Man’s World India, March, 2014 – Arjun Kapoor: Dude in the Hood

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Arjun Kapoor on balancing Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra, loving the films of Bollywood’s most hated decade, being the most invisible star kid and becoming Bollywood’s newest Fat-to-fit story.

By Arnesh Ghose

Photographs by Colston Julian/Salt Management

Styled by Rhea Kapoor

I wish Arjun Kapoor threw tantrums. If you didn’t pay attention, it’d be easy to lose him in a crowd. And, I mean that as a compliment. He’s not vain enough for a movie star (his hair being the exception; he keeps checking his properly-set tuft often), doesn’t holler to attract attention, minds his own business in between shots and doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable around him. He’s quite the professional — punctual and uncomplaining during  several dress changes, and while smoking one cigarette after another, has a cool, endearing swagger that’s also very desi.

“Hindi mein kare?” Kapoor jovially asks when I’m about to start the interview. I shoot his request down; he dims a little. I was aware of his obsession with the masala genre of Indian cinema, the true essence of commercial Bollywood, and had seen him in his element in numerous talk shows and public appearances. My insistence on interviewing him in English made him a different person. He speaks in a well-bred manner and has an impressive vocabulary, but one can see a simmering need for that maniacal, street-smart, rustic rascal to jump right out. I look at him — sharp grey suit, impeccable hair, polished teeth, eating spaghetti — and wonder how his debut role in Habib Faisal’s Ishaqzaade was so different from all this. And, yet, that role was his comfort zone.

Read the complete story here.

 

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The Ramdev Cure for Homosexuality

If Baba Ramdev had his way, every gay man and woman would be ‘cured’ of their inappropriate ‘addiction’. How exactly does he plan to do it? By Arnesh Ghose

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Since the Delhi High Court’s decision to decriminalize Section 377 in 2009, the revered Yoga and Ayurvedic master, Baba Ramdev has been hollering at every public gathering about how he can definitively ‘cure’ homosexuality.  Five years down the line, when gay sex is re-criminalised (it is also to be noted that his press secretary SK Tijarawala was one of the people who filed the PIL that demanded re-criminalisation), Baba Ramdev has been welcoming homosexual men and women to come to his ashram and be ‘treated’ of this ‘disease’. We decided to take him up on his invitation and find out how exactly he and his band of merry doctors plans to treat homosexuality.

“I invite them to my ashram. Two people belonging to opposite sex will be kept in one room for a few days and they will be cured of homosexuality,” he said, in a press conference on December 11th, 2013. So, I sent a mail to his Yog Gram, formally called the Yog-Naturopathy-Panchkarma Treatment & Research Centre in Haridwar, enquiring about how a homosexual individual gets ‘admitted’ to the ashram for treatment. The admission form asked for details of ailment. I replied – I am a homosexual man. I would like to know what procedures Baba Ramdev is proposing for its cure. I want to be cured of Homosexuality. Please help.

I received a response within 3 working days.

Dear Sir/Madam,

After seeing your medical details. We regret that you have not been advised treatment at Yoggram.

Kindly contact in Patanjali Yogpeeth for Ayurvedic Treatment.

The grammatical errors were not the only things that surprised me. The organization was proposing an ayurvedic treatment for homosexuality. I immediately called the Patanjali Yogpeeth and mustered the best of my spoken Hindi skills.

A woman, probably a receptionist, took my call.

R – Namaste, Patanjali Yogpeeth. How can I help you?

AG – Namaste. I need to talk to one of the doctors regarding a treatment.

R – Have you been treated here before?

AG – No. This is my first time.

R – What is the problem?

AG – It is slightly personal. Can I talk to the doctor please?

R – If you don’t tell me the problem, I cannot connect you to anyone. Tell me your problem.

AG – (stammering a little, not knowing how to explain this in shuddh Hindi) Well…you know…I heard Baba Ramdev on TV telling everyone that he can cure homosexuality. I am gay and I would like to be cured.

