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Galas made for city but not in city
- Choreographers roped in from Delhi, Mumbai for Calcutta fashion shows

Dusky beauty Sanjukta on the ramp in a grey swing coat over white shirt and leggings by Kiran Uttam Ghosh at the Stylefile Winter Show 2006 on Saturday night.

There’s no missing the Calcutta connection here: the model, the designer and the show hosts — fashion patrons Preeti Goenka and Sumedha Saraogi — are all from the city’s glamour world.

Yet, Calcutta’s biggest fashion extravaganza could not be termed ‘made in Calcutta’. For, the gala show was executed by Delhi-based choreographer duo Aparna and Tanya. This is the rule for all big ramp shows in the city — made for Calcutta, but not in Calcutta.

There was Calcutta everywhere at Stylefile 2006, on the ramp and behind it. There were four design biggies (Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Anamika Khanna, Kiran Uttam Ghosh and Raj Mahtani) and five top models (Jessica, Sanjukta, Priyanka, Tina and Neeraj). But what made the show and gave it an “international flavour” was the choreography by ‘outsiders’ Aparna and Tanya.

“We have worked with Aparna and Tanya since the first edition of Stylefile in 2002. Our show is serious fashion without trappings, and they just know how to do it,” says Sumedha.

Why not a Calcutta choreographer' “The standard of choreography in Delhi and Mumbai is far ahead of Calcutta. And when it comes to choreography, you can’t take a chance; it can make or break a show,” she stresses.

What does it take to be a top choreographer' “You must have an in-depth knowledge of the world of fashion. Fashion facts, like the fall of fabrics to a strong sensibility about music, set design, catwalk and everything else in a show. Plus, you need a strong sense of time and good communication skills,” explains 11-year-veteran Aparna.

Model-turned-choreographer Achla Sachdev, who comes to Calcutta once every three months to steer a show, feels Calcutta choreographers fall short on almost all counts. “Calcutta choreographers have not been able to grasp what it is all about. First, they are not punctual. And to get people to follow trends, you have to set them yourself. They are unorganised and clueless about trends,” she claims.

Meetu of the Meenu-Meetu duo of Delhi, behind the Fashion Police shows at The Park in town, is more scathing: “In Calcutta, the basic awareness is lacking; we have never even heard of a choreographer here.”

The last word on the city’s choreography skills comes from star designer Sabyasachi: “Calcutta doesn’t have a proper choreographer. The so-called choreographers here are only interested in tamasha. Technically, they are zero. I will never use a Calcutta choreographer for my show; if need be, I will do it all myself.”

But what keeps local choreographers from making the grade' Lack of awareness and lack of professionalism to start with. “Even the few choreographers we have lack originality. Plus, they are not professional, they can’t even coordinate models properly,” complains city model Sanjukta.

Local model-turned choreographer Riya Mitra, however, blames it on the “mindset” of organisers who bring in Delhi or Mumbai choreographers when they have money to spend and only turn to a local name when constrained by a shoestring budget. “Then quality suffers and we get a bad name,” she argues.

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