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John, Malaika No. 1

17 Mar


MALAIKA ARORA-KHAN

BOLLYWOOD dipenuhi aktor dan aktres kacak yang sekali gus memiliki bentuk tubuh yang seksi. Namun, dalam ramai pelakon yang seksi itu, siapakah agaknya yang memiliki punggung paling seksi?

Menerusi satu undian membabitkan 1,000 responden wanita baru-baru ini, bintang Bollywood yang mengepalai gelaran tersebut ialah John Abraham dan Malaika Arora-Khan. John yang muncul memakai seluar mandi berwarna kuning menerusi filem Dostana meraih undian sebanyak 55 peratus mengalahkan saingan terdekatnya, Ranbir Kapoor yang hanya meraih undian 17 peratus untuk berada di tempat kedua. Tempat ketiga disandang Hrithik Roshan dengan 13 peratus undian, sementara tempat kelima hingga keenam masing-masing diraih Saif Ali Khan (7 peratus), Akshay Kumar (6 peratus) dan Salman Khan (2 peratus). Undian paling rendah yang diraih Salman mungkin sebagai isyarat kepada aktor yang sering menanggalkan baju itu supaya dia mengubah strategi dengan lebih kerap muncul dengan menanggalkan seluar pula.

Persaingan di kalangan aktres Bollywood pula lebih sengit, namun menduduki takhta pertama ialah Malaika Arora-Khan yang berjaya mengumpul 25 peratus undian, mengalahkan Shilpa yang meraih 23 peratus undian. Lara Dutta dan Bipasha Basu pula berkongsi kedudukan tempat ketiga dengan masing-masing meraih 19 peratus undian. Katrina Kaif pula di tempat keempat dengan 12.5 peratus, sementara Deepika Padukone di tempat keenam dengan hanya 1.5 peratus undian.

Mengulas ‘kemenangan’nya itu, Malaika yang penuh teruja berkata: “Wow! Apa yang boleh saya cakap. Terima kasih kerana mengundi saya.” Dalam pada itu, ketika ditanya siapakah selebriti yang pada pandangannya memiliki punggung tercantik di dunia, Malaika menegaskan: “Sudah tentulah Jennifer Lopez dan Kylie Minogue!”

John Abraham turut berterima kasih dengan pengundi yang memilihnya. “Terima kasih kepada semua wanita yang mengundi saya. Saya mencintai kamu semua,” ujarnya.

Kosmo

Kareena Selebriti Paling Popular 2008

30 Dec



KAREENA meraih 40 peratus sokongan dalam tinjauan selebriti paling popular di India.

Ungguli senarai aktres pujaan Bollywood

MUMBAI: Aktres terkenal Bollywood, Kareena Kapoor, menduduki senarai teratas tinjauan selebriti paling popular di India diikuti Katrina Kaif, Priyanka Chopra, Deepike Padukone dan Bipasha Basu, menurut laporan, kelmarin.

Dalam tinjauan itu, Kareena meraih 40 peratus sokongan diikuti Katrina (38 peratus), Priyanka (10 peratus), Deepike (tujuh peratus) dan Bipasha (lima peratus), lapor akhbar.

Kareena yang mendapat tumpuan ketika ini kerana tinggal sebumbung dengan aktor Saif Ali Khan, dianggap layak berada di singgahsana paling popular selepas filemnya Jab We Met bersama Shahid Kapoor dan arahan Imtiaz Ali mendapat sambutan hangat.

Popularitinya dijangka meningkat apabila filem Kambakkht Ishq disiarkan turut dibintangi Akshay Kumar serta aktor terkenal Hollywood, Sylvester Stallone, Brandon Routh dan Denise Richards.

Katrina Kaif pula mencuri tumpuan menerusi filem Yuvvraaj, walaupun ia tidak meletup dari segi kutipan tiket. Sekurang-kurangnya, beliau berganding dengan teman lelakinya, Salman Khan buat kali pertama.

Katrina juga diundi sebagai wanita Asia paling seksi pada 2008 serta nama paling kerap dicari dalam senarai Zeitgeist oleh Google.

Priyanka pula tidak memulakan 2008 dengan baik apabila filem lakonannya, Love Story 2050, Chamku, God Tussi Great Ho dan Drona mendapat sambutan dingin.

Tetapi, beliau kembali menyinar dalam filem Fashion arahan Madhur Bhandarkar dan semakin hangat menerusi filem arahan Karan Johar, Dostana selepas beraksi seksi memakai bikini.

Sementara itu, Deepike menyaksikan reputasinya melonjak selepas filem kedua, Bachna Ae Haseeno mendapat sambutan. – Agensi

Berita Harian

Splitsvilla Unites Lovers

6 Sep

Splitsvilla unites lovers
 

It’s a story of love conquering all odds at end. The show kicked off with 20 hot girls fighting it out for two cool dudes. Ain’t you jealous of the lucky boys? But the show was not a fairy tale throughout. With heartaches, cat fights, politics, secrets and betrayal holding the centre stage it was not an easy journey for the contestants. Vishal and Shraddha, who stood their ground amidst uncertainties and insecurities, speak about their experiences. Vishal, who has done his commercial pilot training from US, says, “I wasn’t looking for love initially, I just joined for fun. But now I believe in love after meeting Shraddha.”

According to Vishal, it was fun for the guys to watch so many girls fighting for them. “We had a good time seeing them indulge in scheming, bitching and back biting for us,” he confesses.

Shraddha, however, had come down from US looking for a break in Bollywood and Splitsvilla happened to her. “The show was an individual experience. Whatever you saw on screen was just 10 per cent of the actual bitching and politics that went on in the house. Where love is concerned girls can go to any extent,” she says. But was it love on the mind of all the girls? Vishal doesn’t think so. “Most of the girls out there wanted fame and recognition, they were not genuine,” he says. And it was Shraddha’s true emotions that drew him to her.

However, Shraddha too was seen plotting with Vishal towards the end. “We did all that because we wanted to keep ourselves safe. Being so close to winning, we didn’t want things to go wrong,” explains Shraddha.ῠ What made her choose Vishal over Varun? “He is my type. He is grounded yet ambitious, he is sincere and simple,” says Shraddha. Since both the guys were seen taking girls into confidence and then dumping them, how could she trust Vishal? “Non-verbal communication and lots of eye contact made me trust him,” she reveals.

But is this the ideal way to find love? “It may not be the ideal way, but it was a unique experience. In real life you don’t get to date 20 girls,” says Vishal. For Shraddha, however, love can happen anywhere and there is no ideal way or fixed rules to fall in love. “Vishal and I got really lucky, we clicked and love happened,” she says. However, she claims that times when she didn’t know what was going on in Vishal’s mind were very tough for her. “I kept wondering, what if he likes somebody else? I felt so insecure.”

All’s well that ends well. For Vishal and Shraddha things are surely looking up. Apart from finding each other, they are also set to become MTV’s first couple VJ.

Sarika loves to work with child artistes
 

Actor Sarika says that the script of the film is the biggest “hero”. And she thinks that when actors know that a script is good, they should agree to do the film without thinking about the pros and cons. “I liked the script of Tahaan. It’s a film about an eight-year-old child and his pet – a donkey. I’m portraying the role of a widow and the mother of this boy,” said Sarika, talking about her role in the movie during a recent visit to the capital.

So, didn’t she give the role a second thought, as a child is playing the lead? “No, the script was so good that I could not say no. Moreover, Purav, my co-star and child actor is a better performer than many heroes in our industry. This film has helped me grow as an actor,” said Sarika.ῠ The film is entirely shot in Kashmir. Sarika says her shortῠ stay there was scary. “The film is not about terrorism, but we could feel the upheaval. Seeing men walking with rifles was a common sight and frightening too,” said the actress.

However, Sarika enjoyed shooting in the valley and she completely lived the character. “Shooting in Kashmir with all the locals was fun. It was like homecoming for me,” she said. In the city for the promotion of Tahaan, Sarika refused to talk about anything else, even her daughter Shruti who is making her debut in the industry. But she admitted that she loves working with child artistes.ῠ “Though, I don’t want to talk about my roles in my upcoming films, I’m excited that in all the films my co-actor is a child,” she said.

Akshay downplays success
 

Thankfully, the totally muddled Kuch is Tarah finally came to an end. Not surprisingly, the concluding episode was as ridiculous as the entire serial has been. Kanya comes to terms with the Natasha aspect of her personality and the in-laws who had no clue about their daughter-in-laws split personality happily shed tears and bond with their bahu. No signs of anger or shock here. The villain is quickly taken to task and the self righteous cop, who is all along gunning for Natasha’s blood calls up his bosses to announce that she is dead. We’re sure glad she is and advise the scriptwriters of the show to go on a long holiday and never write another script again.

Replacing this serial is a new serial, Aathva Vachan, which is yet another melodramatic potboiler. The talented Mouli Ganguli plays the protagonist with a younger mentally-challenged sister. Mouli’s family decides to get her engaged without informing her in advance and use emotional blackmail to convince her of their decision. She is paired opposite Vishal Singh, who unfortunately looks like her younger brother. There is also a shrewish sister-in-law who can’t act for nuts and needs to be sent to an acting school. Paintal and Sulbha Arya play the parents and one can definitely expect a good performance from these talented actors. While it’s nice to know that the serial explores the life of a mentally challenged child in a family, why does the character have to shriek and shout so much? The producers need to go easy on this aspect and downplay the emotions.

Speaking of emotions, Akshay Kumar who was interviewed by Arnab Goswami came across as someone who is extremely grounded despite having achieved phenomenal success. Unlike the SRK’s of the world who constantly gloat about their achievements, Akshay really downplays his success, is not willing to be part of the number game and proudly talks about his middle-class roots. Of-course, it was quite amusing to watch Goswami gush over Akshay and introduce himself as his fan. Akshay though, gave him a disbelieving glance before starting the interview. Wonder why no questions were asked about his personal life especially his rumoured flings which are supposed to have impacted Akshay’s personal life. It sure would have been interesting to gauge his reactions on camera.

And to end on a humourous note, Aamir Khan’s Tata Sky ad where he plays a Punjabi half-male-half female is a riot and the actor once again proves his mastery over his craft.

Why Soaps avoid Muslim subjects?
 
By A.L. Chougule

Muslims may be the largest minority community in India but they don’t seem to make interesting subjects for television serials. In 25 years of general entertainment history, not many serials have been made on Muslim families or subjects. The names that immediately come to mind are Adhikar, Heena, Jannat, Nargis, Shaheen, Rehnuma, Tu Naseeb Hai Kisi Aur Ka, Kaise Kahoon and Daaman. Of these only Heena was a TRP topper while Adhikaar was a decent performer. After Heena, not a single serial was made on Muslim subject or family in the last seven years. Now NDTV Imagine is venturing into the genre with Chand Ke Paar Chalo, which is a passionate love story set against the backdrop of contemporary Lucknow.

What prompted Imagine to make a prime time daily revolving around a Muslim family? “What is wrong in making a serial on a Muslim family?” asks Shailja Kejriwal, executive vice-president, content, NDTV Imagine. “Most of our general entertainment programming is pro-Hindu. There are about 15 to 20 crore Muslims in the country and it’s really sad that we don’t look beyond programmes on Hindu families and subjects,” says Shailja.

Apparently channels and producers shy away from attempting Muslim stories because they offer restrictive viewing platform. This is why most of the Muslim socials have failed to connect with the viewers. The reason for dismal rate of success, according to costume-designer-cum-television-and-theatre-director Salim Arif, is the tendency to treat the community in a clich
d and off-mainstream way. He explains, “The tradition of treating the issues and problems of Muslims differently is so strong that we have not been able to come out of the clich
d images created by the Hindi cinema. When it comes to dealing with Muslim subjects, nobody takes note of the fact that post-independence the Muslims have made considerable progress and made their presence felt in diverse fields.”

Salim has a point. The reality is that not all Muslims sport a beard, they may be religious but all of them are not conservative and orthodox, all Muslims don’t speak chaste Urdu and the level of education has increased vastly among Muslims, including women. Moreover, a vast section of the community is progressive and forward-thinking. “But the perception about the community has not changed. We tend to ignore the marked progress made by it on the socio-economic ladder. It is why most of the Mulsim serials have not done well,” he points out.

According to Shailja, whether Chand Ke Paar Chalo scores with viewers or not is a different issue. “It is better to try and fail rather than not trying at all. After all, not all shows dealing with Hindu subjects and families are successful,” she reasons. Imagine has not done away totally with clich
d formula of Muslim socials as the serial’s hero has nawabi lineage. Besides the Lucknowi backdrop gives it a differentiating look and visual appeal. “It is definitely a plus point because currently there is no show on air which has such a differentiating setting. However, despite Muslim backdrop, the show has mass appeal because unlike other dailies, religion is not in the forefront here. The language is Hindi with a tinge of Urdu,” informs the serial’s co-producer Gul Khan.

She is confident that the story is compelling enough to connect with the viewers. “It is not a social drama but a love story. People will follow the story and characters and it will work on the strength of characters and emotions,” she adds. The reason, according to the show’s director Deepak Sharma, why it will make compelling viewing is that the show will tell a proper story from beginning to end. “After a point dailies become stagnant. We have worked for about six months on the broader story, characters and sub-plots and will stick to our creative conviction,” he explains.

Battle lines drawn in Bollywood
 

It is Shah Rukh Khan versus the rest of the film industry now, if the Bollywood grapevine is to be believed. Of course, rumour mills, assisted by film glossies, have always revelled in spreading stories about such titanic conflicts.

For long years, it was Rajesh Khanna versus Amitabh Bachchan, and then the Big B versus Vinod Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha, Shashi Kapoor, and every other wannabe number one.

And then there were stories galore about Amitabh Bachchan taking on the entire film industry and the Mangeshkar sisters crossing swords with the music industry.

To be fair enough, there was some truth in all these stories. As the saying goes, there can be no smoke without fire.

At present, film glossies and rumour mongers are waxing eloquent about the huge army that has arrayed against Shah Rukh Khan. Of course, the army is led by the redoubtable Salman Khan.

And it has some surprising recruits. Though Farah Khan may be very pally with Shah Rukh Khan, her husband Shirish Kunder’s presence on the sets of Salman Khan’s Veer trying to sign him for a movie was sending different signals.

Kunder cannot be blamed since Shah Rukh initially agreed to do his Joker and Teesmarkha, but later dropped out. So a highly irked Kunder even told a TV channel at the Rock On premiere that he was part of the Salman Khan camp. Now he is trying to get the muscleman to do Joker.

However Komal Nahta, veteran trade analyst and journalist, makes light of the grand conflict.

“Neither Shah Rukh nor Salman are trying to sabotage each other’s career,” he said. “It is the media which is making up these stories. Of course, there are camps in Bollywood. And unfortunately, fights do happen. But it is not that they only work within that camp. Salman and Shah Rukh are so big that they do not resort to any such thing.”

For the time being, nobody wants to get into such subtleties. Stardust, the mother of film glossies, has presented Shah Rukh as the most hated man in the industry, since he has earned the wrath of Amitabh, Salman, Aishwarya, Aamir, Akshay and Ajay Devgan.

But industry wallahs don’t want to comment on the issue. The editor of Stardust does not want to talk about it and Suneil Shetty quips, “Count me out,” when asked about the spat.

Everyone in Bollywood is waiting for a patch up between the Khans. But that seems difficult since Salman has gone public with a statement saying that no friend of Shah Rukh can be a friend of his. Bollywood is clearly divided.

Let us draw the battle lines then. Shah Rukh has Karan Johar and Farah Khan on his side. Salman has managed to get the Bachhcans with him.

Sanjay Dutt has also pitched in along with Ajay Devgan for Salman though Ajay’s wife Kajol is with Shah Rukh. Farah’s husband Shirish Kunder and producer Sajid Nadiadwala are with Salman, along with Akshay Kumar and Aamir Khan.

Saif Ali Khan like Suniel Shetty is non committal because Kareena is buddies with both Shah Rukh and Salman. Ditto with Rani Mukherji.

“It will be good for the industry if they patch up,” says Atul Mohan, a trade analyst. “When Karan Arjun was made, SRK and Salman were not very big stars. But now they are big and it would be any director’s dream to get both of them together in a film.” That seems highly unlikely in the near future.

Farah back to work
 

The choreographer-turned-director Farah Khan is back to work after giving birth to triplets. Farah, who was judging music reality shows as she was not able to work regularly due to her three children Czar, Divya and Anya has now finally taken up work. She has been choreographing a song for Karan Johar’s film Dostana which is directed by his former assistant Tarun Mansukhani. Sources say that the shooting of the song will go on for a week and will feature the two leading men – Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham. Farah has taken India to the global stage with Bombay Dreams. Her recent song from her second directorial venture film Om Shanti Om – Dhoom Ta Na – was not just played in the Olympics by the Israeli team but was also performed upon by an American team in the American Dance reality show, So you Think you Can Dance.

Akshay goes topless

Of late Akshay Kumar is showing his muscle power by walking topless on the ramp. Is Akki trying to change his image to give Sallu miyan some tough competition? “Why do you people always think of rivalry? I am just trying to do my job and Salman is doing his job. We’re not here to compete. We just want to ‘unbutton’ our creativity,” he winked. So who does this new muscle man think to be the fittest star in Bollywood? To this Akshay spontaneously says Dharam da puttar Sunny Deol. When being asked what is his message to the country’s youngsters? He had to say “Don’t use steroids or drugs to build your body. Believe in exercise and keep yourself fit. Channelise your energies in the right direction. Be competent and find your calling.”
(Snippets by Sanskriti Media Entertainment)

Ranbir joins the crore league

Ranbir Kapoor the new heart throb of Bollywood has been offered a sum of Rs 5 crore to work in third film Ajab Prem Ki Gajab Kahani by Ramesh Taurani. He is also being paid a 5 per cent share of the profits of the film confirms trade analyst Komal Nahta and Atul Mohan. But Ranbir is not the man asking for the money. The deals are being put in place by his father Rishi Kapoor who has taken full charge of his son’s work.
Ranbir Kapoor recently told a friend, “I know it is great money for someone as new as me. But Ramesh Taurani knows his job well. He has been around enough to know what he is paying to anyone be it a star or a newcomer.”

True story brought alive in film
 

Based on a true story of top student and athlete Christopher McCandless, an Emory graduate, who abandons his possessions, gave his entire $ 24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the wilderness where he met his untimely fate. Freshly graduated from college with a promising future, 22 year-old Christopher McCandless instead walked out of his privileged life and into the wild in search of adventure. What happened to him on the way transformed this young wanderer into an enduring symbol for countless people.

Was Christopher McCandless a heroic adventurer or a naive idealist, a rebellious 1990s Thoreau or another lost American son, a fearless risk-taker or a tragic figure who wrestled with the precarious balance between man and nature? McCandless’ quest took him from the wheat fields of South Dakota to a renegade trip down the Colorado River to the non-conformists’ refuge of Slab City, California, and beyond. Along the way, he encountered a series of colorful characters at the very edges of American society who shaped his understanding of life and whose lives he, in turn, changed. In the end, he tested himself by heading alone into the wilds of the great North, where everything he had seen and learned and felt came to a head in ways he never could have expected.

WATER HORSE
Director: Sean penn
Cast: Emily Hirsch, Marcia Hay Garden.
Gener: Drama/Adaptation
Run Time: 140 mts

Saroj Khan replaces Apara Mehta
 

Apara Mehta has been ousted as judge from Aajaa Mahi Ve and her place will be taken by veteran choreographer Saroj Khan from this week. Earlier after doing two seasons of Nach Baliye, Saroj had opted out of the show in favour of Nachle Ve with Saroj Khan on another channel. Apparently Apara’s dismissal from the show is an outcome of popular audience findings which have indicated that her presence on the show has not gone down well with the viewers.ῠ Saroj’s judging skills and profound knowledge of dance makes her an appropriate replacement. With her entry as judge, the contestants are sure to have a more tough andchallenging time ahead.

Varun in a new soap

He is one actor who needs a lot of convincing to do a role. He has kept away from daily soaps and lately been doing only reality shows. So what made him take a call on a special appearance in Ajeeb? “I am really choosy and don’t do shows unless I am convinced about the character. But, Bonnie (Jain) is a friend and I had promised him that I will work in his show. So when he said he was making a thriller and wanted me for a special appearance I couldn’t say no,” explains Varun who plays industrialist Aditya Thapa in Ajeeb. Aditya is suffering from a fatal disease. The story captures the desperation and helplessness of a terminally ill man.

Reel sisters bond in real life
 

Mouli Ganguli has found a friend and a little sister in newcomer Vinny Arora. The duo play sisters in Aathvan Wachan. Vinny plays the mentally challenged Urmi who is 18-year-old with a mind of an eight-year-old and Mouli plays her loving elder sister Manali. However, reel life seems to have influenced real lifeVinny confides in Mouli and fondly calls her ‘Mouli Didi’ while Mouli has nicknamed Vinny ‘chutki’. They share a close bond and are often seen together on the sets.

“Vishal (Singh) is like my buddy but Mouli is my Didi,” says Vinny. Adds Mouli, “I think I have taken my character of playing the elder sister seriously. Vinny and I share a very warm relation. We travel together, share food and hang out. It feels really good as I don’t have a younger sister in real life and Vinny completes this relation. She trusts me and often asks for suggestions and comments while working on her scenes.” Talking about jealousy and professional rivalry, well it seems it doesn’t exist between the two and Vinny.

Chak De 2 all set to entertain
 
By A.L. Chougule

Thanks to the success of Chak De Bachche, the song-n-dance competition for kids from metros and small towns, 9X is launching the second season of the reality series for youngsters titled Chak De Shaher Di Kudiyan Te Galli De Gunde. The show starts from September 6, and will be telecast every Friday and Saturday. Anchored by Bhojpuri film star Manoj Tiwari and television sizzler Roshni Chopra, the show has 12 contestants from across the country.

Like the earlier edition, Roshni will support the girls and Manoj will champion the cause of the boys. The guest judge for the launch episode of Chak De is the glamorous Bipasha Basu. The other judges on the show are Raveena Tandon, music director duo Salim-Sulaiman and choreographer Sandip Soparkar. On being a celebrity judge in the first episode of the show, Bipasha says, “It was great being on the show. I advise the participants to take the competition seriously and put their heart into it. Personally though, I want the girls to be the best because I am a Shaher di kudi. But the boys are talented too. Let’s see who wins.”
The Bengali babe feels judges should not be harsh towards the participants.

“They should point out mistakes gently besides encouraging them,” she adds. Raveena Tandon who was the judge on the first season of the series for kids says her job was easy. “Judging kids is easier than judging youngsters. I had a great time in the kids’ season. I hope the girls and boys will also rock,” says Raveena.

‘People have forgotten my serious roles’
 

It’s tough to find a woman who despite being praised for her work is unhappy. Yes, TV actor Vandana Pathak is a bit discontent with the admiration she gets for her comic roles. Better-known as Jaishree of Khichdi and Instant Khichdi, Vandana has grudges against people, who forget her serious roles. “When I reach the sets, others expect me to be a clown. Most of the time the reaction is, ab Vandanaji aa gayi hain toh woh hame hasayengi. I appreciate the love and admiration viewers and other people have given me, but I’m as normal as anyone else,” says Vandana, who will now be seen in Main Kab Saas Banoongi, a comedy series again.

In the serial, Vandana is portraying a bahu’s role, who is dominated by her mother-in-law. “To portray such a character is fun for me. I eagerly want to become a mother-in-law so that I’d be able to dominate my daughter-in-law in the same manner as my saas does,” quips Vandana, talking about her role in the serial. She thinks that portraying usual roles of saas-bahus who are involved in kitchen politics is easier than doing a comic role. “I’m happy that at least I’m known to handle the tough aspect of acting well, that is comedy,” says Vandana.

Vandana, who started her career with Hum Paanch, feels content with her role of a bahu in this serial. Though she feels obliged to have started her career with Ekta’s serial, she doesn’t want to do too many serious saas-bahu roles.ῠ “After Hum Paanch, Ekta offered me a role, but I was busy with other commitments. I’ve portrayed roles of both bahu and saas. I would like to do a character different from what I’ve done,” she says.ῠ A well-known name in Gujarati theatre, Vandana wants to be associated more with it.

Bidaai actor in Asha’s video
 

Lady luck seems to be smiling at Kinshuk Mahajan of Sapna Babul Ka..Bidaai’s fame. Asha Bhonsle the legendary singer is coming out with a new album, which is set to be released on her 75th birthday on September 8. The singer wanted a male actor for the video so she called up Rajan Shahi the producer of Bidaai and asked him to allow his male lead to be a part of it.

A surprised Rajan said, “I was too shocked to know that it was Ashaji. She said that she watches my show Bidaai and wanted Kinshuk to act in her video. She is very fond of him but since he’s bound to his contract with us he could not do much. He wasn’t able to give her dates. When Ashaji came to know about this, she personally called me and said she likes Kinshuk very much and wanted him to shoot for her video. She knows each and every character well.” Rajan added that Asha watched Bidaai regularly and if she missed any episode, she had a person brief her about it.”

The music video was shot on August 25 and 26. It was difficult to adjust Kinshuk’s dates because the show was focusing on his characters love story with Paru Chauhan, the female character. Rajan said, “But I promised Ashaji that Kinshuk will shoot for her album and they managed to finish it in two days. This morning, I got a call from Ashaji thanking me for doing the work that I do. I was so humbled. This is the biggest compliment I have ever received.”

Model starts cricket innings
 

At 25, she’s a successful model, a vivacious TV presenter and now she’ll be seen touring with various teams to different venues across the country to cover the excitement at the stadiums and interact with cricketers and fans for her show Tour Diary on Neo cricket.

She is Archana Vijaya. She calls it “living life queen size”. For someone who never thought of modelling, this profession came with oodles of surprises and experiences.ῠ Revealing her story from the college girl who never dreamt this big to one of the few successful Indian models who walked the ramp at Milan, Rome and Paris fashion weeks, Archana says, “I was a normal college-going girl when I was asked to be a part of the show called Get Gorgeous. After I won the title, life changed.”

She’s someone who loves cricket and cricketers. So who’s her favourite among the many heroes of the Indian cricket team? “I love Sachin Tendulkar,” answers Archana.ῠ She adds, “In fact I love the entire cricket team. It’s amazing to see how down-to-earth they are despite all that they have achieved in their lives.”

It’s bahu Vs vamp in the finale of Comedy Circus
 

The second season of Comedy Circus will come to an end this Sunday. The grand finale is between two top television actors – Juhi Parmar and Kamya Punjabi — along with their respective partners VIP and Rajeev Thakur. Juhi is television’s much loved bahu Kumkum and Kamya is the hated vamp Sindoora of Dulhan fame. So when two such characters are vying for the crown of comedy queen, can the theme for the finale be anything but ‘Bahu vs Vamp’? However, there is no rona-dhona but only laughter and friendly banter between the popular bahu and vamp.

While the two actors fight for the crown and Juhi emerges victorious, the finale is loaded with more laughter as all the evicted six stand-up comedians and their actor-partners come back on the show to give a power-packed performance. Mona Singh also joins the gang to welcome the on-going Ganesh Chaturthi with a dance performance. The jodis also put up a qawwali.

However, this is not the end of laughter season. After the grand finale, a new series called Kaante Ki Takkar will roll in where the jodis of Comedy Circus 1 lead by Archana Puran Singh will be pitted against Comedy Circus 2 participants, lead by Shekhar Suman. The host for the new series will be Purbhi Joshi.

