RUBINA’S RADAR | NAME AND FAME SHAMING IN INDIA

RUBINA’S RADAR

India’s Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar, a former political journalist and editor of The Asian Age, is currently in Nigeria, Africa on a business strip, I mean trip. Akbar’s editorial chamber of sexual secrets has flooded the news belts, which ironically, he once controlled. That he tormented women beyond human comprehension, an unabated abuse of his power and gender, in and out of his newsroom for decades, has been brought to light and recounted by journalists Priya Ramani and Ghazala Wahab and many others who are coming forward with their sexual predation stories at work. It hasn’t shocked the men (because they always know) as much as it has the women reading these bone-chilling accounts of sexual perversions and life-altering acts. The Indian government hasn’t yet issued an official statement on Akbar or on the very pertinent and pressing issue of women (and men) being sexually harassed in the work place since the stories broke.

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MJ Akbar | Credit Unknown

A deafening silence is rather typical in our country wherein conditioned, controlled and cautious responses to things that really matter are the norm. Akbar’s grave transgressions as an editor were definitely not a secret when he was appointed minister, but yet he was given governmental charge. Akbar’s editorial harem stories are restricted to making headlines for now but I sincerely hope they don’t get relegated to just that. Corrective, legal action must be taken by the Indian government. An exposé of Akbar’s encounters of the sordid kind is not going to be enough – what happens after by means of unbiased investigations is what will set the tone for all Indians in the future. This is what’s wrong with our Indian sensibilities – we get all amped up about an issue and join conversations online and offline, but then, the momentum peters out. Why? Sexually harassing and tormenting women, or men or anyone, of any gender, race, caste, colour and religion at work or play is NOT OK and this has to stop now.

It is equally disturbing to think that we live in an India that allows a famous figure, a Bollywood one at that, with a well-entrenched public imagery based on celluloid histrionics, far removed from reality, to vilify a man’s believability in a trice. On October 10, 2018, the Bombay High Court quashed the charges levelled against industrialist Ness Wadia by Bollywood actor Preity Zinta with an in-chamber hearing before a division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Bharati Dangre in Mumbai.

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Ness Wadia | Photo: Rubina A Khan

The case involved an altercation the former lovers had at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium whilst their co-owned IPL team, Kings XI Punjab was at play on May 30, 2014. Visits to the Marine Drive police station by Zinta to lodge an FIR against Wadia, a letter to the then police commissioner of Mumbai, Rakesh Maria, stating: “I (Zinta) just want him (Wadia) to be kept away from me so I can live in peace, otherwise one unfortunate day, in a fit of rage, he will kill me and that really scares me,” Facebook posts by her made for sensational headlines, believed all too easy by the country’s populace that vicariously feeds off Bollywood stars’ lives. After such a strongly worded statement to the Mumbai police, one would think Zinta would seek the fastest exit from such a “scary” situation with a court verdict on the case, but it dragged on for four years, and not because of the oft-criticised speed of the Indian judicial system most definitely. Since 2014, it was a case-in-progress, during which Wadia was judged in public for alleged charges that never got off the media carousel, till he was cleared by the Bombay High Court on Wednesday. Can the public defamation, mockery and well-documented humiliation endured during this period ever be quantified in the same measure? I would think not as the internet lives on forever. Not to undermine anyone’s truth here, but does a more visible celebrity’s truth make it the absolute truth?

The current climate in the world is all about speaking your truth, but I fear that’s turning into a dangerous social media sport, an extreme one at that – a name and fame shaming game. The face and voice of India’s Me Too movement, Bollywood actor Tanushree Dutta’s claims of sexual harassment by a senior actor, Nana Patekar in 2008 are being questioned just because she’s vociferously speaking up about it a decade later. Not that she hadn’t reported it to the authorities in 2008 to no avail. As is writer and director Vinta Nanda’s horrific account of being brutalised by actor Alok Nath on Facebook being mocked for her intentions, which is shocking to say the least. Patekar is more famous than Dutta as is Nath versus Nanda and that is where lies the real perpetrator – the fame scale. The blinding imagery of the bigger celebrity in such situations dominates the conversation, even to the extent of determining its outcome, undermining the reality of the lesser famous person in the fray, which is what is happening to Dutta, Nanda and everyone who is outing their perpetrators. It is their choice to speak when, how and about what they want; it’s a fundamental human right. There’s nothing extra about that.

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Tanushree Dutta | Instagram

Why is Dutta’s authenticity of being sexually harassed by men at her work place – a film set – the very means to her livelihood and chosen career path, questionable but Zinta’s stadium fracas with Wadia and her subsequent allegations against him in 2014 are not? Could it be because Dutta’s celebrity is less than Zinta’s, not that Zinta holds any ranking in Bollywood’s top order today? Or that Dutta speaks firmly and consistently, without intimidating media persons? Or because Zinta’s verbosity was more entertaining than Wadia’s passive quietude? Not that Dutta’s case is anywhere similar to Zinta’s, but it does make the visible fame game very questionable, albeit not the issues raised. Dutta lost her career because of Patekar’s gender power play at work and had to reluctantly move to the United States. As author and columnist Shobhaa De rightly said, “I believe Tanushree. She’s not a commodity that comes with an expiry date. There is no expiry date to speak your mind. It is her individual right to speak up, as it is everyone’s else’s too. And I truly think everyone, be it a famous person who has a platform or not, can and should condemn assault.”

How does a version of what happens, or happened to a person, become the holy truth, or not, that defies all legalese and the laws of the land against the other? Elementally, anyone can “post a truth” at any time and take anyone down in this digitally-powered world today and that is not comforting at all. And, if you’re in the million-plus followers club, paid or unpaid, it is a digital assassination of the person that is being mentioned in the post, the repercussions of which are irrevocably damaging and fatal. Worse still, if the person mentioned is not on social media, then they’re damned before they even have a chance to grasp the situation and speak in their defence. And that’s wretchedly unfair. They should be heard, and not vilified instantaneously by one-dimensional versions on social feeds. But that’s tragically lost in the cacophonous web of “whoever is the loudest and more visible face wins”.

