Mehr Jesia won the Femina Miss India 1986 and was part of the first generation of Indian supermodels
What’s the most Parsi thing about you?
What’s the most bizarre look you have tried in real life?
I think I was the first model in India to try all these bizarre hair extensions! I was so bad with the upkeep of it that every time I would walk, I’d leave a trail of hair behind me.
Date of birth: November 30
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Place of birth: Kolkata
School/college: The J.B. Vachha High School / Sophia College For Women, Mumbai
First break: Lakme campaign
High point of your life: When I had my babies
Who’s your favourite Indian designer and why?
Apart from Rohit Khosla, it has to be Tarun (Tahiliani). He is like a brother to me and he has chosen me as his muse for the Blenders Pride Fashion Tour 2018.
The most vivid memory from the 1986 Miss India pageant where you won the title…?
There were five of us as finalists. The last common question was asked, and I see all these girls answering, but I hadn’t heard the question! I just heard whatever they were saying, processed it in my head and answered!
And what’s your most embarrassing moment on the runway?
When my zip split and I walked the entire show backwards!
Movie:A Star Is Born (2018)
Comfort food: Parsi dhansak
Holiday destination: Any beach!
Sunday activity: Chilling at home with my kids
Supermodel of all time:Chrissy Teigen
If you have five minutes to get dressed for a party, what would you pick?
A black dress.
One thing you really miss about the modeling days in the ’80s and the early ’90s…?
The friendships among the girls.
One thing you have learned while bringing up your daughters, Mahikaa and Myra….?
To always have gratitude and patience, and to always keep the child inside you alive.
What’s your favourite holiday activity with your daughters…?
For them it is of course shopping, but for me it is just chilling on the beach or indulging in some kind of water sports with them.
Master draughtsman Shiavax Chavda, most well-known for drawing dancers, could always look to his wife, Bharatanatyam dancer Khurshid Vajifdar, for inspiration
The Nehru Centre Art Gallery, which has been regularly showcasing retrospectives of art masters for a quarter of a century, has chosen one of the pioneers of Indian modern art this month: late Mumbai artist and master draughtsman Shiavax Chavda.
In 43 years of marriage, artist Shiavax Chavda and Bharatanatyam dancer Khurshid Vajifdar shared their life – their house and their office – as equals. In their circular workspace in Dhobi Talao, he took up one half as his studio, and she took up the other half to teach dance.
“He would hear a lot of tabla, harmonium and dance sounds: explanations, instructions, children asking questions,” says their daughter Jeroo Chavda. “It was a lively scene for him, because normally when you paint, it’s very solitary and quiet. You’re always by yourself. It added a lot of textures to his [paintings of] dancers. Even his abstracts, everybody says, ‘There’s so much movement in it.’ They’re not static.”
Chavda (1914-1990), an alumnus of Sir JJ School of Art and Slade School of Fine Art, London, had several phases in his four-decade-long career. From paintings of dancers to temple structures, portraits of tribal people to national leaders, from animals to abstracts, he pushed his art and research further and further into the unknown. “He always wanted to progress and evolve,” says Chavda. “He used to say, ‘If I’m stuck in a rut, I will never grow as an artist or as a person.’
His dancers were world-famous. I should not be talking as a daughter, but they used to say, ‘There is no parallel in the world. Nobody has been able to sketch and capture dancers in such precise form.’ Bharatanatyam looked like Bharatanatyam.”
Although, he returned to abstract in the last 20 years of his life. “Because he had done enough portraits, figuratives, scenery, daily life, folk dancers, ballet dancers and Indian classical dancers. He was sent to Nagaland to sketch all the tribes, because they felt Indian missionaries were converting the tribes and they were losing their [way of life]. So, he had sketched everything humanly possible.
He kept saying, ‘I don’t want anyone to say this is my signature.’ Because there were a lot of artists who, you could just recognise them [their work], because of elongated limbs or a tiny head. He said, ‘If that’s the case, you might as well be a photocopying machine. So, how does it inspire me, or move me? My art has to satisfy me first before it goes into the public.'”
At the Nehru Centre, in Worli, this month, a retrospective of his works will give “equal importance to the different phases,” says Chavda. “We have his nudes from London, drawings of temple sculptures, his horse races.” And, his dancers, of course, what with ready inspiration always at home. “My father was on the quieter side; my mother was the more bubbly and effusive one,” she says. “They were very balanced as a couple. Whenever dad did master sketches, he used to lay them out on the bed or the table, and ask us what we thought of it, what we saw in it. They fully respected each other and gave each other a lot of space because they always had this understanding.”
What: Indian Masters’ Retrospective Exhibition: Artist Shiavax Chavda When: December 21 to January 6 Where: Nehru Centre Art Gallery, Dr Annie Besant Rd, Worli
Applications (bio-data on music education) are invited from students for a scholarship in advance training in Hindustani Music (vocal-khyal / dhrupad, percussion – tabla / pakhawal). The value of the scholarship is Rs. 7,500/- per month for one year (April 2019 to March 2020). Send in your application (bio-data on music education) via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or in an envelope marked ‘City – NCPA Scholarship for Young Musicians 2019-20 (Hindustani Music)’ to the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400021 on or before 31st Dec, 2018. Please note, application received after 31st Dec 2018 will not be accepted.
The application must contain details regarding the individual’s name, date of birth, address, contact number/alternate contact number ,professional qualification, email ID, music teacher/gurus, number of year of total training and details of achievements / prizes /scholarships and performances, amongst other net worthy details. The shortlisted candidates will be informed via email or telephone. They will be required to appear for an audition at the NCPA, Mumbai, in the month of February 2017. The decision of the NCPA Selection Committee will be final.
Contact No: 022-66223872/3737 (Mon to Fri. 10:30 am to 5:30 pm)
Eligibility Criteria & General Instructions:
For Khayal/Tabla/Pakhwaj – 18 to 30 years of age (as off 1st March 2019)
For Dhrupad – 18 to 35 years of age (as off 1st March 2019)
Students who are beneficiaries of other scholarship/grant in the field of music during April 2019-20, are not eligible to apply.
Professional musicians including those with ‘A’ grade from All India Radio are not eligible to apply.
Calling All Designers!
Have your artwork prominently featured at the largest annual NGO Forum held at the United Nations.
We are gearing up for the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women in 2019!
Held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 11-22 March, 2019
Thousands of representatives from Governments, NGOs and Women’s Organizations worldwide
All working to advance Human Rights for Women and Girls.
Click here to learn more about the NGO CSW63 Forum
Your artwork should incorporate the CSW63 Priority Theme: Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
Visit UN Women website here for more information.
Deadline For Submissions: 14 January, 2019
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.
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 (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.
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.
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.”
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).
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.
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.
“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.”