Women take on reins of family business in Grahasti

Having lived in a protected environment, the women of Grahasti found it very tough to cope with life after the loss of the only male member of the family. Now in a surprising turn of events, the six women of Khurana household take complete charge of their lives by taking over the reins of the family business. The women give it all that it takes to fulfill the challenge thrown by their tauji and emerge victorious. By breaking away from traditional norms, they attempt to create a place for themselves in a male dominated society.

ALC

Back to Bass-ics
 

Our first impression of him was that of a musician who looked at peace with himself all the time. Even when his fingers were slapping the fret board of his self-designed acoustic bass guitar on the stage, Jonas Hellborg’s facial expression was that of a yogi engrossed in meditation – calm and composed. From John McLaughlin, Ustad Sultan Khan, Shawn Lane to V. Selvaganesh, Jonas, in his 32-year musical career, has collaborated with many profound names from the international music fraternity, and has many critically acclaimed albums (both solo and collaborative) to his credit. In the capital for a concert (along with friend and fellow musician V. Selvaganesh), the Jonas-Selva duo offered a unique sound to the audience, which was dipped in various flavours from different parts of the world.

“This is the story of my life,” said Jonas when we asked if he is tired of all the travelling that they (both him and V. Selvaganesh) have been doing for the last four days (they performed in Chandigarh, Mumbai and Bangalore on consecutive dates before coming to Delhi). “I can’t complain about it. Touring is what I have been doing for the last 32 years. And this has become my way of life,” said Jonas. The bassist, who began his musical career at the age of 18 (1976), always had a passion for music from this part of the world. So, what was the impact of Indian classical music in the West during the 70s? “It was only Ravi Shankar. By then, people knew about Indian classical music only through him. He was the only representative of the genre in the West,” said Jonas. How did Jonas’ “Indian connection” happen? Was it after he met John McLaughlin? “When I was 14 years old, I discovered Mahavishnu (the band). It changed my life, and after meeting John (John McLaughlin), all I wanted to do was play like him,” said Jonas.

When asked about the initial challenges he faced adapting to Indian classical music, Jonas was once quoted saying, “For me, it is like going to a Indian restaurant. I don’t pretend to really understand the food, I just like to eat it.”

So, after so many years of his association with Indian musicians, does he still think the same? “Every statement has a time and place. Yes, I said it. But what I really meant was that I don’t understand Indian music the way Indians do. I am Swedish, every time I play, I try to use Indian elements in my music. It is like cooking ‘something’ using Indian spice,” informed Jonas.

So, after working with so many Indian musicians (both old and new), can he see a change in the approach towards music in the younger generation of Indian musicians? “The world is changing and it is better if we too change along with it. Today the social realities are changing, and if you try to resist it, it is not going to help you. Let the change inspire and create a new expression. It is inevitable,” he added. Speaking about his association with Jonas, Selvaganesh said, “He is an encyclopedia of knowledge. From science, mathematics to philosophy, one can talk about anything and everything with him.”

Jonas is also the author of Thumb Bassics (a book on slap-bass pattern) and Chord Bassics (a book on chord patterns). Though currently he is not working on any book, Jonas is busy touring the world along with his Art Metal fellow-mates Selvaganesh and Mattias IA Eklundh. “I don’t have any material to condense into a book,” said the bassist.

The bassist who doesn’t have any inspiration to name is also a designer of instruments for companies like FBT and Aria.

On Song
 

Film: God Tussi Great Ho

Jhumkha chhup jaane laga
Taare sharmaane lage
Gori ka mukhda deko
Ambar chhup jaane laga
Lamhe ruk jaane lage
Gori ka mukhda deko

He he he ho ho ho῅
(Lal chunariya odh lee maine
Jab se piya ke naam ki) 3
Mere piya bhi kehne lage hain
Main na rahi kisi kaam ki

Lal chunariya odh lee tune
Jab se piya ke naam ki

Lal chunariya odh lee tune
Jab se piya ke naam ki
Tere piya bhi kehne lage hain
Le ye jaan tere naam ki

Mehnga pada re mujhe dil ka lagana
Kar na saki re main to koi bahana
Bole ye choodi bole ye kangna
Jaana hai jaana tujhe piya ji ke angna
Kisko padi hai ab mere saajan
Chaahat ke anjaam ki
Tere piya bhi kehne lage hain
Le ye jaan tere naam ki

Gori ke haathon rachi mehndi hazaari
Jachti hai kaise dekho dulhan hamari
Chanda baraati taare baraati
Hum tum bane hain dekho janmo ke saathi
Ran birangi kismat hai ab
Meri subah o shaam ki

Rock On rolls out fresh flavour in Bollywood
 

It’s all here – long hair, flashy wardrobes, style and attitude that spill over forever – that one can relate to a rock band. This movie is the epic story of four friends who form a rock band and journey towards maturity, fulfilling their dreams. The music is composed by India’s Western connection – Shankar-Ehsaan- Loy and be assured they have broken new grounds. The surprising element in this record is that you won’t be able to reckon what you will get next.

The first track Socha Hai seems less like a song and more like a general knowledge questionnaire, if the lyrics are anything to go by: Aasmaan hai neela kyon? Paani hai geela kyon? Gol kyon hai zameen? In other words, this ambitious song sets the tone for the rest of the record by its very unconventional approach. Although, the music gives an impression that it is made in a hurry, the songs are catchy but may burn out the initial interest quickly due to repetitiveness.

Pichle saat dinon mein has a very infectious riff. With this song we should mark the beginning of rock music in Bollywood. The more you listen to it the more it will ring in your head. This song has two versions – one studio, another live – and both carry the same intensity, only more so in live. The title song Rock on is as infectious as the second track. It has an undeniably attractive intensity and groove.

You get some relief from the hardrock drive with Ye tumhari meri baatein, sung by Dominique Cerejo. The song is beautifully synchronised and wonderfully composed. ῠJaved Akhtar’s lyrics do the rest: Ye tumhari meri baatein humesha yuheen chalti rahein Ye humari mulakaten humesha yuheen chalti rahein Beete yuheen apne saare din raat Baton se nikalti rahe nayee baat.

Get ready for another head-on. The fifth song Zehreelay, sung by Suraj Jaggan, creates a racket and is a heady number.ῠThe next song Tum ho toh is a ballad with musical orchestration of grand proportions.

Sindbad the Sailor is a perfect fusion of Indian and Western musical sensibilities. The song is a simile for fighting against odds of grand proportions. The last song Phir dekhiye is a laidback and relaxing acoustic number, unlike the rest of the record.

It is ironical that the music is largely formula-based with little creative imagination, but a bold adventure in the sense that the music is largely guitar and drum driven, which you don’t see happening in music produced in Bollywood. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have tried little to please the larger Indian audience. Instead, they have tried to appeal to a limited audience. The record is a big leap forward because nothing like this has ever been tried in the Indian music scene. Conceptually, this style is in its nascent stage in India. Buy this record if you like variety.

The irony is that it breaks the popular norms of Bollywood, but fails to overcome the popular rock stereotype of the Westernised world.

Food talks almost
 

Santosh Mehra, director,
Anti Corruption Bureau

My job has taken me all around the world. This has enriched my culinery experiences. From eating the best pancakes in USA to surviving on raw banana and papaya curry during the UN peace keeping mission in Angola, I have done it all.

Food is powerful enough to lead to war. Once, I attended the G8 conference in Australia. The conference was over but accidentally the mikes were still on. All delegates and media heard the then French president Jacques Chirac saying to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, ‘British food is the worst. How can we trust people who eat such lousy food?’ Putin replied, ‘American food is even worse.’ Chirac: ‘No, Finnish food is second worst.’ This episode almost triggered a huge diplomatic row a few years back.

Some of the nice and interesting eateries I found abroad are: Panda Express for the best orange chicken laced with honey, Ihops for the most delicious pancakes, Olive Garden for Italian food and Chipotle for Mexican food in USA, Castelli’s in Brisbane for best pizzas. I also liked the Thai red and green curries in Thailand and chilly crab in Singapore.

Interestingly, the Quay Restaurant in Brisbane had a tag line, ‘Successfully driving away the vegetarians for two decades.’ There I ate some great salads.

Down home, the right places to indulge your taste buds include Abhiruchi for South Indian thali, Dakshin for appam, idiappam and avial. Angeethi for Punjabi food, Mainland China and Aromas of China for great starters (particularly water crest snacks). Mirchi ka salan, Hyderabadi biryani and kubani ka meetha are best prepared by the cooks in Jubille Hall functions.

I also look forward to the weeklong Andhra food festival in Shilparamam during Ugadi. It offers 56 varieties of mind boggling food from Rayalseemsa, Telangana and Coastal Andhra. I especially like the ulavacharu (rajma, beans and horsegram kept on simmering heat for 24 hours).

I am also fond of dishes prepared by my mother. She makes the best-stuffed karelas, moong dal ki vadiyan and gujiyas while my wife Ritu prepares excellent chhola batoras and khoya paneer.

My wife has tried out fusion desserts, where she blends Bengali rasgullas in thick sweet syrup of crushed fruit bread, condensed milk and a few syrups. She has also tried putting small pieces of noodles in molten cheese and a dash of sauce in baked edible cups.

At home, I eat South Indian breakfast while lunch and dinner consists of North Indian food. So, I have the best of both the worlds.

I also enjoy a wide range of food from other states such as tikki chaat, kulfi, dahi vada and kebabs from my home town Lucknow, nutritious sattu (my favourite food) from Bihar, heavenly momos in the chilling climate of Sikkim, brinjal delicacy from Bengal.

Before winding up, I would like to advise foodies: Eat your breakfast alone, share lunch with a friend and give your dinner to an enemy. Also, be a vegetarian at least once a week.

We like our pocket-friendly canteen
 

Hangout@canteen and campus of Padala Ramu Reddy College of Computer Science, Narsingi.
Who all frequent: Rajnikanth, Bharath, Shiva, Shravan, Rajkumar and friends.
Cost: Rs 8-Rs 10.

What’s hot: Tea, coffee, cool drinks, chips, noodles, biryani, Mysore bhajji, bonda and dosa are a hit with the students.

What’s the catch: “We like the food in out pocket-friendly canteen. We enjoyῠ chatting in the lawn amidst the beautiful greenery around,” says Rajkumar Bingi, a final year MCA student of PRR College.

Try This
 

Chandrakanta

Offer this sweet dish to Lord Ganesha on Ganesh Chaturthi.

By Jayashree Sarathy,
advocate

Ingredients
1 cup moong yellow dal
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp elaichi powder
´ cup grated cocunut
Almonds for garnishing
Oil for frying

Method
Soak the dal for two to three hours, grind it, making a paste as smooth as idli batter, Put the batter in the idli vessel. Steam them. After 10 minutes, remove from the vessel.ῠ Mash these idlis without lumps and add powdered sugar, elaichi powder, grated coconut and mix it thoroughly.ῠ If the mixture is thin, put it on the stove/heat for some time to make it thick. Take a clean, thick cloth, spread the mixture and cut it into diamond shape. This will take out the moisture content from the mixture. Now the diamonds are ready for frying. Take required amount of oil in a kadai and put four to five pieces and fry them till they turn brown. Garnish the sweet with almonds.

Don festive colours
 

With the commencement of the festival season, shoppers are confused over options. While some opt for the traditional six yards and salwar kameez, a considerable segment of buyers look for Indo-western fusion wear. Youngsters prefer to speak their mind via clothes. For those want ethnic wear with a difference, our shop guide will take you to the right addresses.

Men usually complain about the limited options in ethnic wear. City stores provide some chic yet traditional ensemble for men. Sagar Tenali on Road No 4, Banjara Hills, has an interesting collection of kurti s pyjamas, jamewars, achkans, sherwanis and short kurtis. The ethnic clothes available here come in bold western cuts like the brocade coats. Bangladeshi jamdani waistcoats which lend elegance as well as a uber cool look are available from Rs 3,200 onwards.

The store has a denim with silk collection which includes coats and waistcoats. These are available from Rs 3,800 onwards. A must have is the fusion dhoti coupled with angarakha and mojris. The shades available are in sync with the festive colours.

If you are looking for embroidered stuff then Maqdoom Studio, on Road No 1, Banjara Hills, near Adidas Showroom, is the place to be in. Ranging from traditional pyjama kurtis to fusion kurtis, the store is a hit with the fashion conscious. Kurtis with delicate kasheeda and Lucknowi jaali are available from Rs 2,500 onwards. This festive season, rich Kashmiri embroidery on katan silk and brocade cotton are a must buy.

Fashionistas should pay a visit to Rouge Boutique on Road No 5, Banjara Hills. The boutique has an elegant festive collection of kurtis, and kaftans. Keeping in mind the shimmer and shine factor associated with Indian festivals, the boutique has come up with some unique creations. The kaftans with delicate sequinned and gold zari work are available from Rs 1075 onwards. Kurtis and tops have delicate embroidery work with innovative necklines and cuts. Prices start from Rs 650 onwards.

For saris and salwar kameez Vanitha in Narayanguda is the right place to hit. Saris available here deal with experimental concepts. Saris with denim and jute appliqu
 and chanderi work with floral motifs are available at Rs 2,000 onwards. Kairi art on brocade silk saris and Rajastani mirror work on Kanjeewarams are available from Rs 4,500 onwards.

Aamir Ali celebrates birthday with pals
 

There was glamour, brawn and lots of fun as who’s who of the tinsel town made their presence felt at the birthday party of Aamir Ali, better known as the Salman Khan of the telly world. The actor threw a small party for close friends and family on the eve of his birthday. Beau Sanjeeda looked elegant in a multi coloured dress and played the prefect host.

Though Aamir tried to keep the affair low key, stars kept pouring in to wish him and it wasn’t only the telly actors who made it to the party but Sohail Khan, Aashish Chowdhri with wife Samita and hair stylist Aalim were also spotted. Also seen having a blast were Mouni Roy, Jay Bhanushali, Karan Wahi, Shabbir Ahuluwaliah, Yash and Gauri Tonk, Sandip Sickand, Abigail and many more.

Dressed in a casual white tee shirt and jeans, Aamir looked like he was out to have a good time. The guests were treated to the choicest of drinks and food. The atmosphere was filled with gaiety as the guests chatted, cracked jokes and laughed away with each other.

Glam scores

Cornerstone Sport celebrated its launch with clients and supporters from the industry. An haute sea-side affair with decor to complement the shining stars and celebutantes, created a buzz on the successful company forming beneficial alliances between corporates and achievers. Bunty Sajdeh played perfect host with his team to guests including Sushmita Sen, Yuvraj Singh, Armaan Ebrahim, Zaheer Khan, Aarti Chhabrria, brother-in-law Sohail Khan and sister Seema, as well as Rahul Nanda.

Kavitha becomes an angel
 

After hosting a series of shows like Grand Master, TV Stars, and EQ, Kavitha is back again, this time with a magic show. Her new avatar is that of an angel in the show Mayalogam on Vijay TV. “This is a magic show with a unique concept. A royal family is the backdrop of the show. It has a queen who wants to be entertained all the time and numerous magicians do their best to keep her amused,” says the director. Kavitha plays the role of the angel Apasara Mayakani, who helps the queen pick the magicians. “It is a very different kind of show. I kidnap famous magicians like Acharya, Samraj, Alex, Atul and female magician Poornima to perform for the queen, and entertain her,” she says. Kavitha says she is happy hosting a wide range of shows. “Thanks to these shows I feel an affinity towards my viewers whatever their age group. Like in the past, I am sure this show too will bring me popularity.”

Kumble to blog for Chandra

Ace cricketer Anil Kumble has once again proved that he is a man of his words.When it comes to fellow sportspersons, or for that matter any deserving person, he wholeheartedly lends his support. After promoting the serial Chandra along with the cricket fraternity in Chennai, he has agreed to blog for the serial and review it. “For the first time a serial will have a blog and reviews written by a celebrity. We are grateful for this magnanimous gesture,” said the director Haricharan.

Senthil’s trademark humour
 
Engineer turned mimicry artist, Senthil has become a big hit with viewers. He hosts the comedy show Aal Pathi, Reel Pathi on Raj Digital Plus. “Senthil is known for exemplary mimicking skills and witty one-liners. Comedy clippings from various Tamil films supplement his witty comments. There is a great response from viewers,” says director. Senthil is also popular for another comedy show titled Telecomedy on Raj TV.

Vinodhini’s show is only for women
 
The mushrooming growth of Tamil television channels has certainly opened vistas for new hosts. One such anchor is Vinodhini, who hosts Pengal.com on Mega TV. The show is an exclusive for women viewers and talks about the latest fashion trends, good deals, culinary topics to women. “We have recently completed 200 episodes and it is growing strong. I am happy with the recognition and get to meet lot of inspiring women through this show. We also introduce women who are adept at art and craft,” says Vinodhini.

Call Ophelia for tips to conduct college fests
 
RJ Ophelia of Big 92.7 FM has turned into an event counsellor of sorts. The talkative RJ, who hosts Imsai Arasi has introduced a new segment in her show – Imsai notice board, in which she gives tips to college students about events in their campus. “This is the season of cultural events, and competitions in the city’s colleges. Students need guidance in organising the events so that they are a hit. I am just a call away and will help them in organising the shows, finances, time management etc,” she says. Besides these tips, Ophelia also provides information on part-time jobs available in and around Chennai, cool hangouts, etc. Tune into her show on weekdays from 3 pm to 5 pm.

Dance runs in my blood: Keerti
 

Keerti the host of Maan Aada Mayil Aada on Kalaignar TV, is perhaps one of the very few hosts who made a mark for herself in no time. A trained dancer, she is instrumental in making this dance reality show more lively. “Not many know that I am niece of choreographers’ Kala Master and Brinda Master. Dancing runs in my blood and my mom is also a good dancer,” she says. Keerti was offered an opportunity to host this show by her aunt Kala Master, who is also the producer of the show. “I was very nervous initially and this is my first television show soon after completing my studies. Thanks to the support from my aunt and uncle I am successful. My entire family is present on sets while we shoot,” she says. Keerti, not only anchors the show, but is also into fashion designing. “I also design costumes for the dancers, depending on the theme. Being a dancer myself, I know what kind of attire keeps them comfortable,” she says. Keerti is now content with her role of a host and wants to takes her career further after finding interesting scripts.

Come rain, let fashion reign
 

Monsoon – it is a season of romance, music and reflection. Don’t you just love the pitter-patter of rain drops, the cool breeze, and the lush greenery it brings? Monsoon is a time to pamper and rejuvenate yourself, to relax and take it easy. The good news is that fashion too is moving towards loose and comfortable fits. In this column let me share a few tips on how you can enjoy and stay stylish.

IN VOGUE

The hottest style in the rainy season are short skirts, capris, dungarees, sling top and cargo pants. This season say goodbye to body hugging jeans. Jeans get very heavy when wet and take ages to dry hence the best option is to keep them aside this season instead use lot of cottons as they are light and easy to wear. If you prefer Indian outfits then salwar kameez is the best option.

MONSOON FABRICS

Cotton, linen and khakis are the best material this monsoon, polyester and cotton combo fabrics is also a great pick as it dries really fast and polyester doesnot need ironing. So even if you get drenched in the rains, you won’t step into your office in crumpled clothes, that’s the best deal with the fabric. On a funky day out cottons, lycra tees, jersey dresses and cotton leggings can add spunk to your casual dressing.

COLOURS AND PRINTS

Offset the grey days ahead with bright colours. Lift your spirits with bright colourful shades with psychedelic prints. Let your wardrobe be modern and ultra feminine with enough colours and graphic prints to add zest. Happy colours like fuchsia pink, bright orange, shades of yellow and turquoise works best this season stay away from washed-out and dirty hues and peachy tones.

CUTTING EDGE

As far as silhouettes go, clothes shouldn’t be multi layered or voluminous. Volume when it gets wet, feels really heavy. Simple A-line cuts with silhouettes closer to the body are the best options for the rains. The silhouettes can range from short dresses and tops to skirts which are not too flouncy and keep to the lines of the body. The length should ideally vary according to your body type. On the whole a knee length or just above-the-knee length works.

FOOTWEAR

If you are among those who love to get drenched in the rain then here is a perfect guideline to romance rain with trendiest monsoon footwear. The best monsoon pick is rubber or poly-urethane footwear. Rubber mules and slippers in bright colours are the best pick for this season. Floaters made for monsoon are the rage among college students; you can flaunt them with jeans and skirts. If you are a flip-flop fanatic, go for it, they are ideal for the rains and come in different colours and since they are made in rubber they dry easily. High boots protects your feet and look stylish too. Leather footwear is a big no-no.

BIG BAGS

Big bags are convenient and will carry just about everything you think you may require; this is not possible in case of smaller bags. With big bags there is always an extra room for your umbrellas, an extra pair of clothes, a make-up kit῅.it feels like you are prepared for the showers.ῠ Apart from this invest in bright coloured umbrellas and transparent raincoats and get set to enjoy the most beautiful time of the year.

Dharmayudham in the backdrop of Puducherry
 

The shooting of Dharmayudham in which actress Kausalya plays the role of an advocate, was recently canned in Puducherry. The storyline of the serial revolves around Kausalya, a gutsy advocate and how she solves problems faced by women and others in her family. “The serial has crossed 150 episodes and is going strong. We shot few important scenes here and we are planning few scenes in Mumbai. It is a great hit among viewers of all age groups,” says director M Viswanath. Besides Kousalya, Ajay, Deepa Venkat, Nizhalgal Ravi, OAK Sundar play important roles. The serial is on air on Mega TV.

Women quizzed for 20-20

Anu Hasan turned quiz master for Jaya TV’s 20-20. The show is an all women show and the shooting was recently held at Jaya TV studio. The entire set was seen bustling with activity, thanks to women participants who actively took part in the show and answered volley of questions posed by Anu Hasan. “This is a unique quiz show and what all participants has to do is to answer few simple questions and walk away with prize money,” said Subhasri, the producer of the show.

 

 

 
 Features of the Week
 
 

Deccan Chronicle

Powers Of Darkness

17 Aug

Powers of darkness
 

Skulls, bones, incantations, spells, magical powders, chicken, lime… These are ingredients for magic with a sinister connotation. Something lies just beyond that closed door, beyond the physical world we know, understand and live in.

In each society and civilisation, feared and revered, shamans, priests, tantriks and witches have all claimed contact to the spirit world. Good they might do, but in essence, black magic has been a tale of practicing evil – an apparent reflection of the dark side that lurks within each human being. You might want to cast a spell on a lover, or ruin a rival’s business, or settle scores.

Sounderajan Swamigal of Chennai has been practicing Siddhi since he was eight. He reveals that one simply has to take the name of the rival, repeat his/her parents’ names and the date of birth and say what he wants to do to the person. Siddhas like him perform certain rituals to make the wish come true.

“Siddhis are intrinsic powers. The intentions are different for practicing Siddhi and black magic. The power that is worshipped is the same. When you offer milk, fruits, flowers and coconut to God and worship with devotion, it gets converted into positive prayer. When you worship the same God with liquor, fish and meat and with the intention of doing harm to someone, the power gets converted to negative energy,” Sounderajan says.

Which brings us to the distinction between Tantra and black magic. Delhi-based astrologer Pandit S.P. Tata says, “Tantra comes from the words Tanoti Trayate, which mean to expand our inner consciousness and bring about liberation and oneness with God. Just as there are certain decibels beyond our audible range, there are powers that only the spiritually evolved can perceive. Such people can easily learn about the future, cure illness, bless the childless with children etc.”

Where there are believers, there are also skeptics.

Sanal Edamaruku, president, Indian Rationalist organisation, dismisses all religious beliefs as baseless superstitions that exploit gullible people. He says, “It is not just simple villagers who give credence to black magic. Urban educated people do too. Turning to black magicians doesn’t get you out of the situation but you get more deeply entangled.”

Which actually sounds innocuous when compared to news reports of horrifying crimes in the name of witchcraft like ‘teacher sacrifices teen girl for son’, ‘a villager beheads and carries around the severed head of an elderly woman whom he believed to be a witch, little children killed in abstruse rites’ – these incidents justify Sanal’s concerns.

He has quite a task ahead of him, as believers in sorcery are from pretty much everywhere. For instance, Shahid Afridi shocked some, when he confided to a close few that his poor performance on field is due to a black magic spell.

Film choreographer Saroj Khan told a Mumbai-based tabloid a few years ago that her family was reeling under the effects of black magic. “someone has done some jadu tona on me as a result of which I am undergoing problems,” Saroj reportedly said then. When asked now, she did a volte-face. “Where did you hear this story? I have never suffered due to black magic, neither do I believe in it.”

The deep sway that sorcery holds on people is often reflected in films. Ram Gopal Varma’s latest film, Phoonk is based on black magic.

Says Varma, “I am not a staunch believer in God. But a few incidents occurred around me that compelled me to seek explanations. A few years ago, we had a guest with a kid. My mom and sister told me that this kid has been empowered with the force of some baba and whatever he writes happens to be correct. I do not believe in any such powers but others do. Being a storyteller I am attracted to this subject.”

Students of the occult have complicated rituals that have to be religiously practiced for years before they can lay any claim to success. Tantriks worship Shiva and Shakti, with specific rules for abstinence, offerings, mantras and homams. Says Pandit Tata, “Shiva as Dakshinamurthy was the original tantrik, and Sri Chakra is the king of tantra. Patanjali’s Yog Shastras, Atharvaveda and many other ancient scriptures contain details of tantrik worship, which are meant to be positive.”

Kerala actually has a school that teaches Tantra, the only one of its kind. The state is also home to the belief in Kutty Chatan – a demi-god who is often turned to for malignant intents. Krishna Kumar is the head of a family near Calicut that has worshipped the deity for generations. Firmly asserting that they have never entertained any malicious requests, Krishna says, “Kutty Chatan is like a family God and is actually a manifestation of Durga Devi. Sage Parasurama gave the mantra to my ancestors, and we are one of the few families of Kerala worshipping him ritually.”

The mantra is given only to male members of this vegetarian Brahmin Namboodri family. “We chant it everyday and should have the will power to withstand the power. People come to us with a lot of requests for success in business, marriage, children and lawsuits. However, the family’s motto is to use the power only for good.”

All believers of voodoo, witchcraft, tantra, straddle the grey areas between good and evil, the physical and metaphysical, the living and the dead. They worship Satan, Kali, Hanuman, Durga, djinns and spirits of the dead. Startling similarities, in fact, can be found between what a tribal in Ghana might do and what an amil might do in a remote village in Pakistan. Each would use body fluids, hair or nails of the one to be harmed, make a rough doll using dough and straws to depict him or her, and chant incantations. The victim would often have no clue of the cause behind a sudden turn in his/her fate.

A housewife in Kolkata recounts such a tale. “I was 12 when a man fell in love with my sister. He resorted to black magic when she didn’t reciprocate.” Unwilling to be named, the lady adds, “I tasted the tainted food by mistake and then I had marks like blade cuts appearing on my body. My clothes would develop burns and tear on their own. We called a priest for help and the evil power threatened him too. Finally he was able to overpower the evil after all night prayers.”

Practices are bizarre, often macabre. It is not a faith for the faint. The Aghoris of Varanasi, for instance, are an ultra-secretive cult that eats half-burnt corpses from cremation grounds, in the belief that it will grant them longevity and supernatural powers. They lead lives not too different from the cavemen, for whom every sunrise and starlit night was a mystery fraught with danger.

Though we have unraveled most of what perplexed these cavemen, there are certain things that are meant to remain at the periphery of our perception. Perhaps it is just as well, for these are darknesses that we cannot fathom.

Are you a Victim?

Watch out for these symptoms

*ῠYou display a changed personality. * You feel depressed, angry and irritable. * Memory loss and temporary blackouts. * You dream of dead bodies, snakes and people who want to harm you. * You experience sudden chills, goose bumps and fatigue. *l Relationships suffer.