To relay and report voices in the media is as important as the material those very voices choose to put out on social platforms, without any investigations on anyone’s part, including the authorities, save the lone voice letting it all out. By the time investigations come about, it’s already too late to do any kind of damage control for the other person, given everyone loves a story more than the truth today. Access to social media should not turn it into an armed weapon of human destruction by the user or make it an accomplice in their digital crimes and vendettas. That is so very wrong for victims who have but that voice to help them speak up, which is what is happening today. It’s not just about the Me Too movement worldwide, but all aspects of a tell-all in today’s digital era spiralling out of control, leaving an irreversible trail of hashtag insta-deaths. In a world that’s still struggling to drink responsibly, is it too much to tell our truths honourably?

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©Rubina A Khan 2018

RUBINA’S RADAR | FRIEZE IN LONDON, PUMPKIN SPICE SEASON IN NEW YORK AND BESPOKE EYEBROWS IN MUMBAI

RUBINA’S RADAR

It’s time to Frieze in London. Nicky and Robert Wilson, co-founders of the Jupiter Artland Foundation are hosting a cocktail at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London tomorrow, October 4, to celebrate ten years of the Scottish sculpture park and the launch of their anniversary publication, The Generous Landscape: Ten Years of Jupiter Artland at Frieze 2018. Artists Phyllida Barlow, Charles Jencks and Antony Gormley will be toasting to the Wilsons’ artistic decade alongside Maria Balshaw CBE, the first female Director of the Tate art museums and galleries since January 2017 and Iwona Blazwick, Director of the Whitechapel Gallery who discovered Damien Hirst in the nineties, the UK’s richest living artist today.

Jupiter Artland

Jupiter Artland

It’s pumpkin spice season in New York and Meera Gandhi of the Giving Back Foundation hosted an afternoon soiree on September 22 in honour of HRH Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, at her Park Avenue townhouse, more famous as the erstwhile historic home of former US First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. The guest of honour, Prince Edward, tenth in line to the British throne, was in the United States to promote the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award that supports physical fitness, mental strength and advances sports amongst the youth. Gandhi’s foundation works with empowering women and children with education and investing in their well-being, so it was an advantageous meeting between Prince Edward and her, with the future of the youth dominating the conversation.

“It was indeed a big honor and privilege for my family and my guests to receive Prince Edward at my home. It was a wonderful gathering, enjoyed by all the guests who attended like Marla Maples, Jill Zarfin, Peter Brown and many more,” said Meera from New York. Aside from her philanthropic endeavours, Gandhi has been creating a fragrance in France called Giving with notes of Sicilian Bergamot, Myrrh Oil Nambia, and Sandalwood from Mysore that she launched only recently.

Suman Jalaf is the woman behind London’s most defined and arched brows, including the original supermodel Kate Moss. Jalaf is irrepressibly the eyebrowist du jour with a very busy Beauty Atelier in Chelsea known for her bespoke brow and microblading services. On meeting Jalaf, I thought of how Oprah Winfrey had turned Romanian aesthetician, Anastasia Soare, into a go-to identity on her chat show by stating that she flew to Anastasia in Los Angeles from Chicago for her eyebrows! After that very public endorsement by Winfrey, Soare has since launched Anastasia Beverly Hills, a beauty empire that has the highest earned media value on Instagram. And she still does Winfrey’s brows and the Kardashians too.

She jetted into India for a Mumbai minute the past week and boy, was she busy! She worked on the brows of one of India’s most beautiful stars, Deepika Padukone, amongst many other eyebrows in Mumbai, including mine, and she was quite taken in with Padukone’s natural poise and humility. “Deepika is so humble! She’s such a big Bollywood star and I wasn’t expecting her to be so relaxed and easy. I am very happy she loved my work and that’s what matters to me really,” said Jalaf, who intends to come back to Mumbai with a brow tour early 2019. The Indian origin Jalaf, with a “kothi” in Punjab, is based in London, but she has loyalists in Switzerland, South Africa and the Middle-East, with her next brow tour stop being Doha, Qatar at the end of the month. I love my “Suman Brows” so much that I’m afraid I’ll have to start flying to her too like Winfrey flew to Anastasia!

Hasleen Kaur, Miss India Earth 2011, is a regular on fashion runways. But she took on a new avatar recently turning into a master of ceremonies at the Tissot x Virat Kohli Chrono XL launch. Looking statuesque and beautiful in a midnight blue Pankaj and Nidhi dress, Kaur compered the evening with a congenial flair that is quintessentially her. “I was very nervous as it was my first time compering an event. As a model, I am paid to walk the ramp, but this was fun getting paid to talk on stage. It’s another dimension of my personality that I can now explore,” said Kaur.

Kaur is also a big proponent of returning clothes that she wears for work events, which is rare in the entitled times we live in. “I truly don’t think one should keep the garments that stylists pull for you for events because it’s a loss of revenue to the designers and brands and I’m not comfortable with that. And honestly, even if I were to keep the clothes, I probably would not wear them again and then where would I keep all these garments anyway with my overflowing wardrobe?” It’d be a fashionably sound world if the gratis brigade would just talk and walk like Kaur.

Disclaimer: Any part of the content on the rubinaakhan.com website cannot be reproduced without prior permission and crediting the website and the author.

