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  • DCAW: Understanding ‘Legal Alien’

    ‘Legal Alien’ is the only group show that is a part of the Delhi Contemporary Art Week. It features works of some of the stalwarts in the contemporary art. Here’s a peak into some of the works and the story behind the show's unique title. The fifth edition of Delhi Contemporary Art Week (DCAW) has kicked off in Delhi from September 1 to 7. It is being held at the Old Building of Bikaner House. This year’s showcase features a group exhibition ‘Legal Alien’ being curated by Meera Menezes. The exhibition explores the notion of alienation and looks at the possible factors that could lead to it. While some artists explore the theme of migration, whether across country borders or from rural to urban areas, that can generate this feeling, others ponder on what it means to be a citizen of a country and still feel like an alien. The show’s title has been taken from the song ‘Englishmen in New York’ sung by the British singer, Sting. Talking about it, Menezes says, “The song featured a sentence: ‘I am an alien, I am a Legal Alien’. Sting moved from England to New York and felt extremely lonely in the new city. Through the song, he has shared his plight.” Though she connected the dots with Sting’s song, Menezes later realised that alienation comes in different forms. She read about the migratory crisis in Syria, the border tension between the US and Mexico and pandemic-led isolation and alienation. “Syrians were moving to Europe to settle. There was border tension between the US and Mexico. Shortly after that, the pandemic happened. This led people to migrate to their home towns. Many people suffered sadness and loneliness. I felt that since the artists highlighted the notion of alienation and the factors that could lead to the same in their works, it was fair to title the show ‘Legal Alien’,” she added. These artists created the works during the pandemic. They have touched upon the topics of isolation, migration, desolation and citizenship identity in the form of paintings, photographs as well as sculptures. For instance, Sudipta Das has highlighted refugee problems in her works. She has used the paper making/doll making technique called Dakche technique to show people living in refugee camps. The construction of a temporary shelter is depicted through the use of hand-made Hanji paper depict. Arunkumar HG’s artworks talk about migration through the lives of agricultural workers. He has shown how agricultural workers leave their land in villages for a better livelihood in cities. The works are introspective and leave viewers to speculate whether the workers who move to cities in search of work feel accepted or integrated into a city or do they also witness alienation in a new city. Meghana Gavireddygari has explored the theme of dispossession through ‘Law of land’. The work shows how possession of a paper cannot guarantee right on a property. Sanket Viramgami has interrogated boundaries and the strife that accompanies their demarcation. He has attempted to show what a city looks to an outsider. Sangita Maity has shown desolation through a set of four paintings. Her work talks about how people are forced to leave their land due to exploitation of resources. It also focuses on migration of people from Odisha. Unlike other artists who use colours to paint, Sangita took soil from Odisha as the medium to connect the idea with viewers. Udaipur-based American artist Waswo X Waswo has collaborated with an Indian miniaturist R Vijay to depict loneliness. The work depicts how a person feels isolated and lonely despite being surrounded by life. The show also features a series of photographs by different artists. Atul Bhalla’s photographic series talks about alienation that people face in their own country. His works highlight power hierarchies in South Africa. “He has tried to point out that despite having large black communities in the country, whites are holding the land due to lack of land reforms. The white chair in the artwork illustrates power,” explains Menezes. Another photographer Bharat Sikka has shown what it means to be a citizen of a country and still feel like an alien. He has captured the essence through a set of three photographs of a lone Kashmiri youth. The photographer, who went to Kashmir in 2013, realised how alienated Kashmiri youths felt at that time despite living in India and how lack of opportunities in the state made them sad. Sonia Mehra Chawla in her photographic work highlight how climate change can create refugees. She has shown alienation and migration due to climate change in her work titled ‘Blue Shores of Silence’. The show features 28 artists that have been chosen from seven participating galleries: Blueprint 12, Exhibit 320, Gallery Espace, Latitude 28, Nature Morte, Shrine Empire and Vadehra Art Gallery.