Spirit activities are believed to increase 2-3 days before the dark moon nights and the full moon nights. Check if your condition worsens then.

In tune with almighty
 

According to Indian philosophy, all art forms are somehow related with spirituality or have a connection with the Supreme. Legend says that music has an age-old association with all the established religions of the world, and for eons it has been looked upon as a tool to bridge the gap between deities and their devoted disciples.

So, can music really bring one closer to God? If so, then why isn’t everybody using it as an instrument to connect with the divine? Is playing a musical instrument or listening to one’s desired music enough to experience the Supreme, or is there a “rigid” process that one needs to follow to accomplish that goal? These are a few questions that pop up every time one talks about experiencing divinity through music. Elucidates Swami Ullasa from the Isha Foundation, “Yes, music can get one closer to a higher consciousness. We can use sound as a medium to create a meditative state of mind, it is the science of mantras and vibration. Satguru defines this whole existence as nadha brahma (meaning sound), which Einstein termed as energy through which one can experience a greater power within oneself.”

So, is there a definite process to utilise sound for higher consciousness? “There is definitely a process (might not be a rigid one) to attain nirvana through music. In terms of Indian classical music’s tradition, first of all you need to have a guru to help you attain that state. You can learn the mantras by yourself, but only a guru can transfer the right energy to you, and this applies to all the art forms, when learning is concerned,” says Sangeet Natak Academy awardee, santoor player Abhay Rustam Sopori.

Flipping through the pages of history, one will find that right from the days of the Sama Veda, music in the form of hymns and chants have been sung to please religious deities, and are considered sacred. Much has been written on the musical Riks of Sama Veda, and how music itself can bring forth the blessing that rites and rituals intend to bestow on one. Similarly, Sufi saints from time immemorial have been advocating for music as the ultimate medium to feel closer to the Almighty. So, is there a particular genre of music through which one can experience God? Answers Swamijii, “It can be any genre of music. One has to be open and receptive to experience the divine. In simple terms it is about one’s limit of involvement.”

Unlike musicians in other parts of the world, here many consider religion synonymous with music. One will find many Indian classical maestros referring to their gurus as God, and music as meditation. Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar was once quoted as saying, “In our culture we have so much of respect for musical instruments that they are like parts of God.” So, is Indian classical music the only genre through which one can attain religious wisdom? Answers Abhay, “In my opinion, I would say it’s about individual choice. Being a classical musician, I think Indian classical music is very meditative in nature. It has a kind of crescendo that can elevate the listener to a divine level, and help him feel delighted. However, it will vary from person to person depending on what kind of musical genre he thinks can offer him the right ambience and space to attain religious wisdom.” Swami Ullasa, however, gave an alternative view saying, “There are many different genres of music through which one can experience a divine level, but unlike other cultures, in India classical music is used as something more than just mere entertainment. It is more of a spiritual tool, its sound and vibrations are scientifically articulated and this makes it a meditative medium.”

If you know how to live a moment you can plan your life
 

The problem with the mind is, it starts living in the future. It starts thinking of beautiful golden days that are coming. That is not planning; it is daydreaming. I can understand planning, but remember, planning for the future is not equivalent to living in the future. Planning is a present moment activity. And the more you are present, the more you have clarity and transparency. Mind cannot exist in the present and when there is no mind there is clarity, and with this clarity you can see into the future; then something of immense importance will happen to you.

Postponing living, in the name of planning

You should live, not postpone. You should live the moment and while you are living the moment, you can visualise. It is not mental activity. You can visualise a better moment that is coming to you. You have lived this moment, you know you can go even deeper, you know you can rejoice more. And when the next moment is coming you immediately go deeper into it, more rejoicing, more playful.

And you have only one moment at a time. So if you know how to live one moment you can plan your whole life in that very living. But there is no need to plan for it, because in planning you will forget to live.

Live the future through the present

To the man who lives spontaneously two things happen: one, he never postpones; second, his future is lived through his present, through his experience of the present. Then planning is not a mind activity, but an expansion of consciousness, an understanding of life that goes on deepening every day more and more. And the deeper you are, the more beautiful, more human, more fulfilled will be your actions.

Your mind wants to know where the wind is blowing, because your mind has its own plans against existence. It wants the winds to blow towards the west and they are blowing towards the east. Then the mind is frustrated.

Be spontaneous like the weather vane

The man who is spontaneous, just like the weather vane – the weather vane never worries whether the wind is blowing south or north or east or west – wherever the wind is blowing the weather vane simply turns towards that side. It shows in what direction the wind is blowing. It has no resistance. It is absolutely free to move in any direction. It does not fight with the wind. It is absolutely spontaneous and never lives in the past, nor in the future. It simply represents the present.

Courtesy Osho International Foundation/www.osho.com

Tales of men and ghosts
 
By Veenu Sandal

The arguments of ghost critics and skeptics and the beliefs and activities of ghost believers and ghost-hunters were categorised in the last column. There are other groups too such as those who have an open mind about the existence or non-existence of ghosts. The starting point for this group seems to be the innumerable ghost stories that have been published down the years and told by word of mouth – surely they can’t all be fiction. Then there is the group of die-hard ghost believers who were once die-hard critics or skeptics and were converted by actual, first hand encounters with ghosts or ghostly happenings at haunted places or other very personal paranormal experiences. Most accounts of this last group appear to have enough substance to provide meaty answers to many of the questions raised by ghost critics and skeptics. The case of Ann Walker, for instance, is well-known, and I have written about it several times before, but since it is a documented case and most interesting, it is always worth repeating for new readers. It seems that late one night in 1681, a miller, James Graeme, of County Durham, England, was accosted by the hideous ghost of a young woman. She was drenched with blood and had five open wounds on her head. She told Graeme that her name was Anne Walker and that she had been murdered, with a pick axe, by one Mark Sharp acting on instruction from a relative of hers, also named Walker, by whom she was pregnant. She made it clear to Graeme that unless he gave the information to the local magistrate she would continue to haunt him.

Refusing to believe what he had experienced, Graeme did nothing. But after the apparition appeared, pleaded and threatened twice more, he went to the authorities with the grisly story. A pit identified by the ghost was searched, and Anne Walker’s body was found. Sharp and Walker were arrested, tried, found guilty and hanged. Anne’s spirit, thus avenged, did not appear again.

Then there is the case of the Ghost Bus (Frank Smyth, Ghosts and Poltergeists, p.60). “I was turning the corner and saw a bus tearing towards me,” the motorist testified before the police. “The lights of the top and bottom deck, and the headlights were full on but I could see no sign of crew or passengers. I yanked my steering wheel hard over, and mounted the pavement (sidewalk), scraping the roadside wall. The bus just vanished.” The motorist who made the report to the local authorities in North Kensington, London, in the mid 1930s may have been drunk, hallucinating, or dreaming at the wheel when he had the accident. But if he was, so were hundreds of other motorists who complained of being forced off the road by a phantom bus careening round the corner from St. Mark’s Road into Cambridge Gardens, near the Ladbroke Grove underground station. After one fatal accident, the local coroner took evidence of the apparition and discovered that dozens of local residents claimed to have seen the spectral double-decker.

In fact, there had been many ordinary accidents several of them fatal, at the notorious junction. Eventually the local council straightened the road there, and the accident rate was greatly reduced. Thereafter there were no more reports of the ghostly red bus.

There are other similar cases on record and in my travels into the interiors of India, I have been told about many instances when justice was dispensed due to the intervention or revelations made by a spirit. In several cases, panchayats, unaware of a crime, were made aware of it by the spirit of the person who had suffered, and taking note of the spirit’s testimony, carried out investigations on their own and were able to nail the culprits. In all such cases, the disclosures were made voluntarily by the spirits concerned.

To be continued

‘Failure brought me closer to God’
 

Maine apne irradon ke tootne se allah ko pehchana.” These words are the inspiration of my life. They taught me how to live with acceptance of things around me. And I have lived each word of this quote over the years. It all goes back to those days in 1987 when I started making Rumi.

The film was my dream, it still is. It all seemed so easy back then. I invested all that I could in the movie. Be it infrastructure, funds, music, craftsmanship, technicians and all that it takes to make an excellent film. We had to complete the movie in four sequences, two of which were already shot. The government supported us and everything was available for the movie’s release until 1989.

When we started shooting the other two sequences during that year only, serious problems clouded over Kashmir. The destiny of Kashmir changed, so did the fate of my movie. The government withdrew its support because of the conditions in Kashmir, and my life changed. It didn’t take me away from God, but brought me closer to him. I started believing in destiny.

It felt like everything you plan is not bound to result as you charted it. Suddenly, in that year, everything came crumbling down to pieces. Only a filmmaker would realise the pain. It was more than shattering for me. It felt as if in a fraction of seconds, life turned the other way round. All the support, by the government, and various other areas vanished. No one encouraged the idea of the movie anymore, just when we were half way through.

I have been very attached to Kashmir. I always found God in the silent beauty of the place and wanted to bring forward its plight in front of the world. I still believe that if the movie had been successfully completed, it would have created history in the Indian film industry. With each failure in my life, I came closer to God. I feel whatever God does, it’s always for the betterment of mankind. Even though the failure of not completing Rumi defeated me in a big way, it wasn’t the end. God gave me the courage to move on. This incident brought me close to Sufism and I feel blessed.

My tattoo is a mark of commitment
 

I DON’T believe love happens only once, you can fall in love more than once. It’s because as you grow, love means different things to you as a person. It’s not the same fluffy idea of romance that you once had as a 16-year-old when you grow up. The intensity of your love may vary, but you cherish all your loves equally because they mean a lot to you.

The idea is not to give up on love; no matter what stage of life you are in, and how many unsuccessful relationships you have been in. You never know when love can knock on your door again. And yes, I am talking from my experience because I found love with Bebo when I was least expecting it to happen. The funny thing is, I have worked with her in the past, but we never saw each other from a romantic point of view. So it hit me like a bolt from the unknown but I must admit, it’s been a pleasant surprise.

The sign of a good relationship is that it brings out the best in you, something that you probably don’t even know existed in you. Kareena is way too mature beyond her age, contrary to popular belief and perception. What’s great about her is that she constantly keeps me on my toes. There is not a single dull moment when Bebo’s around, she’s extremely motivating and pushes me to work harder. I think it’s her ambitious nature that is rubbing off on me now, because I have been guilty of being laidback in the past. But Bebo always wants the best and that sort of inspires me to give everything my best too. I always wanted to start my production company and grow in that respect, but Kareena, I have to admit, has been the charging force behind to an extent.

We’ve not had it easy in the initial phase of our relationship because of the constant speculation around us, and Bebo was very affected in that period. But we had to make peace with the fact that it’s a part of our profession and it has not only made us stronger but brought us closer. You know when you are facing a trial right at the onset, the rest seems like a cakewalk. Touchwood, it’s been smooth sailing and I have to really be grateful to have someone like Bebo in my life – she is very understanding and not overtly worried about my past.

We understand that we need to give each other space and take our individual needs into consideration. Bebo is at the peak of her career and things are only getting better for her. In such a scenario I only have to be supportive of her. We are very clear that we won’t let out professional and personal lives come together and she doesn’t have to be a part of all my productions. She doesn’t expect to or have time for them either.

There are no insecurities, professional or personal between us and we’d rather keep it that way. The only issue is, since we spend so much time apart shooting in different parts of the world, it becomes imperative that we make adjustments and take time off to be with each other. We have successfully managed that so far. And there’s no need to rush things. We aren’t thinking about marriage, but there is a sense of commitment from our sides.

Getting my tattoo was entirely my decision, and in a way it’s a mark of commitment, it’s something I wanted to do. But honestly, I don’t expect Bebo to do the same, because firstly I am aware of her feelings for me and I don’t want to be burdened with expectations because they can be spokes in the wheel. And why would I want that when it’s all smooth sailing now?

The big Brazilian adventure
 

Sitting in sociology class, I was wishing I could just meld into the furniture as the professor continued his lecture on Henry Ford (which isn’t the least bit interesting when it’s in Portuguese!). Just then the office secretary of my school, Col
gio Londrinense, walked in with the results of the Vestibular. The Vestibular is a test that every Brazilian has to take to get into college. This test is extremely difficult and passing it means you get to go to a public university, which is much better and free – the private ones are not as good and are also very expensive. The number of seats being extremely limited, it is considered great if one passes the Vestibular.

As the students waited with eager anticipation, it turned out that there was one lucky boy this time – Philippe. Only one from our class of 80. Exams and results are almost a part of everyday life for us Indian students, and success is celebrated by distributing sweets, or a party with close friends. But that is not enough when it comes to the Vestibular. Passing not only means a huge party to which probably your whole class, family and neighbourhood will have to be invited, but also a custom, the Trote – that I would never imagine to be a form of celebration – began in class.

Seeing my shocked expression, my classmates Luana and Guilhereme, explained what was happening. The Trote is a custom where if you are a guy who has been accepted at a public university, then your friends, as a sign of congratulations (a bit of jealousy at your good luck, I guess) get to shave your head there and then – wherever you may be at the time of your result.

They even go to the extent of autographing your scalp and creating artworks on your head. The girls though are spared such similar gestures of “affection”.

The next 20 minutes were total chaos. Poor Philippe’s head was being shaved by his friends in the worst possible fashion. The whole class was in splits. As for myself, I was speechless. We would never dream of doing that to someone in India if we wanted to be on speaking terms with that person ever again.

After all the noise had died down and everyone had returned to their places (and the “lucky boy” had disappeared into the men’s room), I looked up to see the professor was still very engrossed in giving his lecture to the few first-benchers who had not been able to escape into the madness behind. Had something like this taken place during a lecture back home, the professor would immediately stop his lecture and call for disciplinary action against the students. Or he would probably also have a seizure!

But this is Brazil. And as every Brazilian believes, a little “fun” never killed anybody.

I smiled – this is one sociology class I would never forget!

Suddenly single? Stages of overcoming a breakup
 

Litres of champagne, boxes of Lindt Chocolate and many a one night stand have been had in trying to overcome a break up. And no matter how many times people may tell you that “everything happens for a reason”, or that “there’s someone infinitely better around the corner” or that “you’ll meet someone else when you least expect it” (does this ever truly happen?), breaking up is never easy.

No matter how bad or toxic the union had become and no matter how much gumption it took to finally make the break, the prospect of never again being able to sleep with, speak to or confide in the other person is a gigantic shock to the system.

Ask someone that’s recently been separated or divorced and with gentle exasperation, they’ll tell you they’re “doing fine”, when you know all too well that underneath their facade, they’re crying out like an injured animal desperate to get back to their matrimonial cave quickly.

By the reckoning of authors Marni Kamins and Janice MacLeod of The Breakup Repair Kit (Canari Press), there are eight stages of a breakup which can affect the newly single. The authors also dictate that in order to move on from the whole ordeal and come out alive on the other side without too much baggage or resentment we need to let the stages simply run their course instead of battling against their elements.

So with the rising divorce rates, the prevalence of affairs and the toxic break ups abound, we proffer up to you the eight stages of a break up in hope you can identify what’s coming, where you’re at and know that you’re not alone but that if you ride it through, you will survive.

Stage 1: Shock: “Did this really happen?” Aside from the inevitable question of what the heck you’re going to do on Saturday night, let alone how you’re going to find a date to your cousin’s wedding or work out who is going to share the rent, the realisation that you’re alone again and have to traipse the single’s scene is enough to send anyone running for the Britney Spears’ loony bin. Thus instead of focusing on what was, why not go for what I like to call a jubilant “breakover”? It’s a makeover most common after a break up that sees a change in your hair colour (red signals you’re having a vibrant new sex life while blonde declares you’re out to have more fun); hit the gym and tone up (with a very real prospect of meeting your future soulmate on the treadmill) and treat yourself to an entire new wardrobe. Your new mantra? “Hello world, I’m back!”

Stage 2: Denial: “They still love me, right?” After the initial shock wears down and you’ve realised your breakover isn’t getting as noticed as you’d have liked, your head will start denying the break up. You start to torture yourself over what went wrong, conning yourself into believing that things can be resurrected if only you put in a little more effort and encouraging you to stalking your ex just in case they catch a glimpse of you and decide they’ve made the biggest mistake of their lives. In this stage, make sure to always wear dark glasses and a baseball cap when you’re out in public.

Stage 3: Fooling yourself: “I’m okay to be alone…, I think?” Just when you think you’re doing fine with the break up, authors Kamins and MacLeod tell us that our mind is actually playing tricks on us. In fact we’re not fine at all, but rather we’re numbing out the pain of losing the love of our lives. Apparently during this stage, a good long nap is the best remedy. Stage 4: Depression: “I’ll never meet anyone again” These are the first thoughts that will pop into your head during the stage of fear. Fear that you’ll wind up an old maid with a house filled with cats and a life of meaningless sex fills your mind as you go on one failed date after another.

Stage 5: Resentment: “Screw them!” Fears are suddenly transformed into anger as you blame your ex for everything from your weight gain to crappy job to not allowing you to follow your goals. Now is a good time to change your life around without having anyone to blame on the way.

Stage 6: Depression: “I want the world to swallow me whole” Sadness seeps in and suddenly you find yourself in a deep black hole that is only threatening to swallow you up with each day that passes. Keep a tub of ice cream on tap and go easy on the vodka. Drunken phone callsῠ to your ex aren’t going to bring them back.

Stage 7: Understanding: “Okay, so maybe I am better of without them” Finally you’re out of the black hole and into the zone of understanding that certain people come into your life at certain times to teach you important lessons and then it’s time to move on.

Stage 8: Regaining confidence: “I’m single and fabulous” Now you’re ready to accept the fact they weren’t “the one”, that there are other fish in the sea and that the world is your oyster filled with eligible singles all desperate to meet you. Get out there and start dating again and show the world how fabulous you are.

The writer is an author, columnist & dating expert (You can mail your responses toῠ asksambrett@gmail.com)

Nurturing my soul
 
By Ayush Maheshwari

In my last article I shared with you my own experience of how I was sexually abused as a child. It has been a tough rollercoaster ride since then.

I didn’t even realise I was being abused till my late teens. I knew something was going on but wasn’t sure what it was. Often the pain and damage follows later. When I was around 18 I started to realise that something in my life had really affected my self esteem. I was always willing to please, always checking if what I did was ‘good enough’, trying to get affirmation all the time.

A couple of years later I went to the US to study. A lot of my realisation happened during my college days. My first reaction was that I was wronged and that I am responsible for it. I hated myself for a long time. The question which kept coming to my mind was why did I allow myself to be victimised. I went through several relationships at that time and they were all very unstable. I would constantly doubt the guys I would date. I would always try to make sure that they ‘loved me’. This put way too much pressure on the relationships. I wanted to get to the root of the problem.

After doing a lot of research and reading on this issue I realised I have to ‘make a conscious decision’ to heal myself. I convinced myself to stop holding myself responsible for what had happened and stop referring to myself as a ‘victim’. My mom is a very understanding, unconditional supporter. I am very grateful to her for actually listening to me without asking too many questions and most importantly not judging me. It was tough for her too.

Also, I started to talk to a professional therapist. This was very difficult as well. You sit there in front of this third party and suddenly you have to talk to them without holding anything back. It took multiple sessions for me to actually get comfortable to even begin talking about it. However I knew it would help me and hence I kept going back. There were sessions where I would just stare at the wall and cry. Gradually I started talking to my therapist. Each session was like another step closer to a ‘stronger’ mind. Along with this I started a journey of falling in love with myself, to tell myself I am worthy of being loved, to tell myself I am thankful for the life I have.

Nothing changes over night. After years of adopting these techniques I feel I am at a much better place than I used to be. My professional and personal achievements reflect that. There are times when I feel upset and angry. It’s very human. But what is more human is to actually turn those negative thoughts into positive actions of nourishment.

You can email your experiences to ayush@bigindian.in

A guide to what’s new in the audio, video world
 
By Naresh Sadhwani and Deepak Jhangiani

DISH TV

Enabling, interacting and engaging the viewer is the name of the new game and the DTH channels are not far behind in introducing newer and more innovative services for their subscribers. Yes, the TV invades the most sacred and private spheres of your life, marriage.

Matrimonial services which were earlier the secured domain of pandits and community matchmakers soon became public domain by websites offering partner details in alluring colour. Some even introduced interactive chat platforms for prospective partners. Now coming to your comfortable sofas is this same service courtesy the two DTH providers, the Zee DISH TV and the Tata Sky Ltd DTH platforms.

DishTV is launching the interactive Shaadi Active in association with the matrimonial portal Shaadi.com. The new service boasts of a large inventory of profiles which can be viewed on your TV screens. There is even a search mechanism in place by which the subscriber can define the parameters of selection and search by the criteria of age, community, caste, profession and complexion. The trials are on and the service will soon be on air. Following suit is the Tata-Sky platform with their Active Matrimony launched in association with Bharatmatrimony.com. This service is expected to feature 1,000 new matrimonial listings every week and can be accessed on a 24×7 basis.

Questions of the week

What is the difference between a CD burner and CD writer?

Both are related phrases and both refer to a CD recorder. The CD recorder can record data on to your CD disc if the data recorded is a sound file. You can playback the recorded sound when played on your CD player. So also if it is a video file you can view the picture when played on your VCD player and if it is a data file you can read the data.

In the recording process the data is actually etched on to the disc with a laser. Hence the nomenclature of burner. Presently the term used for the same is CD writer. However, today the CD writer is practically obsolete and replaced by DVD writer, which can record both CDs and DVDs and are termed DVD writers.

Though I have recorded songs on my digital audio player it displays a message “no data” and I am unable to playback my music. What could be the problem?

All the digital players are software driven, and have to be formatted before you can use them. At times the software gets corrupted and players start malfunctioning.

If you reload the software, your problem could be solved. Use the Driver CD which comes along with the original package and reload the CD on to your player and your problem may be solved. Most digital equipment like cameras, printers come with their specifics driver CDs. It is always advisable to preserve these CDs since they are very useful when the software of your digital device gets corrupt and when you need to reload the software.

Readers are invited to email their queries/suggestions/comments to sadhwanis@vsnl.com

Animation industry gains steam
 

After the BPO, the Indian animation industry is going global as overseas giants like Cartoon Network, Warner Brothers and Turner Entertainment Network are flocking the country for budget-friendly, but world-class services. According to Nasscom reports, the country’s Rs 1,200 crore animation industry is set to grow to Rs 4,200 crore by 2009 with its revenues projected to double up to almost $1.5 billion by 2010. The industry is riding on two factors: low cost of production and talented labour. For example, the total cost for making a full-length animated film in the US is estimated to be $100 million to $175 million whereas in India, it is $15 million to $25 million.

According to Vineet Bakshi, head of graphics, News X, “The future is bright for the country’s animation industry. Apart from the cheap services, the talent that India offers interests the international firms. The advantage also lies in the fact that the country has specialised professionals for specific branches of animation.” As of today, the country has about 200 animation centres, 40 VFX and 35 game development studios and more workstations are expected to come up to make the best possible use of the potential that the industry has.

Filmmaker Ketan Mehta, who is at the helm of the Maya Academy of Animation Cinematics (MAAC), Mumbai, agrees that in spite of being in its infancy, the industry is growing tremendously. “India is taking a fast stride though the animation industry which is only about a decade old. Apart from producing an independent film, we at MAAC have several international projects in hand. We are also providing services to international television channels like BBC,” informs Mehta. Even Bollywood is quickly adopting the animation fad. The industry was recognised as a full-fledged genre after the first animation blockbuster Hanuman of Percept Picture Company and Sahara One. Encouraged by its huge success the company is geared for another epic titled Hanuman 2. The success of the animation movies has even lured the “masters of melodrama” Yash Raj Films to take up the international venture. Their much-awaited Roadside Romeo, produced in collaboration with Walt Disney is set for release in October. “Yash Raj has a first-of-its kind tie-up with Walt Disney to produce one animation film a year of which Roadside Romeo is the first one,” said a spokesperson of the Yash Raj Films. The film will feature the voices of Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, and is expected to be released in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Since animation seems to be the order of the day, the superstar of South, Rajnikant’s big budget Sultan the Warrior, is being produced in collaboration with Adlabs. According to industry insiders, about other 80-90 animation releases are set for the next year.

“And as a career option, even those kids who have grown watching animations are taking it up as a serious profession. Going by the rate with which the industry is expanding, India will need 25,000 more professionals by the close of next year. The industry currently has only a little over 10,000 professionals working in this techno-creative field. Many aspirants are attracted towards it for the creative freedom that the industry offers,” says Mehta.

An extra affirmative change that the industry has witnessed is that several leading Indian animators working abroad have shifted their base back home. For instance, Chetan Deshmukh, who worked as an animator and special effect expert for the Hollywood films Chicago and Shanghai Knights, shifted from the US to Pune. Jesh Krishnamurthy, after working for 13 years with several leading animation companies abroad, returned to India to float his own company.

UK-based Turner Entertainment Network tied up with three Indian production houses – Miditech, Graphiti Multimedia and Famous Studios to produce local CG animated feature films and television series.

Walt Disney Studios collaborated with Yash Raj Films to produce a film annually.

Pritish Nandy Communications (PNC) has stuck a Rs 180 crore ($45 million) deal with DQ Entertainment (DQE), one of the world’s leading animation and gaming production companies, to co-develop and co-produce six animation movies over the next three to four years.

PNC had also signed a five-movie deal with Motion Pixel Corporation (MPC), a Florida-based animation company that has its animation studios, Estudio Flex, in Costa Rica.

MTV has added India to its outsourcing hub.

Love is spontaneous but one must maintain it
 

Kapoor scion Ranbir is getting into the sway of things in Bollywood with a bagful of films and a gorgeous girlfriend, Deepika Padukone, by his side. So how has the journey been so far?

“I’m confident but at the same time there is a little anxiety. It can get scary too because the expectations are so high, and if I fail, the fall will hurt even more. I am working very hard, hoping that people will appreciate my films. Give me a chance and not compare me to anyone, treat me as an individual. I have not tried to copy or mimic anyone so far. I am still learning,” says Ranbir.

Both his films, Saawariya and Bachna Ae Haseeno, have portrayed Ranbir as a romantic hero. Even his parents, Rishi Kapoor and Neetu, thrived on the image of a romantic pair in their heydays, but Ranbir doesn’t want to get typecast yet. “I do not want to stick to a particular genre. I am 25 years old and want to pick the best of whatever comes my way and suits my age. My parents were youth icons in their prime. They were very spontaneous actors and developed their own style. In today’s times, there are many successful romantic pairs. I am just two films old, it is too early for me to decide what kind of films I will be comfortable doing since I neither have the time nor inclination to sit down and analyse. However, I must say I am a great Rishi Kapoor fan. I would love to share some screen space with him,” he says.

Bachna Ae Haseeno is the first film that Ranbir and Deepika have done together, and is obviously special. “This film is special to both of us. Deepika and I fell in love during the shooting of the film in Sydney. We had a great time shooting together, away from the madding crowd. We got to know each other very well. It’s also the second film for both of us. I was a little nervous in the beginning because Deepika was already a big star thanks to the box office success of Om Shanti Om. But she was very helpful, supportive and made me comfortable,” he says, praising his lady love.

What’s his take on relationships in today’s scenario?

“I am part of today’s generation. I have also been in relationships; some of which worked, some did not. You just cannot forget them. They are a part of your life, and memories often linger in your heart. I value every relationship that I have had in the past. For me love is spontaneous – it just happens in a moment but one has to maintain it. You have to work hard towards building the relationship. You cannot take it for granted. You have to give a lot and adjust a lot too to maintain it,” he says.