©Rubina A Khan 2018

Indian Realty Adjusts To New Realities | Gulf News

Luxury realty is the obsessive reality of the moneyed order. Spending money is the only currency that fortifies the social standing of the affluent – both on the Forbes list and off it. Real estate buys and sells make for a fiscal haven in these propitious months of the Indian calendar, but this time around, there are no buyers. The Indian realty index is stable, but it doesn’t compare to what it was prior to demonetization. The immediacy in the market is non-existent but it remains a lucrative market for investors, expats in particular, after the sharp depreciation of the rupee. But time is the key component at play here. Buying property today equals buying time too as a vital appendage.
GULF NEWS COLUMNA luxury apartment in Mumbai valued at Rs70 million will sell, eventually, but time will play a starring role in the sale today. Slashed to Rs55 million at a sizeable paper loss to the owner, it’ll sell within six months to a year. Cutting losses on luxury property investments was unthinkable, the crash of 2008 notwithstanding. I wouldn’t call this a seller’s market – it’s the buyers that decide the when and the where, with no ready money in the market. Realty purchases are entirely need-based and not investment-based, barring corporates who have the money and readily-available loans to enable their investments. Individual investors shirk buying as that entails endless tax probes and exhausting paperwork.

Realty projects are akin to a big Bollywood production that’s high on the collaborative trend today, making for sound business strategy, sharing profits and losses in the entertainment business. This seems to have found favour with realty developers too. But developers don’t really have a choice unlike Bollywood producers who can swing an independent film with Salman Khan playing the lead at whim. They’re compelled to co-build, sitting on overpriced plots that aren’t feasible to build on one’s own financial steam with the continued deceleration of money in the market. Few independent developers build in the luxury segment today. Co-building is a profitable proposition for developers but it makes it a larger liability for buyers to commit to new constructions.

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Under construction development in Mumbai | Photo: Rubina A Khan

India’s leaning more towards luxury rentals than luxury buys. Selling seems impossible. The return of investments on purchased property through leasing is abysmal, and not even marginally close to purchase costs. Reselling isn’t easy either. Future-forward individuals are now choosing to rent luxury homes with all the trappings versus buying. Fiscally, it’s more conducive to live the luxe life without a home owner’s liabilities. The freedom to shift in and out of cities, upsize and upgrade to glamorous homes and neighbourhoods when the mood strikes far outweighs setting up immoveable roots in one place – and all of it with clean bank transfers that comply with realty regulations.

Green is the new luxe word and agricultural neighborhoods is the trend du jour. India being an agrarian economy can take to agri-hoods swiftly, integrating agriculture into residential neighborhoods with working farms and green space. Agri-hoods suit the natural Indian landscape and will appeal to environment-conscious, rich millennials who are always seeking the “next level” in their lives. Living concepts of clean eating, organic produce, solar energy, climate change, rainwater harvesting and the great outdoors with fresh air are selling successfully through smart adverts worldwide. Under-construction properties advertise zealously with a definitive emphasis on green cover and integrating sustainable and organic food produce everyday – a miniscule attempt, but important nevertheless. Full-scale agri-hoods is the future of luxury realty and building agri-hoods will unify Indian community living.

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Under construction development in Mumbai | Photo: Rubina A Khan

Art that no longer hangs on a wall or is vulgarly placed in the middle of a room nor discussed in hushed tones, but tactile art is taking over luxury realty. Established and emerging artists are designing not just pieces of art, but entire residences, harmonizing their artistic voices with the distinct individualism of home owners. Fashion couturiers Rohit Bal and Tarun Tahiliani are both engaged in residential design, adding their genius to concrete. Fashion and art create a historical archive of the times we live in.

Architecture is almost incongruent to individualism with high-rises taking over Indian metros, cities and towns. But the highest honor in the architectural world – the Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate – went to an Indian for the first time this year. Professor Balkrishna Doshi won the honor for his deeply personal and poetic architecture that touches lives of every socio-economic class across a broad spectrum of genres. If only the Indian realty business could turn a page as poetic as his works in its design ethos.

This feature first appeared in Gulf News on September 29, 2018

©Rubina A Khan 2018

RUBINA’S RADAR | THE INDIAN RUPEE IS WEAK, BUT DELHI’S LOTUS MAKEUP INDIA FASHION WEEK SS19 AIN’T!

RUBINA’S RADAR

Paris Fashion Week kicked off with a Christian Dior show on September 24 in Bois de Boulogne in Paris. But what’s making more headlines than the French luxury label right now is Italian fashion house, Versace, of the famed Medusa head, with the impending Michael Kors buyout. Dior’s Creative Director, Maria Grazia Chiuri’s centerstage fashion and dance extravaganza left everyone breathless, but not more than her ethereal, bespoke designs for Italian fashion force, Chiara Ferragni’s wedding in Noto, Italy earlier on in September this year who chose Dior over every other fashion house for her special day. That’s had me screaming J’adore since. Rumour also has it that the SS19 collection in Paris was Chiuri’s last one for Dior.

American fashion designer, Michael Kors is getting ready to buy out Versace, headquartered in Milan, next week for approximately $2 billion after buying the designer shoe company, Jimmy Choo for roughly $1.2 billion in 2017.

This fashionable, not to mention consolidatory move of Kors will strengthen his position as an American powerhouse to European giants like Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) that owns 70 houses, with $50 billion in revenues in 2017 and Kering that have dominated the fashion industry with brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci. Donatella Versace has been running Versace ever since the murder of her brother, Gianni Versace in 1997, the founder of the fashion house.

It’s always been a Paris versus Milan situation for fashion forwards, quite like the Mumbai and Delhi fashion weeks in India, but it’s always fashion that rules the runway regardless of geographical optics. The October Spring Summer 2019 edition of India Fashion Week, presented by the Fashion Design Council of India, takes on a new name – Lotus Makeup India Fashion Week with Lotus Makeup as its title sponsor. LMIFW takes place from October 10 to October 13 2018 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi. “Lotus is a leading make-up and skincare brand and what makes this partnership exciting is that it is a homegrown brand with indigenous offerings, which are rooted in India just like our constant endeavours to celebrate the innate Indian-ness in our design spheres,” says Sunil Sethi, President of the FDCI. LMIFW SS19 will see a Japanese designer showcase his designs, a first, on the Delhi runway and a triumvirate of designers together – Rajesh Pratap Singh, Rohit Gandhi & Rahul Khanna and Ashish N Soni, telling India what’s next on the fashion landscape in a sponsored show by LMIFW’s associate sponsor, Nexa.

