Home Archives 2017 January

Monthly Archives: January 2017

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    A Florida-based saxophonist comes a-calling with bubble dancers for company

    SHE is all of 27 years old, and Dins Radion is already hot property for many music groups. The Jacksonville girl started playing the saxophone in high school. Since then, she has played for the Ukraine Symphony Orchestra and the Valparaiso Symphony Orchestra, attended a chorale music event, and now, will be visiting Chennai for the first time. She will be seen at Phoenix MarketCity over the weekend for her debut performance here, starting today.

    Looking back
    Dins’ first live performance was different, to say the least. “When I was in high school, I played in front of an audience of visually challenged people and their families,” says the saxophonist, who also likes to draw, write poems and listen to Bollywood tracks when time permits. A self-confessed fan of musicians like Charlie Parker, Kenny G and Eric Dolphy, Dins admits that she is also inspired by her husband, who is a musician too. “I prefer to play the alto saxophone, and of the places across the world where I have performed so far, my favourite is Georgia,” she adds.

    What to expect
    At today’s concert, expect lots of jazz and blues, she says. “I am also open to performing songs on request, even from Bollywood,” she admits. She will perform alongside bubble dancers Oleksandra Kuznietsova and Valentyna Akulich, with whom she has performed many times before. While Oleksandra was one of the finalists at a 2014 UAE dance contest held in Rad Al Khaimah, Valentyna is also a pop and freestyle dancer who was trained at the School of Music and Dance, Ukraine. “They are great dancers. Valentyna and I recently did a show last week in Jaipur,” says Dins. After Chennai, you can catch her perform in Udaipur, followed by Delhi.

    January 27-29. Details: phoenixmarketcity.com

    —Karan Pillai

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      Sofar Sounds gives us the scoop on their underground musical leanings

      IT HAS been a busy last couple of days for Sofar Sounds Chennai and there seems to be a secret weighing them down. Despite repeated offers to lighten the load, programme coordinator Aditi Anna Kuriakose refuses to let us in on the who, where and how of Sofar’s confidential Thiruvanmiyur music session this weekend. “You need to RSVP on our Facebook page to be invited, and you’ll get to know details of the venue a day before the show,” she says. Whether it is in a backyard, a living room or a rooftop, Sofar Sounds has been hosting intimate music shows that tread a fine line between the organised and organic concerts.

      Through the filter
      While this DIY-format may seem rather laidback, Sofar’s sessions are far from being clandestine gatherings. Though hosted at non-traditional venues, each show is well-curated with musicians undergoing a rigorous selection process. The team reviews the music that the artist sends and if we like what we hear, then they get a chance to share their music with an audience,” explains Aditi. With names like Sid Sriram, Anil Srinivasan, Sharanya Manivannan, Yohan Chacko and others on the list of Sofar Alumini, they continue to live up to the standard of their global parent initiative.

      Mixing it up
      With the element of intrigue in place, Aditi hopes that the Thiruvanmiyur session will be the city’s biggest yet. “We’ve had about 40 people for our previous shows; this time around, the response has been better. However, we don’t plan on going beyond an audience of 60 people, since then you will lose out on the intimacy that this space offers.” Each of the three acts for the evening are given a run time of 25 minutes, with most acts differing in terms of genre, and tempo. “Most artists are encouraged to perform their own pieces. If there are covers, then the team tries to balance it out with a mix of originals in the other acts,” says the 22-year-old. A pro-bono enterprise, Sofar Sounds always keeps an eye out for new talent and volunteers to organise shows. “After all, we are all about the music. Everything else is just extra,” she enthuses.

      Thiruvanmiyur session on January 29. Details: facebook.com/SofarSoundsChennai

      —Rebecca Vargese

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        V for veena
        Popular veena player Rajesh Vaidhya and his band V5 the Gang will perform Ananta, one of the largest compilations of Indian music comprising the works of some acclaimed musicians, on Saturday, February 4 at 7 pm at Music Academy. The benefits from the concert will be contributed to the cause of education for underprivileged kids. Tickets from Rs 300 onwards on bookmyshow.com. Details: 950010728

        Columbia to Chennai
        American Fulbright Scholars Shiv Subramaniam and Sruti Sarathy, will perform together today, at 3 pm at the US Consulate Auditorium. While Shiv (the vocalist) is a doctoral candidate in Sanskrit at Columbia University, Sruti is a well-known violinist from California and is currently pursuing her Masters in French at Stanford. Details: 28574089

