Archive | August, 2002

Khadi Makeover

15 Aug

Khadi makeover

Khadi needs to get out of the image it is trapped in if it has to survive today’s cutthroat market. And the Khadi Board is trying to give the humble, hand-spun fabric a savvy feel.

Designer khadi meets netawear

KHADI COMES with heavy associations – self-reliance, struggle, freedom… But this humble, hand-spun fabric is now crying for deliverance of sorts from its own image. Surely, if Khadi has to survive today, it has to get out of its rather dubious and dated image as netaware.

The good news is that the past few years have seen some positive efforts by the State’s Khadi Village Industry Board (KVIB) in this direction. In keeping with the spirit of the times, the board is slowly making a shift from its role as a financial facilitator for Khadi associations and gramodyogs to an aggressive marketing agency.

For one thing, the board is making an effort to “dress up” the outlets themselves. Most outlets are housed in old buildings and the concept of display is almost non-existent. Even a no-profit and no-loss institution can no longer afford this.

So, KVIB is now doing up most of its shops. “We have asked NID to work out a logo,” says Mr. Bore Gowda, the Chief Executive Officer of the board. The KVIB has also put forth a set of proposals in June this year urging for computerisation of Khadi Bhandars, modernisation of cotton khadi production centres and so on. Right now, the only Khadi Bhandar equipped with computers in the City is the one on Kumara Krupa Road.

But these computers are not being used as much as they could be, since the staff has not been adequately trained.

The board is also doing something about what the middle-class always complains about – that the staff in Khadi Bhandars are lackadaisical.

If the modern-day business relies heavily on the public relations skill of the seller, the fact that most salespersons at Khadi outlets come from rural areas and don’t speak the smooth urban tongue can, unfortunately, make a difference. KVIB is now trying to put in place some incentive schemes, definite targets, and training programmes by professionals.

But the biggest effort at breaking away from the old model has been the attempt at making Khadi a designer fabric.

This may have sounded like blasphemy less than a decade ago, but Khadi first became part of a fashion show in Mumbai in 1989. Several fashion shows in Bangalore over the past two to three years have had the likes of Lara Dutta and Priyanka Chopra sashaying down the ramp clad in Khadi outfits. A big exhibition and sale held earlier this year showcased Khadi as designerwear.

The fabric found its way to even Dubai last year at a trade fair, and the response was favourable. The coarseness of Khadi as well as high main-tenance efforts might put off a sizable section of the middle-class, but designers as well as textile experts are working towards giving it the right feel and look with some value additions. An example is the wrinkle-free Khadi.

“Khadi is coarse and uneven because it is entirely hand-spun,” explains Mr. Bore Gowda.

He feels that it is time Khadi becaa fabric for all. Makes one wonder: How would Gandhiji himself have reacted to these modernisation efforts? Would he have squirmed at the thought of Khadi walking the ramps? But Gandhiji was progressive in his own way, and he was not always against modernisation. Khadi, for him, was primarily an instrument of self-reliance and employment-generation for the rural masses. The efforts of the Khadi Board certainly do not run contrary to this aspiration.


Hindu On Net

Spice Is Elsewhere

8 Aug

Spice is elsewhere

Their hair-dos were colourful, and the crowd not too unruly. V Popstars, India’s high profile girl band, came and went in a daze.

“VIVA! VIVA! Viva!” screamed the crowd at Planet M. V Popstars were putting in their first appearance in Bangalore, and the crowd, predominantly between eight and 18 years, was hypnotising itself into stadium-pitch fever.

The girls arrived 45 minutes late (slated to arrive at 10.30 a.m.), but the DJs gave us a running commentary about their whereabouts: “They are on M.G. Road now, yes!” And the crowd looked like it was ready to swoon in anticipation. Or was it the heat – unbearable since the power had snapped off and left some 400 people jammed in a closed area?

The heat, literally, was on. Viva hits “Jago zara” and “Ja sakte ho” kept some hopeful girls singing along with the tracks.

The girls finally swept into the store, their hair dyed fruity colours and all straggly in the heat. They were led straight to the small performing area. With mics in hand, they belted out the words of the same songs, whose minus-one tracks were played again. They have been taught showbiz tricks – they shook hands with the crowd, praised it, and got it to sing along. The security chief broke out into a frenzied sweat ordering his men about and being everywhere. The girls had to put up with very unruly behaviour in Chennai and Mumbai, and the Bangalore crowd was repeatedly exhorted to be different and wonderful. Which, they were for the most part.

Amidst all the hoopla, there were some touching moments. One of the V Popstars, Mahua Kamat, looked around and caught her grandfather’s eye. He had much difficulty getting anywhere close to her. But he did manage to have a word with her. One of the rules of the game is that the chosen ones have to live away from their families, with almost no contact, for a year.

The band left after the two numbers were done. Brigade Road and its footpaths were so crowded that one mother was scolding a Planet M man for over publicising the event and endangering the lives of not only the singers but also her children! An hour after the band left, the crowd still hung around, lost in the stardom wafting about them.

Viva is India’s first high profile girl band. The high profile comes thanks to Channel V and India Times. Channel V ran a reality show and captured each moment of the contest, held across six cities, as the girls went through the paces of selection. It has indeed been a Truman show on a small scale. And the Times group has been generous with its ad space.”Chura liya is coming out of my ears,” Shubha Mudgal had joked when she was in Bangalore for the auditions some months ago.

The organisers had roped her in to judge the girls’ singing ability. All contestants were asked to sing this R.D. Burman song, and then tested for their ability to belong in a band and wear trendy clothes and carry themselves like, well, popstars. Shubha was pleased with the professionalism of the whole enterprise, but was unsure about how it would all come together finally. Happily, there was no age bar, but it was pretty obvious that a young band was what the organisers had in mind. All those months of suspense have finally created this band. The girls are reasonably talented and are having fun, touring all of India, being photo-graphed, and mobbed. Soon they will be going abroad too. But are they really our answer to the Spice Girls, the band that must have sparked off the whole idea?

The Spice Girls were older, and at least a couple of them had stage experience. They brought their personalities into the band. Whatever well-monitored grind our V Popstars have gone through has turned them all blandly alike.

At least, no distinctive personality was evident at this show, though one of their more popular songs, “Ja sakte ho”, takes on a tone of feminist assertiveness. For their first album, they had their words written by the well-known Javed Akhtar. And they got a stable of established Mumbai film music composers to launch them into the world. They all sing in Hindi, although they hail from different parts of India.Next door to Planet M, the Udupi hotel serenely played a Suprabhata tape and served idli vada and chutney! Spice is there. Viva India!


Hindu On Net