Sunil Sethi, President FDCI

International beauty brands like Maybelline and Fiama Di Wills have sponsored India Fashion Week in the past, but this is the first time an authentically Indian beauty brand, Lotus Makeup, is collaborating with the FDCI’s India Fashion Week as its title sponsor. The sponsorship will add a definitive edge to Lotus Makeup’s thriving beauty business, an integral part of the fashion business. Given the crazed obsessions of beauty and fashion worldwide, this is a fiscal win for both. Add natural, sustainable and vegan beauty products that are cruelty-free with zero animal testing to Lotus Makeup’s beauty currency and you’ve got an Indian company that is fashionably on trend.

Abhishek Bachchan’s voluntary breather from acting saw him ironically breathe love and life in Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyaan as Robby a couple of Fridays ago. Kashyap is obviously happy with his narrative resonating with the audiences who’ve loved the film. The film is a lighter shade of love in comparison to his previous romantic dramas like Dev D (2009) and Gangs Of Wasseypur (2012) that celebrated dark loving. “This is the lightest shade of love that I can get. I need to keep it real. I can’t see myself making unrealistic films with no connection to the lives we all live. I now conserve my energies more for work than anything else and it seems to be working. Though, finding some semblance of importance in my teen-aged daughter’s life is another thing altogether,” laughs Kashyap over the phone from Strasbourg, France. “I’m delighted with the engaged response to Manmarziyaan and more so for my actors, Abhishek (Bachchan), Vicky (Kaushal) and Taapsee (Pannu) who portrayed them just so.”

So does Manmarziyaan indicate a more loved-up state of films from him, with say Salman Khan playing the lead? “Oh, that’s not going to happen as Salman is upset with me, but of course I would love to work with him,” he says nonchalantly. Whatever for? “Well, I was supposed to direct him in Tere Naam almost 18 years ago and I asked him to grow his chest hair and somehow, that did not go down well with him. We haven’t spoken since. I reckon he’s still mad at me though I am not sure. I’ve never told anyone about this but then again, it’s been a decade and more,” says the filmmaker.

Chest hair, really?

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©Rubina A Khan 2018

RUBINA’S RADAR | A LITTLE GLAMOUR NEVER HURT NOBODY

RUBINA’S RADAR

The Beyoncé of the beauty business is celebrity makeup lines. Everyone’s got one or wants one, not Bey of course. Lip Kits, Kyshadows, Kylighters and what have you for that Calabassas glow-up by the 21-year-old billionairess on the block, Kylie Jenner and her company, Kylie Cosmetics, founded in 2016 to Kim Kardashian West’s KKW Beauty and fragrances that launched in June 2017 to Jennifer Lopez’s 70-piece limited edition collaboration with Inglot in April 2018 to Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line that dropped in September 2017 – every girl in the world is obsessed with these race, gender and colour inclusive beauty products that make you look like the glam goddesses pushing them. Not only do they make you look and feel beautiful, they’re selling out in seconds globally with every new collection drop! It seems like everyone wakes up to makeup with these celebrity lines!

It’s taken India a while to get on the collaborative beauty carousel aside from the passé promotional posts on Instagram where everybody’s an advertorial beauty advisor, trying to Kontour like a Kardashian. As if! Lakmé India’s stepped up its beauty game by dropping its first ever celebrity makeup line with Bollywood’s most original and enviable pout – Kareena Kapoor Khan in August 2018. Taimur Ali Khan’s haute mom’s limited edition collection – Shades Of A Diva, the Kareena Kapoor Khan Signature Lakmé Absolute Range celebrates Indian skin tones and beauty vivacity with Pout Definers (duh!), Face and Cheek Contours, Waterproof Lip Definers and the works. What’s missing though is a definitive Khan Kajal for our beauteous Indian eyes. At least some of those ghastly makeup video wanna shines can now Kontour like Kareena or Pout like Poo, with a makeup range designed for Indian skin tones, curated and endorsed by a Bollywood star, the biggest magnet of all. Let’s see if this celebrity collection is a blockbuster in the beauty market and the kind of numbers it pulls in with her name.

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Kareena Kapoor Khan | Lakme

India’s grand couturier Rohit Bal’s giving “Are you wearing Rohit” a whole new essence ever since he dropped his own fragrance line for men and women in February this year. Bal launched an Arab essential, Oudh and Aab for men and Vana and Oas for women. Bal is known to experiment with his inherent talents, having collaborated on an exquisite home decor line with Good Earth in November 2016, an extension of his 2015 Husn-E-Taairat couture collection. In keeping with his indomitable spirit for artistic excellence, Bal’s velvety, luxurious fragrances add another dimension to his creative pursuits marking an impressive debut in the beauty business. Bal’s Oudh is enchanting and as seductive as the Arabian originals in the Middle East. What’s a desert country like Dubai without the exotic Oudh wafting through its architectural modernisms anyway? Wearing Rohit Bal apparel and couture is de rigueur, but the fragrance line has taken Bal to another level of luxe altogether. What’s next? A makeup collaboration?

Whilst on all things glamorous, flying to exotic locales is quintessential to fashion forwards worldwide. The Wadia Group’s domestic airline, Go Air, is all set to go international come October 2018 with direct flights to two of the world’s most fashionable and luxe destinations – Male, Maldives and Phuket, Thailand from Mumbai and New Delhi. Go Air’s direct flights to both Male and Phuket from Mumbai will definitely put an end to the stretched nights spent at the Mumbai airport flying into Male via Colombo at unearthly hours on SriLankan Airlines. In this demonetised Indian economy, I had to read the tempting introductory fares twice over to believe them. The Wadia Group launched Go Air in November 2005 as a low-fare domestic airline operating over 230 daily flights across 23 destinations. Taking flight as an international airline in October 2018 after 14 years of domestic operations, is a great move forward for the company and one of great pride for India.

