Sunday, April 24, 2016

Book Review :: The Stylist

I have no idea what HarperCollins was thinking when they published this book. Haven't we had enough of the 'underdog triumphs despite all odds' and 'happy endings that make no sense' themed books? This is the worst book I have read so far this year! :( 



The StylistThe Stylist by Rosie Nixon
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

In ‘The Stylist’, debut author Rosie Nixon takes us into a world of high-class fashion and celebrity lives from the eyes of Amber Green, who fails in an epic way in fulfilling Nixon’s idea

This review was first published for The Hans India

Lacklustre tales in an uber-glam world

A "fortunate" shoe incident lands 20-something Briton, Amber Green, a job with stylist for Hollywood celebrities, Mona Armstrong. Things get crazy in Amber's life what with the award season lined up; the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs and the Oscars and working with a dysfunctional boss, who is also a caffeine addict. Add to this, a TV crew following them around; filming a documentary on Mona’s life.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The liberatory power of makeup

Lisa Eldridge’s first book, ‘Face Paint: The Story of Makeup’ is a reminder of human social obligations; of wanting to belong and feel accepted







"Makeup, as we know it, has only been commercially available in the last 100 years, but applying decoration to the face and body may be one of the oldest global social practices.”

London-based makeup artiste, Lisa Eldridge has added another shade to her palette of achievements with her first book, ‘Face Paint: The Story of Makeup’.

In ‘Face Paint’, the red carpet specialist with over 20 years of experience in the industry reveals the history of makeup, from Egyptian ages through the Victorian age and the golden era of Hollywood, and surveys the science of cosmetics for what lies ahead in it. She narrates a story tracing the origins of makeup to its development over centuries citing anthropological, psychological, evolutionary and sexual significances as she uncovers the answer for one question – what drives us to paint ourselves?

The book explores the reasons behind makeup’s use, the ingredients over generations; it is an engaging history of style, it is also a social history of women and the ways in which we can understand the lives of the gender from their reflections of made-up (or not made up) faces in the mirror.

Interlaced in the book are Eldridge’s makeup muses that include names beginning from Marie Antoinette and traversing through history with Queen Alexandra, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Amy Winehouse, Brigitte Bardot, Madonna, our very own Meena Kumari and more; Lisa breaks down the distinctive style of these iconic women who have inspired her work for all these years.

Meena Kumari in the Makeup Muses section in the book


Monday, April 4, 2016

Nailing culprits with a dash of fashion


Here is some great news for Indian audience that thrives on watching web series. They are on the rise and how! What’s more! There is an element of freshness even in the completion Take for instance the critically acclaimed ‘Alisha – The Fashion Detective’ on Culture Machine’s Blush You Tube channel, which remains vivid in one’s memory and can be revisited on the internet.

A crime-thriller featuring India’s first female detective on the web, 'Alisha' is clever, sassy and gives a damn to people’s opinion about her. Although, inspired by desi detective Byomkesh Bakshi and Agatha Christie she is one-of-a-kind as she probes into crimes happening in the world fashion and entertainment.

We caught up with Lianne Texeria, who both created as well as played Alisha on the show, and director Akanksha Seda, who tells us “what happens when the most badass bunch of women get together to run a YT channel”.


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Celebrity Breakup Brigade

Last week saw three celebrity couples – one each in Bollywood, Indian Television industry and Hollywood- with breakups or relationship problems. High power celebrity couples breaking up seems to have become the flavour of this year. We make an attempt to analyse what seems to be killing love in the lives of our favourite celebrities







Last week began with one of Bollywood’s leading power couples releasing a statement confirming their separation. Crazy as it made us, a couple of days later, news came about the breakup of former television heartthrob who is currently grooving in Bollywood with his lanky persona, Sushant Singh Rajput and his longstanding girlfriend, Ankita Lokhande. If that wasn’t enough, midweek gave us information on our favourite celebrity couple of all time - the one who brought hip couple names in vogue – Brangelina’s marriage is reported to be on a rocky terrain. And if how our Senior Feature Editor puts it, ‘there’s no smoke without fire’ is anything to go by, well then that’s no good news for Brad and Angeilna.

Malaika and Arbaaz are married for almost 18 years now after meeting during a coffee ad shoot. They have a 14-year-old son. Brad Pitt and Angelina have been together for upto 11 years and have six children. Sushant and Ankita’s six years together had them engaged and set to marry in December this year, which let us hope happens.

This makes it three power couples – one each in Bollywood, Indian Television industry and Hollywood- in less than a week with breakups or relationship problems. High power celebrity couples breaking up seems to be the flavour of the year. Well, the bad kind, of course.


