Only travel world to market Pakistan: Jimmy Engineer

LAHORE: Internationally -renowned artist, social crusader and peace activist Jimmy Engineer on Tuesday said that the sole purpose behind his goodwill tours of different countries and displaying his creative art is to tell the world that Pakistan has great people, great culture and great artists.

He said that displaying his artwork in foreign countries carries a message as lots of people do not know about Pakistan and this is the best way to convey the message.

Jimmy said this while delivering a talk about his life, art and Pakistan during the display of his creative work while interacting with visitors at his talk in Ontario. The event was organised by his cousin Neely Engineer and was a great success as hundreds of community members including Pakistan’s Consul General Imran Siddique, members of the Canadian parliament and councillors also showed up.

Jimmy said he wears four hats. He is a social worker, an artist, a human rights worker and a peace activist. “As an artist, I am an idealistic person, as a social worker I have to be very compassionate as I have to help the people, as a human rights activist I have to fight for the people’s rights so, I have to be aggressive and as a peace activist I have to talk about peace,” he said.

According to a message received here, Jimmy highly praised those who visited the venue of the exhibition to view his paintings. The visitors included Senator Salma Ataullah Jan, MP Iqra Khalid, MPP Khalid Rasheed, Consul General of Turkey in Canada Erdeniz, Flato Developments Inc President Shakir Rehmatullah, Canada-Pakistan Business Council President Samir Dossal, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Mindshare Workspace Mississauga Robert Martellaci and Ontario Zoroastrian President Neville Patrawala.

The artwork displayed in the exhibition, which has since concluded after running successfully for more than a week. It depicted not just colours of Pakistani culture but also the suffering of a person in need. Some of the artwork took onlookers to the countryside and paintings of the Mughal architecture.


Rocking on – Zubin Ballaporia

EVEN before Zubin Balaporia earned his stripes as successful rock star, thanks to his band Rock Machine (later Indus Creed), much of south Mumbai knew him as the son of Jai Hind College’s formidable viceprincipal Mrs Vispi Balaporia. Post his stint on the keyboard, Zubin moved on to producing music and advertising. He is now pursuing a new passion, photography, and will showcase his first exhibition at Srila Chatterjee and Siddharth Sirohi’s beautiful furniture store in Lower Parel. This may be Zubin’s maiden venture in photography but the inveterate traveller’s journeys are chronicled in an insightful manner. “When Zubin brought them to show, I believed that what he was doing was what we should all do: expand horizons, explore new territories and embrace change,” says Chatterjee. 

Mehlli Gobhai moves on…

Mehlli Gobhai (1931-2018): An artist who approached the work of painting like a campaign

He came to his canvas with no feelings of certainty about what he wanted, with no pretense that it was a willing ally in the act of creation.

We were sitting in a Charles Correa-designed house, looking out at five acres of “cultivated wilderness” and talking about death and painting.

“Perhaps that’s why we create,” Mehlli said. “Because death is certain. And because we can’t believe it will happen to us, we react as children might. We try and throw something at the bogeyman, to scare him away. That something is art.”

Mehlli Gobhai, who died on Thursday morning at 87, was one of my closest friends. He was the man who taught me to eat cheese that smelled different and lamented my lack of a drinking habit. He taught me to look at modern art, he taught me how to respect the sacred geometry of a Chola bronze. He taught me the correct way to tie my shoelaces and he taught me to shake out my shoes before I put them on in the country lest a scorpion had sought the acrid shelter of my footwear for the night.

He was one of the greatest of abstract expressionist painters we had, no, one of the greatest painters we had and he took his work seriously. So seriously in fact that he often waited for a painting to begin happening for months. And then there would be the first approach, the black thread taken from his mother’s sewing box. This would be pinned carefully to the canvas and then he would sit back and light a Gaulois and consider what had happened to space and time and him and us by this simple intervention. When it seemed as if this might be able to bear the burden of what he wanted to magic into being, he would begin the work of painting.

But it wasn’t work; it was a campaign. Mehlli Gobhai approached his canvas with no feelings of certainty about what he wanted, with no pretense that it was a willing ally in the act of creation. He would often speak of what he was doing in terms that were spiked with violence. “I must brutalise that section,” he would say. “I must rough that up a bit.”

The early years

Mehlli Gobhai was born into an India that was still under British rule and went to Bombay’s Saint Xavier’s High School and Saint Xavier’s College. He even started a degree in law before he moved on to join J Walter Thomson to work in the creative department. There, he drew some magnificent roughs for the Air India campaigns being managed by the legendary Bobby Kooka. Kooka looked at the roughs and declared they didn’t need any refining.