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Go Air | Photo: Rubina A Khan

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©Rubina A Khan 2018

RUBINA’S RADAR | DESI GIRL PRIYANKA CHOPRA’S OFFICIAL NEW CHOKRA IS PARDESI BOY NICK JONAS

RUBINA’S RADAR

There’s been a lot of hip-holding of Priyanka Chopra’s pageant-winning waist by American musician Nick Jonas in New York, Mumbai, Brazil, Singapore and London that made for super photographs splashed across tabloids in recent months. Chopra was, after all, the Jealous singer’s and erstwhile Disney actor’s new love – he being the guy who’d dated Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Kate Hudson, maybe even the stunning Kendall Jenner and former Miss Universe Olivia Culpo before her. Chopra had only been dating the Dallas-born Nicholas Jerry Jonas for a haute second, and then, bam! An engagement!

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Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas | Photo: Instagram

She played desi girl to the hilt with her pardesi boy Jonas flying down to Mumbai with his parents, Denise and Paul Kevin Jonas Sr for the roka ceremony. The pre-wedding ceremony held at her Juhu home was all about honouring Indian family traditions and culture and loving an American guy, amidst family and friends. More family, less friends. It was attended by the 55th richest person in the Forbes World Billionaire list 2018, Mukesh Ambani, and his wife Nita and daughter Isha and Bollywood’s almost number one actor, Alia Bhatt among others. Bollywood’s presence of popular faces was minimal here. Even Karan Johar who is literally everywhere, was on foreign shores and couldn’t strike a pose and pout for the assembled photographers on the Juhu street, but his congratulatory bouquet of flowers did make it to the photo grids. Same difference. The claims that Chopra and Jonas wanted to keep it private and low-key don’t quite match up with the calculated release of information and photographs by the machinery. A supposedly quiet visit to an orphanage, St. Catherine’s in Mumbai the morning after the ceremony not only had pictures circulating, but videos of the same posted by Jonas himself. Millennial super girl Kylie Jenner fell in love with Travis Scott, made baby Stormi and racked up billions during her pregnancy more discreetly than the engaged adults here. And closer home, Salman Khan is being human sans any visual mementos of his philanthropy.

Chopra has a definitive style when it comes to her fashion stakes, aided by Hollywood stylist Cristina Ehrlich and of late, Mimi Cuttrell, the 25-year-old primary stylist to Palestinian-Dutch-American model Gigi Hadid. Interestingly, there was no fashion to talk about really at the ceremony or the subsequent party by Chopra, but the loved-up photographs of the newly-engaged couple made for the ultimate fashion statement here, with diamonds of course.

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Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas | Photo: Instagram

To go from being in love with an Indian man on the right side of 50 to a JoBro of 25 was a bit sudden, if anything. As far as her love life went, there was no talk of it in the West prior to her Jonas coupling, although Mumbai knew very well of a love affair, albeit unofficially, that was storming inside of her, never mind where she lived or where she worked – Bollywood or Hollywood. But she’s now spoken for and all that Bollywood tumult seems behind her today. And as their initials NP go, there seems to be no problem or objection to this coupling, aside from some favourable and unfavourable comparisons to her last unofficial superstar boyfriend.

Chopra conquered Bollywood armed with her Miss World crown and winning smile only to power through Hollywood headlining a television series, Quantico, and now, with this East-West coupling, she seems like she’s going to be settling down happily ever after in Grammywood. She wants it all – crowns, endorsements, films, television, music, love, marriage – and is sure getting it all too. The newly-engaged couple are looking to wed on Jonas’ 26th birthday on September 16 after he popped the question on her 36th birthday on July 18 in London. There’s no word on the city, country or venue of their wedding yet and what place on Earth they will call home either.

The future Mr and Mrs Jonas are sure to make great music together, and make even better pictures in the times to come. The very fact that she’s an accomplished singer herself having cut a few tracks of her own, to fall for a musician, comes as no surprise really. And, he’s handsome and clearly smitten by her charms. I’m sure Chopra will not just be content cheering on her fiancé from vantage points at his live shows and performances but will be making some real music with him soon. I can’t wait to hear the single or album they’ll cut. And better still, a duet for a Bollywood film too.

Disclaimer: Any part of the content on the rubinaakhan.com website cannot be reproduced without prior permission and crediting the website and the author.

©Rubina A Khan 2018

Black Truffle Icecream At Rivers To Oceans In Mumbai, India’s First Champagne And Caviar Bar

Rubina A Khan reviews Rivers To Oceans, Mumbai: “this is where gluttony, life’s deadliest sin takes over, leading to a satiated, sloth-like state after.”

Rivers To Oceans has an ascendant culinary vibe, with a masterful array of world cuisine that allows for a sensational tasting and an ala-carte menu, whatever strikes your food game. Getting into the fruits of the sea, exotically crafted on to your plate by Chef Varun Kinger is ripping fun here. From Mexican corn quesadillas to the old American staple, Mac and Cheese to a Levantine and Greek vegetable moussaka, to a delicious Italian style Asparagus Arancini and a Scallop Carpaccio made from freshly flown-in scallops from Hokkaido in Japan to a delectable Indian Soft Shell Malabar Crab Curry with Chinese Mantou Bread and Prawns in Traditional Chilli with Tibetan Tingmo Bread to Russian caviar to an exciting banana leaf-wrapped Seabass Otak Otak in shrimp and kafir lime mousse – the menu is as expansive as it is imaginative, with Indian flavours dominating the globally inspired creations – a sort of culinary deviance at its best.

