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Monthly Archives: August 2016

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    Artist Olaf Van Cleef brings his crystal-inspired collection to the city .

    Artist, author and ex-consultant to Cartier, Olaf Van Cleef is back in the city with his new collection of paintings. The scion of the Van Cleef family (who were jewellers to the Czars) had his first exhibition in the city and feels that “Madras people want high quality and are very difficult to satisfy”. The 66-year-old Dutch artist, who has a gallery in Pondicherry dedicated to upcoming artists, believes that “if Kolkata is the culture capital of India, Chennai is the more glamorous city”. Shifting away from portraying Indian deities on canvas, Van Cleef will showcase his collection of abstract paintings at Taj Coromandel. “After having painted gods and godesses of India, Buddha and the gurus of Bhutan, I took a break and returned to my first love, the abstract,” he says. The exhibit, Crystal Dreams, includes 50 paintings— 32 new ones with Swarovski elements and 18 of his previous works. Commenting on what one can expect to glean from his newest offerings, he says they are open to interpretation. “Whether you’d like to see fireworks in Marina Drive or a multicoloured jellyfish, it is up to you,” he says. The artist is also working on an exhibition for Guwahati, scheduled for 2017.
    Phony matters
    Van Cleef, who admits to not having owned a mobile phone before March 2015, is also bringing down a collection of custom-made phone covers (from `10,000). Personalising your gadgets is key in the artist’s opinion, so expect  unique styles with big stones.
    At the Presidential Suite, Taj Coromandel, on September 2-4. From 2 pm onwards.
    Details: 9840850839.

    —Simar Bhasin

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      Classical music maestros come together and take the stage to pay tribute to yesteryear  stalwarts.

      In the Carnatic musicscape, it truly doesn’t get bigger than what Maniyosai, an upcoming biopic on mridangam maestro Palghat Mani Iyer, aspires to be. And it is no PR oversell to call it one of a kind. How often does one see a dozen leading musicians on a single stage, acting as yesteryear stalwarts? Think singers Sudha Ragunathan, Nithyasree Mahadevan, Vijay Siva, Sowmya S and Sikkil Gurucharan, playing legends like Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Madurai Mani Iyer, DK Pattammal and Dakshinamurthy Pillai.

      In sync
      It was no mean task to put together this ensemble, agrees Mahadevan, granddaughter of the mridangam maestro, whose brainchild this is. “Thankfully, a lot of our friends from the music fraternity pitched in. This is a production in which every supporting character is a legend, so we had to ensure they were well represented,” says the singer, who ideated this in 2012, after Iyer’s centenary celebrations. Her uncle, and son of the legend himself, TR Rajamani, undertook the scripting and completed it in 2013. “With this 150-minute biopic, we want to inspire youngsters by showcasing the life of my grandfather—his hurdles, interesting encounters and how he ended up as a trailblazer in his field,” says the 43-year-old, who lost Iyer when she was seven. “The musical opera starts with the year he was born and covers his lifetime. It is an honour that we were entrusted with producing it, as it is our one hundredth,” says Ilango Kumanan, director of SS International Live. Thespian Kuriakose Ranga is directing it, with music by flautist Balasai, he informs us. The roles played by the musicians, although, are being kept under wraps.

      Musical tribute
      Three years since he was roped in for Maniyosai, singer Gurucharan admits he is still nervous and excited about it. “Senior mridangam artistes I’ve worked with have told me that the place of the mridangam today, as the king of percussion instruments in the kutcheri, came about largely because of Palghat Mani Iyer’s positioning of it—the way he played it and how he ensured the instrument was given its due in tani avarthanams,” says the musician. Ragunathan, who, as vocal support, has shared the stage with the maestro when he played for her guru, ML Vasanthakumari (MLV), recalls how he did not usually play for women vocalists. But he accompanied MLV in kutcheris in the latter part of his career. “It’s a privilege for me. My role involves some dialogue and a few kritis,” she concludes.

      On August 28, at 6 pm, at the Music Academy. Tickets between Rs 100 and Rs 1,000. Details: 24994420, in.bookmyshow.com

      —Sharadha Narayanan

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      Anushree Reddy’s upcoming wedding collection at Lakme Fashion Week keeps it modern and minimal.

