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  • Shriya Saran on importance of 'performing arts'

    The actress shared that performing arts teach discipline and help in tackling failures. Most of us know Shriya Saran as an actor but did you know that she is also a trained dancer. The Drishyam-actress learnt dancing skills from the legendary Kathak dancer Shobhana Narayan before stepping her foot in the Indian film industry. She recalls, “Delhi is very special to me. I learnt Kathak from Shobhana Narayanji and visited Pandara Road.” Saran studied in Delhi Public School, Mathura Road, and completed her graduation from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University. Though she misses Delhi, she is happy being an actor. She credits her parents who persuaded her to follow her dreams. “My family was always there to watch my performances. My mom had a dream to see me as a dancer and fortunately, I became an actress. My profession allows me to dance as well,” she shares. Saran will be next seen in Music School, which touches upon how families discourage children to pursue music professionally. But Saran feels that it’s time for parents to look at the broader picture as performing arts teach valuable lessons. “One thing that you learn from any performing art is practice and discipline. It also teaches you to tackle your failures and give respect. These things have stayed with me forever and help me in my life,” she adds.

  • Music School: A musical tackling serious issue

    Music School features 12 songs, out of which the rights of three of them are taken from 'The Sound of Music'. The film also marks the debut of singer Shaan. The Indian film industry has hardly experimented with a musical, featuring songs from the classic play, The Sound of Music, and coming with a serious message. When Paparao Biyyala understood how children from middle class families are still discouraged to take up music professionally, he decided to give audiences a musical titled ‘Music School’. On a promotional trip, Biyyala was in Delhi along with actors Sharman Joshi and Shriya Saran. Biyyala, who has written, directed and produced the film, shared that this might look an ordinary issue but it hampers the child's interest. “In middle class households, children are pressurised to study instead of taking up music and drama. When a child has lack of interest in a subject, failure occurs, and some children take wrong steps to overcome embarrassment. This a serious issue. That’s why we thought of narrating this story in a musical format,” he said. Though the film tackles a serious issue, the makers clarified that this two-hour long film is packed with entertainment. It features 11 songs and a musical dialogue. "You will laugh, cry and dance while watching it. It will make you look back to times when you danced," he added. Besides usual songs, the film also features three original tracks from the classic play, The Sound of Music, which were orchestrated by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and later converted to cinema. When asked how he could use those songs, Biyyala explained, “We took the rights of the songs from The Sound of Music and lifted them as is. Ilaiyaraaja supervised these songs and the background score was shot in Budapest. These songs have not been portrayed in a way it was done in the cinema in 1965.” The film also marks the debut of singer Shaan, who has sung several hits like Tanha Dil, Wo Ladki Hai Kahaan, Chand Sifarish and Bum Bum Bole, among others. It also features actors Sharman Joshi, Shriya Saran, Prakash Raj, Ozu Barua and Gracy Goswami in relevant roles. Music School will release in Hindi, Tamil and Telegu on May 12.

  • Why Met Gala'23 was special for India?

    American supermodel Naomi Campbell turned up in a pink saree-inspired gown. The dress code for Met Gala 2023 was 'in honor of Karl'. The entertainment industry becomes one big stage at red carpet events. This year's Met Gala event was one such platform where actors from different countries walked the red carpet. It was also a special one for India. It was the time when two Indian actors, Priyanka Chopra and Alia Bhatt, walked the Met Gala red carpet. But that's not all. People also saw a glimpse of saree at the event. It was American supermodel Naomi Campbell who turned up in a pink saree-inspired dress for the special night. Naomi's dress was a take on draped saree with silver sequins. It was a rare Chanel archival look that featured a pallu, which was carefully draped over the supermodel's left shoulder. The gown also featured a slit at the back. Naomi completed the look with silver arm cuffs and metallic strappy heels. This year, the theme at the Met Gala was 'Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty'. Lagerfeld, 85, died in 2019. He spent decades creating clothes for Balmain, Patou, Chloe, Fendi and Chanel in addition to his own namesake label. Naomi, who has regularly made appearance at the Met Gala, is also a regular visitor to India. She first came to India in 1994 and since then, the supermodel has regularly visited the country, with her recent one in April 2023. Her Met Gala look speaks remarkably on this love that she holds for India.