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Salmon Tuna Edamame Poke Bowl

The presentation of the amuse bouche, a Yuzu-flavoured caviar was a refreshing introduction to an indulgent culinary night ahead as was the marvellous Blue O cocktail served in a glass fish. The Hamachi Tuna was brilliant as was the Atlantic Salmon Ceviche, the Scallop Carpaccio, the Tuna Tataki and the Asparagus Arancini. The Soft Shell Malabar Crab Curry was flavourful and addictive with the deep-fried Chinese Mantou bread. You couldn’t stop dipping into the curry! The Duck Parpadelle was not what I expected it be, having being told that the duck was flown in from Beijing. It was a waste of a duck as the cherry tomatoes and the parpadelle pasta overload just didn’t cut it. The Italian and Chinese amalgamation was completely off in this “pulled duck” preparation. I just don’t get this whole “pulled duck” movement in Indian kitchens but then again, I’m no masterchef.

I loved the Salmon and Tuna Poke Bowl with Edamame, the taste of which was exceptional and I relished every bite. The Black Truffle Ice-cream was divine, with just the right balance of truffle and ice-cream, wherein neither ingredient overpowered the senses. Every spoonful culminated into bursts of happiness in your mouth; sweet heaven indeed. The Dessert Island was a fun experience and the Lemon Tart was as good a tart could, and should be. Rivers To Oceans is where gluttony, life’s deadliest sin takes over, leading to a satiated, sloth-like state after.

The Tiger Prawn Thermidor, a classic French delicacy, comprising a creamy blend of cooked prawn and yolks was better than most places in India that just prefix a boring dish with the word thermidor to fancy it up without understanding what it really is. Thermidor was the eleventh month in the French Republican Calendar and the month was named after the French word ‘thermal’ which came from the Greek word ‘thermos’ which means heat. Thermidor was the second month of the summer quarter (mois d’été) that started on July 19 or 20. The New England Lobster Roll was a great attempt and I enjoyed it, but it’s just not the same outside of New England. Could it be the American breads? Oh, those Maine lobsters!

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Mantou Bread and Soft-shell Malabar Crab Curry | Photo: Rubina A Khan

Zorawar Kalra’s got another winner on his plate and why ever not. He is the son of the prodigious columnist and food enthusiast, Jiggs Kalra. Rivers To Oceans in the first outpost of Kalra’s Massive Restaurants that I dined at and I am ever so glad I did. It was a wonderful experience – right from the food, to the managerial service and the interaction with the chef. My grandfather loved reading Jiggs Kalra’s Sunday columns and here I am, writing about his son, Zorawar, who seems to be on an evolutionary culinary expansion that India is rather proud of.

When I go back to Rivers To Oceans, The Blue O cocktail, the Salmon Tuna Edamame Poke Bowl, the Soft Shell Malabar Crab Curry with Mantou Bread, the Atlantic Salmon Ceviche and the Black Truffle Ice-cream will definitely be on my table, amidst a decadent session of just caviar. And perhaps the champagne too (which was not missed at all in this glut-fest) given it is India’s first champagne and caviar bar!

Rivers To Oceans is open everyday from 12PM – 3PM | 7PM- 1.30AM
Palladium Mall,
Level One,
462, Senapati Bapat Marg,
Lower Parel, Mumbai 400013 India
+91 97654 93216 Rivers To Oceans

@Rubina A Khan 2018

RUBINA’S RADAR | BAD GAL RIHANNA IN MUMBAI, SOON!

RUBINA’S RADAR

The delirium for everything Justin Bieber hasn’t abated in the least with his engagement to model Hailey Baldwin on July 7 earlier this month. If anything, it’s only gone up after the official coupling. Bieber’s live performance in Mumbai last summer left the city sweating, quite literally, and lusting (he was single then!) for more music from him. After Bieber, it’s the bad gal for every season and ALL fashionable reasons, Rihanna’s turn to run this town with her vocals and savage moves.

Rihanna at the Ocean’s 8 UK Premiere held at Cineworld Leicester Square on June 13, 2018 in London

The multifaceted fashion (Fenty x Puma, Savage x Fenty Lingerie, Rihanna Loves Chopard) and makeup (Fenty Beauty) mogul is scheduled to perform at an Indian wedding in Mumbai, to be followed by a public performance soon after. Anti (2016) was Rihanna’s eight studio album and it celebrated 100 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart, breaking yet another record as a solo female artist. Mumbai cannot wait to see the Barbadian pop star live!

One of India’s most spirited, not to mention successful models, Diandra Soares, has launched a new enterprise, the National Academy of Modelling and Grooming (NAMG).  Soares started modelling when she was barely 15-years-old at a time when it was considered unconventional, but then she is anything but.

Diandra Soares | Photo: Rubina A Khan

“I was mentored by the best in the fashion business who gave me their time and made extraordinary efforts to give me me a solid foundation to build my modelling career on, which I went on to do. All the models from my time had definitive personas and distinct looks which is lacking today. It is rather sad that everyone looks the same with zero experimentation. We need to bring back versatility, personality and unconventionality and encourage people to be themselves, sans the fair skin / white skin syndrome. I am obviously very passionate about modelling and with the academy, I want to mentor anyone who wants to model by enabling them with the know-how and the grooming required to sustain longevity in the business. We all are working hard and with great passion and hopefully, we will bring about a positive change in the world of modelling and the fashion business at large. I think we Indians are beautiful and we have a lot of talent but there is a lot that needs to be done in educating and grooming people who want to make modelling a career in India,” says Soares.

Going through an obsessive phase with Banner Day’s linen tees on one end of the American fashion spectrum to almost everything Alexander Wang on the other ain’t easy, with tempting food thrown in for fashionable measure, or not. I couldn’t have been happier wearing the designer du jour on my special day with my go-to Ralph Lauren jeans, devouring Japanese cuisine at Yuuka, my favourite restaurant in Mumbai.

