(Muzaffar & Meera Ali’s Lucknow Home)
A visit to Kotwara House (by Appointment) is in itself a revealing experience of sorts. Kotwara House is Lucknow abode of the legendary film maker, fashion designer, painter, poet, architect or rather call them ‘A couple with many feathers in their cap of creativity’, Raja Muzaffar & Meera Ali. Belonging to the erstwhile royal family of Kotwara, he inherited the title of ‘Raja’ (title of King) from his father and today he lives to prove that ‘Royalty is not about thrones, but service to mankind’. He is decorated with ‘Padam Shri’, a high civilian honour by Government of India for his contributions in the field of culture, heritage conservation, art and society. When you think of Lucknow, you think of Umrao Jaan and more recently Jaanisar – high note films by Muzaffar Ali, about Lucknow’s enviable culture, innate mannerism, couture fashion (often recessionista), soothing music and vogue style, bundled together in great period films with an awesome story. Muzaffar & Meera’s ancestral Lucknow house, known as The Kotwara House is a part of the erstwhile palace complex of Kaiserbagh, built by the last king of Awadh, Wajid Ali Shah. The very aura of the place, interiors and artifacts that adorn it, makes it no less than a living museum of sorts. Each corner is thoughtfully decorated and curated by Meera and Muzaffar themselves. This house was actually restored to its present glory by Meera Ali herself, who happens to be an architect by education – she brought back its glory and all the attention that it used to enjoy during the British Raj. We will be privileged to have access to the living spaces of the house to understand how this creative couple lives, works and eats.
Kotwara house is now a living centre for craft with design and restoration inputs from Muzaffar Ali’s architect wife, Meera Ali. Meera & Muzaffar have revived the traditional craftsmanship of Lucknow, and have evolved a high-end couture brand, ‘KOTWARA’, with its flagship store at DLF Emporio, in New Delhi. They so very often hold exhibitions and shows world over to showcase their products. The authenticity of the palette and design is evident from the two films by Muzaffar Ali, ‘Umrao Jaan’ and ‘Jaanisaar’, that have become benchmarks of showcasing the period culture of Awadh.
We have an opportunity to enjoy a great afternoon, seeing their workshop of Chikan, Zari and Mukaesh for their label, ‘Kotwara’. Admire each piece being readied, with an opportunity to interact with highly skilled artisans at work. We also get to see the collected artifacts, some great works of calligraphy and paintings. Also enjoy short dance clips from Muzaffar’s landmark films including Umrao Jaan over a cup of hot tea/coffee served here. If we are lucky we get to meet Muzaffar and Meera Ali at their home, else sit on the couch, where he sits and his creative juices flow.
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