His debut venture Saawariya may not have been a success but Ranbir begs to differ. “Saawariya will always be a special film. I owe my existence in the film industry to that movie. Besides, every film is a challenge. All actors want their films to do well. Today, if I am being offered great roles and big banners, it is because of Saawariya,” he says.

Ranbir’s interest in cinema is not restricted to just being in front of the camera. “I take a keen interest in the recording, the costumes and the sets. I like to get involved right from the beginning. It is a great experience. I would recommend that every budding artiste should work on the sets,” says the actor who wants to revive his family’s banner, RK Films.

“We are working on scripts for the time being. If something interesting turns up we will definitely make a film. Right now I am looking forward to some great films ahead. There’s Rajneeti with Prakash Jha, Karan Johar’s next tentatively titled Wake Up Sid, Rajkumar Santoshi’s Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani for which I have already started shooting, Shimit Amin’s Rocket Singh, Sajid Nadiadwala’s next to be directed by Siddharth Anand along with Saif Ali Khan and Vikramjit Singh’s Mera Jahan,” he rattles off.

Ash livid with Bipasha
 

Bipasha Basu is a self-proclaimed Katrina foe, but in a bizarre twist Aishwarya Bachchan is seething with rage towards Bipasha, giving her something in common with Kats after Salman. Bollywood being a small world, friends and foes switch sides before you bat your eye and the same happened to Ash, who considered Bips a friend after working with her in Dhoom 2.

But recently, while trying to justify her age difference with Ranbir Kapoor for Bachna Ae Haseeno, Bipasha dragged Abhi-Ash into the picture commenting on the age difference between them. Bipasha should have known that if she didn’t take too kindly to being referred to as the older woman, neither would Ash. Sitting far away in the US of A, for her Unforgettable Tour, Ash was livid when she was told that her name was being unnecessarily dragged by Bipasha into the picture. What makes matters worse is that Bips is a friend of Abhishek and he’s the one trying to keep Ash calm on the matter.ῠ And knowing the non-confronting Ash nature we aren’t surprised that she’s keeping mum but be ready for the famous Scorpion sting sooner or later Bips.

Kareena to sell designer brands

Kareena Kapoor is busy looking for a space in Mumbai to open her dream designer boutique, something she’s been aspiring to do for a while now. Mom Babita and sis Karisma have been supportive of her dream and in fact it’s Karisma who has been meeting with realtors to look for a spacious pad for the store. Bebo as usual wants everything done in style and is aiming at bringing some of the high end luxury brands to India. Although there’s been an onslaught of foreign designer brands making it to Indian shores, the high range products have still eluded our subcontinent, and Kareena is hoping to set things straight. She’s been having meetings with agents of various fashion houses as she is in LA shooting for her next film. She has asked for services of her designer friend Manish Malhotra to source products that will cater to the jet setting clientele of South Mumbai and Manish himself will be making some exclusive designs for the Kapoor kudi. From movies to fashion, Kareena does things in style.

Yes, the awards are a sham
 
By Vikram Bhatt

It’s a beautiful evening in the cold months of the beginning of the year and the whole film fraternity has gathered in their evening best. There will be performances by the who is who of tinsel town on stage. There will be media and razzmatazz but most of all there will be hopes and dreams. There will be the hope that since you are one of the nominees your name will be hidden in an envelope ready to be announced on the stage. The spotlight will fall on you. There will be a thundering applause. You will walk up on stage and another star will hand over a statue to you. Then you will get the chance to read the speech that you have been saying to yourself in the loneliness of your dreams a million times. The moment comes῅ the envelope opens and the award goes to῅ someone else!

You are devastated. You realise that you are still not good enough and you hang your head but clap gleefully lest the media catch the dejection on your face. When you lie in bed that night you wonder if you will ever get nominated again and if that speech that you have said to yourself in the mirror will ever get heard at all. And the award for the best director goes to…

Then the next day you start with a whisper that awards are a sham and that they are unfair. By the evening that whisper has become a scream and there will be a lot of people who will agree with you till of course the next winter months and the next nomination῅

The question is then that are awards a sham?

I must tell you a story. In the year that I was nominated for Ghulam as best director Karan Johar was also nominated for the best director. Then there was also the category of best debutante technician where Karan was nominated again being a debutante talent and so was my friend Tanuja Chandra for her film Dushman.

Now Tanuja is someone I have a very old friendship with and so this is not about her at all but a certain logic or a lack of it for that matter. The award for the best debutante technician was announced and it went to Tanuja and this was great and then when it came to the director it went to Karan for Kuch Kuch Hota Hain, which was also great but if he was the best director then by default was he not the best debutante also? How can he not be the best debutante but be the best director? I asked around and someone said that since Karan was getting the best director they decided to give Tanuja best debutante. Not that Tanuja did not deserve the award but this was like a-keep-everyone-happy scenario!

Yes, the awards are a sham!

All the awards are usually hosted by huge media entities and they have to nominate the big stars or else no one is coming for their show! So it does not matter how good your film is but what matters is how successful your film is! The hit film gets nominations and the flop good film with some good performances will go unnoticed! Such is the way of Moviedom!

I was on the jury of an award function once and made it a point to see every film that I was asked to see but I saw that many jury members had not seen all the movies that were on the list.

Award functions are about glamour, they are about television rights, they are about stars making their way to the stage, they are about everything that you think they are about but they are not about promoting that unknown yet great talent. Have fun and watch the awards but don’t think even for a moment that anyone on that stage is the best. They are only the most noticeable.

Truth and Beauty? Only in Afterlife
 

When John Keats died in February 1821, just 25, his friends believed that it was the reviews that killed him. In truth the critics could hardly have been less kind, especially about Keats’s second book, Endymion. “We venture to make our small prophecy that his bookseller will not a second time venture 50” (pounds) “on anything he can write,” a reviewer for Blackwood’s Magazine wrote. “It is a better and wiser thing to be a starved apothecary than a starved poet. So back to the shop, Mr John.”

There was a political agenda here – Keats was a liberal, and Blackwood’s was stuffily Tory – as well as class condescension toward a poet who was the son of a stableman, a prejudice shared years later by Matthew Arnold, who found in Keats’ writing “something underbred and ignoble, as of a youth ill brought up”.

The reviews stung, but what really killed Keats, of course, was tuberculosis. He had been sickly for months when in the winter of 1820 he coughed up blood. Keats, who had trained as a junior surgeon and whose mother and brother Tom both died of TB, recognised the blood as arterial and knew immediately that he had been sentenced to a premature death. He said to Fanny Brawne, his fianc
e, “If I had had time, I would have made myself remembered,” and a year later, on his deathbed in Rome, he dictated a seemingly self-piteous epitaph, “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.” The measure of poetic greatness then was epic verse, and by that standard Keats had failed; he may have hoped, but couldn’t really believe, that he had reinvented the lyric with something like epic grandeur.

Yet as Stanley Plumly points out in Posthumous Keats, his moving and perceptive book about him, there is something elusive, mysterious and attention getting about the epitaph, which is after all inscribed in stone in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome; it’s as if Keats were stage-managing his reputation from beyond the grave. Keats’s publisher, John Taylor, thought the inscription could be the basis of a great publicity campaign until, 25 years later, he sold Keats’ copyrights for next to nothing, and he was virtually out of print.

Plumly’s book is, in part, a study in the vicissitudes of poetic reputation. Keats’s friends and contemporaries, Plumly points out, cherished the idea of him as a fragile blossom, too sensitive for this world, and the image was elaborated on by the Victorians, who rediscovered Keats, and loved the ballads and romances, The Eve of St. Agnes especially – the luxuriant, almost treacly Keats. They saw him as a sort of tragic Tim Burtonish figure, pale and languid, and wasting away in feverish reverie. This was the Keats that Arnold and, later, Yeats turned against, with Yeats cruelly comparing him to a schoolboy mooning outside the sweet-shop window, and for good measure repeating the bad-breeding slur. The Keats we revere, the Keats of the great odes, some of the most nearly perfect poems ever written, didn’t fully emerge until the 20th century.

Keats composed those poems in one amazing burst from April to September of 1819, and then he pretty much fell silent, unless you count an outpouring of passionate, tortured, jealous and sometimes abusive letters he wrote to Fanny Brawne. That he couldn’t live with her – literally, because he was dying – made him crazy.

Mr Plumly, himself a poet, has carefully chosen not to tell Keats’s story in linear or chronological order; his book is a series of interlocked essays that circle (sometimes repetitiously) around certain themes. And he keeps returning to Keats’ other posthumous life, the one he had while still alive, and about which he wrote in November 1820, “I have an habitual feeling of my real life having past, and that I am leading a posthumous existence.”

It took Keats a year to die, and though there were moments of seeming reprieve, of false hope, it was mostly a long, dwindling fall into darkness. At the end, barely able to lift himself from bed, he was subsisting, on doctor’s orders, on a single anchovy.

Plumly writes beautifully and very movingly of these last months: the sea voyage to Naples, the journey to Rome (during which his companion, Joseph Severn, stuffs the carriage with wildflowers, as if Keats were riding in his own hearse), the final days on the second floor of 26 Piazza di Spagna, the room filled with the sound of vendors, the golden light of late afternoon. Art and life seldom imitate each other, but in Keats’s case they really do seem inextricably linked, and in those last days, Plumly suggests, it’s as if he were living out the last movement of one of the odes, To Autumn especially, with its sense of a lingering moment prolonged, before transpiring into mist. Those poems promise the eternity of art, the permanence of truth and beauty, but what they describe is the poignancy, the bitter sweetness, the fleetingness of mortality.

Write stuff, right stuff
 
By Sunil K. Poolani

Though I have written – and continue to write – for several national and international print and electronic journals, I have never received the kind of responses I get from the readers of the paper you are now holding in your hands.

The responses have been a torrent, if not mind-blowing, and they are of all kinds: prospective authors trying to send their manuscripts, criticisms (reiterating that my writing is pretentious), overwhelmingly patronising.

But I was touched when, last week, a Chakravarti from a small Andhra Pradesh town, wrote to me, requesting, I should bestow on him tips to improve his writing skills, and tell him which all books would eventually ensure that. He wanted to write a “good manuscript”.

I, a college dropout, am hardly a person to help him, I told him as much, but promised I would share some thoughts that had cropped up while delighting in some good writings that I have come across in my short life.

For me, George Orwell is God; he will always be. Apart from his 1984 and Animal Farm, those great political expositions in literature vivifying the traps of both capitalist and communist hegemonies, I was really fascinated with his non-fiction, which talked about the English language and its use.

For any writer worth her or his salt, Politics and the English Language, Why I Write and Writer and the Leviathan are must-reads that should be imbibed into the system. When I compiled the above three essays for a volume one year ago, Ramachandra Guha wrote in the Foreword, “(Orwell’s) clarity of language, his moral courage, and his principled independence from party politics set him apart from the other writers of his generation, and from those who have followed since.”

Orwell was always consistent with his claim that prose degenerated into purple passages whenever it lacked political purpose. And as Orwell once said, “(English) becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” He died an untimely death, and that is a pity.

Now, many readers may think this is a devious digression – from someone as meticulous and marvellous as Orwell to, well, a carefree and iconoclastic Hunter S. Thompson. But Thompson, mainly due to his irreverence to everything around him, shaped the way I thought and wrote. And I was particularly in awe of the company (of the New Journalism ‘movement’) he kept.

A great collection that I still admire is The New Journalism, edited by Tom Wolfe and E.W. Johnson. This comprised the best “literary” journalistic pieces I have ever read, written by – apart from Thompson and Wolfe – Rex Reed, Norman Mailer and Truman Capote. Fully doped, Thompson wrote The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved, a seminal sports article; it still remains a marvel in both journalism and literature – a rare achievement.

Thompson’s much-publicised work is the Fear and Loathing series. Nevertheless, his short works, published mostly posthumously, really stand out. In The Mailbox he talks about his confrontation with the FBI and he sums the article thus, “Never believe the first thing an FBI agent tells you about anything – especially not if he seems to believe you are guilty of a crime.”

If you are in the august company of Orwell and/or Thompson, who needs to dope? Or a stiff drink?

Tailpiece

I used to work with a national weekly some years ago. We were bringing out a special on Orwell on his 50th death anniversary. A trainee sub-editor was asked to make the page in which we were reproducing Politics and the English Language. When I was checking the page before sending it to the press I realised there was something amiss in the Orwell classic. What happened, I asked the scribe. His reply, “Well, the whole article did not fit in the page, so I had to edit it.” Now, that is what I call guts.

The writer is the publisher and managing editor, Frog Books, an imprint of Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd, Mumbai. Write to him at poolani@gmail.com

‘I like action, intrigue in a plot’
 

I am always surrounded by books. I often read two-three books at the same time. I always need to have a book around me, even if I don’t get time to read it, I just can’t stay away from books.

I like fiction and but I do read a little non-fiction too. I am very particular about action and intrigue because only then the plot is engrossing enough for me and allows me to forget everything that’s going around. Then it’s not just reading, it becomes an effective stress buster.

The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye is one of my favourite books till now. It beautifully chronicles the life and times during the British Raj and ends with the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel is another book I can read again and again. It has a simple almost childlike narrative and yet it is so profound. Its style has made it one of my most loved novels. While reading it, I had to put the book down every few pages and had to ponder on what I just read. Selecting one author as my best is a tough call, but probably Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the one I’d select. In his writing, there is a magical realism. He also has an extreme visual-graphic quality in his narration. His writing is so descriptive that you can almost touch and feel it.

When I read, I always associate with the protagonists of the novel. Our lives are so complex, one could easily relate to all the things the protagonist is going through and it is a unique experience.

A Sri Lankan rendezvous
 

The minute my plane touched down at the Bandaranaike Airport, Katunayake, the one thing that stuck in my mind was (of course, besides the picturesque island) the Sri Lankan air hostess Melissa’s sexy sari. She told me it was the Kandyan way of draping it. Interestingly, this three-piece wonder has a wraparound skirt, a pleated middle and a slim duppatta that is pinned in front. It is a heady mix of comfort and luxury and the sari’s bold peacock print further accentuated its appeal.

Well, I did manage to see a lot of saris in my seven-day stay in Sri Lanka (Sri for paradise and Lanka for island, so paradise island), but the thought of wearing and walking around in one deterred me from buying these three piece beauties. It can be a logistical nightmare for the inexperienced as the wrap is a complex garment to flaunt and carry around if you are not a professional at handling it.

Sri Lanka decoded

The worst time to go Sri Lanka would be the time I went, that is when the SAARC summit is on. So most roads were blocked, traffic diverted, a zillion check posts and (you can’t deny that the Air Force officers look rather dapper) most good hotels booked. So we had to make do with Brown’s Beach hotel, a little away from Colombo.

But the view was spectacular from my window, with the raging sea (I could also see lovebirds snogging at the beachside). That’s why they say – sun, sand and sex. We could not see much of Colombo, but the little that I saw I noticed that it was a bit upmarket and hugely expensive. And my driver Mohammed Rafi (no, not the famous singer) from Walkers Tours told me that house rents can go up to Rs 20,000 for an apartment and to keep your head above water you must earn at least Rs 50,000 (you won’t believe it that a kilo of rice costs Rs 150, so let us not even talk about veggies).

Rock climbing Sri Lanka style

Only attempt Sigiriya if you have nerves of steel, trust me I am serious. Sigiriya or the Lion’s Rock is an ancient rock fortress. Interestingly, the steep steps don’t challenge some but for me I gave up half way through after seeing the stunning frescoes, which they call the “Heavenly maidens of Sigiriya” (these are painted in earth pigments). There are “almost 2,600 steps” and as it was raining that day it made my climb more difficult.

Most of the steps have no railing on the sides and with the dangerous climb you are left to your own devices.

But when I saw a group of 60 plus women challenging the rain god I rolled up my jeans and told myself, “Never give up”. Well, my enthusiasm did not last long and neither did my breath so after lots of huffing and puffing, I called it quits, much to the amusement of my guide, Shane who was a major motivating factor.

Coming back to Sigiriya, it is a popular tourist destination and was built during the reign of King Kashyapa (477-495 AD) and is one of the seven World Heritage sites in Sri Lanka. The most fascinating part of this destination is the mirror wall, at a crazy height where it is said that the Kings’ servants used to write love messages for each other. The wall it is said gets its texture from a mix of egg white, lime and bee-wax, which is applied and left for 21 days for the final effect. The rock has a height of 200 metres and at the bottom you have the most spectacular man-made fountains and can you believe it they are still in a working condition.

As I walked out of the premises, I thought to myself without any new-age instruments or machines how did they manage to carve a huge rock 1500 years back.

But then the thought of having the chilled Three Coins (local) beer overtook everything else. And trust me when I tell you, the label at the back of the beer says, “A refreshing quencher, a tasty relaxant and a wholesome lubricant for social intercourse.” I was truly in Sri Lanka.

Satiate soul with Hainanese chicken rice
 

If you want to start World War III in Singapore, just ask a group of Singaporeans where to get the best Hainanese Chicken Rice. You will soon have to duck for cover at the furore that ensues. Hainanese Chicken Rice is something like the national dish of the tiny island state, and is said to be of Hainanese origin. Hainan Island, part of China, is where many Singaporeans trace their ancestry (the other two places are Hokkien and Teochew.

There is absolutely no food court either in a shopping mall or in the open air that does not offer Hainanese Chicken Rice. It consists of a pile of steamed chicken, a portion of flavourful rice that has been simmered in chicken stock, a serving of pounded red chilli sauce and one of chopped garlic. Most places add a couple of other things too: chopped cucumber, a sprig of coriander leaves, a bowl of soup that is supposed to contain chicken stock. Some add a tiny serving of Kecap Manis, the quintessential Malaysian sweet ketchup in addition. Because it is such an elemental dish, you would actually have to search for a place that serves a poor version. The trick to do is to find somewhere that is run by people from Hainan itself: not a particularly difficult task. I have my formula down pat. Because my trips to Singapore are usually short, I usually take a cab to Bugis Junction, one of my favourite hang-out places in Singapore. Air-conditioned walkways that lead off from the InterContinental Hotel, shopping malls for the young and trendy (where I shop for my teenage children’s clothes), a covered market for fruit, vegetables, food products, slightly ethnic restaurants, an extremely ethnic food court, foot reflexology and feng shui accessories, one leisurely stroll around this fascinating wonderland and you’ll know what I mean.

Then, I head to Purvis Street. It is where I have my favourite Hainanese Chicken Rice joint. Yet Con is not the only place on Purvis Street that is famous for its Chicken Rice, but it is the one that I always go to. Somehow, I trust places where I am the only foreigner: it makes me feel that the flavours are authentic. Plus, the elderly troupe who man the counters are from Hainan.

With so many places shiny and new in Singapore, it is almost a relief to enter the ever-so-slightly precincts of Purvis Street, which is two minutes away from the InterContinental Hotel. None of the many restaurants in this tiny street have encroached on the broad covered verandahs, and though there a few trendy restaurants, they are outnumbered by the traditional ones. My last port of call in this fascinating area is a pilgrimage to a slightly run-down building near the Chinese temple where I have a Chinese foot reflexology massage. The authentic experience can cure ailments and point out future problem areas, while being relaxing and comfortable: just what you need after a hard day’s shopping and dining.

marryam08@gmail.com

Fundamentals
 
By Senjam Raj Sekhar

Where would the romance of football be if it were not for club rivalries. Lazio and A.S. Roma or closer home, between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, all add to the excitement and thrill. This week we take a look at some of the most famous football derbies across the world.

Quiz News: Barasat Quizzards’ Forum is organising its inaugural quiz contest – “Quiz Olympiad-2008” on 24 August at Subhash Institute Hall, Barasat in both school and open categories. Open to two member teams. Contact Partha Gupta (9830318721) or Selim Ahmed 9231664533 for more details.

Write with your suggestions, questions (with answers) to D4/11 (GF), Exclusive Floors, DLF Phase- V, Gurgaon 122 002 or email at senjam@gmail.com

Football Derbies

1. The city of Birmingham in England features a traditional rivalry between two football clubs in the city. One of them is Birmingham city FC. Which is the other? 2. It is said that price of Hilsa fish in Kolkata goes up when East Bengal wins. Which food is linked to a Mohun Bagan win? 3. In Buenos Aires, the club rivalry is supposed to represent two clubs divided along class lines – working class and upper class. Boca Juniors is the working class club. Which is upper class one? 4. The Uruguayan city of Monte Video has one of football’s greatest rivalries between two club teams. Name the teams. 5. One of the biggest club rivalries in the world is also divided along religious lines – Catholics vs Protestants. Name them. 6. The Merseyside Derby, also called The Friendly Derby, features which two football clubs? 7. In Italy, the two biggest derbies are the Rome Derby and Genoa Derby. The Rome one features Lazio and AS Roma. Which two teams play in the Genoa Derby? 8. The derby in Sao Paulo in Brazil features two clubs, one of them founded by Italians. Name the two clubs. 9. Los Indos (The Indians) and Los Blancos (The Whites) are bitter rivals from the same city. Name the two clubs. 10. Persepolis FC and Esteghlal FC are two famed rivals from which city?

Anything goes

1. Whose army was considered to be the first to have used a regular uniform? (U. Narasimha Murthy, Secunderabad) 2. Who is the only cricketer to win World Cup both as a player and as a coach? (Selim Ahmed, Barasat) 3. In the 15th Asian Games at Doha, 2006, China dominated the medals tally. However, China did not participate in two of the 39 disciplines. One of them was Karate. Which was the other? (Dr Ravi Bhatia, Udaipur) 4. Whose production company is called Simian films? (Shovan Karmakar, Kolkata) 5. Who in 1901 became the first Indian to own a car? (Sushil Kumar Poddar, Kolkata) 6. Which was the first painting from an Indian artist to cross the Rs 10 lakh price tag in 1987? (Rajib Roy, Burdwan) 7. Which was the only film in which Marilyn Monroe played the role of a mother? (Probir Mitra, Kolkata) 8. Rajasthan Royals is not the only team where Shane Warne played the role of coach cum captain. For which other team did Warne don this role? (Partha Gupta, Barasat) 9. There is no Nobel Prize for Mathematics. Which prize is regarded as the Nobel Prize for Mathematics? (Sanjay Nair, Noida) 10. Vestas from Denmark is the number one company in which sector? (M. Sharma, Gurgaon)

Answers

Football Derbies 1. Aston Villa 2. Prawns 3. Atletico River Plate 4. Nacional and Penarol 5. Celtics vs Rangers in Glasgow. Rangers is identified with Scottish Protestant community and Celtics with Catholics. 6. Everton and Liverpool FC 7. Genoa and Sampdoria 8. Palmeiras and Corinthians. Palmeiras (earlier named Palestra Italia) was founded by a group of Italians in Sao Paulo.  The Italians used to be members of Corinthians. When they formed the new club, they became the betrayers. The derby started since then. 9. Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid 10. Tehran

anything goes 1. Oliver Cromwell’s during the English civil war. 2. Geoff Marsh (as a player in 1987 and as a captain in 1999) 3. Kabaddi 4. Hugh Grant 5. Jamsetji Tata 6. Safdar Hashmi by M.F. Husain 7. We’re not Married (1952). Marilyn plays the role of a young mother on the beauty pageant circuit 8. Hampshire county 9. Fields Medal 10. Wind energy

Funda of the week Taiwan. ‘Formosa’  means beautiful

 

 Features of the Week

 

 

Deccan Chronicle

Shilpa’S The Bigg Boss On Tube

16 Aug

Shilpa’s the Bigg Boss on tube
 

Q What kind of people come on such shows? No, I don’t think so because I think that the people who go in would only go for two reasons. One that they don’t have anything to fear from the world and they’re very confident. The other is to become famous. I went in with the thought that I have nothing to fear. I had spent my whole life in front of the camera and I had nothing to hide. I felt that I’ll be eliminated in the first week itself but I lasted.

Q What does one learn from shows like Big Brother? You learn a lot from such shows. There are highs and lows but it’s a learning curve for each participant and through the show the actual colours of a person are revealed.

Q Do you think the voyeurism bit works? I think that’s why reality works because people want more gossip. And here you get to see it. I think it’s entertainment at other people’s cost and so it’s sickening.

Q Why did you say yes to Bigg Boss then? The reason I said yes to Bigg Boss is because I’m familiar with the format. I can safely say that I’ve been there done that. It would be easier for me to empathize with the housemates, since I’m going to be the only other voice they hear apart from each other’s for the 85 days that they’re going to be in the house. I’m going to try my best to make it easier for them. Davina Mccall was our only connection to he world and we used to be so happy to hear her voice. I am happy to be the same for these participants on Bigg Boss 2.

Q Will you get into Bigg Boss or Big Brother again? Absolutely not! Because when I first said yes for the show I didn’t know it would be that difficult and trust me it’s as difficult for the contestants as it is entertaining for the audience. And it was more difficult for me because of the culture clash. Here all the participants are Indian so there won’t be any culture clashes. There I was the only Indian. The participants have to live without their families for 12 weeks! It’s truly very difficult.ῠ It starts sinking in only after the first three days. But I’m sure they’ll get to learn a lot about themselves. We’re so dependent on things like phones and television, in our daily lives that we really don’t know what we’d do without all these things. You’ve to cook your own food and wash your own clothes. That’s the reason why I can’t go in there again.

Q Would you advice your sister Shamita to go in? She won’t take any advice from me. She will not go anyway. (Laughs)

Q Any advice to the participants on how to win the show? I would only say that you need to be yourself and it’s about who the audiences find entertaining and endearing. That cannot be faked. So be real and don’t do things only for entertainment. I think people want to see another side to you and you also get to know about a completely different facet of yourself in that house.

Q If you get a chance which is the one person you would like to lock in the Bigg Boss house? Good question. I don’t know actually. I never really thought about it. Any suggestions?

Q As a host will you be able to make a difference in the functioning of the Bigg Boss house to prevent the kind of stuff that happened at Big Brother when you were there? I want to and I will try to. I’ll be able to empathize with the people in the house because I’ve been through it and I know what they’ll be going through. We’re all human beings so I think I’m going to try and make it entertaining but with a human touch.

Q Do you still remember the time you spent in Big Brother? Yes I do because nobody let’s me forget it. (laughs)

Cover girls uncovered
 

Bollywood is getting bolder where you would least expect it. On the cover of the latest issue of a men’s magazine, the otherwise demure and coy Vidya Balan is seen wrapped in a white sheet, looking very unlike a Vidya we’ve come to know. The tagline very daringly says, “In bed with Vidya Balan”. Her photograph has generated curiosity among readers, but she’s not the first actress to shed her good girl image on the cover of the magazine.

Earlier there were only a handful of actresses like Pooja Bhatt and Mamta Kulkarni, who dared to portray a sexy and sensuous public image. Pooja got her body painted over a two-piece swimsuit a la Demi Moore for a film magazine years ago. Mamta posed semi-nude for the same magazine just months later.

It was not surprising when Mallika Sherawat wore the sexy black leather swimsuit for the cover of a men’s magazine. The magazine had even mentioned that it was one of the boldest shoots they had ever done. Kareena Kapoor, Bipasha Basu or Katrina Kaif also posed in a similar fashion for them.

The so-called good girls on the cover pages wearing the bare minimum clearly show a shift in what is selling these days. The very sexy Shriya Saran, who posed in a blue bikini for a men’s magazine was reportedly paid a huge amount for the hot photo shoot. The question that comes to one’s mind is why the actresses are ready to dare and bare for cover pages when they already have a platform like films?

Vidya herself felt that there was nothing wrong with the shoot. She was recently quoted as saying, “I think what we shot for the cover was interesting. It’s just that there is a great sensuality to it. There was nothing vulgar to it.”