Let’s rewind to the beginning of this year. It was the first day in January and when most of us were probably in a hangover from resting too much or drinking too much the night before, Raghu Ram of ‘Roadies’ fame and his wife, Sugandha Garg were already turning a new leaf in their marital life that is of course announcing their decision to end it. What was extremely disturbing (for us, fans) was their totally Zen attitude on the split. Such maturity! Oh my!

“We decided that 2016 will be a new beginning with old friends and that’s what we are doing. We had a beautiful and special relationship,” Sugandha told IANS. “Ten years were very fulfilling for both of us, but we see that our relationship needs to go through a change from being a couple to being good friends,” she said.

“The best part about this (our divorce) is that Raghu and I are doing this together. If that was not the case, then it would have been difficult for both of us to handle this situation individually. I don’t feel like I am fighting this alone. It continues to be very pleasant,” she said.

Best part? Pleasant? Not words one would hear in a sentence with the D-word in it.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Book review :: Hot Feminist

Dear readers,
The next time someone calls you a hypocritical little feminist because you might have (accidentally) laughed at a sexist joke or cracked one on men or something other of the sort that doesn't conform to a "typical" feminist ideology, throw this book at their big fat head. This can achieve three things:
1. The blow might knock sense into their head
2. They might pick it up and read it
3. (Hopefully) The blow can kill them


Hot FeministHot Feminist by Polly Vernon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This review was first published for The Hans India

The gears of feminism have shifted putting into motion a new wave of political ideologies towards gender equality. Polly Vernon’s first book is modern feminism 101 with tips and tricks for acing it

Unabashedly real, unapologetically brazen

London-based Grazia columnist, Polly Vernon sure knows how to brew a storm in a teacup. Those who read her in the past know how she brazenly talks on controversial subjects. And, what more controversial a subject than 'feminism', in this case, 'hot feminism'?

Polly's first book, ‘Hot Feminist’ is heavily white and almost memoir-ish. But, fret not. It might be perceived as feminism for only whites or for a certain class of people, but in reality what Polly is trying here is to empower women of all colours through the anecdotes she narrates. And, make you laugh a little in that process.

Narrated in an offhand language, the book is presented in four major chapters, ‘Non-Judgement Day’, ‘The Fashionable Feminist’, ‘Beauty and the Feminist’ and ‘Men, wives, babies’ and two complementary chapters, ‘The Other Things’ and ‘The N Word’.

Polly Vernon strips the behaviour of women and bravely bares it all revealing the most intimate reasons of doing what they do. Yikes! From being a bitch to other women to assorting to manipulative behaviour to get their way, from shaving the ‘V’ for a quality “bang” to campaigning for the right to safe abortion; Polly’s version of a modern feminist does it all unapologetically.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Feature :: We don't need "strong" female characters

Not many books have female protagonist without a man to hold her hand, and most of the strongest female characters celebrated in literature had their end game planned on bagging a husband home. However, there are exceptions that prove that strength goes beyond the cliché


We don't need "strong" female characters

The International Women’s Day, which will be here in a couple of days, presents a pseudo time when people look upon “extraordinary” characteristics to celebrate womanhood. Let’s break some rules here. Popular fiction features countless female protagonists, who are described as “strong” or “powerful” with no actual significance of their strength towards inspiring reality. 

Be it Edna from ‘The Awakening’ or Andrea from ‘The Devil Wears Prada’—sure, these women had their goals to follow, but they also had a love subplot that took centre stage, repeatedly. So is the case with Elizabeth Bennet from ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and Éowyn from ‘The Lord of the Rings’, who are no doubt one of the most celebrated characters; they were stubborn, unforgiving and defied all gender stereotypes, but were always looking for validation from their male counterparts and questioning the strength of their gender.

Therefore, it is time to move away from the façade of pseudo feminine strength and look at characters that show consistency in being comfortable in their skin.

A realisation after coming to terms with her gender. Of course, she kicked ass after that

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Book Review :: Walking the Himalayas

Dear readers
The last time I gave a book full five stars was in 2013 when I first read 'The Silmarillion' by JRR Tolkien. Finally, this year a book came to my desk that deserves more than just five stars. Normally, I review a book and leave it on you to choose it for your bookshelf, but with this book, I urge you all to read it.

I am in a terrible book hangover (and author hangover, let me add) from the past week after finishing the book. This seems like a good time to take a break from reading new publications and rereading the Harry Potter series for the year.



