In fact, the Tamil film industry is often nostalgic about its early years. Right from re-releasing old classics like Karnan,A� to archiving old records, digitising LPs and sound tracks, these production houses,
cinema enthusiasts and researchers are working towards reviving cinema across the board.
a�� Mrinalini Sundar
The poster hunter
Founder of TheA�CinemaA�Resource Centre (TCRC), Sruti Harihara Subramanian is busy juggling her documentary based on the artiste Krishen Khanna and her theatre performances. After participating in a folk art festival near Kanchipuram, she travelled to Delhi to film her still untitled documentary, and is currently attending the Suriya Theatre Festival in Kerala. With some modelling thrown in, the 31-year-old also pursues restoration of old posters, song books, LP records, rare pictures of landmark films, etc. a�?I didna��t grow up watching films because mine was not a regular theatre-going family. But I like movies. I used to collectA�cinemaA�tickets, and cut out A R Rahmana��s and Mani Ratnama��s interviews,a�? she says, explaining that when a huge production house was shuttingA�down she saw a garbage bin full of old posters and other materials, that she promptly picked up. With approximately 5,000 posters, 7,000 lobby cards and several other memorabilia, Subramaniana��s Abhiramapuram office makes you nostalgic, and she does not dismiss plans of opening a museum either. a�?We also want to have curated events, shows, movie screenings and dedications. Perhaps, even aA�cinemaA�cafe,a�? she says. With the team digitising the posters and converting many of them into high-resolution soft copies, Subramanian feels that, a�?we need to make more space for our posters and create design catalogues for them.a�? On how she procures her material, she says, a�?We used to have rag pickers come and drop off posters. I also had a family that donated the Deepavali Malar series, when they were shifting their house.a�? According to her, the oldest song book in her collection would date back to 1930. Her favourite piece of trivia? a�?I recently added the album of Aval Appadithaan to my collection. The movie had Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan and Supriya in lead roles, and because it is a movie ahead of its time, people believe K Balachandar made it. But it was actually Rudhraiya who did,a�? she confides. Her rare collection also features a sweet box that belonged to the Raj Kapoor movie Mera Naam Joker. The box has the name of the movie written on it in English, Hindi and Russian. With a newfound interest in collecting music launch invites too, Subramanian admits it is a huge trend these days.
Old is gold
Everyone a�� from popular directors like Rakesh Roshan and Mahesh Bhatt, to city-based actors and directors a�� has worked withA� L V Prasad Groups, one of the oldest production houses in the city. The group has restored several old films like Milan (1965) and Khilona (1970) in Bollywood and The Red Shoes and The Three Stooges from Hollywood. To put it in numbers, they have restored 22 Academy Award winning films, 16 Golden Globe winners and more than 32 films nominated for these awards. They have also digitised most of their films, like SharadaA�(1957, starring Raj Kapoor and Meena Kumari) and Ek Duuje ke Liye (1981). a�?WeA�are preserving most of our old equipment, which forms part of a filma��s post production and projection process. These include animation stands, optical machines, sound recording and conversion systems, film projectors, film cameras, editing systems, colour analysers, printing machines and anything else we feel would be crucial in the learning process for future generations,a�? says Mohan Krishnan, who handles the corporate communications for the group, adding that they plan to open a museum in the future.
The production house also stores old costumes from moviesA�like Khilona and Daadi Maa from the 70s, that have been preserved in good condition. a�?We now plan to engage the services of professionals to clean and restore them, and in the meantime, we are also figuring out the best ways to preserve them for the future,a�? he continues. After Tamil moviesA�like KarnanA�(1964),A�Paasamalar (1961)A�and Aayirathil OruvanA�(1965)A�were re-released successfully, the group is confident that restoredA�cinemaA�will be well received by the audience. As for colour correction of films, Krishnan says they only colour grade films, and dona��t make any changes to black and white films.