Soha Ali Khan threw a curve ball when she posed for another men’s magazine. Soha has her own explanations for doing this. “I didn’t want to do it in films because I take my films seriously. I have done bolder scenes in Antarmahal. You have to convince me hard to do it.” But what made her want to pose for a men’s magazine cover? “It was a tongue-in-cheek shoot, which was fun and not meant to be taken seriously. It was not an image makeover. I don’t think I did anything shocking because it was not raunchy,” she says.

Amrita Rao also outdid herself by wearing a backless red Ferragamo dress on the cover of a fashion magazine, Amrita didn’t mind since she saw the classy side of it all. “The concept and reference is classy and high-end, representing fashion. I was very comfortable and I have got an overwhelming response,” she says.

Even the small screen actresses seem to have taken the bold step. Mandira Bedi had given up her usual six-yard saris to look her sexiest on the cover of a men’s magazine. The cover shows Mandira in a golden bikini and with a jacket and pants.

TV actress Shweta Salve did not lag far behind. She has gone bolder than the actresses of the silver screen. “Wearing a bikini is not new for me. This is how I am in real life also, I enjoyed doing it for a magazine and they have definitely made me look sensuous,” she says.

‘It’s cool and sexy to play a deity’
 

Jaya Bhattacharya now invokes divine blessings to lay off that “garrulous shrew with garish makeup” stance from her profile. “Saas-bahu soaps tend to make you feel stagnant and suffocating at some point of time,” she confides.

So, getting herself cast into Kali’s mould in Jai Maa Durga was a big relief indeed. Currently being aired at 7 pm every Saturday on Star Plus, this weekend serial is already drawing in high TRPs.

Jaya in her complete Kali look never showed signs of buckling under pressure whatsoever. The actress has always paraded her perfect 10 professionalism. “Well, doing the fighting sequences with the asuras (demons) wasn’t an easy feat for me. And though I had a stunt master to continuously assist me in the action scenes, I just once hurt myself only to rebound after nursing the injuries for a couple of days,” she reveals.

Incidentally, this is not her maiden attempt at a mythological roles on the tube. Earlier, Jaya portrayed the goddess Laxmi in a serial tilted Jai Hanuman. “One path-breaking genre comes in and the rest follow suit. The bottomline is to keep flowing with the tide and ensure a good viewership on the whole,” she says.

Is Jaya a pious lady? To this, the high-pitched voice retorts with a whine, “Not at all. I’m not a God-fearing person. I’ve an uncanny fondness for celestial denizens like Durga, Kali and Shiva, since they are inspiring to me.

This time I was offered to play Kali and I thought of sticking to that. Can you handle this – It’s cool and sexy to personify a divine avatar.”

Did the Kapoors refuse Ambani’s offer for buyout?
 

There was a rumour that the RK banner was up for sale as the Kapoors were not keen on making more films. Earlier there were talks about the Kapoor brothers planning to make a film with Karisma, Kareena and Ranbir under the RK banner but it has been quite a while since the Kapoors made an official announcement.

Recently, a senior representative of Anil Ambani is believed to have made an offer to Randhir Kapoor, which any other person would have lapped up. But that’s not the way of Kapoors.

The offer was made over a few drinks and Randhir got pretty worked up. His pride was hurt.

The first part of the offer was a huge five film contract for a huge sum. The offer was to make five films in association with Anil, who would have then bought the films. The second part of the deal, however, must have hurt Randhir’s ego. According to a source, the Ambani representative offered to buy a stake in RK Films stating that he had heard that the Kapoors wanted to sell off the rights of the films that they had made earlier. This upset Randhir and he retorted, “We three brothers, Rishi, Rajeev and me are competent enough to run the company and take the banner ahead. We are united enough to not let go off the banner”. It seems he didn’t like the way the offer was made, said the source.

Randhir was unavailable for comment. But his brother Rishi was rather upset with the query. “What nonsense. There is no deal. We are not selling anything to the Ambanis.” was what he had to say before banging the phone.

Katrina has the last laugh
 

Katrina Kaif is on cloud nine. She has been chosen to be the brand ambassador for Nakshtra diamonds, replacing Aishwarya Rai. This has ofcourse not gone down well with the Bachchans, with Abhishek jumping to wife’s rescue saying she refused the contract, hence Katrina bagged it. The beautiful actress however remains unfazed. “People love creating controversies. All I can say is that, right now I am the brand ambassador for Nakshatra diamonds. The company feels I am the right person to endorse their product,” she says.

Katrina feels there is no need to feel insecure about competition. “There is no competition in films or ads. There’s room for everyone. Some 20 big movies are made every year. And if I get four to five of them, I am happy,” she says.

But what about her ouster from Shah Rukh Khan’s Temptations tour? The actress clarifies, “The Moranis (the organisers of the show) have themselves said that if the dates work out, we will do it. I love doing stage shows but right now I will be leaving for the US for a month-long schedule for a Yash Raj movie,” says Katrina.

Deepika, a favourite of the Chopra camp
 

Though Deepika Padukone lost out on Aditya Chopra’s directorial comeback Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi with SRK to another newcomer Anushka Sharma, it hasn’t stopped her from keeping her good offices with the director intact. She’s always been in touch with the production head honcho with whom she has finished the soon to release Bachna Ae Haseeno.

Looks like all that PR has borne fruit as according to insiders, Deepika is the new favourite of the Chopras, who will soon be signing her for another project. In fact, even though it’s for a short span of time, she will share screen space with SRK once again in Adi’s film, where she is doing a cameo. She was recently spotted at the Yash Raj office working out details for the same, and left the office with promises to keep for the future. If anyone knows how to be at the right place at the right time, it’s Deepika.

Ranbir’s passion for bike irks Neetu

Like John Abraham, Ranbir Kapoor too is passionate about fast cars and bikes. He has a group of biker buddies and this gang of guys loves to go out for some dhoom on the streets of suburban Mumbai, whenever the actor is in town.

Interestingly, Deepika too is a part of the all-boys-club and wants to be more than a pillion rider in the near future. But it’s mom Neetu Kapoor who is not happy with her son’s adventurous activities and has told him in no uncertain terms to stop playing with fire and go easy.

When Ranbir expressed his desire to buy the latest fast paced superbike when in the US, his mom thumbed down the idea saying there was no place in her house for another bike.

She even goaded the usually indulgent father Rishi Kapoor to support her and he too is now against Ranbir’s passion for bikes. Ranbir has since been sulking with his folks about the issue.

Ash is the perfect bahu
 

While the Bachchans are touring North America for the The Unforgettable Tour, the home front too needs to be looked after. And bahu Aishwarya has taken over the responsibility from mum-in-law Jaya Bachchan, who can now put her feet up and have a good time while travelling. So every morning Indian time, Ash rings up the office in Mumbai and supervises the work that needs their attention. Then it’s time for the briefing on all the press writeups about the tour that she discusses with the touring party later in the day.

Says a family source, Ash has taken to the functioning of the family matters like fish to water and she even speaks to Shweta who is in Delhi and the kids, just checking on them and simple things like that. This has made life so much easier for Jayaji and she can sit back and breathe a sigh of relief at things being in safe hands for now.

Rani in a man’s role

We saw a man moving around Yash Raj Studios in cricket gear. He wasn’t a cricketer. A bad moustache is what he was sporting. A closer look revealed that this man in question was being called Raniji!

Yes, it was Rani Mukherji. The film directed by Anurag Singh also stars Shahid Kapoor, Sherlyn Chorpa and Rakhi Sawant. Called Hidaba, sources tell us that Rani who is playing a cricketer in the film dresses up like a man.

SRK who was shooting next door in the same studio saw Rani as well and found her look hilarious. “She was roaming all over the studio displaying her moustache proudly. She was looking very funny,” King Khan said.

We last saw Sridevi do a wonderful Charlie Chaplin act with her wee little moustache in Shekhar Kapur’s Mr India. Let’s see what Rani will look like in Hidaba.

A mystery full of twists and turns
 

Eight different strangers with eight different stories try to unlock one truth behind the assassination attempt on the president of United States.

Thomas Barnes and Kent Taylor are two Secret Service agents assigned to protect President Ashton at a landmark summit on the global war on terror. When President Ashton is shot moments after his arrival in Spain, chaos ensue and disparate lives collide in the hunt for the assassin. In the crowd is Howard Lewis, an American tourist who thinks he’s captured the shooter on his camcorder while videotaping the event for his kids back home. Also there is American TV news producer Rex Brooks, who is relaying the historic event to millions of TV viewers across the globe. As they and others reveal their stories, the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place – and it will become apparent that shocking motivations lurk just beneath the surface.

The political thriller Vantage Point is one of the more exciting and original gut-busters that Hollywood has produced in a long time. It’s virtually all action, but the action is never mindless and it is full of marvelous surprises every step of the way.

It definitely makes its “Rashomon”concept work. First-time director Pete Travis – coming off a string of TV hits in Ireland – has put together a scary, endlessly surprising and very satisfying movie that keeps our intellect engaged and our butts well on the edge of our seats for 90 gripping minutes.

Do not miss out on this nail-biting thriller that will have you hooked to the screen.

VANTAGE POINT Director:: Pete Travis Cast: Denis Quiad, Forest Whitaker, Sigourny Weaver Gener: Crime/Thriller Runtime: 1hr 30mts

Karan does a Rajni
 

TV actor Karan Mehra, by impersonatingῠ Tamil film star Rajinikanth on screen, has enraged Rajinikanth fans in Mumbai. Karan Mehra is known for his role as Karan in the TV serial Pari Hoon Main, and was seen playing a character called Rajni Swami on the show. To play this role, he even took training from the South Indian production unit and crew. “I wanted to practice the language well, because it should not look like a spoof,” says Karan. Despite Karan’s hard work, diehard Rajinikanth fans have been hard to appease. “I have watched Sivaji ten times over to follow Rajnikanth’s style and mannerisms, manner of speaking and his trademark style of wearingῠ glasses. It is tough. I don’t know how these mimics manage to do it,” he says.

Chunky gets candid

Chunkey Pandey, who is busy with films like Khalbali Hai Khalbali, Mira Nair’s much awaited Shantaram starring Johnny Depp and Amitabh Bachchan, Sankat City where he has a double role, Daddy Kool and Paying Guest, is now happier on TV. Or, he is at least enjoying his arguments on air. Talking about his spat with Malaika Arora on the sets of Zara Nachke Dikha, Chunky confessed, “Yes, I had a disagreement with Malaika. But I don’t blame her. The format of the show is such that men and women are bound to bicker. After all, it’s the war of the sexes, literally,” he says.

Manjrekar to act in a telly serial
 

Film director Mahesh Manjrekar, who has some hit films like Vaastav to his credit, was seen shaking a leg on Jhalak Dikhlaja before becoming a judge for Ekta Kapoor’s show Kisko Milega Bollywood Ka Ticket, is all set to make a grand entry into a telly soap. Mahesh is not directing any new project right now, but he will be acting on a TV show. While Mahesh hasn’t been available for comment, sources say the director cum actor has previously acted in Marathi serials and will be doing a Hindi serial based on the life of a lady cop called Monica Mogre on Zee Next. Yash Patnaik’s company Beyond Dreams is producing the show with Parakh Madan in the lead role and Abhijeet Satam, the son of Shivaji Satam, paired opposite Parakh. Yash Patnaik as well as Parakh Madan refused to talk about the serial at this juncture.

Gaurav draws co-workers’ ire
 

Gaurav Chopra was seen yelling and muttering expletives under his breath the other day when he was shooting for Zara Nach Ke Dikha.ῠ Gaurav’s behaviour has not gone down well with the production team of the show or the people dancing on the same team as him. “We are finding it tough to deal with him. He had promised to mellow down but hasn’t,” says a source from the production.

His behaviour “could also perhaps be due to the presence of his ex-girlfriend Narayani Shastri on the show, he is trying to grab her attention,” adds the source. The boys’ team is upset as he reports late on the sets and does not cooperate with them. The best dancer on the men’s team, Bakhtiyar Irani, and the choreographers are disappointed with Gaurav’s attitude, especially since choreographers find it difficult to make him work on his steps.

Yash Tonk’s cameo in Kyunki

Kyunki is a show where several actors have walked in and out. Now it’s Yash Tonk’s turn to play a cameo in Kyunki. He plays Ganga’s ex-lover Shiv Singhania who has come to get her back in his life once again. “Shiv is very passionate about Ganga and wants to win her love again,” says Yash, admitting that it’s a negative role that will last for two months.

“I have had a great time playing the lead in Karam. But Kyunki is giving me an opportunity to play something different. It’s just a two-month job and I had no problem saying yes to the role because it’s the same production house I am working for. Besides, Kyunki is also a hugely popular show,” he adds.Joining him in the serial is also Rahul Vaidya who won the Jo Jeeta Wohi Superstar title.

Making his acting debut,ῠ Rahul plays the role of a chief guest who is a celebrity and who inaugurates a restaurant.ῠῠ Gaurav will join the serial a little later.

Roopa unhappy with Balaji

Roopa Ganguly is best remembered for her Draupadi act in B. R. Chopra’s Mahabharat. But after doing the mythological serial and a few Hindi flicks, Roopa settled down in matrimony. Two years ago, she resurfaced again on television in Balaji’s Karam Apna Apna and since then serials have kept her busy.

Till a week ago, she was doing Ekta’s Kasturi which she has quit now and has joined Creative Eye’s Waqt Batayega. Ask her the reason for quitting Kasturi and she says she wasn’t quite happy working for Balaji. “Everything was fine for some time. But some how I felt the respect was not there. I am a very sensitive person and as a senior actor I expect respect,” she explains.

She is happy with her role in Waqt. “The character in Waqt is important in the story. Besides, I am being treated well by the production company that gives me the liberty to interpret the character in my own way,” says Roopa.

The paani puri war on telly
 

A new heady mixture of entertainment is to hit the tube soon. Star One is launching a sitcom called Paani Puri that brings the Paani and Puri families together under one roof. Both families have different cultural backgrounds. Vikas Puri, a middle class 28-year-old can’t do without 25-year-old Divya Paani, daughter of a retired bureaucrat.

The two lovers push their luck by tying the knot and making their parents deal with each other. The over-talkative middle class Punjabi Puri family is pitted against the sophisticated Paani family, resulting in an explosive blend.

Sumeet Raghavan and Smita Bansal play the young lovers in the sitcom which goes on air from August 30. The show’s other cast includes Sudhir Pandey, Shagufta Ali, Homi Wadia and Bhavna Balsaver.

Cross-dressing gets krushna good marks
 

Krushna Abhishek, like his uncle Govinda, is an excellent dancer and has been participating in many dance shows lately. But more striking than his dancing is the fact that he has been cross-dressing a lot during these shows. In the two reality shows that he is doing currently – Kabhi Kabhi Pyaar Kabhi Kabhi Yaar and Comedy Circus – he has cross-dressed even when the theme didn’t require him to do so. Only one episode of Comedy Circus was themed ‘role reversal’, giving him a good opportunity to dress like a woman. The benefits of his cross-dressing is, however, that every time Krushna comes in female avatar, he gets good marks from judges. No wonder Kashmeera Shah is taking Krushna’s cross-dressing in good spirit.ῠῠ

Jatin Shah joins Kuch Is Tara
 

Jatin Shah, better known as Adi of Kahani, has been out of the show for the past five months, because the second generation has been kept out of the current plot. So it was Kabhi Kabhi Pyaar Kabhi Kabhi Yaar that kept him busy for some time. Now that he has been eliminated from the dance show, Jatin has joined Kuch is Tara as Ranbir’s friend.

“I am playing a doctor who Ranbir calls from London to diagnose Kanya/Natasha’s split personality disorder. I can’t talk much about the role but my character has a connection with Natasha,” says Jatin who is also looking forward to his entry in Kasturi. “It is tentative and I might join the show in some time,” he says. He has also been told that he might be back in Kahani. So after sitting idle for a few months, Jatin is all set to get busy now.

Smart Shrimati’s back

Smart Shrimati, the game show for homemakers, is back for a third season. In the show, the middle-class housewife has a chance toῠ play the game that is based on the Chausar from the epic Mahabharat where the husband is trapped in a giant wheel and the wife uses her intelligence to release him.

The show has a new set and there is a change in format.ῠ Now, there are 16 contestants from four zones. Each zone will have two finalists from which one will be chosen by viewers. The finalists from each zone then play in the finale for a prize of Rs. 10 lakh.ῠ

“The show sends a message that being a housewife is no ignominy, but deserves appreciation and recognition. It celebrates and salutes all homemakers who have always risen to the challenge of managing their home and family,” says host Anu Kapoor.ῠ

(Snippets by A.L. Chougule)

In studio with Swarathma
 

If you look from outside, it surely won’t appear to be anything like a recording studio (of course not for those who are regulars). We waited for 20 minutes after ringing the doorbell, and when there was still no response, we decided to find the action all by ourselves. Two minutes later, we found it in the basement.

Finally, we were in Khitiz, hoping to watch a recording session with India’s “best Hindi band” Swarathma.

We were the first to tell you that the only reason why Swarathma competed for Radio City’s hunt for the best Hindi band of the country was the record deal with EMI Virgin records. Now that they have got it, they are recording their debut album in the basement of house number 99, Anand Lok, New Delhi. Vasu confesses that it is their first time in a studio, and they are enjoying every minute of it.

“Until now we have finished recording eight songs. The ultimate challenge is to get the same sound as that of our live shows (those of you who have witnessed Swarathma’s energy on the stage, will swear by it). We have been recording here for 10 days, and we will probably take another five or six days to complete it.”

He informs us that except for the instruments, most of which are their own, their record label (EMI virgin) is supposed to take care of the whole process with the help of Indian Ocean’s drummer Amit Kalam, who according to the band “is very interested in working with us”.

“I think in the next few months, we might tour with Indian Ocean in the United States,” added Vasu.

All this while, Shubham, the assistant recordist, was busy going through the timelines of a song on the monitor.

We asked him how much they charge per recording. “We charge Rs 1,000 on an hourly basis,” he answered. Later, Vasu calculated the expected cost of recording the entire album to be somewhat close to Rs 4 lakhs (they will feature 11 songs on the album).

He also said that Vijay Nair, who has an experience of managing Raghu Dixit (Vasu’s brother) and Groove Supa, is still negotiating the deal with the label, and it was on his request that Amit decided to help Swarathma.

However, it was a mystery to us why Mysore-based Swarathma, with most of the band members staying in Bangalore, decided to come to Delhi to record their album. Is there a dearth of good recording studios in Mysore or Bangalore?

Speaking for the first time, Montrey, the drummer said, “We wanted to record the drum sequences live, and as this option is not available everywhere, we decided to come to Delhi. Most of today’s bands use programmed drum sequences, but we thought live drums will accentuate our sound.”

So how long will Swarathma fans have to wait for the album? “It will take some time. After the recording, we will do the mixing and mastering in different studios. It is a long process,” Vasu informed.

Montrey added, “Amit wants everything (recording, mixing and mastering) to be done at different studios. So, after recording here, we will probably do our mixing at Ramoji Studios in Hyderabad.”

Vasu also informed us that they might do the mastering of the songs abroad, citing a dearth of good engineers in India as the reason behind that.

Before we finished, Shubham played two tracks from the self-titled album (Sur Mera and Pyaar Ke Rang) that they had recorded that day.

Re-discover fusion with guitars
 

EMI Records must have waited for the right time to re-master and release this album. Considering Jerry Garcia’s birthday on August 1, full marks to EMI Virgin Records for releasing the album now. Sanjay Mishra’s Blue Incantation featuring Grateful Dead’s frontman late Jerry Garcia is one of those albums that tried to rediscover a sound, which is today commonly known as “progressive” fusion. Originally recorded in 1995, Blue Incantation is a sincere effort by Sanjay to offer an interesting insight into the sound of guitar within the purview of Indian ragas and style.

A compilation of 10 tracks (all produced by Sanjay), Blue Incantation, as the name suggests, is a ‘charming’ amalgamation of different styles of guitar playing (from flamenco to trademark country blues, and also with a tinge of Indian ragas).

Jerry contributed to three tracks (mostly with the electric guitar) strumming his characteristic blues tones (remember Truckin by Grateful Dead), and adorning the background of Sanjay’s compositions.

Right from the first track, My Meditation, any listener with an ear for “fused” guitar would to be able grab the technicalities and complexities of Sanjay’s compositions. Slowly as the album progresses into the third track For Julia (also my personal favourite from the album), its sound starts to grow on you.

Sanjay’s love for quavers and semi-quavers is well exhibited in the compositions, and George Thomas’ and Steve Zerlin’s bass coupled with Samir’s timely laggis maintain an incredible tempo in tracks such as Allegro, My Meditation and Monsoon. Considering it is an album dedicated to the guitar, exhibition of harmonics, arpeggios and processed tones go without saying.

Mom makes the best Parsi ravo
 

I love to eat and enjoy different cuisines, though I am basically a rice-dal-curry person. However, there are few eatables which I won’t touch. One such item is pizza, which has gained a lot of popularity. I am also not too fond of burgers. On the other hand, whenever I am very hungry or feeling low, I turn to sandwiches as my comfort food.

Though I try to steer clear of street food, I can’t resist the vegetable sandwiches and chaat on Mumbai roadside. Salads and kebabs are my other favourites, and at parties, I always stick to these two things.

Once in a while, I eat out too. Even though I am not fond of oily and extremely spicy food, I like to frequent Four Seasons for their flavourful biryani and snacks. Hyderabad can indeed boast of its non-vegetarian snacks like kebabs. Ohris’ also dishes out delicious tandoori cuisine.

Though I can cook just basic meals, my mom makes the best ravo. This dish is basically sooji ka kheer with dry fruits. Hers is simply out of the world. It’s one of our typical Parsi sweet dishes. I also like the Parsi dhansak. I would like to mention another tasty homemade food that I ate at a friend’s place – appam with chicken stew, a Malayali dish. Among sweet dishes, I have adored the kala jamum of Kolkata since childhood. But I haven’t found elsewhere.

In world cuisine, I prefer Thai food. In Singapore, there’s a restaurant called Steamboat. I really enjoyed eating the fresh seafood cooked right before me. The food was a bit bland, but it tasted good.

In South Korea, however, I had an unpleasant experience. I accompanied Saina Nehwal there as her personal trainer for a badminton tournament. The smell of the semi-cooked food was horrifying. Sandwiches came to our rescue, and we survived just on sandwiches for all the 20 days that we stayed there.

I have been to Dubai and quite liked the Lebanese food. The Belgian chocolate and ice creams in Dubai are awesome. I found Australian food too fattening, but their steaks and vegetables are yummy.

Finally, I would advise foodies to keep their calorie intake to a minimum. Binge as little as possible on deep fried food and potatoes. It’s also not a healthy habit to almost starve yourself six days and gorge on all goodies on the seventh day. Caution is the keyword in diet. So, enjoy eating with moderation.

Here you get all, from snacks to sweets
 

Hangout@Eat World, Dharam Karam Road, Ameerpet

Who all frequent: Rohit Sehgal, Prayag, Fawad Khan, Sheetal Iyer and Arun – students from Malla Reddy Engineering College, Icfai, LFJC, St Francis and CSIIT college.

Cost: Rs 5-Rs 30.

What’s hot: Chaat, samosa, paani puri, pav bhaji, sweets like rabri, jalebi, gulab jamun, fresh fruit juices and cold drinks.

What’s the catch: “The chaat and paani puri are amazing and a big hit with us. That’s why we come all the way from our college to gorge on the food,” says Sheetal. “The eatery has good indoor and outdoor seating arrangements and service is prompt. From snacks to sweets, we get everything here,” says Rohit Sehgal, a student of Malla Reddy.

Gold is pass
, try costume
 

Gold prices have shot skyward, and if you are wondering how to fit jewelry into your wedding budget, we have a solution for you. Try out costume jewellery, which isῠ glamorous yet affordable. It also matches your attire perfectly or can be modified to match it. Some of this jewellery even looks like real gold but can be worn without fear because it is less valuable.

Suhani Pittie deals with jewellery that’s reasonably priced, yet extremely elegant andῠ sophisticated. She mostly uses gold plating on silver to make the piece of jewellery appealing. Uncut crystals, semi precious stones, wires, glass and wood all form a part of her work and create a magical effect. Her shop in Banjara Hills has a beautiful collection of earrings, kadas, necklaces and rings. Earrings range from Rs 1500 to Rs 4,000. Neck pieces are priced from Rs 4,000 onwards. Bracelets range from Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,500. Cuffs are priced between Rs 3,500 and 4,500. Pendants range between Rs 300 and Rs 1,500 and rings between Rs 800 and Rs 1,500.

Also in Banjara Hills stocks costume jewellery from different designers from across the country. Silver jewellery studded with crystals creates an illusion of white gold and diamonds. They have an exhaustive collection of neck pieces, earrings, bangles, finger and toe rings, and armlets. The exclusive jewellery pieces range from a paltry sum of Rs 500 and go up to Rs 11,000.

Do check out the kundan sets in Shri Satyanarayan Jewellers and Pearls on M.G. Road. They exude elegance and charisma. Prices for the sets start at Rs 2,500 and go onwards. You can also take a look at the beautiful silver jewellery embellished with precious and semi-precious stones.

Amarsons Pearls on M.G. Road has exquisite pearl jewellery done on gold plated silver. A lot of crystals and stones are combined with the pearls to give the jewellery a splendid look. Do check out the pretty jadau sets Addresses: Suhani Pittie Road No.1 Banjara Hills

Also Road No.8 Banjara Hills

Shri Satyanarayan Jewllers & Pearls M.G. Road

Amarsons pearls M.G.Road

Get stylish with trendy belts
 

Belts are a rage this season and can be used to make a fashion statement, so make sure you are fastened in a stylish one.

Feliz in Somajiguda has a wide range of fashion belts. There are belts of different fabrics like canvas, linen and lycra to choose from. On display are some leather belts embellished with coloured stones that look very interesting. However you can try out the broad belts available at the store. Prices begin from Rs 250 onwards.

Passion N Style, behind Lifestyle Building, has an interesting range of imported belts which are available at a price range of Rs 695 to Rs 1695.

Do also check out the hip and trendy belts available at Wardrobe on Banjara Hills and Vogue in Nagarjuna Circle.

Party all night
 

The road outside Krishna, Ekta Kapoor’s bungalow, was a sight for celebrity spotters as Ekta’s whole khandan joined her to celebrate herῠ an award that she had won. TV and theatre personalities came looking their best but when Ekta’s car pulled in, she looked somewhat under-dressed. Jeetendra, Sakshi Tanwar, Makrand Deshpande, Vikas Sethi, Dolly Thakore, Ali Asgar, Rakshanda Khan and Tarana were all spotted outside Ekta’s house.

 

 Features of the Week

 

 

Deccan Chronicle

Telly Bahus Turn Babes

9 Aug

Telly bahus turn babes
 

The bahus of TV soaps have ventured out of the confines of their homes, away from a scheming saas and the routine day-to-day nitty gritties of running the household to don glamorous image of Vogue’s cover girl. Walking on the untrodden path to the August issue of Vogue are Gautami Kapoor aka Tulsi of Kyunki, Shilpa Sakhlani aka Ganga of Kyunki, Gauri Pradhan aka Gauri of Kkutumb, Shweta Salve, Tina Parekh aka Shruti of Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki, Reshmi Ghosh aka Bhumi of Kyunki and Sanjeeda Shaikh of Kya Hoga Nimmo Ka fame.

Their fashion sense hasn’t been something to write home about. Often criticised for the garish clothes and loud jewellery, the overly done make up and the premature white hair, these traditional belles have undergone a makeover keeping in tandem with the style, glamour and flamboyance that Vogue is associated with. For Reshmi Ghosh, also a Miss India winner, fashion shoot is a way of life, but even she rates the Vogue experience as completely different. “We had the best designers, beauty experts and photographer taking care of our looks. Attention was paid to every little detail. Though I have done cover pages earlier, it was wonderful to be shot by ace photographer Farrokh Chotia,” says Reshmi.

