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MANY HANDS MAKE BEAUTIFUL WORK: RITU KUMAR

Check out this bright and insightful short film on Ritu Kumar’s collection behind the scenes! I love the upbeat shots showing us the people and the skilful techniques needed to make each elaborate outfit. We often forget about them don’t we?

I hope the series (yep, its part of a four-part series!) helps to grow an appreciation amongst us for all the hands, work and talent that are behind a single outfit. 

- A x 

I don’t know much about how high-end Indian designers create their work and if there’s a lower or similar statistic than foreign labels when it comes to worker exploitation. Does anyone know where I can start to find out a little more about this? 

#MIDWEEKINSPO

The week has slowed down a little for me this time round. Now that I’ve finished my intensive course studying the fundamentals of Arabic rhetoric, my classes are less rigorous and I find that I’m not as productive as I was a week ago. Plus, this grey London weather has me dreaming about going back to India soon…

Here are a few links that brightened up my week:

1.    The world of Indian fashion has been buzzing lately! Lakme fashion week was gorgeous! I particularly fell in love all over again with Anita Dongre; her silhouettes are always so experimental and unique.

I know Manish Malhotra is so mainstream & Bollywood, but how gorgeous are the deep purple and pink hues in some of his collection this year <3

2. Hijab is something I have recently found myself wanting to understand. I’ve listened to and spoken with many women about why they wear the hijab, how it makes them feel in Western society etc, and nothing has really settled it in my own mind. This article however, on the spiritual concept of Hijab really opened up a new perspective I haven’t heard being discussed before.

The purpose then of modest and simple dress becomes so much more than an attempt to somehow control the immodest responses of men to our sexual natures, or some ritual done solely because it is implied in a Holy Book.”

3. Oh, Jaypore! The aesthetics of this brand get me every time. I love seeing their page pop up on my timeline; the team is always brewing up something new and exciting! Follow them on Facebook so you catch their latest updates :) 

- A x 

MONICA DOGRA X STYLISTA - #UPRISING: ONE WOMAN AT A TIME

You wake up. You go to work. You go through life. 

Sometimes harassed. Sometimes belittled. 
Mostly suppressed. 
Sometimes for your choices. Sometimes for the clothes you wear. 
Mostly, for being a woman. 

This is a manifesto for individuals everywhere. 
Idealistic, mystical creatures.
Full of potential and promise.
Empowered by convictions. 
Inspired to be meaningful. 

Who embrace their diversity.
And celebrate their differences.

And make the world a more empowered place.
One woman at a time.”

Monica Dogra and Stylista have finally released her exclusive clothing line designed with an empowering ethos in mind. I love the philosophy and conceptualisation behind this video! It’s so beautiful in every way and features an incredible line up of women: Anjli Vyas, Chandni Sareen, Priyanka Bose, Elaine Wallang, and Monica Dogra herself. 

Shop the new collection here

Check out the awesome interview we did with Monica not too long ago too - she has some great advice for BROWNGIRLS :)

- S

BATALVI - SWET SHOP BOYS - HEEMS X RIZ MC

Oh damn. Yep they dropped it. ‘Batalvi’ is the ultimate mashup featuring the haunting vocals of the great Punjabi poet Shiv Kumar Batalvi, classic Bollywood dance clips and heavy-hitting verses filmed on Facetime. 

Both MCs offer blended perspectives of their home-cities and the distant lands from which their parents trekked, a lens that consistently offers something different, if not better—first-generations anywhere can relate.” - Fader Magazine

Check out the dope EP that dropped yesterday too! Too much to handle!

- S

#MIDWEEKINSPO:

It’s been a bit all over the place this week as I was just recovering from my cousin’s wedding in London and trying to settle back home in getting some work done!

But there are a few things that I’ve come across to keep me grounded and inspired… here they are:

1. I absolutely love this photo shoot with Kiran Rao for the latest issue of Elle India! The shots capture her chic style perfectly and she effortlessly breaks the stereotypical women that we see in the Bollywood industry. I haven’t had a chance to read the full interview but from this preview it sounds like she’s a hard-working, passionate woman. 

2. One train journey down to London I was meant to be working on an article but instead I ended up watching Salaam Bombay on my laptop. I remember meaning to watch the film after I got hooked on Mira Nair’s films (hello, Mississippi Masala!?) and finally got round to it. It really hit me! What a film is all I can say. I super-recommend it to anyone - let me just say it poops all over Slumdog Millionaire. 

