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Gimik Buka Butang Seluar

7 Apr


KONTROVERSI. Twinkle sedang membuka butang seluar Akshay.

AKTOR Bollywood seperti Salman Khan cukup terkenal dengan gimik membuka butang baju di khalayak umum seperti di pentas persembahan, namun aktor nombor satu Bollywood saat ini, Akshay Kumar nampaknya cuba membuat kelainan dengan membuka butang seluar pula.

Bakal muncul menerusi filem terbaru lakonannya 8×10 Tasveer, Akshay membuat kejutan pada pertunjukan fesyen seluar jean jenama tersohor, Levi’s yang diadakan bersempena Minggu Fesyen Lakme di Mumbai baru-baru ini.

Akshay yang mengayakan jean tersebut di pentas, kemudian turun dan menuju kepada isterinya, aktres Twinkle Khanna yang berada di barisan penonton, sebelum Twinkle kemudian membuka butang seluar jean yang disarung Akshay ketika itu.


AKSHAY KUMAR bergaya dalam iklan Levi’s Unbuttoned bersama seorang model perempuan.

Akshay yang sebelum ini banyak membuka baju menerusi filem-filem lakonannya baru sahaja dilantik sebagai model jean Levi’s dan telah muncul dalam iklan jenama tersebut dengan membuka baju dan aksi yang agak mengghairahkan bersama seorang model perempuan.

Rentetan itu pihak polis Mumbai telah memfailkan kes tersebut terhadap Akshay, Twinkle dan penganjur majlis tersebut selepas aduan dibuat atas dasar ia adalah suatu perbuatan lucah yang dilakukan di tempat terbuka.

Sebelum isu yang telah menjadi kes polis mencecah ke tahap lebih serius mari kita lihat apa pandangan beberapa individu yang terbabit dengan pertunjukan fesyen yang membabitkan Akshay itu.

Kosmo

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

Gaga Over Yoga

24 Aug

Gaga over yoga
 

One of India’s greatest contributions to the world is yoga. And in this new age of fitness, the ancient science of yoga has kept pace with time with its new and unique avatars like Dance Yoga, Face Yoga, Power Yoga and, believe it or not, Naked Yoga.

Attempting to combine the best of both worlds, these variants are breathing new life into an otherwise commonplace and all-too-familiar milieu of the world’s oldest discipline.

Among the latest of entrants to the new age yoga scene is facial or Face Yoga, which has literally converted botox believers into yoga disciples. Face Yoga is now being touted as a way to attain the fountain of youth (at least when it comes to the face). The methodology involves specific exercises tailor-made for the face, which involves relaxation and stress busting routines. These procedures are said to be very helpful in fighting wrinkles and thereby defying age.

YogaLife at Defense Colony, New Delhi, is a place where one can undergo a specialised course in Facial Yoga. Apart from this, there are world-renowned practitioners like Madhavi Padhy, a former consultant in stress management and yoga for the United Nations, who conducts private classes both in India and Singapore. And devoted fans of this technique comprise big Hollywood names like Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston and Victoria ‘Posh’ Beckham.

Speaking about Face Yoga, actress Shriya Saran says, “In today’s world, all you need to do is attach beauty to a product and you know it will sell. I personally don’t believe that you need to do Face Yoga in order to look beautiful. Even a normal session of yogasanas can help you achieve that inner glow.” She adds, “I have been practising yoga for quite some time now. I haven’t opted for any new age course, but I stick to my regular Surya Namaskar asana. I strongly believe that in these stressful times, one needs to have an outlet to relax and meditate and yoga helps in that. It’s also a health investment of sorts as it’s one exercise you can do at any age, unlike the gyms where you can’t pump iron after 70.”

While some forms are more popular in the western world, there are those whose seeds were sown in the very soil of the country. Consider the case of Dr Neelam Verma, a yoga practitioner based in New Delhi, who runs an institute called Cosmic Rhythms. Her speciality is Dance or Natya Yoga, which is basically an amalgamation of Kathak and Yoga. Elaborating on it, she says, “The breathing routines in the dance form are akin to those you would undergo in a fitness class. My style involves incorporating Sanskrit mantras and songs into Kathak dance moves.”

Bollywood starlet and Big Brother winner Shilpa Shetty, who arguably boasts of one of the most lithe and lean bodies in the Indian film industry, recently launched her yoga DVD in India. Titled Shilpa’s Yoga, the video is shot against the picturesque backdrop of Kerala where Shilpa demonstrates simple and easy to follow techniques that according to her can help one look beautiful from both inside and outside.

Speaking about the impact her DVD made in the overseas market, Shilpa says, “It was phenomenal the way Britons and foreigners lapped up the DVD on its international release. Due to the efforts of people like Baba Ramdev, millions in the western world have developed a respect for and an interest in yoga. In fact, I feel privileged to be in the legion of those who have actually helped yoga become a household name.”

Talking about the impact of yoga on her life, the actress said, “It’s a management system for life and it is the most holistic approach to life that I have ever come across. It works on body, mind and soul by strengthening, toning and curing from within. Yoga has had a spectacular impact on my life.”

Dr Ganesh Mohan, son of A.G. Mohan (who was a disciple of T. Krishnamacharya for 18 years) and a practitioner of traditional yoga exercises says, “In my opinion, the pervading trend these days is understanding the limitations of one’s discipline, seeing a potential strength or benefits in yoga and then combining them both to cater to a certain target group.” He adds, “One of the new variations in yoga is combining yoga with martial arts. It is similar to Tai Chi to the extent that both disciplines have breathing exercises done in a standing pose.”

Apart from this there is also Power Yoga, a rigorous workout routine modelled on the basics of Ashtanga Yoga. This routine is also known to have made yoga popular in gyms in the Western world. It’s also a favourite among celebs like Sameera Reddy and Madonna. However, unlike the original, Power Yoga is focused more on attaining strength and flexibility.

For those looking forward to indulging in a therapeutic retreat of sorts, there are places like Purple Valley Yoga Retreat in Goa. Similarly, Bharat Thakur, a celebrity guru in his own right and husband of actress Bhumika Chawla, runs a company called Artistic Yoga which conducts workshops, group and private classes for hi-profile corporate clients and high fliers. He conducts his sessions at yoga studios in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Moscow and Dubai, and his clients comprise actors Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif.

From the time The Beatles took that one big step which embedded eastern spirituality in a typically western consciousness, the image of yoga changed forever; transforming its appeal from being merely a new-fangled, exotic form of meditation to the larger, multi-ethnic, culturally inclusive context of a different lifestyle altogether. With international proponents ranging from rockstars like Sting and Carlos Santana to Hollywood beauties like Eva Longoria and Nicole Kidman, yoga has found a voice that is echoed by millions across the world, choosing to take a road whose foundation stones were laid more than 2,000 years ago.

Of course, there are also controversial variations to the world’s oldest form of meditation, something that is now gaining popularity in the western world: Naked Yoga. It is believed that the form originated in New York City in the late 90’s when a US national who was rather conspicuously named Jayadev, founded a group called Midnight Yoga for Men. The speciality of this group was a ritualistic naked practice of yoga in the presence of the infinite, akin to the Naga sadhus of India. However, later imitators of the all-male naked yogis got unwillingly associated with the gay community. And many were only too eager to jump onto the yoga bandwagon.

Practitioner Neelam’s programmes are tailor-made to the requirement of an individual – from a basic two-day introductory programme to a three-month long course (which costs Rs 1,000 per class). Narrating her experiences about how she developed the discipline, Neelam says, “As part of my research in medicine, I came across several young professionals suffering from a similar set of ailments – heart diseases, blood pressure, sleep deprivation and hypertension. That’s when I was struck by an out-of-the-blue idea of combining my knowledge of dance with yoga to come up with a new concoction of therapy. I have a yoga studio where I conduct my classes and I have also come up with a Vedic Gram, which is built on an area of about 50 acres in Gurgaon. It’s a natural environment where people can come to get rejuvenated by dance yoga. It should be fully operational by October or so.”

Whenever an art is adapted for a different target group, changes are inevitable. Twenty years ago yoga belonged to the category of an ancient science, now it is considered trendy. And with its new avatars gaining popularity, yoga is on a roll.

FORMS OF YOGA, AND CELEBS WHO SWEAR BY THEM

Power Yoga: A series of poses in rapid succession. (Sameera Reddy, Sting, Madonna, Woody Harrelson, Willem DaFoe)

Facial Yoga: A series of exercise for your facial muscles to make your face look taut, radiant and beautiful. (Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, Victoria ‘Posh’ Beckham) Oneness Yoga: Based on the principal of oneness of the individual with the universe. (Shilpa Shetty, Richard Gere, Manisha Koirala Gerard Butler (of 300 fame), Uma Thurman)

Bikram Yoga: Known as Hot Yoga, practised in a heated room, to clean toxins. (Kareena Kapoor)

Ashtanga Yoga: Fast, intense, physically demanding, requires rapid movement from one asana to the other.

Small symbols hold big truths
 

The setting sun cast its orange hues across the sky as I strolled back from an evening walk. My steps moved forward, crushing the dried leaves under them as I soaked in the ambience of the evening, a beauty at once both peaceful and sombre. Awakened from the flight of thoughts by the beep of an SMS from my daughter, I found that the message was brief but explicit: a heart pierced by an arrow.

I found myself smiling at the intensity of feelings of my little one who was not so little anymore but a full fledged woman in her own right. Life seemed to have crashed to a dead end as a relationship headed towards its inevitable culmination. Was this her second? Or if you counted the crush in primary school, probably the third? And yet deep within I felt the pain of the soul thirsting for its own homing. The fleeting involvements of the youth may appear so superfluous, and yet reflect a yearning universal to the human heart – of discovering and uniting with its other half. As I turned the key to the front door of my house, the sun set signalling the end of one more day.

Life would be dreary and colourless if the material world with its kaleidoscopic images did not connect one to the profound insights of the soul. Dessicated would be a mind which on registering a fragilely beautiful butterfly did not remember the transience of life. The human individual has a range within which he perceives the outer world. However, there are higher truths the eyes cannot see nor the hands touch (normally that is).

Expression being our innate nature, the human psyche unravels and intelligently uses some signs, pictures, sounds which go beyond representing the surface truth to a deeper, sometimes difficult to logically grasp, reality. Such an instrument of consciousness is called a symbol and has continued

to fascinate the doctors of the mind and healers of the soul.

A symbol is a sign, picture or word which represents more than the obvious and literal meaning to suggest a connotation which is not so apparent. For instance, a plus sign signifies addition. Consciously it has been utilised by the mathematician, the physicist and the astrologer to convey scientific and mystical formulae.

Despite the rich diversity of human expression, stripped of externals the human heart is strangely universal. At its core is a longing for a love which embraces and an identity which includes all.

Religion the world over is the endeavour of the human heart to assuage its mortal loneliness and the human mind to make the ever exciting discovery of its true identity – Who really am I? Just a spark of life which will be extinguished one day, or a flame which will live forever? In this quest we have been aided by religious symbols, some shared and some specific.

A cross brings to mind the suffering of Christ which continues to redeem us. But a cross as a symbol is the amalgam of material and spiritual which entail unavoidable suffering. It is easier to renounce than to strive for perfection in the face of heartbreaks, bereavements and the ironical quirks of life we call injustice.

Similar is the significance of the lotus. The swamp that the lotus is anchored in is the strife and challenge of daily life. The lotus grows valiantly towards the sun and is the most beautiful flower despite its dirty abode. The lotus is exceptional since it is one flower which bears the fruit and the seed simultaneously, signifying that every cause has lurking in itself the inevitable effect and that every event vibrates with the energy of the original cause. (In fact, Mira Alfasa, the Mother of Pondicherry, has done a whole thesis on a wide variety of flowers and their deep and hidden significance.)

The swastika, an extension of the cross, has been used to denote the cardinal directions and solar power. In Sanskrit the word swastik is split into 2 parts: su meaning well, and asti meaning to be.

It is used as a symbol of elephant-headed Ganesha, each portion of whose resplendent form has a meaning. The huge head of Ganpati is for the complex cerebral cortex of the evolved human and his sharp intellect. The trunk represents our skill at the grossest to most subtle and refined tasks. The small eyes stand for penetrating insight and the large ears for being a good listener. The pendulous abdomen of Ganesha is for keeping confidences and successfully assimilating the good and sorrowful experiences of life. The one intact tooth (the other being broken and missing) causes him to be called Ekadanta (the single-toothed one), the meaning conveyed being one who is not swayed by the opposites – praise and censure, prosperity and decline, birth and death.

The swastika is an emblem of auspiciousness or kalyan, as also is Ganesha who represents the contemporary enlightened individual, the new-age sage who is simultaneously capable of upmarket strategies as well as diving within in meditation.

The parents of Ganesha are Shiva (symbolises Supreme Consciousness) and Shakti (Supreme Power) whose union creates Ganesha (the wisdom to overcome obstacles). The lingam, the most widely used symbol of the attributeless Absolute Shiva, is a word which itself translates as ‘sign’ or ‘symbol’. Worship of the lingam which has its lower portion fixed in the yoni (symbolic of the changing manifestations of the static eternal reality) is said to untie the knots of all accumulated causes and liberate one from samsara (never ending round of birth and death).

In fact the art and science of tantra (meaning expansion of the mind to liberate it) considers the human body as a temple of the divine, with the soul being Shiva or supreme awareness, Parvati being the buddhi (discriminatory intelligence), the vital life force and its divisions being the attendants of the cosmic couple. By adorning herself with the red bindi or dot on her forehead, the lady of the house carries a subtle reminder that she is a reflection of the Shakti she worships. On the other hand, a man wears a tripundara tilak which consists of three lines and a bindi/dot. The three lines are indicative of the three fundamental qualities of nature/a human being -tamas (that which veils the luminosity within), sattva (that which reveals it) and rajas (the force by which they act on each other).

Simple rituals at the time of worship are means for purifying the element represented, eg. offering sweets purifies and energises the earth within us, water serves to cleanse and raise emotions, the diya or lamp signifies our undying aspiration to journey from perfection to greater perfection, the sound of the conch connects us to the ether within and without, whereas the fragrance of the incense activates the air or vayu tattva. Bhasma or ash applied on the third eye serves as a reminder that one is not the body which ages, decays and dies but the unborn, perennial consciousness which dons one garment (body) after another.

A particular aspect of tantra is also the sensuality of the act of physicality becoming the object of dhyana for a man and a woman and an expedient means for their liberation.

Thus symbols are the keys to the mysteries of the unfathomable spirit, the beauty of the finer layers of the mind and powers of the multi-faceted energy of the universe. Rituals are symbols which bridge the gap between man and the perfection within, which he conceives of as God. If God is a concept or symbol created by the human mind to grasp the elusive Truth of existence, all that we see in the universe including the sun, the stars, the little creatures and the powerful giants are all symbols of That which caused it all!

A symbol can silence the human mind till it looks back to suddenly realise that it is that which it was looking for, all this while.

The writer is a psycho-spiritual counsellor, alternate therapist, medical specialist and pathologist

‘Vipassana set me free, made me fearless’
 

Few books had a tremendous impact on me and got me closer to the presence of divinity. Like the Autobiography of a Yogi, Living with the Himalayan Masters, Touched by Fire, the Vedanta Treatise, the Gita, and many other works and writings of Sri Aurobindo, The Mother, Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda and Swami Chinmayananda, to name a few. Spiritual discourses by learned teachers, directly or through the recorded audio route always leave me seeking for more.

But a 10-day Vipassana meditation course taught by my teacher Shri S.N. Goenkaji left a great impression on my mind. It was in 1999 when I was the joint commissioner, Police Training, in Delhi Police. I had seen a positive effect of these courses on prisoners and the staff when I was with the Tihar jail. Whoever did the course changed for the better in innumerable ways. All this while, I was only inspiring people to do the course, and this was the first time that I personally went for it.

I so wanted to go for it. And most of all, I wanted the cops to do it too. And without my doing it they would not have done it. It would have been one more forced order. And this one had to be voluntary. My doing it made them curious. Hence they followed. The 10 days of total silence, no reading, no writing, no talking, no viewing of the television, no visitors, no external communication was amazing and unbelievable.

It was all about self-observation during those 10 days. All the traffic of thoughts, which were constantly travelling in my mind, were controlled. All that I clung to was observed. All that angered me was realised. All that I thought I could never be without was experienced and observed. All the people I resented, surfaced and faded into oblivion.

I could get up by four in the morning absolutely fresh and sleep at night meditating, observing body sensations. The discourses given by my teacher were life altering. I learnt about the fundamentals of life and the inviolable laws of nature. I saw how we burn our energy wastefully clinging on to temporary issues, how we continue to live in the past and make the present also the past. This course made me move on. It truly set me free. It made me fearless. I completed the course with the clarity of thoughts. I could now regulate and direct my mental traffic. I was trained to observe its flow and channel it. Then, I started valuing silence. I learnt to listen to myself more. Even my silence spoke. I could see things more dispassionately. I became more forgiving. It raised my internal levels of peace. Most of all, it made me more detached.

As told to Shruti Badyal

Krishna is all for dancing, singing
 

Krishna is utterly incomparable, he is so unique. Firstly, his uniqueness lies in the fact that although Krishna happened in the ancient past he is really of the future. Man has yet to grow to that height where he can be a contemporary of Krishna’s. He is still beyond man’s understanding; he continues to puzzle and baffle us. In the background of serious and sad religions of the past it is Krishna alone who comes dancing, singing and laughing.

A religion accepting life is yet to be born

Religions of the past were all life-denying and masochistic, extolling sorrow and suffering as great virtues. A laughing religion, a religion that accepts life in its totality is yet to be born. Every religion, up to now, has divided life into two parts, and while they accept one part they deny the other, Krishna alone accepts the whole of life. That is why India held him to be a perfect incarnation of God, while all other incarnations were assessed as imperfect and incomplete. And there is a reason for saying so. The reason is that Krishna has accepted and absorbed everything that life is.

The juice of life is in the body

But it was unfortunate that we did not allow Krishna to influence our life in a broad way. He remains a lonely dancing island in the vast ocean of sorrow and misery that is our life.

Up to now, man’s mind has thought of and looked at life in fragments – and thought dialectically. The religious man denies the body and accepts the soul. And what is worse, he creates a conflict, a dichotomy between the body and spirit. He denies this world, he accepts the other world, and thus creates a state of hostility between the two. Naturally our life is going to be sad and miserable if we deny the body, because all our life’s juice – its health and vitality, its sensitivities and beauty, all its music – has its source in the body.

Krishna accepts total life

Krishna alone accepts the body in its totality. And he accepts it not in any selected dimension but in all its dimensions. Krishna has a great future. Krishna alone seems to be relevant to the new awareness, to the new understanding that came to man in the wake of Freud and his findings. After Freud the world of religion is not going to be the same as it was before him. It is so because in the whole history of the old humanity Krishna alone is against repression. He accepts life in all its facets, in all its climates and colours.

Courtesy Osho International Foundation/www.osho.com

Life with Kishore Kumar
 

More than 20 years have passed after legendary singer Kishore Kumar died. But his golden voice is still with us, reverberating down the corridors of time. A new generation has ecstatically rediscovered him. Recently, on the occasion of his 79th birth anniversary, his widow Leena Chandavarkar announced his biopic, to be directed by Shoojit Sarkar in collaboration with UTV. Later she shared vignettes of her life with the eccentric and lovable Kishoreda.

On Kishore’s marriages Well, he was like a child at heart. He always took life very easily. His only legal and planned marriage was to me. The rest were impulsive acts. When he got married to Ruma Guha, his brother Ashok Kumar asked him about it. Kishore quipped: “I just got it registered in the court.”

When he proposed to me, I was going through a hard time myself. My first husband had died and I was very depressed. Kishore was then making a movie called Ajnabee. He called me up and told me he wanted to cast me opposite him. I first said no. Then he told me in a poetic way – Hamaari yeh zid hai ki hum tumhe zaroor payenge (I am adamant that I will have you). I just laughed at this.

A month later, when I finally called him, he just picked the phone up and said, “Yes, Leena, tell me.” I was very surprised. I asked him how he knew it was me on the line and he said, “As soon as the phone rang my heart told me it was you.”

One fine day, I accepted his proposal. He forced me to come out of my depression, forget the past and move on with my life. I now realise that he was so right in the way he handled things. He didn’t waste his energy on things that didn’t matter. He always took life as it came.

His eccentricities

I remember one day our bungalow was raided by income tax officials. I was so worried. But Kishore was busy singing. He had a shower and went straight to the puja room. Then he came out of there and went looking for the IT officials. The officials were sitting outside. He told them, “Why don’t you check the third tile? Why don’t you dig here? I have hidden a treasure down here.” After some time he took them to the garden and started pointing at a tree and said, “Look there is a big hole in the tree. That is where I have hoarded loot. In fact, the winter birds made it their nest.” I wasn’t in a mood for jokes and so I yelled at him and asked him how he could make jokes at such a time. The worst part was that the IT officials took him seriously.

His confidence

I would sometimes jokingly tell him that he was not a good singer and would be forgotten as time passes. “Time and tide wait for no one,” I would say, “With new entrants in the music world you will be gone and forgotten.” Then he said, “Singers will come and go. But one thing I know is that my fans will always remember me and even the coming generations will know who I was. I will not be forgotten even after I am gone.”

How right he was! Whatever he did, he did with a clear conscience. He was so like a child – so simple and so appealing and charming. I wish he was still here with us.

On his divorces

Well, Ruma Guha didn’t ditch him as is generally believed. It was in his destiny to marry four women. No one person is ever at fault when a relationship fails. It takes two to tango.

The legendary miser

Kishore enjoyed spreading stories about himself. He would tell everyone, “I am a miser and I am mad too.” People took him seriously and started spreading these stories. But contrary to his image, he was actually a spendthrift. He liked to spend money on others. He couldn’t see anyone suffering. In his biopic, we will try to show his real self – good and bad

As told to Lipika Varma

A Sporting Life
 

Hearing the Indian national anthem in an Olympic stadium after 28 years, I was transported to a future Olympics, when I would be amongst many hundred Indian fathers applauding our children winning medals for India.

Growing up in a familial environment exposed to diverse sports, I too nurtured sporting dreams, but in a socialist India some decades ago such spirit was incongruent with opportunity, unless you were in the army or a government undertaking.

