Interview Lite Blogs

‘Serial killer Danny has been most experimental role’

The film is all set to have OTT premiere ZEE5 on November 25 in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam…reports Asian Lite News

Malayalam star Dulquer Salmaan, who essayed the role of a serial killer with a warped mind in the psychological crime thriller film ‘Chup: Revenge of The Artist’, has called his role in the film the most experimental one for him till date.

The film has been directed by R. Balki, who is known for his movies such as ‘Cheeni Kum’, ‘Paa’, ‘Shamitabh’ and ‘Pad Man’. The film, which pays homage to the late director Guru Dutt’s film ‘Kaagaz Ke Phool’, which was severely panned by the critics, tells the story of an artist who goes on a killing spree after he gets continuously criticised.

Talking about his character, Dulquer Salmaan said: “Stepping into the shoes of the serial killer Danny has been the most experimental role till date. Identifying with someone who wreaks havoc across the city murdering critics, the mere thought is frightening. The narrative delves into every layer of a criminal’s mind, challenging the viewers’ psyche and morality in the process. ‘Chup: Revenge of the Artist’ is not your usual detective drama. The relentless and heart-stopping thriller will amp up your expectations.”

‘Chup: Revenge of The Artist’ is a unique narrative supported by great performances and stimulating cinematography that will leave the audience at the edge of their seat.

The film is all set to have OTT premiere ZEE5 on November 25 in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam.

Sunny Deol said: “Essaying the character of IG Arvind Mathur was a terrific experience. It was more like solving a jigsaw puzzle. The movie will be available on ZEE5 in 5 different languages and without revealing much I urge the audience to watch the film. It will leave you wide eyed with the deception and suspense.”

With Amit Trivedi and Sneha Khanwalkar’s melodious tunes and S.D. Burman’s songs in the backdrop, Chup: Revenge of the Artist depicts the cut-throat world of media. The movie will also feature Pooja Bhatt and Saranya Ponvannan in supporting roles and will also witness Amitabh Bachchan essaying a special cameo.

“‘Chup’ is an ode to the sensitive artist and Guru Dutt is right on top of that list. I have had the story for a long time and I am glad I finally wrote it. Guru Dutt’s finest work, ‘Kaagaz Ke Phool’, was heavily criticised, the film failed and he didn’t make a film after that. While tearing art apart, few think about the sensitivity of the artist. ‘Chup’ is a story that examines the insensitivity towards an artist’s work and also the flaw in the reaction of the artist towards such criticism. It’s a film about the dangerous consequences of mistaking responsibility for power,” director R. Balki concluded.

ALSO READ-Dulquer: Thank you for making me feel like your own

Bollywood Interview Lite Blogs

‘It’s time to act to put society on the right track’

Talking about the violence meted out to women as a result of caste discrimination, the actress said: “When our sisters are raped and hung on trees by upper-caste goons, there’s hardly any word about it.”…reports Asian Lite News

Award-winning Malayalam and Tamil actress Parvathy Thiruvothu flagged instances of ‘honour killing’, rape and oppression of the minorities to make a case for cinema addressing what all is going wrong in our society.

The actress, who is gearing up for the release of her upcoming streaming movie “Wonder Women”, spoke on Tuesday and shared her thoughts about speaking up on the need to highlight these issues as a moral responsibility.

“Wonder Woman” is an English-language film directed by Anjali Menon with an all-woman cast. It is about five pregnant women confronting their deep-rooted problems as they come together for pre-natal classes.

Talking about the violence meted out to women as a result of caste discrimination, the actress said: “When our sisters are raped and hung on trees by upper-caste goons, there’s hardly any word about it.”

She then made a reference to the Karnataka hijab row without actually mentioning it. “There’s hardly any noise around for women who want to dress up in the way they want to as per their beliefs. Ours is a democratic country, after all,” she said.

Answering a question from on the ongoing persecution of women in Iran, the actress said: “I don’t have any reaction to matters such as these. I have stopped reacting; I feel we are way past giving reactions. It’s the time to act so that we can put society on the right track.”

Iran is seeing enormous protests after the death of a woman named Mahsa Amini while she was in the custody of the ‘morality police’ for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly. The protests have spread across the country and have fuelled global anger.

Parvathy Thiruvothu (Instagram)

Parvathy noted: “When there’s so much oppression happening on the Gaza strip, the Palestinians are being attacked, there are so many social media reactions, but when oppression happens in our neighbouring villages, it doesn’t draw as much attention. Caste murders for instance are still referred to as honour killings when in reality they’re simply caste killings.”

She added: “I’m not saying that we shouldn’t say anything about what is happening internationally, but it is our duty to raise our voices against oppression in any part of the world. And I have always said this: ‘If you want to be international, be as local as possible.’ First, let us address issues at home and then we can hope that the domino effect of countering oppression spreads out across the borders and helps people in other parts of the world.”

“Wonder Women” will drop on SonyLIV on November 18.