Friday night was all about fun, friends and food – Avocado Tartare, Spicy Salmon Tacos, Popcorn Shrimps, Spicy Salmon and Tiger Tear Maki, Lamb Rack Chops and Silken Tofu with Chef Ting’s Fried Rice with endless rounds of a bespoke vodka cocktail crafted especially for me, called Rubina’s Radar and boisterous conversationsA memorable Wangover indeed with my family and friends. A Cake Moss situation with the decadent chocolate cake made for a laugh riot that is best not written or ‘grammed about!

The first two nights at India Couture Week 2018 in New Delhi will see two of Bollywood’s sexiest “K girls” scorch up the capital – Kangana Ranaut, the invincible fashion forward and Kareena Kapoor-Khan, now popularly known as Taimur Ali Khan’s haute mom. And what’s a couture week without Bollywood stars lending their swaying hips to the  runways really? Couture dazzles, but Bollywood stars bedazzle Delhi.

Day Five - Amazon India Couture Week 2015

Kangana Ranaut

Disclaimer: Any part of the content on the rubinaakhan.com website cannot be reproduced without prior permission and crediting the website and the author. 

©Rubina A Khan 2018

RUBINA’S RADAR | JULY HIGH

RUBINA’S RADAR

The world’s been running on a baller adrenaline rush during FIFA 18 that finally came to a head with France winning the coveted trophy against the very able Croatian football team in Russia. Life seems to be quieter without the hysterical screams and words like game, Alireza, Portugal, goals, Ronaldo, England and the like being thrown about like chump change. While on sports, 18-year-old Hima Das from Assam won a gold medal at the IAAF Under-20 World Athletics Championship in Tampere, Finland clocking the 400m event in 51.46 seconds. Das made history as the first Indian woman to win gold at an athletic meet on a global level. This Indian girl is definitely going to run the world!

Couture’s got game this season with the eleventh edition of India Couture Week 2018 being co-presented by the Sunil Sethi Design Alliance in New Delhi. The indomitable Sethi, India’s most formidable fashion force, has been headlining the fashion extravaganza for a while now, and this is his company’s independent foray presenting the week.

Sunil Sethi

ICW 18 showcases ten designer collections from July 25 to July 29. Only the runway will tell who will cut it as a couturier this time around as most Indian designers, caught in their own shimmering threads of bridal wear, unrealistically assume they are couturiers when they are anything but. After all, fashion is an artistic evolution every season.

A chance encounter with a Bond girl in an elevator turned into a whale of a good time. Her name is Bond, Lisa Bond, and she works with Whale Watch in Kaikoura, New Zealand. Whale Watch was formed in 1987 at a time when Māori were casualties of Kaikōura’s declining economy. At the time, Ngāti Kuri leaders like the late Bill Solomon believed the local sperm whales held the answer to the unemployment problems of the Māori community. The Māori community’s ancestor Paikea had journeyed to a new life in New Zealand on the back of the whale Tohorā. It seemed appropriate for Paikea’s descendants to again ride on the back of the whale to a new life and prosperity. Due to the phenomenal success of Whale Watch, Kaikōura is now one of New Zealand’s leading eco-tourism destinations. Bond is in love with her job, her country and whales obviously.

Bond’s travelling in India with a Tourism New Zealand contingent, Kiwi Link India, that started with Mumbai and went on to Bangalore, Delhi, Nagpur, Kolkata and Ahmedabad  promoting their beautiful country. “It has been amazing to travel to India over the years and see the changes that have been taking place especially in regards to taking steps to caring for your environment especially with the recent move towards reducing the amount of plastic being used. New Zealand is a very sustainably-minded country so to see this is wonderful. Two highlights from this trip were taking part in an Indian cooking class – 24 of us did this and it was so much fun and so delicious. Then 10 of us took a day trip to the Taj Mahal on Saturday which was amazing! What an incredible piece of architecture,” says Bond.

It was wonderful talking to Bond about my love for whales as I reminisced about my time whale watching on the Nā Pali coast in Kauai, Hawaii. I can still hear the humpbacks singing from that trip – it’s a sound like no other. But the best memory of my life in Hawaii was watching a humpback blow under me whilst I was parasailing in the Kewalo Basin in Oahu (Honolulu) about 750 feet in the air. I don’t need a picture to remind me of the serene silence in the sky and the gush of water from the magnificent blue Pacific that thrust heavenwards towards me. I love humpbacks and I’m aiming for a “whalefie” the next time I’m in the Pacific waters.

Filmmaker Anubhav Sinha, he of Ra.One directorial fame, sent me the trailer of his latest film, Mulk, that sees a theatrical release on August 3. Rishi Kapoor has lent his stellar acting skills to the film alongside Taapsee Pannu.

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“I thoroughly enjoyed playing Murad Ali in Mulk. The film is about the atrocities Muslims are facing the world over and the repercussions. It’s a voice waiting to be heard all over. People have taken to the trailer in a big way – at least we have made a bang which was necessary. Rest, of course, is upto God. As a matter of fact, this is the right kind of film that can be called an ensemble film. All the actors in it contribute to the film; none are hanging about loosely,” says Kapoor of the film even as Sinha takes on naysayers on social media.

Disclaimer: Any part of the content on the rubinaakhan.com website cannot be reproduced without prior permission and crediting the website and the author.

©Rubina A Khan 2018

Shah Rukh Loves My Work The Most, Says Design Virtuoso Gauri Khan

Whilst her husband Shah Rukh Khan is the uncrowned king of Bollywood, Gauri Khan seems to have come into her own as a design virtuoso, befitting her status royale as the celluloid sovereign’s wife. Gauri Khan Designs, her eponymous design studio, is headquartered in Mumbai, but her visual representational percipience is swiftly traversing worldwide.