After having always seen Gautami play the ideal bahu draped in yards of cloth, this sure comes as a shock to her fans. “I have always been cast in roles that require me to wear sarees. No one has ever tried to reinvent my look, but in my day-to-day life I always wear western outfits. I hope after this people will see me in a different light,” says Gautami.

However, Shweta Salve, justifies the new look, “Actresses who play bahus are not like that in real life. This new look is not a huge image change for them, but yes for the public it is.”

Tina Parekh agrees with Shweta. “It was a great relief to be a partof the shoot. I could project my real image before the world,” she says.

All the actresses unanimously accede that they feel honoured to be a part of such a reputed fashion magazine, but Reshmi adds, “There are many talented and good looking people in television industry and they should be given exposure through such ventures.”

Acting comes from within for Sonal
 

Sonal Udeshi, the name might seem new to TV lovers, but for Sonal it has been quite a while in the entertainment industry. The actress, who is playing the character of Rajkumari Ambika in the new series Kahani Hamare Mahabharat Ki has achieved a lot in the field of acting. “I’ve done many serials and short films for Doordarshan. Besides, I also did an international serial Palwasha – The Rays Of Rising Sun in Afghanistan which is currently telecast in 10 countries around the world on Ariana TV,” said Sonal.

So, how was the experience of working for an international project? “More than being an international project, the theme of the story touched my heart. It’s a story of a girl who struggles a lot in her life for freedom to live life in her own way. And, finally she gains victory by becoming the first woman judge of Afghanistan,” she said.

Sonal wanted to be an actor since her childhood, but never joined any course to develop acting skills. “Acting is something that comes from within. It doesn’t need any professional training, but only practice. I always used to participate in as many plays as I could, both in school and college in order to improve my performance,” says Sonal.

Talking about her role in Mahabharat, she said, “It’s exciting to play a historical character. The classy look makes me feel like a princess.”

Though she is happy with the role of a princess, the fact that she doesn’t have to wear too much jewellery makes her even happier. “Though, it’s an epic, the new series is different in terms of the look and character. The characters are mythological, but have been given a modern twist,” she adds.

‘Sex is work I’m not paid to do’
 

So how does it feel being the unmatched king of Bollywood with a string of successes at the box office? “I feel like a fish out of water. I have worked my whole life to be good and successful at what I do, but it’s not easy being at the top. I am by no means complaining but it’s a shame that with success comes many a sad story. I have always said I would do anything for my people, my fans, and if it means taking the rough with the tumble I’m in all the way. I believe in karma. God is watching everything. No dog’s bark is ever worse than his bite, and I’d laugh if anyone ever tried biting me!” says Akshay in a calm yet determined voice.

So, how did he go about approaching the role of a sardar in Singh is Kinng? “Well I didn’t exactly walk up to a sardar and say ‘Teach me all you know’. I happen to know and love so many sardars in my life that it came naturally to me. It is one of my favourite characters. Wearing a pagdi was so honourable. You feel like a king the minute you put it on,” he says.

Katrina Kaif and he make a handsome on-screen pair and have done many successful films together. Who among the newcomers does he think makes for a great pair with him? “As for the newcomers, they are all on trial till they give me as many hits as our darling Kat has! Just kidding, I’ve just shot with the newest of the newcomers, Deepika Padukone for Chandni Chowk to China,” he says.

So what is his equation with Katrina like? “She’s a dedicated actress but between shots it’s like listening to your 10-year-old baby sister, with the knowledge of a lawyer,” he quips.

If Singh is Kinng’s huge buzz wasn’t enough, Akshay is the best thing on his reality show, Khatron Ke Khiladi. “I had a whale of a time, encouraging my ladies to conquer their biggest fears and being their knight in shining armour.” he says.

Of late Shilpa Shetty and Raveena Tandon – both his exes – have been praising the superstar at every opportunity. “Why shouldn’t they? I’m a nice guy. As long as people are able to say good things about me, I’m extremely grateful. They are both wonderful women with diamond hearts; I wouldn’t expect anything but positive things from them. That’s why I was once with them,” says the player.

Kat races to top slot
 

You’ve got to hand it to this girl. Three years back, she made a disastrous debut with Boom but today she has made it to the top. No doubt, having a successful boyfriend has played a major role in her success but to give credit to Katrina Kaif, the actress has worked hard to reach the top slot. Today, she has even replaced Aishwarya Rai in the Nakshatra ad, a fact which the news channels played up repeatedly. Katrina, though is a perfect diplomat and dismissed all queries regarding her new role with a politically correct response. “All the people concerned with the brand have done well in the past and I hope to take this further,” is what she commented. Smart gal, you sure can’t get any controversial statement out of her. In yet another televised interview, she refused to be drawn into the childish SRK-Sallu brawl and sweetly added, “I don’t talk about my personal life and things will sort themselves out.” Sensible, for with an on/ off boyfriend Salman Khan it’s best not to comment for even Kat will not be able to predict what Sallu will be up to next.

Right now she is promoting her latest flick, Singh is King and recent promos of a song shot in Egypt somehow evoke a deja vu feeling. Karan Johar had shot that wonderful song Suraj Hua Maddham with Kajol and SRK at the same location. In fact Kajol had also worn chiffon sarees designed by Manish Malhotra and now the designer has given the same look to Katrina in this film too. While it’s too soon to predict, how successful this song or film will be, it’s a pity that our directors can’t really think of original concepts even for their songs.

Yet another actress who seems to have fallen flat on her face is Vidya Balan. The poor girl’s rather desperate attempts at creating a sexy image seem to have backfired on her again. It’s bad enough that FHM magazine decided to do a sensuous cover shoot with her where the actress is only draped in a blanket. The actress, who simply does not have the curves, yet, should have rejected the concept but she didn’t and Headlines Today had a blast poking fun at her. Vidya not just needs a stylist but a good friend who can din some sense into the stubborn actress who needs some serious counseling before it’s too late.

Star leads, Sony back to third
 

After a difficult first quarter of 2008, Star Plus has substantially improved its lead over Zee in the second quarter. According to week 30 of TAM data, Star Plus delivered 315 GRPs against Zee’s 216. But the picture wasn’t rosy for the leader in the GEC space in February and March – Zee was almost within distance of catching up with the leader with 309 GRPs against Star’s 330.

After the launch of NDTV Imagine in January, Sony had lost its third position to the former in the first quarter and later to 9X in April and May. But in the last two months, Sony too has reclaimed its third position with an average of 99 GRPs over the last nine weeks.

What has led to Star’s improved performance and which shows have helped Sony bounce back in the third GEC slot? Fiction is working great for Star Plus across all slots – weekday prime time, weekend prime and the revamped afternoon weekday delivering better than the competition.

While Kyunki makes its presence felt and Bidaai continues to rule, the fiction shows launched on Star in the past six months have steadily climbed on charts. Kis Desh Mein Hai Mera Dil is leading with 4.6 ratings against Zee’s Maayka. Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat has fought competition and risen to 4.2 TVR. Similarly, Hamari Devrani has boosted Star’s ratings.

Sony too has reclaimed its third slot with weekend shows like CID, Comedy Circus, Boogie Woogie and 10 Ka Dum. Says business head Albert Almeida, “10 Ka Dum has helped improve the channel’s viewership by getting eyeballs for CID and Comedy Circus. Besides, Babul and Kuch Is Tarah have also started showing traction.”

ALC

Soha’s tribute to Mumbai
 

After Rang De Basanti, Soha Ali Khan is doing one more film with a social message. Her upcoming film, Mumbai Meri Jaan, directed by Nishikant Kamat, traces the story of the 2006 Mumbai train blasts and the tension that followed. According to the actress, the film is about communal harmony and national spirit. “The movie shows how in the face of crisis, people came together to help each other. They showed to the world they are Indians first, then Hindus or Muslims,” says Soha. Soha plays a journalist in the movie. “Being a journalist is a difficult job. It’s the responsibility of a journalist to provide people with the right information and truth. But a reporter can also get carried away when there is a lot of passion involved,” the actress says.

Movie, a let down
 
Filmy Talk

Money Hai To Honey Hai seems to have rubbed many a Bollywood actor the wrong way. Not long back, Tushar Kapoor was angry at the makers of the film for spoofing his sister. Now the quality of the movie has annoyed actress Celina Jaitley. Celina who who was in London for a short vacation saw Money Hai To Honey Hai and was shocked to see a very bad product.

And if that was not enough, even the financiers seem unhappy. After the first trial itself, sources close to the camp revealed that Sunil Lulla took aside Kumar Mangat and Ganesh Acharya and asked them to explain what made them to make a film like this.

With the film evoking such responses within the fraternity itself, it comes as a little surprise that the audience has shunned it.

Paresh scores

After romancing Mallika Sherawat in Maan Gaye Mughall-e- Azam, Paresh Rawal is now all set to romance Konkona Sen Sharma in Fantastic. It’s been almost three decades since Paresh Rawal made his debut in the film industry. But while other actors of his age have reconciled to do side roles, Paresh seems to be getting younger and more happening by the day.

After bagging a role opposite bombshell Mallika Sherawat in Maan Gaye Mughall-e- Azam, the actor has now landed with another role opposite Konkona Sen Sharma. And the same person – Sanjay Chhel – who got him to act opposite Mallika, has offered him this role.ῠ Paresh Rawal, along with Rahul Khanna and Javed Jaffery, will be acting with Konkona in Chhel’s next project, Fantastic.

Koena to do some action
 

Koena Mitra isῠ very busy these days with her international project Karna. Apart from trying to put on a heavy British accent, the actress is trying to get into the best shape of her life. She is working hard for a sexy, athletic figure, but she confesses that she is not interested in becoming a size-zero. “I don’t have to become a size zero to look sexy,” smiles the dusky beauty.

An athletic frame may not be so much in demand when it comes to Bollywood beauties, but Hollywood likes it that way. “My trainer Channel Pereira has helped me a lot. I’ve lost so much weight,” says Koena adding, “I’m down to 15 per cent body fat. The rest is all muscles. I couldn’t have done it without him. This is all for my actionῠ role in Karna.” Koena is the only lady in the all-male action-packed Karna and therefore has to train especially hard.

Bips not in Shilpa’s film

Shilpa Shetty denied rumours that Bong bombshell Bipasha Basu is all set to star in her debut production.ῠ In the past few weeks, reports have been going around that her first film as a producer will be an action thriller named VIP starring herself and Bipasha Basu. “The reports are false. It’s not named VIP. And Bipasha is not in the movie,” says Shilpa. Things will be finalised only after a month.” Shilpa also denied that they have approached any star as yet for the film.ῠ The actress informed that the film will take off by the end of this year.

Horrors of third world nations comes alive
 
By Sanatan Nehru

This is a romantic tale set across many years which centers around a medical student. He thinks he has found his calling as an international disaster relief worker – until he gets sidetracked by a philanthropic socialite who is entrenched in a troubled marriage.

The two keep inadvertently meeting up, and soon develop a special relationship. Jolie plays a pampered American woman married into a wealthy British family who has her consciousness raised one night in 1984 when an indignant relief doctor (Clive Owen) crashes a London society bash and castigates everyone for their insensitivity to the Ethiopian famine.

Inspired, she joins the doctor in Africa, and then rejoins him in Cambodia in 1989 and Chechnya in 1995 – the long process of their falling in love and we experience the heroic dedication and nightmarish lifestyles of relief workers.

The screenplay misses no opportunity to explain what horrific problems are being addressed by agencies such as the United Nations High Commission on Refugees and NGOs. The film has its heart in the right place.

Jolie and Owen both deliver impassioned performances, intelligent and emotional in equal measure.

Watch it this weekend.

Beyond borders Director: Martia Campbell Cast: Angelina Jolie, Clive Owen

Teejay impresses Bhatt
 

The so called ‘underdogs’ of Kabhi Kabhi Pyaar Kabhi Kabhi Yaar – Teejay Siddhu, Tina Parekh, and Karnvir Bohra – have managed to surprise all by putting up scintillating performances. Karnvir has not only impressed the judges but also inspired wife Teejay and on-screen partner Tina.ῠ Teejay has worked hard on her dance moves. So impressed was Mahesh Bhatt with her performance last week that he couldn’t resist kissing her. While, Krishna Abhishek, Kashmeera Shah, and Mukul Dev are strong contenders for the title, Karnvir, Teejay and Tina are also proving to be a big challenge.

Dhoni sings on TV

After 18 weeks, 9X’s song-n-dance extravaganza Gini & Jony Chak De Bachche reached its finale on Saturday. The concluding episode was action-packed, as Deepak and Nishtha of the Desi Dhurandhars were crowned winners by ace cricketers mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh. Yuvraj, after dancing to the Singh is King song, said, “I enjoy dancing but I’m not half as talented a dancer as these kids!”ῠ Dhoni sang the famous Amitabh Bachchan song Salaam-e-Ishq Meri Jaan. He said, “It is fantastic to see children from smaller towns getting such a good platform to showcase their talents.”

Kavita Kaushik pads up for a cricket show
 

She is one of the best known faces on television. After carving a niche for herself with shows like Kutumb, Dil Kya Chahta Hai, FIR, Kavita Kaushik is now trying out a different ball game. She will soon be seen in a cricket show on Zee Sports.

“I am pretty excited. I will host a cricket-based show during Australia’s tour of India,” she says. She is being touted as the next Mandira Bedi. But the actress makes it clear that she will be her own unique self. “I will not copy anyone. While cricket is a religion in the country, there is a large population of people who do not watch the game. At least majority of the women do not. And there are some men also. I will add the layman’s angle to it. I will be another normal girl talking about cricket. People should find it interesting and watch the show and take more interest in the game,” she says.

Surprisingly, she herself is pretty ignorant when it comes to cricket, but she promises to brush up on the game before the series starts.

Until then, she is focussing on films. She missed out on Maan Gaye Mughale Azam. “Yes Sanjay Chhel did talk to me about the movie. But it did not work out. Probably it would be better to ask Sanjay what went wrong,” she says.

“I am waiting for something good to come my way. I am in no hurry. I want my entry into films to be worth remembering,” said the actress whose small role in Dil Chahta Hai was edited.

(Snippets by Sanskriti Media Entertainment)

Madhura in Sangam
 

Sangam has a new Kaveri in Madhura Naik. This Balaji discovery started her career with Kahani and until recently was seen in a negative role in Bidaai.ῠ Naik was roped in for Sangam as a replacement for Nidhi. “I don’t know why Nidhi left the show. I accepted the role because it is a refreshing change from my negative character in Bidaai,” Madhura says.

Trying to step into her character’s shoes, she explains that Kaveri is a modern girl with refined sensibilities.ῠ “Ganga knew of Kaveri’s love for Sagar. But Kaveri is oblivious to the relationship between Sagar and Ganga. Only Kaveri’s father knew that Ganga and Sagar were planning to get married,” Madhura throws light on the complex situation in the story. Kaveri’s father had planned to break the news to her, but his untimely death lead to a new chain of events in the series. “I can’t tell you anything about what’s going to happen next. Besides, a lot will depend on TRPs,” she adds.ῠῠ

Rajshree quits dance show
 

The Saath Phere protagonist, Rajshree Thakur knew her days were numbered on Ek Se Badhkar Ek since the judges never missed a chance to tell her that she was surviving only because of her popularity.ῠ And just as the competition was heating up with Shayantani, Jasveer, Sanober, Kushal, and Abhishek dancing their best, Rajshree Thakur made a quiet exit, before she could be ousted from the show. Besides being an average dancer, Rajshree is apparently suffering from arthritis. She, however, denies the claims, saying she has a ligament problem and has been advised complete bed rest.

Curtains down on Left Right Left Left Right Left is a story about six youngsters who find direction at an army school. Over time, the show lost its way and is now being cut, especially since SAB has become a comedy channel. And so, curtains will come down on LRL a month from now. “LRL was one of the most successful shows on SAB which is why it is a little hard to let it go. But since we are committed to deliver 24 hours of laughter, an intense drama set in an army background does not fit the mix,” says SAB business head Anooj Kapoor.

‘I want to do relevant roles’
 

Sour relationships make sweet news for the gossip mills. And television actress Shilpa Shinde has been featuring in that bracket once too often in the last few months.ῠ First, her relationship with her Maayka co-actor, Neha Bamb turned frosty. Then her eagerness to quit the serial because of her over-emotional role created bad blood between her and the producer. And pulling out from the reality show, Saas Vs Bahu, soured her relationship with Shoma Anand.

“Yes, there were problems between Neha and me, but we have buried them. Now we are not friends, but we are good professionals,” says Shilpa. About her problems with Shoma Anand, she says, “We shared good chemistry off-screen. We were to be paired as a saas-bahu couple in a dance reality show, but when I pulled out of it, Shomaji became upset. But I never agreed to do the show, people mistook my silence for an assent.”

Rakhi throws a fit
 

Rakhi Sawant cannot be cowed down by anyone. She walked out of one of the two shows she was shooting after just six episodes and is throwing tantrums on the sets of the other.ῠ A source from the sets of the show confirmed that Rakhi has abused theῠ the production team and the directorial staff. However, when she sees a star on her show, she keeps her rash behaviour in check.

Like when Deepika Padukone came to the set, Rakhi made her wait, but on seeing her she put up her best behaviour. “Deepika can be a star. But this is my show and I am the star. I will finish doing what I want to do first before I shoot her interview,” she said to a baffled production team.

Deepika was a little upset at the way the interview took place, but was happy that she was gaining some mileage from it on a personal level, since she has to share screen space and her boyfriend with two more girls in Bachna Ae Haseeno.

Raahil Azim to die in Babul
 

Though Raahil Azim doesn’t admit it, hisῠ act in Babul Ka Angan Chhoote Na was supposed to be a cameo. As his character Swayam appeared, the show’s main story was sent on the back burner. Swayam sees his old flame, Payal, who he wasn’t allowed to marry, in his younger brother’s wife Aastha.ῠ On losing his lady love Swayam becomes a mental wreck. However, on seeing the Payal look-alike, his affiction is cured. Now, Payal has returned to take revenge against Swayam. The revenge angle will be played out in the coming weeks that will see the end of Swayam and a return to the original story.

Malaika snubs Chunky
 

Malaika Arora seems to be taking her ‘hottie’ image a little too seriously. The actress recently got into a tussle with Chunky Panday on the sets of the reality show Zara Nachke Dikha. Onlookers were taken aback when Malaika snubbed Chunky.ῠ The men versus women format of the show has led to some biases, and Malaika and Chunky have parted ways, siding with their own sexes and scrutinising the participants out of prejudice. Malaika and Chunky haven’t been on speaking terms since the scuffle. When asked about the tiff, Chunky says, “It’s almost like a sexist war. I for the guys, she for the ladies. Though we try and keep our decisions un-affected but῅” We understand Chunky. Now the good news is that both, Maliaka and Chunky, have kept up their professional values, thus, causing no disruption in the shooting schedule.

Solo Reapers
 

Ask those who’re part of it, and you’ll find that playing in a band is not a bed of roses. There’s the constant need to take the bandmates along, and also the difficult task of striking a balance between artistic freedom and practicality. More often than not, the genius in the band gets overshadowed by his peers, and this leads to a cramping of individuality and differences among the mates, or even a break-up of the band.

Country musician Bobby Cash, who is currently making waves across the southern continent of Ausralia, says being a musician is all about creating an ambience – through music, lyrics and the performance. “Whether it’s one person or five, it doesn’t make a difference. In my case, I realised that being a solo performer has its own merits, and if I could pursue my dreams without having to worry about getting like-minded people to fulfill it, so be it. But I have a back-up band now, because some songs do require multiple instruments.”

Some artistes, however, have become what they are because they didn’t have the option of forming a band. Reenie Rea, the Indian-born, New York-bred pop talent, who recently released an eponymous album, says unlike a conventional band, she straightaway started out by recording with a producer who noticed her songwriting and vocal talent. “I’ve been singing since I was a kid, and I usually write my own songs. The producer was a friend of mine, so I had a bit of luck there. Of course, there were the initial struggles when I would open for other international artistes. But the fast hit came sooner for me,” says Reenie, who is now based in Mumbai and is planning a stint in Bollywood soon. “The only flipside of being a solo artiste is you have no one to fall back on,” she adds.

Artistic freedom seems to be the immediate cause for such individual talents to emerge, but there are also other advantages if you are a solo performer. Metro-rockers, as these artistes like to be called, also gain monetarily from such endeavours.

Suryaveer Hooja, a Delhi- based solo artiste who performs regularly at outlets like DT Diner (DT mall), Geoffrey’s, Unitech Country Club, Lifestyle India and RPM, says that solo artistes are a flexible lot and can “fit” any ambience. “I use a high-end synthesizer for my performance, so that obviates the need for fellow band mates. Also, the venues where I perform are not large platforms, so an individual artiste fits their bill perfectly. Then there’s also the added benefit of being paid more.”

Another reason for being a solo performer, according to Suryaveer, is that there is more time available for practice.

Hooja’s repertoire contains covers of popular alternative rock acts like Oasis, James Blunt and GooGoo Dolls.

An album containing his original compositions is also on the cards, but he’s waiting for the right label to come his way.

Underground music comes to the fore
 

If you have a niche for sampled sounds, loops and turntables, but are in search of a platform that can accentuate your credibility and bring you some recognition as an electronic artiste, here is some good news.

With an aim to make electronica “the music of the common masses”, a bunch of musicians and music producers have taken a pledge to revive the “almost” extinct underground music scene of the capital. Named Delhi Electronic Supply Unit a.k.a DESU (strictly not be confused with DUSU), this association is set to take the Indian electronica fans by storm, and have already started sprinkling their “electro-power” through various gigs in the capital.

“DESU’s aim is to revive the underground music scene of the capital, and provide a platform for the upcoming electro-artistes to showcase their talents,” says Manu Saxena, music producer and one of the founders of the association. Says Chintan Kalra, the bassist of Parikrama, and also the founder of electro-house act Khirki Gharana,

“Today people look at electronica as a corollary to the club culture, and hence associate it with commerce. Through DESU we want to present electronica as a genre of popular music, not just something that gets played only in clubs and other such commercial places.”

On Song
 

Film: Bachna Ae Haseeno

Aaa aa῅. Sajde mein yun hi jhukta hoon Tum pe hi aa ke rukta hoon Kya yeh sab ko hota hai Hum ko kya lena hai sab se Tum se hi sab batein ab se Ban gaye ho tum meri dua

Khuda Jaane ke mein fida hun Khuda Jaane mein mit gaya Khuda jaane yeh kyun huwa hai Ke ban gaye ho tum mere khuda

Tu kahe to tere hi kadam ke main nishanon pe Chalun rukun ishaare pe Tu kahe tho khwabon ka bana ke Main bahana sa Mila karu sirhaane pe

Ohhh Tum se dil ki baatein seekhi Tum se hi yeh raahe seekhi Tum pe marr ke mein tho Jjee gaya

Dil kahe ke aaj tho, chupa lo tum panahon mein Ke darr hai tum ko kho doonga Dil kahe ki sambhal zara khushi Na nazar laga Ke darr hai mein tho ro dunga

‘I dined at the world’s costliest eatery’
 

Talking of gastronomical delights is not always easy for a gastroenterologist. Even though I had the opportunity to try cuisines of different countries, I was always particular about staying away from junk food.

East or West, Indian food is the best, so after a few days of trying foreign food, I always manage to hunt down some Indian eatery, be it in France or Scandinavia.

Besides Indian, I like Italian cuisine with its pizzas and pastas, because scientifically, Italian food, with its high carb content, is akin to Indian cuisine. We have done research and found out that Indian people are more suited to carbs and vegetable protein unlike people in the West, who are more cut out for animal protein.

In world cuisine, I prefer Vietnamese food. Their noodles, fish, boiled vegetables and herbal spices taste great even though very little oil is used. Singapore is also very rich in its culinary delights, especially seafood. I also like the Syrian food, the Middle-Eastern shawarma, humus and chickpea.

In India, I find each state has its own special cuisine. I love Punjabi chhole and fish preparations from Bengal. The healthy Maharashtrian poha and Chennai coffee taste great.

While eating out in the city, my favourites are Waterfront for delicious sea food, Golden Dragon, Taj for Chinese and Dakshin, Kakatiya for South Indian food. The MTR tiffin house in Bangalore serves simple, tasty South Indian food.

I’ve dined at the world’s costliest eatery, Case, at Brussels, Belgium. The meal is about $1,000 per person. The dining place is a small kitchen! The price is so high because Beatles, Rolling Stones and other famous groups have visited here.

Among homemade recipes, my mother’s chapula pullusu, (spicy Nellore fish) and my wife’s fish cutlet deserve a special mention.

What I find unique about Hyderbadi cuisine is that it’s a m
lange of the North and South Indian cuisine. Hyderabadi spices are also very special. The biryani is so popular that even if my friends from abroad land here at midnight, they ask me to keep biryani ready.

I would advise foodies to eat carefully six days a week and gorge on whatever they want on the seventh day, just as I do.

(As told to Sulogna Mehta)

We chill out at our canteen
 

Hangout@the campus and canteen of Maturi Venkata Subba Rao Engineering College

Who all frequent: Students of MVSR – Monika, Nidhi, Aparna, Sneha, Laxmi, Rounaq, Ronak, Navnet, Amit and their class mates.

Cost: Rs 5-Rs 30.

What’s the catch: Our lush green campus offers a pollution-free-cool and tranquil atmosphere. It’s so vast that it never seems crowded even though hundreds of students chill out here. The canteen serves hygienic and tasty food including idli, dosa, manchurian, friedrice, chips, coffee, fresh fruit juices etc., says Sneha Jain, a fourth year student of the college.

Savour snacks with paan martini
 

Monsoon is one season when the craving for hot piping snacks is at its peak. Taj Deccan is the place to be. Their southern speciality restaurant has come up with starters’ menu available in both veg and non-veg. The platter consists of special snacks found in Andhra Pradesh including Hyderabad and Telengana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka.

The non-veg snacks comprises meen kutchi varuval, (crispy fried murrel fish fingers), nandaan kozhi roast is Kerala style spicy fried chicken and venchina vetta mamsam is a dry lamb preparation. The vegetarian items consists of ullipaya pagoda, dumpala ulli karma, cauliflower varuval and vazhakkai mezhukuporatty.

Even for beverages, there are some innovative cocktails. Cocktails, made with a distinct Deccan element – the paan martini, fennel martini and ginger martini – martinis infused with spices that are marinated in vodka. Besides, they have something more for food connoisseurs – paan and rose ice cream. While a bite melts in your mouth, one can find pieces of Benarasi paan and dried rose petals in the ice cream.

Try This
 

SAbu dana (saGO) PAKODAS

By Shailaja Sehgal, Homemaker

Serves 6

Ingredients

250 gms sabu dana (sago) 4-5 boiled potatoes 50 gms peanuts, crushed 4 tbsp cooking oil 2 green chillies, chopped Salt and black pepper to tasteῠῠῠῠῠ

Method

Soak the sabu dana in water for four-five hours. After the sabu dana is soaked, drain the water thoroughly. Mash the boiled potatoes well. Mix the sabu dana, potatoes, crushed peanuts, chillies, salt and pepper together. Next, make into flat or round balls and deep fry it for two-three minutes till it turns golden brown.ῠGarnish with finely sliced tomatoes and green chillies. Serve the pakodas hot.

