Kitsch kitsch hota hai

Shop Talk

This store is a tribute to kitsch. So, stepping into The Orange Bicycle, you are greeted by a profusion of colour, bright oranges, pinks, blues and yellows, enough to cheer you up on a grey Bangalore evening.

The kitsch we are talking about takes the form of wallets, coasters, boxes, cushion covers, bags...There is a bag with Madhuri Dixit smiling at you, one more with Amitabh Bachchan.There are purses with Hindi film posters printed on them. There is Mother India, the film poster printed on a bag. The Beatles, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis motifs are everywhere.

Enough already? There’s more kitsch in sight, as I notice a miniature truck, in pink and decked in sequins and beads. And then, a few steps away, sitting on a shelf is a miniature autorickshaw. I stop, I stare, I smile and I marvel at the sheer range of ideas.

And then it occurs to you that some of them are simple and could have been made at home. Take an old tin dabba at home, paint it a bright yellow, and you have something there. But would one actually execute these ideas?

Gunjan Khaitan Shahabadi, Leena Raizada who is now in the US, and two other partners have succeeded in executing these ideas. They have drawn from everyday life; and you can see it in their chai holders, the cutting chai glass cups, and the weights and measures that a vegetable vendor or a corner store grocer would use. And then, there is indeed an orange bicycle parked in one nook of the store. 

According to Gunjan, the store that was launched in November 2010, has labels sourced from as many as 90 designers across the country. “We conceptualised the store more as a place that is all about an experience. Going from one end of the store to the other is a journey in itself, and you can leave your troubles behind for a while. Bangalore did not have a place like this, where quirky home decor merchandise was easily available,” she points out.

The name of the store too, seems like a tribute to quirkiness. “We wanted a colour element, and we chose orange because of its tangy, fresh, new connotations. Also, it is a colour that is associated with trendiness and youth. And then, as the four of us brainstormed on the name, we realised that the bicycle was a common thread in our lives. It’s a ride that we want to share with our customers,” she points out.

For this writer, the store was indeed more about experience than about actual buying.

That Tintin frame, for instance, would be sheer nostalgia for anyone who has grown up reading the famed comics. The Hindi film motifs take you back to the wonder years. That steel tiffin box placed next to two tin buckets painted a bright blue and orange is also stuff that real, everyday life is all about, or what it was till a few decades ago. So, would one buy these quirky decor products? Are the products here overpriced? Gunjan explains, “I understand the bit about the pricing; but the fact is that there is a price to pay when you want to make a style statement. What one must also understand is that none of these products are mass-produced. Most of them make a strong statement that is unique.”

Pricing

The ideas are all wonderful. There is brilliant Bollywood kitsch, yes, but most of the interesting merchandise is priced upwards of Rs 1,000. The quirky key-holder with ‘Goods Carrier’ and ‘Shubh Labh’ etched on it, (much like the plank above a lorry’s registration number plate) is an interesting piece...but will cost Rs 900. Some of the clothes (including simple kurtas) are priced in the Rs 2,000-range. Even the lower-end products are priced upwards of Rs 500. There is junk jewellery, some tiny pieces are available in the Rs 100-Rs 300 range. The miniature lorry is ultimate kitsch, but the pricing is again on the higher side (approx Rs 3,000).

Verdict: Definitely worth visiting. The quirky ideas are bound to bring a smile to your face. Now, would you want to bring home the quirky stuff is another question. That depends on how badly you want kitsch.

The Orange Bicycle, House No. 3353, 5th Cross, 12th A Main, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar, Bangalore-560038.

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