Magazine Wars: July
On the cover: We’re so sick of seeing Deepika Padukone on magazine covers that even channeling a gay man’s fantasy to make her look “fierce and fabulous” (she does; and looks better for it) can’t redeem Elle for choosing someone who’s fast becoming the most over-exposed star in the business. Inside, the mag acknowledges that she walks a fine line between enigmatic and over-exposed (though we’d be apt to lean towards the latter), with Padukone finally copping to the fact that she thinks nobody in Bollywood has a better body than her.
Read it: Despite Robert Pattinson being as over-exposed as Padukone, the interview with the actor, though opening with the now almost mandatory fawning paragraph on his looks, is actually funny, cynical and sardonic. Pattinson says he fantasises about beating up a papparazo, is the “worst driver in the world”, is only three per cent evil and hates to be called brooding. The “Graduates 2011”, which for a change covers indie labels like NorBlack NorWhite, Taramay and Obataimu. We think it a tad ironic that Elle commissions a piece lamenting the fact that every icon now comes from Bollywood and puts it in the same issue that has Padukone on the cover, but that one flaw aside, Jai Arjun Singh’s rant about Hindi film stars turning advice columnists is wickedly funny (sample observation: Priyanka Chopra’s column for a newspaper was full of “unselfconscious banalities”). The “Where the Wild Things Are” photo spread, which serves as a good example of how to go tribal in a dessert, use animal prints and other geographical cliches (like ethnic prints) and still pull off an awesome shoot.
Don’t bother: Amitav Ghosh has been on a worldwide press junket for his new book River of Smoke so only die-hard Ghosh fans, who have miraculously already finished reading this weighty tome, will relish yet another piece, this one written by Ghosh himself on how he conceptualised the book (don’t say we didn’t warn you). Sushmita Sen, the new face of a skin care range called Jafra, says she shares with this brand “a penchant for love and the empowerment of women”. The last we checked, beauty creams weren’t on the UN’s prescribed list for empowering women.
On the cover: Bollywood newbie Sonakshi Sinha looking svelte but over-stylised, dishes on being a brand, bringing boys home to meet dad (actor and politician Shatrughan “Shotgun” Sinha) and her future movie roster (she has six in the pipeline). Inside, the sober formal wear (like a white suit by MaxMara) and heavy movie-esque make-up age Sinha beyond her 23 years.
Read it: The trend report on how to wear lace without looking like a doily; journalist Poorna Shetty talks in candid detail about the emotional fall-out from “breaking up” with your best friend; “The New Kurta” photoshoot, where even though we’re not sure calling oversized designer shirts kurtas actually works, the model of choice is breathtakingly beautiful enough to make it seem so.
Don’t bother: “Star Act” with Rob Pattinson (see Elle instead); a somewhat random Q&A with actress Freida Pinto that seems to be there for no other reason than to rehash her life story and ask her about supposedly dumping her fiancee for Dev Patel. “Man Candy”, which misleadingly indicates that it’s about the potentially devilish topic of trophy husbands and instead is more a boring account of what a lot of posh married women want in a man.
On the cover: Another over-exposed Bollywood star, Lara Dutta Bhupathi as the face of the “Fabulous at Every Age” issue. We love the teal suede dress by Ferragamo, but remain uncharmed by the pudding bowl haircut that reminded us of The Beatles, but not in a good way. Inside, all of Dutta’s fab dresses and pilates posing can’t save that terrible haircut from itself.
Read it: Or rather, look at it. “Great Finds” is the visual equivalent of a chic flea market, where you want everything and by some fabulous coincidence, you just happen to be able to afford most of it. The “Best Dressed” list, even though we object just on principle to putting Aishwarya Rai Bachchan alongisde Diane Kruger and Zoe Saldana.