He moved for a while to England where he lived and studied in London before moving to New York, a city that suited him perfectly. It was rich, it was vibrant with energy. But there was also his home by the Arabian Sea, Bombay, with its dramaturgy of monsoon cloud and rain greys; and the foothills of the Himalayas where creeks ran muddy brown and a water snake lurked in the pond where he drew his water. There he earned his money by working on a series of children’s books that Speaking tiger will bring out soon translated in a variety of languages: Punjabi, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil and Urdu.

Finally, he returned home and it was when he was having his first show at Gallery 7 in 1985 that I met him. He kept encouraging me to buy the papier mache creations that Pushpamala N had produced. We next met in 1994 when Ranjit Hoskote curated “Hinged by Light” for Pundole Art Gallery. I was a mathematics tutor then and worked in the area around his home on Carmichael Road. I would often drop in for coffee and cheese and endless conversations about everything from whether naïve art could really be naïve to the mathematics of Carnatic music. In the background, a painting would be burning quietly, its colours rich and strange and interior…can a colour be interior? On a canvas? You have to look at a Mehlli Gobhai work to see how that can happen.

He began to come to the Poetry Circle, enjoying working with words and having them critiqued. I think now of how Tagore said that art was a release because there were no expectations. But Mehlli took his writing seriously. Whether it was an ode to Bombay or a catalogue essay for his good friend the artist Sheetal Gattani, he worked out what he wanted to say and then sat down to work on it.

Untitled, 2007. Mixed media on canvas. Courtesy: Gallery Chemould
Untitled, 2007. Mixed media on canvas. Courtesy: Gallery Chemould

A big thing

A few years ago, a stroke knocked him over. When I went to see him, I asked: “How does the other guy look?”

“Don’t make a big thing out of it,” he snarled. Making a big thing out of anything, even if it was a big thing like a stroke, was a cardinal sin in the Gobhai theology. But a few days later when he began to slur some words, we went to see a doctor. We were sent to a neurologist. Peripheral neuropathy, one of them said. It was a cruel thing this disease. It took his hands from him and then his feet. It took his work from him. He was the man who had once wondered if his skill at life drawing was making his line glib and so he had shifted to his left hand and found that drawing came just as easily. Now he could not work with precision. And if he could not do exactly what he wanted to do, if he could not control everything, everything, he was not going to do anything.

He stopped working.

And then he began to withdraw. Just a little. The long phone calls became shorter and then telegrammatic. His wide circle of friends, from postmasters upcountry to aspiring artists, from kindergarten school teachers to egg ladies, shrank and shrank until it was a man in front of a television set with the images playing on and on, the hysteria of news, the accretion of meaningless detail. I tried to slow things down. Sheetal Gattani tried. His brother Cavas, a midwife of ideas in the United States and now felled by a similar stroke, tried. His nephew Dinshaw tried. But without the ability to lob another work of art in the face of time, Mehlli was having none of it.

Going away

Ten days ago, he began to experience respiratory distress. He was admitted to hospital. He had been there before and come back in a day or two. This time he would not return.

Ranjit Hoskote, noted art critic and cultural theorist, said: “Had Mehlli’s career trajectory been managed differently, or had he belonged to a later generation that benefited from globalisation, he would undoubtedly have been acknowledged as a key figure in the history of global abstraction. His art was not derivative of Western exemplars. Rather, it stood its ground beside Rothko, Newman and the other masters of Abstract Expressionism. In the specific context of Indian abstraction, also, Mehlli was unique. He made no concessions to the phantoms of landscape, or to inherited symbolism, or to the evocation of retinal reality, to which some of his confreres in Indian abstraction remained wedded. He was proud to describe his art as a ‘non-objective’ art. And in the late phase of his work, he experimented boldly with blurring the line between painting and sculpture, to produce results that were neither and yet more expansive than both. I used to speak of these as ‘image-objects’. They remain among his most compelling work. While many (and careless) observers believed that his work remained more or less similar across the decades, the reverse is true.”

Hoskote explained: “Any consideration of his oeuvre demonstrates the clear shifts from one phase to the next, the emphasis on the incised line yielding to a devotion to the saturation of colour as palimpsest, this yielding in turn to a sculptural interest in edge and mass. Too many in the art world saw him as a genial eccentric. Too few saw the driven, inspired nature of his artistic explorations.”