My earliest experiences of sport were watching my mother coach the erstwhile Mysore basketball team to victory from atop Dad’s shoulders, then aged 5 being dispatched into the depths of the Dhakuria Lakes in Calcutta – by a lifeguard, serving as my aquatic initiation.

Rishabh and Ahan, my sons now ten and nearly nine, enjoyed a comparatively benign baptism aged 18 months, cradled in my palms across a clear swimming pool. Aged four, they were cycling round the block and a year later collecting cardboard ‘golds’ for athletics at school.

Having learned more about teamwork, camaraderie, competition and failure from the sports arena than the classroom, I was resolute in sharing with my lads the experience of sport.

Discovering a new sport continues every summer. Rishabh’s overconfidence has met with comeuppance; playing with 40 aggressive children fighting for a football transformed his attitude when learning cricket. Ahan’s reticence while learning basketball conceded to brimming confidence under the guidance of a paternal hockey coach.

Some years earlier, touching 40, I embarked on a journey of mind and body, learning Kalaripayattu – the ancient martial art – that young boys in Kerala start at 7. During my first weeks of training, my bones crackled like a bamboo grove in a storm, and I discovered muscles and parts of the anatomy through aches and pains. Ofcourse I wanted to throw in the towel on a daily basis but the battlefield expertise of Kalaripayattu instilled a mental toughness.

Training under Nisha Millet converted swimming for fun into a passion for my sons. Simultaneously, they were introduced to Kalaripayattu – protesting in contrast – unable to understand the intangibles of the torturous learning curve. With practice is revealed the importance of focus to confront the challenges and solitude of competition.

The hunger to push the performance envelope in the swimming pool whetted by a voracious appetite for competition fuel their training at an aquatic centre of Olympic excellence in Basavangudi. A partnership of parents, government and the private sector makes striving for Olympics 2016 a dreamable dream.

What might seem an unorthodox approach is actually returning to the psycho-physiological regimen devised by the Dronacharyas of yore to produce Arjunas and Eklayvas.

The ‘spin off’ is in academics with more learning achieved in less time affording the boys more time for recreation. Term exams or not, they find time to swim, cycle and play a game of pool with each other, since their friends are quarantined in study.

For our national anthem to resonate alternately with China’s in every stadium by 2020, we have to rehabilitate our traditional psycho-physiological knowledge from obscurity into our education syllabus. Our children need parks not malls; we have to metamorphose from a country of crabs and forge a national character of impeccable quality to distil five hundred of the finest for Olympics 2020. Sport cannot be reduced to a means to obtain a college admission or access job quotas but considered a reputable profession.

You can mail your responses to ranjan.kamath@ gmail.com

Who talks more? Why men and women are lost in translation
 

She talks too much!” is apparently the reason George Clooney gave the world for dumping his waitress-turned-model girlfriend Sarah Larson. And while women are generally blamed for jabbering on too long and too loud about nothing much at all, apparently it’s not our fault either.

Instead it’s all in our DNA. If only we could keep our chit-chat under stricter control, perhaps the men wouldn’t be scared away faster, and we could tell them about our new diet or latest bout of bowel movements.

Scientists have often proved what we’ve long suspected – that women talk a whopping amount more than men chalking up 20,000 words a day, while men utter just 7000.

Yet, if we look at the facts, the consensus is out on who talks more as the numbers seem to differ everywhere you look. Dr Scott Haltzman says women use about 7000 words a day and men use about 2000. Ruth E. Masters reckons women use 25,000 words per day while men use 12,000. And James Dobson says that “God gives a woman 50,000 words a day, while her husband only gets 25,000”!

Either way, we speak more quickly, more animatedly and more nonsensically than the blokes. In order to discover why we love speaking so darn much, I decided to consult body language expert Allan Pease, author of Why Men Don’t Listen And Women Cant Read Maps, who says that it’s because our brains are hardwired differently to a man’s that makes us light up with the prospect of getting to jabber.

“At the end of a day full of problems, a man’s mono-tracking brain can file them all away,” Pease explains. The female brain does not store information in this way – the problems just keep going around and around in her head.”

Hence the only way to stop this buzzing in our brains is to spill it all out. When we do talk, a rush of serotonin fills our brains, giving us emotions akin to what a heroin addict would feel on a high. (No wonder we like to do it so much!) And yet, as Pease notes, when we do talk at the end of our day, it’s not to find solutions but it’s to discharge the problems. Hence making no sense to the men whatsoever. The trouble, as Christo, a radio presenter, so aptly puts it, is that we talk so much that men have stopped listening.

“Most men just say ‘yes’ and nod a whole lot to whatever you’re saying and pretend like they’re listening,” he says. “I call it being ‘mensitive’; sensitive in a manly way without actually being too sensitive. The best part is women are none the wiser; they just continue to talk.” But not listening to us is not the man’s fault either. Dr Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain, explains that testosterone reduces the size of the section of their brain involved in hearing – allowing men to become “deaf” to their wives and girlfriends. And while they’re busy nodding their heads without listening to a word we’re harping on about, they’re doing something far more important: thinking about sex. So what’s the solution? How do we get men to listen to us? By using the KISS principal. Of course actually kissing them, instead of talking, would solve all our woes, but the old “Keep It Simple Stupid” will do wonders. Keeping it simple, getting to the point and avoiding long-winded tales (unless we make it funny and visually pleasing) and not talking to him when he’s watching TV, playing X-Box or having beers with his best mate.

Oh, and never try to talk to him after sex either. Because while it might be the one time he’s not actually thinking about it, he’s going to be dozed off before you can ever get to the point of the story …

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

Sexist, yet a must watch
 

We have all heard the phrase ‘Everything is fair in love and war’. But it seems like the popular music channel – MTV has taken it a bit too seriously with its new weekend soap Splitsvilla, where love is war. The name itself gives you an insight into the kind of show that it is. To explain it briefly, there are 20 girls who have to perform tasks to impress the two guys, so that they are not ‘dumped’ that week. The show started off with the intention of having two girls winning and getting the prize money of 2.5 lakhs each and the chance to host a show on MTv, as a couple, with the guy who picked them.

But due to the response that the extremely male chauvinist setting generated, the producers of Splitsvilla had no choice but to modify the rules to have only one winning girl who gets to choose which guy will win. This show has become a rage with the younger generation today. You love or you hate it – but you just can’t ignore it.

My first impression of the show was that it was the most sexist show on national television. I mean, whatever happened to the integrity and self respect of women? How could they reduce themselves to such a level? And how can any of the girls and guys actually fall in love in this setting of deception and plotting? But on the other hand, I must admit that after catching a few episodes of the show, I too found it hugely entertaining. The tasks that the girls have to perform, which could range from rock climbing to a sensuous dance, mud wrestling to a bikini photoshoot, whatever it is, they always manage to make it interesting.

The ‘Dumping Zone’ is where the weakest girls every week are put. They then get a ‘second chance’ to go on a date with the guys and convince them not to vote them out. And every week one girl or two girls are dumped (which I think is an extremely demeaning word to use) and leave the show, gradually reducing the number until only one girl is left.

As far as I can see, the girls don’t care about the love aspect of the show anymore. What started out as a fight for love has become a craze for money, lust and fame. But the extreme rivalry between the girls often takes the tasks to a new level all together, having them physically, emotionally and verbally stripping each other. And girls being girls, the plotting, groupism and bitchiness was bound to happen.

So all in all, the show is an entertainer, which has been successful in its mission to get us youngsters hooked on to it. Raghu Ram, the mastermind behind this show, certainly has his formula for a good show right. But what really needs to be questioned is that is this show having a bad influence on the youth of today, with its theme of disloyalty, mistrust, plotting, meanness and sometimes physical violence, the obvious answer is yes. This season of the show has almost come to an end with only three weeks of it left to air. But I am sure they will be back soon with the season two – bitchier, meaner and tougher. So finally, even though I do consider the show to be demeaning to women, I just can’t help but enjoy it.

(The writer is a teenager)

How to catch a confirmed bachelor
 

Confirmed bachelor: one who has sworn to remain free of the ball and chain of the “evil fiend” woman. By the time he had reached the age of 20, Raghava was sure he would remain single for life. In his mind, women were trouble and girlfriends the stuff of immature teenagers who could afford to waste their time fighting about forgotten birthdays and un-returned phone calls. Sour grapes?

So every time he met a girl, whether or not she might have been girlfriend material, Raghava relegated her to his ever-growing list of Rakhi sisters. The very first time I met Raghava, I was just about to start 9th grade, and I decided immediately after meeting him he was the type of guy that might some day make good boyfriend material for some girl (you might wonder whether I’m kicking myself now and wishing I had known better.)

Considering the awkwardness of most teenage boys, I was very impressed with the fact that he had actual social skills. Wow! Here was a boy my age who could talk to a girl, and that too, a strange girl, without mumbling, fumbling, or trying to act cool. Unfortunately for Raghava, when I met him later on in New York City, I decided that it was time for me to put his boyfriend-worthiness to the test.

Instinctively, I was sure I could catch this confirmed bachelor. I understood his psychology perfectly. I just needed to start slowly. You may wonder how I convinced Raghava that having a girlfriend was not the end of life as he knew it. I discovered that the trick was to make him so utterly dependent that he didn’t even know where his wallet and cellphone were. Unfortunately, I was so successful with my bright idea that I’m stuck with the job of being the money-carrier, cellphone carrier, passport carrier. No cute tiny purse for me. Bring on the backpacks and shoulder bags.

And so our adventure began. Somehow, I extracted a promise out of poor Raghava that he would spend as much time as possible in the US, literally move his base there, until I finished my undergraduate degree four years later. As a little treat, I promised that all holidays, no matter how short, would be spent in Bangalore. Lucky for him, I fell in love with the place in a matter of minutes.

The ultimate transformation had occurred. The confirmed bachelor was no longer a bachelor. In fact, he took to domestication beautifully – he was cooking, entertaining, and running one of the cleanest houses I’ve ever seen. In fact, he instituted mandatory spring-cleaning sessions every weekend throughout the fall, summer, and winter too and forced me to join him in drudging around with mop and broom.

He sometimes reminds me that he thought he’d be a bachelor his whole life. And I remind him how lucky he is that I snatched him from between the jaws of pathetic boredom.

Designer’s studio
 

Our best photoshoot was at Neemrana fort palace in Alwar, Rajasthan with model Simar Duggal. The reason we chose Neemrana fort was because it was very regal and at the same time showed the spirit of Rajasthan magnificently. Photographer Akhil Bakshi shot these pictures in 1997. The collection has Rajasthan as the theme. The garments we designed for this collection were very ethnic and celebrated the heritage of Rajasthan. The lehengas had beautiful threadwork with embellishments like pearls and mirrors. The dresses were very colourful and we teamed them up with beautiful Indian jewellery. The makeup was kept subtle and Simar looked pretty in the Indian dresses and posed exactly the way photographer asked her.

For this particular collection, we chose the vibrant colours of the desert and blended it with gold to give it a very royal look. We stayed there for two days and waited for sunset and sunrise to shoot the pictures. The photographer did a wonderful job and played with the natural light beautifully. All the pictures turned out very well and this collection was a big hit.

Woes of the AV Servicing Industry
 
By Naresh Sadhwani and Deepak Jhangiani

There was a time when the main USP of the consumer electronics manufacturers was the strength of their after-sales-service. Almost all major brands set up elaborate service centres in every potential market area and boasted same day service. This era spawned many independent techno-entrepreneurs with multi-service centres providing service to multi-national brands. The main products that required regular and frequent servicing were the amplifiers, spool tape recorders, cassette recorders, car stereos and black and white televisions. Soon came the era of the heavy duty VCRs sand colour televisions which further added to the work load of the service industry.

The downturn came with the advent of the Microprocessor based AV products with hardly gave any problems. Since these products had minimum movable parts and max ICs the failure rates were significantly reduced prompting companies to targetting 0 per cent failure during and after warranty periods. With lower failure rates and falling prices of electronic products and increasing overheads it soon became unviable for companies to maintain their own service centres, many resorted to shutting down these set ups to reduce costs. Others outsourced their service obligations to individual service operators.

More international brands/standard quality and price wars not only resulted in lesser demand for service but made replacing a better option than repairing, sounding the final death knells for the now widespread entrepreneur driven service set ups.

However, today heralds a new birth for the service technicians. Price wars and fierce competition have necessitated that even strong brands opt for the cheaper Chinese products to reduce price. Lower price means non-standard quality and frequently these low priced gadgets give way in their very first week of operation, ergo a new birth for the service technicians to fulfill warranty obligations. Has the AV service industry come a full circle? Only time will tell.

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

Good old DD days…
 

It might be raining new television shows and entertainment channels, but the present generation of actors still look back fondly at the early days of India’s soap culture. They recall the thrills and highs of watching the classic serials on Doordarshan.

The first among these shows were Ramayana and Mahabharata based on great epics of Hindu mythology. Many viewers started worshipping the actors portraying the roles of Ram and Krishna. But there was much more than this that attracted people towards the newly introduced 35mm shows. Serials like Buniyaad, Nukkad, Hum Log, Circus, Fauji and Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi are few names that can easily be remembered with delight.

For actor Rohit Roy serials like Buniyaad and Hum Log will always be cherished. Though he accepts that the entertainment industry has gone through a transformational phase over the years, he says that it’s always in quantitative terms rather than qualitative. Recalling the old series Hum Log, he says, “Earlier, the basic concept of the serial used to be to depict the real picture of our country. Can a middle-class woman relate to any of the characters they see in serials being telecast today? Unfortunately, the answer is no.” He adds that most of the serials are shot in huge houses, with actors adorning expensive clothes and in the name of plots what you get to see are the same cliched stories. “Most of these illusory things don’t exist in our real society at all. Hum Log was the story of a lower middle-class family and its trials and tribulations. Similar was the case with Buniyaad,” he says.

Actor and singer Karan Oberoi agrees. He appreciates the technological development in the industry, but feels the storyline of most of the shows have seen a drastic decline. According to him, there’s no zing in the present roles. Moreover, he thinks 10 years down the line no one will remember the serials that are being made today, but everyone who witnessed the initial days of TV would remember the classic series that appeared on Doordarshan. “Can any actor stand at par with the comic role that Satish Shah portrayed in Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi?” he says, comparing the quality of acting in both periods. “There’s no one,” he adds. However, Karan reacts positively about the initial shows on private channels. “The earlier shows that Zee TV came up with were good. Later, Sailaab and Saaya were among those few serials that can be considered as a benchmark before the rapid deterioration of the content in the serials,” he says.

Among the fresh bunch of actors, while many think the old industry was good, there are some who are happy with the present industry as well. Sharad Malhotra, who gained popularity through his serial Banoo Main Teri Dulhann and Rucha Gujrati of Bhabhi fame are happy with the way the industry is growing. Rucha believes that the present day industry is providing a wide platform to many youngsters.

“It is wrong to compare the periods of TV, every period has its own charm and relevance,” says Rucha. “Back in the 80s, we started from scratch. It had nothing that it could be compared with, but no one can deny the progress that the current industry is witnessing,” she adds. Sharad adds, “In the 80s, one of the reason that TV got so popular was the novelty factor. Now, it has grown massively both financially and technically.”

Though, these actors praise the existing industry, they can’t deny the popularity of classic shows. “Circus, Gul Gulshan Gulfam and Nukkad are some of the serials that come instantly to my mind when I think of the good old days of Doordarshan. Those were phenomenal days when people gathered in crowds to watch the telecast of these serials. The golden era can never come back,” says Sharad.

Interestingly, Rucha considers herself the “branch” of that tree whose seed was sown in the 80s. She says that the content of the shows during that era can’t be reinvented. “I feel that the same old magic can be revived if the plots are given utmost importance instead of the lavish sets and dizziness-arousing camera movements. The script-writers should try to experiment and present us with something innovative beyond the saas-bahu sagas that have ruled the television industry for so long,” says Rucha.

‘No question of a sabbatical’
 

Aishwarya Rai is on cloud nine. She married the most eligible bachelor in town and has been getting rave reviews for her performances in her recent movies. And in The Unforgettable Tour, the whole world is her stage. The most beautiful woman of the world cannot keep the excitement out of her voice when she talks about all this, especially her world tour with hubby Abhishek and pa Amitabh.

“No matter what anyone says, the response has been phenomenal,” she says, ridiculing detractors who have termed the show a flop. “But that was expected when pa is involved. He is an institution and people love him wherever we go. All of us might be standing on stage together, but the audiences just want more of him. He is bigger in stature than all of us put together.”

What about the talk that these shows are about the Bachchans trying to flex their muscles and show their clout in the industry. “Says who?” counters the bahu. “Come on, does Mr Amitabh Bachchan need to prove a point to anyone? All that’s been said is just ridiculous and unnecessary.”

If reports are to be believed, then audiences are enthusiastically responding to Aishwarya and Madhuri Dixit dancing together to Dola Re on stage. The two had not hit it off well during the shooting of Devdas. Is it better now since both of them are married actresses? “That’s an interesting observation,” laughs Aishwarya. “It is not like we had a cold war during Devdas. I have always respected Madhuri as my senior and as an amazing actress. But we didn’t have a lot in common then to talk about and the media pitted us against each other. Today, as you say, we are both married and are actresses; we already have two things in common.”

And Ash and Mads have also been spending time together during the shows. “We also have a passion for dance and it is showing in our performances,” says Aishwarya.

But is Aishwarya also planning a sabbatical as Madhuri did after marriage? “Well, life changes after marriage and that’s an understatement,” she laughs. “But sabbatical? Hardly. I am in fact very busy after marriage. First, there was the shooting of Jodhaa Akbar and Pink Panther 2, and then Sarkar Raj. Then we started preparing for the tour. There’s been a whirlwind of activity and I can predict there’s more to come.”

If that is so, why are reports appearing that she is hesitating to do Shankar’s Robot with Rajnikant? “There’s no dilly dallying,” she says. “Rajnikant is an institution like Pa and I will be honored to finally work with him. We have come close to working together in the past, so let us not talk about it too soon.”

And as usual she fields questions about her marriage with aplomb. “No interview is complete without scribes wanting to know how things are between us,”she says. “Things are great. Abhi is amazing, and has been very supportive of me. We understand each other perfectly and that makes life so much simpler.”

“People are saying whatever they feel like,” she adds. “If we start denying each and every allegation, we will have nothing else to do. But no, I am not pregnant and neither are we fighting and pulling each other’s hair apart.”

But there must be some truth in the rumours that Abhishek has lost his female fans after he tied the knot with her. “Really?”asks Aishwarya. “You haven’t seen the girls screaming his name at the shows.”

Actors indulge in sadism, not stardom
 
By Vikram Bhatt

Elia Kazan once said that star tantrums did not bother him but what bothered him was their “genuine concerns”. This only means star tantrums dressed up as genuine concerns. I am angry as I write this piece and I am angry because for too long the mid-level stars have got their kicks on the poor hapless producer’s expense.

I read in the newspaper that Govinda had left a shooting schedule incomplete in London and returned. Apparently he had genuine concerns about some mid course corrections in the script and was not willing to do a dance sequence that showed him dancing in front of the Queen of England. He did not think it was politically right for him to do so. Probably not and I do agree that if it was a last minute change then he had all the right in the world to refuse to do it though I don’t think the Queen of England knows who Govinda is or gives a farthing for his dance sequence in her presence. We are talking about a Queen that has taken a movie by the same name based on her and her human conflicts on the chin and even went as far as appreciating it. So no, I don’t think she gives a damn about Govinda and his dance sequence but anyways Govinda thinks that she does and so we have a problem.

The solution – he leaves a crew in the lurch in England and comes back to India. I remember a line from Oliver Stones’ JFK. “Modern physics can prove that an elephant can hang from a cliff with its tail tied to a daisy.” Indeed, it is possible to find a reason for your most erratic behavior and if you are a star, people will keep quiet about it but how right is it? Here I am talking about the producer of the film. What was his fault? He has spent millions of rupees getting visas, permissions, airline tickets, hotels and so much more and suddenly it is all left incomplete. Is it fair to him?

The problem is that sometimes the film fraternity keeps quiet about these issues. They must get together and discipline the errant party. If the director is responsible, then he should be pulled up and if it is the star, he should be answerable too.

It is strange but this place is divided into two kinds of stars. The first, who will go to any extent to prove their stardom and the second, who will go to any extent to make their film a great film. The first kind is interested in being a star and the second kind is interested in acting. People come here for the love of fame and for the love of acting. Be careful of the one who seeks fame because he or she will be the self obsessed troublemaker and drive you out of your wits to prove their stardom.

I have worked with Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Amitabh Bachchan, Arjun Rampal, Akshay Kumar, Sunil Shetty to name a few stars that are professionalism personified.

They will report on time, go to any extent to make the film better for their presence and also dispel any doubts or concerns that they have in the most professional way.

The problem is that once the producer has invested a sizeable amount of money in a film, what choice does he have but to give in to any tantrum that anyone throws. He may swear to himself that he might never work with them again but apart from that kind of impotent rage, there is not much that he can do.

This is not stardom but sadism and I am sure everyone understands the difference between the two. If you are a star, then try and throw a tantrum with someone whose life does not depend on you and you will soon learn your place.

Akshay jumps to Katrina’s defence
 

Katrina Kaif and Akshay Kumar have proved to be the hit pair of the year. In fact, all of Katrina’s films opposite Akki have been hits. And this has set the rumour mongers wagging: Katrina is bagging all the roles because Akshay insists on it. “Keep Akshay out of this. He’s a married man,” said Katrina when asked whether it’s true that Akshay is smitten by her and is promoting her to all his producers.

When Akshay was asked the same, he, who has mastered the art of talking to the media now, says, “Why don’t you think it could be the other way around – Katrina has been recommending my name to the producers!”ῠ Getting defensive about his heroine, Akshay said, “Why are you guys picking on her? Nobody is behind anyone’s success. All credit goes to the individual alone. I am just a medium. It’s upon the other person to make the most of the situation.”

Shah Rukh Khan is Vidya’s lucky charm

Vidya Malavade’s career is on the upswing ever since she shared screen space with Shah Rukh Khan in 2007’s biggest film, Chak De. “I have come to believe that SRK is destiny’s child and everyone who comes in contact with him gets a bit of his luck. I guess that’s true for me too! Things have never looked so bright. I am truly excited about my career,” says Vidya whose next release is Sanjay Gadhvi’s Kidnap with Sanjay Dutt and boy du jour Imran Khan.