For the record
If you want a copy of the original version of Carnatic singer M S Subbulakshmia��sA�Senthamizh Naadenum, Sundar R at the Roja Muthiah Library in Taramani, might be able to help. Besides storingA�DVDs and CDs of films, the research library, started in 1994, has oldA�movieA�posters, books, LPs, EPs and records. a�?We have film reviews and about 3,000 song books in our collection,a�? Sundar begins, adding that the library also has an unconventional sound convertor. a�?GramophoneA�playersA�generally have a stylus that comes in contact with the record, runs through the grooves and produces sound. We have a machine that copies the grooves, stitches the images together and converts it into an audio file,a�? he shares, explaining that they also convert audio from spools. So whereA�does he procure these records from? a�?A lot of our records come from the Record Collectors Society a�� where peopleA�donate their old records a�� and private collectors,a�? he replies. Besides film music, the research library stocks theatre dialogues, movie dialogues and Hindustani music. But Sundar, 46, admits that very few from the film fraternity visit. a�?The last I know, we had someone from Vasantha Balana��s team come to read books for his upcoming film Kaaviya Thalaivan. We also digitise old books. Wea��ve done 15 million pages so far and there are many takers for them,a�? Sundar concludes.
This production house has come out with more than 176 movies, includingA�blockbusters likeA�Rajinikantha��s Murattu Kalai and Ajith Kumara��s Tirupathi, in the past 60 years. Having witnessed theA�legendary actorA�Sivaji Ganesan deliver his first dialogues in 1952, AVM Productions is now run by third generation entrepreneurs Aruna andA�AparnaA�Guhan. With their office plastered with at least 20 posters of AVMa��s productions, they are currently concentrating on television shows likeA�Manathil Urudhi Vendum. Aruna shares that besides posters, they also maintain a photo bank that has a minimum of five pictures from each film theya��ve produced. a�?In some cases, like the film Sivaji, I haveA�noA�idea how many pictures there are,a�? she says. Ask them about their oldest and rarest collection and Aruna quickly reveals ita��s Sri Valli (1945).A�However, her favourite is Anbe Vaa (1966),A�with M G Ramachandran and Saroja Devi a�� which finds pride of place in her room. a�?I love that movie. I also have a poster ofA�EjamaanA�(1993, starring Rajinikanth and Meena)A�in my room,a�? she says. Most of the posters are scanned, digitised and framed by her team. Aruna and Aparna make it a point to share at least one poster or picture on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. a�?We get brilliant responses,a�? she says. Look out as it could be a picture of actorA�SivajiA�or a still from the Rajini-starrer, Sivaji, up next.
Back in time
History repeats itself a�� this is a concept the Tamil film industry swears by. The past few years have seen the release of movies based on real life events from the past (think Vaagai Sooda Vaa, Madrasapatinam, Aravaan and most recently, Ramanujan). A history enthusiast, Vasanthabalan (who gave us Aravaan and Angadi Theru) tells us about his upcoming period drama, Kaaviya Thalaivan. a�?Aravaan was a story from the 18thA�century and was very difficult because we did not get enough material. Kaaviya Thalaivan is set in the 20thA�century and takes a look at the life of theatre artistes and what theatres was like back then,a�? he shares. According to Vasanthabalan, 42, there are several subjects that are yet to be explored. a�?For example, how the Madurai temple was built, the story of Kannagi, and the Chola and Pandyan wars, would be a visual treat. But for all of this, we need money.A�Which is why even Kamal Haasan is taking time withA�Marudhanayagam (started in October 1997),a�? he says, adding, a�?We have enough material to make movies for the next 2,000 years.a�? Meanwhile, another period film to look forward to is IlamiA�by director Julian Prakash, starringA� actor Kishore, who brushed up on horse riding in preparation.A�Set in the 18th century, it revolves around jallikattu (our local bullfight).
The songs of the TeluguA�ShankarabharanamA�were a big hit even in Tamil Nadu. Now, producer Rathnam has decided to introduce the movie to the Tamil audience. a�?We will be dubbing the movie, digitising it and presenting it,a�? says the producer, who watched the original back in 1980. a�?It has such a positive impact and is so meaningful. We had a special screening for directors and it received a standing ovation,a�? says Rathnam. The movie has been digitised in Prasad Labs and has been re-recorded, because the original material was completely destroyed. The makers have roped in singers like SP Balasubrahmanyam, Vani Jayaram and S Janaki for the songs. Shankarabharanam will release post Diwali.
Nagesh on screen
Soundarya Rajinikantha��s Kochadaiyaan was a treat for fans of the late actor Nagesh, as he made a brief appearance in the film as an animated character. His grandson Gajesh will be making his acting debut soon. a�?a�?The director planned to create an animated song featuring my granddad and father Anand, dancing with me,a�? he says, adding, a�?but it is a tradition with us that family members wona��t act together till someonea��s third film.a�? The newcomer does admit that the best moment of his life was watching his granddad come back to the screen and act with a�?Rajini unclea��a�� in Kochadaiyaan .