      Floral and feminine, Hyderabad-based Anushree Reddy’s collection celebrates opulence. Drawing inspiration from Victorian to Mughal eras, previous runway ensembles from the designer’s six-year-old eponymous label are well remembered. Case in point, Shruti Haasan’s ivory chanderi lehenga with floral zardosi work at the Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 16. As Reddy gears up to showcase bridal couture, The Wedding Chronicle, at the upcoming Winter/Festive edition of LFW, we catch up with her for a sneak peek.

      All for florals
      Reddy’s love for zardosi and raw silk fabrics shines through. “I think they make an ethereal combination,” she begins, adding that there will be traces of the Mughal era in The Wedding Chronicle as well. So what’s new? Not one to give up on florals, Reddy has brought in a vibrant colour palette (fiery reds, rani pinks and yellows) compared to the ivories and pastels in her previous collections. “My pieces symbolise a confident bride who is probably planning everything at her own wedding. So the outfits are going to be strong demi bridal pieces featuring an amalgam of floral and geometric patterns,” she explains. As for experimental factors, fashionistas can expect quite a few numbers featuring capes. Famous for putting up star-studded shows with her showstopper list, including model-turned-actor Nargis Fakhri, the 30-something hints that Bollywood might be onboard with her show this time. “I am also looking forward to the opening of my new store in Delhi,” she signs off.

      To be unveiled at St Regis, Mumbai. On August 28, at 1.30 pm. Details: facebook.com/anushreereddyofficial

      —Arya P Dinesh

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        Tulsi Silks set to make its Lakme Fashion Week debut, with five collections and some support from designer Vivek Karunakaran.

        For the last two decades, city-based Tulsi Silks has been the go-to brand for sari-loving Chen­naiites looking for exquisite traditional weaves ranging from kanjeevaram and tussars to Benarsis and fine raw silks. Now the brand gets a national platform for the first time, at the Lakme Fashion Week Winter Festive 2016, on August 28 in Mumbai. The credit goes to city-based designer, Vivek Karunakaran, says Santosh Parekh, the man behind the designs and the collections. “It so happened that Karunakaran dropped by our place and, after seeing our saris, he said we should be showcasing them nationally. He informed Lakme, who sent a team down. It happened just like that,” shares an equanimous Parekh, who adds that the city-based designer is also creating the blouses for their saris, at the show.

        Show time
        The Lakme team was impre-ssed that Tulsi Silks has been keeping alive handlooms and weaves, shares Parekh, telling us about their collection of around 2,000 heritage saris that are between 40-80 years old. With over 20 shows and designers showcasing their collections at LFW, he is confident of holding his own as unlike “90 per cent of the designers there, who have garments with embellishments, we are showing weaves in their purest form,” he says. Tulsi Silks will be showcasing five collections or, as Parekh puts it, five unique stories. Actress Dia Mirza will also be walking the ramp for them.

        Stories in weaves
        While The Pastel Story is a collection of kanjeevaram saris in soft pastels with silver zari border, The Musical Story is inspired by Carnatic musical instruments as motifs—from the veena to the tabla and sitar—in hues like black, silver and pink. This series also features, for the first time, kanjeevaram lehengas. “Earlier it was either a pavadai or a sari converted into a pavadai. But this is a proper lehenga, with kalis, made in a contrast three-shuttle loom like all our other saris,” says Parekh, who has been designing for Tulsi Silks for 15-16 years. The highlight is The Bright Collection, a series of silk saris that replicate the heritage saris and have revived weaves like korvai. It has also revived the ettu kol technique where the zari is woven into the fabric. The Animal Story features animal motifs like elephants and horses, in rich hues of royal blues, reds and golds. Their Gold Story is a bridal collection of heavy gold kanjeevaram saris.

        Will be in stores (Mylapore) from first week of September. Rs 25,000 onwards. Details: 24991086

        — Saloni Sinha

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          Write it like Walvekar
          Tomorrow, Taj Club House
          SMSes can only get you so far. Learn how to pen beautiful hand-written notes with a workshop on modern calligraphy by Pune-based Amruta Walvekar—the brain behind Wrapistry, a premium gift wrapping enterprise. “The modern style bends some of the classical rules, making it more flexible, letting you create your own unique style,” she says. The workshop is designed for beginners and will teach the basics, like wielding  the oblique pen, mark making, writing modern alphabets and more. On Saturday, at Taj Club House, at 2.30 pm.  Rs  4,000 (including materials and high tea). Details: info@wrapistry.com