It only gets better for the actress who made her debut in Vikram Bhatt’s forgettable Inteha followed by the incredible success of Chak De. “I guess it does, I react to my instincts and take up assignments that excite me῅ Sanjay Gadhvi had faith in me and I have tried to do my best. In Kidnap, the star power of Sanjay Dutt and Imran Khan is just the bonus because the script, written by Shibani Bathija, is so exciting. I call Sanjay a gentle giant as he looks so deadly, but is so sweet to talk to. We shot Kidnap for over a year and he went through so much during that time but he’s like the Rock of Gibraltar – unshakeable. He really inspires you. Imran on the other hand is such a cutie! And he’s amazing in the film. My character will surprise the audience. I had a blast doing it and that goes for Chandan Arora’s next film, Striker, too. It breaks stereotypical moulds as far as I am concerned and tells filmmakers I am capable of more than I am being offered right now,” says the actress.

For someone who started pretty late in the business, does she have any regrets of not getting into the Bollywood fray earlier? “Bollywood happened by chance and though it took me some time to make a mark, I have no regrets whatsoever. I am just happy with the opportunities coming my way now,” she reasons adding, “There is so much to learn from my co-stars. From SRK giving a 100 per cent and more every time to Sanjay Dutt who stands tall against all odds to learning how to be spontaneous from Govinda. I have learnt from Nana Patekar that one can never learn enough, especially in acting; he is such an inspiration. And Suniel Shetty is an example of humility and I am lucky to be working with such talented and extremely wonderful human beings.”

My Beautiful London
 

One of the most revealing insights into Britain’s recent social history comes early in My Son the Fanatic, Hanif Kureishi’s tender and darkly prescient 1997 film. It’s morning in an unnamed city in northern England, and Parvez, a secular Pakistani immigrant taxi driver brilliantly portrayed by Om Puri, watches Farid, his increasingly devout college-age son, sell his electric guitar. “Where is that going?” Parvez asks Farid as the buyer drives off. “You used to love making a terrible noise with these instruments.” Farid, played by Akbar Kurtha, looks at his father with irritation. “You always said there were more important things than Stairway to Heaven,” he says impatiently in his thick northern English accent. “You couldn’t have been more right.”

This seemingly casual exchange cuts to the heart of almost everything that has animated Kureishi in nearly three decades as a playwright, screenwriter, novelist and essayist. This is, after all, the man who co-edited The Faber Book of Pop and whose films and novels – including My Beautiful Laundrette and The Buddha of Suburbia – are filled with raucous sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. But this is also the man who had the presence of mind to poke around in English mosques in the late 80s and early 90s, sensing that something might be stirring there, as indeed it was. Kureishi’s novel The Black Album, set in 1989 and named after a Prince album, explored the growing discontent, disenfranchisement and radicalism of some young British Muslims. Not so many people were paying attention back in 1995, when it first appeared, but 10 years later, when bombings rocked central London on July 7, the collective consciousness had begun to catch up. Now even the monarchy has taken notice.

This spring, Kureishi, who recently turned 53, paid a visit to Buckingham Palace, where the queen named him a Commander of the British Empire. (The same day, she also bestowed honours on the Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue and several dozen others.) Not bad for a boy who grew up watching sitcoms in Bromley, a middle-class London suburb, the son of a Pakistani father and an English mother at a time when mixed marriages were still rare. Kureishi was delighted by the honour; he and his three sons went to the palace dressed in morning suits, while his partner wore a splendid feathered hat. “Do you know what it says on the medal?” Kureishi asked in a phone conversation after the May 1 ceremony. “‘For God and the Empire.’ You can’t get better than that. The only causes are the lost causes – or the nonexistent ones.”

To many, Kureishi’s C.B.E. is a sign of needed change. His accolade, along with Salman Rushdie’s being knighted in June, indicates that these writers “aren’t voices from elsewhere, these are voices from here, these are our voices,” says Hannah Rothschild, a friend of both writers and a documentary filmmaker. “There’s no divide anymore. They are us, we are them.”

When Kureishi burst onto the scene in 1985 with My Beautiful Laundrette, his Oscar-nominated debut screenplay, few would have imagined that he would wind up with the initials C.B.E. after his name. The film, directed by Stephen Frears, detonated all kinds of cultural assumptions with its depictions of a gay skinhead (played by a wiry young Daniel Day-Lewis), various Thatcherite Pakistani businessmen and their wives and lovers. Today, Kureishi hasn’t quite mellowed, but he does seem to be enjoying his evolution to honoured eminence from angry young man – or from rebellious son to adoring father of three young boys, whom he talks about constantly.

Kureishi discussed his life with me and work with me not long ago as we sat in a cafe in Shepherd’s Bush, the now-gentrifying corner of West London where he has lived for years. “It was Blair, really, who started giving awards to trash,” he said, half-joking. “Rubbish entertainers, people from the arts. Before that writers didn’t get anything, really.” Then again, he added, “If it’s good enough for Kylie Minogue, it’s good enough for Hanif Kureishi, isn’t it?” With intent, dark eyes and spiky grey hair, Kureishi tends to look perpetually taken aback, as if he had just been struck by a cold blast of air. More reserved than standoffish, he’s often reluctant to discuss certain questions, preferring instead to deflect them with darkly comic self-deprecation. But when he seizes hold of an idea, the power of his insights is formidable.

Kureishi’s latest novel, Something to Tell You is his most ambitious book since The Black Album. A sprawling romp set in London, it centres on Jamal, an Anglo-Pakistani Freudian analyst confronting certain unresolved questions about his past. Along the way, his best friend, Henry, takes up with Jamal’s sister, Miriam, a petty drug dealer and distributor of porn videos and other items that fell off the back of a truck. Everyone is swept up in a wave of late-onset kinkiness. As in so much of Kureishi’s work, there’s a lot of sex here. Little is left to the imagination. At one point, Jamal goes to a basement sex club, its walls covered in whips and costumes, and asks a prostitute to dress like a British Airways hostess. While he waits for the Viagra and the painkillers to kick in, the prostitute tells him she’s working toward a master’s degree. “She was ‘doing’ decadence and apocalypse, always a turn-of-the-century preoccupation, along with calls for a ‘return to the family,'” Kureishi writes. “Unfortunately, this millennium, our fears had turned out to be realities. It had been worse than we imagined.”

In our conversation, Kureishi described the novel as “a critique of the notion of limitless pleasure,” a re-examination of the sexual revolution. “Is this what we thought we would be in the 60s when were dancing around with flowers in our hair wanting a more erotic and a more sexual life?” he said as he drank his peppermint tea. “If the society doesn’t install the values anymore,” he went on to say, “your happiness and your pleasure is entirely up to you; you have to work and earn it and install your own moral values”. This, he pointed out, accounts for a common “complaint of the West against radical Islam, ‘Why do they have to keep asking God? Why can’t they, as it were, make up their own minds?’ Well, it’s much harder to install your own moral values than to have them imposed by other people or by the system.” Things were “miserable” when he was growing up in the 60s before the sexual revolution, Kureishi said, but now, he added, “we’ve moved from repression to unrepression” – which comes with its own strictures.

Of raw life, math and show-off
 
By Sunil K. Poolani

Rereading Charles Bukowski’s Post Office after several years, one was remorseful to see the effort and pain our celebrity authors take to safeguard their feel-good reputation, to conveniently bury a “dubious” past, if any.

If Bukowski, that ever-so-iconoclastic writer, chose to meticulously demolish his own reputation in almost all his autobiographical books and fiction, our own trapeze artists hog the Page 3 circuit, putting on their best-ever smiles to conceal their bad divorces or past plagiarisms.

Born in Germany in 1920 to an American father and German mother, Bukowski grew up in Los Angeles, enduring a childhood and youth marked by bullying from other boys and regular beatings from his abusive father. If Bukowski smelled of cheap liquor, our ilk reeked of expensive French perfumes; if Bukowski chose to wear his jeans and T-shirt for more than a week, our tribe entered into designer suits five times a day; if῅

But Bukowski wrote much better than all our con artists put together. He won millions of admirers for his supremely visceral style; a style that is meant to be experienced more than read. Good writing is not about champagne and caviar, but local brew and boiled potatoes.

Math and fiction

I have just finished an interesting book. A Certain Ambiguity (Penguin Viking), by Gaurav Suri and Hartosh Singh Bal. Mathematics is like any other stream of arts, be it literature, performing arts or plastic arts. There is an infinity that is mind-boggling and there lies the beauty; a realisation that more you analyse and solve the mysteries of the game, the more the awareness that it is vastly and hugely endless. Galileo, Plato and our own Ramanujam realised it, so do most of the contemporary mathematical brains.

One reflective conclusion that can be drawn out of mathematics is how much ever ambiguous it might seem, the more you delve deep into it, with a pinch of modesty and decorum, and more are the chances of solving them and, in the process, enjoying them. It is true that mathematics, like any other art form, is losing its relevance; precisely for that reason this attempt to revive and regenerate interest in this stream of science should be welcomed.

Question ofῠ existence

There are people who publish books. There are people who sell books. And there are people who really read books. Finally, there are people who pretend to read books. You can see the last ilk all over around you: in malls, in snazzy coffee shops, in airports. Nothing worrisome, as long as the books are sold (see, I am a publisher).

What amuses me is the kind of books they carry with them these days. No, not Archer, Huntington, Sachs or even our desi Chetan Bhagat or Robin Sharma, but great classicists. I read a report sometime back which said George W. Bush has been advised by his spin doctors to carry Albert Camus’ The Outsider while on vacation so that he will look an intellectual.

A White House spokesman said Bush “found it an interesting book and a quick read,” and talked about it with aides. “I don’t want to go too deep into it, but we discussed the origins of existentialism.”

I haven’t stopped laughing since then. The French existentialist should be turning in his grave, crying why he wasted his life writing all those classics.

Tailpiece

An editor in a publishing house was fed up of a mercurial assistant editor. He summoned her into his cabin and told her, “Hello, the way things are going I don’t think we will be working together from now on.” The assistant’s response, “Congratulations, Sir, so where are you joining?”

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’m truly in love
 

Books are perfect stress busters for me. I read a lot regardless of whether I am travelling or not. I feel relaxed after reading. I love reading Salman Rushdie’s books. He is my favourite author and I’m truly in love with him. His writing style and imagination is simply superb. Midnight’s Children is one of the novels I enjoyed the most. Recently, I discovered another author Tom Robbin whose writing impressed me a lot. He has a brilliant way of presenting things. His writing seems like a love poem. Once you start reading him you will find yourself completely involved.

Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins is another book I cherish. It is a crazy book. A story about the love affair between an environmentalist princess and an outlaw, the book will take you to another world. It has all the aspects that an avid reader like me would like to read. From romance to consumerism, from aliens to animals, it has everything to hook you to it.

Another book that I liked was The Last Song of Dusk by Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi. I liked it because it has a very practical approach towards love. If it has the pleasure of love then it has also exposed the pain in love.

Gregory David Robert’s Shantaram is one novel that I finished and immediately picked up to read once again. I fell in love with the book, the author and even the characters. Reading it was an amazing experience for me.

Whitby Town of voyagers
 
By Christine Pemberton

There’s something about the holiday places you went to regularly as a little child that makes a return visit special. It goes beyond memories. It’s as though you are re-living those childhood holidays, when the beach and the sea and a plastic bucket and spade were enough to fill your heart to the full.

It was in that kind of spirit and mindset that I recently went back to the little town on the English coast, where, as a small child, I used to spend two weeks every year, in what always seemed to be perfect English summer weather.

Whitby is a picturesque little fishing village on the Yorkshire coast, with all the ingredients for a perfect holiday – beach, sea, an ancient abbey, a quaint harbour, and lots of history.

Whitby has very strong connections to Captain Cook, the 18th century British explorer who was the first European to make contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands. The Yorkshire-born teenager was apprenticed as a grocer, but when that didn’t work out, he was taken to Whitby in 1746, re-apprenticed to local ship-owners, and literally from that day on, never looked back.

James Cook was a man of his times, eagerly learning new scientific skills, and setting forth in search of adventure and discovery. And he did lots of both. Captain Cook made the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand, and gave his name to the Cook Islands as well as Cook Inlet in Alaska.

He sailed the world on three major voyages of epic discovery, only to meet his end in the warm waters of Hawaii, stabbed to death by a local. He ended his days, as he had begun them, by the ocean, but a warm ocean as far away from windswept Yorkshire as can be imagined. There is a statue of him on the cliff head, forever gazing out to sea, from the little town that nurtured him.

Captain Cook named Botany Bay and the Sandwich Islands, he ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef, he charted most of the North West American coastline – more than enough to make him a hero.

Apparently, he was regarded as such a hero that the very Hawaiians who had killed him, kept his body, and, it was rumoured (but never proven), they roasted and ate some of his flesh.

You can see why this kind of history appealed to us as children, even when on holiday. Nothing like the “yuck” factor to make children remember history.

From the mid-18th century till the mid 1830s, Whitby was a major whaling port, and the giant whale bones on the cliff opposite the Abbey serve as a reminder of those days.

The whaling ships would sail to Greenland, and un-PC as it is now to glorify the whaling industry, there are some extraordinary sepia photos to be seen in Whitby galleries, of crews who braved harsh seas in search of a living. Whitby-built boats were strong – Captain Cook used them – and eminently suitable for the unforgiving North Sea.

The documented religious history of Whitby can be traced back to 657 and is much more sedate. Dominating the town, high on the steep cliff, are the spectacular ruins of Whitby Abbey, reached by a punishing 199 steep steps that lead up through the town and onto the cliff, with its views out to sea and down to the harbour far below.

I had remembered the steps, ritually counting them as children, each year, as we puffed up the hill. They were just as steep this time round. Memory doesn’t always play tricks.

Whitby beach, giving on to the North Sea, is not the place for sun-loungers and sun-worshippers, but, as compensation, it is the place for ammonites.

I distinctly remember walking along the shore-line as a child, and one day finding an ammonite.

I was thrilled and awed at the idea of finding a pre-historic fossil. Now, with cynical hindsight, I wonder if perhaps my parents bought it at one of the local souvenir shops and left it on the beach for me to “find”. But whatever the truth, I can still remember the feel of the cool, dark, smooth stone, and the thrill of being a small part of living history.

As a child, I always hoped to find a piece of the black jet for which Whitby is famous, but was never lucky.

Jet is found in the cliffs around town, and has been used since the Bronze Age to make beads. Whitby jet was especially popular in the mid-19th century, after it was favoured as mourning jewellery by Queen Victoria. Jet jewellery is still sold in the local shops, elegant and expensive

As if whales and shipwrecks and Captain Cook were not enough to fascinate holiday-makers, to round things off, there is even a Dracula connection, since a large portion of Bram Stoker’s famous novel was set in Whitby.

Greece beckons history lovers
 

I knew Athens is the birthplace of Olympics and the Greek Gods, and all that great history that goes with it, but I’ve to admit I was intrigued by the place after I saw the Hollywood blockbuster My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I found a lot of similarities between our culture and theirs, obviously the big families and weddings. It also helped that my sister Meghna was just about to move to Greece around the same time, and I took it as a sign to travel there. In fact, Meghna and I took a road trip across Greece, and bonded a lot when we traveled across the length of the country. Since Meghna had moved abroad when I was still in school, I really think of our trip as special because in many ways we got to know each other better. And if travelling can do that, when your nerves and energies are raw, tempers flared, then there’s nothing like it. Meghs and I had a ball on this trip, and Athens was our favourite spot on the travel map.

First suggestion, when you go to Athens is to drop all your baggage and pre-conceived notions you might have about the place, and enjoy it for what it is. And secondly, be careful of pickpockets, touts and hustlers, especially found in tourist areas. Meghna used to speak a few words in Greek, and that helps because they don’t think you are another dumb tourist who they can take for a ride. All the major tourist sites are in the small area called the city centre and you can walk around the place with ease.

If you have rented cars, like we did, it makes sense to park way out of the city because it’s very rare that you might find a parking spot in the city limits, and if you do, you will be paying exorbitant rates for that.

There are around a dozen hills within the city, which give the place a structure and the sense of ancient history. The famous Acropolis that has the beautiful marble temple of Goddess Athena is here. The city was as can be seen, named after the Goddess and Acropolis was really the ancient city. Then there are Plaka and Thissio districts at the base of Acropolis, which have the picturesque ruins of the Roman era. From there you can walk up to the main Syntagma square which has the Parliament building, which is a delightful mix of ancient and modern architecture.

In every nook and corner of the city you will find ruins of palaces and temples dating way back to hundreds of years BC. So make sure you keep your camera handy because I don’t know of any other place that gives so many photo ops. There’s the temple of Zeus nearby, and right next to it is the Olympics stadium, the birthplace of modern Olympics. With the Beijing Olympics, there are a lot of cultural events and fairs happening in Athens and I would have loved to be there now, but I can’t.

The travel industry is the biggest contributor to the Greek economy, so the government does a lot to encourage tourists. There are free bike tours on the weekends through the old parts of the city with your biker, who is a volunteer, shows you around and gives you a detailed history of the place. Athens is the focal point of travel to Greece, and you can always travel to the famous islands from there. Mykanos is not to be missed if you love partying and great music.

Also sample the exquisite Greek cuisine and be a little adventurous and flush it down with a sip of Ouzo, the traditions Greek drink made of aniseeds. If not, try the frappes they serve at stalls by the road and quench your thirst. One last thing, it’s important to remember that Greece, unlike the rest of Europe, gets extremely hot in summers, hot even for us. So, it would be wiser to plan your trip in spring when the weather is nicer.

As told to Chhaya S.

Fundamentals
 
By Senjam Raj Sekhar

In this Olympics, Michael Phelps has brought the focus back on swimming. In this week’s theme, we take a look at Olympic swimming champions over the years. Write with your suggestions, questions (with answers) to D4/11 (GF), Exclusive Floors, DLF Phase- V, Gurgaon – 122002 or email senjam@gmail.com

Aqua Warriors

1. Let me start with some Michael Phelps trivia. Phelps has two tattoos on his lower abs. One of them is the letter M. What is the other? 2. Which Jewish swimmer created waves for swimming with a moustache when the rest of the swimmers shaved all their body hair? 3. Johnny Weissmuller andῠ Buster Crabbe bothῠ were Olympic swimming champions, who followed similar career paths after the Olympics. What? 4. Which swimmer was nicknamed “Madam Butterfly” for her dominance of butterfly race? 5. Which swimmer nicknamed ‘Gomer’ was once arrested for driving under influence of alcohol and ordered toῠ serve 18 months probation? 6. Identify this swimmer: He went to secondary school at East Hills Boys School in Sydney, the same as Steve and Mark Waugh. His father, Ken, was an outstanding cricketer who, as a 16-year-old, played in a side with Jeff Thomson and Len Pascoe. In fact, he beat both of them into the Bankstown first-grade side in Sydney. 7. Who is the first black athelete to win a gold medal in swimming? 8. At 15,ῠ this schoolgirl, she won three individual swimming gold medals inῠ Munich, 1972. A year later, she retired from competition at the age of sixteen and disappeared completely from public life for 25 years. Name her? 9. Which Olympic swimming champion from Hawaii is better known as the person who popularized the modern sport of surfing? 10. Michael Phelps won eight goldsῠ in one Olympics – the only athlete to do so. He beat the record of Mark Spitz. who is the only other person to win seven medals in one Olympics?

Anything Goes

1. “It was Wang Lung’s marriage day” is the opening sentence of which classic? (Abhijit Basak, Dum Dum) 2. What was John Sholto Douglas’ contribution to boxing? (Rajesh Dubey, Mumbai) 3. Which is the only non Muslim nation that is a member of the OPEC? (Anurag Mehrotra, Hyderabad) 4. Which was the first eight-cylinder motor car? (U.Narasimha Murthy, Secunderabad) 5. Which fashion designer designed the uniforms of cricketers for the World Cup 1996? (Selim Ahmed, Barasat) 6. Which bird lives on the ground, is almost blind, lays only one egg each year and cant fly. Yet is survived for more than 70 million years? (Sushil Kumar Poddar, Kolkata) 7. This practise was first proposed by Benjamin Franklin to “save time”, and was first adopted by the USA during World War I to save electricity. It is now practised in several parts of the world? (Ashutosh Sharma, Bangalore) 8. Alan Mills autobiography titled “Lifting the Covers” is a fascinating account of tennis. What is his claim to fame in the tennis world? (Dr. Ravi Bhatia, Udaipur) 9. Where in India would you find the Royal Connaught Boat Club? (Raza Khan, Delhi)

Answers

Aqua Warriors

1. He has the Olympic rings tattooed 2. Mark Spitz 3. Both became actors and played Tarzan on screen 4. Mary Meagher 5. Michael Phelps 6. Ian Thorpe 7. Anthony Nesty, who incidentally won the first gold medal for his country Surinam 8. Shane Gould 9. Duke Kahanamoku 10 Matt Biondi (In Seoul Olympics, he won five gold, one silver and one bronze)

Anything Goes

1. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck 2. He was the Marquess of Queensbury who lent his name to the rules of boxing. (Queensbury Rules) 3. Venezuela 4. The 1929 Mercedes. 5. Sunit Verma. 6. Kiwi 7. Daylight Saving Time 8. He was the chief referee at Wimbeldon for many years 9. Pune

 

 Features of the Week

 

 

Deccan Chronicle

Food For TRPs

23 Aug

Food for TRPs
 

Food is close to Indian hearts and many have tried to cash in on this. Earlier, food related shows were restricted to cookery shows where a chef or a housewife shared recipes. But now, the trend has undergone a facelift. In recent months, there has been a profusion of food shows on TV and these shows are not just about cooking, but about travelling to exotic places, sampling different cuisines, discovering interesting food facts and, at the end of the day, having fun.

Shows like Highway on My Plate, Chakh Le India!, Around the World in 85 Plates, Cooking isn’t Rocket Science, Italian Khana, Zaika India and Indian Food Made Easy have audiences glued to their television sets.

