India Insight

Room for experimentation at Delhi fashion week

(Any opinions expressed here are not those of Thomson Reuters)

The collection that designer duo Shantanu and Nikhil displayed at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week in New Delhi last week had all the right elements: it was beautiful, it had lehengas and gowns, it looked regal, it looked vintage. It was an instant hit and a big “sold out” note adorned the door of their stall the very next day. Still, a guest remarked, “it didn’t do it for me.”

That’s the way it goes at fashion shows. Most established designers take the safer path, creating garments in their signature styles and adhering to what the world wants now. Few designers experiment or create avant-garde clothing or try something different than what the market knows it wants and would pay to get.

Take Anand Bhushan’s show, “Broken”. The audience looked confused. Did they like what he made? Maybe, but how many of them will buy it? His clothes were made of leather, plastic and acrylic, and he used copper binding. Some of the pieces were welded together. His skirts, gowns, crop tops and jackets were textured and edgy.

“My woman is completely different front the usual anarkali type, and she doesn’t wear all those kind of clothes.” Bhushan said.

A large part of the Indian fashion industry is bridal and traditional wear. And traditionally, Bollywood has set out fashion rules and trends. The tonnes of copied lehengas and saris in markets like Chandni Chowk in New Delhi are proof that customers want what Kareena Kapoor or Aishwarya Rai are wearing.

Photo gallery: Best of Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week

Traditional Indian wear with the latest trends dominated the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW) in New Delhi.

The Autumn/Winter 2014 edition showcased designers such as Tarun Tahiliani and Namrata Joshipira, with Rahul Mishra presenting a collection that won the Woolmark Prize in Milan in February.

Here are highlights in pictures from the fashion week that ended on Sunday:

(Additional reporting by Arnika Thakur, editing by Tony Tharakan; Follow Sankalp on Twitter @sankalp_sp, Arnika @arnikathakur, Tony @TonyTharakan | Disclaimer: This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced in any form without permission)

No anti-Muslim ideology in party – BJP’s Anurag Thakur

Many people see Anurag Thakur, 39, as the youthful face of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the main opposition to the Congress party-led government and the party of prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi. He is the son of the former chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, and was named one of the World Economic Forum’s global young leaders this year.

In an interview with Reuters, Thakur spoke about Modi’s popularity as well as criticisms levelled against him. He also spoke about internal problems at the BJP, the party’s perceptions among Muslims, Congress PM contender Rahul Gandhi and more.

Here are excerpts from an interview:

Q: The BJP has attacked Congress over many issues – price rise and corruption being the biggest. Do you think these problems will be solved if Narendra Modi comes to power?
A: Today, when the country wants someone who has experience, and can deliver, 65 percent people of the country want Modi as the PM. During NDA regime, there was hardly any price rise. There were no charges of corruption against Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his government colleagues.

Movie review: Youngistaan

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Syed Ahmad Afzal’s “Youngistaan” is supposed to be a funny and clever look at the reign of a carefree young man who finds himself sworn in as the prime minister of India.

Abhimanyu Kaul (Jackky Bhagnani), the son of the incumbent premier, is partying one minute and sitting by his dying fathers bedside the next. Our young hero is oblivious to his parent dying of cancer and knows nothing about the vagaries of politics in India, but is still trusted with the highest office in the country.

Abhimanyu’s wardrobe undergoes a transformation — from grungy tees to crisp, linen shirts. He makes rousing speeches at the United Nations and pushes for youth reform. What does not change though, is his whiny girlfriend and her whims and fancies, which the young prime minister insists on fulfilling, even when they are unreasonable and childish.

Not funny – jokes Indian politicians crack

(Any opinions expressed here are not those of Thomson Reuters)

Politicians facing outrage over their comments often say that they didn’t mean what they said to come out that way. Lately in India, they say they were joking.