  • How Baiga tribe lives, protects nature

    The pop of colours in Ashish Kachhwaha’s art symbolise the nature, animals and the culture of the Baiga tribe. The exhibition ‘Sensational Jungle’ is taking place at the Triveni Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam till August 31. Twenty two years ago, Ashish Kachhwaha wanted to try his hand in painting. But due to insufficient financial resources, he could not fulfil this dream. Eventually, a District Panchayat’s government scheme paved the way forward for him to work at the art and craft emporium of the Kanha National Park. The Mandala-born artist took this golden opportunity and started his adventure as an artist at the national park. During the first seven years of his stay, he learnt fascinating things about the Baiga tribe who were living in the park. “I learnt that the tribal people were close to the nature. I also realised that tiger, tribe and forest are deeply connected. They have always stayed together, unlike the common perception that humans are moving away from the nature. I was surprised that despite the presence of the tigers in the region, people felt secure,” he said. This motivated him to learn more about the Baiga tribe and their way of life. So, Kachhwaha quit working as an artist and moved in to stay with a tribal family to observe the Baiga community closely. It is these observations and their life that the artist has brought forth in his ongoing show ‘Sensational Jungle’ being held at the Triveni Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam till August 31. The exhibition narrates the story of the tribe through colours instead of figurative art. All the untitled artworks are presented in a unique style on cut-out canvases. But why did you choose colours, I asked. He says that colours as a medium of narration connected with the community's story. “The pop of colours symbolise the colours of the nature, animals as well as the radiant culture of the Baiga tribe. When I lived with them, I saw myriad colours around me: in the form of plants, animals and birds. But I also realised that colours were not only present in the tribe’s surroundings but also in their culture. Even their traditional dance is colourful,” he explains. Kachhwaha’s artworks also carry symbols and tiger print in some artworks. For instance, in one of his paintings, he has shown leaves sandwiched between tiger’s print and the tribe’s language (through symbols). This shows the way this community resides in the jungle. Similarly, in another artwork, he has shown how the community lives. “The dots in the centre represent the tribe. In fact, these are not just any dots but are taken from their language. The green part is shown as the national park. It is my way of showing how tribal live and stay protected in the jungle despite the fact that the region is home to tigers,” he shares. The artist has also stirred conversation around the aftermath of city life in one of his pieces. Has has shown how people living in the cities are becoming slaves of concrete jungles. Supported by Raza Foundation, the showcase was organised on the birth anniversary of famous painter Syed Haider Raza.

  • Letting their creativity 'flow'