        Boon of toon
        New York-based filmmaker Ram Devineni is conducting a cartooning workshop in the city today, at MOP Vaishnav College. Open to journalists, bloggers, students and designers, it will focus on how to create digital and interactive comic books and cartoons that address social issues. Details: 28574181

        No kidding
        Karadi Tales, in association with Evam Productions, is back with the second edition of their theatrical production Once Upon A Bak Bak Tree, which is being staged at Chinmaya Heritage Centre. The show will also have popular veteran songstress Usha Uthup singing several songs and ending the evening on a high note. February 4-5. From Rs 300 on in.bookmyshow.com

        Odissi odyssey
        Popular Odissi dancer from Bengaluru, Madhulita Mohapatra, will perform with her troupe Nrityantar Dance Ensemble on January 29, at 5.45 pm at PS Dakshinamurthy Auditorium. Madhulita and her troupe will bring on stage the beauty and elegance of Odissi. The performance is a part of the Vishesha Kala Poshakam Utsav 2017, that is being organised by Sri Sumukhi Rajasekharan Memorial Foundation. Details: 9382698811

        Zedd fever
        After it was announced that Eric Prydz and Macklemore will be performing at the fourth edition of the Vh1 Supersonic Festival, it has now been declared that Grammy-winning performer Zedd has also been brought on board as the third headliner.  Don’t miss the opportunity to witness some of the biggest names in music coming together at the fourth edition of the festival in Pune, this February. Rs 2,000 onwards. Tickets on bookmyshow.com

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          World War 2 serves as the backdrop for Theatre Nisha’s latest production

          WAR IS never a pretty topic to debate upon, with arguments about the need for it and its effectiveness raging on for years. While the World Wars remain the biggest man-made tragedies, in the present world, we have nations spending billions on defence and hapless countries getting bombarded by armed forces of mighty countries. In all this chaos, there are millions of families that are either destroyed or divided. But, how many of us think about them? Bordering on a similar subject is Theatre Nisha’s latest production, The Cut, that aims to show to what extent war can affect relationships.

          Past imperfect
          Written by playwright Meera Sitaraman, the play is directed by V Balakrishnan, an alumnus of the National School of Drama. “The story is about two people who are caught in a war under different circumstances, and the hope and despair that follows  it,” says Meera. She however clarifies, “The play doesn’t promote peace or war. It’s about two people whose most basic instincts come to the fore when the war strips them of their civilisation.”

          Talking about how they decided on the theme, she reveals, “It was suggested as a short script by Balakrishnan for the Short+Sweet Festival (2014), who at the time, was in Korea working on an Indo-Korean play. It is inspired by the true stories of Shofu slaves of the World War, but has been fictionalised to fit any conflict zone.”

          Spotlight check
          With lots of sepia-like colours and shadows (ala The Godfather movies), the play’s lighting and costumes portray the war-torn era with élan. “A lot of thought went into creating the perfect attire for the play,” says Meera. “The colour scheme, texture and style were taken into consideration to create something that resembled the inspiration of the play, yet left room for universal association. With the lighting, we’ve tried to maintain the realism and dystopia of the play,” she further explains. Besides plans to take the production outside the city, they will soon unveil their first wooden bow, to add to their PVC bows used in their archery workshops.
          Open to ages 16 and above. Entry at Rs 200. Details: 9677172897

          —Karan Pillai

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            Take note
            Commemorating Republic Day, city-based Ashvita Design Studio has launched a series of 10 notebooks, inspired by the cities of India, in a classy gold avatar. Naturally, Madras is the inspiration for one of the ten books. Featuring a sketch of the iconic Valluvar Kottam, it perfectly celebrates the spirit of being Tamil, and pays tribute to the classical poet, philosopher and saint Valluvar. Rs 250. Details: amazon.in

            Bejewelled bling
            Dillano Jewels has introduced an edgy, modern collection of jewellery for the woman of today. Indulge in some uniquely designed earrings crafted in white gold, rose gold and yellow gold, set with some fine quality diamonds. A perfect blend of artistic motifs and elegance, a pair of these would make the perfect gift for any woman who loves her bling. Rs 1,00,000 Details: dillano.com

            On our radar
            An elegant limited edition eco-drive watch by Citizen, the Citizen Eco-Drive EG7000-01A is tailor-made for the contemporary, elegant woman who is always on the go. Set in a super titanium case with silver-toned Nishijin bands, this watch, powered by Citizen’s eco-drive technology, is also water resistant . Rs 1,35,000. At Phoenix Marketcity. Details: 28464305

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              City entrepreneurs bring 40 designers under one roof for a shopping fest

              Here is an excuse to update your wardrobe. City-based entrepreneur Shuba Jagan, along with partners Ashwini Gunashekran and Smitha Pradeep of Tashi Threads Boutiques, is all geared up for the Indulge Exhibition next weekend.

