Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 86, Tuesday, October 6, 2009



LS Pick

Divine intricacy

Meet costume jewellery in all its glory with Mischra Designs Ltd., a label by a unique Bangladeshi, Ishrat Hakim Khan. From traditional and western wedding jewellery to chic, hip designs for everyday wear, whether at work or a casual evening out with friends, Mischra has it all. While the price of gold continues to inflate to a level almost unreachable by many, these intricate designer creations from Mischra brings about an option that is nothing less divine than gold.

Mischra was originally started by Ishrat and Michelle, two visionary and avant-garde designers putting together their combined experience and expertise of several decades.

While Michelle Theodoro concentrated on the Bridal concept of designs, Ishrat Hakim's creation of a range of exclusive designs for all seasons had representations at various U.K. high street fashion houses. Mischelle left the company in 2007.

Ishrat left the Fulham studios of Paula Designs Ltd in 2005 to set up the new concept Mischra Designs. She had joined Paula with an experience stretching over 20 years as a specialist designer of Bridal, Vintage and Diamante. A variety of her creations were taken by Butler & Wilson, Marks & Spencer, Monsoon, QVC, etc., for their spring/summer and autumn/winter range.

Ishrat joined Femina Jewels in Chiswick, London as a trainee/apprentice in 1973 and completed a course on Drawings and Designs from Chelsea College, London. After a couple of years of hard slog, trials and tribulations joined Sphinx & Femina Jewels Ltd. in 1976. As a co-designer she worked under the supervision of Ted Steinler, the master designer revered throughout the industry. Under the tutelage of Ted she mastered all aspects of Bridal and Vintage in Diamante and Beads. Ishrat went on to create her own portfolio of designs used by famous fashion jewellers Butler & Wilson, Monty Don, Adrian Mann, Gaventa, Adale Marie, Betty Jackson, etc., having variously outlets in London, LA and Paris.

Ishrat's creations were exhibited at various shows and exhibitions in London throughout her career. Her creations for Adrian Mann were put on show at Harrods, the world renowned Knightsbridge store in 1978.

She also demonstrated to the inquisitive customers at Harrods, the makings of jewellery from a concept into an artistic object of desire. Her creations for Butler & Wilson were exhibited at Olympia in 1982 and for Monty Don in the following year, a more recent exhibition was held at Wimbledon Art Centre in 2007.

She is currently stationed in London, from where she continues her work with an unmatched passion for creating art that is truly divine!

Visits to see her creations are by appointment only. For appointments, please contact talat_sub@yahoo.com

By Farina Noireet
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Special thanks to Talat Naz Rahim

Sixties music strike again

Meeting the members of the "Undergound Peace Lovers" in the living room of Omar Khalid Rumi, at Gulshan, one realised how full of pristine fun each of the musicians are, even today.

This is after 35 years of serious productive work overseas and at home. The group members, after their heyday as young, trendy musicians, cut much ice as engineers, cricketers of the national team, businessmen and what have you.

The laughing, teasing "Underground Peace Lovers" are here in Dhaka after decades. Along with young dazzling Laura, they played with aplomb and masterful skill at Kozmo lounge at Banani. This was on September 25. Rumi sang and played on the guitar; Dastigir Haq sang; Shahidul Huda accompanied on drums, while Salahuddin Khan played the bass. This dramatic performance was lapped up by music hungry enthusiasts.

The band, "the first of its kind on the free soil of Bangladesh", presented songs from the 60s and 70s such as "She is Standing There" (The Beatles), "Sand Man" (America), "Evil Ways" and "Black Magic Woman" (Santana), and "Smoke on the Water" (Deep Purple). The group had got together after 35 years-- coming from Canada, Sweden, Dubai and far-flung parts of Bangladesh-- on Rumi's suggestion.

Recounting their beginning Rumi says, "There were no cultural activities as such after the liberation and we decided to fill the void at that. A gaggle of girls, including Shompa and Rini Reza form Holy Cross College, who were presenting a Shakespeare play, asked the group to play during their performance on March 1972.

This was our breakthrough, to present the first band programme on the free soil of Bangladesh. We then played at Sri Mongol tea gardens, embassies, and Intercontinental- the only five star hotel at that time in Dhaka. We played seven days a week, three hours at a stretch. During the breaks guys asked us if we were Americans. I said 'No. Never heard of Americans. Who are they?" Rumi and his high-spirited, jovial group, students with starry dreams at that time, had the pleasure of meeting Cliff Richards at that time. The star had come down to Dhaka for a UN stint. He took snaps with the young, trendy, group -- brave in their bell-bottoms and groovy side-burns and locks.