ALSO READ-‘I only see human beings talking to me’

Films Interview Lite Blogs

‘It’s important to be upfront about taking up challenges’

For Grover, it is important to confront the establishment. Adding that he has the instinct to speak out against anything that harms human compassion, he says, ” I am aware of my privileges…writes Sukant Deepak

“They are not biased, their opinion is not based on who I am. Children can be the harshest critics and absolutely unprejudiced, precisely why writing for them is closest to my heart,” writer, actor, filmmaker, and stand-up comic Varun Grover tells.

This National-award winning lyricist, who recently finished his debut film ‘All India Rank’, a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age movie set in Delhi, is a busy man nowadays. “Besides the film’s post-production work, there is an interview series that I have started on YouTube which features conversations with artists, writers, and directors about the depiction of violence in cinema. I have not done stand-up comedy for a year, and now plan to get back to it,” he says.

This co-creator of ‘Aisi Taisi Democracy’, feels the trend of ‘self-censorship’ is hurting artists, and more importantly the arts. “When we look back in the future, sadly, a lot of work created during these times will come across as safe and tame. While artists need to be aware of the restrictions, they must find ways to say things. Of course, there are many legal issues that come in between…things you can say and cannot say. Right now is the time to think of novel ways to express ourselves,” says Grover, who was at the latest edition of the Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) which was back in its physical avatar after two years.

For Grover, it is important to confront the establishment. Adding that he has the instinct to speak out against anything that harms human compassion, he says, ” I am aware of my privileges. If you have them, it is more important to be upfront about taking up challenges that the underprivileged cannot. And yes, there are things that must be talked about, no matter what.”

Varun Grover

Talk to him about the trolling and threats received by stand-up comedians, and Grover admits that Indians seem to have become more touchy now. “It is quite surprising. Why do we forget that the tales of our ancestors and that important texts have always been open to varied interpretations? Sadly, now we are being told to follow only one, and that a single narrative is the only ‘correct’ one. Even kings would employ an individual whose job was to make fun of, point out flaws in the system, and criticize the decisions of the highest decision-making body. Now every criticism is considered an attack, something that just does not make sense,” he concludes.

ALSO READ-‘I have never thought of success’

Fashion Interview Lite Blogs

‘Beauty is what beauty does’ for Tara Sutaria

To be honest with you, it is the very powerful women in my life– my twin sister, my grandmother and my mom…Tara speaks with Puja Gupta

Bollywood actress Tara Sutaria feels the three most powerful women in her life are – her twin sister, her grandmother and mother – who make her feel empowered.

She follows the life mantra her mother taught her while she was young ‘beauty is what beauty does’.

We spoke to the actress who turned showstopper at Lakme Fashion Week x FDCI for designer Aisha Rao. The actress sashayed the ramp wearing an embellished multi-coloured lehenga teamed with a matching, off-shoulder long-sleeved choli and a short, black, tulle, veil with floral embroidery. Read excerpts:

Do you like what you’re wearing? How do you relate to the brand’s ideology?

Tara: This wonderful lehenga is a marriage of the old and new, which I think Aisha does so beautifully. It has got wonderful colours and applique work on it. It speaks about art and architecture – two things that are very, very special to me in any case. So, it’s a wonderful collaboration.

What is your style mantra?

Tara: Well, I think my life mantra would be a phrase my mom used to tell me when I was much younger. It’s ‘beauty is as beauty does’.

Who’s your style icon?

Tara: Elizabeth Taylor.

What’s your beauty secret?

Tara: I do have good genes, thanks to my parents. But I don’t really think I have a beauty secret. I think just be yourself and don’t be so scared.

What makes you feel empowered?

Tara: To be honest with you, it is the very powerful women in my life– my twin sister, my grandmother and my mom.

What are your thoughts on sustainable fashion?

Tara: It is so important to have a great conversation especially on a platform like Lakme Fashion Week and it has created this beautiful outfit and so many other outfits in Aisha’s collection. I’m sure in other designers feel its important to talk about it.

Tell us about your upcoming projects.

Tara: I am beginning to do my next project, which is my first solo lead film. It’s called ‘Apoorva’, and I’m very, very excited. It’s a story about survival and a woman’s strength.

ALSO READ-Veteran designer Anamika Khanna kick-starts LFW

Bollywood Interview Lite Blogs

‘I am not shy about playing a mother or a sister’

‘Pippa’ is going to release on December 2. And it’s based on India-Bangladesh 1971 war…reports Asian Lite News

Actress Mrunal Thakur says she never shies way from playing any role on screen, be it that of a mother or sister, as long as the story is good.

We recently caught up the actress at the Lakme Fashion Week x FDCI, being held in Mumbai, where she walked the runway as showstopper for designer Swapna Anumolu, who launched her latest collection under the brand Mishru. Read excerpts:

What personality traits of your own do you see reflected in the brand Mishru?

Mrunal: Fun, easy, breezy. A nature lover and contemporary. If you see the kind of films I do, they are progressive but rooted to culture, tradition, family. That’s the vibe I see when I see Mishru outfits.

Do you think that fashion and acting are integral parts of each other? How do you feel walking the runway as a showstopper?

