Babita Phogat’s Wedding Wishlist Includes Sabyasachi and Manish Malhotra
Babita Phogat, younger of the two medal-winning Phogat sisters of Dangal fame is looking for the right designer to design her wedding lehenga. Speaking over the telephone from Karnal, she says she wants to do all her shopping in the Capital city! On top of her wish list are two designers, Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Manish Malhotra because both designers make beautiful and very glamorous clothes. While she is yet to do a recce, the bride-to-be say she would like to divide her outfits for the various ceremonies between these two designers who are her favourites.
Earlier in June Babita announced on Twitter that she is all set to marry her friend of four years, Vivek Suhag, (also a wrestler from Haryana and a Kesari award winner), in December this year. She posted @SuhagVivek you know its official when you get the blessing from my bapu. Its time for Dilwale to take her Dulhaniya (sic)”. Immediately a slew of congratulations followed with boxer Vijender Singh and actor Randeep Hooda taking the lead to wish the couple. Babita is a bronze medallist at the 2012 World Wrestling Championship and won gold at the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The match is an arranged cum love one with parents and family from both sides happy to give their blessing to the couple. According to Babita, even when their sisters were children, her father and coach Mahavir Singh Phogat, who was played by Aamir Khan in the movie, would say that he would like all his daughters to marry wrestlers because there is always an abundance of food in a wrestler’s home! Babita’s elder sister Geeta is also married to a wrestler, Pawan Kumar from Delhi.
Babita is currently recovering from an injury and plans to qualify for the next Olympics to win a medal for India. Till then, the wedding preparations are enough to keep her on her toes.
Race Course Road Readings
What better time to discuss a political thriller of a novel than just after a thriller of a General Election? Which is why the Bright and the Beautiful of Delhi and Gurgaon congregated at the Quorum Club to listen to a conversation between Seema Goswami, journalist and author of Race Course Road and Brunch Editor, Jamal Sheikh.
The evening at The Quorum club, (organised by Vivek Narain, club owner and impresario) discussed all this and more. Jamal Sheikh, who had clearly done his homework, asked compelling questions about the book, the inspiration behind it and the writing process. He also managed to raise some laughs when he asked Seema who was the better cook: she or her husband, Vir Sanghvi, who is the foodie to beat all the foodies. She said she was the better half in that department! Then came questions from an engaged audience who wanted to know which real-life people the characters were based on but Seema wasn’t telling!
In attendance at this glittering event were celebrities like the foster daughter of Atal Behari Vajpayee, Namita Kaul Bhattacharya accompanied by her husband Ranjan and daughter Niharika. Other guests included Hotelier Kapil Chopra, co-founder of Eazydiner and CEO of Postcard Hotels & Resorts, Sunjae Sharma, the head of Hyatt Hotels, Silki Sehgal of the Oberoi Group, Madhulika Dhall or Madame La Cave as she is known after her wine retail brand and writer Advaita Kala.
For those who haven’t read the book (in which case suggest you do so at the earliest), Race Course Road is a work of fiction set in the world of Indian politics centring around the Prime Ministerial residential complex popularly referred to as RCR in the Capital.
The book begins with an assassination that sets off a power struggle both in the country and within the Prime Minister’s family. His son and heir, Karan Pratap, finds himself pitted against his charismatic younger half-sister Asha Devi. No spoilers here but suffice it to say that the twists and turns of the plot will leave you reading late into the night as you race (no pun intended) to the end.
Rohit Bal’s Fashionable Fight
All of last week saw the fashion fraternity caught up in a storm of words on social media. It all started when Julie Deb, Bal's friend and admirer, shared designer Samant Chauhan’s post from Instagram with a comment calling out the Delhi based designer of plagiarising veteran Rohit Bal’s tiered dress. Chauhan had posted his design on Insta saying they were ready to take orders.
Bal’s friends followed suit and put out angry posts with accusations of willful plagiarism and before you knew it, a designer storm was raging on social media.
Swept up in it with the frenzied taking of sides were Delhi journalists, (journalist Chinki Sinha, in particular, was the first to question Bal’s claim to originality). Soon Varija Bajaj, another Delhi based designer who had commented on the thread too was dragged into the plagiarism debate.