    Seven artists showcased artworks and explored the theme of pravaah or flow in a group exhibition. We spoke to the artists and the curator, and learnt about the artworks. Seven traditional artists defined ‘flow’ in their artworks at a recently-concluded art exhibition ‘Pravaah – A journey’. Pravaah, which means flow in Hindi, is often associated with the flow of water. But Pragati Agarwal, Founder, Art Tree, and curator of the show, insisted that artists encompassed several elements of the universe instead of restricting their focus to water. Madhubani- artist Manisha Jha connected pravaah with the flow of energy, water, earth, knowledge and air. She depicted the flow of energy through her work ‘Pravaah of knowledge’. The painting featured Buddha in the centre with living beings around him. “I have tried to show how knowledge is transmitted to animals, humans, birds, fishes,” she explained. The artist took also represent the flow of universe. Inspired by one of her travel journeys, she explained the concept through fishes. She also paid an ode to water using kachni style of Madhubani in ‘Monsoon’. This artwork celebrates joy the rainy season brings in the lives of humans, fishes, birds and other animals. In another artwork, titled ‘Ganga’, she narrated the story of the holy river. “I have narrated Ganga’s story from its origination to how it got transitioned from the space to the earth to enter Haridwar and reach Benaras,” she said. Joining her in Madhubani was Manoj Kumar Choudhary, who associated pravaah with the flow of water. The Bihar-based artist also highlighted issues pertaining to drought (Jal Bina Soona) and the aftermath of industrialisation (Jal Chakra), besides promoting the idea of water conservation (Vamaan Avatar). In case of ‘Vamaan Avatar’, though it was inspired by Lord Vishnu, he added elements such as inverted umbrella to bring out the message of water conservation. “It’s my way of showing how small steps can make a big difference in saving water,” he expressed. ‘Jal Chakra’, his other work, built the co-relation between water pollution and its impact on the civilisation. “The withered trees, dying birds and drought in the painting highlight the aftermath of industry-related water pollution. The elements on the bottom depict scenic views. The idea was to show how we are living today,” he said. Water also became a muse for Warli artists Anil Wangad and Sarita Vanjara. The duo narrated the tales of Warli communities and their love for the river as well as their daily chores through tribal art. Explaining the artists’ work, Agarwal said, “These artworks gave a glimpse of how Warli community lives and the various ways in which they utilise water. Warli is a tribal art form where the community only preaches local gods. Traditionally, colours are not used in this art form that’s why these paintings also do not carry any colours.” Prakash Joshi connected Pravaah to the five elements of universe – air, earth, fire, water and sky. Being a Phad artist, this UNESCO-award winning artist took inspiration from Pichwai for the show. “Since Phad involves painting local deities and does not include cows, trees, palaces, clouds and water, I took inspiration from Pichwai and combined both the art forms together to suffice flow of air,” he said. In Panchtatva, one of his artworks, he showed the co-relation between the five tatva or elements. “The semi-circular domes in the form of stairs represent fire and water. Since I could not show air, I used cows and trees from Pichwai to show the flow of air,” he shared. The exhibition also featured works of Purna Chandra Moharana and Tanmay Mahapatra (both in Pattachitra). Tanmay made wall plates featuring fish and lotus in his art. This sculpture artist showed Samudra Manthana and Jagannath using wood.

  • Upasana Singh sues Harnaaz Sandhu for breaching contract

    The acclaimed Punjabi actress has dragged Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu to court over the latter’s detachment towards the promotion of ‘Bai Ji Kuttange’. We spoke to Upasana Singh to learn more about the issue. What led you to sue Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu? I signed ‘Bai Ji Kuttange’ with Harnaaz months before she was crowned Miss Universe. She is making a debut with my son, Nanak. As per the contract, she was supposed to promote the film with us for 25 days. But as she soon as she became Miss Universe, she broke ties with us. She completely detached herself from the film. She is not even posting anything about the film on social media. It’s very sad to see when someone does this to you. I gave her a chance when no one knew her in the film industry. She stayed at my house when she was in Mumbai, and treated her as my child. I never thought that that she would do this to us. Have you tried to contact the beauty queen before sending her a summon? We were originally supposed to release the film in May earlier this year. But she has been ignoring us. I sent several messages and mails to her. But she did not revert to them. Then I asked Smeep Kang, the director of the film, and other actors (of the film) to call her. But she did not reply to their messages as well. It’s been five months we have been trying to reach her, and have already lost a lot of money due to this. So, seeking legal help was the last resort. Why did you wait this long for her to respond? I have earned a lot of respect in this industry. I never wanted anyone to know that there were problems between us. What do you have to say to people who are trolling you and calling your legal move a publicity stunt? I just want to tell them that I have not made a bad film. It’s a family film which has some of the popular actors of the industry: Dev Kharoud (who is playing bai ji in the film), Gurpreet Ghuggi and I. Smeep (Kang) has already given several hits in the past. Content is the king in this film. It’s the first time an action-comedy film has been made in the Punjabi film industry. So, why would I need such cheap tactics to gain publicity. The Kapil Sharma Show has been discontinued. If given a chance, would you work with the comedian again? It will be my privilege to work with Kapil again. In fact, the opening scene of Bai Ji Kuttange also features Kapil Sharma's voice.