30 Directors to follow – Jehangir Irroni

LAFA is proud to present our 30 Directors-To-Follow-List: a celebration of the inspiring, creative and incredibly talented directors who are making indie filmmaking great right now.

And one of them is Jehangir Irroni

Having been in the Industry for more than ten years, Jehangir Irroni has helmed numerous Documentaries, Ad Films, Television Shows, Corporate Videos and Films. A graduate from Whistling Woods International in 2009, he has directed numerous Television Shows like Fear Files, Heerji Ne Marje, Jai Ho Bharatiya etc and Television Ads for brands like LIC, LIVSAV, READ MY LANGUAGE and many more. 

His latest short film The Suicide Company PVT LTD tackles the issues of depression and suicide, which are rarely seen in the Indian cinema. It gives a positive message against depression and mental illness. This beautiful film won Best Narrative Short at LAFA (June 2018). 

Follow Jehangir Irroni on Facebook and Instagram

Designer Ashdeen Lilaowala looks to give a new lease of life to Parsi gara saris

Parsi chic: Ashdeen Lilaowala with one of his creations.
Parsi chic: Ashdeen Lilaowala with one of his creations.

THERE IS AN AIR OF easy elegance and soft, balmy luxuriance about Ashdeen Lilaowala’s first flagship store. Located in a tony South Delhi address, amid high-end fashion boutiques, Lilaowala’s spanking new atelier has pink hand-painted walls with gold petals and chess-honed marble floors. There are cranes aplenty, embroidered into the array of Parsi gara saris, even inlaid in the stone steps leading up to the store.

The 38-year old Parsi designer, seated on a plush off-white sofa with curved armrests, holds forth on the many mutations of the ancient textile pattern of paisley. In Iran, it is the cypress tree. The top part of the tree is very light; it moves and bends in the wind. “So if you see the Persian paisley, it is long and bent,” says Lilaowala. “If you come to India, the paisley resembles a mango, that is why we call it ‘ambi’. In China, it becomes a pot or an urn.” He glides over motifs transcending and evolving over cultural boundaries, as he talks about his travels to Iran and China in 2005-2006 to trace the origin and development of Parsi embroidery.

Today, his fashion label, ASHDEEN, is at the forefront of bringing out modern, contemporary versions of Parsi gara saris, the most treasured heirloom in a Parsi woman’s wardrobe since the 19th century. The Parsi gara is often described as “Indian embroidery with Chinese origin and Persian heritage”. It is packed with fulsome floral motifs, intricately winged birds, Persian symbols, pagodas and “Chinamen”. How did it come to embody such diversity? The presence of Zoroastrian merchants in China, mainly for opium trade, is well-documented from the 18th century onwards. Many had settled in the Chinese port of Canton (modern-day Guangzhou). These Parsi settlers transferred oriental designs onto saris, which the Jeejeebhoys and Readymoneys brought back for their women folk in western India.

“Ashdeen’s work is based on an interest in exploring histories of fashion and its evolving cultures.” – Mayank Mansingh Kaul, writer and curator

Lilaowala recalls meeting one such family in 2005 in Shamian island in Guangdong province. They had seen the gara sari trade evolve firsthand. “They had so many saris with butterflies. When thread from previous saris were left behind, they would tell their craftsmen to make multi-coloured butterflies from it,” says Lilaowala. He has been injecting a more modern approach to the imagery of chinoiserie, flowers, birds and butterflies through his brand. His favourite remains the crane.

There is one particularly resplendent number in jet black with a bevy of white cranes in a pool of red. This is also his most popular sari, retailing at Rs 60,000 apiece. “In Chinese culture and mythology, cranes represent peace and longevity. The Chinese were fascinated with flight,” Lilaowala explains his devotion to the long-necked bird. “Even in the most awkward positions, cranes tend to be flawless. This was one of my starting points and I continue to take it forward.” He launched his label in 2012 and initially worked out of his house. Lilaowala hopes Parsi gara saris will attain as definitive and ubiquitous a status as the prized kanchipurams, banarasis and chanderis.

Mayank Mansingh Kaul, Delhi-based writer and curator who recently put together an exhibition in Jaipur on post-independence designers titled ‘New Traditions: Influences & Inspirations in Indian Textiles, 1947-2017’, featured Ashdeen’s “crane sari” as well. “Not only is Ashdeen interested in taking forward the idea of the classic Parsi gara using new materials, he has developed a signature style for Cocktail-evening wear which is refreshing,” says Kaul. “Ashdeen’s work is based on an interest in exploring histories of fashion and its evolving cultures.” Lilaowala has delved deep into Parsi weaving and threadwork, and contributed to many books and articles on the subject.