Mrunal: I am really happy that the designers have so much faith in me. It was always a dream for me to walk for a designer. I remember while in school, during recess me and my girls used to catwalk in the corridors. And now when I talk to them and tell them that I’m walking for Swapna’s brand Mishru, they feel so happy and give me tips like don’t move your shoulder too much, don’t smile too much as I have a habit of smiling. Small inputs that keep it real.

I’m really happy everybody is showing immense trust in me. So that really makes me feel good. And I’m happy to be able to represent and wear such beautiful Indian designs. I would really like to take Indian designers to an international platform and show them how big the country is.

How do you pick your projects? Did you ever fear picking avant-garde roles that actors shy away from?

Mrunal: I am not shy about playing a mother or a sister. I just choose a film if the story is good.

When it comes to beauty and makeup, do you believe that less is more or do you like to experiment?

Mrunal: Well, it depends. Less is more in my personal life. But when it comes to work, I like to go a little quirky and over the top and drama. I love a little the drama when it comes to going out and experiment. So, there are moods and vibes.

What projects are you looking forward to?

Mrunal: ‘Pippa’ is going to release on December 2. And it’s based on India-Bangladesh 1971 war. I wasn’t really aware about this war until I did this film, and discovered so many beautiful things and the kinds of efforts that people had taken at that time. It’s a lovely story. We have Ishaan Khattar, Priyanshu and Soni Razdan in the film. In February, we have ‘Gumrah’ releasing, then ‘Aankh Mein Choli’, ‘Pooja Meri Jaan’ is also releasing. I’m really excited for the next year. Because I will be playing different genres like human drama, thriller, comedy.

ALSO READ-Mrunal Likes To Pick Roles Based On Story

India News Interview

Kashmir’s 1st int’l wheelchair basketball player Ishrat Akhtar

In this whole journey, I give a lot of credit to the Indian Army and the Jammu- Kashmir police who found me that day and approached me in my home in Baramullah… Ishrat Akhtar speaks with Aayushi Sharma

In the second interview of our series on young, exciting women achievers from Kashmir, Global Order’s Aayushi Sharma spoke to Ishrat Akhtar, the international wheelchair basketball player from Baramulla in Kashmir. This is part of our work in highlighting stories of change from Kashmir, once one of the world’s most troubled hotspots with raging separatist movement, but which now has thrilling young stars in all kinds of sports from cricket and judo to basketball.

Aayushi Sharma: Hello Ishrat! Thank you for speaking with me. First of all I would like to ask, where are you staying right now?

Ishrat Akhtar: I am in Baramulla, Kashmir.
So you are famous for playing basketball as a profession and I would like to ask, how did you start your journey as a professional basketball player?
Okay, so in 2016 I fell from the second floor of a building after which my spinal cord was completely damaged. I was immediately taken to a hospital in Baramullah. I was later referred to Srinagar where I had surgery after three days of the incident. I stayed in the hospital for a month after surgery. When I got discharged and I came home I did not really understand what had happened. After almost six months, there was no improvement in my condition. I used to be in bed all the time, my family members used to feed me.

After one year I got a call and I was told there was a camp happening in my district where they are providing wheelchairs to people like me. My sister persuaded me to go to the camp. When I went there, there were doctors who did my checkup and they said that I should come to their hospital and get trained in using a wheelchair. I went to that hospital in Srinagar where they provided me with the facilities and the training that I needed in becoming self-sufficient. They taught me how to use a wheelchair and do my tasks on my own. It took me one year to learn all this. This helped me cure my depression as it is very difficult to be confined in one room, one bed for more than a year.

It was during this time that I came across some boys who were playing wheelchair basketball. I approached them and asked if I could play with them, they agreed. They told me about the Wheelchair Basketball Federation of India happening in Srinagar and a national level team would be selected for Wheelchair Basketball. I asked them to also inform me when that camp happens because I wanted to go there and keep myself busy so I could deal with my depression better. I went to that camp and I played with many boys and girls who were like me and I got selected at the National level. It was very surprising because I had never played basketball in my life before. I did not play any games before my accident as well. This way, basketball also became a therapy for me.The first national game I played was in Tamil Nadu and I had to represent Delhi as there was no women’s team in Jammu and Kashmir at that time. There I saw so many boys and girls who were in wheelchairs like me and I felt that I was not alone. After coming back from there I was determined to make a women’s wheelchair basketball team to represent Jammu and Kashmir. Through social media I also reached out to various NGOs and finally made a team of women wheelchair basketball players. We trained and played our second Nationals in Mohali where we represented Jammu and Kashmir. After coming back from Mohali in August 2019, there were communication breakdowns in Kashmir that created some problems in staying connected and training regularly. It was during this time that I was visited by some army officers and policemen who started asking about me. They told me about the selection camp for the national team for the wheelchair basketball tournament. This team would represent India at the international level. They told me that my name was on the list. Various arrangements were made for me to travel to Srinagar and to other places. I was worried about how I could travel long distances and also train. I would be alone and the phone lines were also cut at that time. I was then motivated by my family members who told me that this was a great opportunity and not people get this kind of a chance to do something big. I then decided that I would be a part of this camp.
After my selection in the Indian national team, I have recently represented India in Thailand for the International Tournament. I became the first woman to represent India at the international level for the wheelchair basketball tournament. After that I got invitations from various states to speak at events and share my stories. I received many awards and accolades after this, even the Lieutenant Governor of Kashmir awarded me with various honors. I also started playing wheelchair cricket and wheelchair table tennis. I participated in a State level Wheelchair Race where I competed against boys and bagged the first position.