          Andhra on a plate
          Till September 3, The Raintree hotel
          (St Mary’s Road)
          Taste spicy Andhra food at Colony restaurant, The Raintree hotel, prepared by city-based chef Umapathy for their ongoing Andhra food festival. Expect staples like koora (vegetable curry) and chepalapulusu (fish curry), among other delicacies. Buffet for lunch and dinner at Rs 1,450 (exclusive of taxes).
          Details: 42252525

          Up for sale
          Till October end, Goli Soda
          Donate with love as the second edition of Soda Pop, the curated garage sale—to be held in mid-November at Goli Soda, Besant Nagar—is asking people to send in their pre-used products. Donate everything from clothes, accessories and coffee table books to gadgets, bags and small furniture. Entries accepted till the last week of October. Details: 9791088189

          Weaver select
          August 30-Septemebr 4, Lalit Kala Akademi
          For exquisite hand-woven textiles and handicrafts head to Lalit Kala Akademi this Tuesday, where Delhi-based Hast Karigar Society is conducting an exhibition of traditional Indian weaves by artisans from across the country. Expect a collection of organic cottons, tussars, khadi dupattas and stoles from Benaras, ajrak hand block printed saris and home furnishings, among others. Rs 500 onwards. Details: 28291692

          Kick off
          September 4, YMCA Nandanam
          Show off some fancy footwork at the upcoming edition of Great Goals’—the city-based basketball and football training centre—annual football tournament. Open to under 10, 12 and 14 age groups, the event is expecting around 400 players to participate. September 4, at YMCA Nandanam. Registrations close on August 28.
          Details: 9884632038

          Know your neta
          All seasons, Online
          Shashi Warrier’s book, The Pillow Talk Movies, revolves around Naresh Gupta, an ageing MP with documents that can ruin any big politician, his son who wants to become the president, a Pakistani spy who is too comfortable in India to go home, and a cross-dressing teacher. All of them contribute to this biting political satire, making it the perfect weekend read. Heavily borrowing from real life, don’t forget to read the preface which sums it all up. Published by Westland Ltd. At Rs 295. Details: amazon.in

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            The city’s most popular street delicacy is now available at your doorstep.

            Bringing popular South Indian street fare to your doorstep is Barottas, a food tech startup that has been satiating hunger pangs across the city for the past three-months. The online delivery service and app offers close to 20 varieties of the flatbread, which includes bun ‘barotta’ and the classic wheat, among others. Also find options like biryani, sevai and an array of starters, soups and desserts. In fact, they claim 100 and more meal combinations with the parotta! The breads are soft and flaky, best enjoyed warm. From the menu, the mutton roti canai, the kothu parotta and the Indian milkmaid roti canai here our vote. There are whole wheat options (imported from Malaysia) available too, and the app allows you to customise the elements of your order with their ‘Make your own meal box’ option. “Most people shy away from the barotta because of the stigma around it being unhygienic. So we put in two years of research and travelled to many countries to come up with this menu,” says V Thilagarasu, CEO of the startup, explaining the importance given to ingredients, hygiene and packaging of the meal. Currently  operating from a centralised kitchen in Vadapalani and a few fringe outlets, the company plans to open kiosks across malls and arterial streets in the city soon.
            Rs 60 onwards. Minimum order of Rs 300 for free home delivery.
            Details: barottas.com

            —Lavanya Lakshminarayanan

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            American aesthetics to temple jewellery, find it all at Feathers, the city’s new five-star property.

