In the second week of October, some of the convention halls in Delhi’s Pragati Maidan became a world unto themselves. Populated by beautiful, thin models, dressed in clothes and footwear that had descriptive names, and attended by a host of A-listers—or those aspiring to it—the venue became a celebration of glitz and glamour, of scrubbed and glossed-over beauty. This was the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week, one of India’s premier fashion events. Alia Allana in our cover story (“Front row backstage”) writes of models, designers, makeup and hair stylists, and socialites as she saw them during the Fashion Week.
Chennai’s shopping district of T. Nagar is unlike any other. This stretch of a few kilometres consists of hundreds of shops selling tens of thousands of things. It is by many estimates India’s richest shopping zone. What makes the place unique, apart from the sheer scale of business, is the fact that big players here are not big-ticket national retailers but homegrown giants. Jayashree Arunachalam profiles the shopping hub (“The big bazaar”).
Much of what passes for art cinema these days is barely watchable. This is particularly true of Bengali cinema, where a group of directors are making self-indulgent films that the audience seldom likes, writes Partha Chatterjee in his essay (“The decline and freefall of Bengali cinema”).
In other news, this is a period of turmoil in the Indian media. After the mass sackings in Network 18, and shutting down of two magazines by the Outlook group, turbulent waves of change have hit Chennai’s Mount Road, the seat of The Hindu. Siddharth Varadarajan, the first professional editor in the family-owned newspaper, and someone who made it more readable and public-spirited, has been ousted in a fresh round of family boardroom battles.
Editors in India, especially the upright ones, are an endangered species, often given a raw deal by their managements. Too many editors are far too deferential, and far too eager to please people who sign their pay cheques. With Varadarajan’s ousting, two fine editors (the other being Sinha, formerly of DNA) are now out of work, paying the price, perhaps, of doing their jobs too well. The next few months that lead up to the general election are crucial—with hundreds of crores of advertisement spend, and other political machinations in play—and will be a reflection of the way the Indian media and its editors go about their business. By the time the next government is sworn in, we will know who showed spine and who did not.
Saurav Kumar, Editor