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#TrendPost: Cashing On Couture picks….Aamna Aqeel!

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Amna Aqeel’s Eid Exhibit was the talk of the town this week. Her exhibition, held at her studio was attended by socialites, fashioniistas, bloggers and celebrities alike (including myself) who gave a big approval to her latest collection. She played with a fine fusion between western & eastern wear, which seemed to work greatly in her favor.

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Visit any Labels store or Brands Just pret to get an attire from her Eid collection 2015.

#VERDICT: And then one day..

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As published in SHE Canada (May’15)

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And Then One Day:

A Memoir

By Naseeruddin Shah

Price: Rs. 1395

Publisher: Penguin Books India

Available at: Liberty Books

Success for a tall and brooding man named Naseeruddin Shah, did not follow overnight. It was his struggles to overcome the handicap of being exceptionally gifted, and realize his full potential as an actor that propagated the slow and stealthy metamorphosis from an average boy to an award-winning actor who’s still prominent till date. In many ways And Then One Day serves as a memoir that perfectly encapsulates his evolution as an actor.

Naseeruddin Shah has been an actor in films since 1975, and an actor-director-teacher in theatre almost as long. He has played the lead in over two hundred feature films and more than sixty professional theatre productions, both in India and abroad. As a first time writer, he uptakes an engaging and remarkably frank tone throughout his memoir where he recounts his love for playing and watching tennis, cricket and movies, in that order. He is the recipient of numerous awards neither of which he treasures nor cares to mention, and is currently residing in Mumbai with his wife Ratna, their three children and a cat.

And Then One Day: A Memoir, opens with a story of a lanky boy who sets off on the road of self discovery where all of his preconceived believes and values get tarnished along the way. Adopting an objective self-assessing tone, Shah begins by poignant anecdote about his immediate family among which neither his father nor his brothers were ever capable of understanding him as a person. He recounts the time when “my grades continued to slip, my tonsils were removed, my pubic hair began to grow, a hundred ‘naya paisa’ replaced the sixteen annas in a rupee, kilometers replaced miles and the inundated curiosity about the opposite sex began its torment, causing me to sink deeper and deeper into myself. I still never got a chance to act on the stage, and the gulf between my parents and me began to widen.”

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Shah provides an in depth account of his passage through Aligarh University, the National School of Drama and the Film and Television Institute of India, where his luck finally began to change. Much to his envy, while both his brothers were able to score roles in the school productions, he watched the plays from the sidelines only to wish to “[…] be up there with those people.”He writes “[…] my father’s dreams for me were being slowly demolished; I was beginning to zero in on dreams of my own. There was one problem however: no one else thought I had the ability in any field, least of all in acting, and although dramatic activity was plentiful and the school did marvelous annual theatre productions every year, I never so much as got a look-in at any of these events. The teachers’ pets got all the parts. I did not even have the satisfaction of being rejected.”

The first time, however when he took the centre stage, he experienced an unexplainable moment where he had truly never felt like before. He remembers, “the stage, I really did feel, was where I belonged. It was the only place apart from the cricket field where I felt happy in my skin[,]” and thus decided that, “acting was what I was born to do.” But it took a lot more than his realization that got him to the pinnacle of success where he truly belonged.

As the narration moves forward, Shah includes moving portraits of family members, darkly funny accounts of his schooldays, and vivid cameos of directors and actors he has worked with, like Ebrahim Alkazi, Shyam Benegal, Girish Karnad, Om Puri and Shabana Azmi. He further notes, all the while he received harsh criticism for his acting, he sought to redefine his approach rather than giving up on his ambitions. He researched his characters and studied the roles and when finally six months later his film came out, his father caught the sight of the poster with his name on it, sat through the first available show and then went home joyously to tell his mother that “Naseeruddin had not changed his name.” Thereon, things for Shah finally began to fall into place.

And The One Day: A Memoir, serves as a perfect insight into the life and mind of a talented actor during a prolific Bollywood era. Shah smoothly fluctuates from a confident storyteller to an insecure human that questions “[…] why I am writing it at all. Is this a story worth telling?”  His exasperations come across as genuine which speaks to the readers and compels them to read on further. Writing about his love affairs, early marriages, success and failures, Shah concludes at a note that “if it is true that ‘an actor’s talent lies in his choices’, I must confess I had absolutely no talent at all.” This book is strongly recommended to aspiring actors and Shah’s fans.