Brick in the wall
Historian Mohan Raman points out that some of our famous theatres like Pilot and Casino have been abandoned. The Goethe Institut is conducting a photography exhibition by Sabina Haubitz and Stefanie Zoche, who specialise in photographing movie theatres between the 1930s and 1970s. And to put the spotlight on the dying tradition of street art, they are conducting a workshop that will see German artists paint the walls of corporation schools and cinema theatres like SPI Cinemas. According to Georg Zolchow, the curator of the project, a�?a�?street art is urban communication.a��a��
Quirk up your homes with tea lights shaped like a peeled orange or candle stands that resemble painted pillars, this Diwali
THIS year, the festival of lights has inspired brands like Jaipur-based Anantaya to create lamps that resemble a bunch of transparent grapes, crafted from hand blown glass, while the acclaimed interior designer duo, Sahil Bagga and Sarthak Sengupta, have quirky lighting solutions fashioned from bangles, milk cans and waste cloth. We look at other unusual lighting options available this season:
Text: Sharmistha Maji
This whimsical tea light from Studio Saswata is handcrafted from brass. With a lacquered matt finish, it creates a spiral pattern when illuminated. Perfect for enhancing any space this season. Rs.1,508. Details: designemporia.in
These draped diyas from Anjali Designs are made from a sheet of fusible glass melted in a controlled environment to collapse and take this shape. The colours were obtained by adding heavy metal salts while making them. Rs.600. Available at the studio in Kalakshetra. Details: anjalidesign.com
Inspired by Uzbekistana��s crafts, the Noor Light from Good Eartha��s latest line, Samarqand, will give an old world charm to your home. The laser cut lantern is made from zinc and brass. Rs.9,800. Available at the store in Rutland Gate. Details: 43087878
Delhi-based designer, Gautam Dhawana��s candle stands resemble pillars from Indian palaces. Made from wood, these hand-carved candle stands are available in colours like blue, yellow and pink. Place them as a cluster in a corner to grab attention. Rs.5,000 to Rs.12,000. Available at Exhibit D, Defence Colony, New Delhi. Details: 011 40560783
While Bangalore-based The Purple Turtles has lights made of banana fibres, our pick is their laser cut metal tea light holder that looks like an amalgamation of a cookie jar and an ancient lantern. Throw in some rice lights for added drama. Rs.450 to Rs.2,000. Available in Domlur, Bangalore. Details: 080 41528039
Restored Parsi cots, re-invented Indian garland techniques, sustained Urdu calligraphy and more, from the citya��s heritage ambassadors
THIS IS A city that prides itself on its rich cultural history. But with every attempt at revivala��one of the most popular being Visalakshi Ramaswamya��s work with the Chettinad basket weaving craft, kottana��many other traditions are being forgotten. a�?In my lifetime, Ia��ve seen scores of arts and crafts dying,a�? says renowned dancer Anita Ratnam, who played a key role in reviving Kaisiki Natakam, a 13th century Tamil temple theatre ritual. a�?I believe we should all turn revivalists. As our world becomes more about a�?samenessa��, about glass and steel and chrome and high rises, only this will give us a sense of identity, of individuality,a�? she adds. Meet some of the citya��s restorers who celebrate the past, but in a modern format.
By Surya Praphulla Kumar
Her formative years in Europe had given Kiran Rao a deep love of historya��of art, museums and even old structures. a�?In European cities, they dona��t demolish old buildingsa��they rework and reuse them,a�? begins Rao, 50. a�?Ia��ve always been puzzled as to why we in India are always ready to demolish and rebuild, and rebuild badly at that.a�?