Get set for the festivities
 

Janamastami will be here soon and city shops have stocked up on puja accessories and idols of Balgopal and Krishna. Before the rush begins ensure that you have all the items ready for the puja.Sai Pooja Samagri in Monda Market has a wide range of mukuts for the Lord. Prices range between Rs 200 and Rs 20,000. Jhoolas are priced from Rs 150 onwards. Flutes range from Rs 30 to 400. They also have silver idols of Krishna, simhasan and silver flowers that can be offered to the lord.

Misrilal store in Secunderabad also has idols of Balgopal in myriad shapes. Prices are from Rs 150 onwards. Do check out the mini umbrellasῠ for Krishna at the store. They are priced from Rs 650 onwards.

Also check out the wide variety of aarti stands, incense holders and marble idols of Krishna in Sri Balaji Pooja Stores, on R.P. Road. The aartiῠ stands are priced from Rs 250 onwards and a copper tirtam set could cost you Rs 150. They also have dresses for the idol. Prices range from Rs 30 to Rs 300. Don’t forget to take a look at the brass lamps and bells available in this shop.

Waistcoats, ties rule party circuit
 

There has been an influx of sleek ties and waistcoats on the party circuit. Wondering where to get the best stuff from? We have just the right information for you. Check out Wardrobe in Banjara Hills. The store stocks an exhaustive range of casual waistcoats both for men and women. Men’s waistcoats are priced from Rs 900 onwards and women’s waistcoats range between Rs 495 and Rs 795. Also on display are casual cotton waistcoats for women. Prices are from Rs 295 onwards.

Take a look at the party waistcoats available in Vogue The V Thing in Nagarjuna Circle and Passion in Style behind Lifestyle Building. Vogue has some interesting waistcoats with kalamkari prints on satin. Party waistcoats are priced at Rs 1,695 onwards. The store also has an interesting range of sleek ties, which are definitely worth a dekko.

Free for all
 

Spirits were reigning high as all TV stars got together to celebrate the “youthful spirit of freedom” through dance and song. The atmosphere was very lively as the actors and singers performed on stage.

S. Sreesanth was accompanied by Mandira Bedi. The entire cast of Baa, Bahoo Aur Baby was present at the event. Also seen there were Ronit Roy, Anwesha Dasgupta and the Panchvi Pass children Shreya and Dhairya.

Dark knightsῠand divas

Classic, simple, chic – black never disappoints. It’s no wonder that Bollywood’s best choose to tread the “dark line” and carry it off with style. No matter what colour gets called the “new black”, nothing can ever take its place.

 

 Features of the Week

 

 

Deccan Chronicle

March Of The Bachelorette Brigade

3 Aug

March of the bachelorette brigade
 
By Narayani Basu

In just the last one decade, the Indian woman has come of age. She now toasts her freedom, revels in her sensuality, commands her finances, chooses her wines, lives life on her own terms, and flaunts her singlehood.ῠ When Sex and the City premiered on television back in the 90s, everyone sat up and took notice – particularly women. The series tackled topics like sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), safe sex, multiple partners and dozens of other issues that helped women emerge out of the shadows and into the light of changing societal traditions. And when the series came to India, it met with mixed reactions. There were groups who waved the flag of women’s independence and individuality. And yet, underneath it all, the old stereotypes were, and are, still alive and kicking.ῠ

There is, more so in Indian society, a tremendous pressure to find a man and settle down. Despite progress in nearly every sphere, there is still a belief that without a man, nothing can be achieved or accomplished. You’ve made it if you marry into a good family. However, a closer look shows that even though the change is slow, it is steady. The new Indian woman is all about exploring the various facets of her personality. She isn’t just able to afford holidays to London, or own designer clothes, but she’s able to actually make decisions about her life – when, what, and how – all without the help of a man. The change isn’t only restricted to the younger generation either. Women in their late 30s and early 40s are breaking out of the conventional mould into which they were so carefully sculpted – all with the support of the dreaded ‘traditional Indian family’.ῠ

As a result, men have had to force themselves to change as well. It’s no longer enough to be a man – you need to be proficient on both the professional, as well as the domestic front, especially if you’re married to today’s modern career woman. As a result, divorce rates all over the country are shooting up. According to the Tribune, there was a 150 percent rise in the divorce rates in conservative states like Punjab and Haryana in 2007, while in New Delhi there were 8000-9000 cases in the same year.ῠ

So it’s obvious that marriage is no longer the low-risk option that it once was for a daughter. Take the case of Anita Sahgal (name withheld on condition of anonymity). Sahgal, who was married for 15 years before she got a divorce, manages her own media consultancy. Though she started her company while she was married, Sahgal says that her job did not mean much to her husband. “I was working out of home initially, but as my job gained momentum and there was hardly any support from my husband, I had to think of a way out.”

The only way out was a divorce and Sahgal admits that it was the most painful decision she had to make. By this time she had two children and the going was hardly easy. Besides, at this time, Sahgal had entered what she calls a “professional plateau”. She was hardly paying attention to her work as a result of trying to manage her personal front and it was taking its toll on her. “It took me 15 years to come around to the decision,” she says, “but the kids were grown up by this time, and though it was very hard, I decided to go ahead with it.”

The good thing about it all? “Undoubtedly, my kids and my family. My kids were completely non-judgmental and my whole family gave their support unconditionally,” she says, “My work is now back on track and so is my life. In fact, I’m taking a break and going abroad for a holiday with my mother and daughter.”

However, being a single woman isn’t all happiness and light. Consider, for instance, the fact that you have bills and there isn’t anyone to settle them but yourself. Sunita Jain, 56, a former employee with the Bank of Tokyo, who now works as a freelance investment consultant-cum-lecturer, agrees, “Being single at any age for any woman in Indian society is difficult, but you need to accept the situation as you find it and adjust accordingly. If you can do that and take each day as it comes, you’ll be fine.”ῠ

Jain, who comes from an orthodox Jain family, was married and divorced at an early age. That, she says, surprisingly wasn’t a problem. “I, along with everyone else, was a critic of divorce back then, but it wasn’t something I could prevent, and surprisingly, when I told my family of my decision, they were behind me all the way,” she says. “I knew life would be better without him and no one in my family would have had me believe otherwise. A divorced woman used to be ill regarded and divorce was a stigma, but my family, especially my sister, showed me off as proudly as they would a single daughter. Whether it was at parties or family gatherings, I was never left alone for a minute. I can’t thank them enough for that.”

But what about financial support? Though Jain was working at the time of her marriage, her husband wanted her to give up the job. She remained adamant on the issue, but when the divorce came through, she was left to fend for herself. Here again, her family turned up trumps. “My father and my brother were more experienced than I was back then,” she admits, “and they guided me wonderfully. I began to learn more from the job I was in, and invested my savings wisely. Now I can stand on my feet, financially and otherwise.” The issue of companionship is another monster that often rears its head. Some women may worry about being alone for the rest of their lives. Jain says that that is just a question of one’s state of mind.

“I have plenty of friends, male and female,” she says, “Life doesn’t stop because you’re a single woman, nor should you expect it to. And if it boils down to the issue of sex, then it all depends on how you play.” Radhika Sachdev, 40, who works with a publishing house, quenched her need for companionship in another way. She adopted a child, Aarzoo. “I would have adopted even if I had been married,” she says, “It was a decision I had been working towards as I grew older. I don’t feel the need for a man, just to have kids. Kids aren’t the only basis of a relationship.”

Sachdev wasn’t worried about raising any eyebrows either. “All that mattered to me was that my parents would accept my decision and my child. Luckily for me, they did without any questions. They helped me set up the infrastructure that I needed to get Aarzoo into my life.” But hurdles presented themselves in the form of schools. “Most schools that I applied to were biased because I was a single mother and because she was adopted,” says Sachdev. “It was a very tough period for me, because I don’t believe that you discriminate against children who are adopted or women who are raising them single-handed. It’s not anyone’s fault,” she says. Innumerable rounds, and a letter from Sheila Dikshit later, Aarzoo was accepted into Somerville School. “I’m happy that they accepted her,” says Sachdev, “It’s a good school and she’s very happy there. That’s all I want.”

Being single isn’t exactly a joyride. There are ups and downs to every side of life, but that comes even if you are married or in a relationship. For now, most Indian women, be they young or old, are embracing a lifestyle that, while it is independent, in no way cramps their style. An online blog post says it all: “Then there’s the deep contentment of turning the key in your own front door on a Friday night, slamming it behind you, pouring a glass of wine and settling down to watch a favourite movie with no one else commandeering the remote control and channel-flicking during the breaks.”

Bipasha Basu When in a relationship for a long time, it feels like you are already married, because you are leading your lives as married couples would – sharing responsibilities and being together. What matters is whether you can maintain your identity even after marriage. There are couples who’ve been together for 10 years and then decided to tie the knot. And what happens? Soon after they get married, they split.ῠ They say, people’s expectations change.ῠ Although I do want to get married eventually, I would want to be independent.

Advaita Kala (writer) For me, per se, there is no set guideline. I think it’s really about being with someone who gives you the space to grow and evolve. I read once a long time back, and in fact used it in my book as well, that, “Marriage is like one long conversation.” I agree with that. To be with someone who mentally invigorates you and keeps you aware and invested is great. I think when and if I do decide to marry, it will hopefully be to someone who is not afraid of change, is kind and cares about the world we live in.

Sushmita Sen: The idea behind marriage is age-old – to find happiness, a sense of security given the norms of the society then. Of course society and the times have changed now. Is it then right to carry these age-old traditions and beliefs forward? Why is it so bad for a girl who is 30-something to not be married? I have girls writing to me saying families, usually distant family, get on their nerves, hounding them about marriage. Why can’t we just let people be? I want to know how many married people are truly happy? If marriage doesn’t guarantee happiness, is there even a point discussing this?

Brides who showed the door to grooms
 
By Amita Verma

Four young girls in Uttar Pradesh proved this month that it doesn’t take education or financial strength to stand up for women’s emancipation – it just takes mettle, and the strength to put one’s foot down. Meera, Soni, Raman and Renu are young semi-educated girls, belonging to the lower middle-class. They have never met each other, yet these girls created a furor this month when they stood up for their rights and refused to bow to social pressures.

Meera, who lives in Badaun district, sent her groom back because he did not bring a band with the wedding procession. “If the girl’s family is made to spend money in decorating the venue, why can’t the groom spend money on the band?” she demands. Soni, in Farukkhabad district, refused to marry when she learnt that the groom lisped and stammered. “The boy’s parents hid his speech disability and it was this that made me revolt,” she says in protest. In Mahoba district, Raman found that her groom was a middle-aged man and not the boy she had been shown earlier. She stormed out of the mandap and refused to go through the marriage rituals. In Maharajganj district, Renu found the groom groping around with his hands and discovered that he was partially blind. She stood up and told the elders in the family that she would not marry the groom. The baraat had to return without the bride.

Sway to the rhythm divine
 
By Neha Rathi

Letting your body sway to the rhythm of musical beats isn’t just pleasure. It also helps relieve physical ailments, fosters mental peace and gives rise to a feeling of contentment. Throughout the ages and across cultures, dance has been a medium to express a plethora of powerful emotions. Some dance in celebration, some to let go of bottled feelings, some for fun while some dance in devotion. Dance is energy in motion, and when infused with devotion, it becomes a way to reach out to God.

Indian mythology reserves a special place for dance. Shiva’s Tandava Nritya, the most famous dance in the pantheon of Hindu deities, is considered to be the source of the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution. The dance of Krishna with gopis, known as Raas Leela, is symbolic of the harmony and bliss of love. The dervishes swirled and swayed in an ecstatic love of God. The bauls of Bengal strummed their dotara, tapped their feet and twirled in praise of the Almighty.

Besides expressing joy and devotion, dance can also bring the mind, body and soul in perfect harmony. Dance therapy is a treatment in which choreographed movements of body are used to treat social, emotional, cognitive and physical problems. With the premise that emotional anxiety results in muscle tension and constrained movement, the therapy works towards healing in a rhythmic manner. Conceived as a marriage of sorts between modern dance and psychiatry, the therapy was pioneered by Marian Chace, a dance instructor who established her own studio in the US in the 1930s. Since Chase’s dance classes provided unique opportunities for self-expression, communication and group interaction, psychiatrists began sending patients to her. Later she founded the American Dance Therapy Association and became its president.

Dance therapy treats patients suffering from diabetes, stress, hypertension, cervical spondylitis and migraine headache using the communion of the body-mind factor. Says A.V. Sathyanarayana, a Bangalore-based dance therapist who has founded the Shristi Institute of Dance Therapy, “Dance therapy is founded on the premise that the body and mind are interrelated entities and the state of the body affects the mental and emotional wellbeing of a person in diverse ways. It helps bring out the inner feelings of the participants and helps them develop a healthy personality. The joyful rhythm invokes positive emotions and visualisations of the beauty of nature.”

About the benefits of the therapy, he adds, “This therapy benefits performers without them even realising it. All types of classical and folk dances, right from Bharatnatyam to the Gujarati folk dance Dandiya, have body movements that can be used in this therapy.” The music is a blend of Carnatic, Hindustani, jazz and folk, focusing on specific beats. And the dance steps include Bharatnatyam steps, snake and peacock movements. “We try to show the participant the positive aspect of a creature or an object. He or she should be proud of enacting the creature, like the curvaceous body of a snake or the beauty of a peacock. The snake dance in particular helps in curing respiratory problems,” he says.

If you do something, go the whole way
 

Commitment brings energy. If one wants to live an intense life, full of energy and power, one needs deep commitment. If you are not committed, the energy is not challenged. Everything is just okay, so-so; one continues in a lukewarm way, and one lives just on the periphery. So make this insight a tacit understanding in you. Life is a commitment, because only those who commit themselves, live. Others simply drag. They are born and die but they never live. Only people of commitment rise to high peaks of energy, rise to their climaxes.ῠ

Each moment has to be a commitment Then the energy will flare up and will become a bigger and bigger flame everyday. The more you bring it out, the more it will become available to you, and deeper and higher will be the sources that are available to you. Man can have as much energy as he needs. But if you don’t need it, there is no point in having it. If you have decided to crawl on the earth, it is up to you. If you want to fly in the sky, that too is for you to decide. Your energy is already ready to do what you want to do, but the first thing is that you have to want to do it.

Experience everything fully Whenever you want to experience something, do something, go the whole way. Either it is useless and you understand it, or it is useful; then too you have an understanding of it. Either way you are profited, benefited. Make this a rule for everything; let it be a golden rule. If you love a woman, then love. Go all the way so that you can come to an understanding of whether love is worth-while or just foolishness. And whatsoever the conclusion, it will be good for you. If you come to realise that it is a very significant experience, then you can open many doors. There is no other way than experience.

Love unconditionally Ordinarily love is a relationship, and when love is a relationship you breathe only towards a certain person. You breathe him or her, but the passage is very narrow. The universe is so vast and love gives so much; why make it so narrow? Let it expand and be unconditional, because whenever there is a condition, love becomes ruined. When it is unconditional, it becomes divine. And love is never satisfied unless it becomes divine because that is the deepest urge in every human being: to be so full of love that whatsoever the condition, the love goes on showering.

Courtesy Osho International Foundation/www.osho.com

At home with ghosts
 
By Veenu Sandal

Critics cite instances of some so-called paranormal groups that mimic the methodology of a traditional ghost/demon hunting team. However, their primary goal is to frighten the homeowner/client into a belief that they are in danger and that immediate action to cleanse the home is imperative. These groups will act quickly to confuse the homeowner/client by pointing to certain items in the home as being “possessed” and will then offer to remove said items to make the home safe. Typically, these items are antiques, relics, or family heirlooms that will later be put on display in a paranormal museum hosted by the said group where a charge is incurred for admission to view such articles.

Yet, despite criticism, the fact remains that ghost-hunting groups around the world are swelling with members – their popularity fuelled by television shows, the Internet and the increasing availability of high-tech equipment and detailed books like Ghost Hunting: How to Investigate the Paranormal. A common sense approach toῠ investigating ghostly happenings, including apparitions, hauntings and poltergeists are avidly read by many ghost-hunters. This particular book, written by Loyd Auerbach, director of the Office of Paranormal Investigations, covers the investigative process from the initial call and assessment to the on-site investigative techniques and technology.

ῠIt explains how to come up with solutions and resolutions and ways to get rid of the phenomena and goes on to discuss fraudulent cases besides looking at other non-ghostly happenings with paranormal explanations. The book also includes use of technology and the use of psychics in paranormal investigations and explores if anyone can prove the existence of ghosts. Finally, the book covers information resources and organisations that the new ghost-hunter and the person who encounters a ghost can find to learn more about the subject and for help with cases they’re investigating or phenomena they’re experiencing. For obvious reasons, new ghost-hunters find this a very useful book.

According to encyclopeadic sources, individuals engaged in ghost-hunting and paranormal investigation have varying motives for their activities.ῠ

* Some ghost-hunters consider themselves hobbyists whose primary motivation is the excitement of the hunt and the thrill of possibly experiencing something supernatural. Many of these individuals enjoy spending significant time pursuing their hobby.

* Others consider themselves serious researchers who follow a number of scientific protocols and share documentation of their research with other groups in an effort to discover proof that ghosts exist. They often go about their pursuit in a prescribed manner in order to gather evidence of paranormal activity at a given location, or debunk false positive reports of hauntings. Many established groups fall into this category.

* Still others consider themselves to be providing a service, and focus their investigation on offering comfort and assistance to individuals who feel they are experiencing unexplained or paranormal activity at a home or other location. These investigators approach a location with the goal of alleviating the fear and discomfort of the occupants by listening to their experiences and providing advice and reassurance.

Generally, ghost-hunting groups are a mix of several differing outlooks and motives. These days, most advertise their services online, but the majority do not charge for investigations in hopes of finding new and interesting places to explore. Summarised by other groups, there are four basic classifications of ghost-hunters, though many groups can fall into one or more categories. 1. Scientific, generally out to either prove or disprove paranormal phenomena such as ghosts through the use of scientific protocols. 2. Interactive, using both science and practiced beliefs to form an answer about phenomena. This group can include students of crptozoology, UFOs and conspiracies. 3. Chasers/Busters, avid believers out to prove by any means that a phenomenon does exist, even regardless of evidence. 4. Religious/Spiritual believers who specialise in religious beliefs or occult beliefs and who fight against the practices of negative forces, such as demons and evil presences. There are other groups too such as those who have an open mind about the existence or non-existence of ghosts. The starting point for this group seems to be the innumerable ghost stories that have been published down the years and told by word of mouth “surely they can’t all be fiction”. Then there is the group of die-hard ghost believers who were once die-hard critics or skeptics and were converted by actual, first hand encounters with ghosts or ghostly happenings at haunted places or other very personal paranormal experiences. Read about their fascinating, gripping experiences in the next column.ῠ

Learning through seeing
 
By Ranjan Kamath

Whenever a student enrols for speech and drama training, I can anticipate the parent introduce the youngster saying, “My child just doesn’t read῅ it is cartoons, cartoons all the time!” The refrain has become so distressingly constant that it persuaded me to understand my own cultivation of the reading habit to suggest solutions.

The Calcutta I grew up in was a paradise for the poet, artist, book-lover and the cineaste. but in the ’70s, aged under ten, I was none of these and certainly no cineaste. The famous Metro Cinema held morning shows on Sunday, for which my father took me zealously. Whether it was 101 Dalmations, Cat Ballou, or Hatari – at the sound of the first bark or, gunshot I was under the seat, looking askance at a censored vertical frame from between Dad’s legs.

On Thursdays – our weekly school holiday -we were shown films at school. Tom and Jerry always preceded the main attraction, which included Flipper the Dolphin, John Wayne’s westerns, Lawrence of Arabia and Sergei Bondarchuk’s War and Peace. During the scary bits, ‘under the seat’ was not an option in the company of peers, so eyes were kept shut.ῠ Pa never explained why he persisted in taking me to the movies when I made his life utterly miserable but with those faltering beginnings, my future transformation into a filmmaker confounded us both. To add to his misery I insisted he read the same fire-engine story at bedtime (ad nauseum). Every night a new ‘film’ premiered in my imagination, with the variations Pa brought to the story.

It took me four decades to realise that my dad and my school had unknowingly initiated me into visual literacy, expanding the visual vocabulary of my imagination. While reading 101 Great Lives, Enid Blyton, Conan Doyle and Alistair MacLean, my imagination was assisted by the visual imagery of the movies. I conveyed the movie contagion to my children, exciting them with films about flying like Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines and Battle of Britain. Films aroused a curiosity about Montgolfier’s balloon and Supermarine Spitfires which hooked them onto reading.

Rounding off the story-telling experience, I had preserved my fire engine storybook that I read to my sons at bed-time. Inspired by Pa, I too adopted circuitous narrative routes to realise that they too were enthralled more by the story-telling than the story.

In retrospect, I had not realised the importance of visual imagery in encouraging reading, till I began teaching speech and drama. When reading poetry or prose, words remained text on a page; not triggering cinema in the imagination. Reading was associated with the tedium of studying rather than the enjoyment of learning.

If we want our children to read, we have to read stories to them; read with them. Television, cinema and the internet are resources that complement the reading habit, not marginalise it. To view programmes or a film together with our children fortifies them against the subliminal shock and awe of visual bombardment – creating the curiosity to ‘find out more’ through reading. Every weekend, my children and I travel across continents and centuries from the Rome of Ben Hur to the Japan of the Last Samurai; from Lawrence of Arabia to Saving Private Ryan on the Normandy beaches. In two hours a lesson in history, geography, art and culture has been accomplished offsetting a lacklustre school syllabus.

In a world abounding in knowledge resources, it is tragic to hear a young mind say, “I am bored!”ῠῠ Wouldn’t it be gratifying if we inspired the young mind to curl up in a bean bag at the library, consumed by the ‘cinema paradiso’ of his imagination, lost in a book?

ranjan.kamath@gmail.com

Sexual seduction comes back to haunt you
 
By Ayush Maheshwari

Iῠ want to thank all my readers for sharing their experiences with me. It has been an unbelievable learning process. Recently, one of you shared with me your experience of being sexually abused as a child repeatedly and the immensely negative impact it has had on your life. My heart goes out to you and I can completely relate with you: You are not alone. I was sexually abused as a child as well and till date, it haunts me.ῠ Hearing your story has given me the courage to talk about mine. I know while I am writing this week’s column, some child somewhere in this world is getting abused. and it just has to STOP.

Here is what happened: I was around 13 years old when I visited my aunt’s house during my summer vacation for two months. My aunt lived in a joint family. My uncle’s younger brother, Ravi, who was in his late 20s at that time, was always very friendly with me. Touching me, holding me, and making me feel very special. He gave me a lot of attention which I normally wasn’t used to. Being an overweight child people would often make fun of me. So here I am getting all this super star treatment from an adult. It felt nice. My aunt had a big house and we all had our own rooms to stay in. One weekend, however, she had some guests over and Ravi had to move into my room.

I remember every moment of that night. Talking about it till date (this was 18 years ago) shakes me up. It was the darkest night of my life. I was lying on the bed when Ravi came in. He closed the door and said that he does not want anyone to see the surprise gift he is going to give me. But before that I need to sing him a song. Ravi said, “Ayush, can you please sing Chura liya hai tumne jo dil ko” (he knew I loved singing.) I started singing. Slowly he came closer to me and started kissing me. I immediately stopped singing. He said, “You are so sweet, keep going, don’t stop.” He said, “Everyone calls you fat and ugly but I think you are the most beautiful person I have ever seen. I just want to be close to you. Nobody loves you Ayush, but I love you.”

What followed is something I would rather not talk about right now῅ even thinking about it is very painful. This incident was not an exception. It happened over and over again in that trip. Since then for years to come, I would look for this false affirmation to know that I was ‘good enough.’

Then why didn’t I tell someone? Why didn’t I try to stop it? Didn’t I know that I was being wronged? Looking back, I did not understand what was going on. It was all very confusing. At that time, it made me feel wanted and cared for. But the reality is – it made almost permanent damages to my self-esteem. The closest I have come to understanding what was going on is when I heard Oprah talking about child abuse on some of her shows. She calls it ‘sexual seduction’ rather than sexual abuse. As a child, you don’t know any better. children who are abused are often seduced to believing that they are being ‘loved’.

The thought of this fact of my life is like a hen which keeps pecking at my soul. With time and a lot of healing, this pecking has become less frequent. Next week we will discuss more in detail the multiple techniques I adopted to start my healing process. It started with the realisation that even though I am not responsible for what happened, it’s my responsibility to heal my soul. I cannot help but wonder if there is anything more powerful than empowering the self.

You can email your experiences to ayush@bigindian.inῠῠ

Ayush Maheshwari, more popularly known as ‘Big Indian’. He is an IT wizard, motivational expert, pop singer, TV performer and a social worker.

‘Those 3 magic words’
 
By Samantha Brett

Je t’aime. Ti amo. Ani Ohev Otah. I love you.

When the famous Polish pianist Arthur Rubinstein mused that we should “love life and life will love you back… love people and they will love you back”, he was obviously unfamiliar with the modern dating game. Tell the object of your affection those three magic words and you run the risk of the quizzical stare, the nonchalant “er … thanks” (without any sign of reciprocation), or worse – them explaining to you that they’re enjoying the no-strings-attached casual liaison ‘wayyy’ too much to shift gears into mushy couple territory. “Why ruin a good thing?” they muse while your heart crumbles.ῠ Back in high school, I found myself making the crucial mistake of declaring my love a little too prematurely for comfort. “Love? Pfft! You don’t even know the meaning of the word,” scoffed my boyfriend at the time before giving me the flick – via a text message nonetheless.

“Love is complicated,”ῠ he wrote. “I just don’t think I’m ready for the words.” (He certainly seemed ready when I caught him canoodling with his ex-girlfriend the following weekend, but that’s a whole different column.)ῠ I suspect a similar gut-wrenching experience is to blame for the fact that so many of my fellow singletons stick to the mantra that the ‘L’ word is not something to be uttered unless the question has been popped, the rock’s been purchased and both parties are fully aware of each other’s bathroom, belching and belittling habits.

“Unless I know he’s right for me and that I’m prepared to accept his ways -foibles and all – only then will I proclaim I love him,” says one single femme, vociferously opposed to any lovespeak until there’s a ring, a white dress and a picket fence firmly in sight. “Even when he says it to me, I gush ‘thank you baby’ and then quickly change the subject. And I stick with ‘luv’ or ‘loving you’ in texts or emails.”

E! News presenter Giuliana Depandi (http://www.giulianadepandi.com) says she’s doing just the right thing to lure in a bloke for good. In tip #47 in her tome titled Think Like A Guy: How To Get A Guy By Thinking Like One, she jettisons the idea that women should never say the “L” word first, let alone initiate the kids, marriage and move-in-together conversation. (Oops!)

Male portal AskMen.com advises its male readers similarly, chastising any bloke who declares his true feelings for a woman. It says those three magic words are “evil words that have brought generations of clueless men worldwide to their demise”. Ouch!

But I wonder this: in a time of mass communication with more gadgets, gizmos and whiz-bang widgets that enable us to tell someone we love them in more ways than ever before, surely it’s time we were able to express our feelings freely? Be unafraid to open up our hearts?

Or are we simply too afraid of rejection to take the plunge… even if it means getting the “L” word in reply ῅

The writer is an author, columnist & dating expert

(You can mail your responses toῠ asksambrett@gmail.com)

Vernacular rock on a roll
 
By Debarun Borthakur

If you are a die-hard rock music fan and are cribbing why Led Zeppelin didn’t sing in Hindi, don’t worry; the times are changing. Bridging the linguistic gap to popularise rock among desi music lovers are a bunch of rockers who swear by distorted guitar riffs, and are determined to express their thoughts in their mother tongue. Though “hind-rockers” (singing in Hindi) are common in the country, vernacular rock is what’s sweeping the Indian janta off their feet. Today one will find many Indian rock outfits singing in regional languages, and are slowly but steadily gaining ground in the contemporary Indian music scene.ῠ “If you ask me, music doesn’t have any language. Whether it is Tamil, Kannada, Bengali or any other language, the priority for a musician is to put across the right message, even if it is in some African language,” says singer Usha Uthup.