Walking The HimalayasWalking The Himalayas by Levison Wood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the tale of Levison Wood—six months, 2,736 km, four million steps, a handful of guides and one man walking. Wood recounts the beauty and danger along the Silk Road route of Afghanistan, the Line of Control between Pakistan and India, the disputed territories of Kashmir, the earthquake-ravaged lands of Nepal and the phallus-worshipping happiness of Bhutan

This review was first published for The Hans India

Raw, rugged and real
Packed with action and emotion, ‘Walking the Himalayas’ is the story of explorer Levison Wood’s trek from the western anchor of the Himalayas in Afghanistan to the eastern anchor of the magnificent mountains in Bhutan, traversing through Pakistan, India and Nepal.

Not to be humbled by the magnitude and dangers of the travel – it is after all, walking the length of the Himalayan ranges – but, the book does stand out with its breath-taking narration, dramatic writing style that leaves a reader gasping for more and the spiritual abundance Wood encounters across many faiths in his journey.

Over the course of six months, Levison Wood and his trusted guides, Malang, Binod and others trek 2,736 gruelling kilometres across the roof of the world—the book gives a realistic impression of a journey often endured rather than enjoyed what with the stories of simple families and their everyday lives.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Feature :: A 'Civil' coup with robotic precision

A team of ‘civil’ students from third and final years spoke on the challenges they face, and their being the backbone of infrastructure development and their value as engineers and more

This feature was first published for The Hans India

A 'Civil' coup with robotic precision

As a startling revelation it has stunned even those who shot to limelight. Perennially living in the shadow of the more ‘glamourous’ boys pursuing ‘happening’ streams like robotics and mechanical, students from Civil Engineering stole the thunder from right under the nose of their ‘elitist’ batch-mates. And that was the biggest talking point of Adsophos-2016, a national-level tech fair that was organised at Muffakham Jah College of Engineering And Technology (MJCET).

Spearheaded by Ibrahim Mahmood Shah, Team Civil Expo, comprising of students from the third and fourth years of their graduation, drew the loudest applause when it showcased their engineering marvels that exemplified creative ingenuity and bore the hallmark of a vibrant next generation of civil engineers.



The real world innovations were crafted with the focus on ‘cost-saving implementation’ as Shah put it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Feature :: The One With All The Love (pt 2)

With 236 episodes across 10 seasons, 62 Primetime Emmy nominations, 6 iconic characters and 12 years later after it last aired, ‘Friends’ still remains the most loved television sitcom of all time. The producers often referred to it as ,’just a TV show’, but the profound impact it has on relationships at all levels speaks for itself; its secret is hidden in its simply-crafted title and the magic of love the show eternally spins.

This feature was first published for Sunday Magazine, The Hans India


Greatest love moments on Friends
Iconic moments on the show are many, like the one where Phoebe has the triplets on the 100th episode, when Richard and Monica ‘fall in love’, when Joey is moving out and hugs Chandler in the door… ok, the list is endless. We are focusing on the ‘love’ moments though. These are the moments that had us falling in love, with the characters and their stories and everything in between.

The one with the Lobster


The very first of the many love moments on the show was when after much ado about nothing, Ross and Rachel finally kiss. This is the moment that set the show on a decade-long journey of the Ross-Rachel mania that that had us rooting for television's most beloved couple to find their happily ever after with each other.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Feature :: The One With All The Love

With 236 episodes across 10 seasons, 62 Primetime Emmy nominations, 6 iconic characters and 12 years later after it last aired, ‘Friends’ still remains the most loved television sitcom of all time. The producers often referred to it as ,’just a TV show’, but the profound impact it has on relationships at all levels speaks for itself; its secret is hidden in its simply-crafted title and the magic of love the show eternally spins.

This feature was first published for Sunday Magazine, The Hans India



The first photos from NBC’s ‘The James Burrow’ special show honoring legendary comedy director, came out last week and to say that fans of the iconic sitcom, ‘Friends’ were emotionally overwhelmed is an understatement.

The “reunion” as the world is calling it, albeit without Mathew Perry (Chandler), had Jennifer Aniston (Rachel), Courteney Cox (Monica), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe), Matt LeBlanc (Joey) and David Schwimmer Ross), who sat together after the show last aired in May, 2004; they shared laughs and anecdotes from their journey on the sets as the brief video reveals.

Needless to say, fans of the show went crazy and named the event as, “The One Where Almost Everyone Shows Up”, “The One Without Chandler”, “The One With the Reunion” amongst many other creative titles.

“I'm happy that it is not an episode but a sort of public forum where they are present as one of the iconic comedy TV series of all time. I would have been very worried about the end result if this would have been a Friends episode set, say, 10-15 years in future,” says 31-year old Abhinav, an IT professional from Haridwar.

While the news of the reunion sparked new interest in many, good 'ol fans reminisced something deeper—love. In the light of Valentine's Day today, what better love story could we talk about than the story of viewers' love for Friends, which blossomed along with the stories of the characters?

It wasn't just the show that we were falling in love with. For many people, love stories began because of the show.