  • Spain Embassy celebrates World Book Day in India

    Embassy of Spain in India celebrated the World Book Day in India. It joined hands with Penguin Random House in India to bring Spain’s culture and literary works to India. A concert was also organised in this regard. The Embassy of Spain recently celebrated the World Book Day in India in collaboration with Penguin Random House. With this, the embassy opened the doors for book lovers in India to have a better access to Spanish literature. Penguin Random House in India has published Spanish classics in India, making these books easily accessible as well as affordable for India’s Spanish speaking population. Every year, April 23 marks the World Book Day in Spain. On this day, every book lover was offered a flower on the purchase of a book. The embassy and Penguin Random House India collaborated with 11 bookstores of four Indian cities and participated in this Spanish tradition, commemorating St. George’s Day in India. The embassy also gave its Indian audiences a glimpse of some of the books of Spanish writers to experience this cultural treat. A concert was organised where Spanish performers took the centre stage at Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. Soprano Minerva Moliner and pianist Alejandro Picó-Leonís performed 'art songs' on poems having a theme of love and roses. Talking about their performance, Picó-Leonís shared, “This is our first visit to India. The World Book Day has an exchange of books and roses. This theme works beautifully with our programme. We too are performing on some sensual poems by famous poets that talk about love and roses.” An art song is a special musical genre prevelant in Europe. Viennese composer Franz Schubert set the basis of this repertoire where famous poems written by accomplished writers were chosen and converted to melody using piano. The duo performed on a total of 22 compositions written by Spanish poet Federico García Lorca and Spanish composers Joaquín Turina, Fernando Obradors, Enrique Granados and Eduard Toldra. While Moliner enacted the songs, Picó-Leonís supported her with piano accompaniment. Gaurav Shrinagesh, CEO, Penguin Random House India and Southeast Asia revealed details about the genre of books that would be available to Indian readers. “Penguin is pleased to collaborate with the Embassy of Spain to bring some of the greatest, most timeless literary works in the original Spanish language to Indian readers. It is only art, culture and literature that let us transcend borders and come together as a larger community, and Spanish is one of the more popular foreign languages in India. So, it was only a matter of time before original Spanish-language books found their way into our bookstores and bookshelves," he said. Several representatives of the diplomatic community, including several European, Latin American and US Ambassadors attended the event.

  • Add panache to your wardrobe

    Fashion designer Shilpi Gupta’s latest collection offers a range of traditional and contemporary outfits, and blends Indian embroidery and craft. Think of a wedding and everyone from a bride to her mother, sister, sister-in-law and aunt want something unique. Though there are plenty of stores in the market, seldom do we come across the one that caters to the needs of every member. Keeping pace with the changing preferences, fashion designer Shilpi Gupta launched her latest collection ‘Aks: The Reflection’ in Delhi. The collection was inspired by the Indian weddings. “Weddings in India are such a grand affair and I thought of adding my style to these weddings to make them stylish. I have tried to create different outfits for different functions: be it shagun, haldi, mehendi, cocktail party or the D-day. These cater to young brides as well her family,” she shares, while talking about the collection. The collection blends Indian embroidery and craft. In fact, she is one of the designers who eyes Indian art and architecture and uses them in her designs. “We are a very artsy brand. We want to create art in our collection and are constantly thinking of new concepts. We take inspiration from paintings and palaces instead of focusing on prints,” she clarifies. This collection is also high on art. It is divided into two parts: traditional and contemporary. “The classic look in this collection is in the form of Banarasi sarees that have been created using a chandi ki taar and sone ki polish. I have added gold hint to several outfits to match their look to Indian aesthetics,” she says. To create traditional outfits, Gupta used velvet, moga silk and raw silk. However, for contemporary ones, she introduced fabric from Milan and New York to show the two sides of the world. Both collections are unique in their own ways. While traditional outfits accompany age-old techniques, contemporary outfits include unique draping techniques. For instance, semi-precious stones and crystals have been used in a lehenga that comes with a jacket and dupatta. Besides the techniques, the designer’s outfits come in different styles, cuts and colours. When asked why she played introduced such diversity in outfits, she stressed that this was done to not only make the outfits available to brides, but their mothers, aunts and even bhabhis. “Till date, in a lot of Indian communities (like Marwadis), mothers wear lehengas. So, I created the classic and heritage look for mothers and a lehenga with a coat is for today’s modern brides. That’s why the entire collection comes in different colours. These outfits are also designed keeping cultural values of different communities in mind. That’s why none of them have deep cuts in blouses and all come with sleeves,” she shares. This collection is further diversified into two segments: Sitara and Gota. Sitara pays an ode to today's Indian woman. It uses unconventional fabrics, innovative embroidery techniques, unusual ornamentation, and chic colour palette. Gota is inspired by the traditional technique of weaving or applying gold metallic yarns into the fabric. The entire collection is available at the designer’s store in Defence Colony, New Delhi.