Sum Up : Unraveling of the evolution of an actor through a modest first-person narrative.

#ListenUp: Fashion Announcements!

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Hi guys! I know I have been pretty MIA (missing in action) on my blog lately, but that’s only because I’m working on bigger, better things behind the scenes and I honestly cannot wait to share it with you all (very very soon)! I’ve also been collaborating with Siddy Says as their Karachi correspondent, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled to join a team of such devoted and passionate Lahori bloggers and fashion journalists. Click here to read my TDAP Fashion Dairy for day 1 & day 2 (here) There’s Fashion Pakistan Week SS’15 lined up for the end of this month, and more of lawn-mania to go through just as Summer makes its full-fledged appearance! Till then make sure you hit the like on my Facebook page, follow up Twitter for regular updates (@navqazi). xoxo

#Throwback To The Pond’s Power Women {2/2}

Samar mehdi

4. Samar Mehdi (Fashion Designer)

For as long as she can remember, Samar has been obsessed with clothes. “I used to have these little paper dolls when I was a little girl and I would spend hours dressing them up. I’d get swatches of clothes for my Barbies and wrap outfits around them.” This obsession grew into a career when, Samar went abroad for a degree in fashion design. “It was either that or fine art, and knowing that my heart was really into design, my father encouraged me to pursue it as a career.” A trying moment in her life was when she went to the British Council to apply for funding and was told that they did not offer scholarships for fashion design. “I came out with a small disappointed face and my father patted my head and said, don’t worry I will send you.’”That for her was a turning point in her life and she gives the credit solely to her father. “Mothers are always supportive but it’s wonderful to have a father who is also supportive of your aspiration. My father is the one who made it happen for me. He supported my four year degree in Bristol and that too 19 years ago, when it was very unusual for girls to go abroad.”

As resolute as she was in her pursuit of her career, Samar was the same when it came to marriage and motherhood.“I’ve always lived life on my own terms. Till the right person came along, I did not succumb to the pressure of marriage. I had just started establishing myself and for me to leave all that and go for a good rishta to US would have not worked.”

And the gamble was worth it as today she is happily married and a mother of two. “Marriage is important,” she says, “but it’s not the be all of everything. Please continue to follow your dreams before and after it.”

Samar is clear headed and focussed whether its work or home. “I want perfection in everything,” she says. Her determination to excel and her strong character will surely inspire other working mothers to aim high.

Sanam chaudry

5. Sanam Chaudhri (Fashion Designer)

SanamChaudhribegan her creative journey by designing kurtis for a bit of extra pocket money. Before she knew it the business grew and her designs advanced into pret wear. One thing led to another and she found herself being asked to stock at a major retailer. Today Sanam, is one of the big names of fashion. Her designs are much in demand but when it comes to exposure and expansion, Sanam unlike many of her contemporaries, is content to be low key.

“I don’t want to become a big brand,” she says. “I have a 4 year old who needs me. My son is always with me. My studio is at my mother’s house so it works out well.’ Though she is all for competition and growth, Sanam feels that ambition need not be a defining factor for success.

“I want to keep my business small because that’s who I am. I don’t want the extra stress. I’m a mother, a wife, a daughter. I’m very ambitious but my ambition is different. I think I’m reserved and conservative by nature.”Though Sanam feels that she is a better mother than a professional, she strongly believes that working mothers are positive role models for their children and for the society in general.“It is important for a woman to work, because the experience is important. You have to start things small, be patient, go slow. Don’t delve into something that will get out of control. If you are a mother and want to or have to work, just prioritise. No matter how nice or generous your husband is, a woman should be able to earn her own money because anything can happen. You never know.”Sanam’s soft persona, her quiet determination and strong will is witness to a progressive change that is a brew. Her journey is sure to inspire other working women.

 

Shazia Bhaghat Naseer

6. Shazia Bhaghat Naseer (Fashion Designer)

Designer Shazia Bhaghat used the knowledge and skills she had gained through years of adding creative touches to hers and her family’s outfits to her advantage by starting a clothing line of her own.“Even as a kid I loved creating, adding my own touch to my outfits. I’ve been working since the last 10 years exporting to the US, Canada and UK.”

