So, it's the cusp of 1st and 2nd December, 2018. As we write this and put up our work for you to see, two exceedingly ostentatious celebrity wedding parties are taking place on the other side of th...
So, it's the cusp of 1st and 2nd December, 2018. As we write this and put up our work for you to see, two exceedingly ostentatious celebrity wedding parties are taking place on the other side of the country. First, there's the Grand Hyatt, Bombay, reception of cine-star couple Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, mostly for industry friends, where the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Karan Johar, Akshay Kumar and Alia Bhatt are hobnobbing with Farah Khan and Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Rekha's arrived in a purple-and-gold jacquard silk with matched kundan jewellery of which the Chandbalis reach down to her shoulders; Aishwarya Rai is in a heavily embellished white-on-white sequinned lehenga looking quite the silver fairy; Kalki Koechlin is in a cream fold-over wide-lapelled pant suit ----- typical; Shabana Azmi pairs a solid gold necklace with a peach-pink silk; a multi-coloured saree looks terrible on Hema Malini and the ornaments do nothing to save her wardrobe disaster; Lara Dutta's stolen the show with her gold-and-black combination worn with a South Indian bib necklace and jhumkas, her hair tied back in a tight bun with bel garlands around it; while Vidya Balan's look's gone completely awry as the not-too-well-fitted black dress she's wearing is not the attire she'll ever look her best in, though it is a brave choice. As for the bride and groom: that we'll leave you to check on any available media.
Then, we travel to western Rajasthan and the great Marwar city of Jodhpur to walk in to Umaid Bhawan Palace where Priyanka Chopra's at her Christian Wedding with Nick Jonas. Nita and Mukesh Ambani have landed already with their children, as has Salman Khan's family; Dwayne Johnson's in the vicinity, and so is Lupita Nyong'o. Of course, cousin Parineeti Chopra's a fixture, and Jonathan Tucker's sure to have slipped in by now. The first couple are both wearing Ralph Lauren and it's left to be seen what's on the cards for the Hindu ceremony to follow on the 2nd.
But, why is all this being reported, you might wonder. What has it to do with our weekend jewellery post? A bit of the stardust and the dust the stars are kicking up has drizzled on us. We've gone ballistic as well with the 'bling' and presented here a Sita-har that most likely matches what Mrs. Gopali Chakraborti-Ghosh called "a monstrosity like the ones some of us are lumbered with" just five days ago in her comment on the Chinese Lantern Necklace post.
Here, for you, is our own show of a different kind of spectacle ---- one that's an integral part of India but remains a dying art: Kathakali. The five-chain form and scale of this extravagant Sita-har directly references the Kazhutharam ---- a multi-strand beaded necklace attached to a band ---- that's worn by many of the characters in a Kathakali performance. The hanging 'flower-pots' of the centrepiece are the white organdie scarves, Uthareeyam, one end of which are tied into 'balls' and the banded tails released from the pleats to open out into a 'flower'. The centre panel, meticulous in its wire-work and imperious of form, clearly outlines a performer in classic pose, hands folded (the richly detailed scroll with ball-jhur), the Ututtukettu or layered skirt shown in the almost circular lower section made entirely out of wire, rejis and ball clusters. The two barfis on top are the face and headdress of the actor and the side clasps and end pieces fully reflect them.
As difficult and disciplined as the dance form is, the necklace is perhaps even more complicated in its design and manufacture. If you notice carefully, the five chains are of five different types yet similar in their karigari. The central line among the chains going from the side to the endpieces is also suddenly varied, a two-leaf model that's seen nowhere else. The earrings, too, are big and simply follow the centrepiece in their form and detailing but are scaled down for practical reasons. Even then, the set is noticeably large and heavy, and heavily decorated. It's also pure Bengal in its workmanship.
This then is a celebration of the arts and culture heritage of our country, and a solemn reminder that Kathakali and its allied performing arts are all in danger of disappearing if not supported and nourished by us.
While clinquant stories unfold of lavish marriage ceremonies of celebrities and the huge sums they've spent on luxe wedding events, the exponents of a unique classical dance form remain confined to their shadows in darkening hope of revival.
The 'bling' of this Sita-har is not empty show. It indicates the grandeur and monumentality of Kathakali and speaks, through its minute detailing, of the finer nuances of the dance form that, though famous all over the world, is in a state of sad neglect. In all its handmade guinea gold power, the ornament Kathakali should ably breathe new life into its performance-art counterpart. While celebrity weddings may make involving (or annoying) news for a couple of days and will be forgotten as well in equal time, Kathakali, which originated in Kerala fifteen hundred years ago, will live on forever.