  • From weed to wonder

    Plant lovers hate to see weeds in their plants. But this brand capitalised on the strength of lantana weeds and used them to make innovative lighting fixtures. Gaurav Rai, Owner, Oorjaa, throws light on his brand and how his team of designers convert a weed into wonderful lights… Tell us about your brand Oorjaa and what makes your lights so special? Oorjaa uses lantana to design lights. Lantana is a weed, an ornamental flower, grown in the forests of the Nilgiri belt in India. This weed has caused animal and human conflict in the region where it grows. Due to its expansiveness, animals are not able to move through the jungles. They also make the jungles dense and because of which, animals come into human conflict. Oorjaa works with non-governmental organisations and tribals in the region to de-weed lantana weeds and use them to design lights. How are these weeds used? These weeds come in the form of sticks. After we source these weeds, we remove their thorns and boil the sticks in hot water. Once they get boiled, they become softer. It then becomes easy to bend and mould them into different shapes and structures. That’s how we skull interesting designs and lighting fixtures out of them. Why did you choose lantana as your go-to material? Not many people know but almost 40% of India’s forests are infested with lantana. They hamper the biodiversity of the area. Lantana weeds create problems for animals, especially elephants, who are not able to eat this weed. Since their sticks have thorns on them, they curtail the movement of elephants and cause scratches on their skin. Lantana is also a hard weed, which makes it a waste material that cannot be fed to animals. We chose it because these flaws make it a sustainable material. It’s a lot more sturdier than bamboo. Bamboo is grown and then its cut, whereas since lantana is a waste material. Since you are using a weed in designing, isn’t there an issue with the product's longevity? Longevity is not a concern. However, these fixtures are best to be kept indoor/semi-indoor (like balconies and other semi-covered areas). We suggest not to place them outside for a long period. This is because they tend to dry up like a stick, which may break them. Lantana has been available in India for a long time. Why are designers exploring this material now? Lantana is a sustainable material. Designers take up sustainable materials when there’s a market for it. People now-a-days are a lot more conscious of what they buy and that’s why there is a market for such products. Besides lantana, what other sustainable materials do you work with? We use banana fibres in lights. We buy these fibres, boil them and make a pulp out of it. We then roll sheets of paper from it. Each sheet of paper is hand-made and hand crushed, which makes it a labour-intensive process.