Don’t bother: Why are Indian magazines so in love with Roberto Cavalli? No answer can justify another snooze-worthy puff piece on the designer and why he loves India so. The four advertorial-worthy pages of watches and watch brands. There’s nothing like the self-delusion of millionaire pop singers to make you laugh. Britney Spears looks surprisingly demure and covered up in the Harper’s shoot, and we almost felt like liking her, until we came to this line “I’m pretty normal you know…I’m like everybody else.” Which is followed by this one on her perfect day: “Have a good workout, taking a swim, my boys being there and just having a good day at the pool—we have a theme-park slide.” Sure, Brit, ’cause everyone we know has a themed park slide in their back yard. “What’s in a shot?” where a cosmetic physician advocates Botox as part of this “Fabulous at Every Age” issue. Despite the evident irony, it’s the equivalent of getting Malboro’s CEO to talk about why cigarettes are great for your health. A look at Ivanka Trumps’s “new life” as a first-time mother, which naturally means posing the statuesque blonde as a Playboy bunny. Nothing quite says mummy like fishnet stockings, a slit black dress, and arm-length satin gloves. Lest we not get the metaphor that Ivanka can still be sexy and a mother, we have the billionaire heiress biting down on an ace of spades. Make of it what you will.
On the cover: A perfectly fetching young model wearing Dior Homme, Ashish N. Soni and Just Cavalli. Inside, despite the so-so styling, we love the fact that an Indian magazine finally makes proper use of Mumbai as the mise en scene instead of trying to obscure it. From the maidans to the steps of the Asiatic Library to Mahalaxmi station, it’s a long overdue use of our city as a fashion prop.
Read it: “The Dress Diaries”, which helpfully breaks down a range of styles and where you can get them across all price ranges; “History of the Fedora”, which reveals that the now ubiquitous hipster wear originated as far back as 1882. Directionless recent college graduates, take note of “Trust me, I’m a Wardrobe Doctor” about closet fixer Elika Gibbs. Apparently, there is such a job as a “wardrobe doctor” and it mostly involves being “knee-high in Chanel, Lanvin, Dior and Givenchy” and charging about Rs33,000 per day to act as part therapist and part stylist. The “Print Clash” photoshoot, less for the clothes and more for the model who clearly knows how to brandish a seriously glossy head of hair.
Don’t bother: A look at Tarun Tahiliani, which tries to demystify the legend behind this “foremost couturier” except there’s no legend to demystify.
On the cover: Comedian and Parks and Recreation TV star Aziz Ansari, as one of the men on GQ India’s now seemingly annual list of the “50 Most Influential Global Indians”. Like last year’s, the 2011 list is a good mix of usual suspects (read repeats from 2010, including Ansari) and people you may not have heard about (New York-based playwright Rajiv Joseph). However, like last year, the names are dominated by desis settled in the US. Thirty-five of the 50 (yes, we counted) or 70 per cent of the men featured are based in the States, leading us to believe that despite having editions around the world, for the editors of GQ, America remains the greatest nation in the world (which might explain why M. Night Shyalaman makes it even though he hasn’t made a decent film in almost a decade). Going by the short write-ups on each of their selections, an endorsement in The New Yorker, The New York Times, or Time is one of the sure-fire ways to make you an “influential global Indian”.
Read it: The Rahul Bose interview, where the actor talks about his much-speculated-on personal life. “I’m single, but not celibate,” he says. His reaction to a question on whether he’s gay is a firm “Of course not” though he says that kissing a stranger, irrespective of whether the person is a woman or a man, for a film involves pretty much the same amount of weird. “The Injectable Vasectomy”, about the pioneering research conducted and progress made by Kharagpur-based Indian scientist Sujoy Guha in developing a new “reversible” vasectomy procedure.
Don’t bother: “Classic, with a twist”, about the “cocktail revolution” reaching Indian shores. Said revolution is about how bartenders are using fresh ingredients and spices to shake up and serve inventive new cocktails, something we’ve seen at bars here for at least about the last five years.