Lilaowala grew up in Mumbai and was exposed to the illustrious gara tradition from childhood. Two elder sisters and a “very fashionable mother” powered his own sartorial intuitions. His years as a student of textile design at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, further streamlined his interests. After graduating in 2002, he worked in Mumbai for a while before moving to Delhi for a research sponsored by the UNESCO Parsi Zoroastrian Project. (This took him to China and Iran.) He later did embroidery, from Delhi, for a Los Angeles-based company. When he designed a gara sari for a friend, he did not know that it would become his mainstay. That first gara sari led to many more. His first big showcase was at the Delhi Crafts Council in October 2012, followed by the Lakme Fashion Week. He now retails saris priced up to 03 lakh. He has draped Tabu and Madhuri Dixit with his intricate, handmade saris. Sonam Kapoor in Sanju was his latest Bollywood outing.

But Lilaowala has never been the sort to chase celebrities, seek runway success by churning out collections every season or fall victim to superfluous labels à la haute couture, demi-couture or prêt-à-porter. In fact, he still stocks and sells designs he brought out in 2012. His clients are mostly industrialists. He doesn’t believe that youth defines fashion. “If you have the money, it defines fashion,” he says matter-of-factly. He stubbornly defends his design aesthetic which is strictly “classic yet contemporary”, immune to fast-changing trends. You may think his clientele is slightly older, financially secure women, but Lilaowala doesn’t really care. “Our business is largely outside the Parsi community, with a lot of appreciation coming in from Marwaris, south Indians and other communities,” says Lilaowala. “People who appreciate craft, beauty, fineness, detailed handwork… they will always go for it.”

“Styles may come and go and fashion is ever-evolving but classics like a gara are timeless,” says Anahita N. Dhondy, chef manager at SodaBottleOpenerWala. She wore her first gara sari when she was16, at her grandparents’ anniversary. She considers Lilaowala a pioneer who has revived and refreshed the Parsi gara idiom. “Parsi gara was not really of much interest to a non-Parsi for the longest time,” says Dhondy. “There was not enough spotlight and it was not readily available.” With stores like ASHDEEN, that is set to change.

Frazan Adil Kotwal wins at Voices of India

“And my first ever voice competition and I stood in second and won the Audience Top Choice award! I am absolutely stunned and surprised that I won not only because most of the pieces I learnt in a short time and performed for the first time but I was also so impressed with the level of my fellow Indian singers! Everybody was amazing! I also feel like my hardwork and passion has been recognised by winning 2 awards tonight! Thank you to all my friends and family who came and supported me in every way and biggest thanks to my voice teacher Ulrike Sonntag who supported me relentlessly and was there for me every step of the way.”


Frazan Adil Kotwal


Shayan Italia beats all records for National Anthem on Youtube

The video top-trended on Twitter and Youtube as India chose it over politics, bollywood and cricket!

Shayan Italia, broke the global record for the most-viewed single video of a national anthem on Youtube, beating the French anthem’s 36 million views. It has now crossed 94 Million views, adding a million views daily!

Click Here for the full story and interview

Akoori Trailer

This Parsi Dysfunctional Family Will Leave You In Splits

Akoori, a new web series, which is all set to release on 30th August, on Zee5, shares a story of whacky family and their relationships

Akoori Trailer: This Parsi dysfunctional family will leave you in splits


Zee5 Original recently released a new trailer, named Akoori, which is based on whacky family ties. While the father, played by Darshan Zariwala tries hard to keep his weird family intact, his wife is under coma for a few weeks. Keeping the entire family sane and normal, Darshan falls for his neighbor, played by Lillete Dubey. Known for its own quirks, Akoori stands tall amidst the clutter of other dysfunctional family stories.

From falling in love at the second innings of his life to going strong with his daughter and his son who he thinks is Gay, a Bawa makes this one looks like a hilarious take on urban relationships.

Akoori is a ZEE5 Original, created and written by Nikhil Venugopalan, directed by Harsh Dedhia, starring Darshan Jariwala, Lillete Dubey, Shadab Kamal, Zoa Morani, Sohrab Sunny, Adi Irani and Harsh Nagar. Join this crazy family as they try to mend their relationships and come to term with their loss. The web series will release on 30th August only on Zee5.