“Earlier, food shows were in a juvenile stage, people thought food shows should teach us how to cook, but now the mindset is opening up, and food represents passion, creativity, tastes of different parts of the world and liberation,” says Rocky of Highway on My Plate. This show is about two men who share their fun-filled experiences of scouting for food on the highway.

Mayur agrees with him, “The whole idea of a food show has moved on. People now have more money to play with, so they want to experiment and enjoy. It’s not a simple meal at home that appeals to them, they want to eat out and travel. They live and enjoy through us, and that makes our show popular.”

Ritu Dalmia, whose Italian Khana has taken audiences on trips to exotic locations abroad says, “An average young urban Indian likes to travel. And if he cannot travel, he aspires to travel, he is curious about international food, and will definitely give it a try. So that is the reason why the show has done so well.”

It is really surprising that these shows are popular among a wide range of people starting from nine-year olds to octogenarians. Aditya Bal, who travels to far flung places and checks out the eateries there in his Chakh Le India!, says, “My show is like a food guide. We cover varied menus and subjects, talk about the history of the place, the local culture and craft. It’s an informative, travel oriented reality show.”

Barring a few shows, many do not have celebrity chefs or guests. This, according to Mayur, is a healthy trend. “Our show is all about normal people telling you about places to find good food, you too can eat at the same palce and enjoy the same way. There is no pretension and perceived barrier between us and our viewers.” Shivani Sharma Khanna, channel head NDTV Good Times, says, “Fresh faces give a fresh feel to the show. We wanted indistinct people to highlight the idea.”

Food shows have received overwhelming response so far and are the future of Indian television. Aditya says, “Food is a never-ending aspect of life. People will continue to be interested in the little secrets and pleasures of food. There is bound to be a profusion of such shows.”

Shivani feels that the shows are doing so well that may be in a year or two, niche channels on food may come up.

Shilpa sizzles in Bigg Boss season 2
 

The much awaited Bigg Boss series was finally aired on Sunday night on Colors. Shilpa Shetty, who was the obvious choice for hosting this show after her Big Brother victory, looked smashing. Her perfect hour-glass figure with not an inch of flab proved that the Shetty lass could give the younger actresses like Deepika and Kareena a huge complex.

Shetty was in great spirits as she introduced the format and took the audience through the Bigg Boss house.

The choice of participants, however, came as a huge surprise. Wonder what made Rahul Mahajan and Sanjay Nirupam agree to participating in the show. Even if they have been paid big bucks, one can’t really imagine these guys willing to share a room and bathroom with the other inmates for the duration of the show. Of course, many of the other participants are basically down and out actors and performers who could do with the moolah and publicity.

From a Rakhi Vijayan, who has bloated beyond recognition, to Monica Bedi – perhaps she likes the idea of being under ‘house arrest’ to ara ra ra.. Ketaki Dave, to a sad looking Raja Chowdhury (for those wondering who he is – he’s TV actress Shwetha Tiwari’s estranged husband), this show promises to provide non-stop drama every single night.

Speaking of drama, those expecting fireworks from Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan when the former appeared on Dus Ka Dum were in for a disappointment. Contrary to all the speculation, the stars bonded like long-lost buddies, the only time one saw a flicker of annoyance on Salman’s visage was when Akshay wickedly asked him when he was planning to get married. Katrina, who was also part of the show played the coy, dumb doll to the hilt and even sulked when she lost the game to Akshay. Sallu, unfortunately for him looks utterly besotted by Kats while the latter simply preened and smiled and remained non-committal. Only a miracle would make her marry Salman.

The actor was once again roped in for a quick on the couch session with Koel Purie on Headlines Today. He looked rather funny with his surma laden eyes and heavy eye shadow on the sets of Veer where Koel had met him. Towards the end of the show, it seemed like a rapid-fire session was in progress. One hilarious answer though in response to who he disliked was unwittingly funny. Sallu replied that he didn’t dislike anyone that much for if he did, that person wouldn’t be alive. How typically brattish! But what else can you expect from this overgrown kid?

Real life has more drama then reality shows
 
By A.L. Chougule

Q How was the experience of anchoring Waar Pariwaar?

On the whole, it was fun and exciting as well as tiring and pulsating. As a judge on Jhalak, I was the third party marking performances. But here I was running the show. As an anchor, my job was to keep things together and act as a link between the contesting families and jury.

Q Did you follow any written script or was most of your anchoring extempore?

I didn’t have a proper script. This is why the pressure was more. Since I had to speak only in Hindi, it was a taxing job for me.

Q It means anchoring is more difficult than judging?

Definitely. As a judge, your involvement in the show is quite limited.

Q Do you think the best two families have made it to the finale? Who do you think deserves to win?

There can’t be one opinion on that. Different people will speak differently. When public voting is involved, some of the best contestants are eliminated early in the competition. That’s what happened in Jhalak and it happened here too. Whoever gets higher votes will win.

Q Don’t you think even judges have their own favourites? So why blame viewers alone?

I don’t know about others, but I was quite fair and straight as judge in Jhalak. Even the contestants said so. Personal likes and dislikes shouldn’t impact judging.

Q There were a lot of verbal duels between judges and families as well as between the families. Was it real or scripted?

I have been part of two reality shows, and I can say for sure that all the drama, arguments and tears that were seen in Waar Pariwaar and Jhalak were real and not scripted. The camera cannot lie, and if anything is scripted, people can see it easily. You can’t deceive the camera. There is far more intense drama in real life than in reality shows.

Q Do you think reality shows have a lot of drama?

Absolutely. Life has become so competitive that the competitive spirit is at its peak. People have become very pushy and they try hard to succeed. The contestants in Waar Pariwaar were families. So there were bound to be differences in each family too, besides difference of opinion with the judges.

Q Are you looking at doing another reality show in coming months?

Right now I need a break from television. I didn’t expect to do another show after Jhalak. But this show came my way and I agreed to host it because I liked the concept. It was exciting but the schedule was very demanding.

Q Aren’t you going to judge Jhalak’s third season?

I have not been approached so far. I will take a call when the offer comes my way.

Q Which are your forthcoming films?

I shot for two films while I did Waar Pariwaar. EMI is a light-hearted film with Sanjay Dutt and Sunil Shetty and is almost ready for release. The other film is Karz which needs some couple of days more to wind up shooting.

Lack of innovation fails reality shows
 

Since 2008, reality television has not been doing well. Reality shows of different genres, be it singing, dancing, quizzing or stand-up comedy, have evoked poor response from viewers. While fiction is still delivering average ratings, reality TV is struggling.

Why is reality TV not putting up a good show? “The last nine months have been the toughest period for general entertainment channels because of the entry of new GE channels besides higher growth in regional channels which are giving tough competition to GE channels. It is why no show has got double digit ratings during this period,” says Anita Basu of Synergy Adlabs which produces both Paanchvi Paas and 10 Ka Dum. According to Anita, today neither quizzing nor song and dance shows are working. “People are craving for change and everyone is in search of a new ideas that will create high level of interest a la KBC,” she adds.

Consensus among media experts is that reality TV is unsuccessful because of lack of imagination.

“Till about a year ago, there were only a couple of reality shows. But now weekends are packed with reality shows of the same genres on all channels. There is no innovation and variety which is the essence of reality TV,” says Sony’s executive vice president and marketing head Danish Khan.

“As a result the time spent on reality TV is coming down considerably because viewers switch from one channel to another to sample other shows,” Khan adds

Shailja Kejriwal who heads the creative and programming division of NDTV Imagine thinks poor content is responsible for the downslide. “Take the case of The Great Indian Laughter Challenge. There was no star in it but only unknown stand up comedians. But the content was so good that the show turned out to be a huge hit. Then came it clones and ratings went down. Shah Rukh and Salman can’t be blamed if their shows are not doing well. It is the content that has failed their shows,” she reasons. Why is fiction getting better ratings than reality TV? “People watch fiction because they follow the story and characters. Reality TV doesn’t have a story,” explains Danish.

So reality TV will continue and ratings will not improve as long as there is no innovation.

A. L. C

Shah Rukh in a double role?
 

Rumours are rife that Shah Rukh Khan is playing a double role in Yash Raj Films’ Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. For quite sometime now, there have speculations about how SRK will be doing a double role in the film and now sources have revealed that the star will be seen in definitely more than one avataar in the movie. However, we are not yet sure if this means SRK will be seen donning different roles in a story spanning over a period of time or if he is actually playing a double role after Duplicate and Om Shanti Om.

While no one is willing to talk about his roles as yet, people on his sets confirmed that Shah Rukh has been working hard on this romantic ballad and spending a lot of time in the make up room as well.ῠ Well, we are not complaining. After all, two Shah Rukhs for the price of one is always welcome both for the producer and the audience.

Saif keen to host TV show

Here is one more Bollywood actor who wants to be seen on the small screen. Saif Ali Khan wants to do television shows but says that he hasn’t got any good offers as yet. There have been rumors that he had been approached to anchor Kaun Banega Crorepati when SRK wasn’t keen on hosting the fourth part of the show.

But Saif brushed off the rumours saying that he has not got any interesting TV offer till now. But would he find it exciting to interact with fans through a talk show or a game show? “Yes, it would be interesting to be involved with a reality show sometime in the future. Maybe I would like to host a talk show; a game show also might not be a bad idea.”

According to Saif, actors should experiment with different mediums and roles. “But I will have to see if I’ll be able to perform well on the small screen and if the medium suits me. But I have an inkling that I might just enjoy hosting a show,” says Saif.

A unique, gripping tale of friendship
 

Four lifelong friends share one very special summer. Introduced as babies who were born to mothers who met in a prenatal aerobics class, the four grew up together and developed an enduring bond despite their distinctly different emerging personalities. Now, after years of sharing every little thing, these four young women couldn’t be closer -except that they’re about to be separated as their lives take them in different directions for the first time.

Introspective and occasionally volatile Carmen is looking forward to spending quality time with her out-of-state dad, who she hasn’t seen much of since he divorced her mother years ago; super-confident star athlete Bridget is heading for a soccer camp in Mexico; soft-spoken Lena, a gifted artist as beautiful as her drawings, is set to discover her heritage – and an unexpected romance – on a trip to her grandparents’ home in Greece; and sharp-witted rebel Tibby will reluctantly remain in town, stocking shelves at the local discount store while working on a video “documentary” to expose what she sees as the banality of everyday life.

On a shopping trip together the day before their paths diverge, the friends find a pair of thrift-shop jeans that amazingly fits and flatters each one of them perfectly, even though they are all different shapes and sizes. These pants are meant for sharing, and that gives the girls a wonderful idea. They decide to use the pants as a way of keeping in touch, each one wearing them for a week to see what luck they bring before mailing them to the next girl. In this unique way, the four still experience the challenges and surprises of life together in an unforgettable summer. Don’t miss this touching film.

Sisterhood of the traveling pants Director: Ken Kwapis Cast: Amber Tamblyn, Jenna Boyd, Blake Lively, Alexis Bledel

Sanober flees from show
 

Threat of getting eliminated is developing into a major fear for many participants of Ek Se Badhkar Ek. Rajshree Thakur, who had displayed a bad temper and a couldn’t-care-less attitude, quit the show two weeks ago when she realised that her elimination was certain.

This week, things were different, Sanober Kabir didn’t turn up for the shoot at all. Apparently, she was miffed with the jury’s harsh comments, especially Abhijeet’s, since he had told Sanober that her ego would become the cause of her elimination. According to sources she backed out due to fear of elimination.

Zee’s programming head Ajay Bhalwankar says the past three weeks have been quite unpredictable, “Rajshree had minor health issues since the beginning of the show. But we never thought she would back out. And Sanober not turning up for the shoot was a big surprise because when Abhijeet had issues about judging Mussarrat, who is from Pakistan, she was the first one to stand against the judge.”

Monsoon blues hit actors

During Mumbai’s rainy season, hygiene is a major concern on the sets of most serials. Mosquitoes are a major health issue.ῠ Take the case of Tulika Upadhyay who plays Leeza in Saath Saath. She collapsed on the sets and the doctor diagnosed it as a case of low haemoglobin level. On not responding to treatment, Tulika was admitted to aῠ hospital where she was diagnosed with malaria. Even the food that is served on the sets is said to be a cause of health problem for actors and production people. This is why most actors carry lunch boxes from home. As Reshmi Ghosh says, “The quality of food served on the sets is not at all good.”

Telly rivalry moves to films
 

Prachi Desai and Roshni Chopra played sisters in Kasamh Se. Prachi as Bani was more popular than Roshni who played Pia. Not only were they rivals in the show but the duo were not on best of terms in real life either.

While Roshni took a break from Kasamh Se and has not returned to the daily, post-Jhalak Prachi quit the show for her big screen debut in Rock On opposite Farhan Akhtar. Now Roshni too has followed in her reel life sister’s footsteps. Roshni however, had played one of the leads in Let’s Enjoy, a serious-comic off-beat film that revolved around a party where different people meet to have some good time before she started doing television serials.

But Vikram Bhatt’s Phir is a big film for Roshni and it is almost on par with Prachi’s Rock on. It seems the rivalry that started on the small screen will now spill over on to the big screen too. While Prachi scored over Roshni on television, it remains to be seen who will score better on the big screen.

Namrata turns to television
 

She started off with fashion shows and modeling and has been doing Oriya and Bengali films. But Namrata Thapa finds television more interesting. She has done shows like Kya Hadsa Kya Haqeeqat, Vaidehi, CID, Ravan and Naagin and is currently playing the central character of Rani Madanlekha, wife of King Vikramaditya, in Mahima Shani Dev Ki.

“The King is under the spell of Shanidev and Rani Madanlekha stands by him in difficult times. The range of my role is interesting as I get to play a queen as well as a pauper,” says Namrata, who is looking forward to playing a mentally challenged girl in an upcoming daily soap.

She is also game for regular family dramas provided she gets to play the lead role. As for Hindi films, she is hoping that something interesting comes her way. “Otherwise I am happy doing television because it offers a variety of roles,” she adds.

Onscreen chemistry may not be real
 

They are good on screen but off-screen, we see them engaged in vociferous battles. Couples who share wonderful chemistry on reality shows do not depict a similar picture when it comes to reality. Recently we heard about a spat between the winners of Comedy Circus 2. It was heard that Vijay Ishwarlal Pawar popularly known as VIP and Juhi Parmar, who were the champions of Comedy Circus 2 were quite uncomfortable working with each other.

Kaate ki Takkar, which is the contest following Comedy Circus 2 will not have Vijay and Juhi working together as a couple.ῠ Vijay was apparently angered by Juhi’s habit of being unpunctual and making frequent changes to the script.

Smriti plans Gandhi series

UTV Television which gave India its first Hindi daily soap Shanti has joined hands with Smriti Irani Production for a series on Mahatma Gandhi. The series will be based on the life of Gandhi and his incessant search for Truth. The project is meant for a global audience as discussions with the US and UK broadcasters are underway. This series is Smriti’s idea. “Though Gandhi’s sacrifices have been chronicled on screen before, we would also like to highlight the sacrifices made by his family,” says Smriti.

Salman Khan gets TV offers from Abroad
 

Salman Khan has been receiving many offers for new projects. The latest is for a TV show along the lines of Donald Trump’s Apprentice, which is currently being aired on a Dubai channel called Hydra Executive. While the details of Salman’s role -whether he would act as host or a celebrity guest on the show – are unclear, we know that he visited UAE and had some serious negotiations with the team there. “Yes, I did meet the guys there. But nothing has been finalised yet. I am still exploring some aspects of the same,” says Salman. Currently, Salman is doing well on his show Dus Ka Dum, for which he is drawing a hefty remuneration. Apart from regular participants, the show has also had some celebrity guests.

Mouli’s back with Aathwan Vachan
 

Mouli Ganguly is back on the tube after a year-long break with Aathwan Vachan. “I badly needed a break from TV because I had stopped enjoying work. It had become monotonous,” says Mouli who is best remembered for her role in Kahin Kissi Roz.

About her new show she says, “Aathwan Vachan is a story of bonding two sisters and I find it quite interesting.”

However, she reveals, “My character is a cameo. I am not going to be there after about two months.”

She accepted the role because it sounded interesting. “I know the character’s graph and it’s definitely a special appearance. The rest depends on ratings and the call that channel will take,” she avers. Does it mean that she will be back in the show some time later? “I really don’t know. Nothing is certain about dailies where story changes, characters are bumped off and new ones are brought in. In television actors are like puppets,” she avers.

(Snippets by A.L.Chougule)

‘I like to shop abroad’
 

If you thought that film stars were the only ones who were a lot too specific about what they wanted in life, here’s news. Not that Anita Hasnandani throws tantrums. But the petite girl who has done a few odd roles in movies before realising that TV is where she belongs, says that she would rather shop abroad rather than in Mumbai. Though she frequents Atria Mall a tad too often and the Linking Road at suburban Bandra at times, Anita would still prefer branded stores abroad. “It is about the perfect fit,” says the actress.

“I like the variety of clothes available abroad, they also fit perfectly,” says the actress also known for her proximity to Ekta Kapoor. This pretty lady loves the clothes designed by Manish Malhotra and Reza, who creates all the ensembles that she wears on TV.

Shabana’s presence intimidates participants

Kritika Singhal is a popular participant on Ekta Kapoor’s Bollywood Ka Ticket. Singhal, who has become a household name, thanks to Kasautii Zindagi Kay, has now made it to the seventh round of the TV show. However, the comments of the judges on show makes her nervous. “When people like Shabana Azmi and Amrita Singh are about to comment on my performance, I feel jittery. Shabanaji is such a fine actress that one does not know how she is going to react to any performance, as it will definitely be nowhere close to what she has performed,” says Singhal. Shabana though puts on her best behaviour on the show and hardly tries to intimidate anyone. However, her sheer presence makes participants like Kritika uncomfortable.

Young talent hit the right notes
 

Everybody was there. From Megadeth, Slipknot, Cannibal Corpse to well-known names like The Doors, Bob Marley, Nirvana, but on T-shirts as emblems. A 360 degree panoramic spin gave us more names to add on to our list, and made us realise why Hamsadhwani theatre at Pragati Maidan was packed with black T-shirts on Sunday.

The occasion was Independence Rock’s North zone final. For the second time in the capital, Independence Rock (a 23-year-old venture), with an aim to promote budding talent in rock music, adjudged four bands to compete for the best rock act from the North zone (the final will be in Mumbai with the winners from all the four zones). The atmosphere was electrifying, provided your expectations were high. As the stands in the gallery slowly got occupied with rock lovers, the recorded music from the huge speakers set the right mood for an “action-packed” rock concert.

However, many didn’t like the public interaction before the concert (especially, the host’s choice of words). Finally, Farhad Wadia, the founder of Independence Rock (you can’t miss him standing behind the mixing console), announced the first band of the evening – Rampage. They did a neat job. Though the twin solo on the first track sounded a bit off the tune, they made everybody come alive with their “disciplined” 80s hard rock sound.

One characteristic of the band that might appeal to critics was that at a time when new-age sound is creating a buzz, these four guys from the North East offered the almost “forgotten” 80s hard rock sound (resembling bands like Rainbow and Dio).

Another Vertigo Rush was the next band on the stage. With their trademark numbers (Vibe, Conclave), AVR offered some “Tool-like” progressive sound to the audience (later Akhilesh, the guitarist of the band, confirmed Tool as one of their inspirations). Except the vocals (Viraj’s vocals sounded ordinary), AVR did “everything” right (as they had Nihkil Rufuzz from Superfuzz on bass and Akhilesh utilised the wah-wah to the fullest and his slide guitar solos did impress a few guitar aspirants). Later in the evening, AVR was chosen as the winner of the competition. After AVR, a new sound filled the ears of those who were present that evening at Hamsadhwani. It was Frequency. Armed with new-age metal sound, who did whatever they could.

From covering (or should we say improvising) Michael Jackson’s Beat it (to which they gave a electro new-age avatar) to AC/DC’s Highway To Hell, this five-membered band wasted no time to get into their act of presentation. Ruben, the drummer, showed some professionalism and wore his monitors on his ears.

The vocalist did his best to throw some power with his growls, but often sounded stressed while doing it. By the time Tear Cube came on to the stage, the crowd looked frustrated trying to find their “sound”.

They kicked off with Coal Chamber’s Loco. We overheard someone saying, “They could not even maintain the original tempo of the song.”

However, after half an hour of performance (which included covers by bands like Killswith Engaged), Tear Cube gave way to Superfuzz, the headlining act for the evening.

Considering Superfuzz’s disqualification from I-Rock last year, they looked happy to perform as headliners this year. Chanchal and his power-trio sprinkled their usual grungy-punk flavour and came as a relief for those who were waiting to hear some mature sound.

On Song
 

Film: Bachna Ae Haseeno

Khuda Jaane

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 ki sambhal zara khushi ko Na nazar laga Ke darr hai mein tho ro dunga

Mom’s mutton chops are the best
 

I have traveled across the world and love to try out cuisines of countries that I visit. Though many try to look for Indian restaurants abroad, I don’t. Instead, I enjoy the local cuisine. However, I do miss homemade food. So, as soon as I come back from a trip, I ask my mom to prepare jeera rice, Kashmiri chicken and mutton curry. Her mutton chops also act as a comfort food for me in times of hunger or stress.

Being a foodie, I also experiment with strange combos such as eating namkeen with sweet yogurt. I also prepare namkeen sandwich by applying layers of aam ka aachar (instead of cheese or butter) on bread and then topping the bread with namkeen. It tastes quite unique and good.

Though I am not as good a cook as my mom, I can prepare various dishes – from biryani to baked delicacies and even pastas, baked corn and spinach – I have progressed quite a lot as a cook.

While dining out, I frequent Grand Kakatiya’s Peshawari, Zaffron Exotica for Indian, Ohri’s for Chinese, Lagoona for their thin crust pizza, and Krishna for their unique prawn biryani. For chicken 65 and roomali roti, which both my husband and I are extremely fond of, we go to Bawarchi. Narmada, a small take-away joint near Cafe bar, prepares excellent brain fry and chicken pakodas.

Besides biryani, Hyderabad can indeed boast of chicken 65, rasam, fried fish, Nizami kebabs, little fried idlis and gobi manchurian.

Apart from Hyderabad, Mumbai is also ‘the’ place for foodies. Mumbai ka ragda samosas and pattis, vada pao and custard ice cream are simply unbeatable. The sea food in Kerala and Goa are also great.