  • How Suneet Varma helped reduce carbon footprint

    The jewellery featured in the fashion designer’s collection was made from recycled metals and mining-free materials. Designed by ‘Aulerth’, Suneet did his bit for the environment through this partnership. Fashion designer Suneet Varma recreated his magic on the ramp at the recently-concluded India Couture Week 2022. This time, his collection featured jewellery made from recycled metals and mining-free materials, something that the designer has not done before. Designed by Aulerth, the statement pieces were handcrafted in such a way that they led to zero to minimal carbon footprint. Vivek Ramabhadran, Founder and CEO, Aulerth, explained, “The jewellery showcased in the collection was made from recycled metals and mining-free materials. It was recycled with global standards, and is nickel-free. All the metals used in the collection were, at some point, used in an automobile or as construction equipment.” The jewellery showcased in the collection featured stones such as ruby and emerald. Surprisingly, these stones have not been obtained from uprooting and destroying the earth. This coincided in the designer's viewpoint. Suneet too lost interest in using gold for jewellery after he saw a documentary on gold mining. So, when he learnt about Aulerth’s initiative, he could not say no to it. “Each and every one of us should be responsible about what is going on in the world. It could be either through sustainable jewellery, eco-friendly products or how we leave our carbon footprint. I think this is a fantastic initiative and I thank Aulerth for it,” he said. Vivek's interest in making jewellery from recycled products started when he understood the aftermath this precious metal leaves on earth. “Though gold is extremely popular in India, it leaves a highly destructive environmental footprint. A single gold ring generates 20000 kilos of toxic waste, including cyanide and mercury,” he said. This led him to start Aulerth that works on the ideology of being high in design and intelligently mindful. This means that the mining footprints of the metals used in the making of the jewellery is zero, making these pieces worth a buy.

  • Celebs prefer comfort over style

    Bollywood actors always grab the limelight for creating trends. But in real life, some of them choose comfort over style. A2zoftrends spoke to a few of them at the recently concluded India Couture Week 2022 and learnt about what fashion means to them. Aditi Rao Hydari The actress recently turned showstopper for Anju Modi at the ICW 2022 and looked nothing less than royalty. But her style statement is quite distinct from how she dresses at events. The actress prefers to wear comfortable clothes. When she is not working, she likes to stay sans makeup and heels. Aditi believes that people should wear the outfit instead of the outfit wearing them. Her preferred casual look includes wearing a pair of jeans with a ganji and her hair tied as a top knot. For formal occasions, the Khoobsurat-actress loves Indian textiles, handlooms and works that showcase Indian craftsmanship. Rajkummar Rao Just like his movies, Rajkummar is also experimental with clothes. But this experimentation does not factor in style alone. He instead scores comfort higher than style. While picking up outfits, the Queen-actor avoids scrolling through the upmarket fashion magazines. He instead dresses according to his mood. He prefers outfits that make him feel comfortable, happy and positive. He also recommends people to make their own style statement instead of following fashion trends blindly. He feels discovering your style on your own can help people gain confidence in themselves and their clothes. Farhan Akhtar Farhan always dresses to impress, whether he sports traditional wear or western outfits. But when it comes to his personal style, the actor prefers simplicity in outfits. He is not someone who dresses up every day or dedicates too much time in deciding the look. The actor loves wearing track pants, t-shirt and a comfortable pair of shoes. Unlike other actors, he dedicates time in finding the right pair of shoes for the comfort of his feet. At the ICW2022, the actor turned showstopper for designer Siddartha Tytler. He was seen wearing a black velvet bandhgala with golden embroidery work on the ramp. Though this outfit was quite different from his everyday look, but the actor excitedly said that he would love to wear his showstopper outfit for other occasions as well.