Check out the trailer of Akoori right away:

Shayan Italia | 2018 Indian National Anthem (Jana Gana Mana)

“Within a matter of days, #IWouldStandForThis has generated a spectacular response, the most viewed online video of the Indian national anthem ever. Thanks for the thousands of great comments but we are now disabling them. This rendition is a heartfelt tribute to both Mother India and my dear Mother whom I lost early on. I would prefer to keep this precious space quiet. One and all–thanks very much for the respect. Keep watching, keep liking and keep sharing!” – Much love, Shayan

In just 48 hours, the Indian National Anthem #IWouldStandForThis version becomes the most successful Indian National Anthem video on YouTube securing over 8.6 million views. #IWouldStandForThis honours the Indian National Anthem (Jana Gana Mana), performed by Shayan Italia in 8K Ultra HD on the world’s grandest piano, to pay homage to his mother. #IWouldStandForThis brings together multinational cross-cultural music and video production talent from all over the world to inspire patriotism amongst the youth of India in its digital age. Incredible detail when viewed in Ultra HD and with headphones. Full 8K (8192 x 4320) resolution can be viewed via Google Chrome browser. Support the global initiative by adding the hashtag #IWouldStandForThis to the end of your comments across all social media platforms and join the movement.


Instagram –…

Twitter –

YouTube –


CHIEF PRODUCTION TEAM & SPECIAL THANKS Since 8K Ultra HD processing technology doesn’t exist in India as of yet, various studios from across the world (including USA, Russia, UK, Australia, Singapore and the UAE) came together in unison to make the processing of this video happen.

Arranged and Performed on Steinway Model D by: Shayan Italia Directed by: Dr. FarhadVijayArora Chief Audio Engineers: Tim Young, Ronan Phelan, ShantanuHudlikar Produced by: Shayan Italia & FarhadVijayArora Co-Producers: AmarjeetDahiya, RajanVanmali & ShyamGarg Co-Director: Sandeep Singh Khichi & Aapar Gupta Director of Photography: Mohammed ShahnawazAnsari Post Production & VFX Overview: Kalinath Roy & DilberVijayArora Associate Producers: Jagdish Ingle, ImranMalgunkar, & RajuDubeyEPs: SahilGulia & PankajKansara Photography: Jeetu & Kinnari Makeup: ArshisJaveri Styling: Shanaya Boyce Script: Atul Malhotra & DilnaazBharucha


Next stop: The #71for71challenge – it’s simple. Copy the text below, share the link, tag 3 friends and challenge them to UNITE India this independence:

Challenge text copy (copy exactly and post on any social media platform)

I accept the #71for71challenge to #unite #india! To make acquire 71m views by India’s 71st Independence. Show your #patriotism: I challenge @friendtag1 @friendtag2 @friendtag3 to accept and further refer 3 more! #IWouldStandForThis 

Best wishes,

Farah Ghadiali Wins ‘All India Western Classical Vocal Competition’ In New Delhi

Soprano Farah Ghadiali recently won the Joint First prize in ‘All India Western Classical Vocal Competition’ held in New Delhi, on 27th April, 2018. Organised by the Neemrana Foundation of Music and the French Embassy in India, Farah received the ‘Neemrana Voice Competition – The Godrej Talent of India’ Award, based on three selection rounds, that rounded up five finalists who battled it out at the Akshara Theatre, New Delhi. Having to sing one compulsory piece and one classical piece of the singer’s choice, Farah sang the ‘Aria Of The Fairy’ from the Opera La Cendrillon by Pauline Viardot as the compulsory piece and ‘Der Holle Rache’ from the opera Die Zauberflote (the Magic Flute) by WA Mozart, as her choice in the finals.

Currently a music teacher in Bombay, Farah completed her MBA from the University of Mumbai and worked as a Senior Marketing Manager at the NCPA, before taking the leap of faith and signing up to study classical music at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music in London. Having completed her Masters in Music in 2016 and the Post Graduate Advanced (Artist) Programme in 2017, studying with Soprano Patricia Rozario (OBE, FRCM), Farah is on the coveted student scheme of the Philharmonic Chorus and has delivered various operatic performances in London and India.

Speaking to Parsi Times, Farah Ghadiali said, “The award validates all those who supported and believed in me. Pursuing Western Classical Music in India is a real labour of love and I am very happy that there is a growing interest in encouraging Indians to do well in this field.”

Currently, Farah is busy with her project, ‘Duo Farinaldi’, established in 2017 by Steinway Artist and award winning Italian pianist, Paolo Rinaldi. Together, they have curated and performed in two seasons of concerts in the UK and are set to perform concert tours in Italy and India, later this year.