              With a line-up of 40 designers, one can expect a range of jewellery, bespoke apparel, handmade beauty products and home décor at their 14th edition at Crowne Plaza. “This year, we have designers from across the country — Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore — besides home-grown designers. So far, these exhibitions were limited to showcasing designs by women who were looking for a platform to sell their products,” says Shuba, who is also an event organiser and has teamed up with Tashi Treads for the first time since she started hosting lifestyle exhibitions in 2008.

              Shuba, who has started out with 10 designers for her first exhibition, is excited about the changing fashion landscape of the city. “People are now more open to investing in bespoke jewellery —both the precious and semi-precious kind, and handcrafted accessories,” the 35-year-old says with a smile.

              The two-day fashion event will feature jewellery from Zatica Studios, owned by Mumbai-based designer Aarthi Shankar, organic skin care products from city-based Bottled Bliss, quirky gifting options by Avec Amour, home décor from Mash Collectionz and ethnic drapes from Kochi-based store Handpicks, among others. The exhibition will also have a makeover studio and a painting workshop at the venue.

              Apparel and accessories from Rs 2,500 onwards. Entry free. February 3-4 from 11 am to 8 pm at Crowne Plaza. Details: 24994101

              — Rebecca Vargese

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                Craft Council’s store, Kamala brings more than just handicrafts  to the city

                The 1,000 sq feet store at the Co-optex grounds on Pantheon Road is abuzz with anticipation. Heaps of rich textiles vie for space among gorgeous handmade jewel boxes with Madhubani paintings, hand mirrors made from wooden printing blocks and marble boxes with mother-of-pearl lids. “The clamour for a Kamala store in the city has been getting louder and we finally had to give in,” says Gita Ram, chairman of Craft Council of India, with a laugh, as we explore the city’s first CCI store that opens its doors today. Having set up their flagship store in Delhi in 2005, the CCI has been helping to create viable business avenues for artisans across the country. With all things handmade seeing a revival in the country, Gita believes that the time is right to set up a storefront at the organisation’s headquarters.

                Road to revival
                While we have been drawn to their exhibitions every time they have showed in the city, nothing prepares us for Narendra Kumar Verma. A simple man whose day begins before sunrise, Narendra’s raison d’être was revealed when as a teenager he attended a CCI workshop. “I was part of a design seminar. Then I was invited by one of the tutors to be a part of a 45-day diploma course in the City and Guilds London Art School,” says the craftsman from Agra, who started off as a mere stone artisan. Since then he has won the UNESCO Seal of Excellence in Handicraft in 2006, 2008 and 2012, and today his exquisite stone jaali work boxes can be found at all the CCI outlets. Narendra is just one of the artisans that the 53-year-old CCI has nurtured from among its database that runs into hundreds from Bihar, Agra, Varanasi, Delhi and Tiruneveli. This revival of forgotten crafts and livelihoods is at the heart of Kamala — where every durry, copper lamp and wooden box has a story behind it, just like that of Narendra, whose life was changed forever thanks to CCI.

                Tradition on demand
                Attempting to showcase the best in arts and crafts, Kamala will put the spotlight on specially designed products developed by artisan clusters from across the country. Expect to see a range of mats, coasters, and serve ware in terracotta, stone, ceramic and metal, porcelain cups on saucers of carved stone jaali, wooden toys, printed paper mâché platters and more. “CCI aims at making handicrafts commercially viable. Artists might not be able to sell a Madhubani painting as it is. With inputs from our team, artisans replicate these paintings onto smaller boxes, which in turn have faster over-the-counter sales,” says Pushpa Chari, a member of CCI.

                Rs 200 onwards. Kamala opens today at 10 am. Details: 28191457

                — Rebecca Vargese

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                  Head to Café Central for Maggi with mummy’s touch, patty-less burgers and more

                  It is not often that you find a restaurant in the city that serves saapad through the day. But the new Cafe Central in T Nagar, does. The interiors are done up in a rustic fashion with muted colours but quirky décor, adding a touch of pop to the place. The owner, Swati Chauhan, originally a Delhiite who has made Chennai her home, promises, “You can expect good, wholesome food — home-style grub, in a restaurant ambience.”