But when it comes to sweet dishes, I miss the gulab jamun and jablebis of Delhi. I have my favourite shops from where I buy these sweets, chaat and golgappas whenever I visit the capital. Also, Chennai’s Grand sweets deserve a special mention for halwa, Mysore pak and bisibele bhath.

Abroad, I ate the best pizzas in Brazil. There’s a restaurant in Rio de Janeiro called Kilos. Strangely, it charges according to the weight of the food you are consuming. They indeed weigh your plate!

In USA, I ate the yummiest chilli fries, without knowing that they contained beef.

In Malaysia I had the best exotic Chinese dinner.

I enjoyed the dry fruit desserts and sawarma of Middle East. The coffee shops in Paris are really interesting. I am fond of cheese cakes and in USA, I ate the tastiest dulce delache at their Cheese Cake Factory. However, I found the pastries at star hotels here are better than those of USA.

Twice or thrice a week, I dine out. However, dance serves as an intense workout and prevents me from putting on weight. Whatever I order, I make sure to eat in moderate quantities. So, I would advise foodies to follow my path as well.

Bift canteen puffs a hit
 

Hangout@canteen and campus of Badruka Institute of Foreign Trade, Kacheguda.

Who all frequent: Arunark, Muzammil, Praveen, Aparna, Alekhya, Priyanka, Vishnu and friends. Cost: Rs 5-Rs 30.

What’s hot: Samosa, pav bhaji, vada pao, fried rice, pulao, chips, tea, coffee, cool drinks and fruit juice.

What’s the catch: “The veg and non-veg puffs and pav bhaji are favourites. The food is very tasty. Usually, we take the food and sit on the steps nearby or on the grounds. The greenery around is soothing. Our canteen and campus is an ideal place to chill out after class,” says Praveen Kumar N., a second year student of Bift.

Monsoon Delights
 

The rain clouds may be painting the town grey but don’t let it dampen your mood. Splash on some colour and step out in style.

Slip into Nike’s new Air Rejuven8 range of sneakers. Not only do they look trendy but are also designed to help rejuvenate, repair, rebuild, refresh and restore the foot. They are waterproof and colourful. They are a must for the monsoons. These are available at all Nike showrooms in the city. If Sneakers are not your style then try out the colourful and convenient floaters available at Inc.5. Prices start at Rs1490.

Spruce up your wardrobe with a pretty military textured pleated trendy dress by W that embodies the free spirit of monsoon. This is available at W store in Banjara Hills.

Sling on a bag from the new range of Baggit bags, which are waterproof and available in bright colours. These are available at Lifestyle.

Jazz up dreary monsoon days with colourful raincoats from Westside. Their new rain gear will take the fashion quotient up by several notches while keeping your clothes protected from the downpour. The prices start from Rs 699 onwards.

This is also the time to get under a romantic and uber cool umbrella. Take your pick from the myriad colours and shapes. They are available at Lifestyle, Central and City centre. Prices range from Rs 150 to Rs 600.

For added protection from the rains, pick a trench coat from the label Adventure available at all leading stores and shopping malls. Prices start from Rs 3,500 onwards.

Keep your house spick and span with reversible doormats specially made for the rainy season. These mats are quick-drying, dust-resistant and are made of durable, washable, colorfast polypropylene material. These mats are available at Wellhome stores in the city.

Starry night
 

The 11th Annual Rajiv Gandhi Awards-2008ῠ witnessed the presence of many w ell-known personalities like Kripa Shankar Singh, Digvijay Singh, Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Geeta Basra, and the sensational Baichung Bhutia.

Anchors Tisca Chopra and Sajid Khan added spice to the event. The best part was Salman Khan, who performed on some popular songs from his films. Among other performers were Rakhi Sawant, Kamya and Rajiv, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Navin Prabhakar.

 

 Features of the Week

 

 

Deccan Chronicle

A Smile Just Got Dearer

17 Aug

A smile just got dearer
 

A good smile is a great asset. It comes to play when you are proffering a lame excuse to the boss or when you are trying to woo the hard-to-get beauty. It can even get you a discount from an otherwise dour trader.ῠ Not everybody can have the 1,000-watt smile of Madhuri Dixit or the dimpled smile of Shah Rukh Khan, but you can get close enough if you have the money.ῠ And on Smile week, experts agree that acquiring a great smile tops the priority list of youngsters.

“They are very conscious about the way they look and smile,” says Dr Venkateswara Reddy, a maxillo facial prosthodontist of Dental Avenue. He adds that in the past five years there has been almost a 100 per cent increase in the number of people visiting clinics to get the perfect smile.ῠ Of course, most people want to “smile like Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen, Shah Rukh Khan or Tom Cruise”.ῠ “They are the brand ambassadors of the smile, so to say,” says Dr Kishore Moturi, consultant maxillo facial surgeon of Poulomi Hospital. “Youngsters tell us that they want to smile like these actors. They are not hesitant to spend money or go for dental procedures, including surgeries.”

The most common request that doctors face, is the one for a ‘white smile’. “People believe that a perfect smile is a white smile,” says Dr Reddy. “There are two methods for this. One is the non-invasive method where teeth are polished in the routine manner. The second one is an invasive method, which makes use of chemical substances to bleach the teeth.”ῠ The latter procedure costs almost five times more than the former, but many people want to go for it. “I would recommend the non-invasive method,” says Dr Reddy.ῠ People are also willing to undergo surgery for the right smile. “A gummy smile doesn’t look too good, so people undergo orthognathic surgery to ensure that the gums are not too visible,” says Dr Ranjit Manne of Gums and Teeth Dental Hospital.

Some also opt for lip surgery to enhance their smile. “The common procedures are shortening and thinning of the lower lip and a jaw surgery to lengthen the upper lip,” says Dr Moturi.ῠ It is mostly young people aged from 18 to 29 who visit dentists to get a great smile. They do not mind spending Rs 50,000 or Rs 80,000 to get the smile they want.ῠ But the battle is only half won if you get the best teeth and facial structure. You should also know when to smile and how to smile.ῠ “Every situation demands a different type of smile,” says grooming expert, Ms Naina Chandani. “In an interview, don’t smile showing all your teeth. It should be a formal smile but convey warmth. Also, eye-contact and smiles should go hand in hand.”

BAH gets a good opening
 

After seven flops, Yash Raj Movies is finally breaking the jinx and hoping for a hit. Their latest production Bachna Ae haseeno, has reportedly had a better opening than Chak De. The Shah Rukh Khan starrer was the last hit movie from Yash Raj stable, making people wonder if the production house should only bank on Shah Rukh’s magic for a hit.

But Ranbir Kapoor seems to be their new saviour. shaking a leg to his dad Rishi’s all time hit number Bachna Ae Haseeno, this Kapoor scion’s simple charms seem to have gone down well with the audience, especially the younger lot.

The movie is running to a full house in the city. The long weekend coupled with a dearth of good movies has augured well for Yash Raj banner.

Theatres were booked in advance for the weekend. Krishnamoorthy Kishan, manager marketing and PR of Imax, says, “The opening has been very good. It was a well hyped movie and the fact that it’s the second movie of both Ranbir and Deepike has worked in favour of the movie. We are expecting the success of the movie to continue in the coming weeks.”

Multiplexes have been pretty impressed with the response so far. Ranjan Singh, general manager, marketing and sales, PVR Cinemas, says, “The movie has had a very promising first day. The holiday weekend has been one of the reasons behind the movie running houseful. The music has done very well too and is drawing a large audience to the theatres. Apart from that, the chemistry between Ranbir and Deepika has also managed to touch the right note with fans.”

However, Taran Adarsh, trade analyst, feels it’s too early to assume that Bachna will be a runaway hit. “The movie has a great cast, great chemistry amongst actors, great locations and some great moments. But all these factors combined together don’t make a great film. The script has been a let down,” says Adarsh.

According to Adarsh, the hype built around the movie has got the film a good opening but beyond that it will not be able to sustain the initial brush with success. It will peter out.

Kids go on high-end breaks
 

Every summer, a handful of students from Hyderabad pack their bags and head off to another country – usually Switzerland or Australia. They come back richer in experiences and in friends from across the world. That’s not all, some even pick up a new sport or a foreign language. These high-end holidays have become a hot favourite with city kids.

The most popular location with locals is Switzerland, but there are many other trips as well – ranging in location from Australia to Germany, England, Spain, Paris, and Italy.

Each place has its own perks. In Switzerland, the children learn many new sports. “We went bridge swinging, skiing, paragliding, mountain biking and mountain hiking. That’s not all, we went to a water park too,” explained 13-year-old Amit Yerramilli, who went on the trip to Switzerland last summer and hit Australia the summer before that.

Since the camp organises sports that Indian students would not otherwise be able to participate in, they get an opportunity to widen their horizons. “I liked the skiing part of it the most. It’s not an activity we’d get to do in India,” explains Hari Chandana, a 12-year-old who went on the trip to Switzerland.

During the trips, the students live with other children from across the country. “There were only seven of us from Hyderabad, but from other places, there were more people. The best part was to meet many other people from India and to make so many new friends,” says Hari. Amit agrees that living with people from all over the country was very exciting. “It was really nice, I stayed with people from Mumbai, Delhi, Goa, Kolkata,” he says.

sports aren’t all. They can learn basic phrases in a language French, German, or Spanish -and try out their skills when they’re out shopping. Additionally, they are taken sightseeing to add to the cross-cultural experience.

Politics gets glamorous
 

Many top actresses of yesteryear are trying to test their luck in the political arena. Rumours are that superstar Chiranjeevi is trying to persuade Suhasini Maniratnam to lead the women’s wing of his party.

Jayasudha recently met the Chief Minister, Dr Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, and is believed to have discussed politics. In other words showed interest in joining the Congress party. It may happen anytime from now. “What’s wrong if actresses want to join politics. We are as efficient as any other politician,” she said when asked if actresses were aware about politics at all.

It is a win-win proposition for them. Political parties can give a touch of glamour to their meetings and the actresses, who have lost out to younger rivals in films, can launch another promising career.

Roja, who was once a top star in Telugu and Tamil movies, is heading the women’s wing of the Telugu Desam now. Jeevitha Rajasekhar recently joined the Congress along with her husband.

It is rumoured that Vijayashanti, who started her own party, is planning to disband it and rejoin the BJP.

Political parties are enthusiastic about female stars campaigning for them. This takes care of the aspect of crowd pulling – the audience delighted at seeing a screen goddess, may even stay back to hear a politician’s speech.

Jayaprada, Hema Malini, Shabana Azmi, Jaya Bachchan, Nagma, Rambha have all managed to be crowd pullers at public meets. The actresses say because the people easily identify with them and listen to them, political parties give them key posts.

“People have been watching us on screen and we can have a big impact on them,” says Jeevitha.

And, what’s amazing is that many of these actresses want to continue their film career parallel to their political life. “Cinema is our profession,” says Jeevitha. “I have no plans to leave it completely for politics.”

Though Roja is in the thick of action, she also keeps her options open. “After the elections if I am offered good roles, I would love to act in one or two movies” says she, adding, that other political parties were trying to rope in actresses since they are wary of her charisma.

She has a point. Political observers too say that if one party appoints an actress as head of the women’s wing, others have to do the same.

“Most political parties consider the women’s wing not as a movement but as vote bank, and they make the best use of actresses on their side,” says Mr K. Nageshwar, a political analyst. “It seems we are going to see a glamour war in the next polls.

It Took a Villain to Save Our Marriage
 

Here are three truths: Intimacy isn’t always sweet. The suburbs can be lonely. And, as the writer Mary Cantwell said: “Marriages, at least in the beginning, take three people. The third provides the glue.”

Anthony and I were in year six of our marriage, not the beginning, but we needed glue. We lived in a suburb, the kind where everyone is friendly but no one seems to be a friend. Our house was on a short street at the top of a hill. We lived at one end of a cul-de-sac, and a man named Gary lived at the other end, six houses down.

Everyone on our street had big, heavy doors; who knows what happened behind them? What happened behind ours was erosion. There was trouble, but we pretended there wasn’t. We didn’t talk. As a result we were angry, and our anger was mounting.

We needed an outlet, and we picked Gary but didn’t use his name. We called him “Sidewalk Blocker” instead, and then just “Blocker”. He parked his car on the sidewalk – big deal. But minor drama is the lifeblood of suburbs. He was an opportunity, and Anthony and I seized it; we needed glue desperately that year.

Blocker had a two-car garage and full driveway but preferred to park his black SUV across the sidewalk. Anyone who wanted to use the sidewalk in front of Gary’s house had to walk into the street to get by. The other thing, though, was that Blocker wasn’t one of us. He lived among us without children or a wife.

That Gary had the audacity to live in our neighborhood was enough to irk some, and besides, it was illegal to park on the sidewalk. We had the law on our side.

I had already profiled him, deemed him a jerk, and here he was without charm (never mind the lack of my own).

Anthony explained the situation. He can be diplomatic. He told Blocker how we all walked down the hill, and that if he would just pull into his driveway a little, we would all appreciate it, thanks.

“No,” Blocker said, flat but with menace. “I have to park where it’s level or my dog can’t get out.” Saul Bellow, in “Herzog,” wrote that there’s joy in indignation, and it’s true. The sidewalk became our obsession. Who did this guy think he was? Anthony called the city to complain, and an officer wrote a ticket for Blocker. It was the start of our dance.

Blocker’s response was prompt. He banged on our door, and I answered. He didn’t bother with pleasantries. “If you have a problem,” he said, “deal with it to my face.” This was the year I felt trapped like Rapunzel at the top of the hill, lonely and invisible, until a man came to the door, looked me right in the eyes and called me a name. And Anthony rose up, strong and fierce, to my defense.

There was a perverse comfort in it. Anthony and I had something to share again; we were united in battle. We had passion in our lives, if not quite the conventional kind. Some couples take out personal ads and bring home swingers; we provoked the nut down the road. I craved the attention and Anthony craved the release. It improved things between us, briefly.

This went on for months, then toward the end of the year we bought a house in another town. We wondered aloud what Blocker thought when our “For Sale” sign went up. Would he think it was because of him? So when the “Open House” signs we had posted around the neighbourhood began to disappear, Anthony and I assumed Blocker had taken them. One night during this time Anthony went silently to bed. We were in the worst kind of fight, the kind you walk away from seething. I fumed and drank too much wine. I stomped down the street in the dark to Blocker’s house and pounded on his door.

He opened it, shirtless and calm; it unnerved me. I’m sure I looked crazed. I felt my face puff up. “Stop taking our signs!” I said.

But Blocker didn’t say anything mean. He didn’t seem angry, as he should have been, that I had bothered him late at night; he didn’t threaten to call the police. We stood close, inches away. There was an intimacy in our strange hate.

“I didn’t take them,” he said. “Seriously. The city picks them up sometimes. I know where they put them. I could check if you want.”

No, I didn’t want. But I thanked him, and walked home both shaken and comforted, and thinking Anthony would kill me if he knew I had crossed enemy lines like that, alone. I didn’t tell him.

There was one more encounter. Blocker drove by me in his car. He slowed and rolled down his window, and instead of grunting or sneering, he said, “Did you find your signs?” “No. I didn’t look.”

We exchanged a few more words – about the weather, his dogs – but it was quick. He drove off, and a few weeks later we moved.

Afterward I heard stories about him. Some were awful: an accident he had caused taunting a woman on a bike, yelling matches with neighbors, loud parties, police cars. Anthony and I wondered if he ever thought of us. We thought of him frequently; he haunted us.

Anthony and I moved without saying anything, and a year later I got a phone call from an old friend, Julie. “I have kind of weird news,” she said, and paused. Pauses are never good. “Gary’s dead. He hung himself.” My heart seemed to stop, and I couldn’t breathe. It was impossible – Blocker wouldn’t do that. He was Teflon. He was something that couldn’t break; he was stronger than all of us.

I struggled to sound calm, but not shattered. After all, I wasn’t supposed to care about him; we were enemies.

Then I remembered his face that first time at our door. How it was dripping with hate and anger, and I thought maybe that was the only thing he could do. It was a violent, profane tirade against all of us – against life, as it turned out. And it broke my heart.

3 ways to Fight Civilly
 

Fighting is a normal and natural part of any relationship, but the truth is that the faster a fight is over with, the better it is for everyone. There are some ways to keep arguments short – if not sweet – while still dealing with the issue at hand.ῠ If you tend to get into fights that drag on and on, making your life miserable all the while, read on to find out how to patch things up. ῠ See her side: Listen to what she has to say because, as they say, there are two sides to every story. You don’t need to bow down in order to hear what she has to say; just make sure that while you’re making your point, you’re also hearing hers. If you don’t, she might give in because she sees she’s not getting anywhere, but she’ll still be angry and the issue won’t be resolved. Don’t let your anger cloud your hearing, and when she says something, respond to it.

Don’t blame unnecessarily: No matter what your conflict is about, it is easy to justify your part in it so that you feel entirely innocent. This is dangerous because a high-and-mighty mindset can cause you to be more insulting than you should be. Just remember that, regardless of how a fight started, it usually takes more than one person to keep it going. This means that you’re not entirely innocent. Some things are nobody’s fault, and some things are your fault. Assigning or accepting blame usually won’t get you any closer to a resolution. Instead, talk about what’s wrong and what can be done to fix it.

Swallow your pride: Fights can sometimes go on and on because neither person will back down. Nobody wants a fight to continue, but in the heat of the moment, many people don’t realise that just making a nice, understanding comment or gesture can sometimes be the answer. This doesn’t mean giving in to the other’s point of view; it simply means that one person needs to be the one to take it down a notch. This can require apologising. Chances are that if you chill out, the whole fight will take on a new tone and it will be easier to fix things up.

‘Money is not everything’
 

How often have you heard of a practising advocate who is also an author and public speaker? Meet 33-year-old Aditya Sondhi, an alumnus of Bishop Cottons Boys’ School, Bengaluru and National Law School of India University, who also holds a Master’s degree in Political Science. He is the Secretary of the Karnataka State Unit of the Indian Law Institute and Convenor of the General Thimayya Memorial Lectures.

After passing out of law school, Aditya enrolled as an advocate with the Karnataka State Bar Council and joined the Chambers of Mr Udaya Holla (present Advocate General of Karnataka) where he worked for six years. Side by side, he also authored Unfinished Symphony which was published by Penguin in 2003. Sheer love for his 143-year-old school and the fact that not enough had been done to document the history of its distinguished alumni, some of whom are Dr Raja Ramanna, Nandan Nilekani, General K. S. Thimayya and Colin Cowdrey, inspired Aditya to write the book. “It took me two whole years to put the book together. The title Unfinished Symphony is because the tradition of students’ achievements will continue through the years and will require to be documented from time to time” says Aditya, who was school captain in 1993 and among the top achievers in academics throughout.

At a time when most law students prefer corporate jobs as they are initially high-paying, Aditya decided to set up an independent law practice in 2004 in Corporate and Constitutional law. As a first generation lawyer he had to struggle to build a clientele and generate a steady stream of revenue, but has several high profile corporate and individual clients today. He also represents many welfare/civic groups in public interest matters relating to roads, town planning and other public interest litigation.

“Setting up an independent practice from scratch without any backing requires one to be well informed, well prepared and a risk-taker. It comes from a vision of achieving a greater objective than just providing for one’s immediate needs” says Aditya.

He maintains a rigorous 9 am to 9 pm schedule daily and often works seven days a week along with three other lawyers and three support staff who work for him. He hopes to build up his practice in the Supreme Court in the near future.

How does he manage to pack in so much everyday? “It’s all about prioritising one’s work and working fast, that makes the difference in how much one can accomplish in 24 hours” said Aditya. Why did he not join his father’s retail business? “I was always encouraged to do what I loved most and there was absolutely no pressure for me to join Dad’s business” said Aditya.

To unwind, he reads biographies and military history, attends talks on eclectic topics unrelated to law, teaches Constitutional Law and Arbitration at National Law School, and speaks at forums.

His mantra for success is: Compete with yourself alone and let your conscience be your judge. “I am especially grateful to Dr Iqbal Ahmed, my Hindi Master from school for teaching me the meaning of integrity and encouraging the spirit of knowledge and sacrifice in me” he said.

His advice to Gen Y: Seek a career that challenges your faculties and helps you realise your full potential. As far as possible, lean towards public life and try and serve the national interest. Money is not everything, it is ancillary.

Insure and be secure
 

I don’t need insurance. I don’t think anything will happen to me. Isn’t this what one feels when that irritating insurance advisor contacts one with offers for products ranging from life insurance to medical insurance to insuring one’s homes? The insurance company will probably come up with an insurance solution for anything you hold dear.

Let’s talk of life and medical and travel insurance here. Many financial experts consider insurance as a cornerstone of sound financial planning citing some of the following reasons for purchasing life insurance – (1) Insurance creates a source of savings. (2) It replaces income for dependents if the main bread-winner dies. (3) Life insurance can pay the insured person’s funeral and burial costs, probate and other estate administration costs, debts and medical expenses not covered by health insurance. (4) Insurance helps create an inheritance for heirs. (5) It can help make charitable contributions by making a charitable organisation a beneficiary of the life insurance policy/ies.(6) Most life insurance policies help in tax planning within certain limits and conditions, and (7) in case of a ‘quasi-government’ company such as LIC, the premiums that one pays help in nation building – LIC lends the money to companies and national and state governments.

In India, healthcare is expensive, medical insurance can help in reducing the financial burden. Tax benefits are also available within specified limits and conditions for premiums paid. Medical expenses are higher if one falls sick abroad – travel insurance can be availed of at very low cost – a few hundred rupees for periods as low 14 days and sum insured (SI) amounts of US $100,000 and more. Consult your insurance advisor.

-The writer is a qualified insurance and financial advisor. Reach him at tarachand.w@gmail.com

Megamart finds a fine fit
 

Behind the swish of the skirt or the rustle of the silk, there is a lot of technology. Not just in design, but also in helping garments reach the stores on time, predicting trends and streamlining other business processes.

So when textile maker Arvind’s retail venture Megamart wanted to expand its value apparel stores, it needed an enterprise resource planning solution that could provide it with a backbone – a scalable platform to manage its processes, from supply-chain to stores. There were several vendors to choose from. After evaluations, the firm gave the thumbs up to Oracle Retail. This solution, Megamart believes, can support its plans to establish more than 250 large and small format stores across the country over the next four years. The solution has cost the company Rs 15 crore and will be implemented in several phases over the next 24 months.