            notice that the Chennai Trade Centre is hosting yet another exhibition (it’s busy 280 days in a year) as we drive by on our way to Feathers – A Radha Hotel. Then I realise the new five-star property in Manapakkam—whimsically named after the plumage once found on its grounds—is next door to the DLF IT Park and a hop and a skip away from the corporates in Sriperumbudur. It isn’t happenstance because the plush 186-room hotel, just 8 km from the airport (the only luxe property on this stretch of the road) has been conceptualised as a retreat for the well-heeled. “With Chennai growing as a MICE destination (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions), we are not looking at millennials, but those from the upper echelons of business for whom a feeling of warmth, space and luxury are key,” explains Rupam Dutta, the GM. I believe it: Carnation—with 9,250 sq ft of banquet space and an additional 5,600 sq ft of pre-function area—is the third largest banquet hall in the city.
            Cheery greetings of ‘happy evening’ follow me as I explore the property designed by New York-based Meagan Jacobi of Cobico Designs. The spacious lobby, with its soaring ceilings and light sculptures by world-renowned Lasvit from Czechoslovakia, sets the tone—of the local merging seamlessly with the international. Kolams, picked out on the carpets, lead the way, while motifs of temple jewellery and jasmine flowers are found on pierced copper-leaf wall screens. Copper, the metal popular in the region, is even used to accentuate the Italian marble walls. Though the hotel is yet to be completed—with more rooms, two restaurants, a bar, spa and pool yet to be opened—Dutta assures me another two months will find them ready for the peak season.
            Checking in
            The proof of a hotel is in its rooms, and the food, of course. As I swipe in, I find the 422 sq ft space has been designed with comfort and the long-haul visitor in mind. Thick, soft mattresses with 500 thread count linen promise a good night’s sleep, while a spacious workstation with an L-shaped lounge sofa beside it ensure you can plug in whenever the need arises. There’s even a small sink and a microwave, for those who would like to heat up some food come midnight. Dutta assures me the view is great; I just have to ignore the workmen milling around, finishing the pool and Barefeet, the cosy poolside lounge and bar. What does have my attention, however, is the bathroom, bounded by glass walls to give a feeling of more space, and the free-standing tub. Just the thing for a pre-dinner soak, in bubbles created by Hong Kong-based Ming Fai’s signature range of toiletries.
            Tasting menu
            The expertise of Jugesh Arora, chef and culinary management consultant, is behind the design of the kitchens—from Truffles, the lobby-level pâtisserie, and Waterside, the all-day diner, to Umami, the yet-to-be-launched Indian fine dining restaurant. But the man behind the menu is executive chef Lawrence Amalraj, with 13 years of experience in hotels like The Taj Group. “At Waterside, we serve food from the Far East, Europe, India and more. While the buffet is popular, our a la carte menu is comprehensive, too, with over 100 dishes,” says the 35-year-old, adding that if guests want something off-menu, he can whip it up. Declining an offer of wood-fired pizza that I fear I might not be able to finish, I dine on shrimp nigiri, juicy chicken kebabs, beef carpaccio, soba noodles and the most intensely rich chocolate mousse I’ve had in recent times. It’s time to turn in, but not before sipping on a nightcap, comfortable curled up in bed.
            Rs 1,200++. 25 per cent off on food till September 30. Rooms from Rs 8,500++ onwards. Details: 66776969

            Talking point

            Umami: With rich wood panelling and an exhibition kitchen, this fine dining pan-Indian restaurant promises concept dining, with a nine-course set menu. “Beginning with an amuse bouche, we will take you on a tasting tour featuring the flavours from all four corners of the country. A set menu helps us introduce flavours that the guests may not otherwise try,” says Amalraj, adding that the chef will soon be leaving on a tour of the country to source unique recipes. `1,500++ per person.

            Vapor: The plush bar is done up in warm marble, leather and copper, and will offer a variety of ‘smokey’ cocktails. “We will serve both polyscience smoked and oak barrel-aged cocktails, which will be a first in the city,” says Anupam Dutta, assistant beverage manager. “We will also have a nice selection of spirits, like the Laphroaig single malt, Talisker 30 and Lagavulin 16. Our wine list will include the exclusive Chateau Pauillac from France and the Gaja Barbaresco from Italy,” he adds.

            Skyloft: Sitting under the blue sky, watching planes take off at the airport, munching on Mediterranean starters like kibbeh and sambousek sounds like the perfect way to spend a Sunday. Dutta also promises signature blends from the bar, where the bartender will design his own syrups and ingredients. At the roof top restaurant, you can dine on grills and pastas. There are also plans to add steaks and a barbecue soon.

            As you like it
            Customisation is key. At Feathers that means guests can plan a quick city tour, a food trail or even a getaway to Pondicherry, which is four hours away. “I also want to introduce concepts like be your own bartender or chef. How often do you get the chance to work with a chef in a five-star kitchen? I remember how happy my wife was when I convinced the pastry chef at one of Bengaluru’s top hotels to let her bake with him. I want to help our guests create memories here,” says Dutta.

            —Surya Praphulla Kumar

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              Counting kebabs
              Moti Mahal Delux is doing what they do best—hosting a biryani and kebab festival.  The a la carte menu features a number of dishes such as navratan biryani, kofta khaas biryani, jhinga tadka biryani, rujali kebab, kabargah Kashmiri, lahoori tangdi, and more. Prices from Rs 280 onwards. Till September 4. Available for both dine-in and take-away orders. Details: 42137540

              Express kitchen
              If you are given ten minutes to make a special delicacy, what can you come up with? For those short of ideas, the upcoming workshop at Ashvita Bistro may be of help. Chef Anup Rai will share 10-minute recipes of dishes like dragon veg stick, bullet vegetable, coconut roll, Chinese crispy noodles salad, mutton balls with bell pepper and chicken patty with bread roll. Register for Rs 750. August 31, 5.30 pm onwards. Details: 9003365436

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                Twinkles The Party Shop introduces Delhi home décor brand, Navya.