                  Sneaky surprises
                  As we settle into comfortable chairs, she recommends starting off with some Kothu Fries (French fries, kothu parotta-style) and some Healthy & Mazedar (a cold press juice of apple, pomegranate, orange, mint and cucumber). The tasty cold press takes us by surprise — it is not often that you can order a cold press juice off a menu. The Kothu Fries are mildly spicy, curry-leaf garnished bites, adding the right touch of local to the global French Fries. Yet another starter that is highly recommended is the Beer Vengayam  — a crunchy explosion of flavour.

                  Meals all day
                  The exhaustive menu also boasts an all-day breakfast and a saapad section, in addition to a decadent dessert corner. For a light breakfasty snack, try the 4 Egg White Omlette, served with toast and hash browns — a delightfully fluffy creation. The saapad, which is not limited to a 3 pm deadline, is served all day, and features everything from creamy Mac N Cheese, to Ghar Ka Khaana (dal makhani, ghee rice, aloo jeera and laccha).  A favourite among the younger crowd is the Mummy Ke Magical Maggi, which is served in some interesting flavours.

                  Hole in one
                  While the burgers have filling instead of patties, which aren’t too impressive, the Stuffed Sandwich more than makes up. The sandwich has a hole in the centre, and is filled with saucy chicken and greens — messy to eat, but delicious. Meal for two: Rs 600 approximately.Details: 33011652

                  — Nandita Ravi

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                    Chinese New Year
                    Usher in the Chinese New Year  with a special menu at China Town’s outlets at Ampa Skywalk and Cathedral Road. Savour some fluffy steamed dumplings, crispy Beijing spring rolls and fortune fruit. At China Town, on till February 12. Details: 7604915096 / 28112246

                    Choco craving
                    Chocotrait is conducting a pure truffle making workshop tomorrow, at Besant Nagar, between 2 pm and 6 pm. Learn how to craft four different kinds of truffles — the classic truffle, flavour infusion in truffles, truffles rolled in nuts and chocolate-dipped truffles. Limited seats. Details:  9600064846

                    Tempting tempura
                    Teppan is organising a Robatayaki  festival offering a scrumptious Robatayaki and Tempura basket menu across its outlets in Chennai. Don’t  miss delicacies such as the tofu shitake, sake and ebiyaki, and yasai tempura moriawase, among others. At Teppan, TTK Road, Alwarpet, on till February 5. Details: 32216635

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                      A popular Bengaluru eatery comes to the city, sans the bar

                      Nestled between the Amethyst Room and Mamagoto is Motherc-luckers Cafe. Having visited the Bengaluru outlet and patronising their quirky cocktails, I find myself a little confused when I see a bar area missing. My borderline-worried staring is finally met by Ramanan Rajamani, the general manager of Holy Cow Hospitality — the group behind this café, Plan B and other franchises. “With the Chennai franchise, we wanted to move away from what we’d done in Bengaluru and come up with something new. The café concept was interesting. Hence, no alcohol,” he says, a tad apologetically. I am not disappointed by what I see. Bright décor, motorcycles, fish and roosters all sitting pretty on their pastel walls, warm lighting, an open area and the smell of food from the kitchen of this 84-seater café, has me excited.

                      Spice route
                      As I sit down with their wood- framed menu, I am treated first to a some paprika chicken. Tender with hard-hitting spice, it makes for a great start to the meal. The butter garlic prawns that follow look mild, but are a bit of a let down because of its chewy texture. However, the beef cheese french fries that come next are the perfect consolation, with melt-in-the-mouth soft beef and rich flavour leave me wanting more. I look over their vegetarian options and I am spoilt for choice. Given an option between the tandoori paneer and the paneer satay, I pick the latter. While its softness and flavour is remarkable, my loyalties stay with the chicken.

                      Flavour flow
                      In a neighbourhood like Khader Nawaz Khan Road, carving a niche for yourself in the culinary scene can be exhausting. “We understand the crowd that comes here and want to give  our customers a light café eating experience. Our menu here has light eats and a range of shakes too,” adds Ramanan. After gorging through the starters, with a New York cheesecake shake to go with it, I try  their signature Clucker — the juicy patty keeps getting hotter as I make it to its centre, leaving me satiated. Dessert goes straight to the heart, they say. But my craving for their white chocolate cheesecake comes to a sad halt, with its flavour being too acidic for my liking. Nevertheless, head here for their delicious food and great service.

                      Meal for two from  Rs 1,200 onwards. Details: 9677138149

                      — Lavanya Lakshminarayanan

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