In this whole journey, I give a lot of credit to the Indian Army and the Jammu- Kashmir police who found me that day and approached me in my home in Baramullah. The head coach of the Indian Team at that time, Louis George also helped and guided me a lot. Most of all, the credit of my journey goes to the Wheelchair Basketball Federation of India because they organised such events and camps for us. At present also I am preparing for another camp where the selection of the National and International level team of Wheelchair Basketball Players will be held.
Thank you so much Ishrat for telling me about your journey in detail. Now you have received so much recognition and appreciation from around the world, but I am wondering what it must have been like when you were dealing with the struggles of this journey.

It was very difficult at the beginning because I was the first female sportsperson in a Wheelchair. There was no Basketball court in my district. Also as you know, when you have a spinal cord injury you lose your sense of balance. During those times, I used to travel 100 km daily with my brother-in-law on a bike. Even now that I have played at the international level, there is still no basketball court in my district for practice. I have approached the administration countless times asking them to build better infrastructure and facilities for sports in this district. I was asked to write many applications and I did so. But still there has been no improvement in this case. There were other types of struggles as well, I had to deal with the opinions of other people as well. They used to ask me as to why I’m playing when I am in a wheelchair, why am I going out of the house for long hours when I am a woman but my family always supported me in my dreams and I started forgetting what people used to say.
Sports is often seen as a field dominated primarily by men. I did want to ask you that as a woman and dealing with the physical challenges what else did you have to deal with?
It was very stressful. When I had just started playing , I made my profile on social media for the first time. When I posted for the very first time, there were so many cruel and horrible comments from people. So I started being reluctant to post my photos. On the positive side, I also found some people who reached out to me and motivated me to tell me that I had to be strong and face these challenges. I also found some recognition on social media and the people who used to curse me often for being a Muslim, a Kashmiri Muslim and a woman sportsperson stopped bothering me. Another struggle I had to deal with was continuing with my studies. After recovering from the accident I decided to continue with my studies and it was only recently that I passed my 12th standard final examinations. Being confined to the wheelchair, I also had to deal with the problem of lack of accessibility to many facilities. Even in my school or other places I used to visit, I had to face a lot of problems going to the washrooms and there were no ramps alongside the stairs or lifts.
Absolutely, the lack of disabled friendly facilities is a grave problem. This must have added to the challenges you were already facing.
Yes of course. Even our own administration here invited me to their office and when I went there I saw that there were no facilities of lifts or ramps there as well.
So you have elaborated a lot on your struggles and challenges but despite all of that you have worked a lot for the benefit of the physically challenged. How, in your opinion, has your work helped other women like you ?
When I joined the Wheelchair Basketball camp, I was the only woman there. Now, there are so many women who are approaching and contacting me saying that they want to play like me. Not even women, many physically challenged men have approached me and said that they get motivated by seeing me play. It feels very good to see people get inspired by my story.
My next question is somewhat related to this, you have also been working as a Motivational Speaker lately so I want to ask how did you make this journey from being a Basketball player to a Motivational Speaker?
I had received an invitation from a school in our district and I was asked to give a speech. That was the first time I had shared my story with people like that. The response was something I had never imagined. So many people and especially little girls started coming to me and asking me to help them become like me. This motivated me a lot and I decided that I would attempt to inspire people by sharing my story. That is how I started speaking at events and giving motivational speeches. My aim was that even if there is one girl out there like me, she could come forward and not be scared to follow her dreams. There were girls whose families did not support them so I used to go myself and talk to their families. I wanted to give them the motivation that I got from my family. Today, I very proudly say that I am a wheelchair basketball player. My family members and even the people in my district who did not support me before are now very proud of me.

What is the situation in Kashmir now when it comes to sports related infrastructure?

Over the years I have met so many people who want to join sports, not just the ones physically challenged like me. The only problem is that there are no facilities. I did not have a basketball court and if I had not traveled long hours every day, I could not have played at the International level. I had to manage by carrying two wheelchairs to my practice everyday. If there had been a court here in this district, it would have been easier for other people, other women and even men to come forward and play to represent at the National and International level.

I agree. How do you think the recurring conflict in Kashmir has affected you or your work as a sportsperson?

See I don’t indulge with what is happening with the conflict, I focus on my game. I had got a lot of support from the Indian Army and the Police as well. The army battalion here helped locate me in Baramullah and that is how my whole journey started.

So you had mentioned earlier that there was a phase of depression after your injury. You also said that basketball became a therapy for you. My last question to you would be, what do you think the role of sports is for the physically challenged?

I will tell you about my case. If I had not joined sports when I did, I would probably have taken a wrong step with my life. When I started playing Basketball, I started staying busy with the practices and doing things on my own, the suicidal thoughts started going away by themselves. I can’t imagine what would have happened if I had not joined sports, I would probably not have been alive even. Now I am playing three sports at once, I am playing wheelchair cricket, wheelchair table tennis and even wheelchair racing. I was even awarded by the National Commission for Women of India. I would never have achieved all this without sports. So I owe a lot to sports personally.