"Presently I have my band 'Bangladesh' , along with Laura, an integral part of it, played the drums, keyboard and later, performed as the vocal. Before that I was with 'King of the Oval Zenith', which was once adjudged the best band in the country by Coca Cola. "Bangladesh" performed in numerous TV channels, clubs and cut an album called 'Bangladesh' in 2001. All the compositions were by Rumi, except one by Laura. Laura herself moved on to cut an album on her own, called "Appekhar Par" in 2000, which contained compositions by Rumi and Laura.

Rumi, who gives guitar lessons, while his professor wife paints and runs the home, was interested in western music, like the rest of his group. He began with the "tabla" and graduated to the banjo and the guitar. Inspired by the band "Iolites" in 1967, he became hell bent on forming a band of his own. This he did with his friend Sajjad, meeting and practising with his music-addicted buddies in Dhanmondi. Meanwhile, his other passion cricket, made him the captain of the Rajshahi University Cricket tem (1973-'74). When "Underground Peace Lovers" broke up he played with "Windy Side of Love" and "Renaissance". Today he prides in having a band of his own.

Asked to dwell on the problems they faced as one of the pioneers of band music in the country, Rumi says, "As 'Undergound Peace Lovers' we faced massive problems as regards the instruments themselves. In the hotels we failed to get a good PA system. Powerful 'amps' were a rare thing for us. Besides, there were no practice venues and the materials such as lyrics of the songs and the recording facilities were totally absent.

"Our future plans stem obviously from the same lack of facilities and we are taking a positive step as far as the recording is concerned and taking measures for recording sessions and ultimately cutting an album in the near future."

Sajjad adds, "The playing of legendary tunes that touch people's hearts in no easy task. Composing music is a combined endeavour of the band. This requires passion, creativity and flair for the unexplored. The maestros who create underground music often go unappreciated in the mainstream audience of Bangladesh. If mixed with the right measure of dedication and commitment, we can make our music style known to the world music lovers."

By Fayza Haq

On The Cover

On October 9, 42 years after his death, the fiery spirit of Che Guevara remains as strong as ever. The indomitable revolutionary, with his stormy good looks and movie-worthy life story lives on as the ultimate counter-culture icon. Click here for our tribute.

Photo: Zahedul I Khan


Quit it!

Whether we admit it or not, we are all victims, albeit of the self-inflicted variety, of some sort of excess. Indeed, most of us are addicted to one thing or another and it does not have to be something obviously bad- tobacco, alcohol or gambling.

At the basis of addiction is disillusionment. It does not have to be the type of crushing disappointment of, for instance, unrequited love. Just general discontent at life's cycles can lead to addictive behaviour, because an addiction or the source of addiction gives us something to look forward to.

Hobbies are good outlets for people with busy lives because one pursues it in one's spare time. An addiction differs in the sense that while hobbies are a healthy source of recreation, addiction becomes an all-consuming force that adversely affects one's life. Take the teenager and the video game, for example, we often hear and see for ourselves how obsession with video games hampers a student's academic performance.

The thing to remember is that there is no such thing as a harmless addiction. Being addicted to something makes us lose all sense of proportion regarding the source of our addiction. Too much of anything is undesirable as far as living a balanced, healthy life is concerned.

Then you have the ugly side of addiction. This includes addiction to cigarettes, alcohol, recreational and prescription drugs and many more such substances. These have a directly harmful effect on our bodies and minds. The ill-effects of these habits are well known and documented.

It is best, however, if we do not make this a matter of degrees by thinking that some addictions are better than the others (although that may be true), but instead see all addictions as equally harmful. This is because what makes us addicts is a pattern of behaviour that leads us to give in to temptation all too often. The sources of temptation are entirely up to chances and circumstances.

Now is the perfect time to kick those bad habits. We have just gone through a month of fasting which, above all is about instilling self-control. Not eating, drinking or contrary to some people's interpretation of 'makhru' smoking from the hours of sunrise till sunset has made us spiritually stronger because it made us find comfort in ourselves and not from some external source. We just have to remember that we don't need what we can live without.




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