  • Scrub off skin troubles with sugar

    Adding sugar to your meal is considered unhealthy. But this sweet ingredient does wonders to your skin when used as a scrub. In the era of au naturel, sugar is the best natural ingredient that helps in skin exfoliation. Sugar scrubs off dirt from your pores and helps rejuvenate the skin. This is why, it can be used to create scrubs at home without creating a hole in your pocket. In summers, our skin suffers a lot due to change in weather. Skin problems, acne as well as pigmentation, are at peak. In a bid to save our skin from damage, we run to salons. But do you know that the solution lies in your home? There are DIY scrubs that you can make on your own at home using sugar. Some easy ones to try are: Coffee and sugar scrub Coffee with sugar tastes great and even better when used as a scrub. Coffee helps tighten skin and sugar gently removes dead skin cells and ingrown hair. This scrub also helps lighten the skin tone and get rid of pigmentation. Lemon, honey and brown sugar scrub Not many people know that brown sugar has a natural anti-aging effect on the skin. It does not allow toxins to attack your skin cells, thereby helps in slowing down the ageing process. Combine brown sugar, lemon and honey and massage the mix to your face and neck. Cucumber and sugar scrub Sunburns are quite common during summers. To ease the damage on the skin, blend cucumbers, coconut oil and sugar and apply on your affected area of your body. The antioxidants present in cucumbers help reduce discolouration, thereby rejuvenating the skin, leaving it soft and supple. Kiwi and sugar scrub Skin loses glow during summers due to harmful ultraviolet rays and scorching heat. Kiwi and sugar scrub is a great way to lock moisture in the skin and maintain its glow. Blend kiwi into a paste by removing its skin and add sugar and a few drops of olive oil to the mix. Massage it to your face and neck in circular motion for 2-3 minutes. This scrub will give you a more youthful skin. Olive oil and sugar scrub Sugar also helps in getting rid of dark patches that usually develop on elbows and knees. This problem worsens with time. To overcome embarrassment, apply a paste of olive oil and sugar to your elbows and knees. Massage the area for 2-3 minutes for best results.

  • Design rules for your home

    Thinking of making your haven heavenly but are unable to keep up with the trends? Shreeya Jagtap, Design Crew Manager, West Elm and Pottery Barn, shares some ongoing and upcoming trends. Home improvement projects can be daunting for homeowners. People find it difficult to keep up with the trends in the fast-changing interior design industry. This keeps them away from experimentation and doing home refurbishment. To ease your pain, A2zoftrends got in conversation with Sheeya Jagtap from West Elm and Pottery Barn. Excerpts… Designers love playing with colours. What colours are trending in the upcoming season? The upcoming season will see a mix of neutral tones with a statement piece. Neutral colours with one accent piece in olive or navy or a bold statement piece will be stand out. Let’s say, if your sofa is neutral, you can put a bold embroidered accent cushion on it. What are the trending fabrics of the season and how are customers responding to them? From what we seen so far from customers’ standpoint, they want a bit of character to the fabrics. They no longer want to purchase flat fabrics. Texture-based selection is in demand. A lot of duplex and tulle will trend in the upcoming season. Earlier size of a room was taken into consideration while designing. But now, designers ignore proportions. What’s your take? Customers these days are now open to ideas. With Instagram becoming the medium to explore interior design tips and trends, people are getting more open to a maximalist design sense instead of the traditional classic forms. That’s why revamping a room according to size is no longer an issue. Even though your room is small, no one can stop you to put a blue wallpaper or a green ceiling centrepiece. One classic trend that remains valid this season is… A mid-century contemporary trend is an evergreen trend. So, wood finishes like accon finish or smoke wood finish will go well with any trend. How can wall art accentuate the look of a room? People are spending a lot on giving their walls the right look. One thing that they are investing in is art. If you are investing in art, make sure to add a nice frame to the wall art instead of focusing on its price. A framed artwork can easily add a unique look to your walls.