So Ishrat, many congratulations for all these achievements! You also told me that you recently completed your 12th Standard [class, in school] as well, congratulations for all of this! This is all the fruit of your own hard work.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

What lies ahead for you?

I will be joining the next trials for the selection of the new team at the International level team to represent India once again. So I will be busy with those trials.

Fantastic. Thank you so much for taking time out for this interview Ishrat! I know your schedule has been very busy.

No problem. Thank you very much.

ALSO READ-Redefining the extraordinary in ordinary lives

Food Interview Lite Blogs

Chef Akshay thrilled about representing country

Indian cuisine takes you through a wonderful exploration process where cultures and cuisines change every 100 km…Chef speaks with Lothungbeni Humtsoe

With his global exposure and extraordinary culinary skills, Chef Akshay Bhardwaj is set to represent India at an international level at the competition. The Head Chef at Andaz Delhi, Chef Bhardwaj, will be representing India in the Sixth World Tapas Competition in the City of Valladolid, Spain, between the 7th – 9th November, 2022.Bhardwaj speaks about his preparation for the competition against other world renowned Tapas chefs.

How did you come to represent India at the Sixth World Tapas Competition in the City of Valladolid, Spain?

Akshay: I came across the Sixth World Tapas Competition in one of the chef groups I am a part of. After some back and forth and hesitation, I applied, considering that it can be a wonderful experience and an excellent opportunity for me to showcase the progressive approach that comes with Indian street-side food.

How prepared are you for this contest? And what actions are you taking to alter the game?

Akshay: Daily practice of balancing flavours, and different techniques, in preparing different dishes is definitely still ongoing. Considering my resources and venue are going to be entirely different there, the desired results can only be achieved if enough dedication and time are given to the process.

Are you feeling anxious to be part of a cutthroat battle with foreign nations? What message do you have for the citizens of our country?

Akshay: All of us are chefs and cooking gives us joy and makes up our careers and life, so I am thrilled about representing my country on such a wonderful platform with so many amazing chefs. I am of course, a bit anxious as it is my first time contesting on such a platform. However, my excitement is similar to the one I feel when I create something new in the kitchen when I give my all to it, and then wait for it to succeed.

What do you feel when Indian cuisine draws rave reviews from food experts throughout the world?

Akshay: I feel that there should be a nationwide move to educate the guests of our heritage and motivate all chefs to create, ignite and bring back the same to life by integrating it in our food concepts. Indian cuisine takes you through a wonderful exploration process where cultures and cuisines change every 100 km.

What does enjoying good food mean to you?

Akshay: I believe that cooking something that initiates my subconscious mind and makes me move in my chair, is the definition of good food.

How would you quantify success?

Akshay: There is no way to quantify success, in my opinion. The meaning of success can vary from person to person. I feel like a very successful person to have been given this opportunity to represent my country on an international platform.

ALSO READ-‘We are always looking for new ways to connect with audiences’

Interview Lite Blogs

Malika Shah, woman achiever from Kashmir

I really want Masha to be not only an Indian well-known brand but an International brand where I look at exporting my products to people all across the globe. That is my vision for the future…Malika Shah speaks with Akasha Usmani

Malika Shah, the founder MaSha by Malika of one of Kashmir’s most exciting skincare and beauty start-ups based on heirloom treatments and recipes. This is part of our work in highlighting stories of change from Kashmir, once one of the world’s most troubled hotspots with raging separatist movement, but which this year has seen more than 16 million tourists, the highest in 75 years. Malika Shah trained as a lawyer but followed her heart to start a skincare and beauty start-up in Kashmir.

Akasha Usmani (AU): Can you start by telling us your journey, tell us a bit yourself and how you came up with the Idea to start a cosmetics start-up from Kashmir, MaSha by Malika?

Malika Shah (MS): Sure. So I am a law graduate by profession. I did my graduation in law from the University of Kashmir then I did a course called ‘Young India Fellowship’ from Ashoka University and after that I also completed my masters and I was given this chevening scholarship, which is a fully funded scholarship given by the British foreign and commonwealth office to pursue a fully-funded masters program in any field of your interest in any college that you like in the UK (United Kingdom), so that is what my educational background has been.

After I came back from London, I was very academically oriented all my life but I was very interested in recreating all my traditional, grandmothers and heirloom recipes that have been flowing from generation to generation in the family so that is what I was interested in and I suddenly happen to create a few formulations and i posted it on the group on Facebook and this was just a hobby, I never thought that it would get the response that it did eventually but people started liking it, they started re-ordering that’s why I thought maybe this could be turned from a passion into business and that is when I started ‘Masha’

Picture Credits: Instagram

AU: How did you build your customer base?

MS: With the customer base I reached out to few people on social media, I had posted on a Facebook group which already had quite a few customers, it was primarily Kashmiri women, the platform is called ‘Yakjut’ and that is where I posted this and that’s how I got response and then ultimately it spread through word of mouth and there were different media channels that covered my story so people all over India also got to know of it and that is primarily how we are marketing Masha, it’s mostly word of mouth.