In a way, the partnership is a big deal for both the firms. While the solution will ensure that Megamart’s customers ultimately find the right brand, style and size in time, perhaps makes the firm more profitable, Oracle also gains a big Indian name in the retail space – globally, the firm is already big in the sector – it counts the world’s top 20 retailers as its customers.The retail chain found Oracle attractive on many counts. First was its merchandise management module that would now allow Megamart to spot trends in customer behaviour, price points, buying habits and any regional bias among other trends.

Second was a pricing module that helps in tracking profitability and an inventory module that would aid the retailer in gaining stock visibility, besides efficient warehouse management. The chain’s officials were impressed by an in-store unit meant for better customer experience as well as a planning suite for demand forecasting. In short, with this deployment, Megamart may now increase its inventory turns, improve forecast accuracy, enable shorter replenishment lead times while boosting service levels.

Outsourcing educated pardesis
 

The education system in the city is gaining a lot of attention with many colleges being granted autonomous, even deemed university status. The city has attracted a huge number of foreign students in the past and the numbers are rising every year. So what makes the city stand out amongst the other cities in the country as far as education is concerned? Why do expats prefer Bengaluru for higher education?

According to Rinzin Lhan, a Bhutanese Management student from CMR College, “The simplistic and disciplined education system along with the moderate climate of the city blends well for expats. This makes Garden City a hot destination for higher education. Also, some of the best colleges in India are located here.”

The city’s education system is considered to be one of the best in the country. This is an important factor which attracts expats to the Silicon Valley of India for higher education.

“We have highly educated teachers and lots of facilities are provided in our college to help students excel in studies. We don’t have these luxuries back in Bhutan,” adds Rinzin

Some expats prefer the tutelage in the city because quality education is much cheaper here when compared to their own countries. The education standard too has remained consistent over the years, says students.

Kato Keneth Lukaija, a Tanzanian student in the city says, “Quality education in Bengaluru costs much less than in Tanzania. I pay $ US 800 as the fee for my entire course here, where as the same education back home would cost me more than $ US 1200. Also, the Indian education system is much more advanced than the one followed in Africa.”

One of the major reasons foreign students come to the city is their zeal to learn English. Also, Bengaluru’s education system holds an edge over the others in terms of interactive studies and discipline. “Many Africans including me, prefer to study in Bengaluru because we are well exposed to English language here. Also, the education system follows the interactive classroom mode which is very important for overall development of the student,” adds Kato, who is presently completing his BA, Psychology course from Christ College.

For many, Bengaluru is also the place where one can get quality education without missing out on socialising and partying.

“When I came to the city two years ago, the social life in the city was great. There were lots of options for clubbing and partying, which appealed to me greatly. I also found the city relatively safer than other cities and was amazed by the fact that some of the top colleges in the country are located here. This was the main reason why I choose Bengaluru for my higher education,” says Thousif Yaseem, a student in the city who hails from Muscat, Oman.

Namma Bengaluru attracts a huge number of foreign students every year. But, now after the serial blasts and ban on live music and partying in the city, will the scenario remain the same? We will simply have to wait and see.

Alone in India
 

To say I traveled alone is not accurate. One is rarely alone in India, a nation with a population that tops 1 billion. Travelling around the nation’s southern horn, with stops at Mysore, Kochi, Alleppey, Kottayam, Madurai, Mahabalipuram, Chennai and Pondicherry, I was a magnet not only for the ubiquitous hawkers and “guides”, but also for students who wanted to practice their English, mothers who wanted me to take pictures of their babies and flocks of school children. At times I felt like the pied piper, but never was I lonely.

The homestay arrangements turned out to be a good way to meet Indian families and fellow travellers. The hosts equip rooms in their homes for tourists and provide meals. The ones in which I stayed were comfortable and welcoming. The homestay hosts also arrange group activities for guests.

In Kochi, I took a sunset backwater tour in shrimp-fishing waters with a British couple. A group of us took a guided hike through a spice forest in the spectacular region of the Western Ghats. In Alleppey, our host introduced me and a German tourist to a toddy shop; we agreed that fermented coconut juice was not our drink of choice.

To travel an Indian highway is to watch an endless pageant. I saw funeral processions, friendships and fist fights. Women spread laundry alongside the road, and people sold mats, potatoes, shoes, beverages and bananas. I learned that, when we drove over branches spread along the roads, we were helping to harvest mustard seeds by knocking them out of their pods.

People feel free to strike up conversations anywhere. An Indian clergywoman who had studied in Ohio stopped by to talk on the overnight train. A Muslim man, who sold jewellery at a seaside resort, offered tea and talked on and on about his dream of going to Iraq and fighting Americans. A smiling woman at a temple told me proudly about her nursing studies.

India receives more European tourists than Americans. The people I met were pleased to have a guest from the US and delighted to talk about their country, their families, their education, their hopes and dreams.

At night, I tried to recapture the conversations and experiences in my notebook. But travel is about encounters and surprises, and going it alone encourages a good deal of both. Not once did I regret bashing on.

fun at fusion lounge
 

Namgay Tenzin Student

I love to spend my free time on Brigade Road. It’s the happening place in the city.ῠ We often go to the Fusion Lounge in Wednesdays, especially when they organise Bhutanese nights. We get to meet a lot of fellow Bhutanese students and professionals. Though these days, because of the ban on dancing, we don’t have as much fun as we used to, but still we get to interact a lot with others. I also love the oriental nights at the Fusion Lounge. I often go shopping in Brigade Road. My favourite shopping destinations are Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Levi’s, Lee and Benetton.

Charity dos are a rage now
 

Trushna and Ashwin Tibrewala organised a special charity screening of Bachna Aye Haseeno at PVR. The entire P3 crowd was spotted at the event. What better way to celebrate Independence Day, people were heard quipping, though not many were sure what charity they were supporting. Those who were not invited were left to sit sulking at home, as Friday was a dry day are all the pubs were shut.

Another party everyone hopes to get invited to is Bisket Srikant’s b’day bash at FBar on Monday. Last year the man made news when Salman Khan wished him and partied with him at Touch. The special star guest this year is a close guardedῠ secret, sources reveal.

Ladies in the news

DJ Sharon has been missing in action in the city for sometime now. She is on an India Tour, hopping from one city to another and has just completed the North India belt. Her current favourite though is the Waltair Club at Vizag, where over 700 loyal patrons gather to make any bash a huge success.

Another girl who is in news in the party circuit is ITC PRO Nitya Iyengar. A pleasant face, Nitya adds life to any party with her charming demeanour. However, it’s the grace with which she slips into mini skirts and saris with equal ease is what leaves everyone stunned.

 

 Features of the Week

 

 

Deccan Chronicle

Blogbusters

10 Aug

Blogbusters
 

Who says Bollywood stars are an insulated lot? Not their fans at least. Ever since the baap of all actors, Amitabh Bachchan publicly announced that he has started blogging on Bigb.bigadda.com, his blog is inundated with messages from thousands of fans. Bloggers have found the perfect medium to bridge the gap and stay tuned into updates on their favourite icons’ lives. Fans believe this is an intimate form of communication, almost like an entry into the star’s inner world.

No wonder star blogs have become hopelessly addictive. Be it aamirkhan.com or mynameiskaran.com (Karan Johar) or duskadum.blogpsot.com (Salman Khan), or rgvvarma.spaces.live.com (Ram, Gopal Varma)῅Bollywood personalities are hooked to this medium as they find it a personal canvas to vent their emotions and express opinions. Amitabh Bachchan, who is currently on his Unforgettable tour in the US, has been blogging at all odd hours every single day. Sometimes his entries are short and crisp and he’s instantly apologetic about lack of time. There are other days where he finds it hard to conceal his elation at the response to the tour. His childlike glee is evident in an excerpt from his blog:

Day 95

LOS ANGELES!! LOS ANGELES!! LOS OF ANGELES!!

What an audience! What a show! What response! Simply incredible!

It has been the best ever for me. And all the credit goes to the utterly fantastic fans and audience at the LA Sports Arena, that packed the venue right up to the rafters and just egged and shouted and screamed us into a performance that all of us will remember for a lifetime.

I popped every antibiotic available, every energiser around, prayed as hard as I could and gave it all I had. I don’t know how it all happened, but it happened. I stand up in salutation to the people at the venue, to the people of Los Angeles, to all the fans and well-wishers. You did it! And I humbly bow down to you with the deepest respect and love. Thank you!!

We need your prayers and wishes,

Amitabh Bachchan

Actress Koel Purie believes that the film fraternity has always set trends. “Since blogging has become such a huge trend, why should the industry be left behind? If Mr Amitabh Bachchan sounds articulate, it is because that’s the way he speaks. If Salman sounds blunt it’s because he speaks from the heart. I’m not surprised that blogs have become popular because it is a direct interaction between the star and his fans. I have a professional blog called onthecouchwithkoel and the feedback has been heartening so far.”

The web page of director Karan Johar’s blog offer a visual treat for fans who get to see Hrithik and AB in conversation, Jaya and AB sharing an intimate moment, SRK and his daughter Suhana in a tight clinch. Here’s an excerpt:

Reel Reminiscing

Wednesday, July 30, 2008 12:47:04 PM

The other day at home sifting through piles of memories, I came across some pictures that instantly transported me to a time in my life that meant so many things to me, and the people surrounding me. The making of my second film, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham was a larger than life experience. The scale and opulence of the film has been talked about for years, but in truth, the film had a cast that we may never see together on screen again. The characters had lives that were unabashed and indulgent, and my actors played that with confidence. Most importantly, it was the film of mine that my father loved the most.

Bollywood super brat Salman Khan seems to have a one-point agenda. His blog has largely been used to clear conceptions about himself. And going by the controversies the star seems to be involved in, it is a full-time job.

While enough has been written and televised about the famous feud between Sallu and SRK on Katrina Kaif’s birthday bash at Olive in Mumbai, our stud of a star wanted to have the last word. And what better way to express his anger than the blog. Here’s a recent update:

Day 37 – 10 Ka Dum

Friday, July 25, 2008

For the next few days you will hear and read a lot of shit about me, a lot of it. Keep on reading it῅but don’t react to it. I don’t. Like sometimes when you are travelling in a fast car and you find a dog chasing your car῅barking away. You don’t stop the car and start reacting to the dog῅u don’t῅there’s no point. I don’t wish to react. I don’t have the time for it. Besides, I don’t understand the language of dogs, except for my two – Myson and Myjaan.

Unfortunately, in our industry the developing trend is not to celebrate others’ success῅ every time another person is successful there will be someone trying to pull him down. You don’t increase your own efforts to become successful but try to always decrease someone else’s success῅ that’s the mantra of the industry.

I chose to remain silent. I do not have the time to spend reacting. But even silence speaks. Silence makes more noise than thunder. ῅Bandar sher ko chidhata hai῅. Sirf aawaaz kar sakta hai… Kabhi sher ko maar sakta hai? He can’t do anything. But when the lion roars, a whole pack of monkeys fall from trees!

So keep on reading῅read all the negatives῅read till they get tired of writing. Everyone goes through this῅but not for long. I say just look good, feel good and do good, that’s it. I love you all.

But film critic Deepa Gahlot, who has been at the receiving end of filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma’s ire, feels that this trend is short-lived. “It will fizzle out soon as none of these personalities have that kind of time. An Amitabh Bachchan takes time out of his daily schedule to blog. However it’s more of an one-sided affair. For instance, Ramu accused me of peddling scripts to filmmakers and when I sent him a rejoinder denying it, he didn’t carry my reply. If you want clarification, ask me questions through a public forum and I’m willing to reply. But it doesn’t happen that way,” she says.

Ram Gopal Varma claims that he is not net-savvy but believes that blogging is the medium of the future. “This is the perfect way for celebrities to represent facts correctly. I believe that anyone who is interested in personal and first-hand information gets it straight from the horse’s mouth,” he says. Here’s an excerpt from the director’s blog:

Ram Gopal Varma

Reactions to reactions:

Instead of reviewing reviews of Contract I decided to do that on my series of reactions henceforth. If the idea is to react to the reactions of various people on my thoughts and works, then why should I give special attention to the Khalids and the Deepas of the world? I find more juicier, bitchier and insightful comments coming from others. Come on guys. Let’s have fun!

But what about the allegation that stars use blogs to hit out at critics? “At the end of the day, a blog reflects the actor’s personality. Something in my blog that some perceive as rude could appear funny to others. It is a matter of perspective. At any rate I’m not as articulate as Mr Bachchan and what I express are my random thoughts,” he says.

Actor Akshay Kumar is all set to start his blog but has admitted in a televised interview that he will not use the medium to take pot-shots at his colleagues.

However there are some actors like a Shah Rukh Khan who simply do not have the time or inclination to blog, and others like actor Arjun Rampal have started getting interested in the medium. Says Arjun, “I think it’s cool and a great way to stay in touch with fans. I haven’t read any of the blogs but I’m sure they are fun. I personally haven’t looked at blogging yet but who knows I might do so sometime soon.”

While all star blogs are accessible, one has to create a special user name and password in order to gain entry to Aamir Khan’s blog. This is a new development. Wonder why Khan feels the need to make his netizens compulsorily create an ID. Perhaps the info on his blog is exclusive and the finicky Khan wants to ensure that only die-hard fans log onto his blog. Will the rest of the Bollywood fraternity follow this trend? Let’s wait and watch.

Rocky relationships run deep
 
By Dr Sharda Batra

My niece Jea has had a constant feature in her life – her trials and conflicts with a classmate she just cannot get rid of or wish away. Her friend/enemy has continued to bully, tease and torment her since kindergarten. Jea has tried reasoning, arguing, ignoring and complaining about her. Nothing seems to work.

Naina, an attractive married woman and mother of two, was intensely attached to her broad-shouldered dad and instinctively searched for him in any man she related to, including the one she married. On going through some therapy sessions including one of past life catharsis, Naina broke down while recounting an incident from her childhood.

Apparently, her father had left her mother for another woman who already had a daughter. One day, her father invited her for a nature camp. Naina, who was all of nine years, was delirious with joy at sharing a good time with the man she loved so dearly. However, when she reached there she found that her father was accompanied by his new family and probably had invited her to introduce her to them. Naina said she would never forget how she sat alone under the stars and wept as if her heart would break. Her father was not really interested in her for her own sake, the purpose of this outing was a practical one and not motivated by sheer love. Naina felt terribly let down. The hurt and expectation of the same flavour of love from her man continued to mar her relationships.

Most times we are related to or associated with people who bruise us not just physically, but also our fragile sense of who we are, our social images and professional standings. Generally, such people are very close to us, like a parent or lover is. At times it could be a colleague, a market competitor or even a house-help. This someone knows how to feather touch your feelings till your emotions overwhelm and carry you away in their powerful and blind current. Reason and logic fail, perceptions turn wonky, and the overruling emotion is of being rejected, humiliated, pushed or manipulated, depending on the person and situation.

The threads of such a relationship form a web and you find yourself inextricably trapped in the net. And if one actively gets out of the relationship, one finds that though the name and form of the next contender changes, the web and its pulls and restrictions remain the same. The prison remains the same, only the prisonkeeper changes.

Why is it that human lives and relationships follow some archetypal themes? Why does loving someone often hurt? Why do we suffer most at the hands of those we trust the most? What are the impulses which attract us to some people and is there a technique to detach from painful patterns?

Each of us has an awareness or consciousness, which has many layers. The most superficial layer is of thoughts and perceptions. Deeper are symbols, dreams and memories. Deepest is raw energy and a connection to all beings and every event.

Life is eternal and we get attracted to the same person, group of people again and again, driven by invisible forces and intangible threads of energy created by past actions, forgotten words and ignored thoughts. Some karmic debt of give and take and the law of this karmic exchange make sure that we encounter the same person. The material universe is governed by some laws – the law of gravity, the law of magnetism, etc. The law of cause and effect is one such infallible law. Every cause has an equal and opposite effect, says Newton and the sage nods wisely in assent. Past Life Regression has revealed instances where a man cheats on his wife causing her immense anguish. The triangle is replicated in another lifetime and the wife and the other woman swap roles with the other woman now playing the wronged spouse. Or a violent husband and his wife may exchange actions. However, all karmic replays are not so simple and the guru or the best friend may be born as an only child to a couple and by his untimely demise hasten the evolution of their spirit.

As you sow so you shall reap with intention being the most important factor in judgement.

It is startling (to say the least) when one realises that one has been in the same drama with probably the same person for lifetimes. The purpose of this drama and replay is to rise above it, through it. For accounts to be squared, one or both/all the parties involved have to transcend the conflict by allowing the pain to deepen their understanding of the universality of human nature.

For any of us caught in an unhappy karmic exchange the steps to follow would be:

1. Remind yourself that you yourself have attracted this person/situation in your life by some causes and energies that you have created.

2. That what you intensely love or grossly abhor, in other words whatever disturbs you in the other, is a projection of attributes deep in that part of your consciousness that is universal. All that I detest is something I am capable of. I need to accept this.

3. Train your mind and body to retain their equanimity at every stressful juncture. So conquer your inner nature and do not lose your cool. Neither does it help to clam up and withdraw.

4. Acceptance plays a key role. Accept that if you are unique so is the other person, and give him the space to express his uniqueness.

5. A deep compassion and unconditional love flows which either heals the relationship or carries you to another frequency where you now attract someone of that frequency.

If you introspect, allow yourself to undergo a cathartic flushing, there is always something which has to emerge from the deep recesses of your consciousness to be manifested in daily life.

An increasing awareness of who you are, your shadow areas and also the strengths, are thrown into visibility by the friction of this interaction. A seasoning of the personality and ripening of the soul is catalysed by this ceaseless interaction and energy (karmic) exchange over lifetimes.When you view a relationship from this perspective and take responsibility for your change, slowly there is realisation which clarifies and consoles. More than a squaring of karmic accounts, is the fact that the ferment of the emotional exchange in a relationship adds maturity to the soul and brings a realisation of its true identity.

Gradually, it dawns that the other is another aspect of you and that all relationships have a purpose – to guide you to your self.

Each one is here on his own trip and yet we are together in the journey – to aid, to teach and train and enlighten ourselves through the other. Like Gibran said – “Be like the pillars of a temple. Let there be spaces in your togetherness.”

The writer is a psycho-spiritual counsellor, alternate therapist, medical specialist and pathologist

God inspired me to move on
 
By Ritu Kumar

I see God in the rising sun, in the raindrops slapping on the ground, in the snow settling on the mountains, and in my inner self. I have always believed that it has to be more than just science to make these things happen. Although this understanding might surpass us, as we are human beings who are limited and bound to material bodies, there’s someone watching all of us for sure. He is someone who is more than just a creator of this universe.

Looking back to where I started my journey of spirituality, my memories take me back to the time when I was 26. I started working from Serampore, a city in the Hooghly district in West Bengal. That was the place where I learned printing. The city is very close to my heart. My first sari was printed in the same place when I was 26. After 10 to 15 years, around the time when my block prints became a rage among designers and many industrialists, people started stealing and duplicating my designs.

I acknowledged that the mills in Varanasi and Surat were not only copying my designs, but also started selling them and were making big moolah. I felt dejected. It was a very low phase of my life as my exclusive designs were everywhere in the market, without my name. I decided to enter the combat zone and take these mill owners to court. The journey was so arduous that I sometimes feel that God cradled me in his own hands at that point of time. From there, a fight began and I won the first copyright case in the country.

Since I was given the copyright for my prints, we started raiding many industries and factories, which were stealing my designs. One day, in Serampore, a premise was raided. I was taken aback to see how the designs which were carved out of my soul and heart, were conveniently being copied and sold out like trash. We successfully shut the place down, but the grief clung to my heart.

On my way back, when I crossed the Ganges, I decided to stop by Belur Math, the city that was founded by Swami Vivekananda. It was there that I realised it wasn’t the end. Sitting there, on the banks of the holy river Ganges, God gave me the inspiration to move on. That event signalled that I was ready to move on with my life. While it didn’t mean the end of my grief, that evening on the banks of Ganges brought me a peace I hadn’t experienced before. It felt as if God whispered into my ears that I’m not alone, and there’s a long way to go before I give up. That knowledge was no small thing. Up until then I’d experienced a roller-coaster of emotions, many of which centered on rage and fear. My process of healing began from that very moment.

As told to Shruti Badyal

Democracy needs a certain context
 

I love democracy, I love freedom. But to transform a country which has lived for 2,000 years in slavery is not possible through democratic means; it will take 2,000 years or even more. The mind of India has become accustomed to slavery, and when you give freedom suddenly to slaves they go berserk. It is like suddenly throwing open the doors of a prison and releasing all the prisoners, making them free.

l Democracy needs a certain context which is missing in India

We have more problems than we had before. We have not been able to solve a single problem; we have created thousands of other problems.

The slavery has gone into the very blood and bones, into the very marrow of the nation. To uproot it, something surgical is needed. Just telling people to be free is not enough. And how can the surgery be done if democratic means are adopted? Because “democratic means” simply means just telling people to be more understanding, to be more democratic, to be more independent. But that is not going to help. It is like telling an ill person to be healthy.

l A surgery is needed

Something drastic is needed, something radical is needed, not only medical treatment but something surgical. That is possible only if for 15 years at least the country lives under a benevolent dictatorship. Then compulsory birth control can be imposed on the people. Otherwise their freedom to reproduce is going to create so many problems that no government can ever solve them. By the time you solve a few problems, thousands more people will have arrived with all their problems.

l Poor people cannot be democratic

And when there is so much poverty, so much starvation, talking about democracy is all nonsense. It is like playing a beautiful song on the flute before a hungry man. The song is beautiful but to play the song before a hungry person is absurd, it is ridiculous.

The so-called Indian democracy helps only to increase its problems, to increase violence, because when people are hungry they become violent. These communal riots and all the rape, murder, arson, these show that the animal is surfacing.

l Democracy is borrowed from the west

This democracy helps only the politicians. It is better to drop this empty word “democracy”; it is just a beautiful word borrowed from others. In fact, all the great Indian leaders were educated in England. They saw democracy working beautifully there. They came back to India; they had seen democracy functioning perfectly well. It can function in England, but where is the context here? India should think first about its own tradition, history, past, and in that context we should create a government.