  • Sushma Seth to receive META Lifetime Achievement Award

    The actor has acted in more than 100 films and television serials. She is remembered for her role in Hum Log and Dekh Bhai Dekh aired on Doordarshan. If you are a 90s kid, you would have surely seen actor Sushma Seth on Doordarshan. Who can forget her as Sarla Diwan in Dekh Bhai Dekh or daadi in Hum Log and even Mrs Dharamadhikari in Vansh? Seth was one of the few actors to play a variety of roles – ranging from a grandmother to wife, sister and mother – despite her young age. After completing a teachers training diploma in home science, a science diploma as well as Bachelor of Fine Arts, this veteran actor pursued acting. And, in 1950s, she started performing as stage actor. She performed in several plays such as All the King's Men, Hotel Paradiso, The Little Hut, Saleeb Per Mariam, Taming of the Shrew, etc. In 1964, she started a Delhi-based theatre group ‘Yatrik’ as a co-founder. With this feat, she turned into an actor-cum-director. While being busy in production and acting, she also started a platform to involve children in theatre. In the 1970s, she founded the Children's Creative Theatre. The theatre was involved in making plays such as Make Him Smile, Sitara, Alan and King's Daughters and Little Women, to name a few. While being busy with production and theatre, Seth also turned to films. In 1978, she made her debut with Junoon. She later worked with several prominent actors of the Hindi film industry, including Rishi Kapoor, Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor and Shah Rukh Khan. Seth’s contributions to TV, films and theatre have been exceptional. This is one of the reasons that the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) is applauding the works of this actor and conferring her with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The actor will be felicitated during the award ceremony on March 29 at Kamani Auditorium in the national capital.

  • Remembering Satish Kaushik

    Actor-cum-writer and director Satish Kaushik passed away due to a heart attack in Gurugram early Thursday morning. Here’s a look at his versatile career. It’s rare to see an actor getting into the shoes of a director and writer. Satish Kaushik set a benchmark in this category. Born on 13 April 1956 in Mahendragarh, Haryana, Kaushik’s journey in acting started soon after he joined the Kirori Mal College, Delhi University. He participated in several plays at the college’s theatre society ‘Players’. It was here he realised his love for acting. So after completing his graduation, he joined the National School of Drama and the Film and Television Institute of India, where he pursued a course in acting. Mumbai calling In 1980, Kaushik moved to Mumbai. He got his first break as an actor in 1981 in Chakra that starred Naseeruddin Siddiqui and Smita Patil. Though he was recognised as an actor since his release, he didn’t shy away to try his hand as a writer. In 1983, he wrote the dialogues of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. The film later became a cult classic. The same year, he acted in some of the best films like Woh Saat Din, Masoom, Mandi and Saagar, among others. Big break In 1987, Kaushik joined the cast of Mr India. His role as ‘Calendar’ in Shekhar Kapur’s film garnered him fame like never before. The film won him love from all walks of life and the actor was soon recognised as ‘Calendar’ in Bollywood. Debut as a director In 1993, Kaushik was up for another experiment - donning a director’ hat. He turned director for Sridevi and Anil Kapoor in Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja. He also gave several actors their big break in Bollywood. Among them were Tabu in Prem (1999), Tusshar Kapoor in Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai (2001) and Bhumika Chawla in Tere Naam (2003). He continued his journey as a director till 2021. His last film as a director was Pankaj Tripathi, Vijay Kumar and Mita Vashisht-starrer Kaagaz (2021). Turned David Dhawan’s muse Kaushik was a prominent face in David Dhawan’s films. His comic timing was at par with other comedians of the Hindi cinema. This is what made him the perfect ingredient in Dhawan’s rib-tickling comedies. Kaushik lived up to his name and proved his mettle. His role in Saajan Chale Sasural (Mutthu Swamy), Deewana Mastana (Pappu Pager), Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (Sharafat Ali), Mr. & Mrs. Khiladi (Chanda Mama) and Haseena Maan Jaayegi (Kunj Bihari) was nothing short of remarkable. Being Bollywood’s baddie Kaushik’s versatility wasn’t limited to his skills, but also in terms of the characters that he played on the screen. During the 90s and 2000s, most of the films explored his softer and comic timing, but audiences saw a different side of Kaushik in negative roles. Be it his screen role as Tayaji in Udta Punjab or Manu Mundra in Scam 1992, an ever-so-smiling Kaushik proved his versatility as an actor. Unreleased works Kaushik’s death has been an untimely one. The actor was shooting several films. Among them is Kangana Ranaut-directed Emergency, where he was set to play Jagjivan Ram, the late defence minister. He was also working on a big budget period drama about legendary singer Tansen. Besides this, he was also working to promote Haryana's film industry.

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