AU: Were there any challenges you came across?

MS: Most certainly, yes we did, like I said I was very academically-oriented and from a legal background so I do not had much information on how to run a business, this is something that I have been doing very intuitively and this is something that whatever comes to me and whatever I feel is right I do that in the business but the business acumen is something I did not have and also initially I did not see any support from the state because I was running from pillar to post looking for mentorship, looking for institutes most of which were defunct in Kashmir already, so there wasn’t much support, no mentorship, no direction so I had to struggle on a lot of fronts on my own and see how I could manage things, what is it that I could do with the limited resources that I had. Secondly there was also not, it is a completely bootstrap business so I started this, continued to do so out of my own savings and what I was earning out of business, there was no funding, nothing so that was a major challenge.

When I started it, I started in sometime in 2019 and there was internet shutdown and there was Covid and I didnt have a physical store so it was mostly online so the internet shutdown also impacted me a lot and then because of Covid also, there was a lot of turmoil so in terms of stability, right from the period I started it was quite turbulent so that was also a challenge that I faced.

AU: Did the conflict in Kashmir deter your work in any sense?

MS: So yeah, like I said, the internet shutdown really impacted my work because this is an online business so if there is an internet shutdown, there is practically nothing I can do because I don’t have a physical store so yes.

AU: As a professional lawyer, how did you decide to change your profession and what was your family’s reaction to it?

MS: My family has always been supportive of it, they don’t really ask me to do this or that, they let me do whatever I think is right and I really feel that If I want to get back to law, I can do that it’s just that this is something that I have found was interesting because I am creative and I thought this gave me an opportunity to create things and looking at people’s feedback, they want me to make more products and that is what keeps me going so I really don’t see it as change of profession but I see it as a, as something where I follow my passion. I still teach law though, I do teach law and that continues to be a part of who I am and what I have studied but this is also something that I really keenly follow and not only as a passion but also as a business.

Picture Credits: Instagram

AU: That’s amazing! What is your vision for the future of your brand?

MS: The formulations that we have currently we very keenly focus on ethical forcing and organic natural products because we don’t realize a lot of what we put in the face on our body it finds a way into the body and into the system and the way it affects us in terms of different diseases this is something that we might not have even thought of. With PCOS [polycystic ovary syndrome], hormonal imbalances – all the diseases that we have – one or the other can be linked to the cosmetic products that we use so we want to get back to what was traditional, what was easily available and what is natural because I genuinely feel that nature has a cure for every disease. We are trying to get back to our roots and trying to get the most of our nature’s bounty and my vision for the future is to provide clean beauty to everybody and I really want Masha to be not only an Indian well-known brand but an International brand where I look at exporting my products to people all across the globe. That is my vision for the future.

AU: How do you think your work will inspire the budding women entrepreneurs from Kashmir?

MS: I will be very modest here but I really think my entire journey not only entrepreneurial but otherwise also I was probably one of the first few people especially from the legal background who got chevening scholarship so that, because I was probably the first from Kashmir University in my department, it paved a way for a lot of other young, not only female colleague or female candidates but also other male candidates also to look for what chevening scholarship is, to apply for it and after that I have seen there has been a huge increase in the number of people who has been selected from Kashmir into Chevening scholarship which is a very prestigious scholarship, so it’s just like Fulbright [scholarship programme] in the US, this is for the UK and very difficult to get into so I think in my own modest ways I have been able to influence and motivate a few people. Even my own batchmates and school mates, they say that we really thought that when you could do it, we should also give it a try so that is one thing.

When I talk about natural skincare, this industry was not this huge in Kashmir, In Kashmir later other brands came up but this wasn’t the case when I started it so I think one way or the other people have probably accepted what I have done and they have been – I wouldn’t say inspire but probably they liked this field and thought of giving it a try so whether entrepreneurial or academic I have really seen that I have been, God has been kind to me, to allow me that people could actually that I could give guidance or support to people

AU: How did you build your brand, what did you think of and how does this work?

MS: Initially it was only heirloom recipes that my grandmother and grandparents and their grandparents had been using it for a very long time so I recreated it into commercial formulation but then we also had a person who is an MSc in medicinal plants and we created some formulations based on the skin concerns or the hair concerns that people generally have so that is how it started and we keenly focus on sourcing our product because we believe as long as raw material is good the ultimate product will be really good. We also work very closely with the local farmers so the procurement process does not involve middlemen but we work closely with farmers so we can also provide fair wages to them and we also employ some Kashmiri local women in the entire packaging production and logistic process so we also feel that’s our way of giving back to the society where we create a change and employment chain for people, howsoever small it may be but thats our small effort into creating a sustainable business.

Pic Credits- Masha by Malikai (Instagram) (4)

AU: Do you have any message for the people who will be reading this interview?

MS: My only message would be to follow your passion however late or early it is, I think one should never just be academically oriented, one should definitely be intellectual but that shouldn’t be a means to an end, it should be a means in itself and then you can follow whatever you are passionate about, it doesn’t have to be what you have studied, it can be anything you are passionate about so education is a completely different arena we shouldn’t take education as a means to an end.