3. Last but certainly not least I loved this short video feature on incredible Bharatanatyam artist Seeta Patel. Seeta was born, brought up and trained in the UK and she has gone from strength to strength with intense passion and dedication. Catch her on the 25th September at London’s Sadler’s Wells - the Friday show has already sold out!

- S

AFGHANISTAN’S GIRL SKATERS

Skateistan has been going for a long while now but the story doesn’t lose it’s uplifting and inspirational quality.

I love how this video captures the passion and excitement that the girls have and also the fact that they’re just like any other kids from around the world even though a lot of the mainstream media often ostracises them. 

Hopefully the school is still running and the children are safe <3

Check out the Skateistan Vimeo for more awesome videos!

- S

#FRIDAYINSPO (wooooops because I missed the midweek!)

Its been a busy week. I’ve had my head buried in the books for the first time since I’ve come back from Amman, studying Arabic Rhetoric. It’s quite dry & tedious (for now anyway!) but my week was brightened up with a monthly visit from Seet :)

We got to hang out, have fun lunches and movie nights just like our student days – exactly what I needed before I jump right into my fulltime MA in a month. Totally going to be ripping my hair out!

four years on and we still can’t take a decent selfie together…

Anyways – here are a few things from this week I’d love to share with you guys!

1.  This photo shoot of acid attack survivors caught my eye during the week and I was blown away by their inspirational confidence, courage and beauty. 

2. Some powerful images of the Pakistani Sikh minority protesting for Gaza. 

3. For those Muslims missing out on Rihla this year have you subscribed for the free livestream? I’ve managed to catch a few of the classes already and now theres only a week left. Seriously, make the most of this amazing free resource!

You have to subscribe to get the notifications, but you can also follow Deen Intensive on Facebook to keep your eye out for posts on when they’re live. Here’s a quick snap of Sh Hamza Yusuf talking on Al Ghazali’s book of knowledge:



- A x 

Have any of you guys been on Rihla before?

WHATS THE DEAL WITH ARRANGED MARRIAGES?
Okay BROWNGIRLS it&#8217;s time to get a little #senti up in here. We received a beautiful, touching message from Mehar, a fellow BG in Canada and she brought our attention to a very interesting post on Vogue.com by Mira Jacob. 
&#8220;Nearly three decades after their arranged marriage, Mira Jacob’s parents did the one thing she never saw coming: They fell in love.&#8221;
It got us thinking about our own situations in our relationships (yes, we are straight, not lesbians contrary to some questions we&#8217;ve received!) and we wanted to share our thoughts on arranged marriages and romantic relationships in our culture in general.
So here&#8217;s part 1 - 
ARRANGED MARRIAGES
S: Honestly, I don&#8217;t get arranged marriages. I pretty much drifted into my relationship out of curiosity and admiration for him. I guess it was arranged in a sense that our families knew each other and our lives are pretty intertwined but I don’t know how people step into a marriage without getting to know the person and at least a couple of different sides of them first - I’d be crapping my pants. But I think it&#8217;s all a personal journey to be honest. More and more I&#8217;ve come to realise that you never really know a person and that&#8217;s the exciting part. You&#8217;re both constantly changing and evolving and that&#8217;s what keeps the relationship fresh!

A: I’ve always said I wouldn’t mind an arranged marriage. They aren’t what they used to be anyway! In most cases nowadays, you get a chance to meet the other person and get to know them over a certain amount of time until you’re comfortable enough to say qabool hai.I didn’t have an arranged marriage, we found each other ourselves. I&#8217;d call it er…a semi-love marriage in that from the day we met we knew marriage was going to happen pretty quickly.

While we were still too young to discuss things like getting married without being tipsy or ironic, it seemed to be the end goal we were moving inevitably toward, like groceries down a conveyor belt. 

My husband and I maintained Islamic etiquette whilst we were &#8216;dating&#8217; (yes people, the first time we held hands was on our wedding day!) so we didn’t really know each other as well as most couples do pre-marriage. It did scare me sometimes, but I honestly think that you never really know someone until you’ve lived with them. You just have to know enough - and thats completely subjective. 
Next up, lets tackle romance&#8230;
- A&amp;S x 
Photos by G5 studio - awesome photographers!
We&#8217;d love to hear your thoughts! What do you think about arranged marriages?

WHATS THE DEAL WITH ARRANGED MARRIAGES?

Okay BROWNGIRLS it’s time to get a little #senti up in here. We received a beautiful, touching message from Mehar, a fellow BG in Canada and she brought our attention to a very interesting post on Vogue.com by Mira Jacob

Nearly three decades after their arranged marriage, Mira Jacob’s parents did the one thing she never saw coming: They fell in love.”