  • Anju Modi takes 'the road less travelled'

    The ace designer, through her collection at the FDCI's India Couture Week 2022, expressed the core design ideas of her learnings in the last 30 years. Actress Aditi Rao Hydari walked the ramp as a showstopper. Anju Modi celebrated her learnings in the fashion industry during the last three decades at the India Couture Week (ICW) 2022. The collection titled, ‘The road less travelled’, comprised of a showcase of fabrics from around 25 villages of India. The designer also played picturesque views of different landscapes belonging to these villages via videos. Explaining the title of the show, she said, “The entire collection belongs to the villages that I have seen via roads. In the last 30 years, I have travelled across India on roads instead of taking trains and flights. I have developed different fabrics and some of them belong to Kerala, while others are from Bhuj and Banaras, among others. Hence, I gave the show this title.” The designer created the outfits in Mukaish embroidery (from Lucknow) and zardosis (from Uttar Pradesh). “The weaving is from South. There are some outfits in blend silk (silk mixed with cotton) as well so that the fabric does not shine too much. The entire fabric is in handloom,” she explained. The ace designer has always supported and promoted handlooms. This year’s showcase is no different. In fact, she has paid an ode to Indian handlooms through her collection. “My endeavour is to use handlooms and give them new designs so that they can be used for the next thousand years. I have learnt a lot from our craftsmen and I owe this collection to them,” she shared. Three-part series Anju’s collection was divided into three parts. The first part was dedicated to hilly areas of the Kashmir valley, Leh and Ladakh. The models dazzled the floor in white ensembles. The designer carried videos of picturesque Kashmir valley. “This part features the craft of these regions. I have used pashmina to drape the sarees,” she said. The second part featured forests of India. The collection carried bright hues and videos of pine trees. Explaining the concept of this part, she said, “When we go to the hills, we see pine trees. That’s why videos of pine trees are a part of the collection. The idea was to celebrate joy and happiness and that’s why the entire collection is full of colours. These outfits are perfect for vacations and intimate occasions in the hills.” The final part of the show was dedicated to valleys. It featured scenic videos of the Dal Lake and other valleys in India. The collection carried a blend of Indo-western dresses and traditional wear. “I have connected the flow of rivers with the collection. I thought of the Indus valley and the Ganges. In our country, people celebrate on weddings. That’s why I featured embroidery and Benares,” she explained. The collection has also been designed keeping the young generation’s choices in mind. There are aplenty Indo-modern dresses to choose from. Showstopper outfit Actress Aditi Rao Hydari turned muse for the designer in a beautiful antique turmeric-coloured silk lehenga. It featured embroideries from the vintage era. The actress paired the look with antique jewellery. The actress, while speaking to the media, said that her fondness towards old-world designs on the lehenga resonated with her style statement. “I love Anju ma’am’s aesthetic. I love that she has so much knowledge of indigenous textile, craft and workmanship, and that she draws inspiration from weavers and craftsman from India. Her collection comprises of all these elements. Though this looks heavy, it’s very comfortable and light-weighed. I like that the designs are old-world but the drawings are from the timeless era. There is femininity in the outfit, be it is colour or its textile,” she said. ICW 2022 is taking place from July 22 to 31 at the Taj Palace in New Delhi as well as at a number of offsite locations. This year, the event is celebrating its 15th anniversary.

  • 5 binge-worthy content to watch this weekend

    Several popular films and shows are coming to your homes as they are eyeing a release on the OTT platforms. Here’s a list of some of the movies and shows that will make your weekend an entertaining one: Rocketry - The Nambi Effect (Voot Select) Helmed by R. Madhavan, this film is based on the life of one of India’s pioneering rocket scientists Nambi Narayanan. This biography chronicles his achievements, passion for the country's space mission, his unmatched dedication and the accusation that eventually became the biggest personal and professional setback of his life. Masaba Masaba S2 (Netflix) Real life mom-daughter duo Neena and Masaba Gupta return to portray their own selves for a second round of adventures, trying to be braver and more courageous than before. The series features several digital creators and OTT actors in the second season, making it worthy to watch. Good luck Jerry (Disney+ Hotstar) Directed by Sidharth Sengupta, the film follows the tale of a lower-middle-class girl who finds herself stuck in the world of drug dealers and gangsters. The film stars Janhvi Kapoor, who plays the titular role in this dark comedy film, Deepak Dobriyal, who portrays her love interest, Sushant Singh and Saurabh Sachdeva. Rangbaaz: Darr ki Rajneeti S3 (Zee 5) The third season revolves around the story of a gangster-turned-politician from Bihar. This crime drama stars Vineet Kumar Singh and Aakanksha Singh in the lead roles. It is alleged that Vineet's character is based on the late strongman-turned-politician Mohammad Shahabuddin. 777 Charlie (Voot Select) Directed by Kiranraj K, 777 Charlie will make you fall in love if you are a dog lover. The story revolves around 'Dharma', portrayed by actor Rakshit Shetty, who has a sad and lonely life. But his life experiences a transition when a pup called 'Charlie' enters in his life. So what are you waiting for? Grab your pack of popcorn and enjoy!