                The beginning of this week saw Twinkles The Party Shop introduce Chennaiites to the five-year-old Delhi brand, Navya, over conversation and high tea. “Customers were regularly asking us for exclusive gifts,” says Deoli Kohli (35), the owner of Twinkles, who has expanded their repertoire.
                Now the store offers a selection of gifts and home décor, along with their party supplies. Look for hand-crafted boxes, vases and curios, as well as Navya’s one-of-a-kind home décor. The idea for the collaboration came to Kohli on one of her many trips to Delhi’s shopping haunt, Meharchand Market. “I love to give my friends and family gifts and would always visit Navya,” says the party planner. “I love the distinctive designs and there was an immediate connect with Vimi (Singh).” A self-taught interior designer, Chandigarh-born Singh (47) is the creative force behind Navya and has undertaken projects for several film and TV personalities, the latest being actor Tisca Chopra. Her forte is her unique vintage and English rose prints. “I have a passion for vintage and so it reflects in my store. We can also customise products keeping a theme in mind,” says the law graduate and wife of a fighter pilot. Singh credits her passion for design and travel as her biggest influences.
                At Twinkles, expect Singh’s unique digital-print cushions (we liked her Buddha-inspired zen designs), table linen (coloural Cath Kidston-reminiscent floral motifs), faux foliage, decorative mirrors and other small odds and ends such as trays, book-ends and magazine stands.
                 Rs 250 onwards. Details: 9841092673

                —Shibi Kumaramangalam

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                  Hand-picked saris and a store with a difference—all put together by two daughters for their mother.

                  I t’s a pleasant August evening and I’m sipping hot coffee, sitting beneath a ceiling lined with woven palm leaves, watching squirrels scamper up a mango tree. I’m not at one of the city’s heritage-themed cafés, but a new sari store tucked away in a quiet lane on Kilpauk’s busy Ormes Road. And, as it turns out, Ira—the sari store launched by two young women, an architect-cum-pilot and a chartered accountant—has a story that is as interesting as its collection of 500-odd hand-picked saris. “On our mother’s 60th birthday, my sister Sudha and I wanted to give her something unique and meaningful, and not go clichéd with jewellery. She came up with the idea of a sari store, since it is also a nod to our ancestors who were weavers,” says Suganya Sivaprakash, 32, the chartered accountant.
                  Built in their backyard, the 650 sq ft wood-and-glass space has been designed by Sudha—who integrated the trees into her blueprint and ensured that the sliding ‘walls’ can be opened, to let the breeze in. “We wanted the store to be a surprise and almost sent our mother, Shenbagam, away on a month-long holiday. But then we realised we didn’t know if she’d like to run a store,” laughs the 35-year-old pilot.
                  Wood and weaves
                  With their mum giving them the go ahead—even asking that the space be made bigger than initially planned—Ira launched earlier this month. Everything about it invites you to take your time—cool wooden floors, multi-hued saris hanging between tree trunks, and a cosy nook to sit down and relax in. “We travel to places like Arani (near Kanchipuram) and Kolkata to source our saris. Though we are not fashion experts, we are all lovers of saris, so we follow our gut, picking weaves and motifs that appeal to us,” explains Sudha, while her mother adds that the soft silks in jewel tones and the lighter, everyday saris (especially a range with cross stitch embroidery) are among the bestsellers.
                  Making the cut
                  While they did target an older crowd when they conceptualised the store, the response across age groups has been so good that they now want to bring in a younger vibe, too. Stocking a variety of handwoven silks and cottons, Sudha adds they are also considering designing their own collections (“in the distant future”). “We will also source unusual blouse materials and perhaps tie up with a city designer. There are also plans to add accessories and stoles,” she says. As dusk falls, the squirrels up their chatter, and it’s time to leave, but not before a quick assurance that I’ll be back—to pick up a silk black and red sari I have my eye on.
                  Saris from Rs 2,000 to Rs 9,000.
                  Details: 65655200

                  —Surya Praphulla Kumar

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