The spirited social media exchange quickly descended into an ugly spat with accusations flying fast and furious between Bal and his friends versus others who spoke in support of Chauhan and argued that Bal’s tiered dress was, in fact, a silhouette, of the Arab garment, jalabia and as such could not be patented.
What stoked the fire was Sinha pointing out that even her darzi could also make the same outfit, unleashing outrage among Bal’s fans.
Speaking on the matter, businessman Ranjit Grewal, a close friend of Bal said, "I spoke out both because Gudda is a dear friend whose creativity is unquestioned. But there is also the larger issue of copying designs which happens in the fashion world all the time. Plagiarism is a serious matter. Being inspired by other designers work happens but if it looks like an outright copy of someone else's work it is wrong. Rohit Bal will always be an original artist and his work should be respected."
Chauhan chose to play it down with his studied repartee, again on social media, “I feel it doesn’t set a good precedent for fashion designers who must be responsible in how they view women. It is sad. I am in fact in shock at this misogyny and how it is being condoned by his friends. We could debate the design patent laws in a civilised manner without resorting to bullying and targeting women and saying they were my friends is not in good taste.”
Following the social media war and the criticism it fetched him, Bal apologised tweeting, “Didn’t mean to offend any women.” Finally it all ended with Gudda’s repentant post announcing a truce “I would never bully any ladies. It’s not in my nature……let’s bury the hatchet and let there be peace.”
The Young and the Restless Among Politicians
All of 24 years old, Gurmehar Kaur, the student from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, also the author of Small Acts of Freedom is now ready with her new book The Young and the Restless: Youth and Politics in India.
The book follows the journeys of eight young political leaders from India, their aspirations for the country's youth, their aspirations for themselves and, most importantly, their aspirations for the nation.
While she refuses to pick a favourite, here is what she has to say of the young politicians she interviewed. “Sachin Pilot was very polite and proper but did not let his guard down for a minute. I really wish he had opened up during the conversation. I found Jignesh Mevani difficult to interview because he just wouldn’t take me seriously. I think it was because he has known me during his time in student politics so there was a familiarity which made him talk about his thwarted love story, his conversation veered to both personal and political which were intertwined for him. Akhilesh Yadav kept rescheduling so that gave me some tense moments. The most fun and enjoyable and easy person to interview was Aditya Thackeray. It was the easiest to write. Shehla Rashid has mentored me in a non-intrusive way so that was a unique interaction. There were many things we talked about - being women, Kashmir connections and our journey as student leaders. Raghav Chadha, Omar Abdullah, Saumya Reddy were open in their interactions and forthcoming with their views.”
Gurmehar’s takeaway from her interactions with the political world was, “Activism is very different from politics. Politics is not as clean as it may sound. It is up to us to change it.” When not writing books, Gurmehar says she enjoys tennis and studying. “Maria Sharapova is my icon.” And to the question of what would she like to be in the future, Gurmehar protests, “That’s the worst question you can ask someone who is graduating. I am now going to Oxford for a course in South Asian Studies. Later I want to work in the social sector. But who knows?”
Indian Designers Woo the West
Come summer and the best Indian designers take off for London New York, Los Angeles’ trunk shows, exhibitions and private viewings to popular holiday destinations like London, New York and LA, Europe and the Middle East to woo their NRI clientele. This summer too, many, like senior designer Leena Singh, Manoviraj Khosla, Charu Parasher, Namrata Joshipura and Payal Pratap are packed and touring. Leena Singh has already been to London and in July will be touring the US. Her clientele includes medical hotshots Kiran Gill in London, Ashit Jain in San Francisco, Santosh Gill in Chicago, architect Vicky Lall in Washington DC and business head Anila Midha of New York all well- recognised names in their cities’social circles.
Bengaluru based Manoviraj too who just this week had an exhibition of his menswear gilets (bandees) in London said, “Last year I did a full show at the Rosewood hotel in London. This year I am doing an exhibition that is put together by Kiki Siddiqi who is well known for holding exhibitions in London for many years.”
Kiki, a close friend of designer Ritu Kumar has been hosting haute couture exhibitions for many years. “This year Manoviraj’s bandees have sold really well. Surprisingly three of them were bought by women,” she chuckles.
Ah well, that could well be the fashion forecast for the next season!Read More