It got us thinking about our own situations in our relationships (yes, we are straight, not lesbians contrary to some questions we’ve received!) and we wanted to share our thoughts on arranged marriages and romantic relationships in our culture in general.

So here’s part 1 - 

ARRANGED MARRIAGES

S: Honestly, I don’t get arranged marriages. I pretty much drifted into my relationship out of curiosity and admiration for him. I guess it was arranged in a sense that our families knew each other and our lives are pretty intertwined but I don’t know how people step into a marriage without getting to know the person and at least a couple of different sides of them first - I’d be crapping my pants. But I think it’s all a personal journey to be honest. More and more I’ve come to realise that you never really know a person and that’s the exciting part. You’re both constantly changing and evolving and that’s what keeps the relationship fresh!

A: I’ve always said I wouldn’t mind an arranged marriage. They aren’t what they used to be anyway! In most cases nowadays, you get a chance to meet the other person and get to know them over a certain amount of time until you’re comfortable enough to say qabool hai.I didn’t have an arranged marriage, we found each other ourselves. I’d call it er…a semi-love marriage in that from the day we met we knew marriage was going to happen pretty quickly.

While we were still too young to discuss things like getting married without being tipsy or ironic, it seemed to be the end goal we were moving inevitably toward, like groceries down a conveyor belt. 

My husband and I maintained Islamic etiquette whilst we were ‘dating’ (yes people, the first time we held hands was on our wedding day!) so we didn’t really know each other as well as most couples do pre-marriage. It did scare me sometimes, but I honestly think that you never really know someone until you’ve lived with them. You just have to know enough - and thats completely subjective. 

Next up, lets tackle romance…

- A&S x 

Photos by G5 studio - awesome photographers!

We’d love to hear your thoughts! What do you think about arranged marriages?

RAPE IS NOT A FASHION STATEMENT:

We got sent this horrific post yesterday about photographer Raj Shetye’s latest series depicting a woman being abused by men on a bus. 

“This is in no way meant to glamorize the act, which was very bad. It’s just a way of throwing light on it…the message I would like to give is that it doesn’t matter who the girl is. It doesn’t depend on which class she belonged in — [sexual violence] can happen to anyone.”

We totally get that even the most darkest realities can be powerfully depicted through the arts (take Nirbhaya for instance) and pioneer change, but glamorising rape in this way, by dressing it up in expensive clothes, and ultimately creating a connection between fashion and sexual assault is not the way to do it. In fact, Shetye’s work reminds me of this disgusting Vogue Italia shoot from April this year.

Can we also just think about how young girls are going to have a distorted perception of rape if they come across this kind of material? Ugh. 

- A x 

What do you guys think of Shetye’s work? Are we on the same page?

#MIDWEEKINSPO:

Hey there, so things are picking up and everything is getting a little crazy these days but y’know MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR JAWANI Y’ALL and go GET IT. Furthermore, here is my #midweekinspo. What’s yours?

1. So I felt sucky after flopping an audition and was questioning my very existence and all that (this is what happens when something means a lot to you people!) but a couple of cool videos helped me to pick myself back up. Misty Copeland’s new ad campaign with ‘Under Armour’ is so awesome. I love how ballet dancers are considered more and more like athletes now. 

Anyways the video features a real rejection letter than she received but now, she’s a principle dancer in the American Ballet Theatre. Badass, right?

2. ‘No Country for Women’ are an organisation of activists campaigning for women’s rights in India. Ok, this might be bad but is all this media attention on rape really making a difference? Actually, this video addressing the more fundamental issues really made me see a different perspective. Often the idea of ‘gender-policing’ is so ingrained in our social psyche that we don’t see when oppressive ideas are staring at us right in the face!

3. We all know about Gaza. We’ve all seen and heard about the inhumane violence and treatment of the Palestinian people. But what can we do about it? One lady in British politics who’s known to stand out made a bold move this week to actually resign from her position.

I hope this social media frenzy, the protests, the articles, the overwhelming evidence can actually make a difference. I’ve often wondered what it would be like if billions of people actually united against the powers that are causing these heart-breaking atrocities. What if?

- S

EMPIRE, FAITH & WAR: THE SIKHS AND WWI

TBG are huge fans of the GT 1588 Initiative - they’ve held incredible events in the past, educating the public on the remarkable Sikh martial tradition, and not to mention they published that book everyone’s still trying to get their hands on! 

We were so excited to pop down to SOAS this week and check out their new work - a wonderfully curated exhibition on the often overlooked efforts of brave Sikh Soldiers in WW1. TBG were pleasantly surprised at the vast collection being exhibited, from propaganda posters to letters and some heartfelt excerpts of war poetry:  

My favourite was this small photograph of this beautiful newly wedded woman: 

Check out the exhibition if you’re in London - it’s on until the 28th of September - and make sure you let us know what you thought! 