AU: Yes, thank you so much for doing this interview with us. It was lovely talking to you. Thank you

MS: Same here, thank you!

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Fashion Interview

‘Walk your worth’ : Women towards goals with confidence

To come back here and meet these amazing people makes me feel so warm and happy. Like I said, I draw inspiration from these women who are strong and powerful. It is truly wonderful…Indian supermodel with international fame, Nidhi Sunil speaks with Tanya Banon

L’Oreal Paris held its fifth iteration of “Le Defile L’Oreal Paris” in the centre of the global fashion industry. This year’s event, “Walk Your Worth,” was created to encourage all women, as well as the brand’s family of courageous spokespeople, to show up in the world without apology and to confidently go in the direction of their goals. The open outdoor runway show., which took place on October 2, 2022, was attended by more than 2,000 members of the general public and was held at the Ecole Militaire, a national landmark in the centre of Paris and a representation of French brilliance.

The Le Defile L’Oreal Paris, a made-in-Paris global gathering that honours sisterhood and empowerment, is back for its fifth iteration since 2021. Global icon Yseult, who appeared on the runway for the second year in a row, as well as empowered beauties Andie MacDowell, Eva Longoria, and Katherine Langford, delighted the audience with their recognisable charisma and confidence, served as the brand’s spokespeople. Lela Bekhti, Marie Bochet, Cindy Bruna, Gemma Chan, Nikolaj Coster Waldau, Luma Grothe, Liya Kebede, Aja Naomi King, Soo Joo Park, Camille Razat, Nidhi Sunil, and Bebe Vio Grandis were additional returning Le Defile spokespersons.

Indian supermodel with international fame, Nidhi Sunil, returning Le Defile spokesperson took out time to speak about the event and life as an international model.

How does it feel to be back at Le Defile L’Oreal Paris?

Nidhi: It’s always a surreal feeling to be back here, with my L’Oreal Paris family. I always look forward to reconnecting with empowered women here from across the world, to take back new memories.

What is different this year from past shows? What can the public expect?

Nidhi: This year, the theme of the show is ‘Walk your Worth’. This is a call for women to unapologetically show up in the world and walk towards their goals with confidence. This year, L’Oreal Paris will embrace the union between beauty and fashion, both accessible and aspirational. The show will exhibit the diversity and heritage of the fashion scene in Paris, along with products backed by scientific excellence, with consumers all over the world.

What does the show’s location, the Ecole Militaire, symbolize to you?

Nidhi: The Ecole Militaire is a historic site that was used to be dominated by men but today, it has a stronger presence of female students there. This sends out a very strong message of women empowerment across the masses. This place today is a milestone in this long struggle that women had to deal with over the years. However, this is just the beginning, and we still have miles to go.

How does it feel to be reunited with your fellow global spokespeople for this show?

Nidhi: To come back here and meet these amazing people makes me feel so warm and happy. Like I said, I draw inspiration from these women who are strong and powerful. It is truly wonderful.

What does walking in Le Defile L’Oreal Paris mean to you?

Nidhi: It is a chance for me to connect with so many amazing women that have been an inspiration for me. I believe it is so incredible to have so many women, who are doing wonderful things, all together in one place. I truly love how L’Oreal Paris manages to make this happen year after year. I have noticed that every time, I come back with so much inspiration and so many ideas about doing a lot of new things. It is just really nice to share the space with some of these strong and powerful women.

What does empowerment mean to you?

Nidhi: I feel empowerment is learning to feel safe in your own skin. We are breaking a lot of old social patterns and conditioning, especially as a woman, it is really interesting when you come to a place like the Le Defile because there are women here from all over the world, but we all have such specific patterns that have been put into our brains as children that we are all struggling to break. I have always noticed when I have broken one of those patterns, I feel very relaxed and comfortable in my own skin. I feel like myself. I believe empowerment is coming back to your true self.

Why is Stand Up Against Street Harassment such an integral part of Le Defile?

Nidhi: The Stand Up Against Street Harassment program is very close to my heart as I too have gone through it. I don’t think I know a single girl who has not gone through the same or has been protected from it. Your mothers are aware of that, and they try everything to make sure you don’t go through that but there is no protecting anyone from it. I have been groped in public. I have been catcalled and it doesn’t matter where I am – I have been catcalled in Bombay, Paris, and New York. It was always so traumatizing. I was always so stunned that I didn’t know how to respond.

But it is great to be equipped with how to respond to it for someone else and that is what the Stand Up Against Street Harassment program teaches you. It is about what you should do when you see someone being harassed because they are in a state of shock. It also educates you on how to de-escalate the situation and it was very useful. I had never thought of it from a bystander’s perspective. I didn’t know what to do and how to get involved as a bystander without getting into trouble or escalating the situation. I feel everyone should go through the program.

What look did you wear on the runway?

Nidhi: I wore a Giambattista Valli couture dress. It was a beautiful, red, enormous dress. I was very excited to be wearing the colour, as I love red. I love the designer. I am really excited about the outfit. And I got lucky, as I came in early and got to get my dress fitted earlier than everyone, I had a great time with it.