R – What? What is your problem?

AG – You know…I am homosexual…gay…(I even tried a more common derogatory term)…and I would like to be cured. Baba Ramdev says that his ashram can cure people like me.

R – I don’t understand what you are saying. Symptoms kya hai?

AG – Symptoms?!

R – Haan, what are the symptoms?

AG – I told you…I am gay…can you connect me to a doctor please?

R – Aap pehle mujhko problem samjhaiye. What are the symptoms? Sir mein dard, pet mein dard, zukham, bukhaar…you should have some symptoms!

AG – I like men.

R – What?!

AG – That is the symptom. I like men. Mujhe mardon se yon sambandh karne ka ichha hota hai, auraton se nahi. (When she asked for symptoms, I Googled “hindi for sexual intercourse”. My very slow browser finally threw up a link. Yon sambandh it is).

A sharp intake of breath. Long pause. A cough.

R – Aap kal phone kijiye, before 1 PM or after 4 PM but before 5 PM. You can talk to the Vaid ji then. He is not available now.

The next day the call was received by a man. He said the Vaid ji was not available. I called up the day after and asked to be connected to the Vaid ji. The call was transferred.

V – Namaskar.

AG – Namaskar, Vaid ji.

V – Name?

AG – My name is Ravi Sharma (Obviously I get a fake name. This was my very first sting operation, people) and I am calling from Mumbai.

V – What is your problem?

AG – Vaid ji, I am gay. I heard Baba Ramdev on TV saying that he can cure homosexuality and I immediately reached out to you guys. I am very tensed and worked up, Vaid ji. I am not happy at all.

V – Hmm…gay…

AG – Yes…I like men…I want to like women, I want to become straight and normal like everyone else. I am very unhappy, please help. My parents are unhappy with me, they want me to get married and have children…I cannot live anymore like this…(my voice almost fake chokes with an overwhelming rush of emotion)

V – Hmm…

AG – I contacted the Yog Gram, but they said the problem has an ayurvedic treatment and asked me to contact here. What is the treatment? What do I do?

V – What is your age?

AG – 23.

V – Hmm…Ok, I will prescribe a medicine and you will see improvement.

AG – Really?

V – Take 2 capsules of Ashwashila twice a day with milk for a month. You can buy it from any local Patanjali store.

AG – Ashwashila?

V – Yes. And report about improvement after a month.

AG – That will be all?

V – Yes.

AG – I will start liking women?

V – Yes, yes…there will be definite improvement.

AG – (sounding elated) Thank you so much Vaid ji! Thank you so much. I will start the medication right away. I will report in a month’s time. What is your name, by the way?

V – XXXXXXXX Bansal.

AG – Okay Vaid ji. Thank you so much.

For the uninitiated, Ashwashila is an ayurvedic Viagra containing Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) and Shilajit (Asphaltum). The Patanjali Ashwashila capsules cost 300 bucks for a pack of 20. Like swamiramdevmedicines.com says, “It is a sex tonic which not only helps in overcoming body weakness but also increases the stamina to perform like a superman on bed.”

The story was published in Man’s World India, March 2014. Read the edited version here

Photo courtesy: Google images

The Good, Bad, and Ugly from Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2014

Fashion Week was an extremely grueling experience this time. For starters, I tried to attend as many shows as possible over six days. S I X days of fashion, clothes, accessories, designers, celebrities, wannabe celebrities, buyers, media, publicists, makeup artists, well-dressed people, terrible disasters, women trying too hard, men trying too little and very gay men (do not get me wrong. Fashion is a homosexual’s favourite haven after all). I was exhausted by the end of it. But all was not well at Fashion Week this year. Honestly, majority of the work that I saw was below average. Either they were stuff done to death, or copied gimmicks, or rehashed older collections, or bizarre nonsense. I would like to especially congratulate Sneha Arora, Ragini Ahuja, Purvi Doshi and Huemn for the best collections of the season. Arora’s work with dirty linen, textile and interesting ink blot prints definitely stole the show, as did Ahuja’s excellent ethnic-flavoured collection of tie-and-dye and faux leather details. Purvi Doshi was light, feminine and interesting embroidery while Huemn was fresh and young with a wonderful new version of androgyny – dresses and sarees meet baseball jackets and jerseys.