- A&S x 

HAIDER: SHAKESPEARE IN INDIA

The king of Indian Shakespeare has done it again guys. Vishal Bhardwaj can now proudly claim three Shakespeare adaptations - i’m so excited to see this one of Hamlet

Set against breathtaking Kashmir, Hamlet (Shahid Kapoor) is re-interpreted as Haider, a philosophy student who returns from University to find his father, a well known Doctor, dead (ahem, murdered). 

The film has strong notes of political controversy, which are making me nervous about it passing India’s art censors! 

The adaptation has been written by Basharat Peer, a Kashmir-born author and journalist. Hamlet’s famous soliloquies have had to be largely omitted, but the most famous scenes remain. Haider asks “to be or not to be” as he points a handgun to his own head, and as a Muslim decides not to kill his uncle while he is kneeling in prayer, rather than before an altar.

Peer said he hoped the film would challenge the narrative constructed by previous mainstream cinema about the Kashmir conflict and give an alternative point of view.

"Kashmiris have always been portrayed as crazy fanatics or Kashmir simply seen as a picturesque tourist destination. This is a very different view," he said.

Bhardwaj’s brilliant cast choices get me every time! Tabu made an incredible Lady Macbeth in Maqbool, and this time she’s back as Gertrude. 

Oh, and how gorgeous does Shraddha Kapoor look as Ophelia?

Also, is it just me or did Bhardwaj mention at some point that he would be doing Julius Caesar? I flipping hope so - it’s my favourite Shakespeare play. Don’t let me down Bhardwaj…

- A x

What did you guys think of Omkara and Maqbool?

#MIDWEEKINSPO:

Celebrating Eid this year was bittersweet. On the one hand, it was exciting to spend it celebrating with my new family. I realised how fortunate I am to be living in this part of the world, with my family and friends safe, whilst Muslims in Palestine spent their Eid and Ramadan getting shelled and burying their loved ones.

It’s important we are always keeping the innocent deaths at the forefront of our minds and prayers, but at the same time, we cannot let ourselves feel guilty for allowing some space for positivity in our lives too. 

Here’s a few things I’ve wanted to share with you all this week:

1. A wonderful collection of photos of Muslims celebrating Eid around the world.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Muslims offer Eid al-Fitr prayers at the national mosque. Photograph: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images

Manila, Philippines: Filipino Muslims pray during Eid al-Fitr celebrations at Manila’s Rizal Park. Photograph: Ezra Acayan/Demotix/Corbis

This one of a woman in Gaza is tough and really hit home.

Gaza City, Gaza Strip: a Palestinian woman mourns by her relative’s grave. Photograph: Oliver Weiken/EPA

2. TBG hit up an amazing exhibition at SOAS on Sikh Soldiers in WW1. Look out for the full post this week! 

3. How to keep that spiritual high even after Ramadan is finished. Don’t let this month’s effort go to waste guys. 

Also, just wanted to give a shout out to all of you who attended any of the demos around the world to show solidarity with the people of Gaza. You guys are amazing!

- A x

 

 

KAJAL NISHA PATEL - PHOTOGRAPHY & SOCIAL DOCUMENTARY

We meet at the artsy and inviting LCB Depot in the heart of Leicester’s cultural quarter and Kajal shows me around the ‘Lightseekers’ photographic exhibition that features her poignant images of the the Vanasthali residential school in India that is attended by Adivasi (indigenous) students.

The children have advanced skills in farming and agriculture and are taught about their relationship with the land from a young age. Check out a summary video here.

Kajal told me how she hopes to grow this project to interact with school children in the UK to foster a cross-cultural understanding where young people can learn from each other. 

The project really moves me as it’s important to notice that although countries like India are looked on as ‘developing countries’ and Western education is somewhat more ‘advanced’, the values and sustainable living habits that children at Vanasthali learn are incredibly valuable in such a consumerist, fast-paced society. 

It just goes to show that we can learn something from everyone and we don’t always know best!

A lot of Kajal’s work focuses on migration, diaspora and how communities have to adapt to economic and social environments. The video featured above about our relationships with our parents really hit home and highlights the struggles that immigrant families have to go to in order to provide a better future for their children i.e. us. 

Kajal has a wonderful, fighter spirit and is really committed to documenting communities, culture and giving a voice to the people :) it was awesome to connect with her!

Check out more of Kajal’s work on:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Lightseekers

- S