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Gauri Khan at Chivas 18 Alchemy in New Delhi

The modernist designer couldn’t resist turning into an alchemist of sight at the second edition of the quintuple sensory Chivas 18 Alchemy experience in New Delhi, transforming the space with her definitive luxe aesthetic. As much as her husband is the alchemist of sound with his unequivocal eloquence, she seems to speak (the reluctant conversationalist that she is) through her alluring and arresting visual artistry. Khan makes for relaxed, affable company when she’s talking business, but turns a deep, love blush when SRK Face Times her during our conversation. “It’s Shah Rukh,” she says, tossing her hair into place and arching her frame into a flattering angle to talk to him.

Rubina A Khan caught up with Gauri Khan in New Delhi for Gulf News tabloid!

You entered the world of design in 2011 and have been making enviable headway since designing homes, restaurants and pop-up events…
It wasn’t a planned effort to get into interior design. I’ve been an artist all my life, in school and college, and even after I got married to Shah Rukh, I used to do a lot of charcoal paintings at home. There’s a lot of connection to art in my life – I bought a lot of art and was intrigued by artists and read up on them extensively. Then I started designing my own home, Mannat, with my architect. A lot of people walked into the house and asked me to design for them. My friends, Yash and Avanti Birla opened Yantra about 15 years ago and they asked me at the time to join them and so did my friend, Kajal (Anand), as she knew I was passionate about art and design. But I wasn’t ready for it. Then Sussanne (Khan) asked me to do a collection for her store launch. So, it’s been a slow and steady pace for me into the world of design with friends.

What draws you to design – the creative pursuit of it or the final outcome?
Creating a first impression is what I set out to achieve when I start designing a space. Being creative and imaginative in my everyday life is tremendously exciting. All aspects of design, right from my drawing board to the actualization of it all enthralls me. When the thoughts in my headspace integrate seamlessly and are realized into tangible and tactile reality, from the inception stages to the final outcome, it gives me a great sense of accomplishment and it’s the most wonderful feeling.

How did you turn into an alchemist of sight for Chivas 18 Alchemy?
Fashion designer Ashish Soni approached me with the idea to participate in the second edition of Chivas 18 Alchemy as the alchemist of the sense of sight as the concept is based on the five human senses of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. Given that I love the creative space that Alchemy mounts their campaigns and the way they format and execute them with immense style and finesse, I was immediately attracted to it and now I’m an alchemist too! I added the touch of blue velvet drapes to turn the outdoor garden space of Alchemy into an indoor one, akin to a palatial living room. It was challenging, but it turned out rather fluid as the velvet lent an indoor vibe to the space and the artisanal glass bottle chandeliers, custom made especially for Alchemy, added the molten hue of inviting warmth. Lighting is the key to all my spaces. It’s been a fantastic experience with Ashish, Pulkith and the Alchemy team and it was a joy to work with them. This is one of the best events I have attended and now, participated in, right from the venue to the scale and the exceptional invites… everything about it is extraordinarily stunning.

What is the key component to the alchemy of sight?
The key component for me is when I design a space on paper. When the eye visualizes what can be, which then manifests into a real space – that’s a visual delight for me. Subsequently, for it to then come to life exactly the way I envision it, to becoming the heart and soul of the design endeavor – that’s the key to my alchemy of sight. What I did for Alchemy on paper, and to now see it come to life in this luxurious and seductive a manner, makes me extremely happy.

What is your signature design move?
It depends on the project really – if I’m doing a restaurant, a young boy’s room, a nursery, a middle-aged couple’s home – each space is different. But I make sure every space I design is warm, easy, inviting and comfortable. That’s the quintessential design move that I adhere to in all my GKD work. I absolutely abhor cold, model homes.

How many hours do you work everyday?
I don’t work all the time. It is an artistic pursuit wherein I can create anytime and anywhere, whether it’s at home or at a site visit or a set. I spend a lot of time at home and I don’t have any fixed hours or schedule per se. That’s the beauty of my job.

Some Gauri Khan Designs’ tips for homes?
When I am doing up a residence, I try to make the elements come together in such a way that the owners feel comfortable and at peace in their home. My design aesthetic is luxurious and glam as I love these aspects of good living, but that doesn’t mean the home loses its warmth and comfort or that I’d put chandeliers in a baby’s nursery.

a) Make any space your own, where you belong, with your own distinct individualism. It could be anything from lights to an art piece, something that tells the story of your personality.

b) Don’t try to make a touch-me-not home where it becomes more like a museum and less of a warm, inviting home. When a home has super fancy elements with a trying-too-hard feel, the fear of disturbing the elements keeps you from enjoying the space and creates an uncomfortable aura in the home for you as well as your guests.

c) Luxurious and glamorous homes should be designed such that the owners should not find the comforts of their own homes even in luxury hotels. Despite all the luxe elements, the comfort of a home should never be compromised.

Who loves your work the most?
Shah Rukh loves my work the most. I have been attending award functions with him for 30 years and now, I’ve won my very first Excellence in Design Award this month; we both couldn’t be happier.

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Shah Rukh Khan

What’s the biggest love of your life?
Design is my biggest love! It consumes me.

What’s your dream project?
My most exciting dream project is Karan Johar’s new home. I’ve done the nursery for his kids and the terrace in his current home. Karan’s always been my inspiration and he’s been my support, in my personal and professional life, so I’m super excited to start this project. He’s a creative being himself and when I create something for him, and he appreciates it, it makes me feel like I’ve got an ‘A’ in a school report card. It makes me very happy when Karan “approves” of my work.

Any plans of opening a store in Dubai?
Dubai is home to us and I love coming to our home in Dubai. I’m looking forward to bringing Gauri Khan Designs to Dubai very soon. It’s already in the works.

This feature first appeared in Gulf News on 18 March, 2018

©Rubina A Khan 2018