Of the veterans, Rajesh Pratap Singh’s collection was a theatrical splendor of exquisite set design, light work, detailed makeup and hair and sharply cut clothes with interesting metallic embellishing and faux mirror work. Music, ambience and visual delight – he takes the crown for maximum drama.  Tarun Tahiliani, on the other hand, wowed the audience with his usual Indian bridal affair. Yes, he might not be offering anything new, but nothing matches his classical opulence.

The likes of Swapnil Shinde, Jade (Monica and Karishma), Nikhil Thampi, and Nishka Lulla played to their strengths and showcased mixed collections with more hits than misses. While Shinde’s use of Paithani must be appreciated, the use of the heart as a motif was a flop. Jade had some interesting pieces high on wearability until they went overboard with the bling. Nikhil Thampi screwed up with some hideous experiments with faux leather while Nishka Lulla broadly seemed to mistake ‘resort’ for ‘night time’.

Narendra Kumar definitely takes the cake for the worst collection along with Archana Kochhar, Jyotsna Tiwari (that terrible print!), and Shyamal and Bhumika (what was with the heavy embroidery on velvet?). They are closely followed by Digvijay Singh. This season’s hideous headwear king is Sourabh Kant Srivastava with his McQueen-ish collection. And DRVV? Let’s not even get into that.

Have a look at some pieces from LFW 2014 – The Good, Bad, and Ugly.

The Good

Ragini Ahuja

Ragini Ahuja at Jabong Stage at LFW SR 2014 (3) Ragini Ahuja at Jabong Stage at LFW SR 2014 (2) Ragini Ahuja at Jabong Stage at LFW SR 2014 (1)

Quirk Box

QuirkBox at Jabong Stage at LFW SR 2014 (5)

Huemn

Huemn at LFW SR 2014 (2)

Purvi Doshi

Purvi Doshi at LFW SR 2014 (1) Purvi Doshi at LFW SR 2014 (2)

Quirk Box

QuirkBox at Jabong Stage at LFW SR 2014 (1)

Sneha Arora

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Huemn

Huemn at LFW SR 2014 (1)

Rajesh Pratap Singh

— Grand Finale —

Rajesh Pratap Singh - LFW SR 2014 - Grand Finale (1) Rajesh Pratap Singh - LFW SR 2014 - Grand Finale (2) Rajesh Pratap Singh - LFW SR 2014 - Grand Finale (5) Rajesh Pratap Singh - LFW SR 2014 - Grand Finale (7) Rajesh Pratap Singh - LFW SR 2014 - Grand Finale (10) Rajesh Pratap Singh - LFW SR 2014 - Grand Finale (9) Rajesh Pratap Singh - LFW SR 2014 - Grand Finale (8)

Sanjay Hingu

Sanjay Hingu at LFW SR 2014 (2)Sanjay Hingu at LFW SR 2014 (1)

The Bad

Sailex

Sailex at LFW SR 2014 (3) Sailex at LFW SR 2014 (2) Sailex at LFW SR 2014 (1)

Payal Singhal

Payal Singhal at LFW SR 2014 (1)

Manish Malhotra

Manish Malhotra at LFW SR 2014 (8) (1) Manish Malhotra at LFW SR 2014 (7) Manish Malhotra at LFW SR 2014 (4) Manish Malhotra at LFW SR 2014 (3) (1) Manish Malhotra at LFW SR 2014 (2)

Jade

Jade at LFW SR 2014 (1)

Swapnil Shinde

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Photo courtesy: LFW