There are a number of names in contemporary Indian music scene who follow the same ideology. They believe music to be a universal unifier, and don’t consider language as a barrier in this context. “Just like any other college-goer, initially, I too started singing in English.

But eventually I realised how difficult it is to connect my people to it. Singing in one’sῠ mother language helps a singerῠ connect to his roots which I feel is a very important factor to put across the desired message to your audience,” says Raghu Dixit, who recently launched his multi-lingual debut album in English, Hindi and Kannada. So, why did he choose to sing in different languages, is that a rational decision or is it something that came naturally to him? “It was in Belgium where I first sang a few of my own compositions, and you won’t believe the audience there went crazy. Their overwhelming response instigated me to come back to India and be a musician. In fact, the whole experience changed me as a human being,” says Raghu, who has also composed for a Kannada movie Psycho.

Punjabi rocker Rabbi Shergill too believes that music doesn’t have any language. “Composers generally depend on what comes naturally to them. I think in Punjabi, so I prefer penningῠ my thoughts in the same language. It’s about presenting the right expressions to the audience,” adds Rabbi.ῠ

So, how do the record label companies respond to this? Do they consider promoting vernacular music a safe bet in Indian contemporary music scenario? Says Raghu, “Not really. I got lucky because Vishal (of the composer duo Vishal-Shekhar) appreciated my compositions and asked me to come up with an album under their banner. However, everybody is not that lucky. Market is the first priority for established record labels. They are hardly concerned about the sensitivity of music. Though I won’t name any label, many of them turned me down saying I am not good-looking enough for them to promote my music.” Rabbi, however, thinks vernacular music has a great future in India. Though he restrained from commenting anything on the record labels, he believes vernacular music will bring about a new wave in the Indian music market.

So, if you are trying to figure out which language you should choose to pen your thoughts in, don’t think. Just write down your thoughts in any language as it’s not the language that will make your music a hit, but the perfect blend of music and expression.

Unplugged
 
By Naresh Sadhwani and Deepak Jhangiani

A guide to what’s new in the audio, video world

The channel slugfest is on My programmes are better in quality, in content, in the stars that we attract, etc. These are the claims being bandied about by all the channels tom-tomming about their superiority over the other channels. The sad truth is that there is still no clear winner and the discerning Indian viewer is asking for more and the channels are scrambling to find that ‘new’ niche which will attract more eyeballs. From bigger and better the new claim is International, so while UTV World Movies features international movies with English subtitles, NDTV is working on their own world cinema channel, NDTV Lumiere. Now Indian viewers will be able to see cinema from as many as 160 countries. Now globalisation of the Indian viewer’s sensibilities.

Viacom18’s GEC Colors has been launched amidst much fanfare and controversy surrounding the much-heralded Khatron Ke Khiladi, the Indian version of the Fear Factor on AXN. The channel is eager to be unlike the others and is calling its content strategy “disruptive and differentiated”. Whether this will work or not, only the third “d” i.e. demand will tell. ῠ From Oil to Air? Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL), the country’s second largest oil marketing company, plans to diversify into the already crowded DTH business. With crude oil prices putting a dent in their bottom lines the company is now looking to the other avenues to make it good. BPCL has always been a distribution major. Earlier it was oil, now it will be TV programming.ῠ ῠ Question of the week Everyone is talking of 3G mobile phones. What is that?

Akshay

Presently wireless technology used in India and most other countries for mobile phones is GSM and CDMA which are still evolving. they fall under the 2G or 2nd generation technologies. however, newer technologies are now being employed which are faster and can add on more utilities. 3G therefore, is the generic term covering the range of these future technologies namely: cdma2000, UMTS, GPRS, WCDMA and EDGE. The new I-phone 3G from the Apple farm which has been creating sales history in the USA delivers the best of the 3G world namely these advanced technologies which in layman’s language this means faster speeds, wider bandwidths resulting in better reproduction of sound and picture.

Readers are invited to email theirῠ queries/suggestions/comments toῠ sadhwanis@vsnl.com

My hasty decisions have been my failing: Zayed
 

As I watch Zayed Khan getting ready to play a rich, spoilt brat on the sets of Subhash Ghai’s Yuvraaj in Film City, I can’t help but think aloud, “You seem to slip into this character quite easily!” to which he laughs and says, “Yeah, I identify with the character, Danny Yuvraaj Singh. He’s like Main Hoon Na’s Lucky on steroids. His life is a big party, having everything money can buy. Danny’s got this whole vanity-insanity groove going on.” The young actor has worked with Shah Rukh Khan in Main Hoon Na earlier and now, with Salman Khan in Yuvraaj. His eyes light up as he says, “It was a dream come true to work with SRK so early in my career. He came across as an institution to me and I’ll never forget what he’s done for me. Salman is like an elder brother and I always knew I would have a great time working with him. He’s the ultimate cowboy and I admire his supreme confidence. Both of them are fantastic human beings.” Even though Mission Istaanbul, where he played the role of a journalist, hasn’t exactly set the bar for successes to come, his optimism is unfazed. “I’ve learnt over a period of time that you must take what’s yours. Never be too subservient because you never know when the rug might be pulled from under your feet. After Main Hoon Na, Mission Istaanbul was my big one. I worked very hard on it last year and I am very proud of the film,” says Zayed. Do you regret any career decisions? “I have taken hasty decisions in the past which has been my biggest mistake. Also, I have realised that working with good directors makes all the difference. I don’t really have regrets regarding what I have done. But I think my hastiness and inexperience has been my failing and that is something I have rectified now. I am going to be more careful from here on. A film’s success has got a lot to do with the right team, with people who can extract the best from you. Film is a director’s medium, you have to get along with the director to pull off the character – otherwise you can always be Zayed Khan. In fact, I have been partying more on screen than off screen now,” he says, but not before adding, “But parties follow me wherever I go. I reckon it’s my charm! But it’s my son Zidaan whom I like to spend most of my free time with. In fact my wife Malaika and he accompanied me to my Bahamas outdoor for my film Blue. It was such a joy to have him around.” The new daddy is going the whole hog – feeding and changing diapers and acting silly around his baby. “There are plenty of bloopers too like when he barfed all over my tee shirt at the airport and I got all messy. Zidaan can stare for hours without blinking, expressionless, and I find that amazing. I want to support his personality when he grows up rather than force mine on him,” he says. When asked about brother-in-law Hrithik Roshan, he says, “Hrithik is a perfectionist. When we get together, we work out as we both love to exercise. We talk about our kids. Sometimes he talks about my film performances and I talk about his. I share a warm relationship with him and I am proud to have this wonderful guy in my family,” he says.

Mads back to Mumbai soon
 
Film news

Madhuri Dixit who is a part of the Unforgettable Tour for the US leg, will soon be returning to India according to sources. No, she has not finally said ‘yes’ to another Yash Raj film that Yash Chopra has been insisting her to do. She will be in India to launch a clothing line for a major international brand that is coming to India. The brand will be catering to the working Indian woman and the styling is modeled over Mads’ jackets and pin striped pants wearing character in Aaja Nachle. Mads has also been busy with the designing team in the US, personally looking into the designs and giving inputs for clothes that she thinks would cater to an Indian market.

It is also said that she will stay in Mumbai for three months after the round of shows to promote the brand and she is putting her kids in a nursery school in Mumbai. With Mads all set, the city can’t wait to welcome its favourite aamchi mulgi, and needless to say neither can Bollywood.

Jiah Khan vs Aamir Khan

Jiah Khan is one unhappy lady. After having finished shooting for Aamir Khan’s remake of Ghajini, she isn’t too excited with the final cut. From what we hear, her role has been extensively chopped from the first narration of the film that she has seen and Jiah is feeling disillusioned about it and has addressed her grievances to Aamir. But what has got this sassy actress most upset is the fact that her voice has been dubbed for the film. Aamir wasn’t too happy with her heavily accented dialogue delivery and has dubbed it in spite of Jiah’s requests to let it remain. She defends that if her voice wasn’t a problem in Nishabd, why should it be now. But perfectionist Aamir is having none of it and asked Jiah to stay nishabd on the subject. But knowing fiery Jiah, she won’t keep mum and there could be another Khan vs. Khan battle on the cards. Shiney seeks divine help

Once touted as the next big superstar, Shiney Ahuja has found the going tough with no backing in the industry. He is currently banking on Har Pal with Preity Zinta and Hijack to bring him back into the horizon. And it looks like even Shiney knows he needs divine intervention to bail him out of his bad phase. Shiney is currently not signing films apparently at the behest of a family guru, who has asked him to go on a pilgrimage to seek blessings before taking up new work. Taking the guru’s word to heart, Shiney set out on a temple tourism expedition, a la the Bachchans. He has been seen hopping from one temple to another across the country. But Shiney has also managed to be discreet about the fact that he is fretting over his current box-office status. Even his wife Anu has kept away from the holy tour at the pretext that she’s looking after their baby daughter, but according to close friends, she doesn’t believe in all this and despite Shiney’s insistence, has preferred to stay at home. But the industry believes that if Shiney sorts out his attitude problems, it would be the answer to half his problems. Priyanka to turn producer

Priyanka Chopra is soon turning producer like many other actresses who are taking the baton in their hands. After Vidya Balan and Katrina Kaif, it is Priyanka’s turn to start producing films she believes in.ῠ Priyanka was apparently having long discussions with friend Karan Johar on the sets of soon-to-release Dostana about the nitty gritties of producing films and Karan has promised his complete support to her new ventures.

Although the thought is still in its nascent stages, Priyanka has started hunting for a suitable location for the office of her upcoming company. She is equally enthusiastic about a couple of scripts that were narrated to her but didn’t find any takers with producers in the past. She has summoned those young directors and writers to bring their projects out of the bins and start adding finishing touches to them.ῠ Her friends however, hope Priyanka is moving in the right direction, because post Love Story 2050, she sure needs damage control.

it’s all about work, chance and luck
 
By Vikram Bhatt

So Shah rukh Khan and Salman Khan have had a fight, well at least at the time of writing this piece and by the time you read it they might have even kissed and made up. but as I write this there is a war going on. The media loves it and the people love it.ῠ What better than two super stars slugging it out? One magazine even called me and asked me how this would affect the film industry. I thought for a moment and then could not think of one single way that it could.

They are not doing films together or are in business together. They have their own set of directors and banners. So where was the conflict? Sorry, no tragedy here and no loss to filmdom. It might be sad that they fought and all that but there is nothing that the collective will suffer for here.ῠ Tragedy is when great productive teams break up. That is a great loss.

Salman’s father Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar ruled the film industry with their gritty writing. They were the ones who put writers on a pedestal and rightfully so. Sholay, Deewar, Trishul to name just a few was surely part of cinema history and yet they parted ways. No one knows the real reason except for a few, I suppose, and yet this was a tragedy.

Not that they did not do good work after they parted ways. Salim Khan had Naam and Javed Akhtar had Betaab, Arjun and Dacait to name a few of their films but yet it was no Salim-Javed. More recently music composers Jatin and Lalit who I had worked with on my films Fareb and Ghulam parted ways.

Lalit worked with me on Life mein Kabhie Kabhiee and I did try to ask him once what went wrong between the brothers and what I got was a really lukewarm excuse of an answer, certainly not the true story but again such talent and such tragedy. This place is filled with such examples – people who do great work together and then go their separate ways for reasons best known to them or some that we may guess. I remember the time that Laxmikant-Pyarelal almost broke up their team. It was all over the media and the industry mourned and yet if I remember correctly it was Subhash Ghai who brought them together within days and did not allow the split. The industry owes him a huge one for that.

What makes these teams go their separate ways? It would be silly of me to guess because they might all have their reasons but the most common reason that I have seen is success.ῠ It might sound odd but success has one problem and the problem is called, a part of my homemade theory book, spotlight theory. The spotlight theory is that people feel that there is only place for one under the spotlight.

After the spotlight hits you, you want to elbow out the other person to be in that glow alone. I don’t mean to say that the teams I have mentioned here are a victim to this theory but I have seen enough here that are. I remember this one incident very clearly. I have mentioned Waman Bhonsle in a previous article. He was the most brilliant editor I have met. He was the editor to Gulzar, Boney Kapoor, Shekhar Kapur, Mukul Anand, Raj Khosla. The list is endless.

Prolific and brilliant, he worked in a team with his editor partner Guru Dutt Shirale and it was always Waman-Guru. Everyone in the industry saw Wamansaab, as I call him, toil away more than Guru.ῠ One day someone asked him if he felt like breaking away from Guru since he did all the work at which he smiled and said, “who knows, it might be my work and Guru’s luck!” I can never forget that because in a place where it is all about talent and chance, work and luck, we will never know who the top gun is really!

The Young Turks of cyberspace
 

ONCE YOU’RE LUCKY, TWICE YOU’RE GOOD:

The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0 By Sarah Lacy, Gotham Books, $26, pp 294

The drumroll leading up to the publication of Sarah Lacy’s book about the 20-something entrepreneurs who brought us such familiar websites as Facebook was certainly impressive. For months, Lacy demurred when asked to reveal the title yet talked up her project at every opportunity, causing the prepublication buzz in Silicon Valley to build. By golly, it was as if the author herself had created the next YouTube.

With the stance of an insider given unparalleled access to her subjects, the starry-eyed Lacy tells the stories of a half-dozen or so young entrepreneurs who started websites like Facebook and YouTube, all driven by user-generated content. Together, those sites created a post-Google version of the “participatory” Web known as Web 2.0. Lacy has chosen to include, among others, Mark Zuckerberg, the 24-year-old founder of Facebook, the wildly popular social-networking site; and Max Levchin, 33, a co-founder of PayPal, the online payment system that eBay bought in 2002.

This disjointed grab bag of gossip has its elucidating moments, but as the definitive tale of the rise of Web 2.0, Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good serves as a reminder that the latter-day equivalent of Tracy Kidder’s 1981 book, The Soul of a New Machine, the gold standard for technology nonfiction, has yet to be written. The title promises an incisive, illuminating examination of just what it is that engenders serial success. Indeed, Lacy delivers on that promise with her profile of Marc Andreessen, who helped build one of the first Web browsers and made millions with Netscape, the browser company. He then started a software company, which Hewlett-Packard bought last year for $1.6 billion. Now 37, he has Ning, a social-networking company for which he has high hopes. Lacy draws a fascinating portrait of Andreessen and his need not just to best himself but to equal the successes of his mentor, Jim Clark, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur who financed Netscape.

Otherwise, the title seems to bear little relevance to the book. For Lacy’s other subjects, repeated success has yet to be determined. For example, it is unclear whether Levchin’s new company, Slide, which makes “widgets” – small, single-purpose applications for websites like Facebook and MySpace – will end up making him more millions. And Mark Zuckerberg is still firmly entrenched in his first company. Yet Lacy seems hesitant to dwell on these points.

The writing is, at best, informal. For instance, the last time I checked the American Heritage Dictionary, in spite of how computer trade journalists might choose to use the word, “architect” was not recognised as a verb, to say nothing of “rearchitect.” And Lacy’s fifth-grade teacher would no doubt wince at the profusion of incomplete sentences. (“Probably a good thing few women work there.” And “The time Jay and Marc were chatting when Sumner Redstone sauntered up.”) Then again, everything happens so quickly in Silicon Valley that perhaps there is no time to write a proper sentence.

Some of the reporting is impressive in its sheer detail. Lacy obviously spent a great deal of time with these celebrated entrepreneurs. Her descriptions of their business meetings come complete with snatches of you-are-there dialogue, † la Bob Woodward. The reader also learns who wears boxers, who cuts his hair in a hip style and who shucked his nerd-wear in favour of jeans and Pumas.

But the details don’t add up to much. The reader hears a great deal about Levchin’s fear of swimming but surprisingly little about what has driven Levchin, who is from the former Soviet Union, to start companies. And rather than following a straight narrative arc, Lacy jumps from one story to another, then doubles back again – to confusing effect. Paradoxically, it is when Lacy gets impersonal, and dispenses with her name-dropping tone (she refers to Zuckerberg throughout as merely “Zuck”), that she is at her best. Her explanation of how venture capital works is instructive and clear, perhaps one of the best yet written for a general readership.

And she skilfully describes a tension intrinsic to the Web 2.0 world: thanks to low start-up costs, the newest entrepreneurs don’t need venture capitalists, and even view them with disdain for the role they play in diluting individual wealth. Yet Lacy offers vivid descriptions of meetings between entrepreneurs who eventually wind up strapped for cash and of the venture capitalists with the means to help.

A columnist for BusinessWeek.com and a co-host of Tech Ticker on Yahoo Finance, Lacy has a tendency to throw out numbers in too cavalier a fashion. For instance, she describes “the mighty $195 billion Google juggernaut” that bought YouTube in 2006.

Lacy’s book is an outgrowth of an article she wrote for Business Week in 2006. The unfortunate headline on the cover – “How This Kid Made $60 Million in 18 Months” – proved an embarrassment to the magazine. The cover photograph was of a young man sporting headphones, a T-shirt and a 5 o’clock shadow, smiling broadly and giving two thumbs up to the camera. It was Kevin Rose, who would become one of Lacy’s principal subjects in this book. Rose, 31, is a co-founder of Digg, a website that allows its users to collectively decide which news accounts on the Internet deserve top billing.

As it turns out, the $60 million referred to the estimated value of Rose’s stake in the company. He didn’t make 60 million of anything, and until the company is sold or goes public, the $60 million in question is as good as Monopoly money. One of these days, perhaps by the time Kevin Rose does indeed become wealthy, someone will write a richly textured book that chronicles with insight and acumen the rise of the most recent crop of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Sarah Lacy’s Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good is not that book.

‘I prefer reading intellectual books’
 
By Milind Soman

I am not a very devoted reader, but I read whenever I have time. Though my reading habit is totally dependent on free time, I manage to read almost 600 pages a week. I like reading fantasies or science fiction. I also like to read historical stuff. But I prefer reading books that are intellectual and stimulate me from within. Reading gives me a lot of perspective and insight into various aspects of life. It also gives me a general perception about the people I meet and a certain vision to approach them. Sometimes an experience attained by reading a book helps me take major decisions as well.ῠ Though I don’t have any favourite book in particular, Of Human Bondage by William Somerset Maugham is one of the books I like the most. It’s a fantastic book and very realistic in its approach.

My favourite authors are John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, Iain Menzies Banks, Isaac Asimov and Edgar Rice Burroughs. I like their writing because of their unbridled imagination. They have a certain understanding of human emotions. They also have a deep knowledge of social psychology. Being humane and practical in their approach, they have written masterpieces of literature. Reading these authors gives me immense satisfaction.

Worthy additions you will cherish
 
By Sunil K. Poolani

Since talking and cribbing about the foggy world of publishing week after week, I thought I should take a break – and, yes, you readers, too, would get a respite. So, this week I thought it is better to discuss some good books that haveῠ hit Indian bookstores recently. So here they go:

With the Tiger One who grew up with classic storytellers like Somerset Maugham, this impressive volume leads you on a trip down nostalgia lanes. For, With the Tiger (Harper Collins; Rs 295) is a graceful retelling of Maugham’s classic The Razor’s Edge. Where Baranay succeeds is the way she intersperses Maugham’s characters in Indian context with such brave and unwavering way, without losing the girth and grip of the narrative, cogitative most of the times. Baranay, as she admits, has followed Maugham’s structure exactly and named her characters for his. Brief: The charming young Larry (along with a host of other characters) returns as Australians; his life-altering occurrence is not as an underage enlistee in WWI, but during a teenage backpacking trip to India, where he converts himself into a mysterious hermit. A racy read, this is a worthy addition to your literary vocabulary.

Guardian of the Dawn Unlike any other year, the last two years have seen a gamut of historical novels set in India. After Rimi B. Chatterjee’s The City of Love, here comes Richard Zimler’s Guardian of the Dawn (Penguin Books; Rs 350), equally rich in talking about the atrocities and vengeance of colonial India. Zimler, nevertheless, takes a daring turn: he vivifies the Catholic Inquisition in Goa (we Indians, fearfully, never discussed this before, to remain politically correct), and how Hindus or immigrant Jews were strangled by executioners or burnt alive in public. Zimler presents a wide canvas of devotion and discrimination, peppered with lots of historical research and passion.

A veritable treat (the beginning may put many readers off, but as the novel progresses it becomes unputdownable), this novel is an enchanting and authoritative retelling of Othello. Zimler, an internationally-acclaimed author, has absolute command over the language which drags the readers into the realms of a barbaric system that we conveniently try to forget. Impressive.

Devil May Care: A James Bond Novel After Ian Fleming’s death, and when Hollywood is still regurgitating the Bond movies to charm the secret agent’s aficionados, Sebastian Faulks comes as a saviour to millions of Bond admirers across the world. Faulks, you will realise, is the best person, as you savour Devil May Care (Penguin India; Rs 395), to recreate the magic created by Fleming. One may argue why Faulks set the story of the present-day Bond (in this post 9/11 terror attack days) in the former USSR days. In this page-turner’s case the plot unfolds in the Cold War days.

But, as you would know most of the old Bond stories were set in the fifties, sixties and seventies – and Faulks, too, follows suit. Hello, there is nothing wrong in it, as one should realise Bond is not an evergreen hero, let alone immortal. To be frank, after a long time Devil May Care is one book that hooked me from page one. Seriously. And I get a feeling that Faulks, if he hones his skills further, which I am sure he will, can be a better writer than Fleming. Blasphemous it may sound, but it is the truth.

The writer is the publisher and managing editor, Frog Books, an imprint of Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd, Mumbai. Write to him at poolani@gmail.com

Sun, wine and dance in Auckland
 
Celeb Travel: Saif Ali Khan

Iῠ think when you are young you want to travel to the more happening places, the ones your friends tell you about or where all the buzz is. And I also think the meaning of travel changes at different times. If it means exploring the worldῠ in your youth, as you start growing up you understand yourself better during travels. That’s what my recent travels have done for me, and although I do visit all the happening and trendy places for film shoots and shows, there is always a place that calls out to you because you find yourself there. And for me that place is Auckland, a dream holiday destination as it has everything for everybody and yet, it is underrated as far as tourists are concerned, which in a way helps preserve its natural charm, and untainted beauty.

Auckland is a one of its kind geographical miracle, as the city is situated around 50 volcanoes, which are of course extinct but lend character to the city. Most people go to Auckland only when they have relatives living there or if they are in Australia and go to Auckland for the weekend or something. But I like going there for at least a week at a stretch if I have time. I usually rent a car for that duration and that is the best way to see the city, because it is not really known for its public transport and most locals have their own cars. Also it is a vast city and if you want to walk to the important sites, you end up losing a lot of time. Instead of hiring cars from rental services, look for locals renting out their cars during the season as that works out cheaper.

Auckland is an interesting mix of the old and the new world. The ancient Maori culture is preserved by the locals – try saying, ‘Kia Ora’, which means good day to a local and see their face light up. They instantly warm up to you.ῠ Waitakere ranges are the hidden treasure of Auckland, you just don’t expect to visit such beautiful ranges with stunning waterfalls, rugged treks in the heart of a big city. Not very far is Potiki, the area where you can get a taste of the Maori traditions, the war dance you see the Black caps perform before rugby matches can be seen done by kids in the neighbourhood. But it is advisable to have a local or a guide with you when you get into this district because the locals here might tend to keep a distance from you. If you are an adventure lover, take a jump from the sky tower and feel the adrenaline rush.

Everyone talks about the wine that the French or the Italians make. But try wine made here and take a ferry to Waiheke island close by. Spend the day soaking in the sun, and walking through the wineries, tasting some of the best wines in the world. A good evening can also be spent at the Caluzzi bar, where you can have a seven course meal while you watch floorshow and award winning acrobats perform Of course no trip to Auckland is complete without a ride up the imposing sky tower, one of the tallest buildings in the world. The view of the city from there is spectacular if you can be patient or beat the queues to get up there. If you are travelling with family, there are a few entertainment parks, which the kids will enjoy, or you could take them to the aquarium.

There are underwater tunnels, where you can see sharks swimming around you. If you have the time, take a trip to the museums, but do not miss the Saturday flea market. Also visit Made, the one of its kind supermall in the world that houses practically every clothing brand you can imagine, along with the couture of some of the local talents. The prices might be high but it’s worth every penny.ῠ But remember, do respect the traditions of the locals and don’t do or say anything inappropriate that might hurt someone.”

Echoes of Dharamsala
 
By Christine Pemberton

Last August, as I weepily counted down the days till my first fledgling flew the family nest, to go off to university in England, we received a message from a friend who works in Dharmsala. His Holiness the Dalai Lama would be in residence during the first three days of September. If we could be there during those exact days, we would be almost certain to get a few minutes alone with His Holiness.

There wasn’t even a moment’s hesitation. I stopped crying. Hari stopped excitedly packing, and the four of us drove all the way to Dharamsala through the fag end of the rains. As we drove up through the picturesque Kangra Valley, spirits soared, as we saw the famous railway, the picturesque station, and the ridiculously perfect views over lush valleys. Even the rains couldn’t dampen our spirits and we arrived in Dharamsala, feeling refreshed. The little town was damp and wreathed in cool mist, and crowded with Tibetans and foreigners alike, who had gathered to hear His Holiness preach.

We explored the main sights of Dharamsala, including the cemetery of St. John in the Wilderness, where the second British Viceroy, Lord Elgin, is buried. We wandered up and down the narrow, crowded streets, which were full of pilgrims who had come to attend the Dalai Lama’s sermons.

We went through several efficient, but extremely courteous and friendly security checks, and suddenly there we were, inside the compound. We would meet His Holiness just for a short time, we were told, when he walked from his home back to the hall where he was giving his discourses. Despite the friendliness of everyone around us, we all admitted later to feeling a little nervous. There were the four of us, two Singaporean Chinese and a young French man who was hitch-hiking around the world. Thrilled to hear us speaking French, the young man asked me to take a photo of him with His Holiness. Yes, I replied, just so long as you take ours. Avec plaisir, Ludovic agreed.

His Holiness’ ADC came to meet and brief us. We were to stand here, Ludovic was to stand there, and the two Singaporeans over there. His Holiness would stop and talk to us first, then Ludovic, and then the Singaporeans, who were busy lighting incense sticks. Suddenly there was a frisson of excitement, and a small group of people walked down the path towards us. First came armed policemen, looking rather incongruous amidst all the Buddhist robes; then a group of monks; then the tall, elegant ADC, and there was His Holiness, instantly recognisable and with his trademark beaming smile.

The Dalai Lama greeted us with the same huge smile that you see on every picture of him.ῠ The ADC explained who we were, and then we chatted for a few, precious moments. I told him I had just come back from Tibet and His Holiness asked what I had thought about his country. Beautiful, I replied, and was rewarded with another beaming smile. He then held my hand for the photo, and after a last smile, moved on down the receiving line.

We compared notes afterwards, and everyone – cynical teenagers included – said they were on a high, and we all agreed when my husband said that there was most definitely an aura surrounding His Holiness. The joy and euphoria of those few precious moments stayed with us during the long drive back to Delhi. Hours into the long wet drive back to Delhi, my daughter said “Mum, I still feel all happy and excited inside.”

Those few minutes of peace and blessing were beyond special. They were inspirational.ῠ And if you have to let your child fly the family nest, what better way than with the blessings of the Dalai Lama?

 

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