Rao returned to India in the late a��90s to discover a lack of boutique shops and cafes. She decided to create one of her own, leading to the birth of Amethyst in 2000. a�?I was looking for something much smaller, then decided to work on a 100-odd-year house that belonged to my aunt, which was dilapidated but charming. I retained the place as it was so that it conveyed a sense of history,a�? says the advocate of adaptive reuse. When she had to move Amethysta��s location in 2010, she zeroed in on an old warehouse. a�?Working on it was, in some ways, more rewarding, as it was a bigger challenge than an old house, which had so much going for it already,a�? informs Rao, who created a link between the two properties by using the same furniture and black chequerboard floor. Her restoration work has won her many fans and she admits to working on a few projects, including a private club a�?with the Adamesque style of architecture (an 18th-century neoclassical style).a�? Another passion is her curated exhibitions. a�?The India revival story is the very ethos of all that we do herea��like at Bloom, the flower shop, where Indian garland techniques are merged with garden-style arrangements,a�? she says, adding that we can soon expect textile historian Jasleen Dhamijaa��s presentation of Phulkari work.
Rao believes the city has so much scope. a�?V Sriram (historian) says we have more old buildings than Kolkata. We need to hold on to them,a�? she exclaims, saying her next project will be the restoration of an old property in Pondicherry.
Soumya Keshavan doesna��t want to call herself a revivalist; she is a re-interpreter. A partner with Good Earth in Chennai, she is also the name behind Souk, the store next door that retails signature pieces of home dA�cor. a�?My inspiration is the desire to surround myself with beautiful things, like carpets, which I cana��t get enough of,a�? smiles Keshavan. a�?The combination of old and new always interests me,a�? she adds, explaining that the furniture and accessories she displays in her store are things shea��s a�?liked and picked up from auctions and vintage furniture stores.a�?
While she likes contemporary styles, she is fascinated by how a lot of what was built earlier is still relevant today, design-wise. a�?My father, an engineer, was passionate about architecture. He used to design houses and build furniture. In fact, I still have furniture he had built in the 60s. Ita��s incredible how contemporary they are, and how form and function can work so well years later,a�? says the anthropology post graduate.
At Souk, Keshavan restores piecesa��from Parsi cots and Chettinad pillars to Victorian sofasa��that are in disrepair, retaining their originality, but giving them new character by introducing a contemporary elementa��like an edgy stripe or Missoni upholstery.
Much sought after for her restoration of old housesa��like the century-old British bungalow in Coonoor for Nandan Nilekania��she has scaled back a little now. a�?But at some point I want to take an old house and give it a contemporary look and feel inside. It will open up different ages in terms of style, so youa��ll never get bored,a�? she says. What is she working on currently? a�?Ia��m doing a couple of houses (clients want their privacy) and sourcing Oriental decor for another client,a�? she signs off.
If not for a power outage in Varanasi in 1986, Jean FranA�ois Lesage may never have started Vastrakala, the city-based export house that boasts clients like Christian Louboutin, Lanvin and even European royalty. The heir to Francea��s illustrious House of Lesage (which was taken over by Chanel in 2012), was just 21 when, in the blackout, he saw a lone embroiderer working by the light of a single lamp. a�?It was a revelation. I realised India is as much a nation of embroiders as France is,a�? he begins.
Lesage returned to India in 1991, looking for a place to start an embroidery outfit, and in 1993, started Vastrakala with artisans from Sriperumbudur. a�?We blend the French taste for innovation with the Indian talent for intricate work. Embroidery is a language that each country speaks with different designs, but the same alphabets. And it needs to be preserved,a�? says Lesage, 49, whose days working at auction houses in Paris had sparked his interest in home furnishing.
Part of his plans to ensure more stability to his 200 master craftsmen is a new centre coming up in Sriperumbudur. a�?When clients come, the embroiderers can interact with them and understand how much their work is appreciated. This will encourage them to allow their children to follow in their footsteps,a�? he explains, adding that this is one of the reasons they recently tied up with the French Lesage. a�?The partnership gives us a much larger network. Also, Chanel owns other high-quality craft units and we want to work under the same flag, so we can promote excellence and help the craftsman not fear the future,a�? he says.
The days ahead are bright with sequins and zardosi. a�?Besides several residential projects in Europe and Dubai, we are working on a wedding collection of shoes for Louboutin, and a historical project, with Parisa�� Hotel Crillon, where we are doing the furnishing. Finally, we are also working on a new collection to show how fashion embroidery can influence interior embroidery and vice versa,a�? he concludes.
Over the last four years, By Hand, From The Heart has become an integral part of the citya��s exhibition calendar. But more than being a market for handmade products, ita��s also a platform for revival. a�?We have a rich history of craftsmen and we need to support them, revive them and create more markets for them. And one of the best ways is by encouraging product developmenta��getting artisans to make products that match new requirements,a�? explains Divya Sekar, a handmade jewellery designer, who started the exhibition with Kshiti Davey, another crafter, in 2011.