Courtesy Osho International Foundation/www.osho.com

Ash is everything I could ask for
 

When I am asked how does it feel to be married, I have to think hard because not much has changed really. I am living with my best friend, who is a great companion and she has made life easy for me. Ash is all proper, and correct, while I can be clumsy and a bit all over the place. As it is I don’t think it’s easy to live with men, and Ash has fit in perfectly with my life. Everyday is a learning and growing experience, and when you are with someone like her, there is bound to be a lot of exchange of experiences, stories which keep every day interesting and challenging. Sometimes I do have to try and match up to her, you can’t always let the wife have the upper hand, can you!

Marriage has been a slow, natural and gradual progression for us – first we were friends and then we started getting to know each other and became close to each other. But I won’t say we are still in our honeymooning period, because I have been constantly working through the last year and so has she. So whenever she’s away shooting, I try and be with her and vice versa. Every married couple would try and do that, to try and snatch a few more quality moments with their partners. There’s nothing wrong with that.

It’s not like Ash stops me from hanging out with my friends. But having said that, once you get married and have someone to go back home too, it’s natural that your priorities change. But I haven’t deserted any of my friends as it’s claimed, neither are we staying aloof from the industry. It’s not like we have become an island in ourselves or something. This whole thing about us laughing at Priyanka and Harman on stage is a ridiculous allegation – that would be very ill mannered, and neither of us is brought up that way.

We understand there’s always going to be speculation about us as a couple because of who we are. And I wouldn’t be foolish to say that our relationship is just like any other ‘normal’ couple. Firstly, I don’t understand what normal is. And secondly, given the external factors that constantly play a hand, it affects the scenario. Ash was hoping things would cool down for us in this regard after we got married, but I always knew it was just the beginning.

Now we are getting used to hearing stories of our fights, public showdowns… which are so untrue. If I have to pick a fight with Ash, I won’t choose a hotel lobby to do so. Give us that much credit at least. Of course, we have our differences and we argue and discuss things, but we also have a rule that we sort out the issues before going to bed rather than letting them fester while sleeping over it.

Ash is everything and more than what I could have asked for. Does she cook for me? No, she doesn’t have the time. But does she look after me; give me a sense of perspective on things? Yes.

Is my marriage affecting our work? How can it? It’s not like we are constantly glued to each other and only working with each other. There is no brand Bachchan as it’s made out to be. There is nothing one is trying to prove to any one. Not when we are making an appearance, not in the shows we are doing at the world tour, nor in the statements we make. Life’s just bliss right now, and nothing can change that.

Family Fission Goes ‘Critical’
 
By Ranjan Kamath

On August 15, India enters what in the 21st century is deemed ‘middle age’; a time when we consider our achievements and contemplate the legacy we confer on our children – India’s next generation.

Our Prime Minister will pride our imminent membership of the nuclear club, from the ramparts of the Red Fort but what will not find mention is the Indian nuclear family ‘going critical’.

My parents and other children of independence selflessly provided us ‘nuclear’ security built with the brick and mortar of tradition and values.

Meanwhile our children, for whom we create this future energy, deplete emotionally while we revel in the empowerment of having achieved critical mass with our knowledge economy.

The price paid for this bacchanalia of empowerment, is the ‘nuclear fission’ of the family; cocking a snook at the continuity of tradition and undermining familial security sans social safeguards.

Under imminent threat is the atom of the nuclear family – the child.

Our constitutional fathers cannot be faulted for not anticipating this sorry status; else they would have guaranteed children fundamental rights to both parents at all times.

In 1990 with India signing the internationally legally binding UN Convention on the Rights of the Child http://www.unicef.org/crc/ India committed itself to ensuring children’s rights and accountability before the international community.

With divorce becoming the rule, rather than exception, children are subjected to parental abuse in custodial battles. They are reduced to disputed ‘property’ rather than ‘hearts and minds’.

For five years I was a father to two sons, before being plunged into the insanity of a custody battle. Instantly, black coats oversaw my mutation from loving father to social psychopath. Blind Justice sanctified my ‘guilt’, generously affording me time to establish my innocence.

My ensuing campaign was not for child custody – never having lost the hearts and minds of my children but for the restoration of my children’s rights to a father, fighting for the right to fulfil my parental duties and responsibilities.

I was advised to “move on, get married and sire more children”by well-wishers who considered mine a losing battle. Feminists and social workers scoffed at my determination, legally secure in the “infallibility of the woman”.

A female officer of justice, admonished me for “going against Dharma” by seeking access to my children, till I reminded her we were in the precincts of law῅ not Dharma!

Five years later, when my sons opted to “stay with Papa”, the State Womens’ Commission ineffectually attempted to ‘lynch’ me with justice. As a man and father, I had ‘violated’ the rights of a woman by depriving a mother of her children.

While the judicial system yawns awake from its anachronistic slumber the processes of justice remain punitive for children, with custodial matters taking years to resolve. Men are legally emasculated by the urban woman who abuses the protection granted by the justice system -to her rural counterpart -to wreak vengeance on husband and father.

Skilful lawyers scavenge on the remnants of a nuclear family in its death throes, earning handsomely from warring couples who could have invested instead in their child’s education. Feminists and social workers reduce all men to village drunks and brutish wife-beaters to justify their raison d’etre ignoring the social dichotomy of rural and urban India. Ofcourse, the rights of the ‘vulnerable’ child are being ‘protected’ too, by denying it a father!

In my encounter with child rights’ organisations, I was comforted with the information that abuse in the eyes of the law, includes child labour, physical and sexual violence, not mental and certainly not parental abuse!

If we continue to ‘split our atoms’, we will nurture a dysfunctional generation of youth with explosive potential beyond our social control.

So, let not fathers and mothers seek votes of confidence to safeguard our atomic interests; if we cannot prevent fission between parents, let us prevent fall-out by evolving parenting protocols to insulate our atoms, so that India can envision an energy rich nuclear future.

You can mail your responses to ranjan.kamath@ gmail.com

Women men won’t commit to
 

“I am always attracted to the men that have commitment issues,” said a recently dumped friend, valiantly trying to figure out what went wrong. “I think I’m just attracted to the type of man who isn’t into a relationship. I get too emotionally attached but all they’re really after is a quick shag and then they want to move on to their next conquest.”

But I wasn’t so sure. The last three men she’d dated had all started out desperately wanting to shack up with her in connubial bliss. (After all, she is 6-foot with a hot Pilates bod and a tomboy streak that sends any man’s pheromones spinning in a tizzy.) Yet after dating them for around three to four months, everything suddenly goes pear-shaped. All three have whipped out the age-old antiquated axiom: “I’m just not ready for a relationship.”

While she’s currently sitting at zero-for-three and mightily confused, it could be easy to conclude a pertinent message that has emerged: It’s not them, it’s her. Coming on too strong, perhaps? Too emotionally needy?

When I suggested to this little fact to her, she wasn’t buying it.

“Maybe it’s because subconsciously I don’t want to commit,” she retorted. “I’m repeatedly asked out by the Mr Nice but I’m just not interested. He doesn’t give me that excitement I crave either.”

There are many women around the world that are complaining of the same conundrum: They simply can’t snag a boyfriend (let alone a husband) or even a relationship that lasts more than the four-month mark. So what is it about these women that makes an eligible man run a mile?

In trying to come up with a shortlist of things of things women shouldn’t do to get a man to commit, I decided to consult a bunch of folks to determine where the women are going wrong.

Women who are too needy. When women try desperately to get their man to commit, she tends to turn (in his eyes) into a bonafide bunny-boiling psychopath who is trying to cramp his style and close him in. A continuous stream of phone calls, barrage of text messages, invitations, outings with her folks (and temper tantrums if he wants to see his mates), is enough to make him all but run away to the desert to remain celibate for all eternity.

The writer is an author, columnist & dating expert

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

Music tunes in to video games
 

Jayprakash Mehta always had a passion for classic rock. He was the guitarist of his college band, and now after 20 years, he is passing on his passion to his children, but in a playful manner. “Thanks to video games,” says Jayprakash. “I always wanted my children to feel the music, the way I do. Thanks to Rock Band, today both me and my children share a common interest in music,” adds Jayprakash. Recently, video games have proved to be the trusted missionaries of music, and in a way are promoting music of the bygone era, immortalising legendary names among the younger generation. After the Internet, musicians today are looking up to video games to reach out to their fans, and this venture has been mutually beneficial for both the musicians as well as the video game manufacturers.

Testimony to the popularity of the games are international acts like Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith, Metallica, Guns ‘n’ Roses to name a few. In the coming years, Harmonix’s Rock Band-II game will feature Guns ‘n’ Roses’ Shackler’s Revenge from their most anticipated album Chinese Democracy along with tracks by AC/DC and Rush. Another game manufacturer Activision, recently released a version of Guitar Hero dedicated to Aerosmith, and another version based on metal gods Metallica is due by next year. There are bands like Motley Crew and Rush which are re-mastering their hits after making endorsement deals with various video game manufacturing companies.

So, are video game manufacturers looking at music as the new tool to promote games or is it the other way round? Says Chirag Srikant, a game developer from Jump Games, “Though music is a very important part of video games, I don’t think games can do without it. Endorsing musicians for background scores in video games is a unique business model. Games like Rock Band and Guitar Heroes have only a few characters and levels in them, so they are banking on music to help them do good business.” However, the popularity of music in video games has also given way to a new genre of music called “video game music”. Today the web has a number of artistes who are termed as video game musicians, and the list seems to be incorporating new names on everyday basis (Mark Griskey, Inon Zur to name a few).

Though this “newly-found-friendship” between music promoters and video game manufacturers are creating waves in the international market, it is yet to catch up in India. “The Indian market for games is picking up. However, a majority of Indians still take gaming casually, a change in this attitude can help India experience a boom in gaming, and this can eventually help the musicians in the long run,” says Jessy Rapczak, a US-based game developer, who is currently setting up his business in India.

So, with a recent boom in animation (both in Bollywood and ad films), are Indian musicians ready to follow this international trend and promote their music through video games? “I don’t have a problem, as long as the games maintain an international standard. If given a choice, I will go for a game that will have a global appeal both in terms of the quality of animation and subject,” says Ehsaan Noorani from the composer duo Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. Game developers too are echoing the same notes. Gautam, a mobile game developer for Jump Games says, “It is true that Indian animation has undergone acute changes in the recent past, but we are lagging behind when it comes to meeting international standards. The first priority should be to develop games that have an international appeal, only then we can focus on promoting Indian musicians on the global forum.”

However, there is hardly any doubt that Indian gamers are awaiting this welcome change, and so are the musicians. So, which genre of music will dominate the Indian “gamosphere”? What will be the response of the record labels, as such a joint venture will demand an amicable relationship between record labels and game manufacturing companies? Will this “progressive alliance” be profitable to our musicians, and how will it contribute towards revamping today’s ailing music industry? To this Ehsaan says, “I donthink record labels will have any problems with this venture. In fact, I think they will be more than happy to welcome game manufacturers and promote their games.”

Stressing on the fact that “India is the only country in the globe where record labels retain the intellectual copyrights of a musician”, Ehsaan sees this venture more profitable for record labels than musicians. He adds, “As the copyrights are with the record labels, musicians are bound to follow labels’ decisions. But yes, in terms of royalty, the musicians might get something more than what they usually get.”

So, if you are a die-hard gamer, and have a need for speed for pentatonic guitar arpeggios, this “progressive alliance” between the musicians and video games is sure to sweep you off your feet.

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

Consumer Buying Habits

An international study by A.C. Nielsen has found that worldwide customers prefer to scan the web for their specific requirements of consumer electronic items and a good 80 per cent buy from a store whose website they visited first. So don’t be surprised if the Indian retailer also wakes up to this fact and spruces up his website almost as lavishly as he does his retail outlet.

Technology

eReading is a fast growing market, whereby a single eBook reader can now replace a library of books. Till now the screen size was a limiting factor leading to eye strain. Sometime back we spoke about the future of e-books and how they would soon come in foldable models. Now using a polymer (instead of the conventional silicon) technology Polymer Vision (a spin-off of Philips) is promoting a Readius with a foldable display. And with its mammoth memory you can now carry a whole library virtually in your pocket. Many other conveniences accrue: like comfortable reading while in motion/reading books at the airport, train station, park, anywhere without carrying the load of book/s. Even better is the fact that the battery carries a large charge which can last up to a week. Paperless offices now transform into paperless reading.

Readius΅.

The full display measures 127 mm; it displays 16 shades of grey and has 4 GB of on-board memory for all your e-books. The folded unit is 56mm x 100mm x 21mm. It has about a ten-day battery life and has USB, GPRS/EDGE and DVB-H connectivity to download data wirelessly. Already in the trial mode, the device is expected to hit the stands soon and will change reading habits forever.

TV Picture Quality

The march of technology goes on unabated. The latest fad in the market is the ‘telescopic Pixels’ an organic LED which is slimmer than the conventional LCD with far superior picture and sound quality. The technology works on the principle of several tiny mirrors which help to spread the light and thus increase the brightness and enhance the overall picture clarity.

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

Indian-Born Confused American
 

What will it be? The Orange and Green? The Star Spangled Banner and Pledge of Allegiance? Having spent a significant amount of time in both the United States and India, having loved and hated aspects of both, we’ve been trying to decide where to raise our child.

After much brain-racking and discussion, there are some very significant differences that we’ve uncovered in terms of the value systems of India and the US. We find ourselves perched somewhere in between, see-sawing from side to side depending on the issue at stake.

In the US, it’s very clear that the individual comes first. Children are reared to look after themselves and their own interests, sometimes to the absurdly extreme point of not sharing their toys with others for fear they may catch some infectious germs. That is great, because as parents, we know our child will protect himself and won’t suffer great hurt. As a continuation of this self-protection, there is a focus on civic responsibility and caring for one’s infrastructure.

Littering is a no-no, taxes a must, and looking after the environment you live in is paramount. But in exchange for the sparkling cleanliness and ease, there’s a lack of humanity and warmth. Since we’re looking at extremes, we can say that in India, on the other hand, it is common practice that the individual be subordinated to the common good. Family is important and parents are always right. A child’s individual needs can be dismissed with the snap of a finger and a wave of the hand. And it doesn’t end even if you move out of home. Parents, in-laws, and a battalion of aunties, uncles, and self-dubbed “well-wishers” are only too ready to guide your every move. Here in India, there’s no civic responsibility, no care for the surrounding environment. But although we often do things to make others happy, we are blessed with the love and concern (and two cents!) of any number of people, starting from the milkman, who has been around since the day we were born.

Finally, we decided not to choose. Why deprive our child of either when we’ve been lucky enough to have the best of both? Schooling, friends, lifestyle, everything can be transnational. In today’s age, he can study the same syllabus whether he’s in Timbuktu, China, or Antarctica. In order to achieve this, we’re making a conscious effort to live in both countries. So even though his accent might be a little confused, we’re hoping he ends up appreciating the best and understanding the worst of both India and the United States and everywhere in between.

Designer’s studio
 

The moment I’m asked about my favourite photo-shoot, images of my latest collection flash across my mind. Infused with energy and vigour, this collection is one that makes me feel proud of having created it.

And its shoot was very exciting.

I remember being keyed up about the shoot since I was going to meet Indrani Dasgupta for the first time after her wedding. And as expected, the glow on her face was mesmerising. Stylist Ashima Kapoor made her look even more stunning with natural and light makeup.

We planned to do the shoot in my garden and I think that is the main reason why we all were relaxed and things went on pretty smoothly. It was one of those times when things naturally fall into place, just the way you like them to be. Even the weather was wonderful, breezy and cool – perfect for an outdoor shoot. I remember noticing a certain feminine aura about Indrani. The preparation and the shoot happened in a lovely flow, it felt as if even the weather was complementing the garments.

‘Now, I’m an actor and singer too’
 

New age filmmaker Farhan Akhtar, who has directed films like Dil Chahta Hai, Lakshya and Don, has now taken to acting, much on the lines of Raj Kapoor, Guru Dutt and Aamir Khan – who’ve been extremely successful as both, actors and directors. Farhan reprises the role of a rock star in his very first film, Rock On, which will release this month end.

“I would like to believe it’s my burning passion for acting that led me to act in Rock On! The film’s music is also of the genre that’s closest to me in terms of personal preference – rock. The character was exciting and it was challenging to sing the songs. The time also felt right and it was the next step in realising my creative goals. I am a writer, producer and director – now actor and singer too,” says Farhan.

What was it like to produce a film starring himself?

“The director, Abhishek Kapoor, was very sure he wanted his lead actor to sing the songs. But when I heard the script, regardless of whether I were to act in it eventually depending on how well I sang, I wanted to be a part of it and be associated with it in some way. It was special so I decided to produce it. This script took me back to the Dil Chahta Hai space emotionally, which was a wonderful zone to be in after eight years. It also released the little pent-up musician in me!” says Farhan who plays the guitar with some degree of professionalism.

Farhan is also playing the lead part in The Fakir of Venice directed by Anand Surapur and his sister Zoya’s Luck By Chance. The Fakir of Venice was started before Rock On began. The makers of that film have a certain release strategy in mind; it’s bent more towards the international audience. I play the central character and Annu Kapoor plays the fakir. It’s a black comedy based on a true-life story – how scams, shams and lies are a part of our life. Luck By Chance does not have the conventional format of a hero – it’s an ensemble cast comprising Konkona Sen Sharma, Rishi Kapoor me and some other characters which are integral to the movement of the story,” explains Farhan.

Given he’s doing full-fledged acting parts in these films, did he ever want to be an actor in the first place? “The biggest memory of my growing up years was the hero – the amazing man who could do anything and I was so influenced by films that this was the logical thing to do. But my ideas changed as I grew older and I decided to create films, rather than just be a part of someone else’s film. In fact I have watched actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan and Hrithik Roshan at close quarters when I directed them in my films and we discussed scenes and how they would approach them, albeit in their own different ways. It was very educative. All that information comes to good use as an actor today. I now sub-consciously plot my points according to my scenes,”says Farhan.

Is he confident enough to direct himself? “I don’t know if I can direct myself. It’s difficult for me to focus on just one thing. I need an associate/partner who can look into other aspects when I am acting, but I haven’t found that kind of creative link up yet. Direction takes too much and I haven’t reached the stage where I am so comfortable as an actor to know how to approach my role with ease and direct also. I’m still searching,” says the father of two.

How do his daughters react to him – as a director or an actor? “Shakya is eight years old and she pretty much knows what I do. Akira is only 17 months old but she has taken to the music of Rock On like Shakya had to DCH’s music. I take them along to my sets so that they know what daddy does and understand why he stays away for long spells of time. Akira gets spooked when she sees my promos on television and sees me sitting in the same room!” says the the director-turned actor, smiling. So, what’s easier – directing or acting? “What’s easy is subjective. I feel anything you enjoy doing is easy. Both jobs are very demanding, but direction takes a lot more and is more difficult,” says Farhan who after working with his father Javed Akhtar in Lakshya, is now collaborating with his mother, Honey Irani on a script called Beauty Parlour.

And it’s back to calling the shots come November, for his next directorial venture, Voice from the Sky.

Harman mum about rumours on his split
 
Film news

When the rumours of Priyanka-Harman split broke out, Harman was in Rajasthan shooting for Victory with some of the Aussie cricketers who he’s been good friends with. When his relationship drama was played out in the papers, there was a sympathy wave coming his away and the cricketers were insistent on taking him out on a boy’s night out to cheer him up.

Co-star Amrita Rao apparently went a step further almost offering him condolences over the split. According to a unit hand she had even written him a card saying something to the effect that it wasn’t the end of the world and he would bounce back and should keep his chin up.

Initially, since all of them were being so sweet to him, Harman didn’t want to burst their bubble and played along hoping they would realise that no such thing had happened.

But then when things didn’t stop, he was going red-faced trying to explain that things weren’t as reported in the press and he wasn’t heart-broken at all. Imagine the embarrassment his co-stars suffered. But they do deserve credit for actually making Harman admit that he is seeing Priyanka, something the media hasn’t been able to do.

Vidya takes her designer to task

Vidya Balan’s woes continue with the recent flak she received for her awful dress sense in Kismat Konnection. Probably that’s why she was seen taking her new designer to task on the sets of her next film produced by Vishal Bharadwaj.ῠ The hapless designer who had reached the sets with a bagful of clothes for Vidya to choose from was shocked to see her not liking any of the outfits specially made for her.

Designers mumble, ‘somebody please tell Vidya, given her limitations with the western attire there is only so much a designer could do’. But Vidya was smarting under negative feedback she had just received for her latest film and like they say hell hath no fury like a woman criticised. Vidya’s tirade against the designer and her refusal to shoot in outfits given to her, held up the shoot and the director himself had to come to her van and cajole her to relent. She did, but only when she was allowed to use her own outfit that was quickly organised to avoid any further delay.

Does life imitate art or vice versa?
 
By Vikram Bhatt

August 3 was friendship day and co-incidentally my classmates and I happened to arrange an evening together after about 13 years on that same day. It was a nice coming together and then as the evening wore on I wondered that if I put this in a film that school friends met after years on friendship day, the critics would say how very corny and I would never hear the last of it. and yet it was true and it happened.

Later as I drove home I wondered if life imitated art or did art imitate life? This has been an age-old discussion and one that has many consequences.

Last week after the Ahemdabad blasts a journalist from a magazine called me and asked me if I felt some blasts were inspired from the recently released film Contract. I begged ignorance and said that I had not seen Contract and don’t have a clue about the sequence in question. Though I had this to say to the journalist, considering that Contract released only a week before the blasts, it would be really scary to know that a terrorist outfit could plan, fund and execute a bombing in less than a week. Then this would be a really unsafe place to live in and yet I know that this cannot be true. So itjust a mere co-incidence that the film and the blasts all came together, or will we never know the truth?

I had a sequence in my film Ghulam where Aamir Khan runs towards an oncoming train and the sequence we called Dus Dus ki Daud. Later people told me that the youth were indulging in this kind of activity on the tracks after the film, but when I spoke to my writer he said he got the idea from youth that was already indulging in this kind of activity. So once again, does life imitate art or does art imitate life?