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Interview Sport Sports

Football World Cup a distant dream for India?

It’s a different matter that just eight years later, India finished fourth at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, the highest they have achieved at the international level, not counting regional tournaments like the Asian Games…writes Vishnu Makhijani

India got a shot at playing in the Football World Cup way back in 1950 but backed out for reasons that are still not exactly clear and its chances of reaching the pinnacle are a distant dream but there is some hope for the revival of the game in the country with a new dispensation in place though it’s too early to predict the future, says veteran sports journalist Jaydeep Basu, who has edited a book titled “Box to Box” that traces the highs and the lows of the game in the country in the past 75 years.

“In my humble opinion, India playing the World Cup is still a distant dream. It will take many, many years to achieve, unless some drastic changes come in Indian football,” Basu told IANS in an interview.

Do you see the new dispensation in the AIFF (All India Football Federation) turning around the fortunes of the game?

“The current body has been elected less than a month ago. So, we have to wait and see,” Basu responded.

After a prolonged series of events, that even saw the intervention of the Supreme Court, FIFA, the worldwide governing body of the sport, suspended the AIFF on August 15 for violating its statutes on third-party interference in its management. India was also stripped of its hosting rights for international tournaments, including the U-17 Women’s World Cup in October. The suspension was lifted on August 27, following which the tournament will be held as scheduled.

In the elections held on September 2, as mandated by the Supreme Court, Kalyan Chaubey, a former India goalkeeper and currently a member of the BJP, was elected the AIFF President, defeating former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia by a lopsided 33/1 margin and ending the 14-year reign of NCP politician Praful Patel.

Choubey, in fact, is the first footballer to head the AIFF and certainly has his hands full with Bhutia himself suggesting a way forward, harkening back to a time when the Santosh Trophy, the IFA Shield. the Durand and the DCM Cup and clubs like JCT and Premier Tyres were the feeding grounds for Indian football. Then came the I-League and the ISL Today, the Santosh Trophy, the National Football Championship, is almost extinct.

“We have not got the domestic structure right as yet. The structure is yet to get sorted more so with the Indian Super League (ISL) coming in,” Bhutia says in an interview in the book.

“I am hoping that in the next 2/3 years, the domestic structure will be settled where the ISL and I-League will have more teams and we could have a 7-8 month-long season.

“The absence of a domestic league structure is definitely going to hamper the game in the long run. I feel there should be a domestic league structure from where players can be spotted to play for ISL or I-League and then for India. It is important to have a domestic league structure,” Bhutia asserts.

“Bhaichung is very right in his observations. The newly-elected body of the All India Football Federation is now trying to bolster the domestic football system and has announced plans to revive old tournaments you are talking about. So, let us see where it goes,” Basu said during the IANS interview.

As for the 1950 World Cup fiasco, this is best described in an article titled “Were India banned (from the tournament) for wanting to play barefoot” by Peter Jones that appeared on July 11, 2018 on “It appears that the main reason was the AIFF delaying a decision on whether they would attend, this delaying tactic provided them with free travel courtesy of FIFA, and perhaps they were waiting for further benefits before the opportunity passed them by.”

Basu terms this “The Blunder Of the Century” just two years after India had appeared for its maiden Olympic football match against France at the 1948 London Games which they lost by a last-minute goal. This is what was written for “All India Football 1945-50” by an eminent soccer critic of England today who is also the sports chief of a leading English daily and who prefers to remain anonymous:

“…India lost the match which she should have won. Her defence was sound, with not one weak link. Her forwards were clever and better masters of sprinting and dodging. They went through the 90 minutes of play without visibly tiring although they looked frail in comparison with their heftier rivals. Where they failed was in shooting at the goal. Once they make up this deficiency, it will have to be very very strong national side that would be able to beat the Indians. They have evolved a technique which baffles the Western player and makes his physical superiority appear futile,” the critic wrote.

It’s a different matter that just eight years later, India finished fourth at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, the highest they have achieved at the international level, not counting regional tournaments like the Asian Games.

Alas, while India were the champions of Asia in the 1960s, the book maintains that “narrow political considerations caused irreparable damage to its fortunes in the 1970s” and narrates “how the game was undermined in the country in the 21st century and forced by unscrupulous officials to toe the line of the corporates”.

How did the book come about?

“I wanted to come out with a book on the Indian national football team on the 75th celebration of India’s independence. It also coincided with the Indian national team’s 75th year as the Indian football team played their first match in August 1948 at the London Olympics. Being a person always keen on history, I have been doing some research on Indian football for the past 30 years. So, I did not have to do much extra work on this book. But at the same time, I spent lots of time selecting the writers and different angles of the national team. The writers in this book are some of the best names in Indian football and I feel proud of them for writing some top class articles,” Basu responded.

Basu, who has covered several World Cups, Olympics and Asian Games, is also the author of “Stories From Indian Football”. What next? What’s his next book going to be on?

“I have not set a target yet. But yes, I have plans to write more on Indian football,” Basu concluded.

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