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Ritesh Warke On Friday, January 14, 2011
MUMBAI: Salman Khan is dressed in a police uniform and dances to the robust tunes of Dabangg and Katrina strikes her trademark Sheila ki Jawani pose at Kite Centre in Bhendi Bazaar. After all, celebrities are the flavour of this year,s kite festival, Makar Sankranti.

"Celebrity designer kites are a hit with youngsters, and this year, there is great demand for Dabangg and Sheila ki Jawani kites," seconded Naeem Shamsi, a kite trader from Andheri and secretary of Mumbai Kites and Accessories Manufacturers and Traders, Association.

Shamsi has been in the kite business since the past 25 years at Andheri,s station area. "Although kite sales are seasonal, they mostly start from November and peak during Makar Sankranti, when we sell well over 10,000 kites," he said.

Although Chinese kites had been swiftly making inroads in the Indian market till recently, traders said their sales have dropped drastically this year. "Chinese kites are expensive and also huge, due to which they do not move swiftly," said Ilyas Ahmed, a kite trader from Kurla. "In India, since the concept of kite 'cutting, is more popular than flying, people prefer local kites that are easier to manoeuvre than the imported Chinese ones."

Consequently, locally made kites — embossed with photographs of a celebrity, a cricketer, a politician, or just a personal message—are the current rage. Another kite that is selling like hot cakes is 'Chak De,, which has Mahendra Singh Dhoni,s Team India posing for the festive season. "The kite is really giving other celebrity kites a run for their money," said Shamsi.

The Fighter Kites Shop at Bhendi Bazaar, for example, has been designing kites at Imamwada—the city,s kite-making hub—with nine wooden sticks instead of the traditional two. At Imamwada, one can get kites of all sizes, shapes and designs — the smallest being a mere three inches long and the biggest around six feet.

S M Khan of Fighter Kites Shop said, "Every year, we try to innovate on kite designs. We have kites that range from Rs 2 to Rs 600, although the expensive ones do not find many buyers. The simple kite covered with shiny metallic paper remains popular for a simple reason that it is cheap and one can buy a dozen of them for a mere Rs 20."


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