Bapu's khadi now to hit Page 3

Oct 4, 2007 Sudeshna Sarkar

Kathmandu, Oct 4 (IANS) Once spun out in village homes and representing austerity, khadi, the hand-woven rough fabric popularised by Mahamta Gandhi as an icon of India's independence movement, is now the stuff of haute couture and glamour.

From a cottage industry, it has moved to the ramp and will now hit Page 3, courtesy an NGO and maverick Bollywood director Madhur Bhandarkar.

The maker of such acclaimed films as "Chandni Bar" and "Page 3" arrived in Kathmandu Thursday to research for his new film that will take a hard look at the fashion industry.

The controversial director hopes to get ideas and inspiration from an Indo-Nepal fashion show to be hosted in one of Kathmandu's five-star hotels Friday.

'Harmony - the best of India and Nepal Khadi Show', to be held at the Hyatt Regency hotel, has been planned by the New Delhi-based South Asia Foundation to raise funds for a South Asian cultural centre.

The centre, to be established in Nepal, will be a tribute to late Sushila Koirala, wife of Nepal's first elected prime minister B.P. Koirala, and grandmother of Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala.

Sushila Koirala, who passed away recently, was a member of her husband's Nepali Congress party and is remembered for her contribution to Nepal's pro-democracy movement and initiative to promote the performing arts in Nepal.

"We planned a fashion show with khadi and other natural fabrics because these are made by weavers in the villages and help people at the grassroots," said Shirin Mehra, executive director of the South Asia Foundation.

"Besides khadi, the show will also feature hemp and nettle, nettle being exclusive to Nepal. It will be a blend of both countries and highlight the Indian and Nepal fashion industries."

Besides Indian designers like Satya Paul, Mona Pali and Niki Mahan, the ramp show will showcase the work of Nepali designer Shakun, whose forte will be hemp and nettle.

"Originally, we wanted to hold the show on Oct 2, the birthday of Mahatma Gandi," said Nirjana Dhakhwa, who heads SN Evens, the event management company that has put the show together.

"However, with people in Nepal preferring parties during the weekend, we decided to shift it to Friday."

Where does Bhandarkar fit into this? By virtue of being associated with the South Asian film festival that the Foundation organises.

"Since he is making a film on fashion and heard we would be holding an Indo-Nepal fashion show in Kathmandu, he was very interested and said he would come to watch the show," Mehra told IANS.

After the fashion show and the Sushila Koirala South Asian Cultural Centre, the Foundation also plans to set up a cooperative society in Nepal to promote the nettle-based industry.

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