There are two things that I really muse about in this realm and the first one is that why is that if life imitates, it only imitates the wrong doings of the protagonists and not the right doings? They say that people start smoking and drinking after their on-screen idols do the same but why don’t they respect elders like the heroes and come first in class in all the subjects and fight for the innocent and the down trodden and save the girl from hooligans? So can we say that cinema only inspires the bad and not the good? Is that not really convenient? Blame it on the movies boys, a good whipping horse what?

And then my other point is, cinema is only about a hundred years old and there is nothing in the world that did not happen before the coming of the movies. There was betrayal, deceit, addictions, rapes, dacoits, intense sexuality, wars, politics, incest – just about everything and so how is life imitating cinema?

Anyone who claims to be original is lying. There are ideas that inspire ideas for sure but nothing inspires our imaginations like life does.

Cinema is a medium that freezes the events of life for everyone to see and keeps them ingrained in celluloid for generations. We cannot be blamed for inspiring the wrong doings, for immortalising them, we stand guilty.

The stuff of legends
 

There have been many biographies of Sir Richard Burton, the renowned and enigmatic Victorian explorer, ethnologist, archaeologist, author, translator, and one of the greatest linguists of his era. Curiously, however, there have been no major novels based on Burton’s extraordinary life. Iliya Troyanov, in a remarkable German novel Der Weltensammler, has corrected this omission. The English translation of his work, The Collector of Worlds, has created a sensual adventure, and an exploration of Burton’s behaviour.

Burton was a brilliantly charismatic scholar and adventurer. Even from an early age he set out to learn all he could about swords and guns. Duelling, riding, smoking, gambling and experiments with various forms of debauchery propelled him through a precocious adolescence, at the end of which, despite an obsession with the acquisition of languages, especially Arabic, he was sent down from Trinity College, Oxford.

But the loss of one opportunity signalled the beginning of another and he joined the British East India Company in 1842, aged 21, as an ensign – the lowest rank of commissioned infantry officer. India held the immediate appeal of having many languages. Burton soon mastered Persian, Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Marathi, and over the next seven years greedily took in all he could find: delving into tantric Brahmin rituals; converting to Sikhism and then Islam; enjoying Eastern erotica; keeping native mistresses; and writing.

Once he began, he kept on writing for the rest of his life. He even gave in to the first stirrings of a lifelong love of disguise, learning the secrets of those with whom he mingled. Burton’s controversial army career (he served under General Charles Napier) ended dramatically because a report he had written on the boy brothels of Karachi came to the attention of Napier’s successor and was considered disgraceful because it was so accurate as to suggest participation on the part of the reporter.

Burton’s departure from the army threatened to destroy him, but he went on to further adventures around the world. He famously entered Mecca in disguise (1853), was wounded in Somaliland, sought the source of the Nile on two separate eventful journeys (1855 and 1857-58) and in 1860 crossed America to visit the Mormons in Salt Lake City.

Immediately after his marriage to the staunchly Catholic Isabel Arundell he embarked on a turbulent diplomatic career, being posted to Fernando Po (1861), then to Santos in 1865 and Damascus (1869). He was sent to Trieste in 1872, where he remained until his death 12 years later. Isabel then burned many of his documents and manuscripts, perpetrating one of the greatest literary crimes of the century.

Troyanov’s sympathetic novel is the product of immense research and understanding. We are led into the author’s imagined history of actual events as seen first through the eyes of Burton’s Indian servant, who introduced him to the languages and mysteries of the East; then from the viewpoint of the Ottoman governor of Hijaz, who conducts an enquiry with the men who accompanied the disguised Burton on his journey to Mecca; and finally we have the account of Sidi Muburak, the former African slave, who led Burton and his companion John Hanning Speke on their ill-fated journey to find the source of the Nile in 1857.

Iliya Troyanov himself is a collector of worlds. He was born in Bulgaria, fled to West Germany with his family to escape persecution, and grew up speaking German before emigrating to Kenya where he learned English.

He is the author of Mumbai to Mecca, an account of his own pilgrimage to Mecca, and in The Collector of Worlds, he has painstakingly followed the outline of Burton’s cryptic career, but unashamedly elaborated on the many frustrating gaps. It is a fascinating revelation, and speaks as much of Troyanov’s personal approach to Burton’s mystery as to any real solution.

In doing so it invites us to share Burton’s passion both for geographical discovery and for the unknowable and the unthinkable.

One of the great values of this absorbing novel is that we are allowed to discover for ourselves the passionate curiosity that shaped Burton’s entire life, where he used language and religion as his passports to a hitherto forbidden world, and where his zeal for adventure knew no bounds.

Troyanov’s scholarship has given us a new understanding of Burton’s world. It is an intensely passionate journey, and a wonderful piece of storytelling.

End of imagination?
 
By Sunil K. Poolani

While growing up reading good literature, it was not books that really fascinated us, but literary journals in which not just stories, poems and essays by the cr
me-de-la-cr
me of the writing world appeared, but those publications also carried analyses of and interviews with great writers, and reviews of their books. Armed with those journals, we debated and literally fought for hours, days, weeks and months together about the contents.

In those pre-liberalisation days, we could not afford the price of those journals (between Rs 2 and Rs 15), and at least 10 poor souls used to savour one single copy; by the time that copy did that tortuous round, it resembled an opponent in a Schwarzenegger movie.

Then, unlike today, many large-selling publications from the stable of big media organisations devoted a fair amount of space for good writing. In English, there were the venerated Illustrated Weekly and the Bombay magazine; both closed shop long time back, thank you. But it is heartening to know that some regional languages still follow that tradition – like Mathrubhumi in Malayalam and Desh in Bengali.

Also, there were these brilliant ‘little’ magazines that originated, since centuries, in far-flung areas like Santiniketan and Karimnagar, espousing issues as diverse as Rabindra Sangeet and Naxalism. They had the lives of fireflies but they burnt bright when they were alive, and every death encouraged another firefly to take shape and shine.

In English, apart from the government-sponsored daft efforts, there were, in the last two decades, some great journals that made a deep dent in literary minds. Civil Lines was one. Founded by the indomitable Ravi Dayal, Civil Lines swiftly became the abode of quintessential new Indian writing. Later, it was edited by the talented duo, Mukul Kesavan and Kai Friese. Nonetheless, like its brethren across the spectrum, it too died an immature death, but not before leaving an indelible mark – challenging the till-then norms by refusing to publish to a set schedule.

There were also similar literary endeavours (some still do exist, just in case) like Chandrabhaga, Biblio, Kavya Bharati, International Gallerie and Yatra. All these followed the model of their international ‘Bible’: the esteemed Granta, the UK-based journal which continues to whet many a connoisseur’s taste for new and good writing across the globe.

Today, literary magazine is a diminishing trade and a difficult passion to indulge in; no serious publisher in the world would risk burning her/his fingers in it today. In the last four years, the third issue of my ambitious ‘quarterly’ journal, Urban Voice, just came out. I, nevertheless, would like to bring it out periodically.

So that is why I watch with rapt admiration when I come across two amazing ventures, Atlas and Little Magazine. The former is brought out by the talented poet and prose writer Sudeep Sen and the latter by a dynamic duo, Antara Dev Sen and Pratik Kanjilal.

Little Magazine has, so far, stood the test of time, and has carved a niche of its own – offering, issue after issue, some of the best original writings in English and translations from even remote Indian tongues. Atlas is just two issues old, and Sen was explaining to me the vicissitudes of all kinds while producing a volume of this oeuvre. “It’s a tough game, unless you have loads of money.”

Hope these last vestiges of intellectual sanity live on in an arid land of crass commercialisation.

Tailpiece

C.P. Scott, the founder editor of The Manchester Guardian, once said, “News is sacred, opinion is free.” If our newspapers hardly believe in reporting news and resort to concocted opinions, a new breed of Indian novels is today banking on contemporary issues and polity for cheap, titillating fictionalisation. What next? I will leave it to you.

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 value the words used in a book’
 

I am an avid reader. I cannot be away from books at all. Almost three books are always with me at a time. Presently, I’m reading Barack Obama’s autobiography and I found it amazing. For me, language matters the most. Being a daughter of an author, I have always been associated with books since my childhood. I value the words used in a book the most.

I like reading poetry and non-fiction. Fiction and bestsellers are least fascinating to me. Though selecting a favourite author is a bit difficult as there are too many I like, Amitav Ghosh, Kiran Nagarkar and Salman Rushdie top my list of favourites. I like the style and depth in their writing.

One book that I have read numerous times is Sare Sukhan Hamare, the collected works of Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. I read this book again and again, and every time I discover a new meaning from Faiz’s beautifully composed verses. I like this book because I have heard Faiz recite many of his poems many times. Moreover, at different stages in my life, every poem comes out with completely different meanings.

Another book that has been truly fascinating is Two Alone, Two Together: Letters Between Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru 1940-1964. It presents the rich inheritance of the Gandhi family. It has all the lessons that Indira Gandhi learnt from her father and later Nehruji learnt from his daughter. It is a beautiful presentation of a father-daughter bonding with a perfect combination of legacy.

Shakespeare’s stratford
 
By Christine Pemberton

Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare, is one of those places that you feel you already know well, even if you are visiting the pretty English town for the first time. It must be all those years of studying Shakespeare at school, that somehow makes everything seem so familiar.

There are streets lined with pretty black and white gabled Elizabethan houses, of which five have special historic significance, since they all relate to Shakespeare’s life.

Visit Hall’s Croft, which used to be the home of Shakespeare’s daughter, Susannah; Nash’s House, and New Place, where Shakespeare died.

Just a short drive out of the town are Mary Arden’s House, the family home of Shakespeare’s mother, and the iconic Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. This much photographed beautiful thatched cottage in Shottery village was the home of Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, before her marriage. We visited Anne Hathaway’s cottage early on a sunny, summer morning, the first people there, just beating a bus load of camera-happy Japanese by a whisker. We wandered through the panelled rooms, stooping to enter the low-beamed doors, and then visited the beautiful gardens. Amongst all the flowers, there is a pretty little arbour with a rustic bench, and you can sit there, press a discreet button, and listen to a private recital of some of the best known Shakespearean sonnets. A real treat.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust manages these five houses, and easiest and most economical way to visit these historic properties is to buy a combined ticket, allowing you to visit them all. If you only have the time or inclination to visit one of these homes, then make it Anne Hathaway’s cottage.

Back in town, take a short stroll along the banks of the river, past the barges and the over-fed ducks, which brings you to the pretty and equally much-photographed Holy Trinity Parish Church. It is here that William Shakespeare was baptised, served as a lay rector of the church, and was buried in the church in 1616.

Although the historical sites are a must, for me the real heart of Stratford is the unpretentious Royal Shakespeare Theatre on the banks of the River Avon. We pre-booked our tickets for Julius Caesar on the Internet, as well as the absolutely fascinating and not-to-be missed backstage tour. We did the tour in the afternoon, and so saw the props and the scenery for the play that we would see later that same night.

They show you everything that is involved backstage, from the sound system, the sets, to the dressing rooms, and the racks of costumes, wigs, boots and costume jewellery. You get see how the props are laid out at the side of the stage, all labelled and meticulously organised – the scroll for this character in this scene, and the sword for that character. Then, much to the childrens’ delight, we went on stage, and saw the set for the opening scene and looked out at the empty auditorium. It really gives you a great feeling of how a theatre works, and that evening when we watched the play, there was an added element of awareness and understanding.

The rhythm of Stratford revolves around the theatre. Restaurants serve early dinners for theatre-goers, all timed to the second, so that you can eat and be in your seat for curtain-up. Pre-order a glass of wine for the interval, and wander out onto the wide terrace on the river bank. Boats drift past in the wonderful light of an English summer’s evening, the ducks are so lazy they can hardly bother to eat the bread people toss to them, and with a little bit of imagination, the scene would hardly have changed since Shakespeare’s time.

The next morning, we wandered round the town centre, pottering around the shops, and then strolled down to the river, fed the ubiquitous ducks, and watched the lock gates open to let barges sail through.

But wait. What was that sound? Tinkly sounding bells. The rhythmic stamping of feet. Clapping. To my great delight, and much to the mystification of the Indian contingent in my family, there was a display of Morris dancing taking place. Morris dancing really is the English at their most eccentric best (I am English, so am perfectly entitled to say this!). Men and women, wearing extravagant clothing, with layers of bells round their ankles and sporting some of the fanciest head-gear you will ever see, dancing around in a circle: a bearded man with his face blackened, and wearing a hat decorated lavishly with flowers – it doesn’t get more eccentric than that.

Watching this display of English mid-summer revelry, I couldn’t but wonder if the great man himself hadn’t watched the same traditional dances, on this very spot by the river, some 400 years ago.

Getting there

By Air: The airport operates flights daily from over 60 national and international destinations. Alternatives include Heathrow Airport, East Midlands Airport and Coventry Airport. The Birmingham International Airport is located a mere 20 miles from Stratford-upon-Avon. Multiple shuttle, coach, and limousine services offer transportation to your final destination.

By Road: To get to Stratford-upon-Avon from London, take the M40 motorway and get off at Junction 15. Distance 102 miles (164 km), journey time approximately 2 hours.

By Train: Stratford-upon-Avon train station is located around half a mile west of the town centre. The town is easily accessible by foot from the station. There are regular services to Birmingham Snow Hill station (around an hour), Warwick (around 30 minutes) and London Marylebone (around two and a half hours).

Tourist information: Stratford-on-Avon District Council

Elizabeth House, Church Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6HX

Email: info@stratford-dc.gov.uk Tel: 01789 267575 Fax: 01789 260 007

Accommodation

Stratford has four star hotels in Stratford Upon Avon which will suit most hi-end travellers seeking accommodation in Stratford Upon Avon.

Grab the free stuff
 

Whether it is New York’s Staten Island Ferry or London’s National Gallery, free activities are a welcome bonus for travellers of all ages and incomes. Travel website Travelandleisure.com has come up with a list of the world’s best free stuff for travellers.

n Free sightseeing: Get the inside track on a city from someone who knows it best, a local. These volunteers want to show off their town, and won’t demand a tip. Greeters can be scheduled via e-mail or telephone and should be arranged several weeks to a month ahead.

n Free bicycles: Zip around town on two wheels. In Copenhagen, Zurich, Bern, and Helsinki, you can borrow a bicycle from stands stationed around the city. Each program requires a nominal deposit which is returned after your ride when you lock the bike up. Many cities, including Paris, Vienna, Rome, and Lyon, offer free bikes for the first half hour (after that you’ll have to fork over some cash).

n Free podcasts: Download podcasts to your MP3 player and get a step-by-step narration of some of the world’s hottest spots. In Europe, Rick Steves will guide you through the Louvre, Versailles, the Coliseum, the Sistine Chapel, the Uffizi Gallery, and other sites. Zevisit has free downloadable audio guides to scores of European cities. Author Peter Caine has a free podcast based on his book, Walking the Da Vinci Code in Paris.

n Free public transport: In Europe, 27 InterCity Hotels throughout Germany and one in Vienna offer free local public transportation to guests while visitors to New York can’t beat the spectacular view of the skyline during the 25-minute ride on the Staten Island Ferry.

n Free Accommodation: A hotel can be the most expensive part of a vacation so try living in someone else’s home while they live in yours. List your house or apartment on a vacation-exchange site like Only in America. To go global, the International Home Exchange Network features listings all over the world.

n Free Skiing: Try the Utah package where an early morning flight to Salt Lake City provides a boarding pass on which you can ski all day at Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain Resort, and The Canyons Resort. In Colorado, several resorts offer some type of free-skiing program to reward volunteer work and Quebec give a one day pass to anyone who dresses like Santa on Santa Claus Day.

n Free Sports events: Each year, dozens of Olympic teams train at the Utah Olympic Park, while at Lake Placid, New York, you can watch Olympic and professional figure skaters and hockey teams training for free.

n Free Museums and Zoos: Some of the world’s top museums don’t charge a cent. The national museums and galleries in England, Scotland, and Wales are free and you can’t miss the National Gallery, the British Museum, the Tate Modern and the Victoria and Albert. In Washington DC, admission to all 19 Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo is free.

n Free Concerts: Top-notch music from world-class performers can be a pricey affair but in rare spots around the globe. In South Africa, the precursor to the annual Cape Town Jazz Festival is the free concert on Greenmarket Square, which kicks off the main festival. At Antibes, France, take in the finale free concert at the celebrated Jazz a Juan International Annual Jazz Festival.

n Free Movies: In Paris every summer, the ultramodern Parc de la Villette outside the city draws movie lovers with its giant outdoor screen and free Open Air Cinema festival. In Baltimore, The American Visionary Art Museum sponsors Flicks on the Hill, an outdoor film series featuring free outdoor movies while Pismo Beach, California presents cinema under the stars every other Wednesday.

Fundamentals
 
By Senjam Raj Sekhar

Karnataka Quiz Association (KQA) celebrated its silver jubilee with style. ASKQANCE 2008, the 25th anniversary quiz festival held in the last week of June featured nine quizzes held over two days. The quizzes included subject specific quizzes like entertainment, sports, science etc and also quizzes for school and college going quizzers. The Open Quiz was a national affair with five out of the eight places taken by non-Bangalore teams. The quiz was eventually won by We Are Like This Wonly (Movin Miranda, Anustup Datta, Ochintya Sharma and Thejaswi Udupa).

This week we excerpt some questions from the informal sports and science quiz.

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

Askqance 2008

1. Connect: Vienna, Catalan, Sicilian, Dutch, Indian, Scotch, Manhattan, Berlin, Belgrade, Leningrad, Dragon, Hedgehog and Stonewall?

2. The Arabian Oryx (Oryx leucoryx), became extinct in the wild in 1972 from the Arabian Peninsula. It was reintroduced in 1982 in Oman but poaching has had negative effects. Further populations have been reintroduced in Qatar, Bahrain, Israel and Saudi Arabia, with a total population in the wild of about 886 in 2003. About 600 more are in captivity. In modern sport how has the Oryx been reintroduced to the public?

3. In June 2002 about 50,000 fans gathered in front of the historic Kwanghwamoon gate to greet a motorcade carrying him. He reportedly walked away from that episode richer by some $1 million and an honorary citizenship to boot. Today he towers above the street on successive adverts outside the Hotel Moskva, and is seen popping up on posters all over town in Moscow, usually promoting Samsung. Name this “cheerleader-in-chief”.

4. It is derived from the 17th century French word meaning “to arrange” or “bring about”, and in modern usage, its verb form stands for deception, trickery, or subterfuge. In sports parlance it is used to indicate a bridge hand that is void of trumps. It is also a speed limiting device, with its widespread usage in the past few years being a consequence of Ayrton Senna’s tragic end. Identify the term.

5. In the 2nd Test of the Ashes series at Lord’s in 1934, Australian wickets fell in a heap. Hedley Verity took 7 for 61 and 8 for 43. This led to a major change in the commentators’ box in the next test at Old Trafford. What was the change?

6. George Lohmann (born June 2, 1865 in London, died December 1, 1901 in Worcester, Western Cape, South Africa) created a record that lasted for 61 years, from 1895-96 to 1956. Which record and who broke it?

7. It is the name of an alternative rock multi-platinum selling band from Jacksonville, Florida. The World Health Organisation issues a vaccination certificate with the same name. The rules of engagement issued to UK troops serving in Northern Ireland are also called thus. In sports it is used as a part of a language-neutral system designed by a Britisher Ken Aston, and found its first use on 31 May 1970.

8. The place of his birth was an important garrison town for the East India Company forces. Located on the Grand Trunk Road, it is now a well connected industrial center. His dad represented United Provinces in Ranji Trophy. He played most of his cricket in a town about 55 miles east-southeast of London, famous as a pilgrimage destination for Christians. Last year he was one of the recipients of the Sitara-e-Imtiaz. And he allegedly is the only man to have witnessed both Brian Lara’s innings of 501 not out vs Durham and Hanif Mohammed’s 499 in Karachi.

9. Connect (1) an Arthur Miller’s play about the Salem witch trials written in the early 1950s during the time of McCarthyism, when the government blacklisted accused communists, and (2) a number of different techniques for making steel alloy by slowly heating and cooling pure iron and carbon (typically in the form of charcoal) to a South Yorkshire building designed in 1971 by Tanya Moiseiwitsch that has a 980 seat auditorium.

10. “Camels ordinarily sit down carefully. Perhaps their joints creak. Possibly early oiling might prevent premature hardening.” What is this?.

11. This science was so dominated in Britain in the 19th century by Edward Tylor, that it was known as “Mr Tylor’s science”. It has 4 sub-fields – Biological, Socio-cultural, Linguistic and Archaeology. What is it called?

12. Scientist and Pulitzer Prize winning author Jared Diamond calls it the biggest mistake in history. In his book Guns, Germs and Steel, he argues that along with this practice came “the gross social and sexual inequality, the disease and despotism that curse our existence”. What practice is it?

13. The first appearance of this popular probability puzzle was in a Martin Gardner column and was called The Three Prisoner Problem. It is now named after the producer of the TV show that used it. Marilyn vos Savant analysed it in Parade magazine. Her answer was roundly criticised by thousands, with Math Professors writing in to say they had a good laugh at her ignorance. However, recent simulations show her analysis to be mostly right. What is the name of this puzzle that has caused embarrassment to many professional mathematicians?.

14. The west coast of India was not in line of sight of the epicenter of the 2004 Sumatra earthquake. Yet waves of up to 1m struck parts of the west coast. What one word physical phenomena made this happen?

ANSWERS

Askqance 2008

1. Opening defences/gambits in chess 2. Orry the Oryx was the mascot of the 2006 Doha Asian Games 3. Guus Hiddink, current coach of the Russian national football team 4. Chicane, from the French chicanerie meaning “trickery” 5. Till then, there was no scorer in the commentary box; this match started the practice 6. Best bowling figures in a Test innings. Lohmann took 9-28 which was overtaken by Jim Laker’s 10-53 7. Yellow Cards 8. Bob Woolmer 9. The Crucible. It is the venue for the annual World Professional Snooker Championships 10. Mnemonic for geological eras/periods. Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian etc 11. Anthropology 12. Agriculture 13. Monty Hall Problem 14. Refraction. In air, difference in refractive index causes light to bend. In the oceans, the differences in depth of water plays the same part, with waves travelling much faster in deep ocean and slower in shallow water.

 

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