One of the latest was Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, whose self-confessed attempt at a joke earned him the ire of the Election Commission of India just before the beginning of this year’s elections that could boot the Congress out of power. Addressing a community of labourers in Maharashtra last week, the chief of the Nationalist Congress Party urged listeners to vote twice for his party – and told them how to do it.

“This time, Election in Satara is on 17 and as per my information election here is on 24. So cast your vote on ‘clock’ (party symbol) there and cast your vote on ‘clock’ here. Wipe the ink,” he said, referring to the indelible ink to mark the fingers of people who have voted, noting that people should be able to remove it.

Accomplished women in India face higher risk of domestic violence: study

Women in India who are more educated than their husbands, earn more or are the sole earners in their families face a higher risk of domestic violence than women who are more dependent on their partners, according to a new study.

Much of India is still deeply patriarchal and there are wide gaps in the status of men and women. And this form of violence could be a way for men to reassert their power or maintain social control over their wives to preserve the “status quo” in the relationship, said the study’s author Abigail Weitzman.

Weitzman, a graduate student at New York University, looked at data from the female-only module of India’s National Family Health Survey (NFHS) collected between 2005 and 2006, concentrating on married women.

Markets this week: M&M, GAIL top Sensex losers

By Sankalp Phartiyal and Ankush Arora

India’s benchmark indexes ended lower this week after scaling fresh peaks on Tuesday. The Sensex ended the week down 0.26 percent in its second consecutive week of falls. Indian markets were shut on Monday for a public holiday.

While strong buying by foreign investors bolstered blue chips, profit-booking and worries U.S. interest rates would rise sooner than expected kept shares under pressure.

On Tuesday, Goldman Sachs upgraded Indian shares to “overweight” from “marketweight” and raised its target on the Nifty to 7,600, citing lower external vulnerabilities, and chances of gains ahead of general elections.

Movie Review: Ankhon Dekhi

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

The protagonist in Rajat Kapoor’s “Ankhon Dekhi” will remind you of some relative that you may have encountered at numerous family gatherings — the talkative, eccentric but loveable uncle who arouses mixed emotions.

The rest of the film’s characters, including Bauji’s lovelorn daughter; the babbling, hot-tempered mother; and his brooding brother are all sketched by Kapoor with such affection, that in spite of their quirks and idiosyncrasies, they are recognizable as people in our daily lives.

Bauji, played by Sanjay Mishra, is a travel-agency employee who has an epiphany. He decides to believe only what he experiences and not rely on what other people tell him to make crucial decisions. This causes much upheaval in the lower-middle-class family that he heads. Bauji quits his job, his brother’s family leaves the house, and he is accused of disrespecting religion.

Movie Review: Lakshmi

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Nagesh Kukunoor’s “Lakshmi” is supposed to be a no-holds-barred, searing look at the world of human trafficking and prostitution. The protagonist, a wide-eyed, innocent girl of 14 is sold to a pimp, raped several times, and forced into the flesh trade.

When Lakshmi finally gets the courage to fight back, she finds that the law is not necessarily on her side and the rot is deep inside the system. Kukunoor, who in the past has made films that demonstrated ample sensitivity and emotions, seems to have let go and concentrate merely on shocking and titillating the viewer.

Under the guise of portraying the plight of these women, Kukunoor focuses on blood, gore and stomach-churning violence. He plays a pimp in the film, one who assaults women at will with his weapon of choice — a wooden plank with nails attached.

A Minute With: Rajat Kapoor on ‘Ankhon Dekhi’

Over the past decade, film-maker Rajat Kapoor has found a niche for himself in Bollywood, writing and directing movies that rely more on unusual plots than glamorous movie stars.

His latest film, “Ankhon Dekhi”, has actor Sanjay Mishra playing a man who refuses to believe anything that he hasn’t experienced himself. The film opens in Indian cinemas on Friday.

Kapoor, 53, spoke to Reuters about “Ankhon Dekhi” and why he doesn’t work with Bollywood movie stars.

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