Though Shazia feels she has been lucky enough to have a wonderful creative journey, she feels that when she became a mother maintaining the home/work balance was not easy.

“When I had my daughter, it was challenging for me because my clients wanted my time and so did my daughter. My parents played a vital role in pushing me to pursue my career because they didn’t let me give up.”Talking about inspirations, Shazia encouraged women to find their motivation in the little things that life throws their way. “Everything inspires me. People working hard inspire me. When I go to salons and see how hard the workers are working, it inspires me.”

Shazia feels that family support is the pillar behind her success. “My parents always encouraged me to be independent. They have always been my backbone.”Her advice to working mothers is to follow your dreams and to never stop dreaming. “Follow your heart and your instincts.”

Her miracle moment, she feels, is when she has a satisfied client, “Every time I design a bridal and the bride is happy that is a miracle for me.”

 

 

 

#ThrowBack To The Pond’s Power Women {1/2}

Ever heard of wonder women ruling the world? Yeah…not just in comic books anymore! Women had taken all over all spheres of life with a storm. They’re literally everywhere!

And the idea of that was pretty vague to me, until I attended the Pond’s Celebration of Miracle Women Gala earlier last month. Everyone gathered in the heart of the Mohatta Palace (see last post) to celebrate working women and what is it like for them to juggle with all sorts of relationships, obstacles and above all, tiring work.

Here’s an ode to the Pond’s Power Women who’ve been creating an aesthetic storm into the Fashion Industry:

1.Asiya Malik (Creative Director, Firdaus Textiles)

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Asiya Malik is a firm believer that you will reach your destiny however long the journey takes. Married at a young age, Asiya, continued to pursue her studies after circumstance left her a lone parent. “I’m self taught,” she says with a quiet pride in her voice. “I come from a very conservative family from a village in Bhalwapur. I was married as per custom at a very age. When it didn’t work I was sent to Karachi, where I started studying by myself at home. Later I found a job in textiles. My employers encouraged me to pursue my studies and today I’m the creative director of a leading textile business.”Though her success story is inspirational, for Asiya the journey has been full of heartbreak. “I come from a very traditional family. I faced a lot of resistance from my extended family about studying and then working.”But convincing the family was not the only hardship she faced. “Working, studying and being a single parent was very challenging especially as I had to support my child and myself.”Asiya feels lucky that she found caring employers who guided her and mentored her in the right direction. “ShanazBasit, my first employer is my role model. She really encouraged me to go on. Everything was new to me as I had come from a small village but I was lucky that the office atmosphere was so progressive even though there were very few women working in that industry 20 years ago.”Today she feels things are changing very rapidly. “Nowadays families encourage you to work, even expect you to.”And Asiya agrees that work is very necessary for one’s self esteem. “Working is very important for your self respect. And if you work, others respect you too.”Though Asiya has come a long way from being the timid young small town girl, her miracle moment came when she learned to drive.

“When I first came to Karachi, I used to see women driving and feel awestruck. I decided that one day I too would learn to drive and when I did it was a miracle for me.”

2. Naushaba Brohi (Designer)

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Designer Naushaba Brohi experienced an event that led her to realize that she simply couldn’t continue to do work that did not impact the lives around her. Her worldview changed when she visited the floods in Sindh and saw the wide spread destruction. “The floods turned my world upside down. When I met the devastated women their reality seemed enmeshed with mine. I had to learn to dream bigger, really quickly.”

Struck by their poverty and desperation, she wanted to do something that was not just a temporary solution.  As she says in her calm yet impassioned way, ‘I believed in teaching a poor man to fish rather than handing one out to him.” A few months later, she launched an ethical fashion brand, Inaaya. Today Naushaba runs a successful business and gets to do work that allows her to operate in her zone of genius and help a wider community. “Inaaya means empathy,” she says. “Initially I pitched it as a community development plan but I wanted to distance myself from the mela and craft angle.” Naushaba had the business acumen to extemporize the available craft to match the style expectations of a global market. Her vision and the villagers’ craftsmanship formed a brilliant style combination and came at a time when the fashion world was just beginning to realize the need for sustainable and ethical fashion.“Fashion had suddenly developed a conscious. People wanted to know where their clothes were coming from. I wanted to go a bit deeper and scratch that and talk about rural entrepreneurship. I wanted to build bridges and connect their reality with ours. But I didn’t want to cause further displacement.”Despite being a working mum, constantly battling the demands on her time, she created a successful business model of fair trade, which empowered the worker. “The other day I got a call from a woman in rural Sindh who wanted to work with me.” That for her was a miracle moment. And there will be many more, as Inaaya (her daughter and the brand) continue to grow, inspire and empower.