  • National Awards: Ajay Devgn bags third award

    The Tanhaji-actor has previously won the Best Actor award at the National Awards for his performances in Zakhm and The Legend of Bhagat Singh. Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn has won the Best Actor award at the 68th National Film Awards for his work in Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior. This is the third time the actor has been awarded as the Best Actor at the national awards. The actor on receiving his third national award, said, ‘’I’m elated to win the Best Actor Award for Tanhaji—The Unsung Warrior at the 68th National Awards along with Suriya who won for Soorarai Pottru. I thank everyone, most of all my creative team, the audience and my fans. I also express my gratitude to my parents and the almighty for their blessings. Congratulations to all the other winners.’’ The Tanhaji actor has previously won this award for his performances in Zakhm (1998) and The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002).

  • Vipeksha Gupta's art from heart

    Vipeksha Gupta’s art isn’t about life’s beautiful experiences. Yet, it is relatable as she has showcased the darkest period of our lives (the second wave of the pandemic) and the learnings she experienced from it. They say tough times make tough people. The pandemic turned out to be exactly the same for the humanity. Many people lost their loved ones and suffered a wreak of emotional, mental and financial losses. But some people turned those times into an advantage and learnt how to grow out of them, despite the odds. Vipeksha Gupta was one of them who learnt how to turn her sufferings to her advantage. At a recent showcase, she gave a glimpse of the same. Vipeksha’s works explore the concept of flux and impermanence, and how darkness as well as suffering is crucial to the growth as an individual because mind cannot be circumvented. Just like others, she too experienced an array of emotions that she translated into the art. Explaining her works, she says, “I have used dark tones and sharp lines. The sharp lines depict the expression of victory. The art also includes etched lines and holes. They depict that a person should hold their ego, lust and harmful intentions without forgetting the incident that evolved you.” Vipeksha believes that suffering is crucial to humanity as it helps a person evolve. “It’s important to understand your suffering, turn it into an advantage and grow out of it. I feel that a person realises his/her true potential when a challenge is thrown at him/her. That’s how it worked for me during the pandemic,” she shares. She has used paper and added multiple layers of charcoal and graphite in her art. “It’s like a crease compressed on a timesheet of time,” she explains. Working with graphite and charcoal is not something new for this artist. In fact, she has worked with the same medium for over 11 years. But according to her, neither the medium signify sufferings nor the dark tones. “I have expressed how one can achieve liberation using the same medium. So, it’s not that these mediums signify suffering, it’s your own take how you want to use a medium,” she says. The artist refrains from having preconceived notions about art. She instead likes to work in unconscious planned way. “I call myself as a method artist. It’s an expanded feeling of emotions that I felt at a point of time, which gets evolved into a drawing or a three-dimensional piece of art. I usually prepare my compositions beforehand. But I let the images and patterns come to me organically,” she clarifies. Besides graphite and charcoal, Vipeksha is also fond of drawing with pencil on paper. “Drawings allow me to express myself. They also enable me to understand some of the most important aspects of human emotions – beauty, hope, compassion and subtleness,” she adds. Known for her monochromatic and meditative drawings, Vikesha studied art after graduating in history. She joined Triveni Kala Sangam, where she worked seven years. But later, she started working as an independent artist and that’s how she was discovered by Blueprint 12.