In their last edition in June, Sekar brought down Parth Kothekar, an artist from Ahmedabad, who gives a contemporary twist to the old tradition of sanjhi, from Mathura. a�?Ita��s a form of paper cutting. But Parth has taken the art form to youngsters, by making jewellery and wall mounts,a�? says Sekar, 38, adding that while they whet applications from crafters, they also scout for talent.
The search for revived crafts is an ongoing process. a�?Last year, a Chennai-based doll maker approached us. While the products were good, the faces were not lifelike. When I realised hardly anyone speacialises in making dollsa�� faces, I went looking. My search led to Nagpur where a woman named Ramani has been doing it for 25 years,a�? she says.
For the next edition of By Hand, Sekar has a wish-list that includes telia rumal ikats from Andhra Pradesh and bandha ikat from Orissa. a�?Handmade is cool now. In the last few years, not only has there been a surge in awareness, but ita��s also heartening to see young designers, fresh out of design schools like NIFT, wanting to work with artisans, helping them design products that have a modern pulse,a�? she smiles.
Set for tomorrow
It was her passion for education that led V R Devika down the path of revival. a�?I felt the school system did not give importance to traditional performing arts as a teaching tool,a�? begins Devika, who studied Bharatanatyam to become a better teacher. a�?Teachers are storytellers and dance helped me communicate better with my students,a�? she says.
She then looked to rural ritualistic performing arts like therakoothu, oyilattam, thappattam and tholu bommalatam (puppetry). a�?These forms had begun to fade, but there is such wisdom in them that I wanted young people to understand,a�? explains Devika, 60, who is credited with bringing back devarattam. The ripple effect of her revival was a renewed interest in youngsters from rural areas to learn their traditional arts and bring them to the cities.
The founder of Aseema Trusta��an organisation devoted to building bridges between traditional performing arts and educationa��is also passionate about spreading Mahatma Gandhia��s teachings. a�?I use the craft of spinning on the charka and songs we have developed for schools, with lyrics that talk of non-violence and courage, to spread the message,a�? says Devika, who believes such a revival movement is essential in todaya��s world where people are very intolerant of diversity.
Of seeds and eroticism
Sharan Apparao compares herself to a magpie. a�?I go everywhere with my eyes and ears open,a�? she says. And what the owner of Apparao Galleries picks up are ideas and inspirations to exhibit and revive. Not only is she renowned for her curated shows, but also for giving a modern interpretation to old ideas. a�?People dona��t know what old things are, where they come from and how they connect in the real world. I pick out old ideas and juxtapose them with new arta��like a show we did called Sartorial World, where we showed old textiles with new. Or a more recent one, called Ritual and Reason, where we started with a seed (the beginning of creation) along with S H Razaa��s Bindu, which is also the seed of creation. I also took old, erotic pieces from a broken rath and showed them with drawings by painter Francis Newton Souza,a�? recalls Apparao, who cut her teeth at the Smithsonian and Christiea��s.
One of her most successful vehicles of revival is the Yarn Club. Started five years ago, a�?it became more focussed in the last three years,a�? with a monthly talk on the tradition of textiles. a�?Wea��ve covered varak printing, Bihara��s sujini embroidery, changing imagery in Kanjeevaram saris and, most recently, a talk by visual artist Shelly Jyoti on how she incorporates the 4,500-year-old technique of ajrak printing into contemporary art,a�? she explains.
According to Apparao, 52, revivalism is very important, especially now, because a�?people only talk about finance, poverty, etc. They have forgotten what a fantastic culture we were,a�? she says, mourning how few youngsters are interested in revival. However, she plans to do her best to spark an interest. a�?There is so much cultural diversity out there. Zakir Hussain gives fantastic talks on Andal Thiruppavai. These things should be brought to the forefront; ita��s a great tool to integrate people,a�? she says. As for future plans, they include encouraging people to use recycled products, especially paper (the gallery is currently hosting an exhibition called The Passion of Paper) and to revive an interest in calligraphy. a�?Chennai boasts the only hand-written newspaper in the country, The Musalman, where Urdu calligraphers painstakingly ply their art. I am dying to get them to work with us,a�? she signs off.
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