 

3. RanoUsman (Embroiderer/ Entrepreneur at Rano’s Heirlooms)

Rano Usman

Rano’s miracle journey began with a loathing for all things entrepreneurial. Possessing a fine artistic temperament and a creative eye, she knew that she wanted to do something connected with the arts but what, she did not know. And it’s here that there was a twist in the tale for she discovered a love for embroidery – a skill she was trained in by a French nun at a school. But to pursue that interest, as a vocation she needed to sell her work and that is when she realised business was an essential part of life.

Her love of art conquered her loathing of business and she set about striking a fine balance between the two. Rano speaks passionately about why she chose this path. “Somewhere inside me there was a desire to enact history. When I began to do embroidery I recreated scenes from history.  I created pieces which were historically alive. I felt that a few decades back our feeling of identity had become lost. We had become very mongrelised, idolising the West and Bollywood. I began to preserve our culture and heritage through my embroidery. It was then I realised that I needed to sell to do more, so that’s how I accidentally ended up in business. I suppose you can call me an entrepreneur with a creative streak.”

Rano feels that it’s been easy for her to combine her roles of an artist, an entrepreneur and a mother mainly because her studio is located inside her house. Added to that her family, especially her husband has been very supportive.She feels today more and more women are stepping out into the professional life. “From chefs to pilots, women are everywhere. It’s great to see this change in Pakistan as more and more women pursue careers but it’s also because men have started giving them the space to grow.

Her advice to other working mothers is, “Never feel guilty. Choose what you want to do and how much of it. If you are sincere with what you do whether it’s home or work, things will work out. Life always comes a full circle.”And so it does; for Rano who started out as an artist pursuing a passion has proved today, with a store of her at the main Lahore boulevard, that creative people too can be business minded. The best of both!

Stay tuned for a feature on Pond’s Power Women {2/2} from the fashion industry…

 

5 things that made Pond’s Miracle Gala a raging success…

1. The Location

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As a resident of Karachi for the past 20 years of my life, this was the first time I saw Mohatta Palace all glamed up and set for an event, and I LOVED IT. It was breathtaking to watch the sun set and the kaleidoscopic lights to lit the monument up.

2. The Fashioniistas

Boy oh boy, did we see some rad fashion on the Pond’s red carpet? It was rather obvious once you dedicate an evening to celebrate 100 women – they will doll up for perfection. And they truly did.

3. The Power Women

It was pleasant to see such remarkably talented women all together to celebrate each other’s success. We really don’t see that much often. Pond’s Age Miracle, took up a great initiative and it would be amazing to see something quite similar in the near future.

4. The Performances

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The performances at the Ponds Miracle Gala were lie cherries on top of a cake. They kept the spirits of the night high and super entertaining.

5. The Selfie Stick

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As bizarre as that was, we’re Pakistani and thats what we do best – we hop onto the bandwagon. And that’s exactly what they did on stage. They brought in a selfie stick and got the 100 smiling women to pose.

To be fair, the selfie must’ve turned out good. xx-

 

PHOTO CREDITS: MOVIE SHOOVY

#VERDICT: Power Of a Common Man

As Published in SHE Magazine ’14

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Power of a Common Man

By Koral Dasgupta

Price: Rs. 795

Publisher: Westland Ltd 2014

Available at: Liberty Books

 

Endearingly charming and exotically handsome, Shah Rukh Khan is the most celebrated face who upholds an unprecedented status within the celluloid world. It is not just his well-rounded acting abilities that contributed to his fandom but his thousand-watt dimpled smile, played a vital role at naughtily making his way into an onlooker’s heart.

