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Talk of The Town
By K. Kannan

International model and actress Padma Lakshmi -- who is now looking forward to a bright career in films following the plum role she landed as Mariah Carey's diva rival in the Hollywood blockbuster ``Glitter'' -- cannot forget her ``roots''.

And if there is anything that takes her by pleasant surprise, it is hearing a voice in Tamil at the other end of the phone in downtown New York. It is, in fact, this pleasant feeling of hearing a voice speaking in her mother-tongue that actually made her embark on a tour of South India a couple of years ago to promote her cookbook, ``Easy Exotic''.

Here in Delhi recently for the internationally acclaimed designer Anand Jon's fashion show, Padma recounted the story of her travel down South with as much fondness as she spoke about her future plans in modelling and movies. ``When this voice in Tamil entreated me to come to South India to promote my cookbook, I could not refuse,'' she recalled, pointing out that the tour was something of a home coming for her.

Of course, she does admit to being somewhat ``culturally confused'' like the 26 glamorous girls who participated in the Fa Femina Miss India contest, where she was one of the jury members.

And while she finds Delhi and its people quite ``attractive'', 30-year-old Padma revealed that she had a deeper connection with the Capital as she was born in the city's Safdarjang Hospital. ``It is nice to be here once again amid warm people,'' she said, even as she avoided prying questions from the media regarding her much-hyped relationship with the celebrity author Salman Rushdie, who has dedicated his latest novel ``Fury'' to her.

***

By Lakshmi Balakrishnan

This is one man who can blow into a dead piece of reed and create not just music but magic too. But mention it to flute maestro Hari Prasad Chaurasia and the only reaction that you are likely to get is a shake of the head and a modest smile.

``I never thought about becoming a star or earning money through it. I love playing the flute. It's a passion that is intensifying with time,'' said Pandit Chaurasia at a get-together in Delhi the other day.

Most masters may not see a bright future for Indian classical music, but not Pandit Chaurasia. He believes that Indian classical music is not only being heard, but also appreciated by youngsters and old people alike.

``Youngsters these days are more enthusiastic about classical music. They may not know the technicalities but they enjoy it, which means a lot,'' said the man who broke the tradition by his experimentation of incorporating a string into a flute.

``Many people criticised me for moving away from tradition. But I did it because the thought of playing a string instrument enamoured me,'' revealed Pandit Chaurasia.

***

By K. Kannan

Her commitment to Indian ballet theatre -- which she resurrected in the form of her famous annual ``Ram Lilas'' with spectacular costumes and excellent choreography -- does not allow the Director of Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, Shobha Deepak Singh, to travel out of Delhi often. So much so that she has not been able to accept an offer from the renowned music composer Andrew Lloyd Weber to choreograph his next venture, ``Bombay Dreams''. ``He wants me to stay in London for six months which I am not able to do at present,'' she says.

However, she is now exploring newer avenues of creativity right here in the Capital. Recently, she came out with a jewellery collection in semi-precious stones. ``The urge to create something different arose out of a need to build up a line of jewellery that could match every ensemble,'' she says, adding that it even had hand-painted icons of Gods and Godesses.

She has also designed a collection of saris ``Vastrashoba'' incorporating the finest weaving traditions of the country. ``It is all a question of creatively combining the right shades in a manner that the saris suit the taste of a modern customer,'' says Shobha about her new ``labour of love''.

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