Paying an ode to this global phenomenon, Power of a Common Man is written by Koral Dasgupta who demystifies her marketing theory and guide to Consumer Behavior to study “King Khan.” Shah Rukh Khan, is known as the face of numerous brands, path-breaking entrepreneur production house, VFX Studio, an IPL team and most importantly lead-actor of record breaking Bollywood films. Dasgupta, along with being a novelist and a keen observer of the Indian Cinema, is also an academic, management consultant and content editor by profession. Her research papers have been published in leading journals and presented at renowned B-Schools across India. Her Indian mythology inspired paintings has also often been corporate gifts for many organizations.

Beginning with her compelling narration and an overview of Consumer Behaviorism, Dasgupta notes that, “[consumer behavior caters] the study of the lifestyle, psychology, demography, and sociology of individuals, groups or organizations to understand why certain products are accepted and absorbed more than the others.” It broadly delves into the consumer’s psyche and background to understand what lies at the base of all purchase decisions. And thus, she brilliantly attempts to explore the brand value of Shah Rukh Khan in driving products and services to success in the marketplace and aims to understand what his films or communications or associations mean to the consumer.

Dasgupta evaluates the reason why Shah Rukh Khan remains to be the most sought after celebrity to endorse a particular brand is due to his “guy next door image [that] makes him accessible to the general masses and sends the message that every guy next door has the potential to ride on paranormal success.”  She analyzes that the ‘imperfect’ commoners can relate to the confidence that Khan exudes while maintaining that he is ‘perfectly imperfect’ and still more successful than the others. Some of the brands SRK has endorsed over the years are Pepsi, Sprite, Nokia, Hyundai, Sunfeast, Videocon, Airtel, Emami, Nerolac Paints, Dish tv, Linc pens, D’decor, Lux, Frooti, Compaq, and Tag Heuer; all for which “his image cuts across all socio-economic classifications as his appeal does not get restricted to class, community, gender or age,” says Aditya Agarwal the Director of Emami Group of Companies.

The former half of the book discusses how Shah Rukh Khan is the best-selling product of his times and how he has changed, evolved and re-invented himself. While on one hand, he opted for Tag Heuer ads which capitalized his superstar aura, on the other hand, he boldly modeled for supposedly ‘feminine’ adverts like Lux, Fair and Handsome etc, setting a trend of its own despite criticisms. Dasgupta interlinks the business tool of the campaigns and schemes to utilize the star power and enthrall audiences at any cost, with the different facets of Shah Rukh Khan’s personality that has been used, expressed and elaborated on by marketers.

The latter half of the book excessively deals with the microanalysis of how Shah Rukh Khan rose to fame and may be the next Amitabh Bachchan of Indian Film Industry with projects like Don and Kon Banay Ga Crorepati under his belt. Dasgupta claims that, “Both [the actors had] their favorite on-screen names: Ajay and Vijay for Amitabh Bachchan; Raj and Rahul for Shah Rukh khan […] Both actors touched upon two vital longings of human psychology, one seeking fair social existence and the other demanding the fulfillment of innate desires that often goes beyond logical comprehension.”

While she offers a bulleted analysis of SRK’s possible target audience, where some of his movies are grouped together based on some common thread, she also ponders upon how his contemporaries till this day lack the correct balance of youth, romance and globalization which had been the three most critical factors to influence the film content of Shah Rukh Khan. More so, by cohesively dissecting and analyzing the SRK phenomenon, Dasgupta adds on that he is not  only a symbol of utmost success and stardom but is also a family man, a patriarch, a secular human and a chivalrous gentleman. “While Shah Rukh Khan focused on achieving whatever he could in the business he understands, these associations have added considerable modifications to his image from time to time.”

Power of a Common Man beautifully meshes together textbook theories with filmy phenomenon and capture the readers’ interest in a lively manner. Dasgupta has included an open-letter to the actor himself, different advertisement pictures, comprehensive bullet points and a case study on SRK’s latest film, Chennai Express to present her analysis and propel the reader to develop their own perspectives regarding the marketing world. She concludes by saying that SRK has never failed in picking up clues from the market and moving with the times. Each time, he has made his best efforts to respond to change with a reinvention and repositioning of his business practices. Nonetheless, Khan’s growth has been vast, not only in stature, but also in terms of volumes. This book is especially recommended to SRK loyalists and business students.

 

Sum Up: A business perspective on a boy-next door who made it to the top.